Imagens das páginas

Being a thing immortal as itself?

It waves me forth again :—I'll follow it.

Hor. What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff,

That beetles 13 o'er his base into the sea,

And there assume some other horrible form,

Which might deprive your sovereignty of rea

[blocks in formation]

And draw you into madness? think of it:
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain,
That looks so many fathoms to the sea,
And hears it roar beneath.

Ham. It waves me still.-Go on, I'll follow thee.
Mar. You shall not go, my lord.


Hold off your hands.

My fate cries out,

Hor. Be rul'd: you shall not go.


And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.

[Ghost beckons. Still am I call'd.-Unhand me, gentlemen; [Breaking from them.

13 That is, overhangs his base. Thus in Sidney's Arcadia: "Hills lift up their beetle brows, as if they would overlooke the pleasantnesse of their under prospect." The verb to beetle is apparently of Shakespeare's creation.

14 To "deprive your sovereignty of reason," signifies to take from you the command of reason. We have similar instances of raising the idea of virtues or qualities by giving them rank, in Banquo's "royalty of nature;" and even in this play we have “nobility of love," and "dignity of love." Deprive was often thus used in the sense of take away. Toys, second line after, means The last four lines of this speech are not in the folio.


[blocks in formation]


By Heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets

[blocks in formation]

I say, away!-Go on, I'll follow thee.

[Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET. Hor. He waxes desperate with imagination. Mar. Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him. Hor. Have after. - To what issue will this come? Mar. Something is rotten in the state of Den

[blocks in formation]

Enter the Ghost and HAMLET.

Ham. Whither wilt thou lead me? speak, I'll go

no further.

Ghost. Mark me.



I will.

My hour is almost come,

When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.


Alas, poor ghost!

Ghost. Pity me not; but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold.


Speak; I am bound to hear.

Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

15 To let, in old language, is to hinder, or prevent.

16 Marcellus answers Horatio's question, "To what issue will this come?" and Horatio also answers it himself with pious resignation, "Heaven will direct it."

Ham. What?

Ghost. I am thy father's spirit;

Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,1

Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,

I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word

Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, Thy knotted and combined locks to part,


And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine :
But this eternal blazon must not be

To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O list! —
If thou didst ever thy dear father love,-

Ham. O God!

Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

Ham. Murder?

Ghost. Murder most foul, as in the best it is; But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.

Ham. Haste me to know't; that I, with wings as swift

1 The spirit being supposed to feel the same desires and appetites as when clothed in the flesh, the pains and punishments promised by the ancient moral teachers are often of a sensual nature. Chaucer in the Persones Tale says, "The misese of hell shall be in defaute of mete and drinke." So, too, in The Wyll of the Devyll: "Thou shalt lye in frost and fire, with sicknes and hunger.". - Heath proposed "lasting fires," and such is the change in Collier's second folio.


2 Gawin Douglas really changes the Platonic hell into "the punytion of the saulis in purgatory." "It is a nedeful thyng to suffer paines and torment;-sum in the wyndis, sum under the watter, and in the fire uther sum: thus the mony vices contrakkit in the corpis be done away and purgit."

3 Fretful is the reading of the folio; the quartos read fearful.

As meditation or the thoughts of love,

May sweep to my revenge.


I find thee apt;

And duller should'st thou be than the fat weed

That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,


Would'st thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear : "Tis given out, that sleeping in mine orchard,

A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death

Rankly abus'd: but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown.

Ham. O, my prophetic soul! my uncle!

Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, (O, wicked wit and gifts, that have the power So to seduce!) won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen. O, Hamlet! what a falling-off was there! From me, whose love was of that dignity, That it went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage; and to decline Upon a wretch, whose natural gifts were poor To those of mine!

But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,

Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven ;
So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,

4 So reads the folio; the quartos all have roots instead of rots. Most editors prefer roots; but, surely, rots is much more consonant to the sense of the passage. To speak of a thing as rotting itself is not indeed common; but we have it in Antony and Cleothus:


"Like a vagabond flag upon the stream,

Go to and back, lackeying the varying tide,
To rot itself with motion."


And prey on garbage.

But, soft! methinks, I scent the morning air :
Brief let me be. -Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always in the afternoon,5
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a phial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,"
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark'd about,


Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,

5 So the folio and the quarto of 1603; the other quartos, "of the afternoon." Secure, in the next line, is a Latinism, securus, quiet, unguarded.


6 Hebenon is probably derived from henbane, the oil of which, according to Pliny, dropped into the ears, disturbs the brain and there is sufficient evidence that it was held poisonous. So in Anton's Satires, 1606: The poison'd henbane, whose cold juice doth kill." And Drayton, in his Barons' Wars: "The poisoning henbane and the mandrake dread." It is, however, possible that poisonous qualities may have been ascribed to ebony; called ebene, and ebeno, by old English writers. So Marlow, in his Jew of Malta, speaking of noxious things: "The blood of Hydra, Lerna's bane, the juyce of hebon, and cocytus breath." The French word hebenin, which would be applied to any thing made from ebony, comes indeed very close to the hebenon of Shakespeare. 7 In the preceding scene, note 1, we have had eager in the sense of sharp, biting. Baret explains, Eger, sower, sharp, acidus, oigre." Eager droppings are drops of acid.

[ocr errors]



8 So all the quartos; the folio has bak'd instead of bark'd; a misprint, probably, but preferred by some editors. - Instant seems to be here used in its Latin sense; pressing, urgent, harass



« AnteriorContinuar »