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They clepe us, drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and, indeed it takes

From our achievements, though perform'd at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.'
So, oft it chances in particular men,

That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin,)
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,"

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;
Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens
The form of plausive manners; 3-that these men,-
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect;
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,^—
Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,)

Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: The dram of base
Doth all the noble substance often dout,"
To his own scandal.

Enter Ghost.


Look, my lord, it comes!

1 The pith and marrow of our attribute.] The most valuable part of the praise that would be otherwise attributed to us. 2 complexion,] i. e. humour; as sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatick, &c.

that too much o'er-leavens

The form of plausive manners;] That intermingles too much with their manners; infects and corrupts them. Plausive, in our poet's age, signified gracious, pleasing, popular.

-fortune's star,] The word star in the text signifies a scar of that appearance. It is a term of farriery: the white star or mark so common on the forehead of a dark coloured horse, is usually produced by making a scar on the place. RITSON.

5 As infinite as man may undergo,)] As large as can be accumulated upon man.

often dout,] To dout, signified in Shakspeare's time, and yet signifies in Devonshire and other western counties, to do out, to efface, to extinguish.

Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!-
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,

Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,"
That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee, Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me:
Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell,
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements! why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd,
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again! What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again, in cómplete steel,'
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition,'

With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?

7 questionable shape,] Questionable means here propitious to conversation, easy and willing to be conversed with.



Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,

Have burst their cerements!] Hamlet, amazed at an apparition, which, though in all ages credited, has in all ages been considered as the most wonderful and most dreadful operation of supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in the most emphatick terms, why he breaks the order of nature, by returning from the dead; this he asks in a very confused circumlocution, confounding in his fright the soul and body. Why, says he, have thy bones, which with due ceremonies have been entombed in death, in the common state of departed mortals, burst the folds in which they were embalmed? Why has the tomb, in which we saw thee quietly laid, opened his mouth, that mouth which, by its weight and stability, seemed closed for ever? The whole sentence is this: Why dost thou appear, whom we know to be dead? JOHNSON.

9 in complete steel,] It is probable, that Shakspeare introduced his Ghost in armour, that it might appear more solemn by such a discrimination from the other characters: though it was really the custom of the Danish kings to be buried in that manner, to shake our disposition,] Disposition for frame.


Hor. It beckons you to go away with it,

As if it some impartment did desire

To you alone.


It waves you to a more removed ground:"

Look, with what courteous action

No, by no means.

But do not go with it.


Ham. It will not speak; then I will follow it. Hor. Do not, my lord.


Why, what should be the fear?

I do not set my life at a pin's fee;3

And, for my soul, what can it do to that,
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 o'er his base into the sea?
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
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.


Go on, I'll follow thee.


It waves me still :

Mar. You shall not go, my lord.

a more removed ground:] i. e. remote.
pin's fee;] The value of a pin.

4 That beetles o'er his base-] That hangs o'er his base, like what is called a beetle brow. A verb probably of our author's coinage.

5 deprive your sovereignty of reason,] i. e. your ruling power of reason. When poets wish to invest any quality or virtue with uncommon splendour, they do it by some allusion to regal


6 puts toys of desperation,] Toys, for whims.


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Hamlet. Still am I Called; Unhand me...

London Pub. Aug.2.1801. by F.& C.Rivington St Pauls Church Yard.

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