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Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell,
So, in Macbeth:
" Live you, or are you aught
“ That man may question?" Fohnson. Questionable, I believe, means only propitious to conversation, easy and willing to be conversed with. So, in As you Like it :.“ An unquestionable spirit, which you have not.” Unquestionable in this last instance certainly signifies unwilling to be talked with. Steevens.
Questionable perhaps only means capable of being conversed with. To question, certainly in our author's time signified to converse. So, in his Rape of Lucrece, 1594 :
“ For after supper long he questioned
" With modest Lucrece Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:
“ Out of our question wipe him."
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 dreadtul operation of supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in the most en. phatick 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. By the expression hearsed in death is meant, shut up and se. cured with all those precautions which are usually practised in preparing dead bodies for sepulture, such as the winding-sheet, shrowd, coffin, &c. perhaps embalming into the bargain. So that death is here used, by a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequents, for the rites of death, such as are generally esteemed due, and practised with regard to dead bodies. Consequently, I understand by cerements, the waxed winding-sheet or windingsheets, in which the corpse was enclosed and sown up, in order to preserve it the longer from external impressions from the humidity of the sepulchre, as embalming was intended to preserve it from internal corruption. Heath.
By hearsed death, the poet seems to mean, reposited and confine! in the place of the dead. In his Rape of Lucrece he has again used this uncommon participle in nearly the same sense :
Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn’d,
Hor. It beckons you to go away with it,
alone. Mar. Look, with what courteous action It waves you to a more removed ground;'
cap. vii :
“ Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,
quietly in-urn’d,] The quartos read-interr'd. Steevens. 7 That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel,] Thus also is the adjective complete accented by Chapman in his version of the fifth lliad :
“And made his complete armour cast a far more complete light.” Again, in the nineteenth Iliad:
“ Grave silence strook the complete court." 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. Vide Olaus Wormius,
* Struem regi nec vestibus, nec odoribus cumulant, sua cuique arma, quorundam igni et equus adjicitur.”
sed postquam magnanimus ille Danorum rex collem sibi magnitudinis conspicux extruxisset, (cui post obitum regio diademate exornatum, armis indutum, inferendum esset cadaver,” &c. Steevens.
- we fools of nature,] The expression is fine, as intimating we were only kept (as formerly, fools in a great family,) to make sport for nature, who lay hid only to mock and laugh at us, for our vain searches into her mysteries. Warburton.
we fools of nature,] i. e. making us, who are the sport of nature, whose mysterious operations are beyond the reaches of our souls, &c. So, in Romeo and Juliet :
"O, I am fortune's fool.”. Malone.
fools of nature,] This phrase is used by Davenant, in the Cruel Brother, 1630, Act V, sc. i. Reed.
- to shake our disposition, ] Dispositiun for frame. Warburton. 1- a inore removed ground:] i. e. remote. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
But do not go with it.
No, by no means.
Why, what should be the fear?
Hor. What, if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff, That beetles o'er his base3 into the sea? And there assume some other horrible form, Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
“ From Athens is her house remou'd seven leagues." The first folio reads-remote. Steevens.
- pin's fee;] The value of a pin. Johnson. 3 That beetles o'er his base -] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, B. I: “ Hills lifted
up their beetle-brows, as if they would overlooke the pleasantnesse of their under prospect.” Steevens.
That beetles o'er his base-] That hangs o'er his base, like what is called a beetle-brow. This verb is, I believe, of our author's coinage. Malone.
deprive your sovereignty of reason,] i. e. your ruling power of reason. When poets wish to invest any quality or vir. tue with uncommon splendor, they do it by some allusion to regal eminence. Thus, among the excellencies of Banquo's character, our author distinguishes “ his royalty of nature," i. e. his natural superiority over others, his independent dignity of mind. I have selected this instance to explain the former, because I am told that “ royalty of nature” has been idly supposed to bear some al. lusion to Banquo's distant prospect of the crown.
To deprive your sovereignty of reason, therefore, does not sig. nify, to deprive your princely mind of rational powers, but, to take away from you the command of reason, by which man is governed. So, in Chapman's version of the first Iliad:
I come from heaven to see “ Thy anger settled: if thy soul will use her soveraigntie
" In fit reflection.” Dr. Warburton would read deprave ; but several proofs are given in a note to King Lear, Act I, sc. ii, Vol. XIV, of Shakspeare's use of the word deprive, which is the true reading. Steevens. I believe, deprive in this place signifies simply to take away.
And draw you into madness ? think of it:
It waves me still :-
Mar. You shall not go, my lord.
Hold off your hands.
My fate cries out, And makes each petty artery in this body As hardy as the Némean lion's nerve.?—[Ghost beckons. Still am I call'd; unhand me, gentlemen ;
[Breaking from them. By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me:8I say, away :-Go on, I'll follow thee.
[Exeunt Ghost and Ham. 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?
5 The very place -] The four following lines added from the first edition. Pope.
puts toys of desperation,] Toys, for whims. Warburton. 7 As hardy as the Némean lion's nerve.] Shakspeare has again accented the word Nemean in this manner, in Love's Labour's Lost :
" Thus dost thou hear the Némean lion roar." Spenser, however, wrote Neméan, Fairy Queen, B. V, c.i:
“ Into the great Neméan lion's grove. Our poet's conforming in this instance to the Latin prosody was certainly accidental, for he, and almost all the poets of his time, disregarded the quantity of Latin names. So, in Locrine, 1595, (though undoubtedly the production of a scholar) we have Amphion instead of Amphion, &c. See also, p. 29, n. 5.
Malone. The true quantity of this word was rendered obvious to Shakspeare by Twine's translation of part of the Æneid, and Golding's version of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Steevens.
that lets ne :) To let among our old authors signifies to prevent, to hinder. It is still a word current in the law, and to be found in almost all leases. Steevens. So, in No Wit like a Woman's, a comedy, by Middleton, 1657:
“ That lets her not to be your daughter now." Malane.
Mar. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Nay, let's follow him.
[Exeunt. SCENE V.
A more remote Part of the Platform.
Re-enter Ghost and HAMLET. Ham. Whither wilt thou lead me? speak, I'll go no
further. Ghost. Mark me. Ham.
I will. Ghost.
My hour is almost come,
Alas, poor ghost !
Speak, I am bound to hear. Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear. Ham. What?
Ghost. I am thy father's spirit;
o Heaven will direct it.] Perhaps it may be more apposite to read, “ Heaven will detect it.” Farmer.
Marcellus answers Horatio's question, “ To what issue will this come?" and Horatio also answers it himself with a pious resignation, “ Heaven will direct it.” Blackstone. 1 Doom'd
for a certain time to walk the night ; And, for the day, confin'd to fast in fires,] Chaucer has a simie lar passage with regard to the punishments of hell, Parson's Tale, p. 193, Mr. Urry's edition : “ And moreover the misese of hell, shall be in defaute of mete and drinke.” Smith.
Nash, in his Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, 1595, has the same idea: “ Whether it be a place of horror, stench and darkness, where men see meat, but can get none, and are ever thirsty," &c. Before I had read the Persones Tale of Chaucer, I supposed that he meant rather to drop a stroke of satire on sacerdotal luxury, than to give a serious account of the place of future torment. Chaucer, however, is as grave as Shakspeare. So, likewise at the conclusion of an ancient pamphlet called The Wyll of the Devyll, bl. 1. no date :