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Not of tliat dye which their investments shew,
Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS.
Hor. I heard it not: it then draws near the season,
Noise of warlike music within.
Ham. Ay, marry, is't:
prompters of unholy (that is, unchaste) fuits; and so achange of the same metaphor is continued to the end.
I made this emendation when I published my Shakespeare Restored, and Mi Pope has thought fit to embrace it in his - last edition.
More honoured in the breach than the observance.
(15) This heavy headed revel, east and weft,] This whole fpeech of Hamlet, to the cotrance of the ghost, I set right in my Shakespeare Restored, fo shall not trouble the readers again with a repetition of those corrections, or justification of them. Mr Pope admits, I have given the whole a glimmering of fenfe, but it is purely conjectural, and founded on no authority of copies. But is this any objection against conjecture io Shakespeare's case, where no original manuScript is fubfisting, and the printed copies have successively blundered after one another? And is not even a glimmering of fense, so it be not arbitrarily imposed, preferable to flat and glaring nonsense? If not, there is a total end at least to this branch of criticism, and nonsense may plead. title and prescription from time, because there is no direct authority for difpofsefling it. (16)
-The dram of ease
Doth all the noble substance of worth out,
To his own fcanda!.] Mr Pope, who has degraded this whole speech, has entirely left out this concluding sentence of it. It looks, indeed, to be desperate, and for that rcafon, I conceive, he chose to drop it. I do not remember a parsage, throughout all our Poet's works, more intricate and depraved in the text, of lets meaning to outward appearance, or more likely to baffic the attempts of criticism in its aid It is certain, there is neither fenie nor grammar as it now stands; yet, with a flight alteration, I'll endeavour to cure those defects, and give a fentiment too, that thall make the Poet's thought close nobly. What can a dram of ease mean? or what can it hare to do with the context, supposing it were the allowed expression here? Or, in a word, what agreement in fense is there betwixt a draai of ensi and the subitance of a doubt? It is a defperate corruption, and the nearest way to hope for a cure of it, is to consider nare rowly what the Poet must be supposed to have iotended here. The whole tenour of this tpeech is, that let men have never so many or so eminent viriues, if they have one defect which accompanies them, that fingle blemish thall throw a stain upon their whole character; and not only fo, (if I understand right) but thall deface the very effence of all their goodness, to its own scandal; so that their virtues themselves will become their reproach. This is not only a continuation of his sentiment, but carries it up with a fine and proper climax. I have ventured to conjecture that the Author might write;
-The dram of base
To his own scandal. The dram of Inje, i.e. the least alloy of basenefs or vice. It is very frequent with our Poct to use the adjective of quality instead of the fubstantive signifying the thing. Besides, I have observed, that elsewhere, speaking of worth, he delights to conlider it as a quality that adds weight to a person, and eonnects the word with that idea:
Let every word weigh heavy of her worth,
Cymbelina Enter Ghost.
Hor. Look, my Lord, it comes !
Hań. Angels and ministers of grace defend us !) Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell, Be thy intents wicked or charitable, Thou comeft in such a questionable shape, (17) That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet, King, Father, Royal Dane: oh! answer me; Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death, Have burst their cearments ? why the fepulchre, Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urned, Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws, To cast thee up again? What may this mean? That thou, dead corse, again, in compleat steel, Revisiteit thus the glimpses of the moon, Making night hideous, and us fools of nature So horribly to shake our disposition With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls ? Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?
[Ghost beckons Hamlet. Hor. It beckons you to go away with it, As if it fome impartment did defire To you
[ Holding Hamlet. Ham. It will not speak; then I will follow it.
(17) Thou comeft in fuib a questionable sape,] By questionable we now constantly understand eifputable, doubtíu!; bue our Author uses it in a sense quite oppofite, not disputable, but to be conversed with, inviting question; as in Macbeth;
Live you, or are you aught that man may question?
Hor. Do not, my Lord.
Ham. Why, what should be the fear?
Hor. What if it tempt you tow'rd the flood, my
Ham. It waves me ftill: go on, I'll follow thee---
Ham. My fate cries nut,
[Breaking from theni, By Heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me--I say, away--go on----I'll follow thee----
[Exeunt Ghoft and Hamlet.