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Why such impress of shipwrights," whose sore task
That can I;
Our last king, Whose image even but now appear'd to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet (For so this side of our known world esteem'd him,) Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact, Well ratified by law, and heraldry, Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands, Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror: Against the which, a moiety competent Was gaged by our king; whieh had return'd To the inheritance of Fortinbras, Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same co-mart, And carriage of the article design'd, His fell to Hamlet: Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full, Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, Shark'd up a list' of landless resoluteş, For food and diet, to some enterprize
• Why such impress of shipwrights,) Impress signifies here the act of retaining shipwrights by giving them what was called prest money (from pret, Fr.) for holding themselves in readiness to be employed.
as, by the same co-mart, And carriage of the article design'd,].Co-mart is, I suppose, a joint bargain, a word perhaps of our poet's coinage. Carriage is import: design'd, is formed, drawn up between them.
Of unimproved, &c.] Full of unimproved mettle, is full of spirit not regulated or guided by knowledge or experience. 5 Shark'd
up a list, &c.] Picked up without distinction, as the shark-fish collects his prey.
That hath a stomach in't:8 which is no other
[Ber. I think, it be no other, but even so: Well may it sort, that this portentous figure Comes armed through our watch; so like the king That was, and is, the question of these wars.
Hor. A mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye. In the most high and palmy state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.
As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
6 That hath a stomach in't:] Stomach, in the time of our author, was used for constancy, resolution.
romage-] Commonly written-rummage. I am not, however, certain that the word romage has been properly explained. Romage, on shipboard, must have signified a scrupulous examination into the state of the vessel and its stores. Respecting land-service, the same term implied a strict inquiry into the kingdom, that means of defence might be supplied where they were wanted. Rummage, is properly explained by Johnson himself in his Dictionary, as it is at present daily used,—to search for any thing.
[I think, &c.] These, and all other lines, confined within crotchets, throughout this play, are omitted in the folio edition of 1623. The omissions leave the play sometimes better and sometimes worse, and seem made only for the sake of abbrevia. tion. Johnson.
9 Well may it sort,] The cause and effect are proportionate and suitable.
the question of these wars.] The theme or subject,
Disasters in the sun ;3 and the moist star,
But, soft; behold! lo, where it comes again!
· As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun;] This passage is not in the folio. By the quartos therefore our imperfect text is supplied; for an intermediate verse being evidently lost, it were idle to attempt a union that never was intended. I have therefore signified the supposed deficiency by a vacant space. MALONE.
and the moist star, &c.] i. e. the moon. 5 And even -] Not only such prodigies have been seen in Rome, but the elements have shown our countrymen like forerunners and foretokens of violent events.
* And prologue to the omen coming on,] i. e. the approaching dreadful and portentous event.
? If thou hast any sound,] The speech of Horatio to the spectre is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the common traditions of the causes of apparitions. JOHNSON, VOL. IX.
Speak of it:-stay, and speak.–Stop it, Marcellus.
'Tis here! Mar. 'Tis gone!
[Exit Ghost. We do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence; For it is, as the air, invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery.
Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew,
Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock.
8 Whether in sea, &c.] According to the pneumatology of that time, every element was inhabited by its peculiar order of spirits, who had dispositions different, according to their various places of abode. The meaning therefore is, that all spirits extravagant, wandering out of their element, whether aërial spirits visiting earth, or earthly spirits ranging the air, return to their station, to their proper limits in which they are confined.
erring spirit,] Erring is here used in the sense of wandering.
No fairy takes,] No fairy strikes with lameness or diseases. This sense of take is frequent in this author.
Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it. But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks, o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill: Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet: for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him: Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our lores, fitting our duty ?
Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most convenient.
A Room of State in the same.
Enter the King, Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS,
LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and
green; and that it us befitted