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prepared him for an appearance so unprecedented.

But, after exclaiming

Angels and ministers of grace defend us !—

and prefatory to questions accordant with foregone reflection, his words are as if broken by passionate doubt and fear. His suspicions of error or deception have disappeared, but those suspicions had given place to one other and deeper suspicion, that the ghost he actually saw might be a spirit of evil in the borrowed shape of his father's spirit in arms. He had resolved that at all hazards he would not be deterred from speaking to the ghost if it appeared to him, and really assumed his noble father's person, and had doubtless resolved to abjure it to explain its terrifying wanderings; but as he proceeds, his mind is still shaken with some misgiving as to the actual character of the spirit; misgivings which we shall find painfully recurring at a subsequent time :

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 :

These words are addressed to an unmoving figure, the image of once moving life, but now passive to all such appeal: no syllable or sign responds. Hamlet goes on, with more earnest imploration

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!

Still no answer; no movement; no passage of sympathy along that pale, sorrowful, unearthly face; no sign, or of impatience, or of favour, or of intent. Hamlet resorts to terms more coloured by a kind of horror

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 horribly to shake our disposition,

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

And now, at length, the spirit, thus adjured, deigns by a gesture to testify its consciousness; and now Horatio prompts Hamlet that it beckons him to go away with it. Marcellus adds,

MAR. Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removéd ground:

Such an invitation is appalling: Marcellus entreats Hamlet not to accept it: Horatio gives the same counsel. But Hamlet comprehends that the ghost will not speak except to him, and alone; and he determines to follow it and to hear. They still entreat, and at first he reasons with them, alleging his utter disregard of his life, and the want of power, even in a spirit from the world beyond the grave, to injure his soul, a thing immortal as itself. They try every means of preventing his following the still beckoning ghost, urging even the danger of madness arising from what may ensue, and at length

trying forcibly to detain him. His excitement has already become above control; he grows angry, violent, "waxes desperate with imagination," tears himself from them with menaces, and follows his father's spirit, which still waves him forth into darkness and solitude.

So swiftly moves the ghost, and so eagerly follows Hamlet, that his friends lose sight of him, and come up with him no more until the whole conversation with the ghost is ended. But in this reckless following, doubts again assail Hamlet's mind, and at length he stops, determined to go no further. And now, for the first time, the accents of a voice from the tomb fall on the eager and astonished ear of its mortal auditor. The story of an unnatural murder is solemnly detailed, a murder which at once deprived the late king of life, of crown, of queen, and sent him to his account, no reckoning made, with all his imperfections on his head. Long familiarity with the ghost's narrative, even from immature schooldays, has here also made the generality of readers somewhat unmindful of its frightful character. It is told

by a spirit doomed at the end of the relation to return to a place of purgatorial torment, the tale of which, if unfolded, would harrow up the hearer's soul. It discloses to a son the murder of his father, whom he reverenced and loved, and has grieved for even immoderately, as one without hope. The murderer is the present king, the brother of the king murdered, the sinful husband of the king's widow, whose hasty marriage with his uncle has already halfmaddened Hamlet. And all this is told, at once, by a spirit doomed for a certain term to walk the dreadful night, reprieved from the recurrent horrors of more awful days. The manner of the murder, the hard hypocrisy of him that did it, his base and gross espousals, all rush in among the previous troubles of the unhappy prince's mind. The principal incidents have been briefly imparted, for the scent of the early morning air summons the spiritual teller, noble as he was in life, to penance untold. And then the ghost bids farewell, having exhorted Hamlet, indeed, to earthly revenge, not of a murder, but of dishonour, and the disloyal usurpation of a

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