HW HomePrevious CNView CNView TNMView TNINext CN

Line 129 - Commentary Note (CN) More Information

129 Speake to me, if there be any good thing to be done1.1.130
3 4 129 130 132
1870 Abbott
129 Speake] See n. 3-4
1877 v1877
129 Speake] Furness (ed. 1877): See n. 3-4
1878 rlf1
rlf1 ≈ Simrock apud Tsch in 130 without attribution
129 if . . . done] Rolfe (ed. 1878): “Alluding to the idea that a ghost may be ‘laid’ when a living person does for him what he himself ought to have done when alive.”
1880 meik
meik ≈ Abbott § 512 without attribution
129 Speake to me] Meikeljohn (ed. 1880): “The importance of this adjuration demands a line for itself. The pause, which the emotion necessitates and the physical need of taking breath compels, fills up the full measure of the line, and represents the missing part. For a number of short lines motivated by the same feelings, see Hamlet’s speech at the end of [2.2].”
Ed. note: Without the stop after me the line could be read as “Speak to me IF there is any good thing to be done” and thus the ghost is silent, because there is no good thing to be done. Q1, with Speake to mee transp. after 130 has that sense.
1891 dtn
129-30 Deighton (ed. 1891): “if your appearance here means that there is any good deed to be done whereby you will be relieved, and which it will be to my credit to do.”
dtn = tsch; + // 1 H4
130 grace] Deighton (ed. 1891): “cp. [1 H4 2.1.70 (706)], ‘which for sport sake are content to do the profession some grace.’
1903 rlf3
rlf3 = rlf1
129 if . . . done]
1929 trav
130 Speake to me] Travers (ed. 1929): “The solemnity of the appeal, or charge rather, makes the three words fully equivalent, in effect, to a whole ordinary line. Cp. [132], just two intensely pathetic syllables; also, e. g. [141].”
1931 crg1
crg1: standard
129-36 Speake . . . it] Craig (ed. 1931): “Horatio recites the traditional reasons why ghost might walk.”
1952 har
129-35 Harrison (ed. 1952) believes that Horatio was about to ask a fourth question, which would have been about the manner of the apparition’s death. Harrison infers this fourth question because, he says, there were four reasons for ghosts to walk. Horatio has a chance to ask about only three when the cock crows and prevents him from asking the fourth. The three others are “to reveal a secret,” to warn, to disclose hidden treasure
1980 pen2
pen2 ≈ har
129-36 Spencer (ed. 1980) notes that in listing the traditional reasons for spirits appearing, Horatio does not reach the last one, revenge for murder.
1982 ard2
ard2: Browne; Marlowe; Dekker, Paracelsus
129-35 Jenkins (ed. 1982): The ghost later mentions his suffering, his lack of ease, corresponding to Hor.’s 1st question; the 2nd question concerns the prior discussion about the state; the 3rd question concerns treasure. All are well-recognized reasons for ghost’s walking. “Sir T. Browne believed ‘that those many prodigies and ominous prognostics, which forerun the ruins of states, princes and private persons are the charitable premonitions of good angels’ (Religio Medici).” Horatio, if he is at one with Browne, “suggests only benign purposes for the Ghost, which he seems now to accept as the spirit of the dead King; but that he knows ghosts may have evil purposes and be devils in disguises he shows in [1.4].” Marlowe in Jew has an analogue about ghosts and treasure. Dekker, New from Hell, also refers to ghost’s who for their soul’s sake should reveal buried treasure. “Paracelsus, however, explains such a ghost as not a soul but a sidereal spirit which survives the body for a time and which, retaining the thoughts and heart of the dead man, is constantly seen at the place of the treasure because his mind was concentrated on it during life (Hermetic and Alchemical Writings, trans. Waite, 2: 303).”
2010 Pequigney
129-36 Speake to me . . . stay and speake] Pequigney (2010, personal communication): “The ’scholar’ Horatio, while imploring the apparition to ’Speak to me,’ posits three reasons—the first two moral, the third ethically ambiguous—that are commonly thought to explain why a ghost returns from the dead: it may return to do ’some good thing,’ or because ’privy to [its] country’s fate,’ which it might ameliorate, or on account of a buried treasure that it had extorted when alive.
The first two of these purposes clearly foreshadow the mission to be revealed by the spirit of King Hamlet; the pertinence of the third-mentioned purpose is more indefinite. The ’good thing to be done’ is to satisfy justice with the punishment of fratricide. It is ’privy to [its] country’s fate,’ not with respect to the pending war with Norway that Horatio has in mind, but privy to the dire fate the country is already suffering: a regicidal monarch and the ’royal bed of Denmark’ now unacceptably ’A couch for luxury and damned incest’ (767-8).
The hoard that a ghost might hide and then return to retrieve is problematic. Guilty of extortion (134), does it return with the good intention of making restitution? Some commentators think so, but that intent is not made explicit in the text. Horatio seems a bit doubtful about this piece of ghost lore when he qualifies it with the phrase ’they say’ (F1 encloses line 135 in parentheses). However, the Dane’s Ghost will, in a feasible analogy, unearth a secret crime: one not of theft (the hidden treasure) but of murder, and one committed not by King Hamlet but against him.”