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So by his father loft: And this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations ;
The source of this our watch; and the chief head
Of this poft-haste and romage in the land.

[Ber. I think, it be no other, but even fo:
Well may it fort," that this portentous figure
Comes armed through our watch; so like the king
That was, and is, the question of these wars.

romage-] Tumultuous and ID NOON. Commonly written_rummi

3 [I think, &c.] These, crotchets throughout this play 1623: The omissions leave times worse, and seem made

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4 Well may it fort,] The cause and effect are proportionate and suitable. Johnson.

5 the question of these wars.] The theme or subject. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :

You were the word of war.” Malone.

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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,

graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead

2-17- Did fqueak and gibber in the Roman ftreets


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As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; 8 and the moist ftar,


6 A mote it is,] The first quarto reads—a moth. Steevens.

A moth was only the old spelling of mote, as I suspected in revising a passage in King John, Vol. VIII. p. 122, n. 6, where we certainly should read mote. Malone.

palmy state of Rome,] Palmy, for vi&orious. Pope. & As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,

Disasters in the fun;] Mr. Rowe altered these lines, because they have insufficient connection with the preceding ones,

Stars shone with trains of fire, dews of blood fell,

Disasters veil'd the sun,-
This paffage is not in the folio. By the quartos therefore our
imperfect text is fupplied; for an intermediate verse being evidently
loft, it were idle to attempt a union that never was intended. I
have therefore signified the fupposed deficiency by a vacant space.

When Shakspeare had told us that the grave flood tenantless, &c.
which are wonders confined to the earth, he naturally proceeded to
fay (in the line now loft) that yet other prodigies appeared in the sky;
and these phænomena he exemplified by adding,—As [i. e, as for
instance] Stars with trains of fire, &c. STEVENS.
Diafters dimm'd the fun ;] The quarto, 1604, reads:

Disasters in the fun ;-
For the emendation I am responsible. It is strongly supported not
only by Plutarch's account in the life of Cæsar, [“ also the bright-
ness of the sunne was darkened, the which, all that yeare through,
rose very pale, and shined not out,”] but by various passages in our
author's works. So, in The Tempeft:

I have be-dimm'd
“ The noon-tide fun.
Again, in King Richard íl:

“As doth the blushing difcontented sun,
When he perceives the envious clouds are bent
To dim his glory.".

- To bear the

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grin, in Kime Henru, vl. P. lll.
"" Two Cliffordo, go the father y
Again, in the comes,

zod tis" Northumberlanda;
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Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, Was fick almost to doomsday with eclipse.

Again, in our author's 18th Sonnet :

“ Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd.I suspect that the words As stars are a corruption, and have no doubt that either a line preceding or following the first of those quoted at the head of this note, has been loft; or that the beginning of one line has been joined to the end of another, the intervening words being omitted. That such conjectures are not merely chimerical, I have already proved. See Vol. VIII. p. 543, &c. n. 7; and Vol. X. p. 535, n. 7.

The following lines in Julius Cæfar, in which the prodigies that are said to have preceded his death, are recounted, may throw some light on the passage before us :

There is one within,
“ Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
“ Recounts most horrid fights seen by the watch.
“ A lioness hath whelped in the streets ;
And graves have yawn’d and yielded up their dead :
“ Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
“ In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war,
" Which drizzled blood upon the capitol :
" The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
“ Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan;

“ And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets." The loft words perhaps contained a description of fiery warriors fighting on the clouds, or of brands burning bright beneath ihe stars.

The 15th book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, transated by Golding, in which an account is given of the prodigies that preceded Cæsar's death, furnished Shakspeare with some of the images in both these passages :

-battels fighting in the clouds with crashing armour

flew, “ And dreadful trumpets founded in the ayre, and hornes

eke blew, “ As warning men beforehand of the mischiefe that did

brew ; “ And Phobus also looking dim did cast a drowsie light, Uppon the earth, which seemde likewise to be in sory

plighte: “ From underneath beneath the starres brandes of nde

burning bright, VOL. XV.


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And even the like precurse of fierce events,'-
As harbingers preceding still the fates,

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“ It cften rain'd drops of blood. The morning star look’d

blew, “ And was bespotted here and there with specks of ruftie hew.

. The moone had also spots of blood. “ Salt teares from ivorie-images in sundry places fell ;• The dogges did howle, and every where appeared ghastly

Sprights, And with an earthquake shaken was the towne.” Plutarch only says, that “ the sunne was darkened,” that“ diverse men were seen going up and down in fire;” there were “ fires in the element; sprites were seene running up and downe in the night, and solitarie birds sitting in the great market-place."

The disagreeable recurrence of the word stars in the second line induces me to believe that As fars in that which precedes, is a corruption. Perhaps Shakspeare wrote: Aftres with trains of fire,

and dews of blood Disastrous dimm’d the sun. The word astre is used in an old collection of poems entitled Diana, addressed to the Earl of Oxenforde, a book of which I know not the date, but believe it was printed about 1580. In Othello we have antres, a word exactly of a similar formation.

MALONE. The word-aftre (which is no where else to be found) was affectedly taken from the French by John Southern, author of the poems cited by Mr. Malone. This wretched plagiarist stands indebted both for his verbiage and his imagery to Ronsard. See the European Magazine, for June, 1788, p. 389. STEVENS.

-and the moist ftar, &c.] i. e. the moon. So, in Marlowe's Hero and Leander, 1598: Not that night-wand'ring, pale, and watry far," &c.

Malon. 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. Johnson. 3 - precurse of fierce events,] Fierce, for terrible.

WARBURTON. I rather believe that fierce fignifies conspicuous, glaring. It is used in a somewhat similar sense in Timon of Athens :

“ O the fierce wretchedness that glory brings!". Again, in King Henry VIII. we have " fierce vanities.'



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And prologue to the omen coming on,4-
Have heaven and earth together démonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.-]

Re-enter Ghost.

But, soft; behold! lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me.-Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,

4 And prologue to the omen coming on,] But prologue and omen are merely synonymous here. The poet means, that these strange phenomena are prologues and forerunners of the events prefag':: and such sense the flight alteration, which I have ventured to make, by changing omen to omen'd, very aptly gives. TAOBALD.

Omen, for fate. WARBURTON.
Hanmer follows Theobald.

A diftich from the life of Merlin, by Heywood, however, wilt
Thow that there is no occasion for correction :

Merlin well vers’d in many a hidden spell,

“ His countries omen did long since foretell.” FARMER. Again, in The Vowbreaker :

“ And much I fear the weakness of her braine

“ Should draw her to some ominous exigent."
Omen, I believe, is danger. Steevens.

And even the like precurse of fierce events,
As harbingers preceding fill the fates,

And prologue to the omen coming on,] So, in one of our author's poems :

“ But thou shrieking harbinger
Foul precurrer of the fiend,

Augur of the fever's end,” &c.
The omen coming on is, the approaching dreadful and portentous
event. So, in King Richard III :

Thy name is ominous to children.”
i. e. (not boding ill fortune, but) destructive to children.
Again, ibidem :

« O Pomfret, Pomfret, O, thou bloody prison,

« Fatal and ominous to noble peers.” MALONE. o If thou hast any found,] The speech of Horatio to the spectre is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the common traditions of the causes of apparitions. JOHNSON.

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