Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/410

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some characteristic garb, such as the armour of a warrior, or the regal robes of a king.

The Elizabethans knew that they were all sinners of the first water, and believed that in most cases the "walking," that is, the appearance of a ghost, was in part penance for sins committed while in the flesh. This, however, was not always the case. Often the ghost returned to earth to make a revelation: sometimes of hidden treasure, sometimes to ease his conscience with a confession, sometimes to warn loved ones on earth against impending danger, perhaps more often, as in Hamlet, to demand revenge, to be enacted by those alive.

One need not go further than the accessible Elizabethan plays to learn almost the complete list of ghost traditions. Hamlet alone affords a score. From this play we learn that the appearance of a ghost implied something momentous; and that a ghost frequently spoke in Latin (though it is more than probable that this is not referred to in the line "Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio") Ghosts, in spite of their supernatural powers, were hampered by many limitations. Thus, the ghost of Hamlet could not speak till addressed by the right person, hence its silence in the presence of Horatio, the ghost's errand being to Hamlet. It was a current belief