Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

great confidence, how that he ought to take heede of Macduff," &c. Holinshed.

STEEVENS. 84. Thou hast harp'd my fear aright :To harp, is to touch on a passion as a harper touches a string. So, in Coriolanus, act ii. sc. ult. Harp on that still.”

STEEV ENS. 91. Shall harm Macbeth.] So, Holinshed : “ And surely hereupon he had put Macduff to death, but that a certeine witch, whom he had in great trust, had told him, that he should never be slain with man borne of anie woman, nor vanquished till the wood of Bernane came to the castell of Dunsinane. This prophecie put all feare out of his heart." STEEVENS. 98. -the round

And top of sovereignty?] This round is that part of the crown that encircles the head. The top is the ornament that rises above it.

JOHNSON 104. -Dunsinane's high hill] The folio reads :

-high Dunsinane hill and I have followed it.

STEEVENS. Prophecies of apparent impossibilities were common in Scotland ; such as the removal of one place to ano. ther. Under this popular prophetick formulary the present prediction may be ranked. In the same strain, peculiar to his country, says Sir David Lindsay:

Quhen the Bas and the Isle of May

Beis set upon the Mount Sinay, " Quhen the Lowmound besyde Falkland 6. Be liftit to Northumberland.". WARTON.

107. Who can impress the forest ; -] i.e. who can command the forest to serve him like a soldier impress’d.

JOHNSON. 109. Rebellious dead, rise never, -] We should read : -Rebellious head,i.e, let rebellion never get to a head and be successful till and then

WARBURTON. Mr. Theobald, who first proposed this change, rightly observes, that head means host, or power.

“ Douglas and the rebels met,

“ A mighty and a fearful head they are.” And again : “ His divisions are in three heads."

JOHNSON. 125. eight kings.] “ It is reported that Voltaire often laughs at the tragedy of Macbeth, for having a legion of ghosts in it. One should imagine he either had not learned English, or had forgot his Latin; for the spirits of Banquo's line are no more ghosts, than the representations of the Julian race in the Æneid; and there is no ghost but Banquo's throughout the play.” Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakspere, &c. by Mrs. Montagu.

STEEVENS. 126. Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls :expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye. balls, is taken from the method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind,

JOHNSON.

-] The

126. In former editions :

-and thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:

A third is like the former : -] As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only inquiring from what race they would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the second was bound with gold like that of the first; he was offended only that the second resembled the first, as the first resembled Banquo, and therefore said :

-and thy air, Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first. This Dr. Warburton has followed. JOHNSON. 129.

to the crack of doom ? -] i. e. the dissolution of nature. Crack has now a mean signification. It was anciently employed in a more exalted

So, in the Valiant Welchman, 1615: “ And will as fearless entertain this sight, " As a good conscience doth the cracks of Jove."

STEEVENS. It was used so lately as the latter-end of the last or the beginning of the present century, in a translation of one of the odes of Horace : Unmov'd he hears the mighty crack."

MALONE. 132. And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass,] This method of juggling prophecy is again referred to in Measure for Measure, act ii. sc. vii.

-and like a prophet, “ Looks in a glass, and shews me future evils."

sense.

So, in an Extract from the Penal Laws against Witches, it is said, that " they do answer either by voice, or else do set before their eyes, in glasses, chrystal stones, &c. the pictures or images of the persons or things sought for.” Among the other knaveries with which Face taxes Subtle in the Alchemist, this seems to be

one :

“ And taking in of shadows with a glass." Again, in Humor's Ordinarie, an ancient collection of satires, no date :

“ Shew you the devil in a chrystal glass." Spenser has given a very circumstantial account of the glass which Merlin made for king Ryence, in the second canto of the third book of the Faery Queen. A mirror of the same kind was presented to Cambuscan in The Squier's Tale of Chaucer.

STEEVENS. 134. That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry ;] This was intended as a compliment to king James the first, who first united the two islands and the three kingdoms under one head; whose house too was said to be descended from Banquo.

WARBURTON. Of this last particular, our poet seems to have been thoroughly aware, having represented Banquo not only as an innocent, but as a noble character; whereas, according to history, he was confederate with Macbeth in the murder of Duncan. The flattery of Shakspere, however, is not more gross than that of Ben Jonson, who has condescended to quote his ma

I

jesty's

jesty's book on Dæmonology, in the notes to the Masque of Queens, 1609.

STEEVENS. 136. -the blood-bolter'd Banquo

-] Blood bolter'd means, one whose blood hath issued out at many wounds, as flour of corn passes through the holes of à sieve, Shakspere used it to insinuate the barbarity of Banquo's murderers, who covered him with wounds.

WARBURTON. The same idea occurs in Arden of Feversham, 1592.

“ Then stab him, till his flesh bę as a sievę." Again, 'in The Life and Death of the Lord Cromwell, 1613: “ I'll have my body first bored like a sieve.”

STEEVENS. 147. Stand aye accursed in the calendar !] In the ancient almanacks the unlucky days were distinguished by a mark of reprobation.

STEVENS. 161. Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits:) To anticipate is here to prevent, by taking away the opportunity.

JOHNSON. 164. The very firstlings]Firstlings, in its primitive sense, is the first produce or offspring. So, in Heywood's Silver Age, 1613; “ The firstlings of their vowed sacrifice.” Here it means the thing first thought or done. Shakspere uses the word again in the prologue to Troilus and Cressida :: “ Leaps o'er the vant and firstlings of these broils."

STEEVENS. 170. That trace him, &c.] 1. e. follow, succeed

« ПредишнаНапред »