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derived from the same word in its primitive meaning.
JOHNSON, It may be added that “ bitten and Verbieten in the German signify to pray and to interdiet.” S. W.
Shall he dwindle, &c.] This mischief was supposed to be put in execution by ineans of a waxen figure, which represented the person who was to be consumed by slow degrees. So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malty, 1623 :
Lit wastes me more " Than were't my picture fashion'd out of wax, “ Stuck with a magick needle, and then buried
“ In some foul dunghill." So Holinshed, speaking of the witchcraft practised to destroy king Duffe:
_found one of the witches roasting upon a wooden broch an image of wax at the fire, resembling in each feature the king's person,” &c.
—for as the image did waste afore the fire, so did the bodie of the king break forth in sweat. And as for the words of the inchantment, they served to keep him still waking from sleepe.” &c. This may serve to explain the foregoing passage :
Sleep shall neither night nor day “ Hang upon his penthouse lid.” See Two Gentlemen of Verona, act ii. line 469, and Note.
STEEVENS. 113. Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.] So in Newes from Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted. “ Againe
it is confessed, that the said christened cat was the cause of the Kinges Majesties shippe, at his comming forthe of Denmarke, had a contrarie winde to the rest of his shippes then beeing in his companie, which thing was most straunge and true, as the Kinges Majestie acknowledgeth, for when the rest of the shippes had a faire and good winde, then was the winde contrarie and altogether against his Majestie. And further the sayde witch declared, that his Majestie had never come safely from the sea, if his faith had not prevayled above their ententions.” 'To this circumstance perhaps our author's allusion is sufficiently plain.
STE EVENS. The weyward sisters hand in hand,] Thus the old copies : Mr. Theobald restored the genuine reading
These sisters were the Fates of the northern nations; the three hand-maids of Odin. Hæ nominantur Valkyriæ, quas quodvis ad prælium Odinus mittit. Hæ viros morti destinant, & victoriam gubernant. Gunna, & Rota, & Parcarum minima Skullda: per aëra & maria equitant semper ad morituros eligendos; & cædes in potestate habent. Bartholinus de Causis contemptæ à Danis adhuc Gentilibus mortis. It is for this reason that Shakspere makes them three; and calls them,
Posters of the sea and land; and intent only upon death and mischief. However, to give this part of his work the more dignity, he intermixes, with this northern, the Greek and Roman superstitions, and puts Hecate at the head of their 4
enchantments. And to make it still more familiar to the common audience (which was always his point) he adds, for another ingredient, a sufficient quantity of our own country superstitions concerning witches; their beards, their cats, and their broomsticks.
WARBURTON. Wierd comes from the Anglo-Saxon fynd, and is used as a substantive signifying a prophecy, by the translator of Heslor Boethius in the year 1541, as well as for the Destinies by Chaucer and Holinshed. Of the weirdis gevyn to Macbeth and Banqhuo, is the argument of one of the chapters. Gawin Douglas, in his translation of Virgil, calls the Parcæ the weird sisters; and in Ane verie excellent and delectabill Treatise intitulit PHILOTUS, quhairin we may persave the greit inconveniences that fallis out in the Mariage betweene Age and Zouth, Edinburgh, 1603, the word appears
“ How dois the quheill of fortune go,
“Quhat wickit wierd has wrocht our wo," Again:
“Quhat neidis Philotus to think ill,
“ Or zit his wierd to warie?" The other method of spelling was merely a blunder of the transcriber or printer.
The Valkyriæ, or Valkyriur, were not barely three in number. The learned critick might have found, in Bartholinus, not only Gunna, Rota, et Skullda, bit also, Scogula, Hilda, Gondula, and Geiroscogula. Bara tho'inus adds, that their number is yet greater, according to other writers who speak of them. They с
were the cup-bearers of Odin, and conductors of the dead. They were distinguished by the elegance of their forms, and it would be as just to compare youth and beauty with age and deformity, as the Valkyriæ of the North with the Witches of Shakspere. STEEVENS.
The following passage in Bellenden's translation of Hector Boece fully supports the emendation that has been made : “ Be avanture Macbeth and Banquho were passand to Fores, quhair Kyng Duncane hapnit to be for the time, and met be the gait thre wemen closhit in elrage and uncouth weid. They were jugitt be pepill to be weird sisteris."
MALONE. 128. How far is't call’d to Fores? - -] The king at this time resided at Fores, a town in Murray, not far from Inverness. “ It fortuned (says Holinshed), as Macbeth and Banquo journeyed towards Fores, where the king then lay, they went sporting by the way, without other company, save only themselves, when suddenly in the midst of a laund there met them three women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of the elder world," &c.
STEEVENS. 132. That man may question ?
-] Are ye any beings with which man is permitted to hold converse, or of whom it is lawful to ask questions ? JOHNSON.
134. You should be women,] In Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Divell, 1592, there is an enumeration of Spirits and their offices; and of certain watery spirits it is said "by the help of Alynach, a spirit of the west, they will raise stormes, cause earthquakes, rayne, haile, or snow, in the clearest day
that is; and if ever they appeare to anie man, they come in women's apparell.”
-] Witches were supposed always to have hair on their chins, So, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 :
-Some women have beards, marry they are half witches."
STEEVENS. 138. All Hail, Macbeth ! -] It hath lately been repeated from Mr. Guthrie's Essay upon English Tragedy, that the portrait of Macbeth's wife is copied from Buchanan, “ whose spirit, as well as words, is translated into the play of Shakspere; and it had sig nifyed nothing to have pored only on Holinshed for facts.” -“ Animus etiam, per se ferox, prope quotidianis conviciis uxoris (quæ omnium consiliorum ei erat conscia) stimulabatur.' This is the whole that Buchanan says of the Lady, and truly I see no more spirit in the Scotch, than in the English chronicler. " The wordes of the three weird sisters also greatly encouraged him to the murder of Duncan), but specially his wife lay sore upon him to attempt the thing, as she that was very ambitious, brenning in unquenchable desire to beare the name of a queene." Edit. 1577, p. 244. This part
of Holinshed is an abridgement of Johne Bellenden's translation of the noble clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, in fol, 1541. I will give the passage as it is found there.
“ His wife impacient of lang tary ( as all women ar) specially quhare they are desirus of ony purpos, gaif hym gret artation to pur