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the present reading, and therefore it cannot be doubted that Shakspere wrote differently, perhaps thus;
That no compunctious visitings of nature
The effect and it. To keep pace between, may signify to pass between, to intervene. Pace is on many occasions a favourite of Shakspere's. This phrase is indeed not usual in this sense ; but was it not its novelty that gave occasion to the present corruption ?
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's emendation, to say the least, is plausible. She requires that all access and passage be stopped against remorse, lest the visitings of nature, by their frequent recurrence, should induce her to relent, and relinquish her purpose.
Keep pace is an expression of Shakspere in the Merry Wives of Windsor." His words and actions no more adhere and keep pace," &c.
HENLEY. 368. -and it!] The folio reads, and hit.
STEEVENS. Her purpose was to be effected by action. To keep peace
between the effect and purpose, therefore means, to delay the execution of her purpose. For as long as there should be a peace between the effect and purpose, or, in other words, till hostilities were conmenced, till some action should be performed, her purpose could not be carried into execution. There is no need of alteration. A similar expression is found in a book which our
author is known to have read, The Tragicall Historie of
« In absence of her knight, the lady no way could
so fayne she would,"
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
“ Between my conscience and my cousin's death.” Sir W. D'Avenant's strange alteration of this play sometimes affords a reasonably good comment on it. Thus, in the present instance :
-] Take away my milk, and put gall into the place. JOHNSON.
371. You wait on nature's mischief!] Nature's mischief is mischief done to nature, violation of nature's order committed by wickedness.
JOHNSON. -Come, thick night, &c.] A similar invocation is found in A Warning for faire Women, 1599, a tragedy which was certainly prior to Macbeth :
“ Oh sable night, sit on the eye of heaven,
My guilty soul, burnt with lust's hateful fire, “ Must wade through blood to obtain my vile
desire : • Be then my coverture, thick ugly night! " The light hates me, and I do hate the light.”
MALONE. 372. And pall thee -] i.e. wrap thyself in a pall.
WARBURTON. A pall is a robe of state. So, in the ancient black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date :
“ The knyghtes were clothed in pall." Again, in Milton's Penseroso :
“ Sometime let gorgeous tragedy
“ In scepter'd pall come sweeping by." Dr. Warburton seems to mean the covering which is thrown over the dead.
STEEVENS. 373. That
my keen knife -] The word knife, which at present has a familiar-meaning, was anciently used to express a sword or dagger. So, in the old black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date :
“Through Goddes myght, and his knyfe,
“ There the gyaunte lost his lyfe.” STEEVENS. 374. -the blanket of the dark,] Drayton, in the 26th song of his Polyolbion, has an expression resembling this: “ Thick vapours that, like ruggs, still hang the troubled air.”
STEEVENS. 37.5. To cry, Hold, hold !
-1 On this passage there is a long criticism in the Rambler. JOHNSON
In this criticism the epithet dun is objected to as a mean one. Milton, however, appears to have been of a different opinion, and has represented Satan as flying, in the dun air sublime."
STEEVENS. To cry, Hold, hold!
-] The thought is taken from the old military laws which inflicted capital punisment upon
" whosoever shall strike stroke at his adversary, either in the heat or otherwise, if a third do cry hold, to the intent to part them ; except that they did fight a combat in a place inclosed : and then no man shall be so hardy as to bid hold, but the general." P. 264. of Mr. Bellay's Instructions for the Wars, translated in 1589.
TOLLET. Mr. Tollet's note will likewise illustrate the last line in Macbeth's concluding speech : “ And damn'd be him who first cries, Hold, enough !"
STEEVENS. 375. Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor !] Shakspere has supported the character of lady Macbeth by repeated efforts, and never omits any opportunity of adding a trait of ferocity, or a mark of the want of human feelings, to this monster of his own creation. The softer passions are more obliterated in her than in her husband, in proportion as her ambition is greater. She meets him here on his arrival from an expedition of danger, with such a salutation as would have become one of his friends or vassals; a salutation apparently fitted rather to raise his thoughts to a level with her own purposes, than to testify her joy at his
return, or manifest an attachment to his person: nor does any sentiment expressive of love or softness fall from her throughout the play. While Macbeth him. self, in the midst of the horrors of his guilt, still retains a character less fiend-like than that of his queen, talks to her with a degree of tenderness, and pours his complaints and fears into her bosom, accompanied with terms of endearment.
SteeVENS. 378. This ignorant present time, Ignorant has here the signification of unknowing ; that is, I feel by anticipation those future hours, of which, according to the process of nature, the present time would be ignorant.
JOHNSON. So, in Cymbeline :
-his shipping “ Poor ignorant baubles,” &c. Steevens. 378.
- present time, -] The word time is wanting in the old copy. It was supplied by Mr. Pope, and perhaps without necessity, as our author omits it in the first scene of The Tempest : “ If you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more.” The sense does not require the word time, and it is too much for the measure. Again, in Coriolanus :
“ And that you not delay the present; but,” &c. Again, in 1 Corinthians, ch. xv. v.6: “ of whom the greater part remain unto this present."
STEEVENS. 386. Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men May read, &c.]