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64. -which way they walk, -] The folio reads : -which they may walk,
STEEVENS, 65. Thy very stones prate of my where-about,] The following passage in a play which has been frequently mentioned, and which Langbaine says was very popular in the time of queen Elizabeth, A Warning for faire Women, 1599, perhaps suggested this thought:
“ Mountains will not suffice to cover it,
MALONE. 66. And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it.]i. e. lest the. noise from the stones take away from this midnight season that present horror which suits so well with what is going to be acted in it. What was the horror he means ? Silence, than which nothing can be more horrid to the perpetrator of an atrocious design. This shews a great knowledge of human nature.
WARBURTON Macbeth would have nothing break through the universal silence that added such a horror to the night, as suited well with the bloody deed he was about to perform. Mr. Burke, in his Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, observes, that “ all general privations are
great, because they are all terrible ;” and, with other things, he gives silence as an instance, illustrating the whole by that remarkable passage in Virgil, where, amidst all the images of terror that could be united, the circumstance of silence is particularly dwelt upon: “ Dii quibus imperium est animarum, umbræque
silentes, “ Et Chaos et Phlegethon, loca nocte silentia
latè." When Sta:ius, in the Vth book of the Th:baid, describes the Lemnian massacre, his frequent notice of the silence and solitude after the deed, is striking in a wonderful degree:
“ Conticuere domus,” &c. STEEVENS. 77.
their possets,] It appears from this passage, as well as from many others in our old dramatick performances, that it was the general custom to eat possets just before bed-time. So, in the first part of K. Edward IV. by Heywood; thou shalt be welcome to beef and bacon, and perhaps a bag-pudding ; and my daughter Nell shall pop a posset upon thee when thou goest to bed." Macbeth himself has already said :
“ Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
“She strike upon the bell.” And, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Mrs. Quickly promises Jack Rugby a posset at night.f' STEEVENS. 83. Hark! I laid the daggers ready,
He could not miss them-----] Compare Euripides, Orestes, v. 1291.-where Electra stands centinel at the
door of the palace, whilst Orestes is within for the purpose of murdering Helen. The dread of a surprise and eagerness for the business, makes Electra conclude that the deed must be done ere time enough had elapsed for attempting it. She listens with anxious impatience, and hearing nothing, expresses strong fears lest the daggers should have failed. Read the whole passage. 84. -Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had don't
- ] This is very artful. For, as the poet had drawn the lady and her husband, it would be thought the act should have been done by her. It is likewise highly just; for though ambition had subdued in her all the sentiments of nature towards present objects, yet the likeness of one past, which she had been accustomed to regard with reverence, made her unnatural passions, for a moment, give way to the sentiments of instinct and humanity.
WARBURTON. The same circumstance, on a similar occasion, is introduced by Statius in the Vth book of his Thebaid, ver. 236.
" Ut verò Alcimeden etiamnum in murmure
“ Ferre patris vultus, et egentem sanguinis ensem
Thoas was the father of Hypsipyle the speaker.
STEEVENS. 95. This is a sorry sight,] This expression might have been borrowed from Spenser's Faery Queen, l. v. c. i. 14
A sorrie sight as ever seene with eye. WHALLEY. 104. Listening their fear. I could not say, amen,
When they did say, God bless us.] i. e. Listening to their fear, the particle omitted This is common in our author. Julius Cæsar, act iv. sc. i.
and now Octavius, “ Listen great things.” Contemporary writers took the same liberty. So, in The World 10ss’d at Tennis, by Middleton and Rowley, 1620 : “ Listen the plaints of thy poor
votaries." Again, in Lylly's Maid's Metamorphosis, 1600:
“ There, in rich seats, all wrought of ivory,
STEEVENS. 114. Skeep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,] To confirm the ingenious conjecture that sleave means sleaved, silk ravelld, it is observable, that a poet of Shakspere's age, Drayton, has alluded to it likewise in his Quest of Cynthia :
“ At length I on a fountain light,
Sleave is mentioned in Holinshed's History of England, p. 835: “ Eight wild men all apparelled in green moss made with sleved silk.” Perhaps the same word, though differently spelt, occurs in the Lover's Complaint, by Shakspere, p. 87, and 88, Lintot's.
“ Found yet mo letters sadly penn'd in blood,
STEEVENS. To sleive is a provincial expression derived from the Teutonick schleiffen, to trail on the ground. That something of this idea was included in Shakspere's sense of sleave, is evident from the application of knits up to it.
115. The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, &c.] In this encomium upon sleep, amongst the many äppellations which are given it, significant of its be.' neficence and friendliness to life, we find one which conveys a different idea, and by no means agrees with the rest, which is :
The death of each day's life,
The birth of each day's life,The true characteristick of sleep, which repairs the decays of labour, and assists that returning vigour which supplies the next day's activity. The playereditors seem to have corrupted it for the sake of a silly jingle between life and death. WARBURTON,
I neither perceive the corruption, nor any necessity for alteration. The death of each day's life, means the