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-badg'd with blod,] So, in the Se. cond Part of K. Henry VI. « With murder's crimson badge."

MALONE. 273.

-their daggers, which unwip'd we found upon their pillows.] This idea, perhaps, was taken from The Man of Lawes Tale, by Chaucer, l. 5027, Tyrwhitt's edit.

“ And in the bed the bloody knife he found.” See also the foregoing lines.

STEEVENS. 282. -Here lay Duncan,

His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood;
And his gashid stabs look'd like a breach in


For ruin's wasteful entrance : -] It is not improbable, that Shakspere put these forced and unnatural metaphors into the mouth of Macbeth as a mark of artifice and dissimulation, to shew the differ. ence between the studied language of hypocrisy, and the natural outcries of sudden passion. The whole specch, so considered, is a remarkable instance of judgment, as it consists entirely of antithesis and me. ta; her.

JOHNSON. To gild any thing with blood, is a very common phrase in the old plays. So Heywood, in the second part of his Iron Age, 1632 :

we have gilt our Greekish arms " With blood of our own nation." Shakspere repeats the image in K. John : " Their armours that inarch'd hence so silver bright,

" Hither

“ Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen’s blood.


-a breach in nature

For ruin's wasteful entrance :) This comparison occurs likewise in A. Herring's Tayle, a poem,


“ A batter'd breach where troopes of wounds may enter in.

STEEVENS. 287. Unmannerly breech'd with gore; -] Macbeth is describing a scene shocking to humanity : and in the midst of his narrative throws in a parenthetical reflection, consisting of one word not connected with the sentence, (“O most unseemly sight!'') For this is a meaning of the word unmannerly: and the want of considering it in this detached sense has introduced much confusion into the passage. The Latins often used nefas and infandum in this manner. Or, in the same sense, the word may be here applied adverbially. The correction of the author of the Revisal is equally frigid and unmeaning. “ Their daggers in a manner lay drench'd with gore.” The manifest artifice and dissimulation of the speech seems to be heightened by the explanation which I have offered.

WARTON. I apprehend it to be the duty of an editor to represent his author such as he is, and explain the meaning of the words he finds to the best advantage, instead of attempting to make them better by any violent alteration.

The expression may mein, that the daggers were covered with blood, quite to their brecches, i. e. their

hilts or handles. The lower end of a cannon is called the breech of it; and it is known that both to breech and to unbreech a gun are common terms.

So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Custom of the Country: “ The main spring's weaken'd that holds up his

cock, " He lies to be new breech'd.. "Unbreech his barrel, and discharge his bullets."

STEEVENS. A passage in a preceding scene, in which Macbeth's visionary dagger is described, strongly supports Mr. Steevens's interpretation.

-I see thee still; “ And on thy blade and dudgeon [i. e. hilt] gouts

of blood, " Which was not so before." The following lines in K. Henry IV. Part III. may perhaps, after all, form the best comment on these controverted words:

“ And full as oft came Edward to my side,
“ With purple faulchion, painted to the hilt

« In blood of those that had encounter'd him.” Though much has been written on this passage, the commentators have forgotten to account for the attendants of Duncan being furnished with these un. mannerly daggers. The fact is, that in our author's time a dagger was a common weapon, and was usually carried by servants, suspended at their backs. So, in Romeo and Juliet : “ Then I will lay the serving crea. ture's dagger on your pate."


This passage, says Mr. Heath, seeins to have been the crux criticorum !-Every one has tried his skill at it, and I may venture to say, no one has succeeded.'

The sense is, in plain language, Baggers filthilyin & foul manner-sheath’d with blood. A scabbard is called a pilche, a leather coat, in Romeo-but you will ask, whence the allusion to breeches ? Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson have well observed, that this speech of Macbeth is very artfully made of unnatural thoughts. and language: in 1605 (the year in which the play appears to have been written) a book was published by Peter Erondell (with commendatory poems by Daniel, and other wits of the time), called The French Garden, ar A Summer Bayes Labour, containing, among other matters, some dialogues of a dramatick cast, which, I am persuaded, our author had read in the English; and from which he took, as he supposed, for his present purpose, this quaint expression. I will quote literatim from the 6th dialogue : “ Boy! you do nothing but play tricks there, go fetch your master's silver-hatched daggers, you have not brushed their breeches; bring the brushes, and brush them before mie."-Shakspere was deceived by the pointing, and evidently supposes breeches to be a new and affected term for scabbards. But had he been able to have read the French on the other page, even as a learner, he must have been set right at once. Garçon, vous ne faites que badiner, allez querir les poignards argentez de vos maistres, vous n'avez pas espousseré leur haut-de-chausses"-their breeches, in the common


sense of the word: as in the next sentence bas-dechausses, stockings, and so on through all the articles of dress.

FARMER. 295. Where our fate, hid within an augre-hole.] The old copy reads-hid in.

MALONE. 301. And when we have our naked frailties hid,

That suffer in exposure, -] i. e. when we have clothed our half-drest bodies, which may take cold from being exposed to the air. It is possible that in such a cloud of words, the meaning might escape the reader.

STEEVENS. 305. In the great hand of God I stand; and, thence,

Against the undivulg'd pretence I fight

Of treasonous malice.] Pretence is intention, design, a sense in which the word is often used by Shakspere. So, in The Winter's Tale: “—conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy royal husband, the pretence whereof being by circumstance partly laid open." Again, in this tragedy of Macbeth :

“What good could they pretend ?i.c. intend to themselves. Banquo's meaning is in our present state of doubt and uncertainty about this murder, I have nothing to do but to put myself under the direction of God; and relying on his support, I here declare myself an eternal enemy to this treason, and to all its further designs that have not yet come to light.

STEEVENS. -the near in blood, The nearer bloody.] Meaning, that he supected



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