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the circumstances in which it is spoken. It had begun better at,
Line 352.0, these flaws,] Flaws, are sudden gusts.
369. Ere human statute purg'd the gentle weal;] The gentle weal, is the peaceable community, the state made quiet and safe by human statutes. JOHNSON.
Line 390. And all to all.] i. e. all good wishes to all: such as he had named above, love, health, and joy. WARBURTON.
Line 406. If trembling I inhibit-] Inhabit is the original reading, which Mr. Pope changed to inhibit, which inhibit Dr. Warburton interprets refuse. JOHNSON.
Line 413. Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer's cloud,
Without our special wonder?] The meaning is not that these things are like a summer cloud, but can such wonders as these pass over us without wonder, as a casual summer cloud passes over us? JOHNSON.
-You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,] You produce in me an alienation of mind, which is probably the expression which our author intended to paraphrase. JOHNSON.
-are blanch'd-] i. e. made pale with fear. -433. Augurs, and understood relations, &c.] By the word relation is understood the connection of effects with causes; to understand relations as an augur, is to know how these things relate to each other, which have no visible combination or dependence. JOHNSON.
Line 444. There's not a one of them,] However uncouth the expression, means an individual.. The circumstance is taken from Holinshed. Theobald would read Thane. STEEVENS.
Line 454. You lack the season of all natures, sleep.] I take the meaning to be, you want sleep, which seasons, or gives the relish to all nature. Indiget somni vitæ condimenti. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE V.
-vaporous drop profound;] That is, a drop that
has profound, deep, or hidden qualities.
ACT III. SCENE VI.
Enter Lenox, and another Lord.] As this tragedy, like the rest of Shakspeare's, is perhaps overstocked with personages, it is not easy to assign a reason why a nameless character should be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not with equal propriety have been put into the mouth of any other disaffected man. I believe therefore that in the original copy it was written with a very common form of contraction Lenox and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, set down Lenox and another Lord. The author had indeed been more indebted to the transcriber's fidelity and diligence had he committed no errors of greater importance. JOHNSON.
Line 538. - -and receive free honours,] Free, may be either honours freely bestowed, not purchased by crimes; or honours without slavery, without dread of a tyrant. JOHNSON. STEEVENS.
the king,] i. e. Macbeth.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
SCENE I.] As this is the chief scene of enchantment in the play, It is proper, in this place, to observe, with how much judgment Shakspeare has selected all the circumstances of his infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions:
"Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd."
The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to converse with witches, is that of a cat. A witch, who was tried about half a century before the time of Shakspeare, had a cat named Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of those witches was Grimalkin; and when any mischief was to be done, she used to bid Rutterkin go and fly. But once, when she would have sent Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the Countess of Rutland, instead of going or flying, he only cried mew, from whence she discovered that the
lady was out of his power, the power of witches being not universal, but limited, as Shakspeare has taken care to inculcate :
"Though his bark cannot be lost,
The common afflictions which the malice of witches produced, were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh, which are threatened by one of Shakspeare's witches:
"Weary sev'n nights, nine times nine,
It was likewise their practice to destroy the cattle of their neighbours, and the farmers have to this day many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft; but they seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. Shakspeare has accordingly made one of his witches declare that she has been killing swine; and Dr. Harsnet observes, that, about that time, "a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft."
"Toad, that under the cold stone,
Toads have long likewise lain under the reproach of being by some means accessary to witchcraft, for which reason Shakspeare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Paddock or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found at his lodgings ingens bufo vitro inclusus, a great toad shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him Veneficium exprobrabant, charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft.
"Fillet of a fenny snake,
"In the cauldron boil and bake:
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog ;-
The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books De Viribus Animalium and De Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.
"Finger of birth-strangled babe,
It has been already mentioned, in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom king James examined; and who had of a dead body, that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable, that Shakspeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horror. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.
"And now about the cauldron sing,-
"Red spirits and grey,
And, in a former part :
"weird sisters, hand in hand,-
"Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
These two passages I have brought together, because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shown, by one quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded upon a practice really observed by the uncivilised natives of that country: "When any one gets a fall, says the informer of Camden, he starts up, and turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, red, black, white." There was likewise a book written before the time of Shakspeare, properties, the colours of spirits.
describing, amongst other
Many other circumstances might be particularised, in which Shakspeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge. JOHNS. Line 11. Double, double toil and trouble;] As this was a
very extraordinary incantation, they were to double their pains
STEEVENS. -maw, and gulf,] The gulf is the swallow, the STEEVENS.
-ravin'd salt-sea shark;] Ravin'd means glutted. 29. Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse ;] To sliver means to cut a piece, to divide.
Line 30. Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips ;] These ingredients in all probability owed their introduction to the detestation in which the Saracens were held, on account of the holy wars.
STEEVENS. Line 34. Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,] Chaudron, i. e. entrails. STEEVENS. -yesty waves-] That is, foaming or frothy waves. JOHNSON. 63. Though castles topple-] Topple is used for tumble. STEEVENS. -67. Of nature's germins-] Germins, i. e. seeds, from germe, French.
deftly show.] i. e. dexterously, adroitly.
83. An apparition of an armed head rises.] The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff untimely ripp'd from his mother's womb. The child with a crown on his head, and a bough in his hand, is the royal Malcolm, who ordered his soldiers to hew them down a bough, and bear it before them to Dunsinane. This observation I have adopted from Mr. Upton. STEEV. Line 108. -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.
Line 117. Who can impress the forest ;] i. e. who can command the forest to serve him like a soldier impress'd. JOHNSON.
Line 134. 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