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Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.

Macb. We will speak further.

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The same. Before the Castle.

Hautboys. Servants of MACBETH attending. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUo, Lenox, MACDUFF, ROSSE, ANGUS, and Attendants.

Dun. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself

Unto our gentle senses.


This guest of summer,

The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,

3 To alter favour ever is to fear:] Favour is-look, counte


This castle hath a pleasant seat;] This short dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. Their conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of its situation, and the pleasantness of the air; and Banquo observing the martlet's nest in every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds most breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately succeeds. It seems as if Shakspeare asked himself, What is a prince likely to say to his attendants on such an occasion? Whereas the modern writers seem, on the contrary, to be always searching for new thoughts, such as would never occur to men in the situation which is represented. This also is frequently the practice of Homer, who, from the midst of battles and horrors, relieves and refreshes the mind of the reader, by introducing some quiet rural image, or picture of familiar domestick life. Sir J. REYNOLDS.

By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, buttress,
Nor coigne of vantage, but this bird hath made
His pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where they
Most breed and haunt, I have observ'd the air
Is delicate.


Enter Lady МАСВЕТН.

See, see! our honour'd hostess !
The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you,
How you shall bid God yield us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble".

Lady M.

All our service

In every point twice done, and then done double,
Were poor and single business, to contend

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"Buttress, nor coin of vantage, but this bird

Mr. Malone

"Hath made his pendant bed, and procreant cradle:
"Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ'd,
"The air is delicate."

6 The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you,

How you shall bid God yield us for your pains,

And thank us for your trouble.] This passage is undoubtedly obscure, and the following is the best explication of it I am able to offer:

Marks of respect, importunately shown, are sometimes troublesome, though we are still bound to be grateful for them, as indications of sincere attachment. If you pray for us on account of the trouble we create in your house, and thank us for the molestations we bring with us, it must be on such a principle. Herein I teach you that the inconvenience you suffer, is the result of our affection; and that you are therefore to pray for us, or thank us, only as far as prayers or thanks can be deserved for kindnesses that fatigue, and honours that oppress. You are, in short, to make your acknowledgments for intended respect and love, however irksome our present mode of expressing them may have proved. To bid is here used in the Saxon sense-to pray. STEEVENS.

Against those honours deep and broad, wherewith
Your majesty loads our house: For those of old,
And the late dignities heap'd up to them,

We rest your hermits".

We cours'd him at the heels, and had a purpose

Where's the thane of Cawdor?

To be his purveyor: but he rides well;

And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him To his home before us: Fair and noble hostess,


e are your guest to-night.

Lady M.

Your servants ever


Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt, To make their audit at your highness' pleasure,

Still to return your own.


Give me your hand:

Conduct me to mine host; we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess.



The same. A Room in the Castle.

Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the stage, a Sewer', and divers Servants with dishes and service. Then enter MАСВЕТН.

Macb. If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well

7 We rest your hermits.] Hermits, for beadsmen.

• Your servants ever, &c.] The sense is :-We, and all who belong to us, look upon our lives and fortunes not as our own properties, but as things we have received merely for your use, and for which we must be accountable, whenever you please to call us to our audit; when, like faithful stewards, we shall be ready to answer your summons, by returning you what is your own.

9 Enter

a Sewer,] A sewer was an officer so called from his placing the dishes upon the table. Asseour, French; from asseoir, to place.



It were done quickly: If the assassination'
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,

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But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,—
We'd jump the life to come. But, in these cases,
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek', hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off:

And pity, like a naked new-born babe,

Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd


If the assassination, &c.] Of this soliloquy the meaning is not very clear; I have never found the readers of Shakspeare agreeing about it. I understand it thus:

"If that which I am about to do, when it is once done and executed, were done and ended without any following effects, it would then be best to do it quickly: if the murder could terminate in itself, and restrain the regular course of consequences, if its success would secure its surcease, if, being once done successfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and enquiry, so that this blow might be all that I have to do, and this anxiety all that I have to suffer; if this could be my condition, even here in this world, in this contracted period of temporal existence, on this narrow bank in the ocean of eternity, I would jump the life to come, I would venture upon the deed without care of any future state. But this is one of those cases in which judgment is pronounced and vengeance inflicted upon us here in our present life. We teach others to do as we have done, and are punished by our own example." JOHNSON.

*Hath borne his faculties so meek,] Faculties, for office, exercise of power, &c.

Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,

That tears shall drown the wind.—I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself,
And falls on the other.-How now, what news?

Enter Lady3 MACBETH.

Lady M. He has almost supp'd; Why have you left the chamber?

Macb. Hath he ask'd for me?

Lady M.

Know you not, he has ? Macb. We will proceed no further in this business : He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people,

3 Enter Lady-] The arguments by which Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to commit the murder, afford a proof of Shakspeare's knowledge of human nature. She urges the excellence and dignity of courage, a glittering idea which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated sometimes the housebreaker, and sometimes the conqueror; but this sophism Macbeth has for ever destroyed, by distinguishing true from false fortitude in a line and a half; of which it may almost be said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though all his other productions had been lost :

I dare do all that may become a man,

Who dares do more, is none.

This topick, which has been always employed with too much success, is used in this scene, with peculiar propriety, to a soldier by a woman. Courage is the distinguishing virtue of a soldier; and the reproach of cowardice cannot be borne by any man from a woman, without great impatience.

She then urges the oaths by which he had bound himself to murder Duncan; another art of sophistry by which men have sometimes deluded their consciences, and persuaded themselves what would be criminal in others is virtuous in them; this argument Shakspeare, whose plan obliged him to make Macbeth yield, has not confuted, though he might easily have shown that a former obligation could not be vacated by a latter; that obligations, laid on us by a higher power, could not be over-ruled by obligations which we lay upon ourselves. JOHNSON.

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