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3 Mur. Who did strike out the light? 1 Mur.
Was 't not the way.?? 3 Mur. There 's but one down; the son is fled. z Mur. We have lost best half of our affair. 1 Mur. Well, let 's away, and say how much is done.
A Room of state in the Palace, A banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, Lady Mac.
BETH, Rosse, Lenox, Lords and Attendants. Macb. You know your own degrees, sit down: at
first, And last, the hearty welcome. Lords.
Thanks to your majesty. Macb. Ourself will mingle with society, And play the humble host. Our hostess keeps her state;o but, in best time,
* Was 't not the way?] i. e. the best means we could take to ! evade discovery. Steevens.
Rather, to effect our purpose. Ritson. * You know your own degrees, sit down at first And last, the hearty welcome.] I believe the true reading is:
You know your own degrees, sit down.-To first
And last the bearty welcome. All, of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, may be assured that their visit is well received. Johnson.
9 Our hostess keeps ber state; &c.] i e. continues in her chair of state at the head of the table. This idea might have been borrowed from Holinshed, p. 805: “ The king (Henry VIII) caused the queene to keepe the estate, and then sat the ambassadours and ladies as they were marshalled by the king, who would not sit, but walked from place to place, making cheer,” &c.
To keep state is a phrase perpetually occurring in our ancient dramas, &c. So Ben Jonson, in his Cynthia's Revels :
“ Seated in thy silver chair
“ State in wonted manner keep." Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Wild Goose Chase:
“ What a state she keeps ! how far off they sit from her!" Many more instances, to the same purpose, might be given.
We will require her welcome.
Lady.M. Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends; For my
heart speaks, they are welcome.
Enter first Murderer, to the door.
Mur. 'Tis Banquo's then.
Macb. 'Tis better thee without, than he within. ? Is he despatch'd?
Mur. My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.
Most royal sir,
Mur. Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
A state appears to have been a royal chair with a canopy over it. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:
“ This chair shall be my state.” Again, in Sir T. Herbert's Memoirs of Charles I: “ where being set, the king under a state” &c. Again, in The View of France, 1598:“ espying the chayre not to stand well under the state, he mended it handsomely himself.” Malone.
1 'Tis better thee without, than be within.] The sense requires that this passage should be read thus :
'Tis better thee without, than him within. That is, I am better pleased that the blood of Banquo should be on tby face than in his body.
The author might mean, It is better that Banquo's blood were on thy face, than be in this room. Expressions thus in perfect are common in his works. Fobnson. I have no doubt that this last was the unthor's true meaning.
Ma.one. VOL. VII.
With twenty trenched gashes? on his head;
Thanks for that:
[Exit Mur. Lady M.
My royal lord, You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold,4 That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a making, 'Tis given with welcome: To feed, were best at home; From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony;. Meeting were bare without it. Macb.
Sweet remembrancer! Now, good digestion wait on appetite, And health on both! Len.
May it please your highness sit? [The Ghost of Ban. rises, and sits in Macbo's place. Macb. Here had we now our country's honour roofd,
trenched gasbes -] Trencher, to cut. Fr. So, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:
“ Is deeply trenched on my blushing brow."
in Tbe Two Gentlemen of Verona :
the worm,] This term, in our author's time, was ap. plied to all of the serpent kind. Malone.
the feast is sold, &c.] Mr. Pope reads :— the feast is soid, -and not without plausibility. Such another phrase occurs in The Elder Brother of Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ You must be welcome too :-tbe feast is flat else." But the same expression as Shakspeare's is found in The Romaunt of the Rose:
* Good dede done through praiere,
“ Is sold and bought too dere.” Steevens. The meaning is, -That which is not given cheerfully, cannot be called a gift, it is something that must be paid for. Johnson.
It is still common to say, that we pay dear for an entertainment, if the circumstances attending the participation of it prove irksome to us. Henley.
5 Now, good digestion wait on appetite,] So, in King Henry VIII:
“A good digestion to you all.” Steevens. 6 The Ghost of Banguo rises,] This circumstance of Banquo' ghost seems to be allued to in The Puritan, first printed in
Were the grac'd person of our Banquo present;
His absence, sir,
To grace us with your royal company?
Macb. The table 's full.
Here is a place reserv'd, sir.
highness? Macb. Which of you have done this? Lords.
What, my good lord? Macb. Thou canst not say, I did it: never shake Thy gory locks at me.
Rosse. Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well. Lady M. Sit, worthy friends:--my lord is often thus, And hath been from his youth: 'pray you, keep seat; The fit is momentary; upon a thought
1607, and ridiculousiy ascribed to Shakspeare: "We'll ba' tlie ghost i' th' white sheet sit at upper end o' th' table.” Farmer.
7 Than pity for mischance!! This is one of Shakspeare's touches of nature. Macbeth, by these words, discovers a con. sciousness of guilt; and this circumstance could not fail to be recollected by a nice observer on the assassination of Banquo being publickly known. Not being rendered sufficiently callous by “ hard use," Macbeth betrays himself (as Mr. Whateley has observed) “ by an over-acted regard for Banquo, of whose absence from the feast he affects to complain, that he may be suspected of knowing the cause, though at the same time he very unguardedly drops an allusion to that cause." Malone.
These words do not seem to convey any consciousness of guilt on the part of Macbeth, or allusion to Banquo's murder, as Mr. Whateley supposes. Macbeth only means to say—“ I have more cause to accuse him of unkindness for his absence, than to pity him for any accident or mischance that may have occasioned it.” Douce.
8 Here, my lord. &c.] The old copy--my good lord; an interpolation that spoils the metre. The compositor's eye had caught-good from the next speech but one. Steevens.
upon a thought -] i. e. as speedily as thought can be exerted. So, in King Henry IV, P.I:“ - and, with a thought seven of the eleven I pay'd." Again, in Hamlet :
He will again be well: If much you note him,
Macb. Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
O proper stuff! 2
Macb. Pr'ythee, see there! behold! look! lo! how
Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.-
“ As meditation, or the thoughts of love." Steevens.
eštena mis passion;] Prolong his suffèring; make his fit longer. Fobnson.
3 O proper stuff!). This speech is rather too long for the cir. cumstances in which it is spoken. It had better begun atSbame itself! Johnson.
Surely it required more than a few words, to argue Macbeth out of the horror that possessed him. M. Mason. 3 - O, these faws, anul starts,
(Impostors to try!e fear) would well bacome &c.] i.e. these flaws and starts, as they are indications of your needless fears, are the imitators or impostors only of those which arise from a fear well grounded. Warburton.
Flaws are sudden gusts. Johnson.
“Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw.” Steedens.
Malone. Impostors to true fear, mean impostors when compared with true fear. Such is the force of the preposition to in this place.
M. Mason. So, in King Henry VIII: “Fetch me a dozen crab-tree staves, and strong ones; these are switches to them.” Steevens.
To may be used for of. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona we have an expression resembling this :
“Thou counterfeit ta thy' true friend." Malone.