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Ban. So I lofe none,
My diftant hint of his designs on the crown. Had he a&ed thus incauti. ously, Banquo wovid naturally have become his acculer, as soon as the murder had been discovered. STEIVENS.
I have too much respect for both the learned commentators, to omit their notes on this very difficult passage, though I do not agree with either of them. The word consent has always appeared to me unintel. ligible in the first of these lines, and was, I am persuaded, a mere errour of the press. A partage in tbe Tempeft leads me to think that our author wrote-content. Antonio is counselling Sebastian to murder Gonzalo :
" O, that you bore
“ Tender your own good fortune?"
In tbe Comedy of Errors our author has again used this word in the same sense :
“ Sir, I commend you to your own content." Again, in All's well ibat ends well:
“ Madam, the care I have taken to even your content," i. e. says Dr. Johnson, to act up to your defires. Again, in Kirg Richard III:
" God hold it to your honour's good content!" Again, in obe Merry Wives of Windsor : “ You shall hear how things go, and, I warrant, to your own content.".
The meaning then of the present difficult passage, thus corrected, will be)f you will closely adhere to my cause, if you will promote, as far as you can, what is likely to contribute to my satisfaction and content,wben 'ris, when the prophecy of the weird fifters is fulfilled, whea I am reated on the throne, the event thall make honour for you.
If Macbeth does not mean to allude darkly to his attainment of the crown, (I do not say to his forcible or unjust acquisition of it, but to his attainment of it,) what meaning can be drawn from the words, “ If you fhall cleave," &c. whether we read consent, or the word now proposed ? In the preceding speech, though he offeet's not to think of it, he set clearly marks out to Banquo what it is that is the obje&t of the mysterious words which we are now considering:
“ Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
My bosom franchis'd, and allegiance clear,
i. e. “ upon the prophecy of the weird Gifters, [that I should be thane of Cawdor, and afterwards king,) which, as you observe, has been in part fulfilled, and which by the kindness of fortune may at some future time be in the whole accomplished."
I do not suppose that Macbeth means to give Banquo the most diftant hint of his having any intention to murder Duncan; but merely to state to him, that if he will strenuoully endeavour to promote his fatisfaction or content, if he will espouse his cause, and support him against all adversaries, whenever he thall be seated on the throne of Scotland, by whatever mysterious operation of fate that event may be brought about, such a conduct shall be rewarded, shall make honour for Banquo. The word content admits of this interpretation, and is supported by several other paliages in our author's plays; the word conferit, in my apprehenfion, affords here no meaning whatsoever.
Consent or concent may certainly fignify barmony, and isoa metaphori. cal sense that union which binds to each other a party or number of men, leagued together for a particular purpose; but it can no more fignify, as I conceive, the party, or body of men so combined together, or the cause for which they are united, than the harmony produced by a number of musical instruments can signify the instruments themselves or the musicians that play upon them. When Fairfax, in his translation of Taflo, says
Birds, winds and waters sing with sweet concent, we must surely understand by the word concent, not a party, or a cause, but barmony, or union; and in the latter sense, I apprehend, Justice Shallow's servants are said to flock together in concent, in the second part of K. Henry IV.
If this correction be just, “ In seeking to augment it," in Banquo's reply, may perhaps relate not to his own honour, but to Macbeth's
"On condition that I lose no honour, in seeking to increase your satisfa&tion, or content, to gratify your wishes," &c. The words however may be equally commodiously interpreted, —- Provided that in seeking an increase of bonour, I lose none,” &c.
Sir William D'Avenant's paraphrafe on this obscure passage is as follows:
« If when the prophecy begins to look like, you will
“ Adhere to me, it shall make honour for you." MALONE. Macbeth certainly did not mean to divulge to Banquo the wicked means by which he intended to secure the crown, but his prospect of obtaining the crown was evidently to be the subject of their conference: and it was only on the fuppofition of Macbeth's obtaining it, that he could promise any addition of honour to Banquo, who was his equal, while he remained a subject. MASON.
Macb. Good repose, the while !
Macb. Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is readys,
5 when my drink is ready,] See p. 326, n. 8. MALONE.
- clutch) This word, though reprobated by Ben Jonson, who freers at Decker for using it, was used by other writers beside Decker and our author. So, in Antonio's Revenge, by Marston, 1602 :
all the world is clutcb'd “ In the dull leaden hand of snoring seep." MALONI. 7 And on tby blade, and dudgeon, gouts of blood,] Though dudgees does sometimes signify a dagger, it more properly means ibe baft or barıdle of a dagger, and is used for that particular sort of handle which has some ornament carved on the top of it. Junius explains the dud. geon, i. e. baft, by the Latin expression, manubrium apiarum, which means a bandle of word, with a grain rougb as if ibe seeds of perfly were frown over it.
So, in Lyllie's comedy of Mother Bombie, 1594: “ — then have at the bag with the dudgeon bafte, that is, at the dudgeon dagger that hangs by his tantony pouch.” STEIVENS.
Gascoigne confirms this: “ The most knottie piece of box may be brought to a fayre dosgen bafte.” Gouts for drops is frequent in old Englith. FARMER.
gouts of blood,] O: drops, French. Popl. Gouts is the technical term for the spots on some part of the plumage of a hawk : or perhaps Shakspeare used the word in allufion to a phrale in heraldry. When a field is charged or sprinkled with red drops, it is said to be gutty of gules, or gutty de fang: STEVENS,
Which was not so before.-There's no such thing :
Now o'er the one balf world
Nature seems dead,] That is, over our bemispbere all a Elion and motion seem to bave ceased. This image, which is perhaps the most Atriking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden in his Conquest of Mexico:
«'All things are hush'd as Nature's self lay dead,
The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head;
“ Even luft and envy sleep!"
Night is described by two great poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the difturbers of the world are laid alleep; in that of Shakspeare, nothing but sorcery, lust, and murder, is awake. He that reads Dryden, finds himself lulld with serenity, and disposed to solitude and contemplation. He that peruses Shakspeare, looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lover ; the other, of a mur. derer. JOHNSON.
Now o'er the one balf world &c.] 3o, in the second part of Marston's
“ 'Tis yet dead night; yet all the earth is clutch'd
" - I am great in blood,
" From your large palms," MALONE.
STELVENS, VOL. IV.
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
Hear So afterwards :
" – a hideous trumpet calls to parley
“ The Deepers of the house." Now was added by Sir William D'Avenant in his alteration of this play, published in 1674. MALONE.
ibus with bis ftealtby pace,
Moves like a gboft.] Thus the old copy. Mr. Pope changed fides to frides. A ravishing Aride being, in Dr. Johnson's opinior, “ an action of violence, impetuosity and tumult," he would readWich Tarquin ravithing, fides, &c. MALONE.
I cannot agree with Dr. Johnson that a fride is always an e&tion of violence, impetuofity, or tumult. Spenser uses the word in his Feery Queen, b. iv. c. 8. and with no idea of violence annexed to it:
“ With easy steps so soft as foot could ftride." And as an additional proof that a stride is not always a tumultueus effert, the following instance from Harrington's Transasion of Ariofte, [1591,] may be brought :
" He takes a long and leisurable Bride,
“ To find the bed,” &c. Orlando Furioso, B. 28, stanza 63. Whoever has been reduced to the necessity of finding his way about a house in the dark, must know that it is natural to take large firides, in order to feel before us whether we have a safe footing or not. The ravisher and murderer would naturally take such Arides, not only on the same account, but that their steps might be fewer in number, and the found of their feet be repeated as seldom as possible. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's observation is confirmed by many instances that occur in our ancient poets. So, in a pallage by J. Sylvetter, cited in Enge land's Parnaffus, 1600 :
“ Anon he stalketh with an easy stride,
“ By some clear river's lillie.paved side.” Again, in our author's King Richard II :
“ Nay rather every redious Aride I make," Thus also the Roman poets :