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Enter a Porter. [Knocking within. Port. Here's a knocking, indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turning the key.9 [Knocking.] Knock, knock, knock: Who's there, i' the name of Belzebub? Here's a farmer, that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty: Come in time; have napkins enough' about you; here you 'll sweat
6 Wake Duncan with thy knocking!] Macbeth is addressing the person who knocks at the outward gate.-Sir W. D'Avenant, in his alteration of this play, reads-(and intended probably to point) " Wake, Duncan, with this knocking!” conceiving that Macbeth called upon Duncan to awake. From the same mis. apprehension, I once thought his emendation right; but there is certainly no need of change. Malone.
See Mr. Malone's extract from Mr. Whately's Remarks on some of the Characters of Shakspeare, at the conclusion of this tragedy. Steevens.
7-Ay, 'would thou could'st!] The old copy has-1; but as ay, the affirmative particle, was thus written, I conceive it to have been designed here. Had Shakspeare meant to express “ I would,” he might, perhaps, only have given us—'Would, as on many other occasions. The repentant exclamation of Macbeth, in my judgment, derives force from the present change; a change which has been repeatedly made in spelling this ancient substitute for the word of enforcement-ay, in the very play before us
If it be urged, that the line is roughen'd by the reading I would introduce, let not the following verse, in Act III, sc. vi, of this very tragedy, be forgotten:
“ Was not that nobly done ? Ay, and wisely too?" Steevens. 8 Scene III.] Though Shakspeare (see Sir J. Reynold's ex. cellent note on Act I, sc. vi, p. 60,) might have designed#this scene as another instance of what is called the repose in paint. ing, I cannot help regarding it in a different light. A glimpse of comedy was expected by our author's audience in the most serious drama; and where else could the merriment, which he himself was always struggling after, be so happily introduced ?
Steevens. 9- be should have old turning the key.] i. e. frequeni, more than enough. So, in King Henry IV, P. II, the Drawer says, “ Then here will be old utis.” See note on this passage.
for 't. [Knocking. ) Knock, knock: Who 's there, i' the other devil's name? 'Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: (), come in, equivoeator. [Knocking.] Knock, knock, knock: Who 's there? 'Faith, here's an English tailor come hither, for stealing out of a French hose:3 Come in, tailor;
1 napkins enough - ] i. e. handkerchiefs. So, in Othello :
~ Your napkin is too little.” Stecvens. 2 — bere's an equivocator,—who committed treason enough for God's sake,] Meaning a Jesuit: an order so troublesome to the state in queen Elizabeth and king James the First's time. The inventors of the execrable doctrine of equivocation.
Warburton. 3- here's an English tailor come bitber, for stealing out of a French bosę:] The archness of the joke consists in this, that a French hose being very short and strait, a tailor must be master of his trade who could steal any thing from thence.
Warburton. Dr. Warburton has said this at random.. The French bose (according to Stubbs, in his Anatomie of Abuses) were in the year 1595 much in fashion : “ The Gallic bosen are made very large and wide, reaching down to their knees only, with three or foure gardes apeece laid down along either bose.” Again, in The Ladies Privilege, 1640:
- wear their long “ Parisian breeches, with five points at knees, « Whose tags, concurring with their harmonious spurs, « Afford rare music; then have they doublets “ So short i' th’ waist, they seem as twere begot 6 Upon their doublets by their cloaks, which to save stuff " Are but a year's growth longer than their skirts ; “ And all this magazine of device is furnish'd
“ By your French taylor.” · Again, in The Defence of Coneycatching, 1592: “Blest be the French sleeves and breech verdingales that grants them (the tailors) leave to coney-catch so mightily.” Steevens.
When Mr. Steevens censured Dr. Warburton in this place, he forgot the uncertainty of French fasbions. In The Treasury of ancient and modern Times, 1613, we have an account (from Guyon, I suppose) of the old French dresses: “ Mens bose answered in length to their short-skirted doublets; being made close to their limbes, wherein they had no meanes for pockets.” And Withers, in his Satyr against Vanity, ridicules the “spruze diminitive, neat, Frenchman's bosc." Farmer.
here you may roast your goose. [Knocking.) Knock, knock: Never at quiet! What are you?-- But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porterit no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. * [Knocking.] Anon, anon; I pray you, remember the porter.
[Opens the gate. Enter MACDUFF and LENOX. Macd. Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed, That you do lie so late?
Port. 'Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock:5 and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things. · Macd. What three things does drink especially pro
voke? Port. Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes: it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance: Therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off ; it persuades him, and dis
From the following passages in The Scornful Lady, by Beau. mont and Fletcher, which appeared about the year 1613, it may be collected that large breeches were then in fashion :
Saville. [an old steward.) “A comelier wear, I wis, than your dangling slops." Afterwards Young Lovely says to the steward,-“ This is as plain as your old minikin breeches."
Malone. 4 — the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.] So, in Hamlet:
“ Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads." Again, in All's Well that Ends Well:“ - the flowery way that leads &c. to the great fire." Chaucer also, in his Persone's Tale, calls idleness" the greene path-way to hell.” Steevens.
5 till the second cock:) Cockcrowing. So, in King Lear: "- he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock." Again, in The Truelfth mery leste of the Widow Edith, 1573:
“ The time they pas merely til ten of the clok,
Steevens. It appears, from a passage in Romeo and Juliet, that Shak. speare means, that they were carousing till three o'clock :
“ The second cock has crow'd;
heartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to: in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
Macd. I believe, drink gave thee the lie last night.?.
6 in a sleep,] Surely we should read-into a sleep, or into sleep. M. Mason.
The old reading is the true one. Our author frequently uses in for into. So, in King Richard III:
“ But, first, I 'll turn yon' fellow in his grave.” Again, ibid:
“ Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.” Steevens. 7 I believe, drink gave thee the lie last night.] It is not very easy to ascertain precisely the time when Duncan is murdered. - The conversation that passes between Banquo and Macbeth, in the first scene of this Act, might lead us to suppose that when Banquo retired to rest it was not much after twelve o'clock:
“ Ban. How goes the night, boy?
“ Fle. I take 't 'tis later, sir:?" The king was then “abed;" and immediately after Banquo retires lady Macbeth strikes upon the bell, and Macbeth com. mits the murder. In a few minutes afterwards the knocking at the gate commences, (end of sc. ii) and no time can be sup. posed to elapse between the second and the third scene, because the Porter gets up in consequence of the knocking: yet here Macduff talks of last night, and says that he was commanded to call timely on the king, and that he fears he has almost over. pass'd the hour; and the Porter tells him “ we were carousing till the second cock ;" so that we must suppose it to be now at least six o'clock; for Macduff has already expressed his sur. prise that the Porter should lie so late.
From lady Macbeth's words in the fifth Act,-“ One-two'tis time to do’t,”-it should seem that the murder was commit. ted at two o'clock, and that hour is certainly not inconsistent with the conversation above quoted between Banquo and his son; for we are not told how much later than twelve it was when Banquo retired to rest : but even that hour of two will not cor. respond with what the Porter and Macduff say in the present scene.
I suspect our author, (who is seldom very exact in his com. putation of time) in fact meant, that the murder should be stipposed to be committed a little before day-break, which exactly corresponds with the speech of Macduff now before us, though not so well with the other circumstances already mentioned, or with lady Macbeth's desiring her husband to put on his nightgown, (that he might have the appearance of one newly roused from bed) lest occasion should call them, “and show
Port. That it did, sir, i' the very throat o' me: But I requited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him.
Macd. Is thy master stirring?-
Good-morrow, both! Macd. Is the king stirring, worthy thane? Macb.
Not yet. Macd. He did command me to call timely on him; I have almost slipp'd the hour. Macb.
I 'll bring you to him Macd. I know, this is a joyful trouble to you; But yet, 'tis one.
macb. The labour we delight in, physicks pain. This is the door. Macd,
I'll make so bold to call,
them to be watchers;" which may signify persons who sit up late at night, but can hardly mean those who do not go to bed till day-break.
Shakspeare, I believe, was led to fix the time of Duncan's murder near the break of day by Holinshed's account of the murder of kirg Dufte, already quyted : “ he was long in his oratorie, and there continued till it was late in the night. Don. wald's servants “ enter the chamber where the king laie, a little before cocks crow, where they secretlie cut his throat.” Donwald himself sat up with the officers of the guard the whole of the night Malone.
3 - I made a shift to cast him.] To cast him up, to ease my stomach of him. The equivocation is between cast or throw, as a term of wrestling, and cast or cast up. Fohnson,
I find a similar play upon words, in an old comedy, entitled The Two Angry Women of Abingdon, printed 1599: “ --to-night he's a good huswife, he reels all that he wrought to-day, and he were good now to play at dice, for he casts excellent well."
Steevens. • The labour we delight in, physicks pain.] i. e. affords a cordial to it. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act I, sc. i: “ It is a gallant child; one that, indeed, pbysicks the subject, makes old hearts fresh.' Steevens. So, in The Tempest:
“ There he some sports are painful; and their labour
Delight in them sets off," Malone,