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Out-ran the pauser reason,Here, lay Duncan,,
- Here lay Duncan, His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood;) Mr. Pope has endeavoured to improve one of these lines, by substituting goary blood for golden blood; but it may be easily admitted that he, who could, on such an occasion, talk of lacing the silver skin, would lace it with goliten blood. No amendment can be made to this line, of which every word is equally faulty, but by a ge. neral blot. .
It is not improbable, that Shakspeare put these forced and unnatural metaphors into the mouth of Macbeth, as a mark of artifice and dissimulation, to show the difference between the studied language of hypocrisy, and the natural outcries of sudden passion. This whole speech, so considered, is a remarkable instance of judgment, as it consists entirely of antithesis and metaphor. Johnson.
His silver skin lac'd with. bis golden blood;] The allusion is to the decoration of the richest habits worn in the age of Shakspeare, when it was usual to lace cloth of cilver with gol!, and cloth of gold with silver. The second of these fashions is men; tioned in Much Ado about Nothing, Act III, sc. iv: “ Çloth of gold, -laced with silver.”
To gild any thing with blood is a very common phrase in the old plays. So Heywood, in the second part of his. Iron Age, 1632:
" we have gilt our Greekish arms
With blood of our own nation.”
“Their armours that march'd hence so silver bright,
“ Cut with her golden oars the silver stream," Again, in The Comedy of Errors :
“Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs." Malone, The allusion is so ridiculous on such an occasion, that it discovers the declaimer not to be affected in the manner he would represent himself. The whole speech is an unnatural mixture of far-fetched and common-place thoughts, that shows him to be acting a part. Warburton. S a breach. in nature,
For ruin's wasteful entrance :] This comparison occurs likewise in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. III: “ - battering down the
Steep'd in the colours of their trade, their daggers Unmannerly breech'd with gore:6 Who could refrain,
wals of their armour, making breaches almost in every place,
for troupes of wounds to enter.” Again, in A Herring's Tayle, ca poem, 1598:
“A batter'd breach where troopes of wounds may enter
in.” Steevens. • Unmannerly breech'd with gore:] The expression may mean, that the daggers were covered with blood, quite to their breeches, i. e. their bilts or handles. The lower end of a cannon is called the breech of it; and it is known that both to breeco and to unbreech a gun are common terms. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Custom of the Country:
“ The main-spring's weaken'd that holds up his cock,
“He lies to be new breecb'd.”. Again, in A Cure for a Cuckold, by Webster and Rowley:
• Unbreech his barrel, and discharge his bullets." Steevens. Mr. Warton has justly observed that the word unmannerly is "here used adverbially. So friendly is used for friendily in King Henry IV, P. II, and faulty for faultily in As you Like it. A passage in the preceding scene, in which Macbeth's visionary dagger is described, strongly supports Mr. Steevens's interpre. tation:
“ — I see thee still;
of blood, “ Which was not so before." The following lines in King Henry VI, P. III, may, perhaps, after all, form the best comment on these controverted words:
“ And full as oft came Edward to my side,
“ In blood of those that had encounter'd him." So also, in The Mirrour for Magistrates, 1587 :
“ a naked sword he had,
" That to the hilts with blood was all embrued.” The word unmannerly is again used adverbially in King Henry VIII:
“If I have us'd myself unmannerly, — ." So also, in Taylor the Water-poet, Works, 1630, p. 173: " These and more the like such pretty aspersions, the outcast rubbish of my company hath very liberally and unmannerly and ingratefully bestowed upon me.”
Though so much has been written on this passage, the com. mentators have forgotten to account for the attendants of Dün. can being furnished with daggers. The fact is, that in Shak. speare's time a dagger was a common weapon, and was usually carried by servants and others, suspended at their backs. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Help me hence, ho! [Siswa
Why do we hold our tongues, That most may claim this argument for ours?
“ Then I will lay the serving creature's dagger on your pate.” Again, ibilt:
“ This dagger hath mista'en; for lo! his house
Malone. The sense is, in plain language, Daggers filthily-in a foul manner, sbeath'd with blood. A scabbard is called a pilche, a leather coat, in Romeo ;-but you will ask, whence the allusion of breeches? Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson have well observed, that this speech of Macbeth is very artfully made up of unnatural thoughts and langựage. In 1605, (the year in which the play appears to have been written) a book was pub. lished by Peter Erondell, (with commendatory Poems by Daniel, and other wits of the time) called The French Garden, or a Șummer Dayes Labour; containing, among other matters, some dialogues of a dramatic cast, which, I am persuaded, our author read in the Englisb; and from which he took, as he supposed, for his present purpose, this quaint expression. I will quote literatim from the 6th dialogue: “Boy! you do nothing but play tricks here, go fetch your master's silver-hatched daggers, you have not brushed their breeches, bring the brushes, and brush them before me."--Shakspeare was deceived by the pointing, and evidently supposes breeches to be a new and atiected term for scabbards. But had he been able to have read the French on the other page, even as a learner, he must have been set right at once: “ Garçon, vous ne faites que badiner, allez querir les poignards argentez de vos maistres, vous n'avez pas espousseté leur bâut-de-chausses, "'-their breeches, in the common sense of the word: as in the next sentence bas-dechausses, stockings, and so on through all the articles of dress.
Farmer. 9 Look to the lady. ] Mr. Whateley, from whose ingenious remarks on this play I have already made a large extract, justly abserves that, “ on lady Macbeth's seeming to faint, -while Banquo and Macduff are solicitous about her, Macbeth, by his unconcern, betrays a consciousness that the fainting is feigned."
I may add, that a bold and hardened villain would, from a refined policy, have assumed the appearance of being alarmed about her, lest this very imputation should arise against him: the irresolute Macbeth is not sufficiently at ease to act such a part. Malone
Don. What should be spoken here,
Nor our strong sorrow on
Look to the lady :
[Lady M. is carried out. And when we have our naked frailties hid, That suffer in exposure, let us meet,
here, Where our fate, bid within an augre-bole,] The oldest copy reads only “ - in an augre. hole." I have adopted the correc. tion of the second folio-within. Mr. Malone reads
“ Here, where our fate, hid in an augre-hole.” Steevens. In the old copy the word bere is printed in the preceding line. The lines are disposed so irregularly in the original edition of this play, that the modern editors have been obliged to take many liberties similar to mine in the regulation of the metre. In this very speech the words our tears do not make part of the following line, but are printed in that subsequent to it. Per. haps, however, the regulation now offered is unnecessary; for the word where may have been used by our author as a dissylla. ble. The editor of the second folio, to complete the measure, reads-witbin an augre-hole. A word having been accidentally omitted in King Henry V :" - Let us die in [fight],” Mr. Theobald, with equal impropriety, reads there Let us die instant :” but I believe neither transcriber or compositor ever believe, even they will not deny their having occasionally fur. omitted balf a word. Malone.
More skilful and accurate compositors than those employed in our present republication, cannot easily be found; and yet, I nished examples of the omission of balf a word.
– within an augre-hole,] So, in Coriolanus :
“ Into an augre's bore.” Steevens.
That suffer in exposure,] i e. wben we bave clothed our balf. drest bodies, which may take cold from being expuse.I to the air. It is possible that, in such a cloud of words, the meaning might escape the reader. Steevens.
The Porter, in his short speech, had observed, that “this place [i. e. the court in which Banquo and the rest now are, ) is too colil for hell." Mr Steevens's explanation is likewise sup. ported by the following passage in Timon of Athens :
And question this most bloody piece of work,
And so do I
So all. Macb. Let 's briefly put on manly readiness. And meet i’ the hall together.
[Exeunt all but Mal, and Dox. Mal. What will you do? Let's not consort with them: To show an unfelt sorrow, is an office Which the false man does easy : I 'll to England.
Don. To Ireland, I; our separated fortune Shall keep us both the safer : where we are, There 's daggers in men's smiles : the near in blooda The nearer bloody.3
" Call the creatures, - “Whose naked natures live in all the spight · Of wreakful heaven.” Malone. 2 In the great band of God I stand; and, thence,
Against the undioulg'd pretence I fight
Of treasonous malice.] Pretence is intention, design, a sense in which the word is often used by Shakspeare. So, in The Winter's Tale: “ — conspiring with Camillo to take away the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy royal husband, the pre. tence whereof being by circumstance partly laid open.” Again, in this tragedy of Macbeth:
“ What good could they pretend ?": i. e. intend to themselves. Banquo's meaning is, in our pre. sent state of doubt and uncertainty about this murder, I have nothing to do but to put myself under the direction of God; and, relying on his support, I here declare myself an eternal enemy to this treason, and to all its further designs that have not yet come to light Steevens.
Hand, as Mr. Upton has observed, is here used for power, or provi lence. So, in Psalm xxii: “ Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power [Heb. from the band] of the dog." In King Henry V, we have again the same expression :
" Let us deliver
“ Our puissance into the band of God." Malone. 3 - the near in blood,
The nearer bluody.] Meaning, that he suspected Macbeth