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As happy prologues to the swelling act?
Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.
This supernatural solicitinga?
Cannot be ill; cannot be good :-If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion*
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,5
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,

(for be bad latelie entered into that dignitie and office by the deatb of bis father Sinell). The second of th-m said,” &c.

Still however the objection made by Mr Steevens remains in its full force ; for since he knew that “ by Sinel's death he was thane of Glamis,” how can this salutation be considered as prophetic? Or why should he afterwards say, with admiration, “GLAMIS, and thane of Cawdor;" &c.? Perhaps we may sup. pose that the father of Macbeth died so recently before his in. terview with the weirds, that the news of it had not yet got abroad; in which case, though Macbeth himself knew it, he might consider their giving him the title of thane of Glamis as a proof of supernatural intelligence.

I suspect our author was led to use the expressions which have occasioned the present note, by the following words of Holinshed: “ The same night after, at supper, Banquo jested with him, and said, Now Mackbeth, thou hast obtened those things which the two former sisters PROPHESIED: there remaineth onelie for thee to purchase that which the third said should come to passe.” Malone.

2 swelling act - ] Swelling is used in the same sense in the prologue to King Henry V :

“- princes to act, • “And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.” Steevens. 3 This super natural soliciting -] Soliciting for information.

Warburton. Soliciting is rather, in my opinion, incitement, than information.

4 — suggestion - ] i. e. temptation. So, in All's Well that Ends Well: A filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the young earl.” Steevens.

5 Whose horrid image doth unfix my bair,] So Macbeth says, in the latte. part of this play:

“ — And my fell of hair
“ Would, at a dismal treatise, rouse and stir,
“ As life were in it.” M. Mason.

- seatei - i.e. fixed, firmly placed. So, in Milton's Paradise Lost, B. VI, 643:


Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical;
Shakes so my single state of man,8 that function

“ From their foundations loos'ning to and fro
“ They pluck”d the seated hills.” Steevens.

- Present fears Are less than borrible imaginings :] Present fears are fears of things present, which Macbeth declares, and every man has found, to be less than the imagination presents them while the objects are yet distant. Johnson. So, in The Tragedie of Cræsus, 1604, by lord Sterline :

" For as the shadow seems more monstrous still,
Than doth the substance whence it hath the being,
“ So th' apprehension of approaching ill
Seems greater than itself, whilst fears are lying."

Steevens. By present fears is meant, the actual presence of any objects of terror. So, in The Second Part of K. Henry IV, the king says:

" All these bold fears

“Thou see'st with peril I have answered.” To fear is frequently used by Shakspeare in the sense of fright. In this very play, lady Macbeth says,

“To alter favour ever is to fear." So, in Fletcher's Pilgrim, Curio says to Alphonso,

“Mercy upon me, Sir, why are you feared thus ?" Meaning, thus affrighted. M Mason.

8- single state of man,] The single state of man seems to be used by Shakspeare for an individual, in opposition to a com. monwealth, or conjunct body. Johnson.

By single state of man, Shakspeare might possibly mean somewhat more than individuality. He who, in the peculiar situation of Macbeth, is meditating a murder, dares not communicate his thoughts, and consequently derives neither spirit, nor advantage, from the countenance, or sagacity, of others. This state of man may properly be styled single, solitary, or defenceless, as it excludes the benefits of participation, and has no resources but in itself.

It should be observed, however, that double and single anciently signified strong and weak, when applied to liquors, and perhaps to other objects. In this sense the former word may be employ. ed by Brabantio

os a voice potential

“ As double as the duke's;": and the latter, by the Chief Justice, speaking to Falstaff:

“ Is not your wit single?The single state of Macbeth may therefore signify his weale: and debile state of mind. Steevers..

Is smother'd in surmise; and nothing is,
But what is not.

Look, how our partner's rapt. Macb. If chance will have me king, why, chance

may crown me, Without my stir. Ban.

New honours come upon him Like our strange garments; cleave not to their mould, But with the aid of use. Macb.

Come what come may; Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”

- function
Is smother'd in surmise; and nothing is,

But what is not.] All powers of action are oppressed and erushed by one overwhelming image in the mind, and nothing is: present to me but that which is really future. Of things now about me I have no perception, being intent wholly on that which has yet no existence. Johnson.

Surmise, is speculation, conjecture concerning the future.


Shakspeare has somewhat like this sentiment in The Merchant of Venice :

“Where, every something being blent together,

“ Turns to a wild of nothing” Again, in K. Richard 11:

is nought but shadows “Of what it is not.” Steevens. 1 Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.] “ By this, I confess I do not, with his two last commentators, imagine is meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or an allusion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation to time to hasten forward, but rather to say tempus et bora, time and occasion, will carry the thing through, and bring it to some determined point and end, let its nature be what it will."

This note is taken from an Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakspeare, &c. by Mrs. Montagu.

So, in the Lyfe of Saynt Radegunda; printed' by Pynson, 4to.. no date :

“How they dispend the tyme, the day, the houre.” Such tautology is common to Shakspeare.

“The very bead and front of my offending," is little less reprehensible. Time and the bour, is. Time with his hours. Steevens.

The same expression is used by a writer nearly contemporary with Shakspeare: “Neither can there be any thing in the world more acceptable to me than death, whose hower and times, Ban. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. Macb. Give me your favour:3—my dull brain was

wrought With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains Are register'd where every day I turn The leaf to read them.5-Let us toward the king.Think upon what hath chanc'd; and, at more tim , The interim having weigh'd it,6 let us speak Our free hearts each to other. Вап.

Very gladly. Macb. Till then, enough.—Come, friends. [Exeunt.


Fores. A Room in the Palace.
Flourish. Enter Duncan, Malcolm, DONALBAIN,

Lenox, and Attendants.
Dun. Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not7

if they were as certayne," &c. Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 1579. Again, in Davison's Poems, 1621:

Time's young bowres attend her still.” Again, in our author's 126th Sonnet:

“ O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
“ Dost hold Time's fickle glass, bis sickle, bour -."

Malone. 2 --- we stay upon your leisure ] The same phraseology occurs in the Paston Leiters, vol. jii, p. 80: “— sent late to me a man ye which wuld bydin uppon my leysir," &c. Steevens.

3 — favour: ] i. e. indulgence, pardun. Steevens. 4 -my dull brain was wrought

With things forgotten.] My head was worked, agitated, put into commotion. Johnson. So, in Othello:

- Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,

" Perplex'd in the extreme.” Steevens. 5 there every day I turn

The leaf to read them. He means, as Mr Upton has observer, that they are registered in the table-book of his heart. So Hamlet speaks of the table of his memory. Malone.

6 The interim having weigb'd it,] This intervening portion of time is also personified: it is represented as a cool impartial judge ; as the pauser Reason. Or, perhaps, we should readl'th'interim. Steevens.

Those in commission yet return'd?

My liege,
They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
With one that saw him die:8 who did report,
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons;
Implor'd your highness' pardon; and set forth
A deep repentance: nothing in his life
Became him, like the leaving it; he died
As one that hath been studied in his death,
To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd,
As 'twere a careless trifle.

There's no art,
To find the mind's construction in the face:1
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.-0 worthiest cousin!

I believe the interim is used adverbially: "you having weighed it in the interim.” Malone.

7 — Are not — The old copy reads-Or not. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio. Malone.

8 With one that saw him die:7 The behaviour of the tbane of Cawdor corresponds, in almost every circumstance, with that of the unfortunate earl of Essex, as related by Stowe, p. 793. His asking the queen’s forgiveness, his confession, repentance, and concern about behaving with propriety on the scaffold, are minutely described by that historian. Such an allusion could not fail of having the desired effect on an audience, many of whom were eye-witnesses to the severity of that justice which deprived the age of one of its greatest ornaments, and Southampton, Shakspeare's patron, of his dearest friend. Steevens.

9- studied in his death, Instructed in the art of dying. It was usual to say studied, for learned in science. Johnson.

His own profession furnished our author with this phrase. To be studied in a part, or to have studied it, is yet the technical term of the theatre. Malone.

So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream: “ Have you the lion's part written? pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

The same phrase occurs in Hamlet. Steevens.

1 To find the mind's construction in the face:) The construction of the mind is, I believe, a phrase peculiar to Shakspeare: it implies the frame or disposition of the mind, by which it is determined to good or ill. Fohnson.

Dr. Johnson seems to have understood the word construction in this place, in the sense of frame or structure; but the school-term was, I believe, intended by Shakspeare. The meaning is

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