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And in his commendations. I am fed;
A Room in Macbeth's Castle.
Enter Lady MACBETH, reading a letter.
Lady M. They met me in the day of success; and I have learned by the perfectest report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge. When I burned in desire to question them further, they made themselves-air, into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who all-hailed me, Thane of Cawdor; by which title, before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred me to the coming on of time, with, Hail, king, that shalt be! This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatne88; that thou mightest not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewel. Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promis'd: Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness, To catch the nearest way: Thou would'st be great; Art not without ambition ; but without The illness should attend it. What thou would'st
highly, That would'st thou holily; would'st not play false, And yet would'st wrongly win : thou’d'st have, great
posed to have been bestowed on him by Banquo, the reply of Duncan refers. Steevens. '— by the perfectest report,) By the best intelligence.
Fobnson. ? — missives from the king,] i. e. messengers. So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
“ Did gibe my missive out of audience.” Steevens,
That which cries, Thus thou must' do, if thou have iť;
3 thou’d'st have, great Glamis,
That which cries, Thus thou must do, if thou have it ;
And that &c.] As the object of Macbeth's desire is here introduced speaking of itself, it is necessary to read:
thou'd'st bare, great Glamis,
Fohnson. 4 And that which rather thou dost fear to do,] The construction, perhaps, is, thou would'st have that, [i. e. the crown,] which cries unto thee, thou must do thus, if thou wouldst have it, and thou must do that which ratber, &c. Sir T. Hanmer, with. out necessity, reads—And that's what rather - The diffi. culty of this line and the succeeding hemistich seems to have arisen from their not being considered as part of the speech uttered by the object of Macbeth's ambition. As such they appear to me, and I have therefore distinguished them by Italicks.
Malone. This regulation is certainly proper, and I have followed it.
Steevens. 5 That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;] I meet with the same expression in lord Sterline's Julius Cæsar, 1607:
“Thou in my bosom us’d to pour thy spright.” Malone. 6 the golden roun!, Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To bave thee crown'd withal.] For seem, the sense evidently directs us to read seek. The crown to which fate destines. thee, and which preternatural agents endeavour to bestow upon thee. The go'den round is the diadem. Johnson. So, in Act IV:
“ And wears upon his baby brow the round
“ And top of sovereignty. Steevens. Metaphysical for supernatural. But dotb seem to have thee crown'd withal, is not sense. To make it so, it should be supplied thus: doth seem desirous to have. But no poetic license would excuse this. An easy alteration will restore the poet's true reading :
Enter an Attendant. Attend. The king comes here to-night. Lady M.
1 hou 'rt mad to say it:
Give him tending, He brings great news. The raven himself is hoarse,
i. e. they seem already to have crowned thee, and yet thy disposition at present hinders it from taking effect Warburton.
The words, as they now stand, have exactly the same mean. ing. Such arrangement is sufficiently common among our an. cient writers. Steevens.
I do not concur with Dr. Warburton, in thinking that Shakspeare meant to say, that fate and metaphysical aid seem to have crowned Macbeth. Lady Macbeth means to animate her hus. band to the attainment of “the golden round,” with which fate and supernatural agency seem to intend to have him crowned, on a future day. So, in All's Well that Ends Well:
“ Our dearest friend
“ To bave us make denial.” There is, in my opinion, a material difference between_“TO have thee crown'd,” and “To have crown'd thee;" of which the learned commentator does not appear to have been aware.
Metaphysical, which Dr. Warburton has justly observed, means supernatural, seems, in our author's time, to have had no other meaning. In the English Dictionary, by H. C. 1655, Metaphysicks are thus explained: “Supernatural arts.” Malone. 7 The raven bimself is boarse,] Dr, Warburton reads:
The raven himself 's not boarse, Yet I think the present words may stand. The messenger, says the servant, had hardly breath to make up his message'; to which the lady answers mentally, that he may well want breath, such a message would add hoarseness to the raven. That even the bird, whose harsh voice is accustomed to predict calamities, could not croak the entrance of Duncan but in a note of unwonted harshness. Fohnson. . The following is, in my opinion, the sense of this passage:
Give him terding; the news he brings are worth the speed that made him lose his breath. [Exit Atten.] 'Tis certain
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
now—the raven himself is spent, is boarse by croaking this very message, the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements.
Lady Macbeth (for she was not yet unsexed) was likelier to be deterred from her design than encouraged in it by the supposed thought that the message and the prophecy (though equally secrets to the messenger and the raven) had deprived the one of speech, and added harshness to the other's pote. Unless we absurdly suppose the messenger acquainted with the hidden import of his message, speed alone had intercepted his breath, as repetition the raven's voice; though the lady considered both as organs of that destiny which hurried Duncan into her meshes. Fuseli.
Mr. Fuseli's idea, that the raven has croaked till he is boarse with crvaking, may receive support from the following passage: in Romeo and Juliet:
“ - make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine
“ With repetition of my Romeo's name.” Again, from one of the Parts of King Henry VI:
“ Warwick is hoarse with daring thee to arms.” Steevens. 8 Come, come, you spirits -] For the sake of the metre I have ventured to repeat the word-come, which occurs only once in the old copy.
All had been added by Sir William D'Avenant, to supply the same deficiency. Steevens.
9 mortal thoughts, This expression signifies not the thoughts of mortals, but murderous, deadly, or destructive designs. So, in Act V:
“ Hold fast the mortal sword." And in another place :
“With twenty mortal murders.” Fohnson. In Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, by T. Nashe, 1592, (a very popular pamphlet of that time,) our author might have found a particular description of these spirits, and of their office.
“ The second kind of devils, which he most employeth, are those northern Martii, called the spirits of revenge, and the authors of massacres, and seedsmen of mischief; for they bave commission to incense men to rapines, sacrilege, theft, murder, wrath, fury, and all manner of cruelties: and they command certain of the southern spirits to wait upon them, as also great: Arioch, that is termed the spirit of revenge." Malone.
That no compunctious visitings of nature
1 - remorse ;] Remorse, in ancient language, signifies pity. So, in King Lear:
" Thrill'd with remorse, oppos'd against the act.” Again, in Othello:
“And to obey shall be in me remorse —.”. See notes on that passage, Act III, sc. iii. Steevens. 2 — nor keep peace between
The effect, and it!] The intent of lady Macbeth evidently is to wish that no womanish tenderness, or conscientious remorse, may bindler her purpose from proceeding to effect; but neither this, nor indeed any other sense, is expressed by the present reading, and therefore it cannot be doubted that Shak. speare wrote differently, perhaps thus:
That no compunctious visitings of nature
The effect and it. To keep pace between, may signify to pass between, to intervene. Pace is, on many occasions, a favourite of Shakspeare's. This phrase is, indeed, not usual in this sense; bu was it not its no. velty that gave occasion to the present corruption? Johnson
- and it!] The folio reads--and bit. It, in many of our ancient books, is thus spelt. In the first stanza of Churchyard's Discourse of Rebellion, &c. 1570, we have, Hit is a plague-Hit venom castes--Hit poysoneth all-Hit is of kindeHit staynes the ayre. Steevens.
The correction was made by the editor of the third folio.
Lady Macbeth's purpose was to be effected by action. To keep peace between the effect and purpose, means, to delay the execution of her purpose; to prevent its proceeding to effect. For as long as there sliould be a peace between the effect and purpose, or, in other words, till hostilities were commenced, till some bloody action should be performed, her purpose [i. e. the murder of Duncan) could not be carried into execution. So, in the following passage in King John, in which à corre. sponding imagery may be traced :
" Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
“ Between my conscience and my cousin's death." A similar expression is found in a book which our author is known to have read, The Tragicall Historie of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:
" In absence of her knight, the lady no way could
fayne she would."