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And take my milk for rail. you murd’ring ministers,
Sir W D'Avenant's strange alteration of this play sometimes affords a reasonably good comment upon it. Thus, in the present instance:
" -- make thick
“'Tis ripend to efect."' Milione. 3 take any ini'k for gol,] Take away my milk, and put fall into the pl.:ce. W:50.
4 You wnit on nature's mischief!) Nature's mischief is mischief clone to nature, violation of nature's order coinmitted by wickedness. Fohnson.
5 Come, thicł night, &c.] A similar invocation is found in A Warning for fuire Toinen, 1599, a tragedy which was cer. tainly prior to Macbeth:
“ O sable night, sit on the eye of heaven,
“ The light bates me, and I do hate the light.” Malone. 6 And pall thee -1 i. e, wrap thyself in a pall. Warburton.
A pail is a robe of state. So, in the ancient black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artors, no date:
" The lovghtes were clothed in pall.” Again, in Milton's Penseroso:
“ Sometime let gorgeous tragedy
" In scepter'd pall come sweeping by." Dr. Warburton seems to mean the covering wbich is thrown over the dead. ** To pall, however, in the present instance, (as Mr Douce 05. serves to me,) may simply mean-to wrap, to invest. Steevens.
7 That my keen knife -1 The wore knife, which at present has a fainiliar andlignified meaning, was anciently used to ex-' press a sword or lagzer. So, in the old black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date :
“ Through Goddes myght, and his knife,
“ There the gvaunte lost bis ivfe.” Again, in Spinser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c. vi: " ma the red cross knight was slain with paynim knife.”
Nor heaven peep through the"blanket of the dark,g blank net To cry, Fold, hold!!_ Great Glamis! worthy Caw
To avoid a multitude of examples, which in the present instance do not seem wanted, I shall only observe that Mr. Steevens's remark might be confirmed by quotations without end Reed.
8 — the blanket of the dark,] Drayton, in the 26th Song of his Polyolbin, has an expression resembling this: “ Thick vapours, that, like ruggs, still hang the troubled
air.” Steevens. Polyolbion was not published till 1612, after this play had certainly been exbibited; but in an earlier piece Drayton has the same expression : .“ The sullen night in mistie rugge is wrapp'd.”
Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596. Blanket was perhaps suggested to our poet by the coarse woollen curtain of his own theatre, through which probably, while the house was yet but half-lighted, he had himself often peeped.-In King Henry VI, P. II, we have"night's cover.
A kindred thought is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece, 1594:
• Were Tarquin's night, (as he is but night's child,)
“ The silver-shining queen he would distain;
In this criticism the epithet dun is objected to as a mean one. Milton, however, appears to have been of a different opinion, and has represented Satan as flying
“— in the dun air sublime,” And had already told us, in the character of Comus,
“ 'Tis only daylight that makes sin,
“ Which these dun shades will ne'er report.” Gawin Douglas employs dun as a synonyme to fulous.
: Steevens. To cry, Hold, hold!7 The thought is taken from the old military laws which inflicted capital punishment upon “ whoso. ever shall strike stroke at his adversary, either in the heat or otherwise, if a third do cry bold, to the intent to part them; except that they did fight a combat in a place enclosed: and then no man shall be so hardy as to bid bold, but the general.” P. 264 of Mr. Bellay's Instructions for the Wars, translated in 1589.
Enter MACBETH. :
Mr. Tollet's note will likewise illustrate the last line in Macbeth's concluding speech: “ And damn'd be him who first cries, bold, enough!"
Steevens. 1 Great Glamis ! worthy Cawdor!] Shakspeare has supported the character of lady Macbeth by repeated efforts, and never omits any opportunity of adding a trait of ferocity, or a mark of the want of human feelings, to this monster of his own crea. tion. The softer passions are more obliterated in her than in her husband, in proportion as her ambition is greater. She meets him here on his arrival from an expedition of danger, with such a salutation as would have become one of his friends or vassals; a salutation apparently fitted rather to raise his thouglsts to a level with her own purposes, than to testify her joy at his return, or manifest an attachment to his person. nor does any sentiment expressive of love or softness fall from her throughout the play. While Macbeth himself, amidst the hor. rors of his guilt, still retains a character less fiend-like than that of his queen, talks to her with a degree of tenderness, and pours his complaints and fears into her bosom, accompanied with terms of endearment. Steevens. -2 This ignorant present, ] Ignorant has here the signification of unknowing ; that is, I feel by anticipation those future honours, of which, according to the process of nature, the present time would be ignorant. Johnson, So, in Gymbeline :
" - his shipping,
“ Poor ignorant baubles,” &c. Again, in The Tempest:
“ ignorant fumes that mantle .
“ Their clearer reason.” Steevens. This ignorant present,] Thus the old copy. Some of our modern editors read: “ – present time:" but the phraseology in the text is frequent in our author, as well as other ancient writers. So, in the first scene of The Tempest: “ If you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more.” The sense does not require the word time, and it is too much for the measure. Again, in Coriolanus:
“And that you not delay the present; but” &c. Again, in Corinthians I, ch. xv, v. 6: “ of whom the greater part remain unto this present."
Niy dearest lore,
And wh-n goes hence?
O, never Shall sun that morrow see! Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men, May read strange matters :'-To beguile the time, Look like the time ;4 bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like innocent flower, But be the serpent under it. He that 's coming Must be provided for: and you shall put This night's great business into my despatch;
| Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ Be pleased to tell us
“ The offer I have sent you.” Steevens. 3 Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read &c.] That is, thy looks are such as will awaken men's curiosity, excite their attention, and make room for suspicion. Heith. So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:
“ Her face the book of praises, where is read
“Nothing but curious pleasures.” Steevens, Again, in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
“ Poor woman's faces are their own faults' books.” Malone. 4 - To beguile the time,
Look like the time; 1 The same expression occurs in the 8th Book of Daniel's Civil Wu's:
“ He draws a traverse 'twixt his grievances;
“Wore a clear face upon a cloudy heart.” Steevens. The seventh and eighth Books of Daniel's Civil Wars were not published till the year 1609; [see the Epistle Dedicatorie to that edition :) so that, if either poet copied the other, Daniel must have been indebted to Shakspeare; for there can be little doubt that Macbeth had been exhibited before that year.
Malone. 5 look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under it.] Thus, in Chaucer's Squiere's Tale, 10,827 :
“ So depe in greyne he died his coloures,
Which sball to all our nights and days to come
Macb. We will speak further.
Only look up clear ;
SCENE VI. The same. Before the Castle. Hautboys. Servants of MACBETH attending. Enter Duncan, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, Banquo, LRNOX, MACDUFF, Rosse, Angus, and Attendants. Dun. This castle hath a pleasant seat;? the air
6. To alter favour ever is to fear:] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
" For blushing cheeks by faults are bred,
" And fears by pale white shown.” Favour is-look, countenance. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
“I know your favour, lord Ulysses, well.” Steevens. 7 This castle harh a pleisant seat;] Seat here means situation. Lord Bacon says, “ He that builds a faire house upon an ill seat, committeth himself to prison. Neither doe I reckon it an ill seat, only where the aire is unwholsome, but likewise where the aire is unequal; as you shall see many fine sents set vifon a knap of ground invironed with higher hills round about it, whereby the heat of the sunne is pent in, and the wind gathereth as in trouglis ; so as vou shall have, and that suddenly, as great diversitie of heat and cold, as if you dwelt in several places.” Essa's, 2. edit 4to. 1632, p. 257. Reel.
This castle hath a pleasant seat; 7 This short dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. Their conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of its situation, and the pleasantness of the air; and Banquo, observing the martlet's nests in every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds most breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately succeeds. It seems as if Shakspeare asked himself, What is a prince likely to say to his attendants on such an occasion? Whereas the modern writers seem, on the contrary, to be always searching for new thoughts, such as would never occur to