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This note is taken from an Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakspere, &c. by Mrs. Myatagır. Such tautology is common to Shakspere.
“ The very head and front of my otlending" is little less reprehensible. Time and the hour, is time with his hours.
STEEVENS. The same expression is used by a writer nearly contemporary with Shakspere: “ Neither can there be any thing in the world inore acceptable to me than death, whose hower and time if they were as certayne," &c. Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 1579. Again, in Davison's Poems, 1621 :
“ Time's young howres attend her still,
“ With fresh youth and beauty." Again, in Hoffman's Tragedy, 1631 : “ The hour, the place, the time of your arrive.”
MALONE. 248. -my dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. —--] My head was worked, agitated, put into commotion. JOHNSON.
253 The interim having weigh'd it,----] This intervening portion of time is almost personified: it is represented as a cool impartial judge; as the pauser Reason.
STEEVENS. 261. With one that saw him die: -] The behaviour of the thane 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, Shakspere's patron, of his dearest friend.
STEEVENS. 266. -studied in his death,] 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 stage.
MALONE. 270. To find the mind's construction in the face.] The meaning, I think, is-We cannot construe or discover the disposition of the mind by the lineaments of the face. The same expression occurs in The Second Part of King Henry IV.
“ Construe the times to their necessities." In Hamlet we meet a kindred phrase :
-These profound heaves “ You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.” Our author again alludes to his grammar, in Troilus and Cressida, act ii. sc. 3.
" I'll decline the whole question." Dr. Johnson understood the word construction, in this place, in the sense of frame or structure; but the school-terin was, I believe, intended by Shakspere.— In his 93d Sonnet, we find a contrary sentiment asserted :
“ In many's looks the false heart's history
MALONE. 279. More is thy due than more than all can pay.] More is due to thee, than, I will not say all, but, more than all, i. c. the greatest recompence can pay. Thus in Plautus we have nihilo minus,
There is an obscurity in this passage, arising from the word all, which is not used here personally (more than all persons can pay), but for the whole wealth of e speaker. So, more clearly, in King Henry VIII. “ More than my all is nothing."
-servants; Which do but what they should, by doing every thing.--] From Scripture: “ So when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants : we have done that which it was our duty to do.”
HENLEY. 284. Which do but what they should, by doing every
Safe toward your love and honour.] Of the last line of this speech, which is certainly, as it is now read, unintelligible, an emendation has been attempted, which Dr. Warburton and Mr. Theobald once admitted as the true reading :
Are to your throne and state, children and servants,
love and honour. My esteem for these criticks inclines me to believe
that they cannot be much pleased with these expressions fiefs to love, or fiefs to honour, and that they have proposed this alteration rather because no other occurred to them, than because they approved of it. I shall therefore propose a bolder change, perhaps with no better sliccess, but sua cuique placent. I read thus:
our duties Are to your throne and state, children and servants, Which do but what they should, in doing nothing,
Save toward your love and honour. We do but perform our duty, when we contract all our views to your service, when we act with no other principle than regard to your love and honour.
It is probable that this passage was first corrupted by writing safe for save, and the lines then stood thus:
-doing nothing Safe toward your love and honour. which the next transcriber observing to be wrong, and yet not being able to discover the real fault, altered to the present reading.
Dr. Warburton has since changed fiefs to fief'd; and Hanmer lias altered safe to shap'd. I am afraid none of us hare hit the right word. JOHNSON.
Mr. Upton gives the word safe as an instance of an adjective used adverbially; and says that it means Hore, with safily', security, and suretiship. Dr. Kenrick proposes to read :
Safe to ward your love and honour,
66-it was a hand that warded him
“ From thousand dangers."
for the best ward of mine honour is rewarding
Then, if you fight against God's enemies,
“ God will, in justice, ward you as his soldiers." Dr. Kenrick might be right, if, instead of love and honour, the words had been crown and honour; but there is somewhat of obscurity in the idea of defending a prince's love in safety.
SteEVENS. Safe toward your love and honour.] Safe (i.e. saved) toward you love and honour; and then the sense will be " Our duties are your children, and servants or vassals to your throne and state; who do but what they should, by doing every thing with a saving of their love and honour toward you." The whole is an allusion to the forms of doing lomage in the feudal times. The oath of allegiance, or liege homage, to the king, was absolute and without any exception; but simple homage, when done to a subject for lands holden of him, was always with a saving of the allegiance (the love and honour) due to the sovereign. “ Saufla foy que jeo doy a nostre scignor le roy'," as it is in Littleton.
And though the expression be somewhat stiff and forced, it is not more so than many others in this play, and suits well with the situation of Macbeth, now beginning to waver in his allegiance. For, as our author elsewhere says,