Page images
PDF
EPUB

1 WITCH. I come, Graymalkin !5 ALL. Paddock calls:-Anon.6

to fupply by the introduction of a fingle pronoun, and by dif tributing the hitherto mutilated line among the three speakers: 3 Witch. There to meet with

1 Witch. 2 Witch.

Whom?

Macbeth.

Diftinct replies have now been afforded to the three neceffary enquiries-When-Where-and Whom the Witches were to meet. Their conference receives no injury from my infertion and arrangement. On the contrary, the dialogue becomes more regular and confiftent, as each of the hags will now have fpoken thrice (a magical number) before they join in utterance of the concluding words, which relate only to themselves.-I fhould add that, in the two prior inftances, it is alfo the fecond Witch who furnishes decifive and material anfwers; and that I would give the words-" I come, Graymalkin!" to the third. By affiftance from fuch of our author's plays as had been publifhed in quarto, we have often detected more important errors in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, fupplies the most ancient copy of Macbeth, STEEVENS.

5 Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1584, I find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a cattes body nine times. Mr. Upton obferves, that, to understand this paffage, we should fuppofe one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad.

Again, in Newes from Scotland, &c. (a pamphlet of which the reader will find the entire title in a future note on this play): "Moreover the confeffed, that at the time when his majestie was in Denmarke, thee beeing accompanied with the parties before specially mentioned, tooke a cat and chriftened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefeft part of a dead man, and feveral joyntes of his bodie, and that in the night following the faid cat was convayed into the middeft of the fea by all these witches fayling in their riddles or cives as is aforefaid, and fo left the faid cat right before the towne of Leith in Scotland. This donne, there did arife fuch a tempeft in the fea, as a greater hath not bene feene," &c. STEEVENS.

Paddock calls:-&c.] This, with the two following lines, is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding editors have appropriated the firft of them to the fecond Witch.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: "

Hover through the fog and filthy air.

[Witches vanish.

According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and fome other naturalifts, a frog is called a paddock in the North; as in the following inftance, in Cæfar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607: -Paddockes, todes, and waterfnakes." Again, in Wyntownis Cronykil, B. I. c. xiii. 55 :

66

"As afk, or eddyre, tade, or pade."

In Shakspeare, however, it certainly means a toad. The reprefentation of St. James in the witches' house (one of the set of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566,) exhibits witches flying up and down the chimney on brooms; and before the fire fit grimalkin and paddock, i. e. a cat, and a toad, with feveral baboons. There is a cauldron boiling, with a witch near it, cutting out the tongue of a fnake, as an ingredient for the charm. A representation fomewhat fimilar likewife occurs in Newes from Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted. STEEvens.

"Some say, they [witches] can keepe devils and fpirits, in the likeness of todes and cats." Scot's Difcovery of Witchcraft, [1584] Book I. c. iv. TOLLET.

7 Fair is foul, and foul is fair :] i. e. we make these fudden changes of the weather. And Macbeth, fpeaking of this day, foon after fays:

So foul and fair a day I have not feen. WARBURton. The common idea of witches has always been, that they had abfolute power over the weather, and could raise storms of any kind, or allay them, as they pleased. In conformity to this notion, Macbeth addreffes them, in the fourth Act:

Though you untie the winds, &c. STEEVENS.

I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverfe and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fair. JOHNSON.

This expreffion feems to have been proverbial, Spenfer has it in the 4th Book of the Fairy Queen:

Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in fight."

FARMER.

SCENE II.

A Camp near Fores.

Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier.

DUN. What bloody man is that? He can report, As feemeth by his plight, of the revolt

The neweft ftate.

MAL.

This is the fergeant,8 Who, like a good and hardy foldier, fought 'Gainft my captivity:-Hail, brave friend!

This is the fergeant,] Holinfhed is the best interpreter of Shakspeare in his hiftorical plays; for he not only takes his facts from him, but often his very words and expreffions. That hiftorian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, that on the first appearance of a mutinous spirit among the people, the king fent a fergeant at arms into the country, to bring up the chief offenders to anfwer the charge preferred against them; but they, inftead of obeying, mifufed the messenger with Sundry reproaches, and finally few him. This fergeant at arms is certainly the origin of the bleeding fergeant introduced on the prefent occafion. Shakspeare juft caught the name from Holinfhed, but the rest of the ftory not fuiting his purpose, he does not adhere to it. The ftage-direction of entrance, where the bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the player editors, and not of the poet.

Sergeant, however, (as the ingenious compiler of the Gloffary to A. of Wyntown's Cronykil obferves,) is "a degree in military fervice now unknown."

"Of fergeandys thare and knychtis kene

"He gat a gret cumpany." B. VIII. ch. xxvi. v. 396. The fame word occurs again in the fourth Poem of Lawrence Minot, p. 19:

He hafted him to the fwin, with fergantes fnell,

"To mete with the Normandes that fals war and fell." According to M. le Grand, (fays Mr. Ritfon) fergeants were a fort of gens d'armes. STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

Say to the king the knowledge of the broil,
As thou didst leave it.

SOLD.

Doubtfully it flood; 9

As two spent swimmers, that do cling together,
And choke their art. The mercilefs Macdonwald'
(Worthy to be a rebel; for, to that,"
The multiplying villainies of nature

Do fwarm upon him,) from the western ifles
Of Kernes and Gallowglaffes is supplied; 3

9 Doubtfully it ftood;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to affift the metre, and reads―

Doubtful long it tood,

has thereby injured the fenfe.

If the comparison was meant to coincide in all circumftances, the ftruggle could not be long. I read

Doubtfully it stood;

The old copy has-Doubtfull-fo that my addition confifts of but a fingle letter. STEEVENS.

1

Macdonwald-] Thus the old copy. According to Holinfhed we fhould read--Macdowald. STEEVENS.

So alfo the Scottish Chronicles. However, it is poffible that Shakspeare might have preferred the name that has been fubftituted, as better founding. It appears from a subsequent fcene that he had attentively read Holinfhed's account of the murder of King Duff, by Donwald, Lieutenant of the caftle of Fores; in confequence of which he might, either from inadvertence, or choice, have here written-Macdonwald.

MALONE. 2 to that, &c.] i. e. in addition to that. So, in Troilus and Creffida, A&t I. fc. i:

[ocr errors]

"The Greeks are strong, and fkilful to their ftrength, "Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant. The foldier who describes Macdonwald, feems to mean, that, in addition to his affumed character of rebel, he abounds with the numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable. STEEVENS.

3

from the western ifles

Of Kernes and Gallowglaffes is fupplied;] Whether Supplied of, for fupplied from or with, was a kind of Grecifm of Shakspeare's expreffion; or whether of be a corruption of the

And fortune, on his damned quarrel fmiling,+

editors, who took Kernes and Gallowglaffes, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know. "Hinc conjecturæ vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis fimilia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armaturæ quos Kernos vocant, nec non fecures & lorica ferreæ peditum illorum gravioris armaturæ, quos Galloglafios appellant." Warci Antiq. Hiber. cap. vi. WARBURTON.

Of and with are indifcriminately used by our ancient writers. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

"Peform'd of pleasure by your fon the prince."

Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, hift. vi: "Sypontus in the mean time is prepared of two wicked gondoliers," &c. Again, in The Hiftory of Helyas Knight of the Sun, bl. 1. no date: “he was well garnished of fpear, fword, and armoure," &c. These are a few out of a thousand inftances which might be brought to the fame purpose.

Kernes and Gallowglasses are characterized in The Legend of Roger Mortimer. See The Mirror for Magiftrates:

the Gallowglas, the Kerne,

"Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they flay." See alfo Stanyhurft's Defcription of Ireland, ch. viii. fol. 28. Holinfhed, edit. 1577. STEEVENS.

The old copy has Gallow-groffes. Corrected by the editor of the fecond folio. MALONE.

4 And fortune, on his damned quarrel Smiling,] The old copy has quarry; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was formerly used for caufe, or for the occafion of a quarrel, and is to be found in that fenfe in Holinfhed's account of the ftory of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the Prince of Cumberland, thought, fays the hiftorian, that he had a just quarrel to endeavour after the crown. The fenfe therefore is, Fortune Smiling on his execrable caufe, &c. JOHNSON.

The word quarrel occurs in Holinfhed's relation of this very fact, and may be regarded as a fufficient proof of its having been the term here employed by Shakspeare: "Out of the western ifles there came to Macdowald a great multitude of people,, to affift him in that rebellious quarrel." Befides, Macdowald's quarry (i. e. game) muft have confifted of Duncan's friends, and would the fpeaker then have applied the epithetdamned to them? and what have the fmiles of fortune to do

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »