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As happy prologues to the fwelling act 9
Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen.
This fupernatural foliciting '


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 fuggestion 2
Whofe horrid image doth unfix my hair,3

by the death of his father Sinell.) The fecond of them faid," &c.

Still, however, the objection made by Mr. Steevens remains in its full force; for fince he knew that "by Sinel's death he was thane of Glamis," how can this falutation be confidered as prophetic? Or why should he afterwards fay, with admiration,

GLAMIS, and thane of Cawdor;" &c? Perhaps we may fuppofe that the father of Macbeth died fo recently before his interview with the weirds, that the news of it had not yet got abroad; in which cafe, though Macbeth himself knew it, he might confider their giving him the title of Thane of Glamis as a proof of fupernatural intelligence.

I fufpect our author was led to use the expreffions which have occafioned the prefent note, by the following words of Holinfhed: "The fame night after, at fupper, Banquo jested with him, and faid, Now Mackbeth, thou haft obteined those things which the Two former fifters PROPHESIED: there remaineth onelie for thee to purchase that which the third said should come to paffe." MALONE.

9-fwelling act] Swelling is ufed in the fame fenfe in the prologue to King Henry V:

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princes to act,

"And monarchs to behold the fuelling scene."

STEEVENS. 1 This fupernatural foliciting-] Soliciting for information. WARBURTON. Soliciting is rather, in my opinion, incitement, than information. JOHNSON.


-fuggeftion- i. e. temptation. So, in All's well that ends well: "A filthy officer he is in those fuggeftions for the young earl." STEEVENS.

3 Whofe horrid image doth unfix my hair,] So Macbeth fays, in the latter part of this play :

And make my feated + heart knock at my
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings: 5


My thought, whofe murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes fo my fingle state of man," that function

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"Would, at a dismal treatise, rouse and stir,
"As life were in it." M. MASON.

feated-] i. e. fixed, firmly placed. So, in Milton's

Paradife Loft, B. VI. 643:

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Prefent fears

Are lefs than horrible imaginings:] Prefent fears are fears of things prefent, which Macbeth declares, and every man has found, to be lefs than the imagination presents them while the objects are yet distant. JOHNSON.

Thus, in All's well that ends well: "when we should fubmit ourselves to an unknown fear."

Again, in The Tragedie of Croefus, 1604, by Lord Sterline: "For as the fhadow feems more monftrous ftill, "Than doth the fubftance whence it hath the being, "So th' apprehenfion of approaching ill

"Seems greater than itself, whilft fears are lying."

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By prefent fears is meant, the actual prefence of any objects of terror. So, in The Second Part of King Henry IV. the King fays:

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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 fays

"To alter favour ever is to fear."

So, in Fletcher's Pilgrim, Curio fays to Alphonfo:

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


-fingle state of man,] The fingle ftate of man feems to be used by Shakspeare for an individual, in opposition to a commonwealth, or conjunct body. JOHNSON.

By Single ftate of man, Shakspeare might poffibly mean fomewhat more than individuality. He who, in the peculiar VOL. X.


Is fmother'd in furmife; 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 ftir.


New honours come upon him

fituation of Macbeth, is meditating a murder, dares not com municate his thoughts, and confequently derives neither fpirit, nor advantage, from the countenance, or fagacity, of others. This state of man may properly be ftyled Angle, folitary, or defenceless, as it excludes the benefits of participation, and has no refources but in itself.

It should be observed, however, that double and fingle ancie ently fignified strong and weak, when applied to liquors, and perhaps to other objects. In this fense the former word may be employed by Brabantio:

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and the latter, by the Chief Juftice, fpeaking to Falstaff: "Is not your wit fingle ?"

The fingle ftate of Macbeth may therefore fignify his weak and debile ftate of mind. STEEVENS.


Is fmother'd in furmife; and nothing is,

But what is not.] All powers of action are oppreffed and crushed by one overwhelming image in the mind, and nothing is prefent 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 exiftence. JOHNSON.

Surmife, is fpeculation, conjecture concerning the future.


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

"Where, every fomething being blent together,
"Turns to a wild of nothing.-

Again, in King Richard II:

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is nought but fhadows

"Of what it is not." STEEVENS.

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BAN. Worthy Macbeth, we ftay upon your lei fure.8

7 Time and the hour runs through the rougheft day.] "By this, I confefs I do not, with his two laft commentators, imagine is meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or an allufion to time painted with an hour-glafs, or an exhortation to time to haften forward, but rather to fay tempus et hora, time and occafion, will carry the thing through, and bring it to fome determined point and end, let its nature be what it will."

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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 difpend the tyme, the day, the houre." Such tautology is common to Shakspeare.

"The very head and front of my offending,"

is little lefs reprehenfible. Time and the hour, is Time with his hours. STEEVENS.

The fame expreffion is ufed by a writer nearly contemporary with Shakspeare: "Neither can there be any thing in the world more acceptable to me than death, whofe hower and time if they were as certayne," &c. Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 1579. Again, in Davifon's Poems, 1621:

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


"O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power
"Doft hold Time's fickle glafs, his fickle, hour-

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—we stay upon your leisure.] The fame phrafeology occurs in the Pafton Letters, Vol. III. p. 80: "fent late to me a man ye which wuld abydin uppon my leyfir," &c.


MACB. Give me your favour: 9-my dull brain was wrought

With things forgotten.1 Kind gentlemen, your pains Are register'd where every day I turn

The leaf to read them.2-Let us toward the king.Think upon what hath chanc'd; and, at more time, The interim having weigh'd it,3 let us speak

Our free hearts each to other.



Very gladly.

MẠCь. Till then, enough.-Come, friends.


favour:] i. e. indulgence, pardon. STEEVENS.

my dull brain was wrought

With things forgotten.] My head was worked, agitated, put into commotion. JOHNSON.

So, in Othello:


"Of one not eafily jealous, but being wrought,

Perplex'd in the extreme."

-where every day I turn


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

3 The interim having weigh'd it,] This intervening portion of time is alfo perfonified: it is reprefented as a cool impartial judge; as the paufer Reafon. Or, perhaps, we fhould readI' th' interim. STEEVENS.

I believe the interim is ufed adverbially: "you having weighed it in the interim." MALONE.

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