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DUNCAN, king of Scotland.
generals of the king's army.
noblemen of Scotland.
SCENE : Scotland; England.
Dramatis Personæ. Hecate, known by the three names Luna, Diana, and Hecate in heaven, earth, and hell respectively, was the goddess of magic and all forms of enchantment.
As a comment on the part played by the witches, Sir Thomas Browne's remark is
interesting : -'For my part, I have ever believed, and do now know, that there are Witches : they that doubt of these, do not onely deny them but Spirits; and are obliquely and upon consequence a sort not of Infidels, but of Atheists.
MACBETA was first published in the Folio of 1623. Early
Literary It is there already divided into scenes as well as acts.
HistoryIn other respects it is carelessly edited, and the text Text. is
among the worst printed in the entire series. In addition, the 'perfect' and 'absolute' copy of Shakespeare's work, which the editors of the Folio professed to print, is open to grave suspicion of having been severely revised, cut down, and interpolated after it left his hands. Much, finally, of what is unmistakably Shakespearean has rather the qualities of bold blocking out than of finished workmanship. Verses otherwise stamped with genius jostle rudely with every canon of metre, and the magnificent and inexhaustible poetry forces its way through daring anomalies of speech; while the supreme dramatic energy is focussed upon the two or three principal characters, with an exclusive intensity more characteristic of Æschylus than of the myriad-minded author of worlddramas like Lear and Hamlet." Under conditions so complex as these, the textual criticism of Macbeth is inevitably beset with problems which our knowledge does not suffice to solve.
The theory of a post-Shakespearean revision of Middleton Macbeth starts from a slender but definite basis of Macbeth. fact. Middleton's The Witch contains two songs referred to in the stage directions of Macbeth (viz.
'Come away, come away,' iii. 5., and 'Black spirits and white, iv. 1.), and afterwards introduced in Davenant's recast of his godfather's work. The Witch was most likely written some years after Macbeth; it was certainly old when Macbeth was printed. The coincidence can be accounted for on several hypotheses, as Mr. Bullen has shown; but the presumption decidedly is that the songs, simply referred to by their first lines in Macbeth, as familiar, were drawn from the play where they are quoted in full. This presumption gives a certain locus standi to theories of more extensive interpolation, which have been freely advanced with very various degrees of critical competency.
The more revolutionary proposals of Messrs. Clark and Wright have found support only from Mr. Fleay, who has since withdrawn it.2 Besides a large part of the witch scenes, which might be plausibly assigned to the author of The Witch, and the porter scene, which had been rejected by Coleridge, they condemned the 'serjeant scene' (i. 2.), the king's-evil scene (iv. 3. 140-159), the relation of young Siward's death and crowning of Malcolm (v. 8. 35-75), and a variety of rhyming tags. The only serious allegation against the serjeant scene is that it relates the treason of Cawdor, which in the following scene is still unknown to Macbeth (i. 3. 72), and doubtful to Angus (i. 3. 111). But this ‘discrepancy'is of the kind that arises when explanatory links drop out; it points rather to compression than to interpolation, and cannot for a moment avail against the profusion of Shakespearean touches scattered through both. That the porter scene, too, is in conception and execution altogether
1 Edition of Macbeth, Intro- Shakespeare, p. 238, Mr. Fleay duction (Clar. Press Series). rejects only iii. 5. and iv. 1. 2 In the Life and Work of 39-43.