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Whom I myself struck down : and thence it is,
That I to your assistance do make love,
2 Mur. We shall, my Lord, Perform what you command us. 1 Mur. Though our lives
Mur. We are resolv'd, my Lord.
(Exeunt Murderers (21) for’t must be done to night, And something from the palace: always thought, That I require a clearness:] The latter branch of this sentence. Mr. Pope has sunk upon us, in both his editions, tho it is authoriz'd by all the preceding copies. If I may venture to guess at the reason of his suppressing these words, it was because he did not understand them: but Macbeth means, that the murderers must in every step remember, he requires not to be suspected of the fact; to stand clear from all imputations, which might affect him in the opinions of peo. ple. I have frequently observd, how minutely Shakejpeare is used to follow his history in little particular circumstances. This is one fignal instance. Let us hear honeft Holingshead (from whom he has copied this whole tale) in his history of Scotland p. 172.-He willed therefore the same Banqubo with his son named Fleance to come to a supper that he had prepared for them; which was, indeed, as he had devised, present death at the hands of certain Murderers whom he hired to execute that deed ; appointing them to meet with the same Banqub, and his fon without tbe palace, as they returned to their lodgings, and there to flea them, so that be would not have bis house Jandered; but that in time to come he might clear bimself, if any thing were laid to his charge upon any suspicion sbat might arisen
It is concluded ;-Banquo, thy foul's flight,
SCENE, another Apartment in the Palace. Enter Lady Macbeth, and a Servant.
court Ser. Ay, madam, but returns again to-night. Lady. Say to the King, I would attend his leisure For a few words. Ser. Madam, I will.
(Exit. Lady. Nought's had, all's spent, Where our desire is got without content: 'Tis fafer to be that which we deftroy, Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
Enter Macbeth. How now, my Lord, why do you keep alone ? Of sorrieft fancies your companions making, Using those thoughts, which should, indeed, have dy'd With them they think on? things without all remedy Should be without regard; what's done, is done. Macb. We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it--(22)
She'll (22) We have scorch'd the snake, not kill'd it, She'll close, and be berfe!f;] This is a paffage, which has all along pafled current thro' the editions, and yet, I dare affirm, is not our author's reading. What has a snake, closing again, to do with its being scorsb'd? scorching would never either separate, or dilate, its parts; but rather make them inftan:ly contract and sharivel. SHAKESPEARE, I am very well persuaded, had this notion in his head; that if you cut a ferpent or worm a funder, in several pieces, there is fuch an unctucus quality in their blood, that the difmember'd parts, being only placed near enough to touch one another, will cement and become as whole as hefore the injury receiv’d. The application of this thought is to Duncan, the murder'd King, and his surviving fons. Macbetb cunliders them so much as members of the father, That cho' he has cut off the old man, he would say, he has not entirely kill'd him, but he'll revive again in the lives of luis fons. Can we doubt therefore but that the poet wrote, as I have restor'd to the text,
We bave sco:ch'd the fnake, not kill d it? To feetch, however the generality of our Dictionaries happen to omit
She'll close, and be herself; whilft our poor malice
Lady. Come on;
Macb. So fall i, love; and so, I pray, be you ;
Lady. You must leave this.
Macb. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! Thou know'st, that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.
Lady. But in them, nature's copy's not eternal.
Macb. There's comfort yet, they are affailable ; Then, be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown His cloyster'd flight, ere to black Hecare's summons The shard-born beetle with his drowsy hums Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done the word, fignifies, to notch, Nah, back, cut, with twigs, swords, &c. and so our poet more than once has used it in his works. CORIOLANUS.
He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth on't: Before Corioli, he scotch'd him, and norch'd him, like a Carbonado. ANTON Y and CLEOPATRA.
We'll beat 'em into bench-holes: I have yet
Room for fix scorcbes more. I made this emendation, when I publish'd my SHAKESPEARE re• ford; and Mr. Pope has vouchsafed to embrace it in his last edition.
A deed of dreadful note.
Lady. What's to be done ? Macb. Be innocent of the knowledge, deareft chuck, 'Till thou applaud the deed: come, feeling night, (23) Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond, Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the Crow Makes Wing to th' rooky wood : Good things of day begin to droop and drouze. Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouze, Thou marvell’ft at my words; but hold thee ftill; Things, bad begun, make strong themselves by ill: So, pr’ythee, go with me.
SCENE changes to a Park; the Castle at a
Enter three Murderers. 1 Mur.
UT who did bid thee join with us?
3 Mur. Macbeth. 2 Mur. He needs not our mifruft, since he delivers (24) (33)
come, sealing night, Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;] Mr. Roue and Mr. Pope, sieither of them were aware of the poet's metaphor here, and so have blunder'd the text into nonsense. I have restor'd from the old copies,
come, feeling night, i e. blinding. It is a term in falconry, when they run a thread thro' the eyelids of a hawk firft taken, so that she may see very little, or not at all, to make her the better endure the hood. This they call, feeling a hawk.
(24) He needs not to mifruß,-) Mr. Pope has here sophisticated the text, for want of understanding it. I can easily fee, that he Conceiv'd this to be the meaning; that Macbeth had no occafion to mistrust the murderers he had employ'd, and plant another upon them. But the text in the old copies ftands thus,
He needs not our mifruft,Macbeth had agreed with the two murderers, and apppoints a tbird to afist them. The two are somewhát jealous of him at first, but finding that he was so particular and precise in his directions, that he knew every part of their commission, they agree, that there is no need to miltrust him, and so bid him stand wit them.
Our offices, and what we have to do,
i Mur. Then ftand with us.
3 Mur. Hark, I hear horses.
2 Mur. Then it is he: the rest,
Enter Banquo and Fleance, with a Torche
Ban. Oh, treachery!
3 Mur. Who did strike out the light?
3 Mur. There's but one down ; the son
2 Mur. We've lost best half of our affair.