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Hec. Have I not reason, beldams, as you are, Saucy, and overbold? How did you dare
And adds further: “ut scias etiam tum quasdam ab iis hoc titulo honoratas." In consequence of this information, Ben Jonson, in his Masique of Queens, lias introduced a character which he calls a Dame, who presides at the meeting of the Witches:
“ Sisters, stay; we want our dame.” The dame accordingly enters, invested with marks of supe. riority, and the l'est pay an implicit obedience to her com. mands.
Again, in 4 true Examination and Confession of Elizabeth Stile, alias Rockyngbam, &c. 1579, bl. I. 1žmo: “ Further she saieth, that Mother Seidre, dwelling in the almes house, was the maistres witche of all the reste, and she is now deade."
Shakspeare is therefore blameable only for calling his pre. siding character Hecate, as it might have been brought on with propriety under any other title whatever. Steevens.
The Gothic and Pagan fictions were now frequently blended and incorporated. The Lady of the Lake floated in the suite of Neptune before queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth; Ariel as. sumes the semblance of a sea-nymph, and Hecate, by an easy association, conducts the rites of the weird sisters in Macbeth.
T. Warton. Shakspeare seems to have been unjustly censured for introducing Hecate among the modern witches. Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, B. III, c. ii, and c. xvi, and B. XII, c. iii, mentions it as the common opinion of all writers, that witches were supposed to have nightly “meetings with Herodias, and the Pagan gods,” and “ that in the night-times they ride abroad with Diana, the goddess of the Pagans,” &c. Their dame or chief leader seems always to bave been an old Pagan, as Ladie Sibylla, Minerva, or Diana.” Tollet.
In Jonson's Sad Shepherd, Act II, sc. iii, Maudlin, the witch, (who is the speaker) calls Hecate the mistress of witches, “our Dame Hecate ;” which has escaped the notice of Mr. Steevens and Mr. Tollet, in their remarks on Shakspeare's being censured for introducing Hecate among the vulgar witches. Todd.
4 Wby, bow now, Hecate?] Marlowe, though a scholar, bas likewise used the word Hecate, as a dissyllable:
“ Plutoe's blew fire, and Hecat's tree,
Dr. Faustus. Malone. Mr. Todd, among his ingenious notes on Comus, bas pointed out the same illegitimate pronunciation in The Sad Shepberd of Ben Jonson, Act II, sc. ii :
that very night “We earth'd her in the shades, when our dame Hecaf. “Made it her gaing night over the kirk-yard."
To trade and traffick with Macbeth
Milton, in his Comus, has likewise taken the same liberty
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
“Us,” &c. Steedens.
“ The mysteries of Hecate and the night.” Reede
for a wayward son, Spiteful, and wrathful; wbo, as others do, Loves for his own ends, not for you.] Inequality of mea'
(the first of these lines being a foot longer than the second) together with the unnecessary and weak comparison-at others do, incline me to regard the passage before us as both maimed and interpolated. Perhaps it originally ran thus :
- for a wayward son,
for you. But the repetition of the article a being casually omitted by some transcriber for the theatre, the verse became too short, and a fresh conclusion to it was supplied by the amanuensis, who overlooked the legitimate rhyme who, when he copied the play for publication.
If it be necessary to exemplify the particular phraseology in. troduced by way of amendment, the following line in Chaucer,
" A frere there was, a wanton and a mery;"! and a passage in The Witch, by Middleton, will sufficiently answer that purpose:
" What death is’t you desire for Almachildes?
" A sudden, and a subtle." In this instance, the repeated article a is also placed before two adjectives referring to a substantive in the preceding line. See also The Paston Letters, Vol. IV, p. 155: “Pray God send us a good world and a peaceable." Again, in our author's King Henry IV: “A good portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent."
Again, in an ancient MS. entitled The Boke of Huntyng, that is cleped Mayster of Game: “It (the Boar) is a prowde beest, a feers, and a perilous." Steeraus.
But make amends now: Get you gone,
the pit of Acheron - ] Shakspeare seems to have thought it allowable to bestow the name of Acheron on any fountain, lake, or pit, through which there was vulgarly supposed to be a communication between this and the infernal world. The true original Acheron was a river in Greece; and yet Virgil gives this name to his lake in the valley of Amsanctus in Italy. Steevens.
7 Unto a dismal-fatal end.) The old copy violates the metre by needless addition:
Unto, a dişmal and a fatal end. I read-dismal.fatal. Shakspeare, as Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, in a note on King Richard III, is fond of these compound epithets, in which the first adjective is to be considered as an adverb. So, in that play, we meet with childish foolish, senseless-obstinate, and mortal-staring. And, in King Fobn, we have stubborn-burd. Steedens,
8 Upon the corner of the moon &c.] Shakspeare's mythological knowledge, on this occasion, appears to have deserted him; for as Hecate is only one of three names belonging to the same goddess, she could not properly be employed in one charecter to catch a drop that fell from her in another. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, however, our poet was sufficiently aware of her three-fold capacity:
fairies, that do run
Steevens. vaporous drop profounds] That is, a drop that has profound, deep, or hidilen qualities. Fohnson.
This vaporous drop seems to have been meant for the same as the virus lunare of the ancients, being a foam which the moon was supposed to shed on particular herbs, or other objects, when strongly solicited by enchantment. Lucan introduces Erictho using it. L VI:
man et virus large lunare ministrat.” Steevens,
And that, distill'd by magick slights,
Song. [within] Come away, come away,&.
Fores. A Room in the Palace.
"Enter LENOX, and another Lord.3 Len. My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,
slights,] Arts; subtle practices. Fobiison. Come away, come away, &c.] This entire song I found in a MS. dramatic piece, entitled " A Tragi-Coomodie called THE WITCH; long since acted &c. written by Thomas Mid. dleton. The Hecate of Shakspeare has said
I am for the air," &c. The Hecate of Middleton (who, like the former, is summoned away by aerial spirits) has the same declaration in almost the same words
“ I am for aloft” &c. Song.) “ Come away, come away:
in the aire. “ Heccat, Heccat, come away,” &c.
Steevens. 3 Enter Lenox, and another Lord.] As this tragedy, like the rest of Shakspeare's, is perhaps overstocked with personages, it is not easy to assign a reason why a nameless character should be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not with equal propriety have been put into the mouth of any other dis. affected man. I believe, therefore, that in the original copy it was written with a very common form of contraction, Lenox and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, set down, Lenox and another Lord. The author had, indeed, been more indebted to the transcriber's fidelity and diligence, Had he committed no errors of greater importance. Fobnson.
Which can interpret further: only, I say,
The son of Duncan,
gone to pray the holy king, on his aid?
4 Who cannot want the thought,] The sense requires :
Who can want the tbought, Yet, I believe, the text is not corrupt. Shakspeare is sometimes incorrect in these minutiæ. Malone. 5 monstrous - ] This word is here used as a trisyllable.
Malone. So, in Chapman's version of the 9th book of Homer's Odyssey:
" A man in shape, immane and monsterous." Steevens. 6. The son of Duncan,] The old copy-sons. Malone. Theobald corrected it. Johnson.
on bis aid-] Old copy-upon. Steedens.