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Curbing his lavish spirit. To conclude,
King. Great happiness !
Roje. Now Sweno, Norway's King, craves composition: Nor would we deign him burial of his men, 'Till he disbursed, at Saint Colmes-kill-isle Ten thousand dollars, to our gen’ral use.
King. No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom int'reft. Go, pronounce his death ; And with his former title
Macbeth. Rolle. I'll see it done. King. What he hath loft, noble Macbeth hath won.
SCENE changes to the Heath,
Thunder. Enter the three Witches,
I Witch. Here haft thou been, fifter?
2 Witch. Killing fwine. 3 Witch. Sifter, where thou?
i Witch. A failor's wife had chesnuts in her lap, And mouncht, and mouncht, and mouncht. Give me,
2 Witch. I'll give thee a wind.
i Witch. I myself have all the other,
He shall live a man forbid; (6)
2 Witch. Shew me, shew me.
i Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb, Wrackt as homeward he did come. [Drum within.
3 Witch. A drum, a drum ! Macbeth doth come ! All. The Weïrd fifters, hand in hand, (7)
(6) He shall live a man forbid :] i.e. as under a curse, an Interdiētion. So afterwards, in this play ;
By his own interdiction stands accurs’d. So, among the Romans, an outlaw's sentence was aquæ & ignis interdictio. i. e. He was forbid the use of water and fire : which imply'd the necessity of banishment.
(7). The weyward fifters, band in hand,] The Witches are here speaking of themselves; and it is worth an enquiry why they should stile themselves the weyward, or wayward fifters. This word in its general acceptation signifies, perverse, froward, moody, obftinate, untra&table, &c, and is every where su used by our Shakespeare. To content ourselves with two or three instances;
Fy, fy, how wayward is this foolish love,
Two Gent. of Verona,
Love's Labour loft.
Macbeth. It is improbable, the Witches would adopt this epithet to themselves, in any of these fenfes; and therefore we are to look a little further for the poet's word and meaning. When I had the first suspicion of our author being corrupt in this place, it brought to my mind the following passage in CHAUCER'S Troilus and Cresseide, lib. iii. v. 618.
But o fortune, executrice of wierdes. Which word the glossaries expound to us by fates or destinies. I was foon confirm'd in my suspicion, upon happening to dip into Heylin's Cosmography, where he makes a short recital of the story of Macberb and Banquo.
These two (says be) travelling together thro' a forest, were met by three Faries, Witches, Wierds, the Scots call them, &c.
I presently recollected, that this story must be recorded at more length by Holing/head; with whom I thought it was very probable
you are so.
Posters of the sea and land,
Ban. How far is't call'd to Foris?—what are these,
Macb. Speak, if you can ; what are you? IWitch. All-hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! 2Witch.All-hail,Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! 3 Witch. All-hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter,
Ban. Good Sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that do found so fair? l'th' name of truth, Are ye fantastical, or that indeed (To the Witches, that our author had traded for the materials of his tragedy: and therefore confirmation was to be fetch'd from this fountain. Accord. ingly, looking into his history of Scotland, I found the writer very prolix and express, from Hector Boethius, in this remarkable story ; and in p. 170. speaking of these Witches, he uses this expression.
But afterwards the common opinion was, that these women were either the weird lifters, that is, as ye would say, the goddesses of deffiny, &c. Again, a little lower; The words of the three weird filters also, (of whom before
have heard) greatly encouraged him thereunto.
And, in several other paragraphs there, this word is repeated. I believe, by this time, it is plain beyond a doubt, that the word way. ward has obtain'd in Macbeib, where the Witches are spok-n of, from the ignorance of the copyists, who were not acquainted with the Scotcb term : and that in every paffage, where there is any relation to these Witches or Wizards, my emendation must be embraced, and we must read weird,
Which outwardly ye shew? my noble partner
I Witch. Hail!
Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none; So, all-hail, Macbeth and Banquo !
1 Witch. Banquo and Macbeth, all-hail !
Macb. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more ; By Sinel's death, I know, I'm Thane of Glamis; But how, of Cawdor ? the Thane of Cawdor lives, A profp'rous gentleman; and, to be King, Stands not within the prospect of belief, No more than to be Cawdor. Say, from whence You owe this strange intelligence ? or why Upon this blasted heath you stop our way, With such prophetick greeting !--fpeak, I charge you.
[Witches vanil. Bán. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has
; And these are of them : whither are they vanilh'd ?
Macb. Into the air : and what seem'd corporal Melted, as breath, into the wind, Would they had staid ! Ban. Were such things here, as we do speak about? (8)
Or (8) Were such things bere, as we do speak about? Or bave we eaten of the insane root, Ibat takes tbe reason prisoner ?] The insane root, viz. the root which makes insane; as in HORACE Pallida Mors; nempè, quæ facit pallidos. This fentence, I conceive, is not so well understood, as I would have every part of Sbakespeare be, by his audience and readers. So soon as the Witches vanish from the fight of Macbeth and Banquo, and leave them in doubt whether they had really seen such Appari
Or have we eaten of the insane root,
Macb. Your children shall be Kings.
Enter Rofle and Angus.
Were such things bere, &c. I was sure, from a long observation of Shakespeare's accuracy, that he alluded here to some particular circumstance in the history, which, I hoped, F hould find explain'd in Holingshead. But I found myself deceived in this expectation. This furnishes a proper occasion, therefore, to remark our author's signal diligence; and happiness at applying whatever he met with, that could have any relation to his fubject. Hector Boetbius, who gives us an account of Sueno's army being intoxicated by a preparation put upon them by their subtle enemy, informs us; that there is a plant, which grows in great quantity in Scotland, callid Solatrum Amentiale; that its berries are purple, or rather black, when full ripe; and have a quality of laying to Aeep; or of driving into madness, if a more than ordinary quantity of them be taken. This passage of Boethius, I dare say, our poet had an eye to: and, I think, it fairly accounts for his mention of the in. fane root. Disfcorides lib. iv. c. 74. IIepi Empúxus Manong, attributes the same properties to it. Its clasical name, observe, is Solanum; but the shopmen agree to call it Solatrum. This, prepar'd in medicine, (as Tbeophrastus tells us, and Pliny from him ;) has a peculiar effect of filling the patient's head with odd images and fancies: and particu. larly that of seeing spirits : an effect, which, I am perfuaded, was no secret to our author. Bochart and Salmafius have both been copious upon the description and qualities of this plant, N 3