Page images

1 Witch. I come, Graymalkin'! All. Paddock calls :-Anon.

however, who can speak the line thus regulated, and suppose they are reciting a verse, may profit by the direction they have received.

The pronoun “ their," having two vowels together, may be split into two syllables; but the adverb “there" can only be used as a monosyllable, unless pronounced as if it were written “the-re," a licence in which even Chaucer has not indulged himself.

It was convenient for Shakspeare's introcluctory scene, that his first Witch should appear uninstructed in her mission. Had she not required information, the audience must have remained ignorant of what it was necessary for them to know. · Her speeches, therefore, proceed in the form of interrogatories; but, all on a sudden, an answer is given to a question which had not been asked. Here seems to be a chasm, which I shall attempt to supply by the introduction of a single pronoun, and by distributing the hitherto mutilated line among the three speakers :

" 3 Witch. There to meet with“1 Witch.

Whom? “ 2 Witch.

Macbeth.” Distinct replies have now been afforded to the three necessary enquiries—WhenWhere—and Whom the Witches were to meet. Their conference receives no injury from my insertion and arrangement. On the contrary, the dialogue becomes more regular and consistent, as each of the hags will now have spoken thrice (a magical number) before they join in utterance of the concluding words, which relate only to themselves. I should add that, in the two prior instances, it is also the second Witch who furnishes decisive and material answers; and that I would give the words “I come, Graymalkin!” to the third. By assistance from such of our author's plays as had been published in quarto, we have often detected more important errors in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, supplies the most ancient copy of Macbeth.

STEEVENS. I have endeavoured to show in the Essay on Shakspeare's versification that this line is not defective, and that neither Mr. Steevens's supplemental whom, nor Mr. Malone's dissyllabical pronunciation of there, is required. Boswell.

5 – Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1.584, I find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a cattes body nine times. Mr. Upton observes, that, to understand this passage, we should suppose one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad.

Again, in Newes from Scotland, &c. (a pamphlet of which

Fair is foul, and foul is fair?:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

[Witches vanish.

The repre

the reader will find the entire title in a future note on this play): “ Moreover she confessed, that at the time when his majestie was in Denmarke, shee being accompanied with the parties before specially mentioned, tooke a cat and christened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefest part of a dead man, and several joyntes of his bodie, and that in the night following the said cat was convayed into the middest of the sea by all these witches sayling in their riddles or cives as is aforesaid, and so left the said cat right before the towne of Leith in Scotland. This donne, there did arise such a tempest in the sea, as a greater hath not bene seene," &c. Steevens.

6 Paddock calls : &c.] This, with the two following lines, is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding editors ħave appropriated the first of them to the second Witch.

According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and some other naturalists, a frog is called a paddock in the North: as in the following instance, in Cæsar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607 :

Paddockes, todes, and watersnakes."
Again, in Wyntownis Cronykil

, b. i. c. xiii. 55: As ask, or eddyre, tade, or pade." In Shakspeare, however, it certainly means a toad. sentation of St. James in the witches' house (one of the set of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566,) exlibits witches flying up and down the chimney on brooms ; and hefore the fire sit grimalkin and paddock, i. e. a cat, and a toad, with several baboons. There is a cauldron boiling, with a witch near it, cutting out the tongue of a snake, as an ingredient for the charm. A representation somewhat similar likewise occurs in Newes from Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted.

Steevens. Some say, they (witches] can keepe devils and spirits, in the likeness of todes and cats." Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, (1584) book i. c. iv. TOLLET.

7 Fair is foul, and foul is fair :) i. e. we make the sudden changes of the weather. And Macbeth, speaking of this day, soon after says :

“ So foul and fair a day I have not seen." WARBURTON. The common idea of witches has always been, that they had absolute power over the weather, and could raise storms of any kind, or allay them, as they pleased. In conformity to this notion, Macbeth addresses them, in the fourth Act :

“ Though you untie the winds, &c.” Steevens.


A Camp near Fores.

Alarum within. Enter King Duncan, MALCOLM,

DONALBAIN, Lenox, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier

Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report, As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt The newest state. Mal.

This is the sergeanto,

* First folio, Captain.

I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fair. Johnson.

This expression seems to have been proverbial. Spenser has it in the 4th book of The Fairy Queen: “ Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in fight.”

FARMER. 8 This is the SERGEANT,] Holinshed is the best interpreter of Shakspeare in his historical plays ; for he not only takes his facts from him, but often his very words and expressions. That historian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, that on the first appearance of a mutinous spirit among the people, the king sent a sergeant at arns into the country, to bring up the chief offenders to answer the charge preferred against them ; but they, instead of obeying, misused the messenger with sundry reproaches, and finally slew him. This sergeant at arms is certainly the origin

of the bleeding sergeant introduced on the present occasion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holinshed, but the rest of the story not suiting his purpose, he does not adhere to it. The stage-direction of entrance, where the bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the player editors, and not of the poet.

Sergeant, however, (as the ingenious compiler of the Glossary to A. of Wyntown's Cronykil observes,) is " a degree in military service now unknown.”

"Of sergeandys thare and knychtis kene

“ He gat a gret cumpany.” B. viii. ch. xxvi. v. 396. The same word occurs again in the fourth Poem of Lawrence Minot, p. 19:

• He hasted him to the swin, with sergantes snell,
“ To mete with the Normandes that fals war and fell."

Who, like a good and hardy soldier, fought
'Gainst my captivity :-Hail, brave friend!
Say to the king the knowledge of the broil,
As thou didst leave it.

Doubtful it stood ';
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together,
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald'
(Worthy to be a rebel; for, to that ?,
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him,) from the western isles
Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied":

According to M. le Grand, (says Mr. Ritson) sergeants were a sort of gens d'armes. Steevens.

9 DOUBTFULLY it stood ;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to assist the metre, and reads

“ Doubtful long it stood,” has therehy injured the sense. If the comparison was meant to coincide in all circumstances, the struggle could not be long. I read

Doubtfully it stood ; " The old copy has-Doubtfull so that my addition consists of but a single letter. STEEVENS.

Yet the line but one preceding is left unaltered, though equally defective. Boswell.

1- Macdonwald-) Thus the old copy. According to Holinshed we should read— Macdowald. STEVENS.

So also the Scottish Chronicles. However, it is possible that Shakspeare might have preferred the name that has been substituted, as better sounding. It appears from a subsequent scene that he had attentively read Holinshed's account of the murder of King Duff, by Donwald, Lieutenant of the castle of Fores; in consequence of which he might, either from inadvertence, or choice, have here written-Macdonwald. MALONE.

to that, &c.] i. e, in addition to that. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act I. Sc. I. :

“ The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength,

“ Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant.” The soldier who describes Macdonwald, seems to mean, that, in addition to his assumed character of rebel, he abounds with the numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable.' STEEVENS.

To that I should rather explain as meaning to that end : multiplying villanies have fitteil him to become a rebel.' Malone.

from the western isles Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied ;] Whether sup



And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling *, Show'd like a rebel's whore 5: But all's too weak :

plied of, for supplied from or with, was a kind of Grecism of Shakspeare's expression; or whether of be a corruption of the editors, who took Kernes and Gallowglasses, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know. “ Hinc conjecturæ vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis similia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armaturæ quos Kernos vocant, nec non secures et loricæ ferreæ peditum illorum gravioris armaturæ, quos Galloglassios appellant." Waræi Antiq. Hiber. cap. vi. WARBURTON. Of and with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

“ Perform'd of pleasure by your son the prince." Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, hist. vi. : “Sypontus in the mean time is prepared of two wicked gondoliers,” &c. Again, in The History of Helyas Knight of the Sun, bl. 1. no date : "- he was well garnished of spear, sword, and armoure,” &c. These are a few out of a thousand instances which might be brought to the same purpose.

Kernes and Gallowglasses are characterized in The Legend of Roger Mortimer. See The Mirror for Magistrates :

the Gallowglas, the Kerne, “ Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they slay." See also Stanyhurst's Description of Ireland, ch. viii. fol. 28. Holinshed, edit. 1577. STEEVENS.

The old copy has Gallow-grosses. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.

We have the following description of Kernes and Gallowglasses in Barnabie Riche's New Irish Prognostication, p. 37:

The Galloglas succeedeth the Horseman, and hee is commonly armed with a scull, a shirt of maile, and a Galloglas axe: his service in the field, is neither good against horsemen, nor able to endure an encounter of pikes, yet the Irish do make great account of them. The Kerne of Ireland are next in request, the very drosse and scum of the countrey, a generation of villaines not worthy to live : these be they that live by robbing and spoyling the poor countreyman, that maketh him many times to buy bread to give unto them, though he want for himself and his poore children. These are they that are ready to run out with everie rebell

, and these are the verie hags of hell fit for nothing but for the gallows." Boswell.

4 And fortune, on bis damned QUARREL Smiling,] The old copy has quarry; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel wils formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to VOL. XI.


« PreviousContinue »