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As this passage stands, not only the numbers are very imperfect, but the sense, if any can be found, weak and contemptible. The numbers will be improved by reading.

Sit down at first,
And last a hearty welcome.

You know your own degrees, sit down- -To first
And last the hearty welcome.

But for last, should then be written nert. I be- clined to read it thus: lieve the true reading is,

All of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, may be assured that their visit is well received.


Macbeth. There's blood upon thy face.
[To the murderer aside at the door.
Murderer. 'Tis Banquo's then.
Macbeth. 'Tis better thee without, than he within.

As starts can neither with propriety nor sense be called impostures to true fear, something else was undoubtedly intended by the author, who perhaps wrote,

-These flaws and starts,
Impostures true to fear, would well become
A woman's story-

These symptoms of terror and amazement might better become impostures true only to fear, might become a coward at the recital of such falsehoods as no man could credit, whose understanding was not weakened by his terrors; tales, told by woman over a fire on the authority of her grandam.



drink to the general joy of the whole table, And to our dear friend Banquo whom we miss, Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst And all to all.

Jamque vagante scypho, discincto gutture was-heil The sense apparently requires that this pas-Ingeminant was-heil; labor est plus perdere vini sage should be read thus:

Quum sitis.

'Tis better thee without, than him within.

That is, I am more pleased that the blood of Banquo should be on thy face, than in his body.


Lady Macbeth. Proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear:

[Aside to Macbeth.
This is the air-drawn dagger which you said
Led you to Duncan. Oh, these flaws and starts
Impostures to true fear, would well become
A woman's story at a winter's fire,
Authorised by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces ? When all's done
You look but on a stool.

Though this passage is, as it now stands, capable of more meanings than one, none of them are very satisfactory; and therefore I am in

Macbeth.Love and health to all!

Then I'll sit down: give me some wine, fill full

-To all, and him, we thirst,
And hail to all.

Macbeth, being about to salute his company with a bumper, declares that he includes Banquo, though absent, in this act of kindness, and wishes health to all. Hail or heil for health was in such continual use among the good-fellows of ancient times, that a drinker was called a was-heiler, or a wisher of health, and the liquor was termed was-heil, because health was so often wished over it. Thus in the lines of Hanvil the Monk,

These words were afterwards corrupted into wassail and wassailer.


Macbeth.- -Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer's cloul
Without our special wonder? You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,

When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural ruby of your cheek,
When mine is blanched with fear.

This passage, as it now stands, is unintelligible, but may be restored to sense by a very slight alteration.

You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I know.

Though I had before seen many instances of your courage, yet it now appears in a degree altogether So that my long acquaintance with your disposition does not hinder me from that astonishment which novelty produces.



Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak,
It will have blood, they say blood will have blood,
Augurs, that understood relations, have

By magpies, and by choughs, and rooks brought forth
The secret'st man of blood.

In this passage the first line loses much of its force by the present punctuation. Macbeth having considered the prodigy which has just appeared, infers justly from it, that the death of Duncan cannot pass unpunished,

It will have blood.

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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 disaffected 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.


As this is the chief scene of enchantment in the play, it is proper in this place to observe, with how much judgment Shakspeare has selected all the circumstances of his infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to converse with witches, is that of a cat. A witch who was tried about half a century before the time of Shakspeare, had a cat named Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of those witches was Grimalkin; and when any mischief was to be done, she used to bid Rutterkin go and fly but once when she would have sent Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the Countess of Rutland, instead of going or flying, he only cried mew, from which she discovered that the lady was out of his power, the power of witches being not universal, but limited, as Shakspeare has taken care to inculcate.

Though bis bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest tost.

The common afflictions which the malice of witches produced were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh, which are threatened by one of Shakspeare's witches.

Weary sev'n nights nine times niue Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.

It was likewise their practice to destroy the cattle of their neighbours, and the farmers have to this day many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft; but they seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. Shakspeare has accordingly

made one of his witches declare that she has been killing swine; and Dr. Harsenet observes, that about that time "a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft.”

Toad, that under the cold stone Days and nights has forty-oue Swelter'd venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Toads have likewise long lain under the reproach of being by some means necessary to witchcraft, for which reason Shakspeare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits padocke or toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Thoulouse, there was found at his lodgings ingens bufo vitro inclusus, a great load shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him veneficium exprobrabant, charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft.

Fillet of a fenny snake

In the cauldron boil and bake ; Eye of neut, and toe of frog ;For a charm, &c.

The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books de Viribus Animalium and de Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.

Finger of birth-strangled babe, Ditch-deliver'd by a drab;

It has been already mentioned in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom King James examined, and who had of a dead body, that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable, that Shakspeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horror. The babe whose finger

is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer: and even the sow whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow.



-And thy air,

These are touches of judgment and The other gold-bound brow, is like the first.

And now about the cauldron sing

Blue spirits and white,
Black spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle,
You that mingle may.

And in a former part,

Weird sisters hand in hand-
Thus do go about, about,

Thrice to mine, and thrice to thine,
And thrice again to make up nine.

like that of the first; he was offended only that the second resembled the first, as the first resembled Banquo, and therefore said,


Macbeth. Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo,

Thy crown does (1) sear my eye-balls, and thy (2)
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first,
A third is like the former.-

(1) The expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye-balls, is taken from the method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity.



These two passages I have brought together, That trace his line-no boasting like a fool. because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shown, by one quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded upon a practice really observed by the uncivilized natives of that country. "When any one gets a fall," says the informer of Camden, "he starts up, and turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground; and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, red, black, white." There was likewise a book written before the time of Shakspeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.

Many other circumstances might be particularized, in which Shakspeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge.


I will-give to the edge o' th' sword

His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line-no boasting like a fool,
This deed I'll do before my purpose cool.

(2) As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only inquiring from what race they would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the second was bound with gold

Both the sense and measure of the third line, which as it rhymes, ought, according to the practice of this author, to be regular, are at present injured by two superfluous syllables, which may easily be removed by reading,

Rosse. Dearest cousin,

I pray you school yourself; but for your husband,
He's noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o' th' time, I dare not speak much farther,
But cruel are the times when we are traitors,
And do not know't ourselves: when we (1) hold ru


From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way, and (2) move. I'll take my leave of you;
Shall not be long but I'll be here again :
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upwards
To what they were before: my pretty cousin,

Blessing upon you.

When we hold rumour

(1) From what we fear, yet know not what we fear.

The present reading seems to afford no sense; and therefore some critical experiments may be properly tried upon it, though, the verses being without any connection, there is room for suspicion, that some intermediate lines are lost, and that the passage is therefore irretrievable. If it be supposed that the fault arises only from the corruption of some words, and that the traces of the true reading are still to be found, the passage may be changed thus:

-When we bode ruin

From what we fear, yet know not what we fear.

Or in a sense very applicable to the occasion of the conference,

When the bold running
From what they fear, yet know not what they fear.
(2) But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way, and move.

That he who floats upon a rough sea must move, is evident, too evident for Shakspeare so The line therefore is emphatically to assert. to be written thus:

Each way, and move-I'll take my leave of you.

Rosse is about to proceed, but finding himself overpowered by his tenderness, breaks off abruptly, for which he makes a short apology and retires.

Weep our sad bosoms empty.

Macduff. Let us rather

Hold fast the mortal sword: and like good men,
Bestride cur downfal birth-doom: each new morn,
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland, and yell'd out
Like syllables of dolour.


This some of his transcribers wrote with a

and there

Malcolm. Let us seek out some desolate shade, small o, which another imagined to mean of If we adopt this reading, the sense will be, and O thou sovereign goodness to whom we now appeal, may our fortune answer to our cause.

He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfal birthdoom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text; but those who are willing to confess that such counsel would to them be unintelligible, must endeavour to discover some reading less obscure. It is probable that Shakspeare wrote,

--Like good men
Bestride our downfaln birthdom.-

The allusion is to a man from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without encumbrance, lays it on the ground and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or birthright, says he, lies on the ground, let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution.

Birthdom for birthright, is formed by the same analogy with masterdom in this play, signifying the privileges or rights of a master.

Perhaps it might be birth-dame for mother; let us stand over our mother that lies bleeding on the ground.


Malcolm. Now we'll together, and the chance of goodness Be like our warranted quar.el.

The chance of goodness, as it is commonly read, conveys no sense. If there be not some more important error in the passage, it should at least be pointed thus:

heaven [pro justicia divina,] answerable to the


But I am inclined to believe that Shakspeare wrote,

And the chance, of goodness, Be like our warranted quarrel.

That is, May the event be, of the goodness of

And the chance, O goodness,
Be like our warranted quarrel.


Macbeth. Bring me no more reports, let them fly all, 'Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane,

I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy Malcolm?

Was he not born of woman?

And mingle with the English epicures.
Fly false Thanes,

In the first line of this speech, the proper pauses are not observed in the present editions. Bring me no more reports-let them fly all

Tell me not any more of desertions-Let all my subjects leave me-I am safe till, &c.

The reproach of epicurism, on which Mr. Theobald has bestowed a note, is nothing more than a natural invective uttered by an inhabitant of a barren country, against those who have more opportunities of luxury.


Macbeth. I have lived long enough: my way of life Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf.

As there is no relation between the way of life, and fallen into the sear, I am inclined to think, that the W is only an M inverted, and that it was originally written, My May of life.

I am now passed from the spring to the autumn of my days, but I am without those comforts that should succeed the sprightliness of bloom, and support me in this melancholy season.


Malcolm, 'Tis his main hope:
For where there is advantage to be given,
Both more or less have given him the revolt
And none serve with him but constrained things,
Whose bearts are absent too.

The impropriety of the expression advantage to be given, instead of advantage given, and the disagreeable repetition of the word given in the next line incline me to read,

Where there is a vantage to be gone, Both more and less have given him the revolt. ន s

Advantage or vantage in the time of Shakspeare, signified opportunity.

More and less is the same with greater and less. So in the interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter of India the more and the less.


Macbeth. Wherefore was that cry?
Seyton. The queen is dead.

Macbeth. She should (1) have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of (2) recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow.-

(1) She should have died hereafter, There would have been a time for such a word.

This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time; and that there would or would not be a time for any word, seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. I read therefore,

She should have died hereafter, There would have been a time for-such a world!To-morrow, &c.

It is a broken speech, in which only part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus: The queen is dead. Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; had she lived longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that respect which I owe her for her fidelity and love. Such is the worldsuch is the condition of human life, that we always think to-morrow will be happier than to-day; but to-morrow and to-morrow steals over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to the grave who were engrossed by the same dream of future felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were like me reckoning on to-morrow.

(2) To the last syllable of recorded time.

Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of heaven for the period of life. The records of futurity is indeed no accurate expression, but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written.


Macbeth. If thou speak'st false, Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive. Till famine cling thee: if thy speech be sooth, I care not if thou dost for me as much

I pull in resolution, and begiu

To doubt th' equivocation of the fiend,
That lies like truth. Fear not till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane," and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.

I pull in resolution

Though this is the reading of all the editions, yet as it is a phrase without either example, elegance, or propriety, it is surely better to read,

I pall in resolution

I languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake me. It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an unskilful printer.


Seyward. Had I as many sons as I have hairs, I would not wish them to a fairer death: And so his knell is knoll'd.

This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his "Remains," from which our author probably copied it.

When Seyward, the martial Earl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wound were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered in the fore part, he replied, "I am right glad; neither wish I any other death to me or mine."

AFTER the foregoing pages were printed, the late edition of Shakspeare, ascribed to Sir Thomas Hanmer, fell into my hands; and it was therefore convenient for me to delay the publication of my remarks till I had examined whether they were not anticipated by similar observations, or precluded by better. I therefore read over this tragedy, but found that the editor's apprehension is of a cast so different from mine, that he appears to find no difficulty in most of those passages which I have represented as unintelligible, and has therefore passed smoothly over them, without any attempt to alter or explain them.

Some of the lines with which I had been perplexed, have been indeed so fortunate as to attract his regard; and it is not without all the satisfaction which it is usual to express on such

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