Page images

ments, but cries, i. e. gives them the signal, upon which the third Witch communicates the notice to her sisters : Harper cries:—'tis time, ’tis time. STEEv ENs. 4. Round about the cauldron go; J Milton has caught this image in his Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity: “In dismal dance about the furnace blue.” - STE E V E NS. 8. Swelter'd venom | This word seems to be employ'd by Shakspere, to signify that the animal was moistened with its own cold exsudations. So, in the twenty-second song of Drayton's Polyolbion : “And all the knights there dubb'd the morning but before, “The evening sun beheld there swelter'd in their gore.” In the old translation of Boccace's Novels, the fol. lowing sentence also occurs:–“ an huge and mighty toad, even westering (as it were) in a hole full of poison.” “Sweltering in blood” is likewise an expression used by Fuller in his Church History, p. 37. Steev ENs. 1o. Double, double toil and trouble ;] As this was a very extraordinary incantation, they were to double their pains about it. I think, therefore, it should be pointed as I have pointed it : Double, double toil and trouble; otherwise the solemnity is abated by the immediate recurrence of the rhime. STE E V RNs. Kiij 16.

16. —blind worm's sting, The blind-worm is the slow-worm. So Drayton in Noah's Flood: “The small-eyed slow-worm held of many blind.”

- STE Evens.

23. maw, and gulf] The gulf is the swallow, the throat. STE E v ENS. In the Mirror for Magistrates, we have “monstrous mawes and gulfes.” HENDERSON. 24. ravin'd salt sea shark;] Ravin'disglutted

with prey. Ravin is the ancient word for prey obtained by violence. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, song 7.

“—but a den for beasts of ravin made.” The same word occurs again in Measure for Measure. Steev ENs.

28. Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;] Sliver'd is a common word in the North, where it means to cut a

piece or slice. Again, in K. Lear:

“She who herself will sliver and disbranch.”

STE Eve Ns. 29. Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;] These ingredients, in all probability, owed their introdućtion to the detestation in which the Saracens were held, on account of the holy wars. STE Ev ENs. 33. Add thereto a tyger's chaudron..] Chaudron, i. e. entrails ; a word formerly in common use in the books of cookery; in one of which, printed in 1597, I meet with a receipt to make a pudding of a calf's chaldron. Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635: “Sixpence a meal wench, as well as heart can wish, with calves’ chauldrons and chitterlings.” At the coronation feast of of Elizabeth of York, queen of Henry VII. among other dishes, one was “a swan with chawdron,” meaning sauce made with its entrails. See Ives's Sele& Papers, No. 3. p. 140. See also Mr. Pegge's Forme of Cury, a roll of ancient English Cookery, &c. 8vo. 1780. p. 66. STE Eve Ns. The word is still in common use in Leicestershire. NICHOLs. 44. a song..] Of this song only the two first words are found in the old copy of the play. The rest was supplied from Betterton's or Sir W. Davenant's alteration of it in the year 1674. The song was, however, in all probability, a traditional one. The colours of spirits are often mentioned. So, in Monsieur Thomas, 1639: “Be thou black, or white, or green, “Be thou hard, or to be seen.” STE Evens. 44. Black spirits and white, Blue spirits and grey.] The modern editors have silently deviated from Sir W. Davenant's alteration of Macbeth, from which this song hath been copied. Instead of “Blue spirits and grey,” we there find “Red spirits,” &c. which is certainly right. In a passage already quoted by Dr. Johnson, from Camden, fairies are said to be red, black, and white. Since the above was written, I have seen Middleton's MS, play, entitled, The Witch, in which this song is found; and there also the line stands: “Red spirits and grey.” MALONE. 48. By the pricking of my thumbs, &c.] It is a very ancient superstition, that all sudden pains of the body, and other sensations which could not naturally be accounted for, were presages of somewhat that was shortly to happen. Hence Mr. Upton has explained a passage in the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus : “Timeo quod rerum gesserim hic, ita dorsus totus prurit.”

- STE Ev ENS. 57. —yesty waves.] That is, foaming or frothy waves. Jo HN son. 60. Though castles topple J Topple is used for tumble. STE Eve Ns. 63. Of nature's germins—J This was substituted by Theobald for Nature's germaine. Johnson. So, in King Lear, ačt iii. sc. 2. & 4 all germins spill at once,

“That make ungrateful man.” Germins are seeds which have begun to germinate or sprout. Germen, Lat. Germe, Fr. Germe is a word used by Brown in his Vulgar Errors: “Whether it be not made out of the germe or treadle of the egg,” &c. STE Eve Ns. 77. —— deftly show.] i. e. with adroitness, dexterously. So, in the second part of K. Edward IV. by Heywood, 1626: -- my mistress speaks deftly and truly.” Deft is a north country word. So, in Richard Brome's Northern Lass, 1633: > & 4 He said I were a dost lass.” STE Eve Ns.

78. Apparition of an armed head rises.] The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off, and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff, untimely ripp'd from his mother's womb. The child with a crown on his head, and a bough in his hand, is the royal Malcolm, who ordered his soldiers to hew them down a bough, and bear it before them to Dunsinane. This observation I have adopted from Mr. Upton. ST E E V E N s.

Lord Howard, in his Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, mentions “a notable example of a conjuror, who represented (as it were, in dumb show) all the persons who should possess the crown of France ; and caused the king of Navarre, or rather a wicked spirit in his stead, to appear in the fifth place,” &c. FARMER.

A vision of the same kind is exhibited (and that perhaps from which Shakspere took his idea, rather than from Virgil's) in the second canto of the Orlando Furioso. HEN LEY.

8o. say thou nought.] Silence was necessary during all incantations. So, in Dr. Faustus, 1604:

“Your grace demand no questions—

“But in dumb silence let them come and go.”

Again, in The Tempest:

‘–be mute, or else our spell is marr'd.” St E E V ENs. 82. Beware the thane of Fift. | “..—He had learned of certain wizzards, in whose words he put great

« PreviousContinue »