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along without interruption in their descent. Nothing can equal the power of this picture in the excitation of horror. We need only allude to the circumstance attending the murder of Duncan, the dagger that hovers before the eyes of Macbeth, the vision of Bapquo at the feast, the madness of Lady Macbeth ; what can we possibly say on the subject that will not rather weaken the impression ? Such scenes stand alone, and are to be found only in this poet ; otherwise the tragic muse might exchange her
er mask for the head of Medusa*.'
Shakspeare followed the chronicle of Holinshed, and Holinshed borrowed his narration froin the chronicles of Scotland, translated by John Bellenden, from the Latin of Hector Boethius, and first published at Edinburgh in 1541.
Malcolm the Second, king of Scotland, had two daughters. The eldest was married to Crynin, the father of Duncan, Thane of the isles, and western parts of Scotland ; and on the death of Malcolm without male issue Duncan succeeded Malcolm's second daughter was married to Sinel, Thane of Glamis, the father of Macbeth. Duncan, who married the sister of Siward, Earl of Northumberland, was murdered by his cousin german Macbeth in the castle of Inverness about the year 1040 or 1045. Macbeth was himself slain by Macduff, according to Boethius in 1061, according to Buchanan in 1057, at which time Edward the Confessor reigned in England.
In the reign of Duncan, Banquo having been plundered by the people of Lochaber of some of the king's revenues, which he had collected, and being dangerously wounded in the affray, the persons concerned in this outrage were summoned to appear at a certain day. But they slew the serieant at arins who summoned them, and chose one Macdonwald as their captain. Macdonwald spcedily collected a considerable body of forces from Ireland and the Western Isles, and in one action gained a victory over the king's army. In this battle Malcolm, a Scottish nobleman (who was lieutenant to Duncan in Lochaber) was slain. Afterwards Macbeth and Banquo were appointed to the command of the army; and Macdonwald, being obliged to take refuge in a castle in Lochaber, first slew his wife and children, and then himself. Macbeth, on entering the castle, finding his dead body, ordered his head to be cut off and carried to the king, at the castle of Bertha, and his body to be hung on a high tree.
At a subsequent period, in the last year of Duncan's reign, Sueno, king of Norway, landed a powerful army in Fife, for the purpose of invading Scotland. Duncan immediately assembled an army to oppose him, and gave the command of two divisions of it to Macbeth and Banquo, putting himself at the head of a third. Sueno was successful in one battle, but in a second was routed; and, after a great slaughter of his troops, he escaped with ten persons only, and fled back to Norway. Though there was an interval of time between the rebellion of Macdonwald and the invasion of Sueno, Shakspeare has woven these two actions together, and immediately after Sueno's defeat the present play commences.
It is remarkable that Buchanan has pointed out Macbeth's history as a subject for the stage. Multa hic fabulose quidam nostrorum affingunt; sed quia theatris aut Milesiis fabulis sunt aptiora quam historiae, ea omitto.'- Rerum Scot. hist. Lib. vii.
Milton also enumerates the subject among those he considered
* Lectures on Dramatic Literature, by A. W. Schlegel, translated by John Black, London, 1815, vol. ii. p. 200.
MACBETH. PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
well suited for tragedy, but it appears that he would have attempted to preserve the unity of time by placing the relation of the murder of Duncan in the mouth of his ghost.
Macbeth is one of the latest, and unquestionably one of the noblest efforts of Shakspeare's genius. Equally impressive in the closet and on the stage, where to witness its representation bag been justly pronounced the first of all dramatic enjoyments.' Malone places the date of its composition in 1606, and it has been supposed to convey a dexterous and delicate compliment to James the First, who derived his lineage from Banquo, and first united the threefold sceptre of England, Scotland and Ireland. At the same time the monarch's prejudices on the subject of demonology were flattered by the choice of the story.
It was once thought that Shakspeare derived some hints for his scenes of incantation from The Witch, a tragicomedy, by John Middleton, which, after lying long in manuscript, was published about thirty years since by Isaac Reed; but Malone* has with considerable ingenuity shown that Middleton's drama was most probably written subsequently to Macbeth.
* See the chronological order of the plays in the late Variorum Edition by Mr. Boswell, vol. iii p. 420.
DUNCAN, King of Scotland.
| Generals of the King's Army.
Noblemen of Scotland.
- mohl ahori
Attendants, and Messengers. The Ghost of Banquo, and several other Apparitions, SCENE, in the end of the Fourth Act, lies in England;
through the rest of the play, in Scotland; and, chiefly, at Macbeth's Castle.
* Lady Macbeth's name was Gruach filia Bodhe, according to Lord Hailes. Andrew of Wintown in his Cronykil informs us, that she was the widow of Duncan; a circumstance with which Shakspeare was of course unacquainted.
+ As the play now stands, in Act iv. Sc. 1, three other witches make their appearance.
M A CB ET H.
ACT I. SCENE I. An open Place. Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches.
1 Witch. WHEN shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain ?
2 Witch. When the hurlyburly'sl done, When the battle's lost and won. 3 Witch. That will be ere set of sun. 1 Witch. Where the place? 2 Witch.
Upon the heath: 3 Witch. There to meet with Macbeth. 1 Witch. I come, Graymalkin!
1 "When the hurlyburly's done.' In Adagia Scotica, or a Collection of Scotch Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases ; collected by R. B. very useful and delightful. Lond. 120. 1668:
"Little kens the wife that sits by the fire
How the wind blows cold in hurle, burle swyre.' bi. e. in the tempestuous mountain-top,' says Mr. Todd,' in a note on Spenser; to which Mr. Boswell gives his assent, and says, 'this sense seems agreeable to the witch's answer. But Peacham, in his Garden of Eloquence, 1577, shows that this was not the an. cient acceptati
tation of the word among us: 'Onomatopeia, when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name imitating the sound of that it signifýeth, as hurlyburly, for an uprore and tumultuous stirre. So in Baret's Alvearie, 1573 :-'But harke yonder: what hurlyburly or noyse is yonde : what stufre ruffling or bruite is that?-The witches could not mean when the storm was done, but when the tumult of the battle was over; for they are to meet again in ligbtning, thunder, and rain : their element was a storm. Thug in Arthur Wilson's History of James I p. 141:'--Being in a citie not very defensible, among a wavering people, and a conquering enemy, in the field, took time by the foretop, and in this hurlieburlie ihe next morning left Praguc.'
All. Paddock calls:-Anon2.
[Witches vanish. Exeunt,
SCENE II. A Camp near Fores.
DONALBAIN, LENOX, with Attendants, meeting a
This is the sergeant,
Doubtful it stood;
2 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. A paddock most generally seems to have signified a toad, though it sometimes means a frog. What we now call a toadstool was anciently called a paddock-stool.
3 The first folio reads captain.
4 Sergeants, in ancient times, were not the petty officers now distinguished by that title; but men performing o
men performing one kind of feudal military service, in rank next to esquires.
5 Vide Tyrwhitt's Glossary to Chaucer, v. for; and Pegge's Anecdotes of the English Language, p. 205. For to that means no more than for that; or cause that. The late editions erroneously point this passage, and as erroneously explain it. I follow the punctuation of the first folio.
6 i. e. supplied with armed troops so named. Of and with au indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. Gallouglasses we heavy armed foot soldiers of Ireland and the western isles: Kernes were the lighter armed troops. Vol. IV.