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And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
and all manner of cruelties: and they command certain of the southern spirits to wait upon them, as also great Arioch, that is termed the spirit of revenge.'
7 Lady Macbeth's purpose was to be effected by action. "To keep peace between the effect and purpose,' means to delay the execution of her purpose, o prevent its proceeding to effect. Sir Wm Davenant's strange alteration of this play sometimes affords a reasonably good commentary upon it. Thus in the present instance:
"Tis ripen'd to effect.'
9 Drayton, in his Mortimeriados, 1596, has an expression resembling this:
The sullen night in mistie RUGGE is wrapp'd. And in his Polyolbion, which was not published till 1612, we again find it:
"Thick vapours that like ruggs still hang the troubled air.' On this passage there is a long criticism in the Rambler, No. 168; to which Johnson in his notes refers the reader with much complacency. He, however, sets out with ascribing the speech to Macbeth; and the whole of it is a puerile cavil at the low words with which he is pleased to say it is disfigured. So uninstructed was the lexicographer in the language of Shakspeare's age, that he takes knife, in the literal sense, for'an instrument used by butchers and cooks!' Whereas quotations without end might be adduced to show that it was then a common expression for a sword or dagger. The epithet dun he treats with utter contempt, and says that it is now seldom heard but in the stable. He did not or would not know that it was the ancient synonyme of fuscus, and meant no more than dark, obscure. Milton has represented Satan as flying in the dun air sublime ;' and in Comus we have dun shades' At the expression blanket of the dark,' he says tbat he can scarce check his 'risibility! Surely this is outraging the squeamish finicalness of the French critics in their remarks upon the poet, and need only be mentioned to excite a sinile. A serious reply to such criticism would now be superfluous. Vol. IV.
To cry, Hold, hold! --- Great Glamis! worthy
My dearest love,
And when goes hence?
Only look up clear;
10 i. e. beyond the present time, which is, according to the process of nature, ignorant of the future.
11 Favour is countenance. 1 i. e. situation.
This guest of summer, The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, Buttress, nor coigne of vantage 2, but this bird Hath made his pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ’d, The air is delicate 3.
Enter LADY MACBETH. Dun.
See, see! our honour'd hostess ! The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble, Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you How you shall bid God yield 4 us for your pains, And thank us for your trouble.
2 i. e. convenient corner.
3 This short dialogue,' says Sir Joshua Reynolds, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. The conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of the castle's situation, and the pleasantness of the air; and Banquo, observing the martlet's nests in every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birde most breed and haunt the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately succeeds. It seems as if Shakepeare asked himself, What is a prince likely to say to his attendants on such an occasion ? Whereas the modern writers seem, on the contrary, to be always searching for new thoughts, such as would never occur to men in the situation which is represented. This also is frequently the practice of Homer, who, from the midst of battles and horrors relieves and refreshes the mind of the reader, by introducing some quiet rural image or picture of familiar domestic life,
4 The explanation by Steevens of this obscure passage seems the best which has been offered :-Marks of respect importunately shown are sometimes troublesome, though we are still bound to be grateful for them, as indications of sincere attachment. If you pray for us on account of the trouble we create in your house, and thank us for the molestations we bring with us, it must be on such a principle. Herein I teach you, that the inconvenience you suffer is the result of our affection; and that you are therefore to pray for us, or thank us only as far as prayers and thanks can be deserved for kindnesses that fatigue, and honours that oppress You are, in short, to make your acknowledgments for intended respect and love, however irksome our present mode of expressing them may have proved.'-To bid is here used in the Saxon sense of to pray. God yield us, is God reward us.
All our service, In every point twice done, and then done double, Were poor and single business, to contend Against those honours deep and broad, wherewith Your majesty loads our house: For those of old, And the late dignities heap'd up to them, We rest your hermits 5. Dun.
Where's the thane of Cawdor? We cours d him at the heels, and had a purpose To be his purveyor: but he rides well: And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him To his home before us : Fair and noble hostess, We are your guest to-night. Lady M.
Your servants ever Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compte, To make their audit at your highness' pleasure, Still to return your own. Dun.
Give me your hand: Conduct me to mine host; we love him highly, And shall continue our graces towards him. By your leave, hostess.
SCENE VII. The same. A Room in the Castle. Hautboys and Torches. Enter, and pass over the
Stage, a Sewerl, and divers Servants with Dishes and Service. Then enter MACBETH. Macb. If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere
well It were done quickly: If the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, With his surcease, success; that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
5 i. e. we as hermits, or beadsmen, shall ever pray for you. 6 In compt, subject to accompt.
1 A sewer, an officer so called from his placing the dishes on the table. Asseour, French; from asseoir, to place.
We'd jump the life to come2.-But, in these cases,
% This passage has been variously explained. I have attempted briefly to express what I conceive to be its meaning :-Twere well it were done quickly, if, when 'tis done, it were an end); and that no sinister consequences would ensue. If the assassination, at the saine time that it puts an end to Duncan's life, could make success certain, and that I might enjoy the crown unmolested, we'd jump the life to come, i. e. hazard or run the risk of what may happen in a future state. To trammel op was to confine or tie up." The legs of horses were trammeled to teach them to amble. There was also a trammel-net,' which was “a long net to take great and sinall fowl with by night.' Surcease is cessation. "To surcease or to cease from doing something; supersedeo, Lat.; cesser, Fr.' BARET.
3 To commend was anciently used in the sense of the Latin commendo, to commit, to address, to direct, to recommend. Thus in All's Well that Ends Well :
Commend the paper to his gracions hand. And in King Henry VIII.:-"The king's majesty commends his good opinion to you. In a subsequent scene of this play we have:
I wish your horses swift and sure of foot,
And so I do commend you to their backs.' •The pricke of conscience (says Holinshed) caused him ever to feare, lest he should be served of the same cup as he had ministered to his predecessor.'
4 "The sightless couriers of the air' are what the poet elsewhere calls the viewless winds. Thus in Warner's Albion's England :
"The scouring winds that sightless in the sounding air do fly.' b. ii. c. xi.