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Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights;
Sent he to Macduff?
And that well might Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel Fly to the court of England, and unfold His message ere he come; that a swift blessing May soon return to this our suffering country Under a hand accurs’d5! Lord. I'll send my prayers with him!
2 Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives.' The construction is :-'Free our feasts and banquets from bloody knives
3 Johuson says, 'Free may be either honours freely bestowed, not purchased by crimnes ; or honours without slavery, without dread of a tyrant.' I have shown in a note on Twelfth Night, Act ii. Sc, 4, p. 311, that free meant pure, chaste, consequently unspotted, which may be its meaning here. Free also meant noble. See note on the Second Part of King Henry VI. Act iii. So. 1. 4 Exasperate, for exasperated.
---to this our suffering country
Under a hand accursed.' The construction is to this our country, suffering under a hand accursed.'
Thunder. Enter the three Witches?. 1 Witch. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. 2 Witch. Thrice; and once the hedge-pig whin’da. 3 Witch. Harper cries —"Tis time, 'tis time. Harrier ? 1 Witch. Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.---
All. Double, double toil and trouble;
2 Witch. Fillet of a fenny snake,
1 'Enter the three Witches' Dr. Johnson has called the reader's attention to the judgment with which Shakspeare has selected all the circumstances of his infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions.'
2 "Thrice; and once the hedge-pig whin'd. The urchin or hedgehog, like the toad, for its solitariness, the ugliness of its appearance, and from a popular belief that it sucked or poisoned the udders of cows, was adopted into the demonologic system ; and its shape was sometimes supposed to be assumed by mischievous elves. Hence it was one of the plagues of Caliban in the Tempest.
3 'Coldest stone. The old copy reads "cold stone;' the emendation is Steevens's. Mr. Boswell thinks that the alteration was unnecessary. See his Essay on Shakspeare's Versification.
4 Sweltered. This word is einployed to signify that the animal was moistened with ite own cold exudations. So in the twenty-second song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
And all the knights there dubb’d the morning but before,
5 The blind-worm is the slow-worm. Thus in Drayton's Noah's Flood:
"The small eyed slow-worm held of many blind,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,
All. Double, double toil and trouble;
Then the charm is firm and good.
6 Gulf, the throat.
9 To ravin according to Minshew is to devour, to eat greedily. Ravin'd, therefore, may be glutted with prey. Unless, with MaJone, we suppose that Shakspeare used ravin'd for passive participle for the adjective. In Horman's Vulgaria, 1519, occurs "Thou art a ravenar of delycatis.'
8 Sliver is a common word in the north, where it means to cut a piece or slice. Again in King Lear :
"She who herself will sliver and disbranch. 9 i. e. entraile; a word formerly in common use in boots of cookery, in one of which, printed in 1597, is a receipt to make a pudding of a calf's chaldron.
SONG10. Musick and a long,
Red spirits and gray;
You that mingle may.
A deed without a name. Macb. I conjure you, by that which you profess (Howe'er you come to know it), answer me: Though you untie the winds, and let them fight Against the churches; though the yesty12 waves Confound and swallow navigation up; Though bladed corn be lodg’d13, and trees blown Heácii
down; Though castles topplelt on their warders' heads; Men Though palaces, and pyramids, do slope Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure Of nature's germins15 tumble all together, quemaine aliomignon Even till destruction sicken, answer me To what I ask you. 1 Witch.
10 “Black spirits and white.' The original edition of this play only contains the two first words of this song; the entire stanza is found in The Witch, by Middleton, and is there called 'A charine Song about a Vessel.'
11 By the pricking of any thumbs. It is a very ancient superstition, that all sudden pain:3 of the body, and other sensations which could not naturally be accounted for, were presages of somewhat that was shortly to happen.
12 i. e. foaming, frothy.
Demand. 3 Witch.
We'll answer. 1 Witch. Say, if thou’dst rather hear it from our
Call them, let me see them. 1 Witch. Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow16; grease, that's sweaten
Into the flame.
Come, high, or low:
He knows thy thought;
16 Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow.' Shakspeare probably caught this idea from the laws of Kenneth II. king of Scotland :-If a sow eate hir pigges, let hyr be stoned to death and buried, that no man eate of hyr fleshi'-Holinshed's History of Scotland, ed. 1577, p. 181.
17 Deftly is adroitly, dexterously,
18 The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff, untimely ripped 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.
19 Silence was necessary during all incantations. So in Dr. Faustus:
"Your grace demand no questions,
But in dumb silence let them come and go. And in The Tempest:
-be mute, or else our spell is marr'd.' 20 Spirits thus evoked were supposed to be impatient of being questioned. The spirit in the Second Part of King Henry the Vith, Act iv. Sc. 1, says:
Ask what thou wilt --That I had said and done.