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He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
L. Macd. Father'd he is, and yet he's fatherless.
[Exit Rosse. L. Macd.
Sirrah5, your father's dead;
What, with worms and flies ?
3 The fits o' the season should appear to be the violent disorders of the season, its convulsions: as we still say figuratively the temper of the times. So in Coriolanus :
but that The violent fit o' th' times craves it as physic.' 4 "The best I can make of this passage is,' says Steevens :"The times are cruel when our fears induce us to believe, or take for granted, what we hear rumoured or reported abroad; and yet at the same time, as we live under a tyrannical government, where will is substituted for law, we know not what we have to fear, because we know not when we offend. Or, when we are led by our fears to believe every rumour of danger wc hear, yet are not conscious to ourselves of any crime for which we should be disturbed with sears. A passage like this occurs in King John :
Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams,
Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear.' 5 Sirrah was not in our author's time a term of reproach, but sometimes used by masters to servants, parents to children, &c.
Son. Why should I, mother? Poor birds they
are not set for. My father is not dead, for all your saying. L. Macd. Yes, he is dead; how wilt thou do for
a father? Son. Nay, how will you do for a husband ? L. Macd. Why, I can buy me twenty at any
market. Son. Then you'll buy 'em to sell again. L. Macd. Thou speak’st with all thy wit; and
L. Macd. Every one that does so, is a traitor, and must be hanged.
Son. And must they all be hanged, that swear and lie?
L. Macd. Every one. Son. Who must hang them ? L. Macd. Why, the honest men. Son. Then the liars and swearers are fools: for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men, and hang up them.
L. Macd. Now, God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt thou do for a father?
Son. If he were dead, you'd weep for him: if you would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new father. L. Macd. Poor prattler ! how thou talk’st.
Enter a Messenger. Mess. Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you
known, Though in your state of honour I am perfecte.
6 j. e. I ain perfectly acquainted with your rank. Vol. IV,
I doubt, some danger does approach you nearly:
[Exit Messenger. L. Macd.
Whither should I fly?
L. Macd. I hope, in no place so unsanctified,
He's a traitor.
What, you egg! [Stabbing him.
He has killed me, mother;
[Dies. [Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying murder,
and pursued by the -Murderers.
7.Shag-ear'd villain.' It has been suggested that we should read shag-hair'd, an abusive epithet frequent in our old plays. Hair being formerly spelt heare, the corruption would easily arise. In Lodge's Incarnate Devils of this Age, 1596, 4to. p. 37, we have it thus: 'shag-heard slave.'
England. (A Room in the King's Palace. )
Enter MALCOLM and MacDUFFI. Mal. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and
there Weep our sad bosoms empty. Macd.
Let us rather Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men, Bestride our downfall’n birthdom2: 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 yelld out Like syllable of dolour. Mal.
What I believe, I'll wail; What know, believe; and, what I can redress, As I shall find the time to friend}, I will. What you have spoke, it may be so, perchance. This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, Was once thought honest: you have lov'd him well; He hath not touch'd you yet. I am young; but
something You may deservet of him through me; and wisdom
1 This scene is almost literally taken from Holinshed's Chronicle, which is in this part an abridgment of the chronicle of Hector Boece, as translated by John Bellenden. From the recent reprints of both the Scottish and English chroniclers, quotations from them become the less necessary; they are now accessible to the reader curious in tracing the poet to his sources of information.
2 Birthdem, for the place of our birth, our native land. Thus in the Second part of King Henry IV. Morton says:
--- -he doth bestride a bleeding land.' 3 i. e. befriend. 4 You may deserve of him through me.' The old copy reads
2. The emendation was made by Theobald. In the subsequent part of the line something is wanted to complete the sense. There is no verb to which wisdom can refer. Steevens conjectured that the line might originally have run thus:
-- but something
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb,
But Macbeth is.
pardon; That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose: Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell: Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace, Yet grace must still look so6. Macd.
I have lost my hopes. Mal. Perchance, even there, where I did find my
doubts. Why in that rawness left you wife and child (Those precious motives, those strong knots of love), Without leave taking ?- I pray you, Let not my jealousies be your dishonours, But mine own safeties :—You may be rightly just, Whatever I shall think. Macd.
Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure, For goodness dares not check thee! wear thou thy
wrongs;++ The title is affeer’d? - Fare thee well, lord:
5 "A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge.' A good mind may recede from goodness in the execution of a royal commission.
6 This is not very clear. Johnson has thus attempted to explain it: 'My suspicions cannot injure you, if you be virtuous, by supposing that a traitor may put on your virtuous appearance. I do not say that your virtuous appearance proves you a traitor ; for virtue must wear its proper form, though that form be counterfeited by villany. An expression of a similar nature occurs in Measure for Measure:
- ---Good alone
18 good; without a name vileness is so.' 7 To affeer is a law term, signifying to assess or reduce to certainty. The meaning therefore may be :
"The title is confirmed to the usurper.' My interpretation of the passage is this: "Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great Tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure, for gooduc88