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The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him,) from the western isles Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied;5 Su ms. And fortune, on his damned quarrel'smiling,
The soldier who describes Macdonwald, seems to mean, that, in addition to his assumed character of rebel, be abounds with the numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable.
5 from the western isles
Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied;] Whether supplied of, for supplied from or with, was a kind of Grecism of Shakspeare's expression; or whether of be a corruption of the editors, who took Kernes and Gallowglasses, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know." Hinc conjecturæ vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis similia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armaturæ quos Kernos vocant, nec non secures et lorica ferrea peditum illorum gravioris armaturæ, quos Galtoglassios appellant." Warai Antiq. Hiber. cap. vi. Warburton. Of and with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
"Perform'd of pleasure by your son the prince."
Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, hist. vi: "Sypontus in the mean time is prepared of two wicked gondaliers," &c. Again, in The History of Helyas Knight of the Sun, bl. 1. no date :
- he was well garnished of spear, sword, and armoure," &c. These are a few out of a thousand instances which might be brought to the same purpose.
Kernes and Gallowglasses are characterized in The Legend of
"Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they slay."
The old copy has Gallow-grosses.
Corrected by the editor of
the second folio. Malone.
6 And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,] The old copy has-quarry; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to be found in that sense in Holinshed's account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the Prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel to endea vour after the crown. The sense therefore is, Fortune smiling on fis execrable cause, &c. Johnson.
The word quarrel occurs in Holinshed's relation of this very fact, and may be regarded as a sufficient proof of its having been the term here employed by Shakspeare: “ Out of the western isles there came to Macdowald a great multitude of people, to assist him in that rebellious quarrel." Besides, Macdowald's
Show'd like a rebel's whore:7 But all 's too weak:
Like valour's minion,
Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave;8
quarry (i. e. game) must have consisted of Duncan's friends, and would the speaker then have applied the epithet-damned to them? and what have the smiles of fortune to do over a carnage, when we have defeated our enemies? Her business is then at an end. Her smiles or frowns are no longer of any consequence. We only talk of these, while we are pursuing our quarrel, and the event of it is uncertain.
The word-quarrel, in the same sense, occurs also in MS Harl. 4690: "Thanne sir Edward of Bailoll towke his leve off king Edwarde, and went ayenne into Scottelonde, and was so grete a lorde, and so moche had his wille, that he touke no hede to hem that halpe him in his quarelle;" &c. Steevens.
The reading proposed by Dr. Johnson, and his explanation of it, are strongly supported by a passage in our author's King John. And put his cause and quarrel "To the disposing of the cardinal,"
Again, in this play of Macbeth:
and the chance, of goodness, "Be like our warranted quarrel."
Here we have warranted quarrel, the exact opposite of damned quarrel, as the text is now regulated.
Lord Bacon, in his Essays, uses the word in the same sense: "Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses; so as a man may have a quarrel to marry, when he will." Malone.
7 Show'd like a rebel's whore :] I suppose the meaning is, that fortune, while she smiled on him, deceived him. speare probably alludes to Macdowald's first successful action, elated by which he attempted to pursue his fortune, but lost his life. Malone.
8 Like valour's minion,
Caro'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave;] The old copy reads
Like valour's minion, carv'd out bis passage
As an hemistich must be admitted, it seems more favourable to the metre that it should be found where it is now left.-Till be fac'd the slave, could never be designed as the beginning of a verse, if harmony were at all attended to in its construction.
Like valour's minion,] So, in King John:
fortune shall cull forth,
"Out of one side, her happy minion." Malone.
And ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewel to him,
9 And ne'er shook hands, &c.] The old copy reads-Which nev'r.
shook hands -] So, in King Henry VI, P. III:
Mr. Pope, instead of which, here, and in many other places, reads-who. But there is no need of change. There is scarcely one of our author's plays in which he has not used which for who. So, in The Winter's Tale: "—the old shepherd, which stands by," &c. Malone.
The old reading-Which never, appears to indicate that some antecedent words, now irretrievable, were omitted in the playhouse manuscript; unless the compositor's eye had caught which from a foregoing line, and printed it instead of And. Which, in the present instance, cannot well have been substituted for who, because it will refer to the slave Macdonel, instead of his conqueror Macbeth. Steevens.
be unseam'd him from the nave to the chops,] We seldom hear of such terrible cross blows given and received but by giants and miscreants in Amadis de Gaule. Besides, it must be a strange aukward stroke that could unrip him upwards from the navel to the chops. But Shakspeare certainly wrote: be unseam'd him from the nape to the chops.
i. e. cut his skull in two; which might be done by a Highlander's
"O! that you could turn your eyes towards the napes
The word unseamed likewise becomes very proper; and alludes to the suture which goes across the crown of the head in that direction called the sutura sagittalis; and which, consequently, must be opened by such a stroke. It is remarkable, that Milton, who in his youth read and imitated our poet much, particularly in his Comus, was misled by this corrupt reading. For in the manuscript of that poem, in Trinity-College library, the following lines are read thus :
"Or drag him by the curls, and cleave his scalpe
An evident imitation of this corrupted passage. But he altered
" to a foul death
"Curs'd as his life." Warburton.
The old reading is certainly the true one, being justified by a passage in Dido Queene of Carthage, by Thomas Nash, 1594:
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.
"Then from the navel to the throat at once
So likewise in an ancien MS. entitled The Boke of Huntyng, that is cleped Mayster of Game: Cap. V, "Som men haue sey hym slitte a man fro the kne up to the brest, and slee hym all starke dede at o strok." Steevens.
Again, by the following passage in an unpublished play, entitled The Witch, by Thomas Middleton, in which the same wound is described, though the stroke is reversed:
"Draw it, or I'll rip thee down from neck to NAVEL, "Though there's small glory in 't." Malone.
2 As whence the sun'gins his reflexion-] The thought is expressed with some obscurity, but the plain meaning is this: As the same quarter, whence the blessing of day-light arises, sometimes sends us, by a dreadful reverse, the calamities of storms and tempests; so the glorious event of Macbeth's victory, which promised us the comforts of peace, was immediately succeeded by the alarming news of the Norweyan invasion. The natural history of the winds, &c. is foreign to the explanation of this passage. Shakspeare does not mean, in conformity to any theory, to say that storms generally come from the east. If it be allowed that they sometimes issue from that quarter, it is sufficient for the purpose of his comparison. Steevens.
The natural history of the winds, &c. was idly introduced on this occasion by Dr. Warburton. Sir William D'Avenant's reading of this passage, in an alteartion of this play, published in quarto, in 1674, affords a reasonably good comment upon it: "But then this day-break of our victory "Serv'd but to light us into other dangers,
"That spring from whence our hopes did seem to rise." Malone.
thunders break;] The word break is wanting in the oldest copy. The other folios and Rowe read-breaking. Mr. Pope made the emendation. Steevens.
Break, which was suggested by the reading of the second folio, is very unlikely to have been the word omitted in the original copy. It agrees with thunders;-but who ever talked of the breaking of a storm? Malone.
The phrase, I believe, is sufficiently common. Thus Dryden, in All for Love, &c. Act I:
the Roman camp
"Hangs o'er us black and threat'ning, like a storm
Again, in Ogilby's version of the 17th Iliad:
So from that spring, whence comfort seem'd to come,
Dismay'd not this Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
As sparrows, eagles; or the hare, the lion.
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
"Hector o'er all an iron tempest spreads,
Steevens. 4 Discomfort swells.] Discomfort the natural opposite to comfort. Johnson.
5 Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
Sold. Yes;] The reader cannot fail to observe, that some word, necessary to complete the verse, has been omitted in the old copy. Sir T. Hanmer readsOur captains, brave Macbeth, &c. Steevens.
6 As cannons overcharg'd with double cracks; &c.] That is, with double charges, a metonymy of the effect for the cause. Heath. Mr. Theobald has endeavoured to improve the sense of this passage, by altering the punctuation thus:
As cannons overcharg'd; with double cracks
He declares, with some degree of exultation, that he has no idea of a cannon charged with double cracks, but surely the great author will not gain much by an alteration which makes him say of a hero, that he redoubles strokes with double cracks, an expression not more loudly to be applauded, or more easily pardoned, than that which is rejected in its favour.
That a cannon is charged with thunder, or with double thunders, may be written, not only without nonsense, but with elegance, and nothing else is here meant by cracks, which, in the time of this writer, was a word of such emphasis and dignity, that in this play he terms the general dissolution of nature the crack of doom
Johnson. Crack is used on a similar occasion by Barnaby Googy, in his Cupido Conquered, 1563: