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Stones have been known to move, and trees to
speak;6 Augurs, and understood relations, have By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks, brought
I have followed Mr. Whalley's punctuation, instead of placing the femicolon after-say. The same words occur in The Battle of Alcazar, 1594: « Bloud will have bloud, foul murther scape no scourge."
STEEVENS. and trees to speak ;] Alluding perhaps to the vocal tree which (See the third book of the Æneid) revealed the murder of Polydorus. STEEVENS.
7 Augurs, and understood relations, &c.] By the word relation is understood the conne&tion of effects with causes; to understand relations as an angur, is to know how those things relate to each other, which have no visible combination or dependence. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare, in his licentious way, by relations, might only mean languages, i. e. the language of birds. WARBURTON. The old copy has the passage thus :
Augures, and understood relations, have
By maggot-pies and choughs, &c. The modern editors have read :
Augurs that understand relations, have
By magpies and by cboughs, &c. Perhaps we should read, auguries, i. e. prognostications by means of omens and prodigies. These, together with the connection of effects with causes, being understood, (says he) have been inftrumental in divulging the most secret murders.
In Cotgrave's Dictionary, a magpie is called magałapie. So, in The Night-Raven, a Satirical Collection &c:
“ I neither tattle with iack-daw,
“ Or Maggot-pye on thatch'd house straw." Magot-pie is the original name of the bird ; Magot being the familiar appellation given to pies, as we say Robin to a redbreast
, Ton to a titmouse, Philip to a sparrow, &c. The modern mag is the abbreviation of the ancient Magot, a word which we had from the French. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens rightly restores Magot-pies. In Minshew's Guide to the Tongues, 1617, we meet with a maggatapie : and Middleton in his More Diffemblers beside Women, says: “ He calls her magot a' pic."
The secret'st man of blood. What is the night? Ladr M. Almost at odds with morning, which
is which. MACB. How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his
person, At our great bidding?' LADY M.
Did you send to him, sir? MacB. I hear it by the way ; but I will send :
and choughs, and rooks, brought forth The secrets man of blood.] The inquisitive reader will find such a story in Thomas Lupton's Thousand notable things &c. 4to. bl. 1. no date, p. 100; and in Goulart's Admirable Histories &c. p. 425. 4t0, 1607. STEEVENS.
9 How fay'ft thou, &c.] Macbeth here alks a question, which the recollection of a moment enables him to answer. Of this forgetfulness, natural to a mind oppress’d, there is a beautiful instance in the sacred song of Deborah and Barak : “ She asked her wise women counsel; yea, the returned answer to herself.”
Mr. M. Mason's interpretation of this passage has, however, taught me diffidence of my own. He supposes, and not without sufficient reason, that “ what Macbeth means to say, is this. What do
you think of this circumstance, that Macduff denies to come at our great bidding ---What do you infer from thence?
-What is, your opinion of the matter?"
So, in Othello, when the Duke is informed that the Turkish fleet was making for Rhodes, which he supposed to have been bound for Cyprus, he fays,
*“ How say you by this change?" That is, what do you think of it? In The Coxcomb Antonio says to Maria,
“ Sweetheart, how say you by this gentleman ?
“ He will away at midnight. Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Speed says,
“ But Launce, how says thou, that my master is become a notable lover?"
Again, Macbeth, in his address to his wife, on the first appearance of Banquo's ghost, uses the same form of words ;
behold! look! lo! how say you?" The circumstance, however, on which this question is founded, took its rise from the old history. Macbeth feat to Macduff to
There's not a one of them, but in his house
aflift in building the castle of Dunfinane. Macduff fent workmen &c. but did not choose to trust his person in the tyrant's power. From that time he resolved on his death. STEEVENS.
9 There's not a one of them,] A one of them, however uncouth the phrase, signifies an individual. In Albumazar, 1614, the same expression occurs : Not a one shakes his tail, but I sigh out a passion.” Theobald would read thane; and might have found his proposed emendation in Davenant's alteration of Macbeth, 1674. This avowal of the tyrant is authorized by Holinshed : “ He had in every nobleman's house one slie fellow or other in fee with him to reveale all,” &c. Steevens.
2 (Betimes I will,) unto the weird fifters:] The ancient copy reads
“ And betimes I will to the weird fifters," They whose ears are familiarized to discord, may perhaps object to my omission of the first word, and my supplement to the fifth.
STEEVENS. 3 be scann'd.] To scan is to examine nicely. Thus, in Hamlet :
so he goes to heaven,
Steevens. * l'ou lack the season of all natures, sleep.] I take the meaning to be, you want sleep, which seasons, or gives the relish to, all nature. “ Indiget fomni vita condimenti," JOHNSON.
This word is often used in this sense by o author. So, in All's Well that ends well : « 'Tis the best brine a maiden can seafon her
Macb. Come, we'll to sleep: My strange and
self-abuse Js the initiate fear, that wants hard use:We are yet but young in deed.
s We are yet
praise in.” Again, in Much ado about Nothing, where, as in the present instance, the word is used as a substantive:
« And salt too little, which may season give
« To her foul tainted flesh." An anonymous correspondent thinks the meaning is, “ You ftand in need of the time or season of Neep, which all natures require.”
MALONE. but young in deed.] The editions before Theobald read :
We're but young indeed. JOHNSON. The meaning is not ill explained by a line in King Henry VI. P. III: We are not, Macbeth would say,
“ Made impudent with use of evil deeds." or, we are not yet (as Romeo expresses it) “ old murderers." Theo. bald's amendment may be countenanced by a passage in Antony and Cleopatra : “ Not in deed, madam, for I can do nothing.".
The initiate fear, is the fear that always attends the first initiation into guilt, before the mind becomes callous and insensible by frequent repetition of it, or (as the poet fays) by bard use.
Enter Hecate,' meeting the three
1. Witch. Why, how now, Hecate? 6
s- -Enter Hecate,] Shakspeare has been censured for introducing Hecate among the vulgar witches, and, consequently, for confounding ancient with modern superititions.-He has, however, authority for giving a mistress to the witches, Delrio Disquis. Mag. lib. ii. quælt. 9. quotes a passage of Apuleius, Lib. de Afino aureo : " de quadam Caupona, regina Sagarum.” And adds further :-"ut scias etiam tum quafdam ab iis hoc titulo honoratas.” In confcquence of this information, Ben Jonson, in his Masque of Queens, has introduced a character which he calls a Dame, who presides at the meeting of the Witches :
“ Sillers, ftay; we want our dame.” The dame accordingly enters, invested with marks of superiority, and the rest pay an implicit obedience to her commands.
Again, in a True examinction and confeífion of Elizabeth Stile, alies Rockingham, &c. 1579. bl. I. 12mo: “ Further she faieth, that mother Seidre dwelling in the almes house, was the maistres witche of all the reste, and she is now deade.”
Shakspeare is therefore blameable only for calling his presiding character Hecate, as it might have been brought on with propriety under any other title whatever. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare feems to have been unjustly censured for introducing Hecate among the modern witches. Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, B. III. c. ii. and c. xvi. and B. XII. c. iii. mentions it as the common opinion of all writers, that witches were supposed to have nightly meetings with Herodias, and the Pagan gods," and " that in the night-times they ride abroad with Diana, the goddess of the Pagans," &c. -Their dame or chief leader seems always to have been an old Pagan, as “ the ladie Sibylla, Minerva, or Diana.” TOLLET.
Oly, how now, Hecate ?] Marlowe, though a scholar, has likewise used the word Hecate, as a diflyllable :