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Lady M.

Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present 10, and I feel now
The future in the instant.

My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.

And when


hence? Macb. To-morrow,-as he purposes. Lady M.

0, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read strange matters :-To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent

But be the serpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night's great business into my despatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.

Macb. We will speak further.
Lady M.

Only look up clear;
To alter favour ever is to fear:
Leave all the rest to me.



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 that 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 smile. Aserious reply to such criticism would now be superfluous.

10 i.e. beyond the present time, which is, according to the process of nature, ignorant of the future.

11 Favour is countenance.

SCENE VI. The same. Before the Castle.

Hautboys. Servants of Macbeth attending. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BAN

QUO, Lenox, MACDUFF, Rosse, Angus, and Attendants.

Dun. This castle hath a pleasant seat?: the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses. Ban.

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?, but this bird Hath made his pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where they most breed and haunt, I have observd, The air is delicate 3.

1 i.e. situation.

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 birds 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 Shakspeare 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.'

your trouble.

Lady M.


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 * us for your pains, And thank us for

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


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 compto, To make their audit at your highness' pleasure, Still to return your own.

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.

5 i.e. we as hermits, or beadsmen, shall ever pray for you. 6 In compt, subject to accompt.


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 Sewer1, and divers Servants with Dishes and Service. Then enter MACBETH. Macb. If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere

It were done quickly: If the assassination
Could trammel


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,-
We'd jump the life to come.—But, in these cases,
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: This even handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice

· A sewer, an officer so called from his placing the dishes on the table, Asseour, French; from asseoir, to place.

? 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 done (or at an end); and that no sinister consequences would ensue. If the assassination, at the same 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 up 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 small 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 gracious band,

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To our own lips. He's here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking off:
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd
Upon the sightless couriers * of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.—I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition”, which o’erleaps itself,
And falls on the otherm-How now, what news?

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 unding air do fly.' b. ii. c. xi. 5 So in the Tragedy of Cæsar and Pompey, 1607 :

Why think you, lords, that 'tis ambition's spur

That pricketh Cæsar to these high attempts ?' Malone has observed that there are two distinct metaphors in this passage. I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent; I have nothing to stimulate me to the execution of my purpose but ambition, which is apt to overreach itself; this he expresses by the second image, of a person meaning to vault into his saddle, who, by taking too great a leap, will fall on the other side.'

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