Page images
PDF
EPUB

heartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

Macd. I believe, drink gave thee the lie last night.?

6

in a sleep,] Surely we should read-into a sleep, or into sleep. M. Mason.

The old reading is the true one. Our author frequently uses in for into So, in King Richard III:

“ But, first, I 'il turn yon' fellow in his grave.” Again, ibid:

“ Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.” Steevens. 7 I believe, drink gare thee the lie last night.] It is not very easy to ascertain precisely the time when Duncan is murdered. The conversation that passes between Banquo and Macbeth, in the first scene of this Act, might lead us to suppose that when Banquo retired to rest it was not much after twelve o'clock:

Ban. How goes the night, boy ?
Fle. The moon is downı; I have not heard the clock.
Ban. And she goes down at twelve.

« Fle. I take 't 'tis later, sir." The king was then “abed;" and immediately after Banquo retires lady Macbeth strikes upon the bell, and Macbeth com. mits the murder. In a few minutes afterwards the knocking at the gate commences, (end of sc. . ii) and no time can be supposed to elapse between the second and the third scene, because the Porter gets up in consequence of the knocking: yet here Macduff talks of last night, and says that he was commanded to call timely on the king, and that he fears he has almost over. pass'd the hour; and the Porter tells hiin “we were carousing till the second cock;" so that we must suppose it to be now at least six o'clock; for Macduff has already expressed his sur. prise that the Porter should lie so late.

From lady Macbeth's words in the fifth Act,-“ One-two'tis time to do 't,”-it shouli seem that the murder was commit. ted at two o'clock, and that hour is certainly not inconsistent with the conversation above quoted between Banquo and his son; for we are not told how much later than twelve it was when Banquo retired to rest : but even that hour of two will not correspond with what the Porter and Macduff say in the present

I suspect our author, (who is seldom very exact in his com. putation of time) in fact meant, that the murder should be sup. posed to be committed a little before day-breuk, which exactly corresponds with the speech of Macduff now before us, though not so well with the other circumstances already mentioned, or with lady Macbeth's desiring her husband to put on his nightgown, (that he might have the appearance of one newly roused from bed) lest occasion should call them, “and show

scene.

Port. That it did, sir, i' the very throat o' mer But I requited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong for him, though he took up my legs sometim yet I made a shift to cast him.

Mucd. Is thy master stirring?-
Our knocking has awak'd him; here he comes.

Enter MACBETH.
Len. Good-morrow, noble sir!
Macb.

Good-morrow, both Macd. Is the king stirring, worthy thane? Macb.

Macd. He did command me to call timely on him; I have almost slipp'd the hour. Macb.

I 'll bring you to him Macd. I know, this is a joyful trouble to you; But yet, 'tis one.

Macb. The labour we delight in, physicks pain. This is the door. Macd.

I'll make so bold to call,

Not yet.

[ocr errors]

8

them to be watchers;" which may signify persons who sit up late at night, but can hardly mean those who do not go to bed till da;-break.

Shakspeare, I believe, was led to fix the time of Duncan's murder near the break of day by Holinshed's account of the murder of king Duffe, already quoted:“ – he was long in his oratorie, and there continued till it was late in the night.Don. wald's servants “enter the chamber where the king laie, a little before cocks crow, where they secretlie cut his throat.” Donwald himself sat up with the officers of the guard the whole of the night. Malone.

- I made a shift to cast bim.] To cast him up, to ease my stomach of him. The equivocation is between cast or throw, as a term of wrestling, and cast or cast up. Fobnson.

I find a similar play upon words, in an old comerly, entitled The Two Angry Women of Abingilon, printed 1599:"_to-night he's a good huswife, he reels all that he wrought to-day, and he were good now to play at dice, for he casts excellent well.”

Steevens, 9 The labour we delight in, physicks pain.] i. e. affords a cordial to it. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act I, sc. i: “ It is a gallant child; one that, indeed, physicks the subject, makes old hearts fresh.”

Steevens. So, in The Tempest:

“ There be some sports are painful; and their labour " Delight in them sets off.Malone.

[ocr errors]

For 'tis my limited service.

[Exit Macb. Len.

Goes the king
From hence to-day?
Macb.

He does:-he did appoint it so.3
Len. The night has been unruly: Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down : and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air; -strange screams of death
And prophesying, with accents terrible,
Of dire combustion, and confus'd events,
New hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
Was feverous, and did shake.*

1 For 'tis my limited service.] Limited, for appointed.

Warburton So, in Timon:

- for there is boundless theft,

“ In limited professions." i. e. professions to which people are regularly and legally ap pointed. Steevens. 2 Goes the king

From bence to-day?] I have supplied the prepositionfrom, for the sake of metre. So, in a former scene, Duncan says,

From hence to Inverness,” &c. Steevens. 3 He does :-be did appoint it so.] The words-be does—are omitted by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton. But perhaps Shakspeare designed Macbeth to shelter himself under an immediate falsehood, till a sudden recollection of guilt re. strained his confidence, and unguardedly disposed him to qualify his assertion ; as he well knew the king's journey was effectually prevented by his death. A similar trait had occurred in a former scene :

L. M. And when goes hence ?
M. To-morrow,-as he purposes.” Steevens.

strange screams of death;
And prophesying, with accents terrible,
Of dire combustion, and confus'd events,
New-hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth

W 18 feverous, and dil shake.] These lines, I think, should be rather regulated thus :

prophesying with accents terrible,
Of ulire combustion and confus'd events.
New batch'd to the woeful time, the obscure bird
Clamour'd the live-long night. Some say,

the earth
Was feverous and did shake.

Macb.

'Twas a rough night. Len. My young remembrance cannot parallel A fellow to it.

Re-enter MACDUJJ.
Macd. O horror! horror! horror Tongue, nor

heart,
Cannot conceive, nor name thee!

A prophecy of an event new-batcb'd seems to be a prophecy of an event past. And a prophecy new-batch'd is a wry espres. sion. The term new.hatch'd is properly applicable to a bird, and that birds of ill omen should be new-baichod to the woeful time, that is, should appear in uncommon numbers, is very consistent with the rest of the prodigies here mentioned, and with the universal disorder into which nature is described as thrown by the perpetration of this horrid murder. Johnson.

I think Dr. Johnson's regulation of these lines is improper. Prophesying is what is new-hatch'd, and in the metaphor holds the place of the egg. The events are the fruit of such hatching,

Steevens. I think Steevens has justly explained this passage, but should wish to read-prophecyings in the plural. M. Mason.

Dr. Johnson obseryes, that “a prophecy of an event new. batch'd seems to be a prophecy of an event past.

And a prophecy new-batch'd is a wry expression." The construction suggested by Mr. Steevens meets with the first objection. Yet the following passage in which the same imagery is found, inclines me to believe that our author meant, that new-batch'd should be referred to events, though the events were yet to come. Allowing for his usual inaccuracy with respect to the active and passive participle, the events may be said

to be “the batch and brood of time." See King Henry IV, P. II:

“ The which observ'd, a man may prophesy,
“ With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life; which in their seeds
“ And weak beginnings lie entreasured.

“ Such things become the batch and brood of time." Here certainly it is the thing or event, and not the prophecy, which is the batch of time; but it must be acknowledged, the word “become" sufficiently marks the future time. If therefore the construction that I have suggested be the true one, batch'd must be here used for batching, or “ in the state of being hatcb'd.- To the woeful time, means to suit the woeful time

Malone. some say, the earth Was feverous, and did shake.] So, in Coriolanus :

as if the world
“ Was feverous, and did tremble." Steevens:

Macb. Leni

What 's the matter? Macd. Confusion now liath made his master-piece! Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope The Lord's anointud temple, and stole thence 1 he life o' the building. Miaco.

What is 't you say? the life? Len. Mean you his majesty? Macd. Approach the chamber, and destroy your

sight With a new Gorgon:--Do not bid me speak; See, and then speak yourselves.Awake! awake!

[Exeunt MACB, and LEN. Ring the alarum-bell:- Murger! and treason! Banquo, anici Donaibain! Malcolm! awake! Siuke of this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, Ana juok ol} death it cli!-up: up, and see The great docm's imagt:-*.210 in?! Banquo! As froni your graves rise up, and walk like sprights To countenance this horror!"

[Bell rings.

5

66

6

66

Tongue, rér heart, Casket conceive, &c.] The use of two negatives, not to make an attimative, but to deny more strongis, is very common in our author

So, in Juius tutsar, Act Ill, sc. i:

- there is no harm
“ liitended to your person, nor to no Roman else.”

Steevens. - ibis borror!] Here the old copy addsking the vell.

Stecvens. The subsequent hemistich-"What's the business?"--which completes the metre if the preceding line, without the words Ring the bell,” affords, ir my opinion, a strong presul prive proof that these words were only a marginal direction. It should be remembered that the stage directions were formerly often couched in imperative terms: “Draw a knife;" " Play music;" " King the bell;" &c. In the original copy we have here indeed also-Bell rings, as a marginal direction; but this was inserted, I imagine, from the piayers misconceiving what Shak. spcare had in truh set down in his copy as a dramatic direction to the property man. (“ kig te beli”, ior a part oi Macduti 's speech; and, to distinguish the direction which they inserted, from the supposed words of the speaker, they departed trom the usual insperative form. Throughout the whole of the preceding scene we have constantly an imperative direction to the prompter: Knock within."

I suppose, it was it tulisequence of an imperfect recollection of this hemistich, that Mr. Pope, having; in his Preface,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »