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Fair is foul, and foul is fair:9
Hover through the fog and filthy air. [Witches vanish.
A Camp near Fores.
Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DoNALBAIN, LENOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier.
Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report, As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
This is the sergeant,1
Who, like a good and hardy soldier, fought
Again, in Wyntonwn is Cronykil, B. I, c. xiii, 55: "As ask, or eddyre, tade, or pade."
In Shakspeare, however, it certainly means a toad. The representation of St. James in the witches' house (one of the set of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566,) exhibits witches flying up and down the chimney on brooms; and before the fire sit grimalkin and paddock, i. e. a cat, and a toad, with several baboons. There is a cauldron boiling, with a witch near it, cutting out the tongue of a snake, as an ingredient for the charm. A representation somewhat similar likewise occurs in Newes from Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted. Steevens. Some say, they [witches] can keepe devils and spirits, in the likeness of todes and cats." Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft,  Book I, c. iv. Tollet.
• Fair is foul, and foul is fair:] i. e. we make these sudden changes of the weather. And Macbeth, speaking of this day, soon after says:
So ful and fair a day I have not seen.
The common idea of witches has always been, that they had absolute power over the weather, and could raise storms of any kind, or allay them, as they pleased. In conformity to this notion, Macbeth addresses them, in the fourth Act:
Though you untie the winds, &c. Steevens.
I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fair. Johnson.
This expression seems to have been proverbial. Spenser has it in the 4th Book of the Faery Queen:
"Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in sight." Farmer. 1 This is the sergeant,] Holinshed is the best interpreter of Shakspeare in his historical plays; for he not only takes his facts from him, but often his very words and expressions. That historian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, that on the first appearance of a mutinous spirit among the people, the king sent a sergeant at arms into the country, to bring up the
"Gainst my captivity:-Hail, brave friend! Say to the king the knowledge of the broil, As thou didst leave it.
Doubtfully it stood ;2 As two spent swimmers, that do cling together, And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald3 (Worthy to be a rebel; for, to that,*
chief offenders to answer the charge preferred against them; but they, instead of obeying, misused the messenger with sundry reproaches, and finally slew him. This sergeant at arms is certainly the origin of the bleeding sergeant introduced on the present occasion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holinshed, but the rest of the story not suiting his purpose, he does not adhere to The stage-direction of entrance, where the bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the player editors, and not of the poet.
Sergeant, however, (as the ingenious compiler of the Glossary to A. of Wyntown's Cronykil observes) is "a degree in military service now unknown."
"Of sergeandys thare and knychtis kene
B. VIII, ch. xxvi, v. 396. The same word occurs again in the fourth Poem of Lawrence Minot, p. 19:
"He hasted him to the swin, with sergantes snell,
"To mete with the Normandes that fals war and fell." According to M. le Grand, (says Mr. Ritson) sergeants were a sort of gens d' armes.
2 Doubtfully it stood;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to assist the metre, and reads
Doubtful long it stood,
has thereby injured the sense. If the comparison was meant to coincide in all circumstances, the struggle could not be long. I read
Doubtfully it stood;
The old copy has-Doubtfull-so that my addition consists of but a single letter. Steevens.
3 Macdonwald-] Thus the old copy. According to Holinshed we should read-Macdowald. Steevens.
So also the Scottish Chronicles. However, it is possible that Shakspeare might have preferred the name that has been substituted, as better sounding. It appears from a subsequent scene that he had attentively read Holinshed's account of the murder of king Duff, by Donwald, Lieutenant of the castle of Fores; in consequence of which he might, either from inadvertence, or choice, have here written-Macdonwald. Malone.
to that, &c.] i. e. in addition to that. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act I, sc. i:
"The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength, "Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant."
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him,) from the western isles-
The soldier who describes Macdonwald, seems to mean, that, in addition to his assumed character of rebel, he abounds with the numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable. Steevens.
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 conjecture 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 Galloglassios 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 Roger Mortimer. See The Mirror for Magistrates:
the Gallowglas, the Kerne,
"Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they slay." See also Stanyhurst's Description of Ireland, ch. viii, fol. 28, Holinsbed, edit. 1577. Steevens.
The old copy has Gallow-grosses.
the second folio. Malone.
Corrected by the editor of
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 endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is, Fortune smiling on his 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 tow ke 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:
66 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. Shakspeare probably alludes to Macdowald's first successful action, elated by which he attempted to pursue his fortune, but lost his life.
8 Like valour's minion,
Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave ;]
Like valour's minion, carv'd out his passage
Till be fac'd the slave.
As an Iremistich 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:
66 fortune shall cull forth,.
Qut of one side, her happy minion." Malones
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.
1 be unseam'd him from the nave to the chops,] We seldom hear of such terrible cross blows given and rece ved 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 sword. This was a reasonable blow, and very naturally expressed, on supposing it given when the head of the wearied combatant was reclining downwards at the latter end of a long duel. For the nape is the hinder part of the neck, where the vertebra join to the bone of the skull. So, in Coriolanus:
"O! that you could turn your eyes towards the napes of your necks."
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 follow. ing lines are read thus:
"Or drag him by the curls, and cleave his scalpe
An evident imitation of this corrupted passage. But he altered it with better judgment to
"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: