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To wake Northumberland, and warlike Siward :
That, by the help of these, (with Him above
To ratify the work) we may again
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights;
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives;8
Do faithful homage, and receive free honours,
All which we pine for now: And this report
Hath so exasperatel the king, that he
Prepares for some attempt of war.3

Sent he to Macduff?
Lord. He did: and with an absolute, Sir, not 1,
The cloudy messenger turns me his back,
And hums; as who should say, You'll rue the time
That clogs me with this answer.

And that well might Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance


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Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives ;] The con. struction is-Free our feasts and banquets from bloody knives. Perhaps the words are transposed, and the line originally stood:

Our feasts and banquets free from bloody knives. Malone. Aukward transpositions in ancient language are so frequent, that the passage before us might have passed unsuspected, bad there not been a possibility that the compositor's eye caught the word free from the line immediately following. We might read, frigbt, or fray, (a verb commonly used by old writers) but any change, perhaps, is needless. Steevens.

and receive free bonours,] Free may be either honours freely bestowed, not purchased by crimes; or honours without slavery, without dread of a tyrant. Fobnson.

exasperate -] i. e. exasperated. So contaminate is used for contaminated in King Henry V. Steevens.

the king,] i. e. Macbeth. The old copy has, less intelligibly-their. Steevens.

Their refers to the son of Duncan, and Macduff. Sir T. Hanmer reads, unne

necessarily, I think, the king. Malone. 3 Prepares for some atteinpt of war.) The singularity of this expression, with the apparent redundancy of the metre, almost persuade me to follow Sir T. Hanmer, by the omission of the two last words. Steevens.

4 Alvise him to a caution,] Sir T. Hanmer, to add smooth. ness to the versification, reads to a care.

I suspect, however, the words---to a, are interpolations, de. signed to render an elliptical expression more clear, according to some player's apprehension. Perhaps the lines originally stood thus:


His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
Fly to the court of England, and unfold
His message ere he come; that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accurs'd!5

My prayers with him !8


ACT IV ..... SCENE 1.7

A dark Cave.

In the middle, a Cauldron boiling.

Thunder. Enter the Three Witches. | Witch. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

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And that well might
Advise bim caution, and to bold what distance
His wisdom can provide. Steevens.

to this our suffering country Under a band accurs'd!'] The construction is,-to our country suffering under a hand accursed. Malone.

6 My prayers with bim!] The old copy, frigidly, and in defiance of measure, reads

I 'll send my prayers with him. I am aware, that for this, and similar rejections, I shall be censured by those who are disinclined to venture out of the track of the old stage-waggon, though it may occasionally conduct them into a slough. It may soon, therefore, be discovered, that numerous beauties are resident in the discarded words I sent; and that as frequently as the vulgarism--on, has been displaced to make room for-of, a diamond has been exchanged for a pebble.--For my own sake, however, let me add, that, throughout the present tragedy, no such liberties have been exercised, without the previous approbation of Dr. Farmer, who fully concurs with me in supposing the irregularities of Shakspeare's text to be oftener occasioned by interpolations, than by omissions. Steevens.

7 Scene I.] As this is the chief scene of enchantment in the play, it is proper, in this place, to observe, with how much judgment Shakspeare has selected all the circumstances of liis infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to con. mon opinions and traditions :

" Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd."

2 Witch. Thrice; and once the hedge-pig whind: 9

The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to converse with witches, is that of a cat. A pitch, who was tricd about half a century before the time of Shakspeare, had a cat Hained Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of those witches was Grimalkin; and uben any mischief was to be done, she used to bid Rutterkin go and fly.' But once, when she would have sent Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the countess of Rutland, instead of going or fing, he only cried mew, from whence she discovered that the larly was orit of liis power, the power of witches being not universul, but imited, us Shakspeare has taken care to inculcate:

“Though his bark cannot be lost,

" Yet it shall be tempest-test.” The common affiictions which the malice of witches produced, were melancholy, fits, and loss of tiesh, which are threatened by one of Shakspeare's witches:

“Weary sev'n nights, nine times nine,

“ Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine." It was likewise their practice to destroy the cattle of their neighbours, and the farmers have to this day many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft; but they seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. Shakspeare has ac ordingly made one of his witches declare that she has been killing swire ; and Dr. Harsret observes, that, about that time, a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcrafi."

“Toad, that under the cokl stone,
“ Days and nights hast thirty-one,
" Swelter'd venem sleeping got,

“ Boil thou first i'the charmed pot." Toads have likewise long lain under the reproach of being by some means accessary to witchcrait, for which reason Shak. speare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Paddock or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found at his lodgings ingens bufo vitro inclusus, a great toad shut in a vivi, upon which ihose that prosecuterl him Veneficium exprobrabant, charge! him, I suppose, with witchcraft.

“ Fillet of a fenny snake,
“ In the cauldron boil and bake:
“: Eye of newt, and toe of frog ;-

“For a charm,” &c. The propriety of these ingredients may be known by con. sulting the books De Viribus Animalium and De Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.

“ Finger of birth strangled babe,
“ Ditch-deliver'd by a drab;"

§ Witch. Harper cries:1-'Tis time, 'tis time.”

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It has been already mentioned, in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whoin king James examined; and who had of a dead body, that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable, that Shakspeare, on this great occasion, which in. volves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horror. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.

“ And now about the cauldron sing,-
“ Black spirits and white,

“ Red spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle,

“ You that mingle may.”
And, in a former part:

weird sisters, hand in hand,-
“ Thus do go about, about;
“ Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,

“And thrice again, to make up nine!”
These two passages I have brought together, because they
both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the
solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shown, by one
quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded
upon a practice really observed by the uncivilised natives of
that couniry:

When any one gets a fall, says the i..former of Gam len, he starts up, and, turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth ; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falis sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, rel, black, wbite.There was likewise a book written before the time of Shakspeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.

Many other circumstances might be particularised, in which Shakspeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge.

Johnson. 8 Thrice the brinded cat bath '

mew'd ] A cat, from time im. memorial, has been the agent and favourite of Witches. This superstitious fancy is pagan, and very ancient; and the original, perhaps, this: “When Galinihia was changed into a cat by the Fates, (says Antonius Liberalis, Metam. c. xxix) by witches, (says Pausanias in his Butics) Hecate took pity of her, and made her her priestess; in whicla ottice she continues

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1 Witch. Round about the cauldron go ;3 In the poison'd entrails throw..

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Silence says,

to this day. Hecate herself too, when Typhon forced all the gods and goddesses to hide themselves in animals, assumed the shape of a cat. So, Ovid:

Fele soror Phæbi latuit." Warburton. 9 Thrice; and once the hedge-pig wbin'd.] Mr. Theobald reads, twice and once, &c. and observes that odd nunbers are used in all enchantments and magical operations. The remark is just, but the passage was misunderstood. The second Witch only repeats the number which the first had mentioned, in order to confirm what she had said; and then adds, that the hedge-pig had likewise cried, though but once.

Or what seems more easy, the he dge-pig had whined thrice, and after an interval whined once again.

Even numbers, however, were always reckoned inauspicious. So, in The Honest Lawyer, by S. S. 1616: “Sure 't is not a lucky time; the first crow I heard this morning, cried twice. This even, sir, is no good number.” Twice and once, however, might be a cant expression. So, in king Henry IV, P. II, “ I have been mežry twice and once, ere now.

Steevens. The urchin, or hedgehog, from its solitarinees, the ugliness of its appearance, and from a popular opinion that it sucked or poisoned the udders of cows, was adopted into the demonologic system, and its shape was sometimes supposed to be assumed by mischievous elves. Hence it was one of the plagues of Caliban in Tbe Tempest. T. W'arton.

1 Harper cries: ] This is some imp, or familiar spirit, concerning whose etymology and office, the reader may be wiser than the editor. Those who are acquainted with Dr. Farmer's pamphlet, will be unwilling to derive the name of Harper from Ovid's Harpalos ab egrálw rapio. See Upton's Critical observations, &c. edit. 1748, p. 155.

Harper, however,.may be only a mis-spelling, or misprint, for barpy. So, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, &c. 1590:

“ And like a harper tyers upon my life.” The word cries likewise seems to countenance this supposition, Crying is one of the technical terms appropriated to the noise made by birds of prey. So, in the nineteenth Iliad, 350:

« Η δ', ΑΡΙΠΗ είκνία τανυκτέρυγι, ΔΙΓUΦΩΝΩ,

« Ουρανέ εκκατέπαλτο Thus rendered by Chapman: “ And like a burpie, with a voice that shrieks," &c. Steevens..

'Tis time, 'tis time] This familiar does not cry out that it is time for them to begin their enchantments; but cries, i them the signal, upon which the third Witch com. municates the notice to her sisters :

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