« PreviousContinue »
Toad, that under coldest stone,
Al. Double, double toil and trouble;?
2 Witch. Fillet of a fenny snake,
Harper cries:--'Tis time, 'tis time.
“ Hec.] Heard you the owle yet?
“ Hec.] 'Tis bigh time for us then.” Steevens. 3 Round about the cauldron go;] Milton has caught this image in his Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity:
“In dismal dance about the furnace blue.” Steevens.
coldest stone,] The old copy has—" cold stone." The modern editors—"the cold stone."--The slighterchange I have made, by substituting the superlative for the positive, has met with the approbation of Dr. Farmer, or it would not have appeared in the text. Steevens.
The was added by Mr. Pope. Malone.
5 Days and nights hast - ) Old copy-bas. Corrected by Sir T. Hanmer. Malone.
6 Swelter'd venom - ] This word seems to be employed by Shakspeare, to signify that the animal was moistened with its own cold exsudations. So, in the twenty-second Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
“ And all the knights there dub'd the morning but before,
“ The evening sun beheld there swelter'd in their gore.” In the old translation of Boccace's Novels,  the following sentence also occurs: “ an huge and mighty toad even weltering (as it were) in a hole full of poison.”_" Sweltering in blood” is likewise an expression used by Fuller, in his Church History, p. 37. And in Churchyard's Farewell to the World, 1593, is a similar expression: “ He spake great thinges that swelted in his greace.”
Steevens. 7 Double, double toil and trouble ;] As this was a very extra. ordinary incantation, they were to double their pains about it. I think, therefore, it should be pointed as I have pointed it:
Double, double toil and trouble; otherwise the solemnity is abated by the immediate recurrence of the rhyme. Steevens.
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
All. Double, double toil and trouble ;
3 Witch. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf;
8 Adder's fork,] Thus Pliny, Nat. Hist. book XI, ch. xxxvii:
Serpents have very thin tongues, and the same three-forked.” P. Holland's translation, edit. 1601, p. 338. Steevens.
blind-worm's sting,] The blind-worm is the slow-worm. So Drayton, in Voah's Flood: is the small-eyed slow-worm held of many blind"
Steevens. maw, and gulf;] The gulf is the swallow, the throat.
Steerens. In The Mirror for Magistrates, we have “ monstrous mawes and gulfes.” Henderson.
ravin'd salt-sea shark;] Mr. M. Mason observes that we should read ravin, instead of ravin'd. So in All's Well that Inds Well, Helena says:
“ Better it were
6 With sharp constraint of hunger.” And in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid of the Mill, Gillian says:
" When nurse Amaranta-
“ She was the ravin's prey." However, in Phineas Fletcher's Locusts, or Appollyonists, 1627, the same word, as it appears in the text of the play before us, occurs :
But slew, devour'd and fill'd his empty maw; “ But with his raven'd prey his bowells broke,
“ So into four devides his brazen yoke." Ravin’d is glutted with prey. Ravin is the ancient word for prey obtained by violence. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 7:
but a den for beasts of ravin made." The same word occurs again in Measure for Measure.
Steevens. To ravin, according to Minshieu, is to devour, or eat greedily. See his Dicr. 1617, in v. To devour. I believe our author, with his usual license, used ravin’d for ravenous the passive para ticiple for the adjective. Malone.
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
AU. Double, double toil and trouble ;
2 Witch. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good.
3 Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse; Sliver is a common word in the North, where it means to cut a piece or a slice. Again, in King Lear:
“She who herself will sliver and disbranch." Milton has transplanted the second of these ideas into his Lycidas:
perfidious bark “Built in th' eclipse." Steevens. A Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;] These ingredients, in all probability, owed their introduction to the detestation in which the Turks were held, on account of the holy wars.
So solicitous, indeed, were our neighbours, the French, (from whom most of our prejudices, as well as customs, are derived) to keep this idea awake, that even in their military sport of the quintain, their soldiers were accustomed to point their lances at the figure of a Saračen. Steevens. $ Finger of birth-strangled &c.
Make the gruel thick and slab;] Gray appears to have had this passage in his recollection, when he wrote
6. Sword that once a monarch bore
Stepvens. 6 Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,] Chaudron, i.e. entrails ; a word formerly in common use in the books of cookery, in one of which, printed in 1597, I meet with a receipt to make a pudding of a calf's chaldron. Again, in Decker's Honest Wbore, 1635: “ Sixpence a meal wench, as well as heart can wish, with calves' chauldrons and chitterlings.” At the coronation feast of Elizabeth of York, queen of Henry VII, among other dishes, one was a swan with chaudron,” meaning sauce made with its entrails. See Ives's Select Papers, No. 3, p. 140. See also Mr. Pegge's Forme of Cury, a Roll of ancient English Cookery, &c. 8vo. 1780, p. 66. Steevens.
Enter HECATE, and the other Three Witches
Heć. O, well done! I commend your pains;
Red spirits and grey ;
You that mingle may.
the other Three Witches.] The insertion of these words (and the other Three Witches) in the original copy, must be owing to mistake. There is no reason to suppose that Shakspeare meant to introduce more than Three Witches upon the scene.
Ritson. Perhaps these additional Witches were brought on for the sake of the approaching dance. Surely the original triad of hags was insufficient for the performance of the “ ancient round" introduced in page 181.
Steevens. 8 O, well done !] Ben Jonson's Dame, in his Masque of Queens, 1609, addresses her associates in the same manner:
“ Well done, my hags.” The attentive reader will observe, that in this piece, old Ben has exerted his strongest efforts to rival the incantation of Shak. speare's Witches, and the final address of Prospero to the aerial spirits under his command.
It may be remarked, also, that Shakspeare's Hecate, after delivering a speech of five lines, interferes no further in the business of the scene, but is lost in the croud of subordinate witches. Nothing, in short, is effected by her assistance, but what might have been done without it. Steevens.
9 Song.) In a former note on this tragedy, I had observed, that the original edition contains only the two first words of the song before us; but have since discovered the entire stanza in The Witch, a dramatic .piece, by Middleton, already quoted. The song is there called "A Charme-Song, about a Vessel.”I may add, that this invocation, as it first occurs in The Witch, ism White spirits, black spirits, gray spirits, red spirits.”. Afterwards, we find it in its present metrical shape.
The song was, in all probability, a traditional one. The colours of spirits are often mentioned. So, in Monsieur Thomar, 1639:
« Be thou black, or ebite, or green,
2 Witch. By the pricking of my thumbs,
hags? What is 't you do? All.
A deed without a name. Macb. I conjure you, by that which you profess, (Howe'er you come to know it) answer me: Though you untie the winds, and let them fight Against the churches; though the yesty waves Confound and swallow navigation up; Though bladed corn be lodg'd, and trees blown down; Though castles topple4 on their warders' heads;
Perhaps, indeed, this musical scrap (which does not well accord with the serious business of the scene) was introduced by the players, without the suggestion of Shakspeare.
It may yet be urged, that however light and sportive the metre of this stanza, the sense conveyed by it is sufficiently appropriate and solemn : “ Spirits of every bue, who are permitted to unite your various influences, unite them on the present occasion."
Steevens. Reginald Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, 1584, enumerating the different kinds of spirits, particularly mentions white, black, grey, and reil spirits. See also a passage quoted from Camden, ante, p.
57, n. 7. The modern editions, without authority, read--Blue spirits and grey.
Malone. 1 By the pricking of my thumbs, &c.] It is a very ancient superstition, that all sudden pains of the body, and other sensations which could not naturally be accounted for, were presages of somewhat that was shortly to happen. Hence Mr. Upton has explained a passage in The Miles Gloriosis of Plau. tus: “ Timeo quod rerum gesserim hic, ita dorsus totus prurit.”
Steevens. - yesty waves -] That is, foaming or frothy waves.
Fohnsum. 3 Though bladed corn be lodg'd,] So, in King Richard II:
“Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer corn." Again, in King Henry VI, P. II:
“Like to the summer corn by tempest lodg’d." Corn, prostrated by the wind, in modern language, is said to be lay'd; but loc'g'had anciently the same meaning. Ritson.
4 Though castles topple -] Topple, is used for tumble. So, in Marinwe's Lust's Dominion, Act IV, sc. ii;