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Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:-
:5-Filthy hags! Why do you show me this ?-A fourth ?-Start, eyes ! What! will the line stretch out to the crack of
doom?6 Another yet?-A seventh ?-I'll see no more : And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass,
method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind.
A third is like the former:) As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only inquiring from what race they would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the second was bound with gold like that of the first; he was offend. ed only that the second resembled the first, as the first resem. bled Banquo, and therefore said:
and thy air,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
“ Your father's image is so hit in you,
“ As I did him.” The old reading, however, as Mr. M. Mason observes, may be the true one. “ It implies that their hair was of the same colour, which is more likely to mark a family likeness, than the air, which depends on habit,” &c. A similar mistake has happened in The Maid's Tragedy, by Beaumont and Fletcher: “ Mine arms thus; and mine air [hair] blown with the
to the crack of doom ?] i. e. the dissolution of nature. Crack has now a mean signification. It was anciently employed in a more exalted sense. So, in The Valiant Welch. man, 1615:
“ And will as fearless entertain this sight,
Steevens. ? And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass,] This method of juggling prophecy is again referred to in Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. vii:
and like a prophet, “ Looks in a glass, and shows me future evils." So, in an Extract from the Penal Laws against Witches, it is said that "they do answer either by voice; or else do set before
Which shows me many more; and some I see,
their eves in glasses, chrystal stones, &c. the pictures or images of the persons or things sought for.” Among the other knave. ries with which Face taxes Subtle in The Alchemist, this secms to be one:
“And taking in of shadows with a glass.” Again, in Humor's Ordinarie, an ancient collection of satires, no date:
“ Shew you the devil in a chrystal glass.” Spenser has given a very circumstantial account of the glass which Merlin made for king Ryence, in the second canto of the third Book of The Fairy Queen. A mirror of the same kind was presented to Cambuscan in The Squier's Tale of Chaucer; and in John Alday's translation of Pierre Boisteau's Theatrum Mundi, &c. bl. I. no date: “ A certaine philosopher did the like to Pompey, the which shewed him in a glasse the order of his enemies march.” Steevens.
: That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry:} This was intended as a compliment to king James the First, who first united the two islands and the three kingdoms under one head; whose house too was said to be descended from Banquo.
Warburton. Of this last particular our poet seems to have been thoroughly aware, having represented Banquo not only as an innocent, but as a noble character; whereas, according to history, he was confederate with Macbeth in the murder of Duncan. The flattery of Shakspeare, however, is not more gross than that of Ben Jonson, who has condescended to quote his majesty's ridiculous book on Demonology, in the notes to The Masque of Queens, 1609. Steevens.
9 Ay, now, I see, 'tis true ;] That the metre may be complete, I have supplied-ay, an adverb employed by our author in other places, to enforce his meaning. Steevens.
the blood-bolterd Banquo -) To bolter, in Warwick. shire, signifies to daub, dirty, or begrime. “ I ordered (says my informant) a harness-collar to be made with a linen lining, but blacked, to give it the appearance of leather. The saddler made the lining as he was lirected, but did not black it, saying, it would bolter the horse. Being asked what he meant by bolter, he replied, dirty, besmear; and that it was a common word in his country. This conversation passed within eight miles of Stratford on Avon."
In the same neighbourbood, when a boy has a broken head, su that his hair is matted together with blood, his head is said
And points at them for his. What, is this so?
1 Witch. Ay, sir, all this is so:—But why
[Musick. The Witches dance, and vanish. Macb. Where are they? Gone?-Let this pernici
ous hour Stand
aye accursed in the calendar!5.
to be boltered (pronounced baltered.] So, in Philemon Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, 1601, Book XII, ch. xvii, p. 370: “ - they doe drop and distill the said moisture, which the shrewd and unhappie beast catcheth among the shag long haires of his beard. Now by reason of dust getting among it, it bal:eretb and cluttereth into knots” &c. Such a term is therefore strictly applicable to Banquo, who had twenty trenched gasbes on bis head.
The propriety of the foregoing note has been abundantly confirmed by Mr. Homer, a truly respectable clergyman of Warwickshire. I seize this opportunity to offer my best acknow. ledgment for his remarks, which were obligingly conveyed o me by his son, the late Reverend and amiable Henry Homer, who favoured the world with editions of Sallust and Tacitus, the elegance of which can only be exceeded by their accuracy.
Steevens. cheer we up bis sprights,] i. e. spirits. So, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. II : “ Hold thou my heart, establish thou my sprights."
Steevens. s I'll charm the air to give a sound,] The Hecate of Middleton says, on a similar occasion :
“ Come, my sweete sisters, let the air strike our tune,
Steevens your antique round: and The Witches dance, and vanish.] These ideas, as well as a foregoing one
The weird sisters, band in hand,” might have been adopted from a poem, entitled Churchyard's Dreame, 1593:
“ All band in hand they traced on
* A tricksie ancient round;
“ And might no more be found.” Steevens.
Come in, without there!
What 's your grace's will? Macb. Saw you the weird sisters? Len.
No, my lord. Macb. Came they not by you? Len.
No, indeed, my lord. Mord. Infected be the air whereon they ride ;6 And damn'd, all those that trust them!—I did hear The galloping of horse: who was 't came by? Len. 'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you
word, Macduff is fled to England. Macb.
Fled to England? Len. Ay, my good lord.
Macb. l'ime, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits :? The flighty purpose never is o'ertook, Unless the deed go with it: From this moment, The very firstlings of my heart shall be The firstlings of my hand. And even now
5 Stand aye accursed in the calendar!] In the ancient alma• nacks the unlucky days were distinguished by a mark of reprobation. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635:
henceforth let it stand
Steevens. 6 Infected be the air whereon they ride :] So, in the first part of Selimus, 1594:
6 Now Baiazet will ban another while,
" Which may infect the regions of the ayre." Todd. 7 Time, thou anticipar'st my dread exploits :) To anticipate is here meant to prevent, by taking away the opportunity. Johnson.
: The very firstlings - ] Firstlings, in its primitive sense, is the first produce or offspring. So, in Heywood's Silver Age, 1613:
The firstlings of their vowed sacrifice.” Here it means the thing first thought or done. The word is used again in the prologue to Troilus and Cressida : Leaps o'er the vant and firstlings of these broils."
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and
done: The castle of Macduff I will surprise ; Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’the sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls That trace his line. No boasting like a fool; This deed I'll do, before this purpose cool: But no more sights !1_Where are these gentlemen? Come, bring me where they are.
Fife. A Room in Macduff's Castle. Enter Lady MacDUFF, her Son, and Rosse. L. Macd. What had he done, to make him fly the
land ? Rosse. You must have patience, madam. L. Macd.
He had none: His flight was madness: When our actions do nut, Our fears do make us traitors.2 Rosse.
You know not, Whether it was his wisdom, or his fear.
9 That trace bis line.] i. e. follow, succeed in it. Thus, in a poem interwoven with A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's Cautels: &c. translated out of the French &c. by H. W. (Henry Wotton] 4to. 1578:
They truce the pleasant groves,
“ And gather flouies sweete Again, in Sir Arthur Gorges' translation of the third Book of Lucan, 1614:
" The tribune's curses in like case
“Said he, did greedy Crassus trace.” The old copy reads
“ That trace him in his line.” The metre, however, demands the omission of such unnecessary expletives. Steevens.
1 But no more sights !] This hasty reflection is to be consi. dered as a moral to the foregoing scene :
“ Tu ne quæsieris scire (nefas) quem mihi, quem tibi
“ Tentaris numeros, ut melius, quicquid erit, pati." 2 Our fears do make us traitors.] i. e. our flight is considered as an evidence of our guilt. Steevens.