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The time approaches, That will with due decision make us know

What we shall say we have, and what we owe.7
Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate;
But certain issue strokes must arbitrate:8
Towards which, advance the war.9 [Exeunt, marching.

Surely, a few errors in a few pages of a book, do not exclude all idea of improvement in other parts of it. I cherish this hope for my own sake, as well as for that of other commentators on Shakspeare. Steevens.

e.] i. e. pro

7 What we shall say we have, and what we owe. perty and allegiance


When we are governed by legal kings, we shall know the limits of their claim, i. e. shall know what we have of our own, and what they have a right to take from us.

Mr. Henley explains the passage thus: "The issue of the contest will soon decide what we shall say we have, and what may be accounted our own." To owe here is to possess.


Had these lines been put into the mouth of any of the Scottish Peers, they might possibly bear the meaning that Steevens contends for; but as they are supposed to be spoken by Siward, who was not to be governed either by Malcolm or Macbeth, they can scarcely admit of that interpretation. Siward probably only means to say, in more pompous language, that the time approached which was to decide their fate. M. Mason.

Siward, having undertaken the cause of Scotland, speaks, as a Scotsman would have spoken; and especially as he is now in the presence of Malcolm, Macduff, and others of the same country. Steevens.

8 arbitrate:] i. e. determine. Johnson.

So, in the 18th Odyssey, translated by Chapman :



"Can arbitrate a war of deadliest weight." Steevens.

9 Towards which, advance the war.] It has been understood that local rhymes were introduced in plays to afford an actor the advantage of a more pointed exit, or to close a scene with additional force. Yet, whatever might be Shakspeare's motive for continuing such a practice, it may be observed that he often seems immediately to repent of it; and, in the tragedy before has repeatedly counteracted it by hemistichs which destroy the effect, and consequently defeat the supposed purpose of the antecedent couplets. See the following instances, in addition to that which introduces the present note:


Leave all the rest to me...

So pr'ythee go with me...
We are yet but young in deed.

.Act I, end of scene v.

Act III, .....scene ii.

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Dunsinane. Within the Castle.

Enter, with Drums and Colours, MACBETH, SEYTON, and Soldiers.

Macb. Hang out our banners on the outward walls; The cry is still, They come: Our castle's strength Will laugh a siege to scorn: here let them lie, Till famine, and the ague, eat them up:

Were they not forc'd with those that should be ours, We might have met them dareful, beard to beard, And beat them backward home. What is that noise? [A cry within, of Women.

Sey. It is the cry of women, my good lord. Macb. I have almost forgot the taste of fears: The time has been,' my senses would have cool'd To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair3


.Act IV,
.Act V,

.....scene .....scene i.


But no more sights &c. I think, but dure not speak. Make we our march towards Birnam..Act V, .....scene ii. In Hamlet, &c. we find such hemistichs after the rhymes at the end of Acts, as well as scenes. Steevens.

1 The time has been. &c.] May has imitated this passage twice; once in The Heir, and again in The Old Couple. See Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, Vol. VIII, p. 150, Vol. X. p. 473, edit. 1780. Reed.

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To hear a night-shriek;] The blood is sometimes said to be chilled; but I do not recollect any other instance in which this phrase is applied to the senses. Perhaps our author wrotecoil'd. My senses would have shrunk back; died within me. So, in the second scene of the present Act:

Who then shall blame

"His pester'd senses to recoil and start?" Malone.

I retain the old reading. Perhaps, no word so forcible can be placed in its room Thus, in the fifth Æneid:

"Sanguis hebet, frigentque effatæ in corpore vires ' The same expression occurs also in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

"My humour shall not cool."

Again, King Henry IV, P II:

"My lord Northumberland will soon be cool'd."

Thus, also, in the tragedy now before us, p. 183:
"This deed I'll do, before this purpose cool."

Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir

As life were in 't: I have supp'd full with horrors;4 Direness, familiar to my slaught'rous thoughts, Cannot once start me.-Wherefore was that cry? Sey. The queen, my lord, is dead.

Macb. She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.5

Again, in Chapman's version of the 22d Iliad:


his still desperate spirit is coold.”

But what example is there of the verb recoiled clipped into 'coiled? Coiled can only afford the idea of wound in a ring, like a rope or a serpent. Steevens.


fell of bair -] My hairy part, my capillitium. Fell is skin. Johnson.

So, in Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany, by George Chapman, 1654:

Where the lyon's hide is thin and scant,

"I'll firmly patch it with the fox's fell."

Again, in King Lear:

"The goujeres shall devour them, flesh and fell." A dealer in hides is still called a fell-monger. Steevens. I have supp'd full with borrors;] Statius has a similar thought in the second Book of his Thebais:



- attollit membra, toroque

Erigitur, plenus monstris, vanumque cruorem "Excutiens."

The conclusion of this passage may remind the reader of lady Macbeth's behaviour in her sleep. Steevens.

5 She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word. &c.] This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time, and that there would or would not be a time for any word, seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. I read therefore:

She should have died hereafter,

There would have been a time for—such a world!-
To-morrow, &c.

It is a broken speech, in which only part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus: The queen is dead. Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; bad she lived longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that respect which I owe ber for her fidelity and love. Such is the world-such is the condition of human life, that we always think to-morrow will be happier than to-day, but to-morrow and to-morrow steals VOL. VII.


To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;7
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to the grave, who were engrossed by the same dream of future felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were, like me, reckoning

on to-morrow.

Such was once my conjecture, but I am now less confident. Macbeth might mean, that there would have been a more convenient time for such a word, for such intelligence, and so fall into the following reflection. We say we send word when we give intelligence. Johnson.

By-a word, Shakspeare certainly means more than a single Thus, in King Richard II:


"The hopeless word of―never to return
"Breathe I against thee."

Again, in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher:

"A musquet, with this word upon the label

"I have discharg'd the office of a soldier." Steevens. • To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,] This repetition, as Dr. Farmer observed to me, occurs in Barclay's Ship of Fooles, 1570:

" Cras, cras, cras, to-morrow we shall amende." Steevens.

To the last syllable of recorded time;] Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of heaven for the period of life. The record of futurity is indeed no accurate expression; but, as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience in which future events may be supposed to be written. Johnson.

So, in All's Well that Ends Well:

"To the utmost syllable of your worthiness." Recorded is probably here used for recording or recordable; one participle for the other, of which there are many instances, both in Shakspeare and other English writers. Virgil uses penetrabile frigus for penetrans frigus, and penetrabile telum for telum penetrans Steevens.

By recorded time, Shakspeare means not only the time that has been, but also that which shall be recorded. M. Mason.

The way to dusty death.] We should read-dusky, as appears from the figurative term lighted. Warburton. Dusty is a very natural epithet. The second folio has: The way to study death.–

Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.-

Enter a Messenger.

Thou com'st to use thy tongue; thy story quickly:
Mess. Gracious my lord,

I should report that which I say I saw,

But know not how to do it.


Well, say, sir.

Mess. As I did stand my watch upon the hill, I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought, The wood began to move.


Liar, and slave!

[Striking him.

Mess. Let me endure your wrath, if't be not so: Within this three mile may you see it coming; I say, a moving grove.


If thou speak'st false,

Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,

Till famine cling thee:9 if thy speech be sooth,

which Mr. Upton prefers; but it is only an error, by an áccidental transposition of the types. Johnson.

The dust of death is an expression used in the 22d Psalm, Dusty death alludes to the expression of dust to dust in the burial service, and to the sentence pronounced against Adam: Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." In Troilus aud Cressida also the same epithet occurs:

66 are grated

"To dusty nothing-."


Shakspeare, however, in the first Act of this play, speaks of the thane of Cawdor, as of one who had been studied in his death." Steevens.

Dr. Johnson justly observes that dusty is a very natural epithet. Our author again alludes to the dust of death in The Winter's Tale:

"Some hangman must put on my shrowd, and lay me "Where no priest shovels-in dust."

In Sydney's Arcadia, 1598, p. 445, we have the following stanza of a song on death:

"Our owly eyes, which dimm'd with passions be,
"And scarce discerne the dawne of con ming days
"Let them be clearde, and now begin to see

"Our life is but a step in dustie way.'
"1 Reed

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