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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.? Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate; But certain issue strokes must arbitrate:8 Towards which, advance the war. [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.
7 What we shall say we have, and what we owe.] i. e. property and allegiunce Warburton:
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 uwe here is to possess.
Steevens. Had these lines been put into the mouth of any of the Scottish Peers, they might possibly bear the meaning that Steevens con. tends 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. À 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, Macduif, and others of the same country. Steevens.
arbitrate:] i. e. determine. Johnson.
straight “ 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 us, 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. .... . Act 1, end of scene v.
.....scene ii. We are pot but young in deed. . Act III, .....scene iv.
Dunsinane. Within the Castle. Enter, with Drums and Colours, MACBETH, Sexton,
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 cooi'd To hear a night-shriek;a and my fell of hair3
But no more sights &c.
.... Act IV, .....scene i. I think, but dure not spenk.
Act V, .....scene i. Müke we our march towards Birnam.. Act V,
.....scene ii. In Humlet, &c. we find such hemistichs after the rhymes at the end of Acts, as well as scenes. Steevens.
i The time bas 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.
my senses would beve cool'd To bear a night-sbriek;] 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 wrote'coild. 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 effætæ in corpore vires." The same expression occurs also in The Merry Wives of Windsor:
My humour shall not cool." Again, ir 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 'UI do, before this purpose cool.”
Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir
Sey. The queen, my lord, is dead.
Macb. She should have died hereafter;
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 bave supp'd full with borrors;] Statius has a similar thought in the second Book of his Thebais :
attollit membra, toroque
“ Excutiens.” The conclusion of this passage may remind the reader of lady Macbeth's behaviour in her sleep. Steevens. 5 She should have died bereafter ;
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
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 bereafter,
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 bave been deferred to some more peaceful hour; bad she lived longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to ber as a queen,
and that respect which I owe ber for her fidelity and love. Such is the world—such is the condition of buman life, that we always think to-moi row will be bappier than to-day, but to-morrow and to-morrow steals
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our enu. 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
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 ene. 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 repeti. tion, as Dr. Farmer observed to me, occurs in Barclay's Ship of Fooles, 1570:
“ Cras, cras, cras, to-morrow we shall amende.” Steevens. Ý 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.
Fobnson. 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.
8 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 deats.
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. Gracious my lord,
Well, say, sir.
Liar, and slave!
If thou speak'st false,
which Mr. Upton prefers; but it is only an error, by an acci. dental transposition of the types. Fobnson.
The dust of death is an expression used in the 22d Psalm, Dusty deatb 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 :
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,