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In the reign of Duncan, Banquo having been plundered by the people of Lochaber of some of the king's revenues, which he had collected, and being dangerously wounded in the affray, the persons concerned in this outrage were summoned to appear at a certain day. But they slew the serjeant at arms who summoned them, and chose one MACDOWALD as their captain. Macdowald speedily collected a considerable body of forces from Ireland and the Western Isles, and in one action gained a victory over the king's army. In this battle Malcolm, a Scottish nobleman, who was (says Boethius) "Lieutenant to Duncan in Lochaber," was slain. Afterwards Macbeth and Banquo were appointed to the command of the army; and Macdowald being obliged to take refuge in a castle in Lochaber, first slew his wife and children, and then himself. Macbeth, on entering the castle, finding his dead body, ordered his head to be cut off, and carried to the king, at the castle of Bertha, and his body to be hung on a high tree.
At a subsequent period, in the last year of Duncan's reign, Sueno, king of Norway, landed a powerful army in Fife, for the purpose of invading Scotland. Duncan immediately assembled an army to oppose him, and gave the command of two divisons of it to Macbeth and Banquo, putting himself at the head of a third. Sueno was successful in one battle, but in a second was routed; and, after a great slaughter of his troops, he escaped with ten persons only, and fled back to Norway. Though there was an interval of time between the rebellion of Macdowald and the invasion of Sueno, our author has woven these two actions together, and immediately after Sueno's defeat the present play
It is remarkable that Buchanan has pointed out Macbeth's history as a subject for the stage. "Multa bic fabulose quidam nostrorum affingunt; sed, quia theatris aut Milesiis fabulis sunt aptiora quam historia, ea omitto. RERUM SCOT. HIST. L. VII. But there was no translation of Buchanan's work till after our author's death.
This tragedy was written, I believe, in the year 1606. See the notes at the end. Malone.
Fleance, Son to Banquo.
Siward, Earl of Northumberland, General of the English
Young Siward, his Son.
Seyton, an Officer attending on Macbeth.
Son to Macduff.
An English Doctor.
A Scotch Doctor.
A Porter. An old Man.
Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth.
Hecate, and three Witches.2
Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers, Attendants, and Messengers.
The Ghost of Banquo, and several other apparitions.
In the End of the fourth Act, lies in England; through the rest of the Play, in Scotland; and, chiefly, at Macbeth's Castle.
1 Lady Macbeth.] Her name was Gruach, filia Bodbe. See Lord Haile's Annals of Scotland, II, 332. Ritson.
Andrew of Wyntown, in his Cronykill, informs us that this personage was the widow of Duncan; a circumstance with which
ACT I.....SCENE I.
An open Place.
Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches.
1 Witch. When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2 Witch. When the hurlyburly 's done,3 When the battle 's lost and won :*
3 Witch. That will be ere set of sun.
Shakspeare must have been wholly unacquainted:
"Tuk, and led wyth hyr his lyf,
"And held hyr bathe hys Wyf and Qweyne,
"Til hys Eme Qwene, lyvand
"Quhen he was Kyng wyth Crowne rygnand:
"For lytyl in honowre than had he
They greys of affynyte." B. VI, 35.
From the incidents, however, with which Hector Boece has diversified the legend of Macbeth, our poet derived greater advantages than he could have found in the original story, as related by Wyntown.
The 18th chapter of his Cronykil, Book VI, together with observations by its accurate and learned editor, will be subjoined to this tragedy, for the satisfaction of inquisitive readers.
three Witches] As the play now stands, in Act IV, sc. i, three other witches make their appearance. See note
burlyburly 's-] However mean this word may seem to modern ears, it came recommended to Shakspeare by the authority of Henry Peacham, who, in the year 1577, published a book professing to treat of the ornaments of language. It is called The G irden of Eloquence, and has this passage: "Onomatopeia, when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name imitating the sownd of that it signifyeth, as burliburly, for an uprore and tumultuous stirre." Henderson.
So, in a translation of Herodian, 12mo. 1635, p. 26:
66 there was a mighty bulyburly in the campe," &c.
1 Witch. Where the place?
Upon the heath:
3 Witch. There to meet with Macbeth."
Again, p. 324:
great burliburlies being in all parts of the emReed.
4 When the battle's lost and won:] i. e. the battle, in which Macbeth was then engaged. Warburton.
So, in King Richard III:
while we reason here,
"A royal battle might be won and lost."
So also Speed, speaking of the battle of Towton: “
-by which only stratagem, as it was constantly averred, the battle and day was lost and won.” Chronicle, 1611. Malone.
-ere set of sun.] The old copy unnecessarily and harshly
6 There to meet with Macbeth.] Thus the old copy. Mr. Pope, and, after him, other editors:
There I go to meet Macbeth.
The insertion, however seems to be injudicious. To meet with Macbeth was the final drift of all the Witches in going to the heath, and not the particular business or motive of any one of them in distinction from the rest; as the interpolated words, 1 go, in the mouth of the third Witch, would most certainly imply.
Somewhat, however, (as the verse is evidently imperfect) must have been left out by the transcriber or printer Mr. Capell has therefore proposed to remedy this defect, by reading
There to meet with brave Macbeth.
But surely, to beings intent only on mischief, a soldier's bravery, in an honest cause, would have been no subject of
Mr. Malone (omitting all previous remarks, &c. on this passage) assures us, that—“ There is here used as a dissyllable." I wish he had supported his assertion by some example. Those however, who can speak the line thus regulated, and suppose, they are reciting a verse, may profit by the direction they have received.
The pronoun "their," having two vowels together, may be split into two syllables; but the adverb "there" can only be used as a monosyllable, unless pronounced as if it were written "the-re," a license in which even Chaucer has not indulged himself.
It was convenient for Shakspeare's introductory scene, that his first Witch should appear uninstructed in her mission. Had she not required information, the audience must have remained ignorant of what it was necessary for them to know. Her
1 Witch. I come, Graymalkin!"
All. Paddock calls:-Anon.-8
speeches therefore, proceed in the form of interrogatories; but all on a sudden, an answer is given to a question which had not been asked. Here seems to be a chasm, which I shall attempt to supply by the introduction of a single pronoun, and by distributing the hitherto mutilated line among the three speakers: 3 Witch. There to meet with 1 Witch. 2 Witch.
Distinct replies have now been afforded to the three necessary inquiries-When-Where-and Whom the Witches were to meet. Their conference receives no injury from my insertion and arrangement. On the contrary, the dialogue becomes more regular and consistent, as each of the hags will now have spoken thrice, (a magical number) before they join in utterance of the concluding words, which relate only to themselves.-I should add, that, in the two prior instances, it is also the second Witch who furnishes decisive and material answers; and that I would give the words-" I come, Graymalkin!" to the third. By assistance from such of our author's plays as had been published in quarto, we have often detected more important errors in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, supplies the most ancient copy of Macbeth. Steevens.
Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1584, find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a catte's body nine times. Mr. Upton observes, that, to understand this passage, we should suppose one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad.
Again, in Newes from Scotland, &c. (a pamphlet of which the reader will find the entire title in a future note on this play): "Moreover she confessed, that at the time when his majestie was in Denmarke, shee beeing accompanied with the parties before specially mentioned, tooke a cat and christened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefest parte of a dead man, and several joyntes of his bodie, and that in the night following the said cat was convayed into the middest of the sea by all these witches sayling in their riddles or cives as is aforesaid, and so left the said cat right before the towne of Leith in Scotland. This doone, there did arise such a tempest in the sea, as a greater hath not bene seene," &c. Steevens.
8 Paddock calls: &c.] This, with the two following lines, is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding editors have appropriated the first of them to the second Witch.
According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and some other naturalists, a frog is called a paddock in the North; as in the following instance, in Casar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607:
Paddockes, todes, and watersnakes."