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That tears fhall drown the wind. I have no fpur To prick the fides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'er-leaps itself,

And falls on the other. How now, what news?

• That tears shall drown the wind.] Alluding to the remiffion of the wind in a shower. JOHNSON.

So, in King Henry VI. P. III:

"For raging wind blows up inceffant fhowers

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And, when the rage allays, the rain begins.' Again, in our author's Venus and Adonis :

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"Even as the wind is hufh'd before it raineth."

Again, in The Rape of Lucrece

"This windy tempeft, till it blow up rain


"Held back his forrow's tide, to make it more;
"At laft it rains, and bufy winds give o'er."

Again, in Troilus and Creffida:


"Where are my tears ? rain, rain to lay this wind."

I have no fpur

To prick the fides of my intent, but only


Vaulting ambition,] The Spur of the occafion is a phrase

ufed by Lord Bacon. STEEVENS.

So, in the tragedy of Cæfar and Pompey, 1607:

"Why think you, lords, that 'tis ambition's fpur,
"That pricketh Cæfar to these high attempts ?"

MALONE. Again, in The First Part of the tragicall Raigne of Selimus, &c. 4to. 1594:


My fonnes whom now ambition ginnes to pricke."


`* And falls on the other.] Sir T. Hanmer has on this occafion added a word, and would read—

And falls on the other fide.

Yet they who plead for the admiffion of this fupplement, fhould confider, that the plural of it, but two lines before, had occurred.

I, alfo, who once attempted to juftify the omiffion of this word, ought to have understood that Shakspeare could never mean to describe the agitation of Macbeth's mind, by the affift ance of a halting verfe.

The general image, though confufedly expreffed, relates to a

Enter Lady 3 MACBETH.

LADY M. He has almost fupp'd; Why have you left the chamber?

horfe, who, overleaping himself, falls, and his rider under him. To complete the line we may therefore read

"And falls upon the other."

Thus, in The Taming of a Shrew: "How he left her with the horse upon her."

Macbeth, as I apprehend, is meant for the rider, his intent for his horse, and his ambition for his Spur; but, unluckily, as the words are arranged, the Spur is faid to over-leap itself. Such hazardous things are long-drawn metaphors in the hands of careless writers. STEEVENS.

3 Enter Lady-] The arguments by which Lady Macbeth perfuades her husband to commit the murder, afford a proof of Shakspeare's knowledge of human nature. She urges the excellence and dignity of courage, a glittering idea which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated fometimes the house-breaker, and fometimes the conqueror; but this sophism Macbeth has for, ever deftroyed, by diftinguishing true from false fortitude, in a line and a half; of which it may almost be faid, that they ought to beftow immortality on the author, though all his other productions had been loft:

1 dare do all that may become a man;

Who dares do more, is none.

This topick, which has been always employed with too much fuccefs, is used in this fcene, with peculiar propriety, to a foldier by a woman, Courage is the diftinguifhing virtue of a foldier; and the reproach of cowardice cannot be borne by any man from a woman, without great impatience.

She then urges the oaths by which he had bound himself to murder Duncan, another art of fophiftry by which men have fometimes deluded their confciences, and perfuaded themselves that what would be criminal in others is virtuous in them: this argument Shakspeare, whofe plan obliged him to make Macbeth yield, has not confuted, though he might eafily have shown that a former obligation could not be vacated by a latter; that obligations, laid on us by a higher power, could not be overruled by obligations which we lay upon ourfelves. JOHNSON.

Part of Lady Macbeth's argument is derived from the tranflation of Hector Boethius. See Dr. Farmer's note, p. 39.


MACB. Hath he afk'd for me?


Know you not, he has ? MACB. We will proceed no further in this bufinefs: He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought Golden opinions from all forts of people,

Which would be worn now in their newest glofs, Not caft afide fo foon.


Was the hope drunk,4 Wherein you drefs'd yourfelf? hath it flept fince?. And wakes it now, to look fo green and pale At what it did fo freely? From this time, Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To be the fame in thine own act and valour, As thou art in defire? Would'ft thou have that Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own efteem; 5 Letting I dare not wait upon I would, Like the poor cat i' the adage?"

4 Was the hope drunk, &c.] The fame expreffion is found in King John:


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O, where hath our intelligence been drunk,

"Where hath it Лept?" MALONE.

Would't thou have that

Which thou esteem'ft the ornament of life,

And live a coward in thine own efteem;] In this there feems to be no reafoning. I fhould read:

Or live a coward in thine own efteem; Unless we choose rather:

Would'st thou leaye that. JOHNSON.

Do you wish to obtain the crown, and yet would you remain fuch a coward in your own eyes all your life, as to fuffer your paltry fears, which whisper, "I dare not," to controul your noble ambition, which cries out, "I would?" STEEVENS.

Like the poor cat i' the adage?] The adage alluded to is, The cat loves fish, but dares not wet her feet:

"Catus amat pifces, fed non vult tingere plantas."



Pr'ythee, peace:

I dare do all that may become a man ;
Who dares do more, is none."

What beaft was it then,
That made you break this enterprize to me?
When you durft do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be fo much more the man. Nor time, nor place,
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness


Does unmake
you. I have given fuck; and know
How tender 'tis, to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was fmiling in my face,9

7 Pr'ythee, peace: &c.] A paffage fimilar to this occurs in Meafure for Measure; A& II. fc. ii:

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be that you are,

"That is, a woman: if you're more, you're none." The old copy, inftead of do more, reads no more; but the prefent reading is undoubtedly right.

The correction (as Mr. Malone obferves) was made by Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS.

The fame fentiment occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's Rollo :

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My Rollo, tho' he dares as much as man,

"Is tender of his yet untainted valour;

"So noble, that he dares do nothing bafely." HENLEY.

8 Did then adhere,] Thus the old copy. Dr. Warburton would read-cohere, not improperly, but without neceffity. In The Merry Wives of Windfor, Mrs. Ford fays of Falstaff, that his words and actions" no more adhere and keep pace together, than" &c. Again, in The Winter's Tale :

"a fhepherd's daughter,

"And what to her adheres." STEEVENS.

So, in A Warning for fair Women, 1599:

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Neither time

"Nor place conforted to my mind." MALONE.

I would, while it was fmiling in my face,] Polyxo, in


Have pluck'd my nipple from his bonelefs gums, And dafh'd the brains out, had I fo fworn, as you Have done to this.



If we should fail,

We fail! *

the fifth Book of Statius's Thebais, has a fimilar fentiment of



"In gremio (licet amplexu lachrimisque moretur)

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Tranfadigam ferro." STEEVENS.

had I fo fworn,] The latter word is here ufed as a diffyllable. The editor of the fecond folio, from his ignorance of our author's phrafeology and metre, fuppofed the line defective, and reads had I but fo fworn; which has been fol lowed by all the fubfequent editors. MALONE.

My regulation of the metre renders it unneceffary to read Sworn as a diffyllable, a pronunciation, of which I believe there is no example. STEEVENS.

2 We fail! I am by no means fure that this punctuation is the true one." If we fail, we fail,"-is a colloquial phrase still in frequent use. Macbeth having cafually employed the former part of this fentence, his wife defignedly completes it. We fail, and thereby know the extent of our misfortune. Yet our fuccefs is certain, if you are refolute.

Lady Macbeth is unwilling to afford her husband time to state any reafons for his doubt, or to expatiate on the obvious confequences of mifcarriage in his undertaking. Such an interval for reflection to act in, might have proved unfavourable to her purposes. She therefore cuts him short with the remaining part of a common faying, to which his own words had offered an apt, though accidental introduction.

This reply, at once cool and determined, is fufficiently characteristic of the speaker :-according to the old punctuation, fhe is reprefented as rejecting with contempt, (of which the had already manifefted enough,) the very idea of failure. Accord ing to the mode of pointing now fuggefted, the admits a poffibility of miscarriage, but at the fame inftant fhows herself not afraid of the refult. Her anfwer, therefore, communicates no difcouragement to her husband.-We fail! is the hafty interruption of fcornful impatience. We fail.-is the calm deduction of a mind which, having weighed all circumstances, is pre


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