« PreviousContinue »
'Lady Macbeth.] Her name was Gruach, filia Bodhe. See Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland, II. 332. RITSON.
Androw of Wyntown, in his Cronykil, informs us that this sonage was the widow of Duncan; a circumstance with which Shakspeare must have been wholly unacquainted: "Dame Grwok, hys Emys wyf,
"Tuk, and led wyth hyr hys 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
"The 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 thereon. Steevens.
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,' When the battle's lost and won:2
hurlyburly'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 Garden of Eloquence, and has this passage: "Onomatopeia, when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name intimating the sownd of that it signifyeth, as hurliburly, for an uprore and tumultuous stirre." HENDERSON.
So, in a translation of Herodian, 12mo. 1635, p. 26:
"there was a mighty hurlyburly in the campe," &c. Again, p. 324:
great hurliburlies being in all parts of the empire," &c. REED.
• When the battle's lost and won :] i. e. the battle, in which Macbeth was then engaged. Warburton.
So, in King Richard III:
66 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.
3 WITCH. That will be ere set of sun.3
1 WITCH. Where the place?
Upon the heath :
3 WITCH. There to meet with Macbeth.*
ere set of sun.] The old copy unnecessarily and harshly reads
ere the set of sun.
• 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, I 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 encomium.
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 licence 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 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
1 WITCH. I come, Graymalkin!"
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 with1 Witch.
Distinct replies have now been afforded to the three necessary enquiries-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.
5 — Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1584, I find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a cattes 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 part 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 donne, there did arise such a tempest in the sea, as a greater hath not bene seene," &c. STEEVENS.
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.