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Hec. Come my sweet sisters, let the air strike our tune; Whilst we shew reverence to yon peeping moon.58
.. (The Witches dance, et ereunt.
58 Though some resemblance may be traced between the Charms in Macbeth, and the Incantations in this Play, which is supposed to have preceded it, this coincidence will not detract much from the originality of Shakspeare. His Witches are distinguished from the Witches of Middleton by essential differences. These are crea. tures to whom man or woman plotting some dire mischief night resort for occasional consultation. Those originate deeds of blood, and begin bad impulses to men. From the moment that their eyes first meet with Macbeth's, he is spell-bound. That meeting sways his destiny. He can never break the fascination. These Witches can hurt the body; those have power over the soul. -- Hecate in Mid. dleton has a Son, a low buffoon: the bags of Shakspeare have neither child of their own, nor seem to be descended from any parent. They are foul Anomalies, of whom we know not whence they are sprung, nor whether they have beginning or ending. As they are without human passions, so they seem to be without human relati. ons. They come with thunder and lightning, and vanish to airy music. This is all we know of them. - Except Hecate, they have no names; which heightens their mysteriousness. The names, and some of the properties, which Middleton has given to his Hags, ex. cite smiles. The Weird Sisters are serious things. Their presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But, in a lesser degree, the Witches of Middleton are fine creations. Their power too is, in some measure, over the mind. They raise jars, jealousies, strifes, like a thick scurf o'er life.
THE WITCH OF EDMONTON. A TRAGI-COMEDY. BY WILLIAM ROWLEY, THOMAS DECKER,
JOHN FORD, &c.
Mother Sawyer, (before she turns Witch) alone.
Banks, a Farmer, enters.
Banks. I do, Witch, I do:
Suw. Gather a few rotten sticks to warm me.
Banks. Down with them when I bid thee, quickly; I'll make thy bones rattle in thy skin else. Saw. You wont ? churl, cut-throat, miser : there they
be. Would they stuck cross thy throat, thy bowels, thy maw, thy midriff
39 This Soliloquy anticipates all that Addison has said in the conclusion of the 117th Spectator. ,
Banks. Banks. Say'st thou me so ? Hag, out of my ground. Saw. Dost strike me, slave, curmudgeon ? Now thy
bones aches, thy joints cramps, And convulsions stretch and crack thy sinews. Banks. Cursing, thou hag? take that, and that.
[Exit. Saw. Strike, do : and wither'd may that hand and arm Whose blows have lam'd me, drop from the rotten trunk. Abuse me! beat me! call me hag and witch! What is the name, where, and by what art learn'd? What spells, what charms, or invocations, May the thing call'd Familiar be purchased ?
I am shunn'd And hated like a sickness : made a scorn To all degrees and sexes. I have heard old beldams Talk of Familiars in the shape of mice, Rats, ferrets, weasels, and I wot not what, That have appear'd; and suck’d, some say, their blood. But by what means they came acquainted with them, I'm now ignorant. Would some power good or bad Instruct me which way I might be reveng'd Upon this churl, I'd go out of myself, And give this fury leave to dwell within ' This ruin'd cottage, ready to fall with age : Abjure all goodness, be at hate with prayer, And study curses, imprecations, Blasphemous speeches, oaths, detested oaths, Or any thing that's ill; so I might work Revenge upon this miser, this black cur, That barks, and bites, and sucks the very blood Of me, and of my credit. Tis all one To be a witch as to be counted one. She gets a Familiar which serves her in the likeness of a
MOTHER SAWYER. Familiar.
Stand on thy hind-legs up. Kiss me, my Tommy;
Famil. Yes, and nipt the sucking-child.
Saw. Ho, ho, my dainty, My little pearl. No lady loves her hound, Monkey, or parakeet, as I do thee. Famil. The maid has been churning butter nine hours,
but it shall not come.
Famil. I had rare sport
Saw. I could dance
Her Familiar absents himself: she invokes him. Saw.
Not see me in three days?
Like a swift powder-mine beneath the world,
He comes in White.
thee, My whiteness puts thee in mind of thy winding sheet.
Saw. Am I near death?
Famil. Be blasted with the news, Whiteness is day's footboy, a fore-runner to light, which
shews thy old riveld face : villainies are stript
60 Mother Sawyer differs from the hags of Middleton or Shakspeare. She is the plain traditional old woman Witch of our ancestors; poor, deformed, and ignorant ; the terror of villages, herself amenable to a justice. That should be a hardy sheriff, with the power of the county at his heels, that would lay hands on the Weird Sisters. They are of another jurisdiction, But upon the common and received opinion the author (or authors) have engrafted strong fancy. There is something frightfully earnest in her invocations to the Familiar,