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SCENE 1.4 The same.
Court within the Castle.
Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, and a Servant with
a torch before them. Ban. How goes the night, boy? Fle. The moon is down; I have not heard the
clock. Ban. And she goes down at twelve. Fle.
I take't, 'tis later, sir. Ban. Hold, take my sword:- There's husbandry
4 Scene 1.] The place is not marked in the old edition, nor is it easy to say where this encounter can be. It is not in the hall, as the editors have all supposed it, for Banquo sees the sky; it is not far from the bedchamber, as the conversation shows: it must be in the inner court of the castle, which Banquo might properly cross in his way to bed. Johnson.
- There's husbandry in heaven,] Husbandry here means thrift, frugality.
Merciful powers! &c.] It is apparent from what Banquo says afterwards, that he had been solicited in a dream to attempt something in consequence of the prophecy of the Witches, that his waking senses were shocked at; and Shakspeare has here most exquisitely contrasted his character with that of Macbeth. Banquo is praying against being tempted to encourage thoughts of guilt even in his sleep; while Macbeth is hurrying into temptation, and revolving in his mind every scheme, however flagitious, that may assist him to complete his purpose. The one is unwilling to sleep, lest the same phantoms should assail his resolution again, while the other is depriving himself of rest through impatience to commit the murder.
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch. Who's there?
Macb. A friend.
I think not of them: Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve, Would spend it in some words upon that business, If you would grant the time. Ban.
At your kind'st leisure. Macb. If you shall cleave to my consent,—when
> Sent forth great largess to your offices:] Offices are the rooms appropriated to servants and culinary purposes. Duncan was pleased with his entertainment, and dispensed his bounty to those who had prepared it. All the modern editors have transferred this largess to the officers of Macbeth, who would more properly have been rewarded in the field, or at their return to court. STEEVENS.
shut up —] To shut up, is to conclude. 9 Being unprepard, &c.] This is obscurely expressed. The meaning seems to be :-Being unprepared, our entertainment was necessarily defective, and we only had it in our power to show the King our willingness to serve him. Had we received sufficient notice of his coming, our zeal should have been more clearly manifested by our acts.
If you shall cleave to my consent,--when’tis,] Consent for will. So that the sense of the line is, If you
So I lose none,
It shall make honour for you.
Good repose, the while !
[Exit BANQUO. Macb. Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is
ready, She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.
[Exit Servant. Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The handle toward my hand ? Come, let me clutch
thee:I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling, as to sight? or art thou but A dagger of the mind ; a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain ? I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw. Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going; And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses, Or else worth all the rest: I see thee still ; And on thy blade, and dudgeon, gouts of blood, Which was not so before.-- There's no such thing : It is the bloody business, which informs Thus to mine eyes.- Now o'er the one half world
measures when I have determined of them, or when the time comes that I want your assistance. WARBURTON.
Mr. Malone thinks we should read content, and strengthens his opinion by various quotations.
* And on thy blade, and dudgeon, gouts of blood,] Though dudgeon sometimes signifies a dagger, it more properly means the haft, or handle of a dagger, and is used for that particular sort of handle which has some ornament carved on the top of it.
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
pace, With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his
design Moves like a ghost.-- Thou sure and firm-set
earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear Thy very stones prate of my where-about, And take the present horror from the time, Which now suits with it."—Whiles I threat, he
lives; Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives."
[A bell rings.
Now o'er the one half world
Nature seems dead,] That is, over our hemisphere all action and motion seem to have ceased. This image, which is, perhaps, the most striking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden, in his Conquest of Mexico :
“ All things are hush'd as Nature's self lay dead,
“ Even lust and envy sleep!” These lines, though so well known, I have transcribed, that the contrast between them and this passage of Shakspeare may be more accurately observed.
Night is described by two great poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the disturbers of the world are laid asleep; in that of Shakspeare, nothing but sorcery, lust, and murder, is awake. He that reads Dryden, finds himself lulled with serenity, and disposed to solitude and contemplation. He that peruses Shakspeare, looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lover ; the other, of a murderer. Johnson, * And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it.] i. e. lest the noise from the stones
I go, and it is done ; the bell invites me.
Enter Lady MACBETH.
Lady M. That which hath made them drunk,
hath made me bold : What hath quench'd them, hath given me fire :
Hark --Peace! It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman, Which gives the stern’st good-night. He is about it: The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'd
their possets, That death and nature do contend about them, Whether they live, or die.
Macb. [Within.] Who's there :—what, ho!
Lady M. Alack! I am afraid they have awak’d, And 'tis not done the attempt, and not the deed, Confounds us :-Hark !-I laid their daggers ready, He could not miss them.-Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done't.—My husband?
take away from this midnight season that present horror which suits so well with what is going to be acted in it. What was the horror he means? Silence, than which nothing can be more horrid to the perpetrator of an atrocious design. This shows a great knowledge of human nature. WARBURTON. S. Whiles I threat he lives;
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.] Here is evidently a false concord; but it must not be corrected, for it is necessary to the rhyme. Nor is this the only place in which Shakspeare has sacrificed grammar to rhyme.