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Hec. Have I not reason, beldams, as you are, Saucy, and overbold? How did you dare
And adds further: * ut scias etiam tum quasilam ab iis hoc titulo honoratas. In consequence of this information, Ben Jonson, in his Masquie of Queens, has introduced a character which he calls a Dame, who presides at the meeting of the Witches:
Sisters, stay; we want our dame." The dame accordingly enters, invested with marks of supe. riority, and the rest pay an implicit obedience to her commands.
Again, in A true Examination and Confession of Elizabeth Stile, alias Rockyrigham, &c. 1579, bl. 1. 12mo: “ Further she saieth, that Mother Seidre, dweiling in the almes house, was the maisires witche of all the reste, and she is now deade."
Shakspeare is therefore blameable only for calling his presiding character Hecate, as it ight have been brouilt on with propriety under any other title whatever. Steevens.
The Gythic and Pagan fictions were now frequently blended and incorporated. The Lady of the Lake Hoated in the suite of Neptune before queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth ; Ariel assumes the semblance of a sea-nymph, and Hecate, by an easy association, conducts the rites of the weird sisters in Macbeth.
T. Warton. Shakspeare seems to have been unjustly censured for introducing Hecate among the modern witches. Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, B. III, c. ii, and c. xvi, and B. XII, c. ii, mentions it as the common opinion of all writers, that witches were supposed to have nightly “ meetings with Herodias, and the Pagan gods” and “ that in the night-times they ride abroad with Diuna, the goddess of th. Pagans," &c.—Their dame or chief leader seems always to bave been an old Pagan, as “ the Ladie Sibylla, Minerva, or Diana ” Tollet.
In Jonson's Sad Shepherd, Act II, sc. iii, Maudlin, the witch, (who is the speaker) calls Hecate the mistress of witches, “our Dame Hecate;" which has escaped the notice of Mr. Steevens and Mr. Toilet, in their remarks on Shakspeare's being censured for introducing Hecate among the vulgar witches. Todd.
4 Why, bow now, Hecate?] Marlowe, though a scholar, has likewise used the word Hecate, as a dissyllable:
" Plutoe's blew fire, and Hecat's tree,
Dr. Faustus. Malone. Mr. Todd, among his ingenious notes on Comus, has pointed out the same illegitimate pronunciation in The Sad Shepberd of Ben Jonson, Act II, sc. iii :
that very night “We earth'd her in the shades, when our dame Hegdt "Made it her gaing night over the kirk-yard.”
To trade and traffick with Macbeth
Milton, in his Comus, has likewise taken the same liberty
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Us,” &c. Steevens.
“ The mysteries of Hecate and the night.” Reed.
for a wayward son,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.] Inequality of mea. sure, (the first of these lines being a foot longer than the se. cond) together with the unnecessary and weak comparison-as otbers do, incline me to regard the passage before us as both maimed and interpolated. Perhaps it originally ran thus :
- for a wayward son,
Loves for bis own ends, not for you. But the repetition of the article a being casually omitted by some transcriber for the theatre, the verse became too short, and a fresh conclusion to it was supplied by the amanuensis, who overlooked the legitimate rhyme who, when lie copied the play for publication.
If it be necessary to exemplify the particular phraseology in. troduceıl by way of amendment, the following line in Chaucer,
“ A frere there was, a wanton and a mery;" and a passage in The Witch, by Middleton, will sufficiently answer that purpose:
“ What death is 't you desire for Almachildes?
" A sudden, and a subtle.” In this instance, the repeated article a is also placed before two adjectives referring to a substantive in the preceding line. See also The Paston Letters, Vol. IV, p. 155: “Pray God send us a good world and a peaceable.” Again, in our author's King Henry IV: “A good portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent."
Again, in an ancient MS. entitled The Boke of Huntyng, that is cleped Mayster of Game : “ It (the Boar) is a prowde beest, a feers, and a perilous.”' Steevens.
But make amends now: Get you gone,
the pit of Acheron - ) Shakspeare seems to have thought it allowable to bestow the name of Acheron on any fountain, lake, or pit, through which there was vulgarly supposed to be a communication between this and the infernal world. The true original Acheron was a river in Greece; and yet Virgil gives this name to his lake in the valley of Amsanctus in Italy. Steevens.
7 Unto a dismal-fatal end.] The old copy violates the metre by needless addition :
Unto a dismal and a fatal end. I read dismal-fatal. Shakspeare, as Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, in a note on King Richard III, is fond of these compound epithets, in which the first adjective is to be considered as an adverb. So, in that play, we meet with childisb-foolish, senseless-obstinate, and mortal-staring. And, in King Jobn, we have stubborn-bard. Steevens.
: Upon the corner of the moon &c.] Shakspeare's mythological knowledge, on this occasion, appears to have deserted him; for as Hecate is only one of three names belonging to the same goddess, she could not properly be employed in one cha. recter to catch a drop that fell from her in another. In A Mid. summer Night's Dream, however, our poet was sufficiently aware of her three-fold capacity:
fairies, that do run
vaporous drop profound;] That is, a drop that has profound, deep, or bidden qualities. Johnson.
This vaporous drop seems to have been meant for the same as the virus lunare of the ancients, being a foam which the moon was supposed to shed on particular herbs, or other objects, wlien strongly solicited by enchantment. Lucan introduces Erictho using it. L. VI:
et virus large lunare ministrat.” Steevens.
And that, distill'd by magick slights,
Song. [within] Come away, come away,a &c.
Fores. A Room in the Palace,
Enter LENOX, and another Lord.
slights,] Arts; subtle practices. Fobnson. 2 Come away, come away, &c.] This entire song I found in a MS. dramatic piece, entitled “ A Tragi-Coomodie called THE WITCH; long since acted &c. written by Thomas Middleton. The Hecate of Shakspeare has said
“ I am for the air,” &c. The Hecate of Middleton (who, like the former, is summoned away by aerial spirits) has the same declaration in almost the same words
“I am for aloft” &c. Song) “ Come away, come away:
in the aire. “ Heccat, Heccat, come away,” &c.
Steevens. : Enter Lenox, and another Lord.] As this tragedy, like the rest of Shakspeare's, is perhaps overstocked with personages, it is not easy to assign a reason why a nameless character should be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not with
qual propriety have been put into the mouth of any other disaffected man. I believe, therefore, that in the original copy it was written with a very common form of contraction, Lenox and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, set down, Lenox and another Lord. The author had, indeed, been more indebted to the transcriber's fidelity and diligence, had he committed no errors of greater importance. Fobnson.
Which can interpret further: only, I say,
presence at the tyrant's feast, I hear,
The son of Duncan,
gone to pray the holy king, on his aid?
4 Wbo cannot want the thought,] The sense requires :
Who can want the thought, Yet, I believe, the text is not corrupt. Shakspeare is somegimes incorrect in these minutiæ, Malone. monstrous - ] This word is here used as a trisyllable.
Malone. So, in Chapman's version of the 9th book of Homer's Od; ssey:
“ A man in shape, immane and monsterous. Stecoens. • The son of Duncan,] The old copy--sons. Malone. Theobald corrected it. Fobnson
on bis aid-] Old copy-upon. Steevena.