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Though palaces, and pyramids, do slope
Speak. 2 Witch.
Demand. 3 Witch,
We 'll answer. I Witch. Say, if thou ’d'st rather hear it from our
mouths, Or from our masters'? Macb.
Call them, let me see them. 1 Witch. Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten Her nine farrow ;grease, that 's sweaten From the murderer's gibbet, throw Into the flame. All.
Come, high, or low; Thyself, and office, deftly show.7
“ That I might pile up Charon's boat so full,
“ Until it topple o'er." Again, in Shirley's Gentleman of Venice:
may be, his haste hath toppled him “ Into the river.” Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 : “ The very principals did seem to rend, and all to top
ple.” Steevens. 5 Of nature's germins - ) This was substituted by Theobald for Nature's germaine. Johnson. So, King Lear, Act III, sc. ii :
all germins spill at once “ That make ungrateful man.” Germins are seeds which have begun to germinate or sprout. Germen, Lat. Germe, Fr. Germe is a word used by Brown, in his Vulgar Errors: " Whether it be not made out of the germe or treadle of the egg,” &c. Steevens.
sow's blood, that hath eaten Her nine farrow;] Shakspeare probably caught the idea of this offence against nature from the laws of Kenneth II, king of Scotland: " If a sowe eate bir pigges, let hyr be stoned to death and buried, that no man eate of hyr fleshe."-Holinshed's History of Scotland, edit. 1577, p. 181. Steevens.
deftly show.] i. e. with adroitness, dexterously. So, in the Second Part of King Edward IV, by Heywood, 1626:
my mistress speaks deftly and truly."
Thunder. An Apparition of an armed Head rises.8 Macb. Tell me, thou unknown power1 Witch.
He knows thy thought; Hear his speech, but say thou nought..
App. Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife. ' -- Dismiss me :-Enough.
[Descends. Macb. What-e'er thou art, for thy good caution,
thanks ; Thou hast harp'd my fear aright:-But one word
Again, in Warner's Albion's England: “Tho Roben Hood, lieli John, frier Tucke, and Marian
deftly play, Deft is a North Country word. So, in Richard Broome's Northern Lass, 1633:
He said I were a deft lass.” Steevens. 8 An Apparition of an armed Head rises.] The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff untimely ripped from his mother's womb. The child with a crown on bis head, and a bough in his hand, is the royal Malcolm, who ordered his soldiers to hew them down a bough, and bear it before them to Dunsinane. This observation i have adopted from Mr. Upton. Steevens.
Lord Howard, in his Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, mentions “ a notable example of a conjuror, who represented (as it were, in dumb show) all the persons who should possess the crown of France ; and caused the king of Navarre, or rather a wicked spirit in his stead, to appear in the fifth place," &c. Farmer.
- say tbou nought.] Silence was necessary during all incantations. So, in Doctor Faustus, 1604:
“ Your grace, demand no questions,
"But in dumb silence let them come and go." Again, in The Tempest :
be mute, or else our spell is marr’d.” Steevens. 1 Beware the tbane of Fife.-] “ He had learned of cer. tain wizzards, in whose words he put great confidence, how that he ought to take heede of Macduff,” &c. Holinshed.
Steevens. 2 Thou hast harp'd my fear aright:) To harp, is to touch on a passion as a harper touches a string. So, in Coriolanus, Aet II, se. ult:
'Harp on that still." Steevens,
1 Witch. He will not be commanded: Here's anothes, More potent than the first.
Thunder. An Apparition of a bloody Child rises.
Macbeth! Macbeth ! Macbeth!
Be bloody, bold,
[Descends. Macb. Then live, Macduff; What need I fear of
in his Hand, rises.
Listen, but speak not.?
3 Hd I three ears, &c.]. Does Macbeth mean to say—that if his sense of bearing were ibrice what it is, &c. ?-or-thåt if the number of his ears were equal to that of the spectre's invocations of bis name, &c.? Let the reader determine Steevens.
shall barm Macbeth.] So, Holinshed: “ And surely hereupon he had put Macduff to death, but that a certeine witch, whom he had in great trust, bad told him, that he should never be slaine with man borne of anie woman, nor vanished till the wood of Bernane came to the castell of Duosinane. This prophecie put all feare out of his heart."
Steevens. take a bond of fate:] In this scene the attorney has more than once degraded the poet; for presently we have " the lease of nature.” Steevens.
the round And top of sovereignty?] The round is that part of the crown that encircles the head. The top is the ornament that rises above it. Folnson.
7 Listen, but speak not.] The old copy, injuriously to measure, reads-
Listen, but speaé not to 't. Steevens.
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until
That will never be:
high Dunsinane hill —] The present quantity of Dun. sinane is right. In every subsequent instance the accent is misplaced. Thus, in Hervey's Life of King Robert Bruce, 1729, (a good authority):
“ The noble Weemyss, Moduff's immortal son,
“ When Canmore battled, and the villain* fell.” Ritson. This accent may be defended on the authority of A. of Wyn. town's Cronykil, B. VI, ch. xviii:
“ A gret hows for to mak of were
“ Tymbyr thare-til to drawe and stane, -."
the Thane wes thare
“To byde Makbeth; " Steevens.
Quhen the Bas and the Isle of May
1 Rebellious head, rise never,] The old copy has-rebellious dead. Malone.
We should read-Rebellious head,mi. e. let rebellion never make head against me till a forest move, and I shall reign in safety. Theobald.
Mr. Theobald rightly observes, that bead means bost, or power:
" That Douglas and the English rebels met;
King Henry IV, P.1,
Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac'd Macbeth
Seek to know no more.
[ Hautboys. 1 Witch. Show! 2 Witch. Show! 3 Witch. Show!
All. Show his eyes, and grieve his heart; Come like shadows, so depart. Eight Kings? ajificar, and pass over the stage in order;
the last, with a flass in his hand: BANQUO following,
Macb. Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down! Thy crown doss serr mine eye-balls :*—And thy hair,
Again, in King Henry VIII:
“My noble father, Henry of Buckingham,
Fobnson. This phrase is not peculiar to Shakspeare: So, in The Death of Robert Earl of Iluntingion, 1601:
- howling like a read of angry wolves." Again, in Look about you, 1600:
“ Is, like a head of people, mutinous.” Steevens.
wbat noise is this?] Norse, in our ancient poets, is often literally synonymous for musick. See a note on King Henry IV, P. II, Act II, sc.iv. Thus also Spenser, Fairy Queen, B. I, xii, 39:
“During which time there was a heavenly noise." See likewise the 47th Psalm: “God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump.” Steevens.
3 Eight kings - ) " It is reported that Voltaire often laughs at the tragedy of Macbeth, for having a legion of ghosts in it. One should imagine he either had not learned English, or bad forgot his Latin; for the spirits of Banquo's line are no more ghosts, than the representation of the Julian race in the Æneid; and there is no ghost b!!t Banquo's throughout the play.”Essay on the Genius and Writings of Sbakspeare, &c. by Mrs. Montagu. Steevens.
4 Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls : ] The expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears bis eye-balls, is taken from the