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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 creatures 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 Middleton 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 relations. 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, excite 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.



MOTHER SAWYER, (before she turns Witch) alone. Saw. And why on me? why should the envious world Throw all their scandalous malice


me ?
'Cause I am poor, deform’d, and ignorant,
And like a bow buckled and bent together
By some more strong in mischiefs than myself;
Must I for that be made a common sink
For all the filth and rubbish of men's tongues
To fall and run into? Some call me Witch,
And being ignorant, of myself, they go
About to teach me how to be one : urging
That my bad tongue (by their bad usage made so)
Forespeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn,
Themselves, their servants, and their babes at nurse :
This they enforce upon me ; and in part
Make me to credit it.59

Banks, a Farmer, enters.
Banks. Out, out upon thee, Witch.
Saw. Dost call me Witch:

Banks. I do, Witch, I do:
And worse I would, knew I a name more hateful.
What makest thou upon my ground?

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

59. This Soliloquy anticipates all that Addison has said in the conclusion of the 117th Spectator.


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's 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


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

Black Dog.

MOTHER SAWYER. Familiar. Sar. I am dried

up With cursing and with madness; and have yet No blood to moisten these sweet lips of thine.


Stand on thy hind-legs up. Kiss me, my Tommy;
And rub away some wrinkles on my brow,
By making my old ribs to shrug for joy
Of thy fine tricks. What hast thou done? Let's tickle.
Hast thou struck the horse lame as I bid thee?

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.
Saw. Let 'm eat cheese and choak.

Famil. I had rare sport
Among the clowns in the morrice.

Saw. I could dance
Out of my skin to hear thee. But, my curl-pate,
That jade, that foul-tongued -- Nan Ratcliff,
Who, for a little soap lick'd by my sow,
Struck, and had almost lamed it: did not I charge thee
To pinch that quean to the heart?

Her Familiar absents himself: she invokes him. Saw.

Not see me in three days? I'm lost without


Tomalin ; prithee come ;
Revenge to me is sweeter far than life :
Thou art my raven, on whose coal-black wings
Revenge comes flying to me: Oh, my best love,
I am on fire (even in the midst of ice)
Raking my blood up, till my shrunk knees feel
Thy curld head leaning on them.

Come then, my
If in the air thou hover'st, fall upon me
In some dark cloud ; and, as I oft have seen
Dragons and serpents in the elements,
Appear thou now so to me.

Art thou i'the sea ?
Muster up all the monsters from the deep,
And be the ugliest of them : so that my bulch
Shew but his swarth cheek to me, let earth cleave,
And break from hell, I care not: could I run

Not yet

Like a swift powder-mine beneath the world,
Up would I blow it, all to find out thee,
Though I lay ruin'd in it.

corne ? I must then fall to my old prayer: sanctibiceter nomen tuum.

He comes in White. Saw. Why dost thou thus appear to me in white, As if thou wert the ghost of my dear love? Fumil. I am dogged, list not to tell thee, yet to torment

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
naked, the witch must be beaten out of her

Saw. Why to mine eyes art thou a flag of truce?
I am at peace with none; 'tis the black color,
Or none, which I fight under: I do not like
Thy puritan-paleness.

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,



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