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Weep our sad bosoms empty.
as flap-eard is used as an epithet of contempt in The Taming of the Shrew, the old copy may be right. Malone.
Mr. Steevens's emendation will be further confirmed by a reference to one of our Law Reporters. In 23 Car. I, Ch. Justice Rolle said it had been determined that these words, « Where is that long-locked, sbag-haired, murdering rogue ? were actionable. Aleyn's Reports, p. 61. Reed.
4 Enter Malcolm and Macduff.) The part of Holinshed's Chronicle which relates to this play, is no more than an abridgment of John Bellenden's translation of Tbe Noble Clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, 1541. For the satisfaction of the reader, I have inserted the words of the first mentioned historian, from whom this scene is almost literally taken :
Though Malcolme was verie sorrowfull for the oppression of his countriemen the Scots, in manner as Makduffe had declared, yet doubting whether he was come as one that ment unfeinedlie as he spake, or else as sent from Makbeth to betraie him, he thought to have some further triall, and thereupon dissembling his mind at the first, he answered as followeth :
“ I am trulie verie sorie for the miserie chanced to my countrie of Scotland, but though I have never so great affection to relieve the same, yet by reason of certaine incurable vices, which reign in me, I am nothing meet thereto. First, such immoderate lust and voluptuous sensualitie (the abhominable fountain of all vices) followeth me, that if I were made king of Scots, I should seek to defloure your maids and matrones, in such wise that my intemperancie should be more importable unto you than the bloudie tyrannie of Makbeth now is. Here. unto Makduffe answered: This surelie is a very euil fault, for manie noble princes and kings have lost both lives and kingdomes for the same ; neverthelesse there are women enow in Scotland, and therefore follow my counsell. Make thy selte king, and I shall conveie the matter so wiselie, that thou shalt be satisfied at thy pleasure in such secret wise, that no man shall be aware thereof.
“ Then said Malcolme, I am also the most avaritious creature in the earth, so that if I were king, I should seeke so manie waies to get lands and goods, that I would slea the most part of all the nobles of Scotland by surmized accusations, to the end I might injoy their lands, goods and possessions; and therefore to shew you what mischiefe may insue on you through mine unsatiable covetousnes, I will rehearse unto you a fable. There was a fox having a sore place on him overset with a swarme of flies, that continuallie sucked out hir bloud: and when one that came by and saw this manner, demanded whether she would have the flies driven beside hir, she answered no; for if these fies that are alreadie full, and by reason thereof sucke not verie eagerlie, should be chased awaie, other that are emptie and Macd.
Let us rather
fellie and hungred, should light in their places, and sucke out the residue of my bloud farre more to my greevance than these, which now being satisfied doo not much annoie me. Therefore saith Malcolme, suffer me to remaine where I am, lest if I at. teine to the regiment of your realme, mine unquenchable avarice may proove such, that ye would thinke the displeasures which now grieve you, should seeme easie in respect of the unmeasurable outrage which might insue through my comming amongst you.
“ Makduffe to this made answer, how it was a far woorse fault than the other: for avárice is the root of all mischiefe, and for that crime the most part of our kings have been slaine, and brought to their finall end. Yet notwithstanding follow my counsell, and take upon thee the crowne. There is gold and riches inough in Scotland to satisfie thy greedie desire. Then said Malcolme again, I am furthermore inclined to dissimulation, telling of leasings, and all other kinds of deceit, so that I naturallie rejoise in nothing so much, as to betraie and deceive such as put anie trust or confidence in my woords. Then sith there is nothing that more becommeth a prince than constancie, veritie, truth, and justice, with the other laudable fellowship of those faire and noble virtues which are comprehended onelie in soothfastnesse, and that lieng utterlie overthroweth the same, you see how unable I am to governe anie province or region: and therefore sith you have remidies to cloke and hide all the rest of my other vicis, I praie you find shift to cloke this vice amongst the residue.
" Then said Makduffe: “ This is yet the woorst of all, and there I leave thee, and therefore saie; Oh ye unhappie and miserable Scotish men, which are thus scourged with so manie and sundrie calamities, ech one above other! Ye have one cur. sed and wicked tyrant that now reigneth over you, without anie right or title, oppressing you with his most bloudie crueltie. This other that hath the right to the crowne, is so replet with the inconstant behaviour and manifest vices of Englishmen, that he is nothing woorthie to injoy it: for by his owne confession he is not onlie avaritious and given to unsatiable lust, but so false a traitor withall, that no trust is to be had unto anie woord he speaketh. Adieu Scotland, for now I account my selfe a ba. nished man for ever, without comfort or consolation : and with these woords the brackish tears trickled downe his cheekes verie abundantlie.
“ At the last, when he was readie to depart, Malcolme tooke him by the sleeve, and said: Be of good comfort Makduffe, for I have none of these vices before remembered, but have jested with thee in this manner, onlie to prove thy mind: for divers times heretofore Makbeth sought by this manner of means to bring me into his hand,” &c.
Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 175. Steevens.
Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men, Bestride our down-fall'n birthdom:5 Each new morn,
New widows howl; new orphans cry; new sorrows & Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland, and yeli'd out
What I believe, I 'll wail; What know, believe; and, what I can redress, * As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
What you have spoke, it may be so, perchance.
$bestriile me, so
* Bestride our down-fall’n birthdom:] The old copy has downfall. Corrected by Dr. Johnson. lone
He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfall birthdom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text; but it is probable that Shakspeare
like good men, Bestriile our down-fall’n birthdomThe allusion is to a man from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without incumbrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or birthright, says he, lies on the ground; let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution. So, Falstaff says to Hal: “ If thou see me down in the battle, and
Birtb.iom for birthright is formed by the same analogy with masterdom in this play, signifying the privileges or rights of a
Perhaps it might be birth-dame for mother; let us stand over Blour mother that lies bleeding on the ground. Johnson. bi There is no need of change. In The Second Part of King Henry IV, Morton says:
he doth bestride a bleeding land.” Steevens. and yelld out Like syllable of dolour.) This presents a ridiculous image. But what is insinuated under it is noble; that the portents and atrodigies in the skies, of which mention is made before, showed lat heaven sympathised with Scotland. Warburton. The ridicule, I believe, is only visible to the commentator.
Steevens, to friend, 1 i. e. to befriend. Steevens.
He hath not touch'd you yet I am young; but some
Macd. I am not treacherous.
But Macbeth is.
3. You may deserve of bim througb me;] The old copy reads-discerne The emendation was made by Mr. Theobald, who supports it by Macduff's answer:
“I am not treacherous." Malone.
and wisdom -] That is, and 'tis wisdom. Heath. The sense of this passage is obvious, but the construction difficult, as there is no verb to which wisdom can refer. Some. thing is omitted, either through the negligence of the printer, or probably the inadvertence of the author. If we read
and think it wisdom. the sense will be supplied; but that would destroy the metre; and so indeed would the insertion of any word whatever.
M Mason. I suspect this line to have suffered by interpolation, as well as omission, and that it originally ran thus:
To offer &c.
“Now is it manhood, wisdom and defence.” Had the passage in question been first printed thus, would any reader have supposed the words “of him," were wanting to the sense ? In this play I have already noted several instances of manifest interpolation and omission. See notes on Act l, sc. iii, p. 25, n. 2, and Act III, sc. v, p. 133, n. 9. Stecvens. 1 A good and virtuous nature may recoil,
In an imperial charge ) A good mind may recede from good. ness in the execution of a royal commission. Johnson.
But 'crave your pardon:] The old copy, without attention to measure, reads:
But I shall crave your pardon. Steevens. 3 Though all things foul &c.] This is not very clear. The meaning, perhaps, is this:--My suspicions cannot injure you, if you be virtuous, by supposing that a traitor may put on your
Yet grace must still look so.
I have lost my hopes.
doubts. Why in that rawness4 left you wife, and child, (Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,) Without leave-taking?-I pray you, Let not my jealousies be your dishonours, But mine own safeties:
-You may be rightly just,
Bleed, bleed, poor country!
wrongs, Thy title is affeer'd!?-Fare thee well, lord:
virtuous appearance. I do not say that your virtuous appearance proves you a traitor; for virtue must wear its proper form, though that form be counterfeited by villainy. Fobnson.
An expression of a similar nature occurs in Measure for Measure:
Good alone “Is gooc!; without a name vileness is so.” M. Mison. 4 Wby in that rawness -] Without previous provision, without due preparation, without maturity of counsel.
Fobnson. I meet with this expression in Lyly's Euphues, 1580, and in the quarto, 1608, of King Henry V:
“ Some their wives rawly left.” Steevens. 5 For goodness dares not check thee!!] The old copy readsdare corrected in the third folio. Malone.
- wear thou thy wrongs,] That is, Poor country, wear thou tby wrongs. Fohnson. 7 Thy title is affeerd!] Affeerd, a law term for confirm’d.
Pope. What Mr. Pope says of the law term is undoubtedly true; but is there absolute reason why we should have recourse to it for the explanation of this passage? Macduff first apostrophises his country, and afterwards, pointing to Malcolm, may say, that his title was afeard, i. e. frighted from exerting itself. Throughout the ancient editions of Shakspeare, the word afraid is frequently written as it was formerly pronounced, afear'd. The old copy reads The title &c. i. e. the regal title is afraid to assert itself.