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And the late dignities heap'd up to them,
We rest your hermits.” -

Dun. Where’s the thane of Cawdor?
We cours'd him at the heels, and had a purpose
To be his purveyor: but he rides well;
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him
To his home before us: Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night. -

Lady M. Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt,
To make their audit at your highness' pleasure. |
Still to return your own.

Dun. Give me your hand : Conduct me to mine host ; we love him highly, And shall continue our graces towards him. . By your leave, hostess. - [Exeunt. r


The same. A Room in the Castle. Hautboys and torches. Enter and pass over the stage, a Sewer,” and divers Servants with dishes and service. Then enter MACBETH.

JMacb. If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly :* If the assassination

* [3] That is, we as hermits shall always pray for you. STEEVENS.

[4] A server was an officer so called from his placing the dishes upon the table. Asseour, French; from asseior, to place. Another part of the sener's office was to bring water for the guests to wash their hands with. It may be worth while to ob

serve, for the sake of preserving an ancient word, that the dishes served in by servers were called senses. STEEVENS.

[5] Of this soliloquy the meaning is not very clear; I have never found the readers of Shakespeare agreeing about it. I understand it thus:

“If that which I am about to do, when it is once done and executed, were done and ended without any following effects, it would then be best to do it quickly; if the murder could terminate in itself, and restrain the regular course of consequences. if its success could secure its surcease, if, being once done successfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and inquiry, so that this blon might be all that I have to do, and this anxiety all that I have to suffer; if this could be my condition, even here in this norld, in this contracted period of temporal existence, on this narrow bank in the ocean of eternity, I would jump the life to come, I would venture upon the deed without care of any future state. But this is one of those cases in which judgment is pronounced and vengeance inflicted upon us here in our present life. We teach others to do as we have done, and are punished by our own . example.” JOHNSON.

We are told by Dryden, that “Ben Jonson, in reading some Bombast speeches in Macbeth, which are not to be understood, used to say that it was horrour.”Perhaps the present passage was one of those thus depreciated. Any person but this envious detractor would have dwelt with pleasure on the transcendent beauties of this sublime tragedy, which, after Othello, is perhaps our author's greatest work ; and would have been more apt to have been thrown into “strong shudders” and blood-freezing “agues,” by its interesting and high wrought

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Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success ;” that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,'—
We’d jump the life to come.—But, in these cases,
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague th’ inventor: This even-handed justice
commends th’ ingredients of our poison’d chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek,” hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off:
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd
Upon the sightless couriers of the air.”
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.'—I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'er-leaps itself,
And falls on the other.—How now, what news 2

Enter Lady MACBETH.”

Lady M. He has almost supp'd; Why have you left the chamber 2

scenes, than to have been offended by any imaginary hardness of its language; for such it appears from the context, is what he meant by horrour.

MALONE. 6] Surcease is cessation, stop. STEEVENS. - " {} By the shoal of time, our author means the shallow ford of life, between us and the abyss of eternity. STEEVENS. 8] Faculties, for office, exercise of power, &c. WARBURTON. § Courier is only runner. Couriers of air are winds, air in motion. Sightless is invisible, JOHNSON. The thought of the cherubin (as has been somewhere observed) seems to have been borrowed from the eighteenth Psalm : “He rode upon the cherubim, and did fly, he came flying upon the wings of the wind.” Again, in Job, ch. xxx, v. 22: •Thou causest me to ride upon the wind.” MALONE. 1] Alluding to the remission of the wind in a shower. JOHNSON. {} The arguments by which lady Macbeth persuades her husband to commit the murder, afford a proof of Shakespeare's knowiedge of human nature. She urges the excellence and dignity of courage, a glittering idea which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and inimated sometimes the house-breaker, and some times the conqueror; but this sophism Macbeth has forever destroyed, by distinguishing true from false fortitude, in a line and a half; of which it may almost be said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though all his other productions had been lost : - I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none. This topic, which has been always employed with too much success, is used in this scene, with peculiar propriety, to a soldier by a woman. Courage is the distinguishing virtue of a soldier; and the reproach of cowardice cannot be borne by any man from a woman without great impatience. She then urges the oaths by which he had bound himself to murder Duncan, Another art of sophistry by which men have sometimes deluded their conSciences, and persuaded themselves that what would be criminal in others is virtuous in them : this argument, Shakespeare, whose plan obliged him to make Macbeth yield, has not confuted, though he might easily have shown that a former obligation could not be vacated by a latter; that obligations, laid on us by a higher power, could not be overruled by obligations which we lay upon ourselves. JOHNSON. [4] The adage alluded to is, The cat loves fish, but dares not vet her feet:

JMacb. Hath he ask'd for me? Lady M. Know you not, he has 7 JMacb. We will proceed no further in this business: He hath honour'd me of late ; and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon. Lady M. Was the hope drunk, Wherein you drest yourself? hath it slept since And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely 7 From this time, Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valour, As thou art in desire 2 Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem; Letting I dare not wait upon I would, Like the poor cat i' th' adage 7" JMacb. Prythee, peace : I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more, is none. Lady M. What beast was’t then, That made you break this enterprize to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man. Nor time, nor place, Did then adhere, and yet you would make both : They have made themselves, and that their fitness now Does unmake you. I have given suck; and know

Catus amat pisces, sed non vult tingere plantas, JOHNSON.

How tender ’tis, to love the babe that milks me
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn, as you
Have done to this.

.Macb. If we should fail,—

Lady M. We fail!
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
(Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him,) his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassel” so convince,"
That memory, the warder" of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt" of reason
A limbeck only ” When in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie, as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
Th’ unguarded Duncan what not put upon
His spongy officers; who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell ?”

JMacb. Bring forth men-children only
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv'd,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber, and us’d their very daggers,
That they have done’t 2 – -

Lady M. Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death 7 -

JMacb. I am settled, and bend up”

[5]. Selden conjectures this to have been a usual ceremony among the Saxons before Hengist, as a note of health-noishing, supposing the expression to be corrupted from nish-heit. Wassel or Wassail is a word still in use in the midland counties, and signifies at present what is called Lambs'-Wool, i.e. roasted apples in strong beer, with sugar and spice. JOHNSON. 6] To convince is, in Shakespeare, to overpower or subdue. JOHNSON. 7] A narder is a guard, a sentinel. STEEVENS. 8] i. e. the receptacle. MALONE. 9] That is, shall be only a vessel, to emit fumes or vapours. JOHNSON. l] Quell is murder, manquellers being, in the old language the terin for which murderers is now used. JOHNSON. The word is used in Wicliff's translation of the New Testament, “ and Herod sent forth manquellers,” &c. STEEVENS. [2] A metaphor from the bow. Till this instant, the mind of Macbeth has been in a state of uncertainty and fluctuation. He has hitherto proved neither resolutely good, nor obstinately wicked. Though a bloody idea had arisen in his mind, after he had heard the prophecy in his favour, yet he contentedly , reaves the completion of his hopes to chance. At the conclusion, however, of his interview with Duncan, be inclines to hasten the decree of fate, and quits


Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.

Away, and mock the time with fairest show :

False face must hide what the false heart doth know. [Exeunt.


SCENE I.—The same. Court within the Castle. Enter
Banquo and FLEANCE, and a Servant, with a torch before
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 in
Their candles are all out.—Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep : Merciful powers :
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts, that nature
Gives way to in repose !"—Give me my sword;—
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch.
Who's there 2
.Macb. A friend.
Ban. What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's a-bed :
He hath been in unusual pleasure, and

the stage with an apparent resolution to murder his sovereign. But no sooner is the king under his roof, than, reflecting on the peculiarities of his own relative situation, he determines not to offend against the laws of hospitality or the ties of subjection, kindred, and gratitude. His wife then assails bis constanc afresh. He yields to her suggestions, and with his integrity his happiness destroyed. I have enumerated these particulars, because the waverings of Macbeth have, by some critics been regarded as unnatural and contradictory circumstances in his character; not remembering that memo repente suit turpis simus, or that (as Angelo observes,) “—when once our grace we have forgot, “Nothing goes right: we would, and we would not”—

a passage which contains no unapt justification of the changes that happen in the conduct of Macbeth. STEEVENS.

3] Husbandry here means thrift, frugality. , MALONE.

4] 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 Shakespeare 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 flagitions, that may assist him to complete his purpose. The one is unwilling te sleep, lest the same phantoms should assail his resolution again, while the other is depriving himself of rest through impatience to commit the murder. STEEY

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