« PreviousContinue »
To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd,
There's no art
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, Ross, and ANGUS.
0, worthiest cousin !
MACB. The service and the loyalty I owe,
There if I grow,
My plenteous joys,
* As 't were a careless trifle.] “The behaviour of the thane of Cawdor corresponds in almost every circumstance with that of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, as related by Stowe, p. 793. His asking the Queen's forgiveness, his confession, repentance, and concern about behaving with propriety on the scaffold, are minutely described by that historian. Such an allusion could not fail of having the desired effect on an audience, many of whom were eye-witnesses to the severity of that justice which deprived the age of one of its greatest ornaments, and Southampton, Shakespeare's patron, of his dearest friend.”-STEEVENS.
b That swiftest wing of recompense is slow, &c.—] The substitution of wind for “ wing" in this line, which Mr. Collier credits his " annotator” with, was first proposed by Pope.
Would thou hadst less deserv'd;
Might have been mine!) For “mine,” which no one can for a moment doubt to be a corruption, we would suggest that the poet wrote mean, i.e.equivalent, just, and the like; the sense then being, – That the proportion both of thanks and payment might have been equal to your deserts.
Not, unaccompanied, invest him only,
MACB. The rest is labour, which is not us'd for you:
My worthy Cawdor!
Let’s after him, Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome: It is a peerless kinsman
SCENE V.-Inverness. A Room in Macbeth's Castle.
Enter LADY MACBETH, reading a letter. LADY M. They met me in the day of success;a and I have learned by the perfectest report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge. Ti'hen I burned in desire to question them further, they made themselves air, into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came missives b from the king, who all-hailed me, Thane of Cawdor; by which title, before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred me to the coming on of time, with Hail, king that shalt be! This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell. Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promis'd :—yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’the milk of human kindness, To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great ; Art not without ambition ; but without The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldst wrongly win : thou 'dst have, great Glamis, That which cries, Thus thou must do, if thou have it;
in the day of success ;] In this place, as in Scene 3 of the present Act,
“The king hath happily receiv'd, Macbeth,
The news of thy success; Shakespeare employs success in the sense it bears at this day; but its ordinary significa tion, when unaccompanied by an adjective of quality, was, as we have before sai: erent, issue, &c.
- missives-] Messengers.
And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
Enter an Attendant.
What is your tidings!
Thou 'rt mad to say it!
ATTEND. So please you, it is true :-our thane is coming:
message. LADY M.
Give him tending, He brings great news.
my battlements. Come, you spirits
purpose, nor keep peace between
Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor! Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter !
- metaphysical aid-] Supernatural aid.
the raven himself is hoarse, &c.]." The messenger, says the servant, had hardly breath to make up his message; to which the lady answers mentally, that he may well want breath, such a message would add hoarseness to the raven. That even the bird, whose harsh voice is accustoined to predict calamities, could not croak the entrance of Duncan, but in a note of unwonted harshness."-Johnson.
ç Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, &c.] Mr. Collier's annotator substitutes blankness for the familiar “blanket” of the text; and Mr. Collier is infatuated enough to applaud this miserable perversion of the poet's language. If * blanket” is a word too coarse for the delicacy of these commentators, what say they to the following from Act III. Sc. 1, of Middleton's "Blurt Master Constable"
“Blest night, wrap Cynthia in a sable sheet."
Thy letters have transported me beyond
My dearest love,
And when goes hence ? 60
MACB. We will speak further.
Only look up clear;
SCENE VI.—The same. Before the Castle. Hautboys. Servants of MACBETH attending. Enter KING DUNCAN,
MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, Ross
ANGUS, and Attendants.
This guest of summer,
See, see! our honour'd hostess !
Enter LADY MACBETH.
(*) Old text, Barlet.
(+) Old text, must. - ignorant present,-) Even this fine expression has undergone mutation ; some editors actually printing,
“ignorant present time." !! b By his lov'd mansionry,–] Looking to the context,—“his pendent bed and procreant cradle,” should we not read, love-mansionry ?
How you shall bid God eyld us for your pains,
trouble. LADY M.
All our service
your hermits. KING.
Where's the thane of Cawdor? 20
Your servants ever
Give me your hand:
SCENE VII.-The same.
A Room in the Castle.
Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the stage, a Sewer, and
But in these cases,
* 01d text, Schoole ; corrected by Theobald.
and catch, With his surcease, success ;] The obscurity which critics lament in this famous passage is due to themselves. lf, instead of taking "success" in its modern sense of prosperity, they had understood it according to its usual acceptation in Shakespeare's day, as sequel, what follow's, &c., they must have perceived at once that to " catch, with his surcease, success," is no more than an enforcement of “ trammel up the consequence." The meaning obviously being, --If the assassination were an absolutely final act, and could shut up all consecution, “ – be the be-all and the end-all” even of this life only,—we would run the hazard of