Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

5

1

Be bright and jovial 'mong your guests to-night.
MACB. So shall I, lover; and so, I

pray,

be

you: Let your remembrance 4 apply to Banquo; Present him eminence, both with

eye
and

tongue:
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honours in these flattering streams;
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
Lady M.

You must leave this. MACB. O, full of scorpions is my mind, deat

wife! Thou know'ft, that Banquo, and his Fleance lives.

LADY M. Butin them nature's copy's not eterne.'

6

[ocr errors]

4

5

6

/

remembrance-] is here employed as a quadrisyllable. So, in Twelfth Night:

. And lasting in her sad remembrance." STEEVENS. Present him eminence, ) i. c. do him the highest honours.

WARBURTON. Unisafe the while, that we Muft lave our honours in these flattering streams; And make our faces vizards to our hearts, Disguising what they are. The sense of this paffage (though

] clouded by metaphor, aod perhaps by omission) appears to be as follows:-- It is a fure sign that our royalty is unsafe, when it must defcend to flattery, and stoop to dissimulation.

And yet I cannot help supposing (from the hemistich, unsafe the while that we) some words to be wanting which originally rendered the fentiment lefs obscure. Shakspeare might have written

Unsafe the. while it is for us, that we &c. By a different arrangement in the old copy, the present hemi. ftich, indeed, is avoided; but, in my opinion, to the disadvantage of the other lines. See former editions.

STEEVENS. nature's copy's not eterne. ] The copy, the lease, by which they hold their lives, from nature, has its time of terinination li. mited. JOHNSON.

Eterne for eternal is often used by Chaucer. So, in The Knight's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's 'edit, v. 1305 :

7

[ocr errors]

8

Macb
MACB. There's comfort yet, they are assailable;

,
Then be thou jocund: Ere the bat hath flown
His cloister'd flight; ere, to black Hecate's sum-

mons, The fhard-borne beetle, 9 with his drowsy hums,

fest

O cruel goddes, that governe
“ This world with binding of your word eterne,
" And writen in the table of atbamant

" You parlement and your eterne grant." STEVENS.
Dr. Johnson's interpretation is supported by a subsequent pase
| sage in this play:

and our high-plac'd Macbeth
" Sball live the lease of nature, pay his breath.

• To time and mortal custom."
Again, by our author's 13th Sonnet:

" So should that beauty which you hold in lease,

16 Find no determination." MALONE. I once thought that by “ Nature's copy" &c. our author meant (to use a Scriptural phrase) man, as formed after the Deity, though not, like him, immortal. So, in King Henry VIII:

how shall

man, The image of his maker, hope to thrive by't?". but, (as Mr. M. Malon observes,) in support of Dr. Johnson's explanation, we find that Macbeth in his next speech but one, alluding to the intended murder of Banquo and Fleance, says,

Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond

That keeps me pale.
Mr. M. Mason, however, adds, that " by nature's copy,"
Shakspeare might only mean— the human form divine. STEEVENS.

The allusion is to an estate for lives held by copy of court-roll. It is clear, from numberless allusions of the same kind, that Shakspeare had been an attorney's clerk. RITSON.

the bat hath flown His cloister'd fight; ] The bats wheeling round the dim cloisters of Queen's College Cambridge, have frequently impressed on me the fingular propriety of this original epithet. STEEVENS.

Bats are ofien seen fyiog round cloisiers, in the dusk of the evening, for a considerable length of time. MALONE.

9 The Thard-borne beetle, ) i. e. the beetle hatched in clefts of wood. So, iu Antony and Cleopatra : They are his shards, and he their beetle.".

WARBURTON.

1

8

Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done 50's.
A deed of dreadful note.

[ocr errors]

The jhard-borne beetle is the beetle borne along the air by its Jhards or fcaly wings. From a passage in Gower De Confefionc Amantis, it appears that shards Gignified scales:

" She ligh, ber thought, a dragon tho,

" Whose scherdes shynen as the foune." 1. 6. fol. 138. and hence the upper or outward wings of the beetle were called Jhards, they being of a scaly substance. To have an outward pair of wings of a scaly hardness, serving as integuments to a filmy pair beneath them, is the characteristick of the beetle kind. Ben Jonson, in his Sad Shepherd, says : *

" The scaly beetles with their kabergeons,

" That make a humming murmur as they fly." In Cymbeline, Shakspeare applies this epithet again to the beetle :

we find

" The Marded beetle in a safer hold

" Than is the full-wing'd eagle. " Here there is a manifest opposition intended between the wings and flight of the infect and the bird. The beetle, whose Shardedi wings can but juft raise him above the ground, is 'often in a ftate of greater security than the vaft-winged eagle that can foar to any height.

As Shakspeare is here describing the beetle in the ad of flying, (for he never makes his humming noise but when he flies, ) it is more natural to suppose the epithet should allude to the peculiarity of his wings, than to the circumstance of his origin, or' bis place of habitation, both of which are common to him with several other ereatures of the infe& kind.

The quotation from Antony and Cleopotra, seems to make against Dr. Warburton's explanation.

The meaning of Ænobarbus in that passage is evidently as follows: Lepidus, says he, is the beetle of the triumvirate, a dull, blind creature,

that would but crawl on the earth, if O&avius and Antony, his more a&tive colleagues in power, did not serve him for Shards or wings to raise him a little above the ground.

What idea is afforded, if we say that Odavius and Antony are two clefts in the old wood in which Lepidus was hatch'd?.

STEEVENS. The Mard-born beetle is the beetle born in dung. Aristotle and Pliny mention beetles that breed in dung. Poets as well as natural historians have made the same observation. See Drayton's Ideas, 31; "scorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies." So, Ben Jonson, Whalley's edit. Vol. I. p. 59:

1

LADY. M.

What's to be done?

[ocr errors]

66 But men of thy condition feed on floth,

- As doth the beetle on the dung lhe breeds in," Tbat Mard signifies dung, is well known in the North of Staffordshire, where coulhard is the word generally used for cow dung. So, in A petite Palace of Petrie his Pleasure, p. 165: “ The humble-bee taketh no scorn to loge on a cowe's foule shard." Again, in Bacon's Nat. Hift. exp. 775 : " Turf and peat, and cow sheards, are cheap fuels, and lait long.'

Sharded beetle in Cymbeline, means the beetle lodged in dung; and there the humble earthly abode of the beetle is opposed to the lofty eyry of the eagle in the cedar, whose top branch overpeer'd Jove's spreading tree," as the poet observes in the third part of K. Henry VI. A& V. sc. ii. TOLLET.

The shard-born beetle is perhaps the beetle born among shards, i. e. (not cow's dung, for that is only a fecondary or metonymical signification of the word, and not even so, generally, but) pieces of broken pots, tiles, and such-like things, which are frequently thrown together in corners as 'rubbish, and under which these beerles may usually breed, or ( what is the same ) may have been fupposed fo to do. Thus in Hamlet the priest says of Ophelia :

" Shards, flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on her." Would Mr. Tollet say that cows dung was to be thrown into the grave? It is true, however, that. Jharded beetle seems scarcely reconcilable 10 the above explanation. Mr. Steevens may be right; but Dr. Warburion aud Mr. Tollet are certainly wrong.

RITSON. The Mard.born beetle is the cock-chafer. Sir W. Davenant appears not to have understood this epithet, for he has given, inftead of it,

the Marp-brow'd beetle. Mr. Steevens's interpretation is, I think, the true one in the paslage before us. MALONE. Mr. Steevens's interpretation is no doubt the most suitable to the

The succeeding passages, however, make in favour of Mr. Tollet's explanation. In a Briefe Discourse of the Spanish state, 1590. p. 3. there is “ How that nation rising like the beetle from the cowhern huileth against al things." And in Dryden, The Hind and the Panther :

« Such souls as Mards produce, such beetle things,

" As only buzz to heaven with evening wings.! The Beetle and the Chafer are diflinct inseas. HOLT WHITE.

context.

[ocr errors]

2

3

MACB. Be innocent of the knowledge. 'dearest

chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, feeling night,
Skarf up the tender

суе

of pitiful day;
And, with thy bloody and invil ble hand,
Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great

bond
Which keeps me pale ! _ Light thickens; and the

5 crow

2

3

deareft chuck, ] I meet with this term of endearment (which is probably corrupted from chick or chicken) in many of our ancient writers. So, in Warner's Albion's' England, B. V. c. xxvii :

immortal she-egg chuck of Tyndarus his wise."
It occurs also in our author's Twelfth Night:

Liow doft thou chuck ?
Ay, biddy, come with me."

STEEVENS.
Come, feeling night, ] Seeling, i. e. blinding. It is a term
in falconry. WARBURTON.

So, in The Bonke 'of Hawkyng, Hunting, &c. bl. l. no date :
” And he must take wyih hym nedle and threde, to enfgle the
haukes that bene taken. And in thys maner they must be enfiled.
Take the nedel and thryde, and put it through the over eye lyd,
and soe of that other, and make them fast under the becke that she
se not," &c.

STEEVINS.
4 Cancel, and tear to pieces, that greai bond

Which keeps me pale!! This may be well explained by the fol.
lowing passage in K. Richard 111:

Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray."
Again, in Cymbeline, Aa V. sc. iy:

take this life,
" And cancel these cold bonds." STEEVENS.

Light thickens; and the crow &c. ] By the expression, light
thickens, Shakspeare means, the light grows dull or muddy. In this
sense he uses it in Antony and Cleopatra :

my luftre thickens
" When he shines by.”- EDWARDS's MSS.
It may be added, that in the second part of K. Henry IV. Prince
John of Lancaster tells Falftaff, that “ bis desert is too thick to ]line.''
Again, in. The Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, Ad 1. sc. ult:

" Fold your flocks up, for the air
" 'Gins to chicken, and the sun
! Already his great course hath run."— STEEVENS,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »