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Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches.
1. WITCH. When fhall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2. WITCH. When the hurlyburly's done,3 When the battle's loft and won:4
hurlyburly's-] However mean this word may feem to modern ears, it came recommended to Shakspeare by the authority of Henry Peacham, who in the year 1577 published a book profeffing to treat of the ornaments of language. It is called the Garden of Eloquence, and has this paffage. "Onomatopeia, when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name imitating the fownd of that it fignifyeth, as hurliburly, for an uprore and tumultuous firre." HENDERSON.
So, in a tranflation of Herodian, 12mo. 1635, p. 26:
Again, p. 324:
there was a mighty hurlyburly in the campe," &e.
great hurliburlies being in all parts of the empire,"&c.
When the battle's loft and won:] i. e. the battle, in which Macbeth was then engaged. WARBURTON.
So alfo Speed, fpeaking of the battle of Towton: " only faragem, as it was conftantly averred, the battle and day was lot and won." Chronicle, 1611. MALONE.
3. WITCH. That will be ere fet of fun.5
1. WITCH. Where the place?
Upon the heath:
3. WITCH. There to meet with Macbeth."
ere fet of fun. The old copy unneceffarily and harshly ere the fet of fun. There to meet with Macbeth.] and, after him, other editors:
There I go to meet Macbeth.
The infertion, however, feems to be injudicious. To meet with Macbeth was the final drift of all the witches in going to the heath, and not the particular bufinefs or motive of any one of them in diftinction from the reft; as the interpolated words, I go, in the mouth of the third witch, would moft certainly imply.
Somewhat, however (as the verfe is evidently imperfed) muft have been left out by the tranfcriber or printer. Mr. Capell has therefore proposed to remedy this defect, by reading
There to meet with brave Macbeth.
But furely, to beings intent only on mifchief, a foldier's bravery in an honeft caufe, would have been no subject of encomium.
Mr. Malone (omitting all previous remarks, &c. on this paffage) affures us that There is here ufed as a diffyllable. I wish he had fupported his affertion by fome example. Thofe however, who can speak the line thus regulated, and fuppofe they are reciting a verfe, may profit by the direction they have received.
The pronoun "their, having two vowels together, may be fplit into two fyllables; but the adverb ic there can only be ufed as a monofyllable, unless pronounced as if it were written the-re," a licence in which even Chaucer has not indulged himself.
It was convenient for Shakspeare's introductory fcene, that his firft witch fhould appear uninftructed in her miffion. Had the not required information, the audience muft have remained ignorant of what it was neceflary for them to know. Her fpeeches therefore proceed in the form of interrogatories; but, all on a sudden, an anfwer is given to a queftion which had not been asked. Here feems to be a chafm which I fhall attempt to fupply by the introduction of a fingle pronoun, and by diftributing the hitherto mutilated line, among the three fpeakers:
Diftin&t replies have now been afforded to the three neceffary enquiries When-Where-and Whom the witches were to meet. Their conference receives no injury from my infertion and arrangement. On the contrary, the dialogue becomes more regular and confiftent, as each of the hags will now have spoken thrice, (a magical number) before they join in utterance of the concluding words which relate only to themselves. I should add, that, in the two prior inftances, it is alfo the fecond witch who furnishes decifive and material anfwers; and that I would give the words—“ I come, Graymalkin!" to the third. By affiftance from fuch of our author's plays as had been publifhed in quarto, we have often detected more important errors in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, fupplies the most ancient copy of Macbeth. STEEVENS.
7--Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1584. I find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a cattes body nine times. Mr. Upton obferves, that, to ún derftand this paffage, we fhould fuppofe one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad.
Again, in Newes from Scotland, &c. (a pamphlet of which the reader will find the entire title in a future note on this play) : "Moreover the confeffed, that at the time when his majeftie was in Denmarke, fhee beeing accompanied with the parties before specially mentioned, tooke a cat and christened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefeft parte of a dead man, and feveral joyntes of his bodie, and that in the night following the faid cat was convayed into the middeft of the fea by all thefe witches fayling in their riddles or cives as is aforefaid, and fo left the faid cat right before the towne of Leith in Scotland. This doone, there did arife fuch a tempeft in the fea, as a greater hath not bene feene," &c. STFEVENS.
8 Paddock calls &c.] This, with the two following lines, is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding edi tors have appropriated the firft of them to the fecond Witch. According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and fome other naturalifts, a frog is called a paddock in the North; as in the following inflance in Cæfar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607:
-Paddockes, todes, and waterfnakes.”
Fair is foul, and foul is fair: 9
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
In Shakspeare, however, it certainly means a toad. prefentation of St. James in the witches' houfe (one of the fet of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566) exhibits witches flying up and down the chimney on brooms; and before the fire fit grimalkin and paddock, i. e. a cat and a toad, with feveral baboons. There is a cauldron boiling, with a witch near it, cutting out the tongue of a snake, as an ingredient for the charm. prefentation fomewhat fimilar like wife occurs in Newes from Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted. STEEVENS.
-Some fay, they [witches] can keepe devils and fpirits, in the likenefs of todes and cats.' Scot's Difcovery of Witchcraft, [1584.] Book I. c. iv. TOLLET.
9 Fair is foul, and foul is fair:] i. c. we make these fudden changes of the weather. And Macbeth, speaking of this day, foon after fays:
So foul and fair a day I have not feen. WARBURTON.
The common idea of witches has always been, that they had abfolute power over the weather, and could raise ftorms of any kind, or allay them, as they pleated. In conformity to this notion, Macbeth addreffes them in the fourth a&t:
I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverfe and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foui is fair. JOHNSON.
This expreffion feems to have been proverbial. Spenfer has it in the 4th book of the Fatry Queen:
"Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in fight."
A camp near Fores.
Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM,
DONALBAIN, LENOX, with attendants, meeting a bleeding foldier.
DUN. What bloody man is that? He can report, As feemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
This is the fergeant,
This is the fergeant,] Holinfhed is the beft interpreter of Shakfpeare in his hiftorical plays; for he not only takes his fads from him, but often his very words and expreffions. That hiftorian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, that on the firft appearance of a mutinous spirit among the people, the king fent a Sergeant at arms into the country, to bring up the chief offenders to anfwer the charge preferred againft them; but they, inftead of obeying, mifufed the messenger with fundry reproaches, and finally few him. This fergeant at arms is certainly the origin of the bleeding Sergeant introduced on the present occafion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holinshed, but the reft of the ftory not fuiting his purpose, he does not adhere to it. The ftage-direction of entrance, where the bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the player editors, and not of the poet. STEEVENS.
3 Doubtfully it food;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to affift the metre, and reads-Doubtful long it food,—has thereby injured the fenfe. If the comparison was meant to coincide in all circumftances, the ftruggle could not be long. I read―
Doubtfully it food;