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MACB. Hark!

Who lies i' the second chamber?

MACB. This is a sorry sight 5.


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As I descended?


[Looking on his hands. LADY M. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.

MACB. There's one did laugh in his sleep, and one cried, murder!

That they did wake each other; I stood and heard them :

But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
Again to sleep.

There are two lodg'd together. MACB. One cried, God bless us! and, Amen, the other;

As they had seen me, with these hangman's hands.

Listening their fear, I could not say, amen,

5 This is a sorry sight.] This expression might have been borrowed from Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. v. c. i. st. 14:

"To whom as they approched, they espide

"A sorie sight as ever seene with eye;

"A heedlesse ladie lying him beside,

"In her own bloud all wallow'd woefully." WHALLEY. 6 As they had seen me,] i. e. as if. So, in The Winter's Tale:

"As we are mock'd with art." STEEVENS.

7 LISTENING their fear.] i. e. Listening to their fear, the particle omitted. This is common in our author. Thus, in Julius Cæsar, Act IV. Sc. I. :


and now, Octavius, "Listen great things."

Contemporary writers took the same liberty. So, in The World Toss'd at Tennis, by Middleton and Rowley, 1620: "Listen the plaints of thy poor votaries." Again, in Lyly's Maid's Metamorphosis, 1600: "There, in rich seats, all wrought of ivory, "The Graces sit, listening the melody "Of warbling birds." STEEVENS.

When they did say, God bless us 8.


Consider it not so deeply. MACB. But wherefore could not I pronounce, amen ?

I had most need of blessing, and amen

Stuck in my throat.

LADY M. These deeds must not be thought After these ways; so, it will make us mad. MACB. Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep;
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,

8 When they DID SAY, God bless us.] The words-did say, which render this hemistich too long to unite with the next in forming a verse, persuade me that the passage originally ran thus: I could not say, amen,


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"When they, God bless us." i. e. when they could say God bless us. Could say, in the second line, was left to be understood; as before


and, Amen, the other: "

i. e. the other cried Amen. But the players, having no idea of the latter ellipsis, supplied the syllables that destroy the measure. STEEVENS. The measure would not be very correct even with this alteration. BOSWELL.



the ravell'd SLEAVE of care,] Sleave signifies the ravelled knotty part of the silk, which gives great trouble and embarrassment to the knitter or weaver.' HEATH.

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Drayton, a poet of Shakspeare's age, has likewise alluded to sleaved or ravelled silk, in his Quest of Cynthia :

"At length I on a fountain light, "Whose brim with pinks was platted, "The banks with daffadillies dight, "With grass, like sleave, was matted." Sleave is properly silk which has not been twisted. tioned in Holinshed's History of England, p. 835: "Eight wild men all apparelled in green moss made with sleved silk."

It is men

Again, in The Muses' Elizium, by Drayton :


-thrumb'd with grass

"As soft as sleave or sarcenet ever was."


Again, ibid. :

"That in the handling feels as soft as any sleave."


The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath', Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast ;

Sleave appears to have signified coarse, soft, unwrought silk. Seta grossolana, Ital. See also, Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: "Sfilazza. Any kind of ravelled stuffe, or sleave silk."-"Capitone, a kind of coarse silk, called sleave silke." Cotgrave, in his Dict. 1612, renders soye flosche, "sleave silk." See also, ibid. : "Cadarce, pour faire capiton. The tow, or coarsest part of silke, whereof sleave is made."-In Troilus and Cressida we have"Thou idle immaterial skein of sleave silk." MALONE.

Ravelled means entangled. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Thurio says to Proteus, speaking of Sylvia

"Therefore as you unwind her love from him,
"Lest it should ravel, and be good to none,

"You must provide to bottom it on me." M. MASON.

The DEATH of each day's life, sore labour's bath, &c.] In this encomium upon sleep, amongst the many appellations which are given it, significant of its beneficence and friendliness to life, we find one which conveys a different idea, and by no means agrees with the rest, which is-" The death of each day's life." I make no question but Shakspeare wrote

"The birth of each day's life."

The true characteristick of sleep, which repairs the decays of labour, and assists that returning vigour which supplies the next day's activity. WARBURTON.

"The death of each day's life," means the end of each day's labour, the conclusion of all that bustle and fatigue that each day's life brings with it.'

Thus also Chapman, in his version of the nineteenth Iliad :

"But none can live without the death of sleep." STEEVENS. "Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, "The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,

"Balm of hurt minds." Is it not probable that Shakspeare remembered the following verses in Sir Philip Sydney's Astrophel and Stella, a poem, from which he has quoted a line in The Merry Wives of Windsor?

"Come sleepe, O sleepe, the certain knot of peace,
"The bathing place of wits, the balm of woe,
"The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
"The indifferent judge between the high and low."

So also, in The Famous Historie of George Lord Fauconbridge, &c. bl. 1. "Yet sleep, the comforter of distressed minds, could not lock up her eyes." Again, in Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, b. viii. 1587:


What do you mean? MACB. Still it cried, Sleep. no more! to all the house:

Glamis hath murder'd sleep; and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more3 !

<< -At such a time as folkes are wont to find release
"Of cares that all the day before were working in their heds,
By sleep," &c.


Again, ibid. b. xi. :

"O sleepe, quoth she, the rest of things, O gentlest of the goddes,

"Sweet sleepe, the peace of mind, with whom crookt care is
aye at odds;
"Which cherishest men's weary limbs appall'd with toyling


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"And makest them as fresh to worke, and lustie as before." The late Mr. Gray had perhaps our author's "death of each day's life" in his thoughts, when he wrote

"The curfew tolls the knell of parting day." MALone. He might as probably have thought on the following passage in the first scene of The Second Part of King Henry IV.: a sullen bell


"Remember'd knolling a departed friend." STEEVens. 2 Chief nourisher in life's feast ;] So, in Chaucer's Squiere's Tale, v. 10,661; Mr. Tyrwhitt's edition:

"The norice of digestion, the slepe." STEEVENS. 3 GLAMIS hath murder'd sleep; and therefore CAWDOR

Shall sleep no more, MACBETH shall sleep no more!] This triple menace, accommodated to the different titles of Macbeth, is too quaint to be received as the natural ebullition of a guilty mind. Introduce the adjuncts of a modern nobleman in the same manner, and the fault of the passage will become yet more conspicuous: as for instance

"Norfolk hath murder'd sleep; and therefore Surrey
"Shall sleep no more, Howard shall sleep no more!"

STEEVENS. 'Glamis hath murdered sleep; and therefore my lately-acquired dignity can afford no comfort to one who suffers the agony of remorse,-Cawdor shall sleep no more: Nothing can restore to me that peace of mind which I enjoyed in a comparatively humbler state; the once innocent and honourable Macbeth shall sleep no more.' If this be, as I trust it is, a fair exposition of this passage, there is no ground for Mr. Steevens's sarcastick pleasantry. BosWELL.

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LADY M. Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,

You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things:-Go, get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.-
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: Go, carry them; and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

MACB. I'll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on't again, I dare not.


Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers*: The sleeping, and the dead,

Are but as pictures: 'tis the eye of childhood,
That fears a painted devil3. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
For it must seem their guilt".

4 Give me the daggers.] So, in Soliman and Perseda : "What, durst thou not? give me the dagger then." Malone. 'tis the eye of childhood,


That fears a painted devil.] So, in Vittoria Corombona,


[Exit. Knocking within.

"Terrify babes, my lord, with painted devils." STEEVENS. 6 - gild the faces of the grooms withal,

For it must seem their GUILT.] Could Shakspeare mean to play upon the similitude of gild and guilt? JOHNSON.

This quibble too frequently occurs in the old plays. A few instances (for I could produce a dozen at least) may suffice:

"Cand. You have a silver beaker of my wife's ?


Flu. You say not true, 'tis gilt.

"Cand. Then you say true:·

"And being gilt, the guilt lies more on you."

Again, in Middleton's comedy of A Mad World my Masters, 1608:

"Though guilt condemns, 'tis gilt must make us glad." And, lastly, from Shakspeare himself, Henry IV. Part II. : England shall double gild his treble guilt."

Again, in King Henry V.:

"Have for the gilt of France, O guilt indeed!" STEEVENS.

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