Изображения страниц


And pall thee 2 in the dunnest smoke of hell!
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes;
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,

"O sable night, sit on the eye of heaven,

"That it discern not this black deed of darkness!
"My guilty soul, burnt with lust's hateful fire,
"Must wade through blood to obtain my vile desire:
"Be then my coverture, thick ugly night!

"The light hates me, and I do hate the light." MALONE. 2 And PALL thee-] i. e. wrap thyself in a pall.


A pall is a robe of state. So, in the ancient black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date: "The knyghtes were clothed in pall." Again, in Milton's Penseroso :

"Sometime let gorgeous tragedy

"In scepter'd pall come sweeping by."

Dr. Warburton seems to mean the covering which is thrown over the dead.

To pall, however, in the present instance, (as Mr. Douce observes to me,) may simply mean-to wrap, to invest. STEEVENS.

3 That my keen KNIFE-] The word knife, which at present has a familiar undignified meaning, was anciently used to express a sword or dagger. So, in the old black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date:

"Through Goddes myght, and his knyfe, "There the gyaunte lost his lyfe." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. i. c. vi. :

the red-cross knight was slain with paynim knife."

STEEVENS. To avoid a multitude of examples, which in the present instance do not seem wanted, I shall only observe that Mr. Steevens's remark might be confirmed by quotations without end. REED.

the BLANKET of the dark,] Drayton, in the 26th Song of his Polyolbion, has an expression resembling this: "Thick vapours, that, like ruggs, still hang the troubled air." STEEVENS.

Polyolbion was not published till 1612, after this play had certainly been exhibited; but in an earlier piece Drayton has the same expression:

"The sullen night in mistie rugge is wrapp'd." Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596. Blanket was perhaps suggested to our poet by the coarse woollen curtain of his own theatre, through which probably, while the



To cry, Hold, hold!Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor 6!

house was yet but half-lighted, he had himself often peeped.— In King Henry VI. Part III. we have-" night's coverture." A kindred thought is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece, 1594:

"Were Tarquin's night, (as he is but night's child,)
"The silver-shining queen he would distain;
"Her twinkling hand-maids too, [the stars] by him defil'd,
"Through night's black bosom should not peep again."

s To cry, HOLD, HOLD!] On this passage there is a long criticism in The Rambler, Number 168. JOHNSON.

In this criticism the epithet dun is objected to as a mean one. Milton, however, appears to have been of a different opinion, and has represented Satan as flying


in the dun air sublime," And had already told us, in the character of Comus, ""Tis only daylight that makes sin,

"Which these dun shades will ne'er report." Gawin Douglas employs dun as a synonyme to fulvus.


"To cry, Hold, hold!" The thought is taken from the old military laws which inflicted capital punishment upon "whosoever shall strike stroke at his adversary, either in the heat or otherwise, if a third do cry hold, to the intent to part them; except that they did fight a combat in a place enclosed: and then no man shall be so hardy as to bid hold, but the general." P. 264 of Mr. Bellay's Instructions for the Wars, translated in 1589.


Mr. Tollet's note will likewise illustrate the last line in Macbeth's concluding speech :

"And damn'd be him who first cries, hold, enough!"


6 Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!] Shakspeare has supported the character of Lady Macbeth by repeated efforts, and never omits any opportunity of adding a trait of ferocity, or a mark of the want of human feelings, to this monster of his own creation. The softer passions are more obliterated in her than in her husband, in proportion as her ambition is greater. She meets him here on his arrival from an expedition of danger, with such a salutation as would have become one of his friends or vassals; a salutation apparently fitted rather to raise his thoughts to a level with her own purposes, than to testify her joy at his return, or manifest an attachment to his person: nor does any sentiment expressive of love or softness fall from her throughout the play.

Enter МасВЕТН.

Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter !
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present', and I feel now
The future in the instant.

My dearest love,

Duncan comes here to-night.

While Macbeth himself, amidst the horrors of his guilt, still retains a character less fiend-like than that of his queen, talks to her with a degree of tenderness, and pours his complaints and fears into her bosom, accompanied with terms of endearment.


7 This IGNORANT PRESENT,] Ignorant has here the signification of unknowing; that is, I feel by anticipation those future honours, of which, according to the process of nature, the present time would be ignorant. JOHNSON.

So, in Cymbeline:


his shipping,

"Poor ignorant baubles," &c.


Again, in The Tempest :


ignorant fumes that mantle
"Their clearer reason." STEEVENS.


"This ignorant present." Thus the old copy. Some of our modern editors read: "present time:" but the phraseology in the text is frequent in our author, as well as other ancient writers. So, in the first scene of The Tempest: "If you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more." The sense does not require the word time, and it is too much for the measure. Again, in Coriolanus:

"And that you not delay the present; but," &c. Again, in 1 Corinthians xv. 6:"of whom the greater part remain unto this present."

Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :


Be pleas'd to tell us

(For this is from the present) how you take

"The offer I have sent you."


I am far from objecting to Mr. Steevens for not altering the old copy; but I cannot understand how the word time would be "too much for the measure; " unless we place the accent on the second syllable, of present: the verse, like many others in Shakspeare, is defective without it. BOSWELL.

MACB. To-morrow, as he purposes.


And when goes hence?

O, never

Shall sun that morrow see!


Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men May read strange matters :-To beguile the time, Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,


But be the serpent under it1. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night's great business into my despatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.

8 Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men

May read, &c.] That is, thy looks are such as will awaken men's curiosity, excite their attention, and make room for suspicion. HEATH.

So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:


"Her face the book of praises, where is read Nothing but curious pleasures." STEEVENS. Again, in our author's Rape of Lucrece :

"Poor women's faces are their own faults' books." MALONE. To beguile the time,

LOOK LIKE THE TIME ;] The same expression occurs in the eighth book of Daniel's Civil Wars:

"He draws a traverse 'twixt his grievances;
"Looks like the time: his eye made not report
"Of what he felt within; nor was he less
"Than usually he was in every part;

"Wore a clear face upon a cloudy heart." STEEVENS. The seventh and eighth books of Daniel's Civil Wars were not published till the year 1609; [see the Epistle Dedicatorie to that edition] so that, if either poet copied the other, Daniel must have been indebted to Shakspeare; for there can be little doubt that Macbeth had been exhibited before that year. MALONE.


look like the innocent FLOWER,

But be the SERPENT under it.] Thus, in Chaucer's Squiere's Tale, 10,827:

"So depe in greyne he died his coloures,


Right as a serpent hideth him under floures,


Til he may see his time for to bite." STEEVENS.

MACB. We will speak further.


To alter favour ever is to fear 2!
Leave all the rest to me.

Only look up clear;



The same.

Before the Castle.

Hautboys. Servants of MACBETH attending.

Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, Banquo, LENOX, MACDUff, Rosse, AnGUS, and Attendants.

DUN. This castle hath a pleasant seat3; the air

2 TO ALTER FAVOUR ever is to FEAR :] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:

"For blushing cheeks by faults are bred,
"And fears by pale white shown."

Favour, is look, countenance. So, in Troilus and Cressida : "I know your favour, lord Ulysses, well." STEEVENS.

3 This castle hath a pleasant SEAT;] Seat here means situation. Lord Bacon says, "He that builds a faire house upon an ill seat, committeth himself to prison. Neither doe I reckon it an ill seat, only where the aire is unwholsome, but likewise where the aire is unequal; as you shall see many fine seats set upon a knap of ground invironed with higher hills round about it, whereby the heat of the sunne is pent in, and the wind gathereth as in troughs; so as you shall have, and that suddenly, as great diversitie of heat and cold, as if you dwelt in several places."

[ocr errors]

Essays, 2d edit. 4to. 1632, p. 257. REED.

"This castle hath a pleasant seat." This short dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. Their conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of its situation, and the pleasantness of the air; and Banquo, observing the martlet's nests in every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds most breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »