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Finger of birth-strangled babe,
All. Double, double toil and trouble ;
2 Witch. Cool it with a baboon's blood,
word in the North, where it means to cut a piece, or a slice. Again, in King Lear :
“ She who herself will sliver and disbranch.” Milton has transplanted the second of these ideas into his Lycidas:
" perfidious bark
“ Built in th' eclipse." Steevens. 9 Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips ;] These ingredients, in all probability, owed their introduction to the detestation in which the Turks were held, on account of the holy wars.
So solicitous, indeed, were our neighbours, the French, (from whom most of our prejudices, as well as customs, are derived,) to keep this idea awake, that even in their military sport of the quintain, their soldiers were accustomed to point their lances at the figure of a Saracen. Steevens.
Finger of birth-strangled, &c.
MAKE THE GRUEL THICK AND SLAB ;] Gray appears to have had this passage in his recollection, when he wrote
“Sword that once a monarch bore
Steevens. Mr. Steevens's comparison is very complimentary to the monarch; but seriously, can any two passages differ more from each other than these do both in subject and expression ? Boswell. .
. Add thereto a tiger's CHAUDRON,] Chaudron, i, e. entrails ; a word formerly in common use in the books of cookery, in one of which, printed in 1597, I meet with a receipt to make a pudding of a calf's chaldron. Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 : “Sixpence a meal wench, as well as heart can wish, with calves' chauldrons and chitterlings.” At the coronation feast of Elizabeth of York, queen of Henry VII. among other dishes, one was "a swan with chaudron,” meaning sauce made with its entrails. See Ives's Select Papers, N° 3. p. 140. See also Mr. Pegge's Forme of Cury, a Roll of Ancient English Cookery, &c. 8vo. 1780, p. 66. STBEVENS.
Enter HECATE, and the other Three Witches 3.
HEC, O, well done “! I commend your pains; And every one shall share i'the gains.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Red spirits and grey ;
You that mingle may.
3 — the other Three Witches.] The insertion of these words, “ and the other Three Witches," in the original copy, must be owing to a mistake. There is no reason to suppose that Shakspeare meant to introduce more than Three Witches upon the scene. RITSON.
Perhaps these additional Witches were brought on for the sake of the approaching dance. Surely the original triad of hags was insufficient for the performance of the “ ancient round" introduced in page 207. STEVENS
4 0, well done !] Ben Jonson's Dame, in his Masque of Queens, 1609, addresses her associates in the same manner :
“Well done, my hags." The attentive reader will observe, that in this piece, old Ben has exerted his strongest efforts to rival the incantation of Shakspeare's Witches, and the final address of Prospero to the aerial spirits under his command.
It may be remarked also, that Shakspeare's Hecate, after delivering a speech of five lines, interferes no further in the business of the scene, but is lost in the croud of subordinate witches. Nothing, in short, is effected by her assistance, but what might have been done without it. STEEVENS.
Jonson could not have intended to rival Prospero's address, as his Masque was written several years before The Tempest.
MALONE. Mr. Gifford has denied that there was any imitation in the other instance. BosweLL.
s Song.) In a former note on this tragedy, I had observed, that the original edition contains only the two first words of the song before us; but have since discovered the entire stanza in
2 Witch. By the pricking of my thumbs", Something wicked this way comes :Open, locks, whoever knocks.
Enter MACBETH. MACB. How now, you secret, black, and mid
night hag3 ? What is't you do? ALL.
A deed without a name. Macb. I conjure you, by that which you profess, (Howe'er you come to know it,) answer me: Though you untie the winds, and let them fight Against the churches; though the yesty waves
The Witch, a dramatic piece, by Middleton, already quoted. The song is there called "A Charme-Song, about a Vessel.”—I may add, that this invocation, as it first occurs in The Witch, is." White spirits, black spirits, gray spirits, red spirits.”-Afterwards, we find it in its present metrical shape. : The song was, in all probability, a traditional one. The colours of spirits are often mentioned. So, in Monsieur Thomas, 1639:
“ Be thou black, or white, or green,
“ Be thou heard, or to be seen.” Perhaps, indeed, this musical scrap (which does not well accord with the serious business of the scene) was introduced by the players, without the suggestion of Shakspeare.
It may yet be urged, that however light and sportive the metre of this stanza, the sense conveyed by it is sufficiently appropriate and solemn! Spirits of every hue, who are permitted to unite your various influences, unite them on the present occasion.'
STEEVENS. Reginald Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, 1584, enumerating the different kinds of spirits, particularly mentions white, black, grey, and red spirits. See also a passage quoted from Camden, ante, p. 191, n. 3. The modern editions, without authority, read“ Blue spirits and grey.” Malone.
6 By the pricking of my thumbs, &c.] It is a very ancient superstition, that all sudden pains of the body, and other sensations which could not naturally be accounted for, were presages of somewhat that was shortly to happen. Hence Mr. Upton has explained a passage in The Miles Gloriosus of Plautus : “Timeo quod rerum gesserim hic, ita dorsus totus prurit.” Steevens. 7 — yesty waves -] That is, foaming or frothy waves.
Confound and swallow navigation up;
1 Witch. Speak.
Demand. 3 Wroch.
We'll answer. 1 Wirey. Say, if thoud'st rather hear it from our
mouths, Or from our masters'? Macb.
Call them, let me see them.
8 Though bladed corn be LodG',] So, in King Richard II. :
“ Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer corn." Again, in King Henry VI. Part II. :
“ Like to the summer corn by tempest lodg'd." Corn, prostrated by the wind, in modern language, is said to be lay'd; but lodg'd had anciently the same meaning. Ritson.
9 Though castles topple -] Topple is used for tumble. So, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, Act IV. Sc. III. :
“ That I might pile up Charon's boat so full,
“ Until it topple o'er.” Again, in Shirley's Gentleman of Venice:
“ - may be, his haste hath toppled him
- Into the river.” Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609: “ The very principals did seem to rend, and all to topple."
STEEVENS. 1 Of nature's GERMINS ] This was substituted by Theobald for “Natures germaine." Johnson. So, in King Lear, Act III. Sc. II. :
“ all germins spill at once
“ That make ungrateful man." Germins are seeds which have begun to germinate or sprout. Germen, Lat. Germe, Fr. Germe is a word used by Brown, in his Vulgar Errors : “Whether it be not made out of the germe or treadle of the egg,” &c. STEEVENS.
I Witch. Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Come, high, or low;
. He knows thy thought; Hear his speech, but say thou nought'. .
1 - Sow's blood, that haTH EATEN
Her nine PARROW ;) Shakspeare probably caught the idea of this offence against nature from the laws of Kenneth II. King of Scotland : “ If a sowe eate hir pigges, let hyr be stoned to death and buried, that no man eate of hyr fleshe."--Holinshed's History of Scotland, edit. 1577, p. 181. Steevens.
3 — DEFTLY show.? i. e. with adroitness, dexterously. So, in the Second Part of King Edward IV. by Heywood, 1626 :
“ - my mistress speaks deftly and truly.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England : “ Tho Roben Hood, liell John, frier Tucke, and Marian
deftly play ". Deft is a North Country word. So, in Richard Brome's Northern Lass, 1633 :
“— He said I were a deft lass.” STEEVENS. 4 An Apparition of an armed Head rises.] The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff untimely ripped from his mother's womb. The child with a crown on his head, and a bough in his hand, is the royal Malcolm, who ordered his soldiers to hew them down a bough, and bear it before them to Dunsinane. This observation I have adopted from Mr. Upton. STEEVENS.
Lord Howard, in his Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, mentions "a notable example of a conjuror, who represented (as it were, in dumb show,) all the persons who should possess the crown of France; and caused the King of Navarre, or rather a wicked spirit in his stead, to appear in the fifth place," &c. FARMER.
s— say thou nought.] Silence was necessary during all incantations. So, in Doctor Faustus, 1604 :