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L. Macd. I hope, in no place so unsanctified,
He's a traitor.
What, you egg? [Stabbing him. Young fry of treachery ? Son.
He has killed me, mother: Run away, I pray you.
[Dies. [Exit Lady MACDUFF, crying murder,
and pursued by the Murderers. 8 - SHAG-BAR'D villain.] Perhaps we should read shaghaird, for it is an abusive epithet very often used in our ancient plays, &c. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, Part II. 1630 :“ – a shag-haired cur.” Again, in our author's King Henry VI. Part II. : “ — like a shag-haired crafty Kern." Again, in Sir Arthur Gorge's translation of Lucan, 1614:
“That shag-haired Caicos tam’d with forts." And Chapman, in his translation of the seventh book of Homer, 1598, applies the same epithet to the Greeks. Again, in the spurious play of King Leir, 1605:
“ There she had set a shaghayr'd murdering wretch." Again, in Barnaby Googe's version of Palingenius, 1561 :
“But sore afraid was I to meete
“ The shagheard horson's horne.” It may be observed, that, in the seventh Iliad of Homer, the néon XÓMOWYTES 'Axauso are rendered by Arthur Hall, 1581, “-peruke Greekes.” And by Chapman, 1611, “ — shag-haird Greekes." Steevens.
This emendation appears to me extremely probable. In King John, Act V. we find “ unhear'd sauciness ” for “ unhair'd sauciness ;” and we have had in this play hair instead of air.
Hair was formerly written heare. Hence perhaps the mistake. So, in Ives's Select Papers, chiefly relating to English Antiquities, No. 3, p. 133 : “ — and in her heare a circlet of gold richely garnished.” In Lodge's Incarnate Devils of the Age, 4to. 1596, we find in p. 37, “ shag-heard slave,” which still more strongly supports Mr. Steevens's emendation. However, as flap-ear'd is used as an epithet of contempt in The Taming of the Shrew, and prick-ear'd in Henry V. the old copy may be right. Malone.
Mr. Steevens's emendation will be further confirmed by a reference to one of our Law Reporters. In 23 Car. I. Ch. Justice Rolle said it had been determined that these words, “ Where is that long-locked, shag-haired murdering rogue?" were actionable. Aleyn's Reports, p. 61. Reed.
A Room in the King's Palace.
Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFFS. : Mal. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and
there Weep our sad bosoms empty.
. 8 Enter Malcolm and MacDUPF.] The part of Holinshed's Chronicle which relates to this play, is no more than an abridgment of John Bellenden's translation of The Noble Clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, 1541. For the satisfaction of the reader, I mye inserted the words of the first mentioned historian, from whom this scene is almost literally taken :-" Though Malcolme was verie sorrowfull for the oppression of his countriemen the Scots, in manner as Makduffe had declared, yet doubting whether he was come as one that ment unfeinedlie as he spake, or else as sent from Makbeth to betraie him, he thought to have some further triall, and thereupon dissembling his mind at the first, he answered as followeth :
“I am trulie verie sorie for the miserie chanced to my countrie of Scotland, but though I have never so great affection to relieve the same, yet by reason of certaine incurable vices, which reign in me, I am nothing meet thereto. First, such immoderate lust and voluptuous sensualitie (the abhominable fountain of all vices) followeth me, that if I were made King of Scots, I should seek to defloure your maids and matrones, in such wise that my intemperancie should be more importable unto you than the bloudie tyrannie of Makbeth now is. Hereunto Makduffe answered : This surelie is a very euil fault, for manie noble princes and kings have lost both lives and kingdomes for the same; neverthelesse there are women enow in Scotland, and therefore follow niy counsell. Make thy selfe kinge, and I shall conveie the matter so wiselie, that thou shalt be satisfied at thy pleasure in such secret wise, that no man shall be aware thereof.
“ Then said Malcolme, I am also the most avaritious creature in the earth, so that if I were king, I should seeke so manie waies to get lands and goods, that I would slea the most part of 'all the nobles of Scotland by surmized accusations, to the end I might injoy their lands, goods and possessions; and therefore to shew you what mischiefe may insue on you through mine unsatiable covetousnes, I will rehearse unto you a fable. There
Let us rather Hold fast the mortal sword"; and, like good men,
was a fox having a sore place on him overset with a swarme of flies, that continuallie sucked out hir bloud : and when one that came by and saw this manner, demanded whether she would have the flies driven beside hir, she answered no; for if these flies that are alreadie full, and by reason thereof sucke not verie eagerlie, should be chased awaie, other that are emptie and fellie an hungred, should light in their places, and sucke out the residue of my bloud farre more to my greevance than these, which now being satisfied doo not much annoie me. Therefore saith Malcolme, Suffer me to remaine where I am, lest if I atteine to the regiment of your realme, mine unquenchable avarice may proove such, that ye would thinke the displeasures which now grieve you, should seeme easie in respect of the unmeasurable outrage which might insue through my comming amongst you.
“ Makduffe to this made answer, how it was a faroorse fault than the other: for avarice is the root of all mischiefe, and for that crime the most part of our kings have been slaine, and brought to their finall end. Yet notwithstanding follow my counsell, and take upon thee the crowne. There is gold and riches inough in Scotland to satisfie thy greedie desire. Then said Malcolme again, I am furthermore inclined to dissimulation, telling of leasings, and all other kinds of deceit, so that I naturallie rejoise in nothing so much, as to betraie and deceive such as put anie trust or confidence in my woords. Then sith there is nothing that more becommeth a prince than constancie, veritie, truth, and justice, with the other laudable fellowship of those faire and noble vertues which are comprehended onelie in soothfastnesse, and that lieng utterlie overthroweth the same, you see how unable I am to governe anie province or region: and therefore sith you have remedies to cloke and hide all the rest of my other vices, I praie you find shift to cloke this vice amongst the residue.
“ Then said Makduffe: “ This is yet the woorst of all, and there I leave thee, and therefore saie; Oh ye unhappie and miserable Scotishmen, which are thus scourged with so manie and sundrie calamities ech one above other ! Ye have one cursed and wicked tyrant that now reigneth over you, without anie right or title, oppressing you with his most bloudie crueltie. This other that hath the right to the crowne, is so replet with the inconstant behaviour and manifest vices of Englishmen, that he is nothing woorthie to injoy it: for by his owne confession he is not onlie avaritious and given to unsatiable lust, but so false a traitor withall, that no trust is to be had unto anie woord he speaketh. Adieu Scotland, for now I account my selfe a banished man for
Bestride our down-fall’n birthdom': Each new
morn, New widows howl; new orphans cry; new sorrows Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds As if it felt with Scotland, and yelld out Like syllable of dolour?
ever, without comfort or consolation : and with these woords the brackish tears trickled downe his cheekes verie abundantlie.
“At the last, when he was readie to depart, Malcolme tooke him by the sleeve, and said : Be of good comfort Makduffe, for I have none of these vices before remembered, but have jested with thee. in this manner, onlie to prove thy mind : for divers times heretofore Makbeth sought by this manner of means to bring me into his hand," &c.
Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 175. STEEVENS. 9 – the mortal sword ;-] i.e. the deadly sword. So, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
“ Or bide the mortal fortune of the field.” * Bestride our down-FALL’N BIRTHDOM:] The old copy hasdown-fall. Corrected by Dr. Johnson. Malone.
He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfall birthdom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text ; but it is probable that Shakspeare wrote:
“ — like good men,
“ Bestride our down-fallin birthdom — ." The allusion is to a mar, from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without incumbrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, our birthright, says he, lies on the ground ; let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution. So, Falstaff says to Hal : “ If thou see me down in the battle, and bestride me, so.”
Birthdom for birthright is formed by the same analogy with masterdom in this play, signifying the privileges or rights of a master.
Perhaps it might be birth-dame for mother; let us stand over our mother that lies bleeding on the ground. Johnson.
There is no need of change. In The Second Part of King Henry IV. Morton says:
“- he doth bestride a bleeding land." STEVENS. King Henry IV. Act V. Sc. I. Malone. 2 — and yell'd out
Like syllable of dolour.] This presents a ridiculous image. But what is insinuated under it is noble; that the portents and MAL.
What I believe, I'll wail; What know, believe; and, what I can redress, As I shall find the time to friend", I will. What you have spoke, it may be so, perchance.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, Was once thought honest: you have lov'd him
well; He hath not touch'd you yet. I am young ; but
something You may deserve of him through me*; and wis
dom To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb, To appease an angry god.
prodigies in the skies, of which mention is made before, showed that heaven sympathised with Scotland. WARBURTON. The ridicule, I believe, is only visible to the commentator.
STEEVENS. 3 — to FRIEND,] i. e. to befriend. Steevens.
4 You may deserve of him through me;] The old copy reads -discerne. The emendation was made by Mr. Theobald, who supports it by Macduft's answer :
. “ I am not treacherous.” Malone. s — and wisdom -] That is, and 'tis wisdom. Heath.
The sense of this passage is obvious, but the construction dillicult, as there is no verb to which wisdom can refer. Something is omitted, either through the negligence of the printer, or probably the inadvertence of the author. If we read
" And think it wisdom --' the sense will be supplied ; but that would destroy the metre; and so indeed would the insertion of any word whatever.
M. Mason. I suspect this line to have suffered by interpolation, as well as omission, and that it originally ran thus :
“ To offer,” &c.
“ Now is it manhood, wisdom and defence." Had the passage in question been first printed thus, would any reader have supposed the words “of him,” were wanting to the sense ? In this play I have already noted several instances of manifest interpolation and omission. See notes on Act I. Sc. III. p. 28, n. 9, and Act III. Sc. V p. 182, n. 1. Steevens.