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Good repose, the while! Ban. Thanks, sir; The like to you !
[Exit Banduo. MacB. Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is
ready, She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.
[Exit Servant. Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch
but it can no more signify, as I conceive, the party, or body of men so combined together, or the cause for which they are united, than the harmony produced by a number of musical instruments can signify the instruments themselves, or the musicians that play upon them. When Fairfax, in his translation of Tasso, says
“ Birds, winds, and waters, sing with sweet concent,” we must surely understand by the word concent, not a party, or a cause, but harmony, or union; and in the latter sense, I apprehend, Justice Shallow's servants are said to flock together in concent, in The Second Part of King Henry IV.
If this correction be just, “In seeking to augment it,” in Banquo's reply, may perhaps relate, not to his own honour, but to Macbeth's content. “On condition that I lose no honour, in seeking to increase your satisfaction, or content,—to gratify your wishes," &c. The words, however, may be equally commodiously interpreted, “ Provided that in seeking an increase of honour, I lose none," &c.
Sir William D'Avenant's paraphrase on this obscure passage is as follows :
“ If when the prophecy begins to look like, you will
“ Adhere to me, it shall make honour for you.” Malone. 4 — when my drink is ready,] See note on “ their possets," in the next scene, p. 103. STEEVENS.
Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going ;
s And on thy blade, and DUDGEON, GOUTS of blood,] Though dudgeon sometimes signifies a dagger, it more properly means the haft or handle of a dagger, and is used for that particular sort of handle which has some ornament carved on the top of it. Junius explains the dudgeon, i. e. haft, by the Latin expression, manubrium apiatum, which means a handle of wood with a grain rough as if the seeds of parsley were strown over it.
Thus, in the concluding page of the Dedication to Stanyhurst's Virgil, 1583 :
“ Well fare thee haft with thee dudgeon dagger!” Again, in Lyly's comedy of Mother Bombie, 1594 : “ — then have at the bag with the dudgeon hafte, that is, at the dudgeon dagger that hangs by his tantony pouch.” In Soliman and Perseda is the following passage :
“- Typhon me no Typhons,
“ But swear upon my dudgeon dagger." Again, in Decker's Satiromastix : “I am too well ranked, Asinius, to be stabb’d with his dudgeon wit."
Again, in Skialetheia, a collection of Epigrams, Satires, &c. 1598 : “A dudgin dagger that's new scowr'd and glast.”.
Steevens. Gascoigne confirms this : “ The most knottie piece of box may be wrought to a fayre doogen hafte.” Gouts, for drops, is frequent in old English. FARMER.
“ – gouts of blood.” Or drops, French. Pope.
Gouts is the technical term for the spots on some part of the plumage of a hawk : or perhaps Shakspeare used the word in allusion to a phrase in heraldry. When a field is charged or sprinkled with red drops, it is said to be gutty of gules, or gutty de sang. The same word occurs also in The Art of Good Lyving and Good Devng, 1503: “Befor the jugement all herbys shal swevt read goutys of water, as blood.” Steevens.
The curtain'd sleep; now witchcraft celebrates 8 Pale Hecate's offerings ; and wither'd murder,
7 – Now o'er the one half world
Nature seems dead,] That is, 'over our hemisphere all action and motion seem to have ceased.' This image, which is, perhaps, the most striking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden, in his Conquest of Mexico :
“ All things are hush'd as Nature's self lay dead,
“Even lust and envy sleep!" These lines, though so well known, I have transcribed, that the contrast between them and this passage of Shakspeare may be more accurately observed.
Night is described by two great poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the disturbers of the world are laid asleep; in that of Shakspeare, nothing but sorcery, lust, and murder, is awake. He that reads Dryden, finds himself lulled with serenity, and disposed to solitude and contemplation. He that peruses Shakspeare, looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lover ; the other, of a murderer. Johnson.
Perhaps Sir Philip Sidney had the honour of suggesting the last image in Dryden's description :
“ Night hath clos'd all in her cloke,
England's Helicon, edit. 1600, p. 1. Steevens. "- Now o'er the one half world," &c. So, in the second part of Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 1602:
“ 'Tis yet dead night; yet all the earth is clutch'd
“ From your large palms." Malone. | The curtain'd sleep; now witchcraft celebrates —] The word now has been added [by Rowe) for the sake of metre. Probably Shakspeare wrote: “ The curtain'd sleeper." The folio,
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
pace, With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design Moves like a ghost'. --Thou sure and firm-set
spells the word sleepe, and an addition of the letter r only, affords the proposed emendation.
Milton has transplanted this image into his Masque at Ludlow Castle, v. 554 :
“ That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep.” Steevens. Mr. Steevens's emendation of “the curtain'd sleeper," is well intitled to a place in the text. It is clearly Shakspeare's own word.
Ritson. So afterwards :
" - a hideous trumpet calls to parley
“ The sleepers of the house." Now was added by Sir William D'Avenant, in his alteration of this play, published in 1674. Malone. 9- thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing STRIDES, towards his design
Moves like a ghost.] The old copy-sides. Steevens. Mr. Pope changed sides to strides. Malone.
A ravishing stride is an action of violence, impetuosity, and tumult, like that of a savage rushing on his prey ; whereas the poet is here attempting to exhibit an image of secrecy and caution, of anxious circumspection and guilty timidity, the stealthy pace of a ravisher creeping into the chamber of a virgin, and of an assassin approaching the bed of him whom he proposes to murder, without awaking him; these he describes as “moving like ghosts," whose progression is so different from strides, that it has been in all ages represented to be as Milton expresses it :
“Smooth sliding without step." This hemistich will afford the true reading of this place, which is, I think, to be corrected thus :
“ and wither'd murder
“ Moves like a ghost." Tarquin is, in this place, the general name of a ravisher, and the sense is : Now is the time in which every one is asleep, but those who are employed in wickedness; the witch who is sacrificing to Hecate, and the ravisher, and the murderer, who, like me, are stealing upon their prey.'
Hear not my steps, which way they walk ?, for fear Thy very stones prate of my where-about",
When the reading is thus adjusted, he wishes, with great propriety, in the following lines, that the earth may not hear his steps.
Johnson. I cannot agree with Dr. Johnson that a stride is always an action of violence, impetuosity, or tumult. Spenser uses the word in his Fairy Queen, b. iv. c. viii. and with no idea of violence annexed to it:
“ With easy steps so soft as foot could stride." And as an additional proof that a stride is not always a tumultuous effort, the following instance, from Harrington's translation of Ariosto, [1591,] may be brought:
“ He takes a long and leisurable stride,
“ And longest on the hinder foot he staid;
“ As though to tread on eggs he was afraid.
Orlando Furioso, 28th book, stanza 63. Whoever has been reduced to the necessity of finding his way about a house in the dark, must know that it is natural to take large strides, in order to feel before us whether we have a safe footing or not. The ravisher and murderer would naturally take such strides, not only on the same account, but that their steps might be fewer in number, and the sound of their feet be repeated as seldom as possible. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's observation is confirmed by many instances that occur in our ancient poets. So, in a passage by J. Sylvester, cited in England's Parnassus, 1600 :
“ Anon he stalketh with an easy stride,
“ By some clear river's lillie-paved side." Again, in our author's King Richard II. :
“Nay rather every tedious stride I make," Thus also the Roman poets :
- vestigia furtim
Eunt taciti per mæsta silentia magnis
Passibus. Statius, lib. x. “With Tarquin's ravishing,” &c. The justness of this similitude is not very obvious. But a stanza, in his poem of Tarquin and Lucrece, will explain it:
“ Now stole upon the time the dead of night,