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2 Witch. Thrice ; and once the hedge-pig
in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Paddock or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found at his lodgings ingens bufo vitro inclusus, a great toad shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him Veneficium exprobrabant, charged him, I suppose, with wilchcraft.
« Fillet of a fenny snake,
“ For a charm,” &c. The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books De Viribus Animalium and De Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.
“Finger of birth-strangled babe,
“ Ditch-deliver'd by a drab --; It has been already mentioned, in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom King James examined; and who had of a dead body, that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable, that Shakspeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horror. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.
“ And now about the cauldron sing,
“Red spirits and grey,
“ You that mingle may.” And, in a former part :
“ weird sisters, hand in hand,
“ And thrice again, to make up nine!". These two passages I have brought together, because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shown, by one quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded upon à practice really observed by the uncivilized natives of that country: “ When any one gets a fall, says the informer of
3 Witch. Harper cries: — 'Tis time, 'tis
Camden, he starts up, and, turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth ; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, red, black, white." There was likewise a book written before the time of Shakspeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.
Many other circumstances might be particularised, in which Shakspeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge.
JOHNSON. * Thrice the brinded car hath mew'd.] A cat, from time immemorial, has been the agent and favourite of Witches. This superstitious fancy is pagan, and very ancient; and the original, perhaps, this : “ When Galanthia was changed into a cat by the Fates, (says Antonius Liberalis, Metam. c. xxix.) by witches, (says Pausanias in his Bæotics,) Hecate took pity of her, and made her her priestess; in which office she continues to this day. Hecate herself too, when Typhon forced all the gods and goddesses to hide themselves in animals, assumed the shape of a cat. So, Ovid:
" Fele soror Phæbi latuit." Warburton. s Tarice; and once the hedGE-PIG whin'd.] Mr. Theobald reads, “ twice and once," &c. and observes that odd numbers are used in all enchantments and magical operations. The remark is just, but the passage was misunderstood. The second Witch only repeats the number which the first had mentioned, in order to confirm what she had said ; and then adds, that the hedge-pig had likewise cried, though but once. Or what seems more easy, the hedge-pig had whined thrice, and after an interval had whined once again.
Even numbers, however, were always reckoned inauspicious. So, in The Honest Lawyer, by S. S. 1616 : “ Sure 'tis not a lucky time : the first crow I heard this morning, cried twice. This even, sir, is no good number.” “Twice and once," however, might be a cant expression. So, in King Henry IV. Part II. Silence says, “I have been merry twice and once, ere now."
Steevens. The urchin, or hedgehog, from its solitariness, the ugliness of its appearance, and from a popular opinion that it sucked or poisoned the udders of cows, was adopted into the demonologic system, and its shape was sometimes supposed to be assumed by
1 Witch. Round about the cauldron gos;
mischievous elves. Hence it was one of the plagues of Caliban in The Tempest. T. Warton.
6 Harper cries :) This is some imp, or familiar spirit, concerning whose etymology and office, the reader may be wiser than the editor. Those who are acquainted with Dr. Farmer's pamphlet, will be unwilling to derive the name of Harper from Ovid's Harpalos, ab agaclw rapio. See Upton's Critical Observations, &c. edit. 1748, p. 155.
Harper, however, may be only a mis-spelling, or misprint, for harpy. So, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, &c. 1590:
“And like a harper tyers upon my life.” The word cries likewise seems to countenance this supposition. Crying is one of the technical terms appropriated to the noise made by birds of prey. So, in the nineteenth Iliad, 350 :
'H“, APİTH eixvice Tavuntépuys, AICUNNI,
Ουρανό εκκατεπάλτο –” Thus rendered by Chapman : “ And like a harpie, with a voice that shrieks," &c.
STEEVENS. We might as well imagine the names of all the evil spirits in King Lear to be corruptions because we are unacquainted with their etymology. Boswell.
7- 'Tis time, 'tis time. This familiar does not cry out that it is time for them to begin their enchantments ; but cries, i. e. gives them the signal, upon which the third Witch communicates the notice to her sisters :
“ Harper cries :- 'Tis time, 'tis Time."
“ Hec.] Heard you the owle yet?
“ Hcc.) 'Tis high time for us then.” Steevens. 8 Round about the cauldron go ;] Milton has caught this image in his Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity:
“ In dismal dance about the furnace blue." STEEVENS, 9 - coldest stone,] The old copy has—“cold stone." The modern editors—" the cold stone." The slighter change I have made, by substituting the superlative for the positive, has met with the approbation of Dr. Farmer, or it would not have appeared in the text. STEEVENS.
The was added by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
Swelter'd venom? sleeping got,
All. Double, double toil and trouble ? ;
2 IVITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
I have endeavoured to show that neither alteration was necessary. See Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. Boswell.
i Days and nights HAST - Old copy-has. Corrected by Sir T. Hanmer. MALONE.
2 Swelter'd venom -] This word seems to be employed by Shakspeare, to signify that the animal was moistened with its own cold exudations. So, in the twenty-second Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
“And all the knights there dub'd the morning but before,
“ The evening sun beheld there swelter'd in their gore." In the old translation of Boccace's Novels,  the following sentence also occurs : “ — an huge and mighty toad even weltering (as it were) in a hole full of poison."—“ Sweltering in blood," is likewise an expression used by Fuller, in his Church History, p. 37. And in Churchyard's Farewell to the World, 1593, is a similar expression : : “ He spake great thinges that swelted in his greace.”
STEEVENS. 3 Double, double toil and trouble;] As this was a very extraordinary incantation, they were to double their pains about it. I think, therefore, it should be pointed as I have pointed it:
“Double, double toil and trouble ;" otherwise the solemnity is abated by the immediate recurrence of the rhyme. STEEVENS.
4 Adder's FORK,] Thus Pliny, Nat. Hist. book xi. ch. xxxvii. : “ Serpents have very tbin tongues, and the same three-forked." P. Holland's translation, edit. 1601, p. 338. STEEVENS.
S - BLIND-WORM's sting,] The blind-worm is the slow-worm. So Drayton, in Noah's Flood : “ The small-eyed slow-worm held of many blind.”
STEEVENS, VOL. XI.
For a charm of powerful trouble,
All. Double, double toil and trouble ;
3 Witch. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf;
6 – maw, and gulf,] The gulf is the swallow, the throat.
STEEVENS. In The Mirror for Magistrates, we have “monstrous mawes and gul fes." HENDERSON.
7 - Ravin'd salt-sea shark ;] Mr. M. Mason observes that we should read-ravin, instead of-ravin'd. So, in All's Well that Ends Well, Helena says :
“ Better it were
“ With sharp constraint of hunger." And in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid of the Mill, Gillian says:
“ When nurse Amaranta-
“ She was the ravin's prey." However, in Phineas Fletcher's Locusts, or Appollyonists, 1627, the same word, as it appears in the text of the play before us, occurs :
“ But slew, devour'd and fill'd his empty maw;
“ So into four divides his brazen yoke." Ravin'd is glutted with prey. Ravin is the ancient word for prey obtained by violence. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 7:
o but a den for beasts of ravin made." The same word occurs again in Measure for Measure.
· STEEVENS. To ravin, according to Minshieu, is to devour, or eat greedily. See his Dict. 1617, in v. To devour. I believe our author, with his usual licence, used ravin'd for ravenous, the passive participle for the adjective. Malone,
8 Sliver'd in the moon's ECLIPSE ;]' Sliver is a common