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Enter Rosse. MACD.
See, who comes here ? Mal. My countryman ; but yet I know him
not'. MacD. My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither. Mal. I know him now : Good God, betimes re
move The means that make us strangers ! Rosse.
Sir, Amen. MacD. Stands Scotland where it did ? Rosse.
Alas, poor country; Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot Be calld our mother, but our grave: where nothing, But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile : Where sighs, and groans, and shrieks that rent the
air“, Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems A modern ecstacy; the dead man's knell
3 My countryman; but yet I know him not.] Malcolm discovers Rosse to be his countryman, while he is yet at some distance from him, by his dress. This circumstance loses its propriety on our stage, as all the characters are uniformly represented in English habits. Steevens.
This has long been reformed on the stage, which, in point of costume, as in every other respect, is under the highest obligations to the taste and knowledge of Mr. Kemble. Boswell.
4 - RENT the air,7 To rent is an ancient verb, which has been long ago disused. So, in Cæsar and Pompey, 1607 : "With rented hair and eyes besprent with tears."
STEEVENS. Again, in The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, 1597 :
" While with his fingers he his haire doth rent." Malone. S A Modern ecstacy:] That is, no more regarded than the contorsions that fanatics throw themselves into. The author was thinking of those of his own times. WARBURTON.
I believe modern is only foolish or trifling. Johnson.
Modern is generally used by Shakspeare to signify trite, common; as “ modern instances,” in As You Like It, &c. &c. See vol. vi. p. 409, n. 4. STEEVENS.
Is there scarce ask'd, for who; and good men's
What is the newest grief ?
speaker; Each minute teems a new one. Macb.
How does my wife ? Rosse. Why, well 8. Mico.
And all my children'? Rosse.
Well too. Macd. The tyrant has not batter'd at their
peace ? Rosse. No; they were well at peace, when I did
leave them. Macd. Be not a niggard of your speech ; How
goes it ? Rosse. When I came hither to transport the
tidings, Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour Of many worthy fellows that were out;
Ecstacy is used by Shakspeare for a temporary alienation of mind. MALONE.
6 Expire before the flowers in their caps,] So, in All's Well That Ends Well :
"— whose constancies
“ Expire before their fashions.” Steevens. 9 Too nice, and yet too true!] The redundancy of this hemistich induces me to believe our author only wrote
“ Too nice, yet true!” STEEVENS. 8 Why, well.-- Well too.] So, in Antony and Cleopatra : "
We use “ To say, the dead are well." STEEVENS. 9 children?) Children is, in this place, used as a trisyllable. So, in The Comedy of Errors :
“ These are the parents to these children." See note on this passage, vol. iv. p. 265. STeeyENS.
Which was to my belief witness'd the rather,
Be it their comfort,
'Would I could answer This comfort with the like! But I have words, That would be howl'd out in the desert air, Where hearing should not latch them?. Macd.
What concern they? The general cause ? or is it a fee-grief, Due to some single breast ?
TO doff their dire distresses.] To doff is to do off, to put off. See King John, Act III. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
2 – should not latch them.] Thus the old copy, and rightly. To latch any thing, is to lay hold of it. So, in the prologue to Gower, De Confessione Amantis, 1554 :
“ Hereof for that thei wolden lache,
“ With such duresse," &c. Again, book i. fol. 27 :
" When that he Galathe besought
“ Of love, which he maie not latche." Again, in the first book of Ovid's Metamorphosis, as translated by Golding : “ As though he would, at everie stride, betweene his teeth
hir latch." Again, in the eighth book :
“ But that a bough of chesnut-tree, thick-leaved, by the way
“ Did latch it,” &c. To latch (in the North country dialect) signifies the same as to catch. Steevens.
3 — fee-grief,] A peculiar sorrow; a grief that hath a single owner. The expression is, at least to our ears, very harsh.
Johnson. So, in our author's Lover's Complaint :
“My woeful self that did in freedom stand,
No mind, that's honest, But in it shares some woe; though the main part Pertains to you alone. Macd.
If it be mine, Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it. Rosse. Let not your ears despise my tongue for
ever, Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound, That ever yet they heard. Macd.
Humph! I guess at it.
Merciful heaven!What, man! ne'er pull your hat upon your brows”;
It must, I think, be allowed that, in both the foregoing instances, the Attorney has been guilty of a flat trespass on the Poet.
STEEVENS. 4 Were, on the QUARRY of these murder'd deer,] Quarry is a term used both in hunting and falconry. In both sports it means the game after it is killed. So, in Massinger's Guardian :
- he strikes
“ Proud to be made his quarry." Again, in an ancient MS. entitled The Boke of Huntyng that is cleped Mayster of Game : “ While that the huntyng lesteth, should cartes go fro place to place to bringe the deer to the querre," &c. “ to kepe the querre, and to make ley it on a rowe, al the hedes o way, and every deeres feet to other's bak, and the hertes should be leyde on a rowe, and the rascaile by hemselfe in the same wise. And thei shuld kepe that no man come in the querre til the king come, saif the maister of the game.” It appears, in short, that the game was arranged in a hollow square, within which none but privileged persons, such as had claims to the particular animals they had killed, were permitted to enter. Hence, perhaps, the origin of the term quarry. STEEVENS.
s – ne'er pull your hat upon your brows ;] The same thought occurs in the ancient ballad of Northumberland betrayed by Douglas :
Give sorrow words: the grief, that does not speak,
Macd. My children too ?
Wife, children, servants, all
And I must be from thence ! My wife kill'd too? Rosse.
I have said. MAL.
Be comforted : Let's make us med'cines of our great revenge, To cure this deadly grief. Macd. He has no children?:-All my pretty
“ He pulled his hatt down over his browe,
“ And in his heart he was full woe,” &c. i Again :
“ Jamey his hatt pulld over his brow," &c. STEEVENS. 6 — the grief, that does not speak,] So, in Vittoria Corombona, 1612:
“ Those are the killing griefs, which dare not speak.”
Curæ leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent. Again, in Greene's old bl. I. novel entitled The Tragical! History of Faire Bellora :
“ Light sorrowes often speake,
“ When great the heart in silence breake." Steevers. In Daniel's Complaint of Rosamond, 1595, we have the like sentiment:
“ Striving to tell his woes words would not come :
Reed. So, in Venus and Adonis :
" the heart hath treble wrong,
“When it is barr'd the aidance of the tongue.” MALONE, 7 He has no children.] It has been observed by an anonymous critick, that this is not said of Macbeth, who had children, but of Malcolm, who, having none, supposes a father can be so easily comforted. Johnson.
The meaning of this may be, either that Macduff could not, by retaliation, revenge the murder of his children, because Macbeth had none himself; or that if he had any, a father's feelings for a father would have prevented him from the deed. I know not froin what passage we are to infer that Macbeth had children aliye,