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v. 10 


VOL. X. 

~L I ' 'IV* 

" ' ^ y ( r ' 

^ ^ L ^ ' x ^ ( 5 

<-* / / ^ ^ 

* MACBETH.] In order to make a true estimate of the 
abilities and merit of a writer, it is always necessary to examine 
the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries. 
A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy 
depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the 
assistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as trans- 
gressing the bounds of probability, be banished from the theatre 
to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of 
tragedies ; but a survey of the notions that prevailed at the time 
when this play was written, will prove that Shakspeare was in 
no danger of such censures, since he only turned the system that 
was then universally admitted, to his advantage, and was far 
from overburdening the credulity of his audience. 

The reality of witchcraft or enchantment, which, though not 
strictly the same, are confounded in this play, has in all ages and 
countries been credited by the common people, and in most, by 
the learned themselves. The phantoms have indeed appeared 
more frequently, in proportion as the darkness of ignorance has 
been more gross ; but it cannot be shown, that the brightest 
gleams of knowledge have at any time been sufficient to drive 
them out of the world, The time in which this kind of credu- 
lity was at its height, seems to have been that of the holy war, 
in which the Christians imputed all their defeats to enchant- 
ments or diabolical opposition, as they ascribed their success to 
the assistance of their military saints ; and the learned Dr. War- 
burton appears to believe ( Supplement to the Introduction to Don 
Quixote) that the first accounts of enchantments were brought 
into this part of the world by those who returned from their 
eastern expeditions. But there is always some distance between 
the birth and maturity of folly as of wickedness: this opinion had 
long existed, though perhaps the application of it had in no fore- 
going age been so frequent, nor the reception so general. Olym- 
piodorus, in Photius's Extracts, tells us of one Libanius, who 
practised this kind of military magic, and having promised ^capig 
(nfXdiuv xara (3st,pd,pwv kvsgfs'tv to perform great things against 
the Barbarians without soldiers, was, at the instance of the 
empress Placida, put to death, when he was about to have given 
proofs of his abilities. The empress showed some kindness in 
her anger, by cutting hirn off at a time so convenient for his 

But a more remarkable proof of the antiquity of this notion 
may be found in St. Chrysostom's book de Sacerdotio, which 
exhibits a scene of enchantments not exceeded by any romance 
of the middle age : he supposes a spectator overlooking a field 
of battle attended by one that points out all the various objects 


of horror, the engines of destruction, and the arts of slaughter. 
Acixvuro Ss Tt ifapa, rolf kvavlloif xa) tfsro^svs; *iitits$ SKX, rtvog 
jxa/yaygjaf, xa) oir\ira,s SC aso$ Qepopsyas, xa) tfacnjv yoijre/aj 
Suvxpiv xa) ISsav. Let him then proceed to shoio him in the 
opposite armies horses Jlying by enchantment, armed men trans- 
ported through the air, and every power and form of magic. 
Whether St. Chrysostom believed that such performances were 
really to be seen in a day of battle, or only endeavoured to en- 
liven his description, by adopting the notions of the vulgar, it 
is equally certain, that such notions were in his time received, 
and that therefore they were not imported from the Saracens in 
a later age ; the wars with the Saracens however gave occasion 
to their propagation, not only as bigotry naturally discovers 
prodigies, but as the scene of action was removed to a great 

The Reformation did not immediately arrive at its meridian, 
and though day was gradually increasing upon us, the goblins 
of witchcraft still continued to hover in the twilight. In the 
time of Queen Elizabeth was the remarkable trial of the witches 
of Warbois, whose conviction is still commemorated in an 
annual sermon at Huntingdon. But in the reign of King 
James, in which this tragedy was written, many circumstances 
concurred to propagate and confirm this opinion. The King. 
wJLO__was^much celebrated for his knowledge, had, before jiis 
arrival ln^Englaff37"nbt only examined in person a woman ac- 
cused of witchcraft, but had given a very formal account of the 
practices and illusions of evil spirits, the compacts of witche^, 

_the ceremonies used by them, the manner of detecting them, 
anoT~lhe justice of punishing them, in his dialogues of Dtcmono- 

"J^gMl^rftEen in the Scottish dialect, and published at Edinburgh. 
Tnis book was, soon after his succession, reprinted at London, 
and as the ready way to gain King James's favour was to flatter 
his speculations, the system of DeemonQlogie^was immediately 
adopled^by all who desired either to gain preferment or not to. 
lose it. Thus the doctrine of witchcraft \\.is \u-y powerfully 
.Inculcated ; and as the greatest part of mankind have no other 
reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion, it cannot 
be doubted but this persuasion made a rapid progress, since 
vanity and credulity co-operated in its favour. The infection 
soon reached the parliament, who, in the first year of King 
James, made a law, by which it was enacted, chap. xii. That 
*' if any person shall use any invocation or conjuration of any 
evil or wicked spirit ; 2. or shall consult, covenant with, enter- 
tain, employ, feed or reward any evil or cursed spirit to or for 
any intent or purpose ; 3. or take up any dead man, woman, or 

child, out of the grave,-~-or the skin, bone, or any part of the 
dead person, to be employed or used in any manner of witch- 
craft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment ; 4. or shall use, prac- 
tise, or exercise any sort of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or en- 
chantment ; 5. whereby any person shall be destroyed, killed, 
wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed in any part of the body ; 6. 
That every such person being convicted shall suffer death." 
This law was repealed in our own time. 

Thus, in the time of Shakspeare, was the doctrine of witch- 
craft at once established by law and by the fashion, andjtjje- 
came~not onlyjmpjolite, but criminal, to doubt it ^ and as pro- 
cfigiesare always seen in proportion as they are expected, witches 
were every day discovered, and multiplied so fast in some places, 
that Bishop Hall mentions a village in Lancashire,* where their 
number was greater than that of the houses. The Jesuits and 
sectaries took advantage of this universal error, and endeavoured 
to promote the interest of their parties by pretended cures of 
persons afflicted by evil spirits; but they were detected and 
exposed by the clergy of the established church. 

Upon this general infatuation Shakspeare might be easily 
allowed to found a play, especially since he has followed with 
great exactness such histories as were then thought true ; nor 
can it be doubted that the scenes of enchantment, however they 
may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience 
thought awful and affecting. JOHNSON. 

In the concluding paragraph of Dr. Johnson's admirable in- 
troduction to this play, he seems apprehensive that the fame of 
Shakspeare's magic may be endangered by modern ridicule. I 
shall not hesitate, however, to predict its security, till our na- 
tional taste is wholly corrupted, and we no longer deserve the 
first of all dramatic enjoyments; for such, in my opinion at least, 
is the tragedy of Macbeth. STEEVENS. 

Malcolm II. King of Scotland, had two daughters. The 
eldest was married to Crynin, the father of Duncan, Thane of 
the Isles, and western parts of Scotland ; and on the death of 
Malcolm, without male issue, Duncan succeeded to the throne. 

* In Nashe's Lenten Stuff, 1599, it is said, that no less than six hundred 
witches were executed at one time : " it is evident, by the confession of 
the six hundred Scotch witches executed in Scotland at Bartholomew tide 
was twelve month, that in Yarmouth road they were all together in a plump 
on Christmas eve was two years, when the great flood was; and there stirred 
up such tornadoes and furicanoes of tempests, as will be spoken of there 
whilst any winds or storms and tempests chafe and puffin the lower region." 


Malcolm's second daughter \ras married to Sinel, Thane of 
Glamis, the father of Macbeth. Duncan, who married the 
daughter * of Siward, Earl of Northumberland, was murdered 
by his cousin german, Macbeth, in the castle of Inverness, ac- 
cording to Buchanan, in the year 104-0; according to Hector 
Boethius, in 1045. Boethius, whose History of Scotland was 
first printed in seventeen books, at Paris, in 1526, thus describes 
the event which forms the basis of the tragedy before us: 
** Makbeth, be persuasion of his wyfe, gaderit his frendis to 
ane counsall at Invernes, quhare kyng Duncane happennit to be 
for y e time. And because he fand sufficient opportunitie, be 
support ofBanguho and otheris his friendis, he slew kyng Dun- 
cane, the vii zeir of his regne." After the murder of Duncan, 
Macbeth " come with ane gret power to Scone, and tuk the 
crowne." Chroniclis of Scotland, translated by John Bellenden, 
folio, 1541. Macbeth was himself slain by Macduffin the year 
1061, according to Boethius; accordingto Buchanan, in 1057 ; 
at which time King Edward the Confessor possessed the throne 
of England. Holinshed copied the history of Boethius, and on 
Holinshed's relation Shakspeare formed his play. 

In the reign of Duncan, Banquo having been plundered by 
the people of Lochaber of some of the king's revenues, which 
he had collected, and being dangerously wounded in the affray, 
the persons concerned in this outrage were summoned to appear 
at a certain day. But they slew the sergeant at arms who sum- 
moned them, and chose one MACDOWALD as their captain. 
Macdowald speedily collected a considerable body of forces from 
Ireland and the Western Isles, and in one action gained a victory 
over the king's army. In this battle Malcolm, a Scottish noble- 
man, who was (says Boethius) " Lieutenant to Duncan in 
Lochaber," was slain. Afterwards Macbeth and Banquo were 
appointed to the command of the army ; and Macdowald being 
obliged to take refuge in a castle in Lochaber, first slew his wife 
and children, and then himself. Macbeth, on entering the castle, 
finding his dead body, ordered his head to be cut off, and carried 
to the king, at the castle of Bertha, and his body to be hung on 
a high tree. 

At a subsequent period, in the last year of Duncan's reign, 
Sueno, King of Norway, landed a powerful army in Fife, for 
the purpose of invading Scotland. Duncan immediately assem- 
bled an army to oppose him, and gave the command of two 
divisions of it to Macbeth and Banquo, putting himself at the 

* the daughter ] More probably the sister. See note on The 

Cronykil of Andrew Wyntovn, Vol. II. p. 475. STF. EVENS. 

head of a third. Sueno was successful in one battle, but in a 
second was routed ; and, after a great slaughter of his troops, 
he escaped with ten persons only, and fled back to Norway. 
Though there was an interval of time between the rebellion of 
Macdowald and the invasion of Sueno, our author has woven 
these two actions together, and immediately after Sueno's de- 
feat the present play commences. 

It is remarkable that Buchanan has pointed out Macbeth's 
history as a subject for the stage. " Multa hicfabulose quidam 
nostrorum ; sed, quia theatris out Milesiis fabmis sunt 
aptiora quam historic, ea omitto." RERUM SCOT. HIST. L. VII. 
But there was no translation of Buchanan's work till after our 
author's death. 

This tragedy was written, I believe, in the year 1606. See 
the notes at the end ; and An Attempt to ascertain the Order of 
Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II. M ALONE. 


Duncan, King of Scotland: 

Malcolm, 7 ? c 
-r* iu f his Sons. 
Donalbam, 3 

> Generals of the King's Army. 


Meriteth, ' Noblemen of Scotland. 



Fleance, Son to Banquo. 

Siward, Earl of Northumberland, General of the 

English Forces: 
Young Siward, his Son. 
Seyton, an Officer attending on Macbeth. 
Son to Macduff. 

An English Doctor. A Scotch Doctor. 
A Soldier. A Porter. An old Man. 

Lady Macbeth. 1 

Lady Macduff. 

Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth. 

Hecate, and three Witches? 1 

Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers, 

Attendants, and Messengers. 
The Ghost oj 'Banquo, and several other Apparitions. 

SCENE, in the End of the fourth Act, lies in Eng- 
land ; through the rest of the Play, in Scotland ; 
and, chiefly, at Macbeth's Castle. 

1 Lady Macbeth."] Her name was Gruach, filia Bodhe. See 
Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland, II. 332. RITSON. 

Androiv of Wyntoivn, in his Cronykil, informs us that this per- 
sonage was the widow of Duncan ; a circumstance with which 
Shakspeare must have been wholly unacquainted : 

" Dame Grivok, hys Emys wyf, 

" Tuk, and led wyth hyr hys lyf, 
" And held hyr bathe hys Wyf and Qweyne, 
" As befor than scho had beyne 
" Til hys Erne Qwene, lyvand 
" Quhen he was Kyng wyth Crowne rygnand: 
" For lytyl in honowre than had he 
"The greys of affynyte." B. VI. 35. 

From the incidents, however, with which Hector Boece has 
diversified the legend of Macbeth, our poet derived greater ad- 
vantages than he could have found in the original story, as re- 
lated by Wyntown. 

The 18th Chapter of his Cronykil, Book VI. together with ob- 
servations by its accurate and learned editor, will be subjoined 
to this tragedy, for the satisfaction of inquisitive readers. 


* three Witches.] As the play now stands, in Act IV. 
tc. i. three other witches make their appearance. See note 
thereon. STEEVENS. 



An open Place. 
Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches. 

1 WITCH. When shall we three meet again 
In thunder, lightning, or in rain ? 

2 WITCH. When the hurlyburly's done, 1 
When the battle's lost and wont 2 

1 hurlyburly* s ] However mean this word may seem 

to modern ears, it came recommended to Shakspeare by the 
authority of Henry Peacham, who, in the year 1577, published 
a book professing to treat of the ornaments of language. It is 
called The Garden of Eloquence, and has this passage : " Ono- 
matopeia, when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name in- 
timating the sownd of that it signifyeth, as hurliburly, for an 
uprore and tumultuous stirre." HENDERSON. 

So, in a translation of Herodian, 12mo. 1635, p. 26 : 

" there was a mighty hurlyburly in the campe," &c. 

Again, p. 324: 

" great hurliburlies being in all parts of the em- 
pire," &c. REED. 

* When the battle's lost and won :~\ i. e. the battle, in which 
Macbeth was then engaged. WARBURTON. 

So, in King Richard III: 

" while we reason here, 

" A royal battle might be toon and lost" 
So also Speed, speaking of the battle of Towton : " by 
which only stratagem, as it was constantly averred, the battle 
and day was lost and won." Chronicle, 1611. MALONE. 


3 WITCH. That will be ere set of sunl 3 

1 WITCH. Where the place ? 

2 WITCH. Upon the heath : 

3 WITCH. There to meet with Macbeth. 4 

3 ere set of sun.] The old copy unnecessarily and 

harshly reads 

ere Me set of sun. STEEVENS. 

4 There to meet with Macbeth.] Thus the old copy. Mr. 
Pope, and, after him, other editors: 

There I go to meet Macbeth. 

The insertion, however, seems to be injudicious. To meet 
with Macbeth was the final drift of all the Witches in going to 
the heath, and .not the particular business or motive of any one 
of them in distinction from the rest ; as the interpolated words, 
I go, in the mouth of the third Witch, would most certainly 

Somewhat, however, (as the verse is evidently imperfect,) 
must have been left out by the transcriber or printer. Mr. 
Capell has therefore proposed to remedy this defect, by 

There to meet with brave Macbeth. 

But surely, to beings intent only on mischief, a soldier's 
braver}', in an honest cause, would have been no subject of en- 

Mr. Malone (omitting all previous remarks, &c. on this pas- 
sage) assures us, that " There is here used as a dissyllable." 
I wish he had supported his assertion by some example. Those, 
however, who can speak the line thus regulated, and suppose 
they are reciting a verse, may profit by the direction they have 

The pronoun " thez'r," having two vowels together, may be 
split into two syllables ; but the adverb " there" can only be 
used as a monosyllable, unless pronounced as if it were written 
'* the-re," a licence in which even Chaucer has not indulged 

It was convenient for Shakspeare's introductory scene, that 
his first Witch should appear uninstructed in her mission. Had 
she not required information, the audience must have remained 
ignorant of what it was necessary for them to know. Her 
speeches, therefore, proceed in the form of interrogatories ; but, 
all on a sudden, an answer is given to a question which had not 
been asked. Here seems to be a chasm, which I shall attempt 

sc. i. MACBETH. 13 

1 WITCH. I come, Graymalkin! 5 
ALL. Paddock calls: Anon. 6 

to supply by the introduction of a single pronoun, and by dis- 
tributing the hitherto mutilated line among the three speakers: 
3 Witch. There to meet with 

1 Witch. Whom? 

2 Witch. Macbeth. 
Distinct replies have now been afforded to the three necessary 

enquiries When Where and Whom the Witches were to 
meet. Their conference receives no injury from my insertion 
and arrangement. On the contrary, the dialogue becomes 
more regular and consistent, as each of the hags will now have 
spoken thrice (a magical number) before they join in utterance 
of the concluding words, which relate only to themselves. I 
should add that, in the two prior instances, it is also the second 
Witch who furnishes decisive and material answers ; and that I 
would give the words " I come, Graymalkin !" to the third. 
By assistance from such of our author's plays as had been pub- 
lished in quarto, we have often detected more important errors 
in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, supplies the most ancient 
copy of Macbeth. STEEVENS. 

5 " Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, en- 
titled, Beware the Cat, 1584, I find it was permitted to a 
Witch to take on her a cattes body nine times. Mr. Upton ob- 
serves, that, to understand this passage, we should suppose one 
familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the 
croaking of a toad. 

Again, in Netvesfrom Scotland, &c. (a pamphlet of which 
the reader will find the entire title in a future note on this play) : 
" Moreover she confessed, that at the time when his majestic 
was in Denmarke, shee beeing accompanied with the parties 
before specially mentioned, tooke a cat and christened it, and 
afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefest part of a 
dead man, and several joyntes of his bodie, and that in the 
night following the said cat was convayed into the middest of 
the sea by all these witches sayling in their riddles or crves\as is 
aforesaid, and so left the said cat right before the towne of 
Leith in Scotland. This donne, there did arise such a tempest 
in the sea, as a greater hath not bene scene," &c. STEEVENS. 

6 Paddock calls: &c.] This, with the two following lines, 
is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding edi- 
tors have appropriated the first of them to the second Witch. 


Fair is foul, and foul is fair : 7 
Hover through the fog and filthy air. 

[Witches vanish. 

According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and some other na- 
turalists, & frog is called a paddock in the North ; as in the fol- 
lowing instance, in Ccesar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607 : 

" Paddockes, todes, and watersnakes." 

Again, in Wyntoin-ni* Cronykil, B. I. c. xiii. 55: 
" As ask, or eddyre, tade, or pade" 

In Shakspeare, however, it ceitainly means a toad. The re- 
presentation of St. James in the witches' house (one of the set 
of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566,) 
exhibits witches flying up and down the chimney on brooms ; 
and before the fire sit grimalkin and paddock, i. e. a cat, and a 
toad, with several baboons. There is a cauldron boiling, with 
a witch near it, cutting out the tongue of a snake, as an in- 
gredient for the charm. A representation somewhat similar 
likewise occurs in Newesjrom Scotland, &c. a pamphlet already 
quoted. STEEVENS. 

" Some say, they [witches] can keepe devils and spirits, 

in the likeness of todes and cats." Scot's Discovery of Witch- 
craft, [1584] Book 1. c. iv. TOLLET. 

7 Fair is foul, and foul is fair .] i.e. we make these sudden 
changes of the weather. And Macbeth, speaking of this day, 
loon after says : 

So foul and fair a day I have not seen. WARBURTON. 

The common idea of witches has always been, that they had 
absolute power over the weather, and could raise storms of any 
kind, or allay them, as they pleased. In conformity to this no- 
tion, Macbeth addresses them, in the fourth Act: 

Though you untie the ivinds, &c. STEEVENS. 

I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant 
as we,fair is foul, and foul is fair. JOHNSON. 

This expression seems to have been proverbial. Spenser has 
it in the 4th Book of the Fairy Queen : 

** Then fair grew foul, and foul grew fair in sight." 


*c. //. MACBETH. 15 


A Camp near Fores. 

Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM, 
DONALBAIN, LENOX, with Attendants, meeting a 
bleeding Soldier. 

DUN. What bloody man is that? He can report, 
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt 
The newest state. 

MAL. This is the sergeant, 8 

Who, like a good and hardy soldier, fought 
'Gainst my captivity: Hail, brave friend! 

T/us is the sergeant,] Holinshed is the best interpreter of 
Shakspeare in his historical plays ; for he not only takes his 
facts from him, but often his very words and expressions. That 
historian, in his account of Macdowald's rebellion, mentions, 
that on the first appearance of a mutinous spirit among the peo- 
ple, the king sent a sergeant at arms into the country, to bring 
up the chief offenders to answer the charge preferred against 
them ; but they, instead of obeying, misused the messenger with 
sundry reproaches, andjinally sletv him. This sergeant at arms 
is certainly the origin of the bleeding sergeant introduced on the 
present occasion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holin- 
shed, but the rest of the story not suiting his purpose, he does 
not adhere to it. The stage-direction of entrance, where the 
bleeding captain is mentioned, was probably the work of the 
player editors, and not of the poet. 

Sergeant, however, (as the ingenious compiler of the Glossary 
to A, of IVyniffvori* s Cronykil observes, ) is " a degree in military 
service now unknown.'* 

" Of sergeandys thare and knychtis kene 
" He gat a gret cumpany." 13. VIII. ch. xxvi. v. 396. 
The same word occurs again in the fourth Poem of Lawrence 
Minot, p. 19: 

" He hasted him to the swin, with sergantes snell, 
" To mete with the Normandcs that fals war and fell." 
According to M. le Grand, (says Mr. Ritson) sergeants were a 
sort of sens d'armcs. STEEVENS. 

f < ^ c '^TS < 

I > 


Say to the king the knowledge of the broil, 
As thou didst leave it. 

SOLD. Doubtfully it stood^) 

As two spent swimmers, that do cling together, *-** 
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald 1 : 
(Worthy to be a rebel ; for, to that, 2 
The multiplying villainies of nature 
Do swarm upon him,) from the western isles 
Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied ; 3 

9 Doubtfully it stood;'] Mr. Pope/ who introduced the epi- 
thet long, to assist the metre, and reads 

Doubtful long it stood, 

has thereby injured the sense. If the comparison was meant 
to coincide in all circumstances, the struggle could not be long. 
I read 

Doubtfully it stood; 

The old copy has Doubtfull so that my addition consists of 
but a single letter. STEEVENS. 

Macdonwald ] Thus the old copy. According to 

Holinshed we should read Macdowald. STEEVENS. 

So also the Scottish Chronicles. However, it is possible that 
Shakspeare might have preferred the name that has been sub- 
stituted, as better sounding. It appears from a subsequent 
scene that he had attentively read Holinshed's account of the 
murder of King Duff, by Donwald, Lieutenant of the castle of 
Fores; in consequence of which he might, either from inad- 
vertence, or choice, have here written Macdonwald. 


* to that, &c.~\ i. e. in addition to that. So, in Troilus 

and Cressida, Act I. sc. i : 

" The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength, 
" Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant." 
The soldier who describes Macdonwald, seems to mean, that, 
in addition to his assumed character of rebel, he abounds with the 
numerous enormities to which man, in his natural state, is liable. 


from the western isles 

Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is supplied ;] Whether sup- 
plied rf, for supplied from or with, was a kind of Grecism of 
Shakspeare' s expression ; or whether of be a corruption of the 

sc. ii. MACBETH. 17 

And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling^!/ 

editors, who took Kernes and Gallotvglasses, which were only 
light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the west- 
ern islands, I don't know. " Hinc conjectures vigorem etiam 
adjiciunt arma quaedam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis similia, jacula 
nimirum peditum levis armaturae quos Kernos vocant, nee non 
secures & loricae ferreae peditum illorum gravioris armaturae, 
quos Galloglassios appellant. 1 ' Warcei Antiq, Hiber. cap. vi. 


O/"and -with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. 

So, in The Spanish Tragedy : 

11 Perform'd of pleasure by your son the prince." 

Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, hist, vi : " Sypontus 
in the mean time is prepared of two wicked gondoliers," &c. 
Again, in The History of Helyas Knight of the Sun, bl. 1. no 
date : " he was well garnished of spear, sword, and armoure," 
&c. These are a few out of a thousand instances which might 
be brought to the same purpose. 

Kernes and Gallotvglasses are characterized in The Legend of 
Roger Mortimer. See The Mirror for Magistrates : 

* the Gallowglas, the Kerne, 

" Yield or not yield, whom so they take, they slay." 
See also Stanyhurst's Description of Ireland, ch. viii. fol. 28. 
Holinshed, edit. 1577. STEEVENS. 

The old copy has Gallow-grosses. Corrected by the editor of 
the second folio. MALONE. 

4 And Jbrtune, on his damned quarrel smiling,'] The old copy 
has quarry ; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was 
formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is 
to be found in that sense in Holinshed's account of the story of 
Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the Prince of Cumberland, 
thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel to endea- 
vour after the crown. The sense therefore is, Fortune smiling 
on his execrable cause, &c. JOHNSON. 

The word quarrel occurs in Holinshed's relation of this very 
fact, and may be regarded as a sufficient proof of its having 
been the term here employed by Shakspeare : " Out of the 
western isles there came to Macdowald a great multitude of 
people, to assist him in that rebellious quarrel." Besides, Mac- 
dowald's quarry (i. e. game) must have consisted of Duncan's 
friends, and would the speaker then have applied the epithet 
damned to them ? and what have the smiles of fortune to do 

VOL. X. C 


Show'd like a rebel's whore : 5 But all's too weak : 
For brave Macbeth, (well he deserves that name,) 
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, 
Which smok'd with bloody execution, 
' Like valour's minion, -^ 

Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave V^/ 

over a carnage, when we have defeated our enemies ? Her busi- 
ness is then at an end. Her smiles or frowns are no longer of 
any consequence. We only talk of these, while we are pursuing 
our quarrel, and the event of it is uncertain. 

The word quarrel, in the same sense, occurs also in MS. 
Harl. 4690 : " Thanne sir Edward of Bailoll towke his leve off 
king Edwarde, and went ayenne into Scottelonde, and was so 
grete a lorde, and so moche had his wille, that he touke no hede 
to hem that halpe him in his quarelle ;" &c. STEEVENS, 

The reading proposed by Dr. Johnson, and his explanation 
of it, are strongly supported by a passage in our author's King 
John t 

" And put his cause and quarrel 

" To the disposing of the cardinal." 
Again, in this play of Macbeth : 

" and the chance, of goodness, 

** Be like our warranted quarrel" 

Here we have warranted quarrel, the exact opposite of damned 
quarrel, as the text is now regulated. 

Lord Bacon, in his Essays, uses the word in the same sense : 
" Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, 
and old men's nurses ; so as a man may have a quarrel to marry, 
when he will." MALONE. 

* Sh&w'd like a rebel's whore .] I suppose the meaning is, that 
fortune, while she smiled on him, deceived him. Shakspeare 
probably alludes to Macdowald's first successful action, elated 
by which he attempted to pursue his fortune, but lost his life. 

8 Lite valour's minion, 

Carv'd out his passage, till hefac'd the slave ;]. The old copy 

Like valour's minion, canfd out his passage 
Till hefac'd the slave. 

As an hemistich must be admitted, it seems more favourable 
to the metre that it should be found where it is now left. 

sc. ii. MACBETH. 19 

And ne'er shook handsyoior bade farewell to him- 

Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps^) u -?^ 

And fix'd his head upon our battlements. 

JMlw "~^ 

Till he fac'd the slave, could never be besigned as the beginning - -* 
of a verse, if harmony were at all attended to in its construc- 
tion. STEEVENS. 1^ o *fa*>*~ l ' t 
Like valour's minion,] So, in King John : QJd^&'&f^,. . \^~v 

" fortune shall cull forth, 1 flAAj 

" Out of one side, her happy minion." MALONE^. 

7 And ne'er shook hands, &c.] The old copy reads Which 

shook hands ] So, in King Henry VI. P. Ill : 

" Till our King Henry had shook hands with death." 


Mr. Pope, instead of which, here, and in many other places, 
reads who. But there is no need of change. There is scarcely 
one of our author's plays in which he has not used which for 
who. So, in The Winter's Tale: " the old shepherd, which 
stands by," &c. MALONS. 

The old reading Which never, appears to indicate that some 
antecedent words, now irretrievable, were omitted in the play- 
house manuscript ; unless the compositor's eye had caught which 
from a foregoing line, and printed it instead of And. Which, 
in the present instance, cannot well have been substituted for 
who, because it will refer to the slave Macdonwald, instead of his 
conqueror Macbeth. STEEVENS. 

s he unseam' d him from the nave to the chaps',] We 

seldom hear of such terrible cross blows given and received but 
by giants and miscreants in Amadis de Gaule. Besides, it must 
be a strange aukward stroke that could unrip him upwards from 
the navel to the chaps. But Shakspeare certainly wrote : 
he unseam' d him from the nape to the chaps. 
i. e. cut his skull in two ; which might be done by a Highlander's 
sword. This was a reasonable blow, and very naturally ex- 
pressed, on supposing it given when the head of the wearied 
combatant was reclining downwards at the latter end of a long 
duel. For the nape is the hinder part of the neck, where the 
vertebra join to. the bone of the skull. So, in Coriolanus : 

" O ! that you could turn your eyes towards the napes of 
your necks." 

The word unseamed likewise becomes very proper, and alludes 

C 2 


DUN. O, valiant cousin ! worthy gentleman ! 
SOLD. As whence the sun 'gins his reflexion ' 

to the suture which goes cross the crown of the head in that di- 
rection called the sutura sagittalis ; and which, consequently, 
must be opened by such a stroke. It is remarkable, that Milton, 
who in his youth read and imitated our poet much, particularly 
in his ComuSy was misled by this corrupt reading. For in the 
manuscript of that poem, in Trinity-College library, the follow- 
ing lines are read thus : 

" Or drag him by the curls, and cleave his scalpe 

" Down to the hippes." 

An evident imitation of this corrupted passage. But he altered 
it with better judgment to 

*' to a foul death 

" Curs'd as his life." WARBURTON. 

The old reading is certainly the true one, being justified by a 
passage in Dido Queene of Carthage, by Thomas Nash, 1594: 

" Then from the navel to .the throat at once 

" He ript old Priam." 

So likewise in an ancient MS. entitled The BoTce qfHuntyng, 
that is cleped Mayster of Game : Cap. V. " Som men haue sey 
hym slitte a man fro the kne up to the brest, and slee hym all 
starke dede at o strok." STEEVENS. 

Again, by the following passage in an unpublished play, en- 
titled The Witch, by Thomas Middleton, in which the same 
wound is described, though the stroke is reversed : 

** Draw it, or I'll rip thee down from neck to NAVEL, 
*' Though there's small glory in't." MALONE. 

9 As -whence the sun 'gins his reflexion ] The thought is ex- 
pressed with some obscurity, but the plain meaning is this: As 
the same quarter, whence the blessing of day-light arises, some- 
times sends us, by a dreadful reverse, the calamities of storms and 
tempests; so the glorious event of Macbeth' s victory, which pro- 
mised us the comforts of peace, was immediately succeeded by the 
alarming news of the Norweyan invasion. The natural history 
of the winds, &c. is foreign to the explanation of this passage. 
Shakspeare does not mean, in conformity to any theory, to say 
that storms generally come from the east. If it be allowed that 
they sometimes issue from that quarter, it is sufficient for the 
purpose of his comparison. STEEVENS. 

The natural history of the winds, &c. was idly introduced 
on this occasion by Dr. Warburton. Sir William D'Avenant's 

sc.ii. MACBETH. 21 

Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break 
So from that spring, whence comfort seem'd to 


Discomfort swellsS'Mark, king of Scotland, mark: 
No sooner justice had, with valour arm'd, 
Compell'dthese skipping Kernes to trust their heels; 
But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage, 
With furbish'd arms, and new supplies of men, 
Began a fresh assault. 

DUN. Dismay 'd not this 

Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo ? 

SOLD. - 

reading of this passage, in an alteration of this play, published in 
quarto, in 1674, affords a reasonably good comment upon it : 
" But then this day-break of our victory 
" Serv'd but to light us into other dangers, 
" That spring from whence our hopes did seem to rise. 

1 - thunders break ;] The word break is wanting in the 
oldest copy. The other folios and Rowe read breaking. Mr. 
Pope made the emendation. STEEVENS. 

Break, which was suggested by the reading of the second 
folio, is very unlikely to have been the word omitted in the 
original copy. It agrees with thunders; but who ever talked 
of the breaking of a storm ? MALONE. 

The phrase, I believe, is sufficiently common. Thus Dryden, 
in All for Love, &c. Act I: 

" - the Roman camp 

" Hangs o'er us black and threat'ning, like a storm 
" Just breaking o'er our heads." 
Again, in Ogilby's version of the 17th Iliad: 
" Hector o'er all an iron tempest spreads, 
" Th' impending storm will break upon our heads." 


* Discomfort swells,] Discomfort the natural opposite to com- 
fort. JOHNSON. 

3 Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo ? 

Sold. Y;] The reader 

cannot fail to observe, that some word, necessary to complete 


As sparrows, eagles ; or the hare, the lion. 

If I say sooth, I must report they were 

As cannons overcharg'd with double cracks; 4 

So they 

Doubly redoubled strokes 3 upon the foe : 

the verse, has been omitted in the old copy. Sir T. Hanraer 

Our captains, brave Macbeth, &c. STEEVENS. 

4 As cannons overcharged with double cracks ; &c.] That is, 
with double charges ; a metonymy of the effect for the cause. 


Mr. Theobald has endeavoured to improve the sense of this 
passage, by altering the punctuation thus : 

they "were 

As cannons overcharged; with double cracks 

So they redoubled strokes . 

He declares, with some degree of exultation, that he has no idea 
of a cannon charged with double cracks; but surely the great au- 
thor will not gain much by an alteration which makes him say 
of a hero, that he redoubles strokes ivith double cracks, an expres- 
sion not more loudly to be applauded, or more easily pardoned, 
than that which is rejected in its favour. 

That a cannon is charged with thunder, or with double thun- 
ders, may be written, not only without nonsense, but with ele- 
gance, and nothing else is here meant by cracks, which, in the 
time of this writer, was a word of such emphasis and dignity, 
that in this play he terms the general dissolution of nature the 
crack of doom. JOHNSON. 

Crack is used on a similar occasion by Barnaby Googe, in his 
Cupido Conquered, 1563: 

" The canon's cracke begins to roore 
" And darts full thycke they flye, 
" And cover'd thycke the armyes both, 

" And framde a counter-skye." 
Barbour, the old Scotch Poet, calls fire-arms " crakysof war." 


Again, in the old play of King John, 1591, and applied, as 
here, to ordnance : 

" as harmless and without effect, 

'* As is the echo of a cannon's crack.' 1 MALONE. 

* Doubly redoubled strokes &c.] So, in King Richard lit 
" And let thy blows, doubly redoubled, 
Fall," &c. 

so. n. MACBETH. 23 

Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, 
Or memorize another Golgotha, 6 

I cannot tell : 

But I am faint, my gashes cry for help. 

DUN. So well thy words become thee, as thy 

wounds ; 

They smack of honour both : Go, get him sur- 
geons. [Exit Soldier, attended. 

The irregularity of the metre, however, induces me to be- 
lieve our author wrote 

they were 

As cannons overcharged with double cracks, 
Doubly redoubling strokes upon the foe. 
For this thought, however, Shakspeare might have been in- 
debted to Caxton's Recuyel, &c. " The batayll was sharp, than 
the grekes dowblid and redotvblid their strokes," &c. STEEVENS. 

6 Or memorize another Golgotha,] That is, or make another 
Golgotha, which should be celebrated and delivered down to 
posterity, with as frequent mention as the first. HEATH. 

The word memorize, which some suppose to have been coined 
by Shakspeare, is used by Spenser, in a sonnet to Lord Buck- 
hurst, prefixed to his Pastorals, 1579 : 

" In vaine I thinke, right honourable lord, 
" By this rude rime to memorize thy name." 


The word is likewise used by Drayton ; and by Chapman, in 
his translation of the second Book of Homer, 1598 : 

" which let thy thoughts be sure to memorize." 

Again, in the third Iliad: 

" and Clymene, whom fame 

" Hath, for her fair eyes, memorized" 
And again, in a copy of verses prefixed to Sir Arthur Gorges's 
translation of Lucan, 1614?: 

'.' Of them whose acts they mean to memorize." 





Who comes here fc) 

MAL. The worthy thane of Rosse. 

LEN. What a haste looks through his eyes ! So 

should he look, 
That seems to speak things 

7 Enter Rosse.] The old copy Enter Rosse and Angus : but 
as only the name of Rosse is spoken to, or speaks any thing in 
the remaining part of this scene, and as Duncan expresses him- 
self in the singular number, 

" Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane ?" 

Angus may be considered as a superfluous character. Had his 
present appearance been designed, the King would naturally 
have taken some notice of him. STEEVENS. 

It is clear, from a subsequent passage, that the entry of Angus 
was here designed ; for in scene iii. he again enters with Rosse, 
and says, 

" We are sent 

" To give thee from our royal master thanks." 


Because Rosse and Angus accompany each other in a subse- 
quent scene, does it follow that they make their entrance toge- 
ther on the present occasion? STEEVENS. 

8 Who comes here ?] The latter word is here employed as a 
dissyllable. MALONE. 

Mr. Malone has already directed us to read There as a 
dissyllable, but without supporting his direction by one example 
of such a practice. 

I suspect that the poet wrote 

Who is't comes here ? or But who comes here ? 


So should he look, 

That seems to speak things strange.] The meaning of this 
passage, as it now stands, is, so should he look, that looks as if he 
told things .strange. But Rosse neither yet told strange things, 
nor could look as if he told them. Lenox only conjectured 
from his air that he had strange things to tell, and therefore un- 
doubtedly said : 

sc. ii. MACBETH. 25 

ROSSE. God save the king ! 

DUN. Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane ? 

ROSSE. From Fife, great king, 

Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky, 1 ' | 

What a haste looks through his eyes ! 

So should he look, that teems to speak things strange. 
He looks like one that is big tvith something of importance ; a fc* 
metaphor so natural that it is every day used in common dis- 
course. JOHNSON. 

Mr. M. Mason observes, that the meaning of Lenox is, 
" So should he look, who seems as if he had strange things to 

The following passage in The Tempest seems to afford no un- 
apt comment upon this : 

" pr'ythee, say on : 

" The setting of thine eye and cheek, proclaim 

" A matter from thee ." 
Again, in King Richard II: 

" Men judge by the complexion of the sky, &c. 

" So may you, by my dull and heavy eye, 

" My tongue hath but a heavier tale to say." 


That seems to speak things strange.] i. e. that seems about to- 
speak strange things. Our author himself furnishes us with the 
best comment on this passage. In Antony and Cleopatra we 
meet with nearly the same idea : 

" The business of this man looks out of him." MALONE. 

1 flout the sky,] The banners may be poetically described 

as waving in mockery or defiance of the sky. So, in King Ed- 
ivard III. 1599: 

*' And new replenish'd pendants cuff the air, 
" And beat the wind, that for their gaudiness 
" Struggles to kiss them." 

The sense of the passage, however, collectively taken, is 
this : Where the triumphant Jlutter of the Norweyan standards 
ventilates or cools the soldiers who had been heated through 
their efforts to secure such numerous trophies of victory. 

Again, in King John : 

" Mocking the air, with colours idly spread.'* 
This passage has perhaps been misunderstood. The meaning 
seems to be, not that the Norweyan banners proudly insulted 


And fan our people cold. 2 

Norway himself, with terrible numbers, 

Assisted by that most disloyal traitor 

The thane of Cawdor, 'gan a dismal conflict : -^ 

Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proofy 3 ' 

Confronted him with self-comparisons, 4 

Point against point rebellious, arm 'gainst arm, 

Curbing his lavish spirit : And, to conclude, 

The victory fell on us ; 

'the sky ; but that, the standards being taken by Duncan's forces, 
and fixed in the ground, the colours idly flapped about, serving 
only to cool the conquerors, instead of being proudly displayed 
by their former possessors. The line in King John, therefore, 
is the most perfect comment on this. MALONE. 

* And Jan our people cold.] In all probability, some words 
that rendered this a complete verse have been omitted ; a loss 
more frequently to be deplored in the present tragedy, than per- 
haps in any other of Shakspeare. STEEVENS. 

3 Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapt in proof,) This passage 
may be added to the many others, which show how little Shak- 
speare knew of ancient mythology. HENLEY. 

Our author might have been influenced by Holinehed, who, 
p. 567, speaking of King Henry V. says : " He declared that 
the goddesse of battell, called Bellona," &c. &c. Shakspeare, 
therefore, hastily concluded that the Goddess of War was wife 
to the God of it ; or might have been misled by Chapman's ver- 
sion of a line in the 5th Iliad of Homer : 

" Mars himself, match'd with \\isjemale mate, 

The dread Bellona: " 

Lapt in proof, is, defended by armour of proof. STEEVENS. 

4 Confronted him with self-comparisons,] By him, in this verse, 
is meant Norway ; as the plain construction of the English re- 
quires. And the assistance the thane of Caivdor had given Nor- 
way, was underhand; (which Rosse and Angus, indeed, had dis- 
covered, but was unknown to Macbeth;) Cawdor being in the 
court all this while, as appears from Angus'* speech to Macbeth, 
when he meets him to salute him with the title, and insinuates 
his crime to be lining the rebel ivith hidden help and 'vantage. 

with self-comparisons,] i.e. gave him as good as he 

brought, shew'd he was his equal. WARBURTON. 

x. ii. MACBETH. 27 

DUN. Great happiness ! 

ROSSE. That now r*\ 

Sweno, the Norways' king 5 Jcraves composition ; 
Nor would we deign him burial of his men, 
Till he disbursed, at Saint Colmes* inch, 6 
Ten thousand dollars to our general use. 

DUN. No more that thane of Cawdor shall de- 

Our bosom interest : Go, pronounce his death_J 
And with his former title greet Macbeth. 

4 That now 

Sweno, the Nortvays' king,"] The present irregularity of 
metre induces me to believe that Sweno was only a marginal 
reference, injudiciously thrust into the text ; and that the line 
originally stood thus : 

That noiv the Norway s 1 kins craves composition. 
Could it have been necessary for Rosse to tell Duncan the 
name of his old enemy, the king of Norway ? STEEVENS. 

6 Saint Colmes* inch,] Colmes' is to be considered as a 

Colmes'-inch, now called Inchcomb, is a small island lying in 
the Firth of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to St. 
Columb ; called by Camden Inch Colm, or The Isle ofColumba. 
Some of the modern editors, without authority, read 

Saint Colmes'' -kill Isle: 

but very erroneously ; for Colmes' Inch, and Colm-kitt, are two 
different islands ; the former lying on the eastern coast, near the 
place where the Danes were defeated ; the latter in the western 
seas, being the famous lona, one of the Hebrides. 

Holinshed'thus relates the whole circumstance : " The Danes 
that escaped, and got once to their ships, obteined of Makbeth for 
a great sumrae of gold, that such of their friends as were slaine, 
might be buried in Saint Colmes 1 Inch. In memorie whereof 
many old sepultures are yet in the said Inch, there to be seene 
graven with the armes of the Danes." Inch, or Inshe, in the 
Irish and Erse languages, signifies an island. See Lhwyd's 
Archceologia. STEEVENS. 

7 pronounce his death,] The old copy, injuriously to 

metre, reads 

pronounce his present death. STEEVENS. 



ROSSE. I'll see it done. 

DUN. What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath 
won. [Exeunt. 


A Heath. 
Thunder. Enter the three Witches. 

1 WITCH. Where hast thou been, sister ? 

2 WITCH. Killing swinefi 

3 WITCH. Sister, where thou t 9 

1 WITCH. A sailor's wife had chesnuts in her lap, 
And mounch'd, and mounch'd, and mounch'd : 

Give me, quoth I : 

J Killing swine.'] So, in a Detection of damnable Driftes 
practized oy three Witches, &c. arraigned at Chelmisforde in 
Essex, 1579, bl. 1. 12mo. " Item, also she came on a tyme 
to the house of one Robert Lathburie &c. who dislyking her 
dealyng, sent her home emptie ; but presently after her depar- 
ture, his hogges Jell sicke and died, to the number of twentie." 

9 1 Witch. Where hast thou been, sister? 

2 Witch. Killing swine. 

3 Witch. Sister, where thou?] Thus the old copy; yet I can- 
not help supposing that these three speeches, collectively taken, 
were meant to form one verse, as follows : 

1 JVitch. Where hast been, sister ? 

2 Witch. Killing swine. 

3 Witch. Where thou ? 
If my supposition be well founded, there is as little reason for 

preserving the useless thou in the first line, as the repetition of 
sister, in the third. STEEVENS. 

sa m. MACBETH. 29 

Aroint thee, witch! 1 the rump-fed ronyon 2 cries. 3 

1 Aroint thee, witch f] Aroint, or avaunt, be gone. POPE. 

In one of the folio editions the reading is Anoint thee, in a 
sense very consistent with the common account of witches, who 
are related to perform many supernatural acts, by the means of 
unguents, and particularly to fly through the air to the places 
where they meet at their hellish festivals. In this sense, anoint 
thee, witch, will mean, away, witch, to your infernal assembly. 
This reading I was inclined to favour, because I had met with 
the word aroint in no other author ; till looking into Hearne's 
Collections, I found it in a very old drawing, that he has pub- 
lished,* in which St. Patrick is represented visiting hell, and 
putting the devils into great confusion by his presence, of whom 
one, that is driving the damned before him with a prong, has a 
label issuing out of his mouth with these words, OUT OUT 
AROKGT, of which the last is evidently the same with aroint, 
and used in the same sense as in this passage. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Johnson's memory, on the present occasion, appears to 
have deceived him in more than a single instance. The subject 
of the above-mentioned drawing is ascertained by a label affixed 
to it in Gothick letters. lesus Christus, resurgens a mortuis 
spoliat infernum. My predecessor, indeed, might have been 
misled by an uncouth abbreviation in the Sacred Name. 

The words Out out arongt, are addressed to our Redeemer 
by Satan, who, the better to enforce them, accompanies them 
with a blast of the horn he holds in his right hand. Tartareum 
intendit cornu. If the instrument he grasps in his left hand was 
meant for a prong, it is of a singular make. Ecce signum. 

Satan is not " driving the damned before him ;" nor is any 
*See Ectypa Varia &c. Studio etcura Thome Htarne, &c. 1737. 



Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'the Tiger : 

other daemon present to undertake that office. Redemption, 
not punishment, is the subject of the piece. 

This story of Christ's exploit, in his descensus ad inferos, (as 
Mr. Tyrwhitt has observed in a note on Chaucer, 3512,) is 
taken from the Gospel of Nicodemus, and was called by our 
ancestors the harr&vainge of helle, under which title it was 
represented among the Chester Whitsun Playes, MS. Harl. 

Rynt you, natch, quoth Besse Locket to her mother, is a north 
country proverb. The word is used again in King Lear : 
" And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee." 

Anoint is the reading of the folio 1664, a book of no au- 
thority. STEEVENS. 

* the rump-fed ronyon ] The chief cooks in noble- 
men's families, colleges, religious houses, hospitals, &c. an- 
ciently claimed the emoluments or kitchen fees of kidneys, fat, 
trotters, rumps, &c. which they sold to the poor. The weird 
sister in this scene, as an insult on the poverty of the woman 
who had called her witch, reproaches her poor abject state, as 
not being able to procure better provision than offals, which 
are considered as the refuse of the tables of others. 


So, in The Ordinance for the Government of Prince Edward, 
H74-, the following fees are allowed : " mutton's heads, the 
rumpes of every beefe,'' &c. Again, in The Ordinances of the 
Household of George Duke of Clarence : " the hinder shankes 
of the mutton, with the rumpe, to be feable." 

Again, in Ben Jonson's Staple of News, old Penny -boy says 
to the Cook: 

And then remember meat for my two dogs ; 
Fat flaps of mutton, kidneys, rumps," &c. 


n Wit at several Weapons, by Beaumont and Fletcher : 

A niggard to your commons, that you're fain 
To size your belly out with shoulder fees, 
With kidneys, rumps, and cues of single beer." 
In The Book of Haukynge, &c. (commonly called The Book 
of St. Albans) bl. 1. no date, among the proper terms used in 
kepyng ofhaukes, it is said : " The hauke tyreth upon rumps" 


' ronyon cries.] i. e. scabby or mangy woman. Fr. 

rogneux, royne, scurf. Thus Chaucer, ui The Romaunt of the 
Rote, p. 551 : 

t \L V V - ^\ > 

sc. m. MACBETH. 31 

But in a sieve I'll thither sail, 4 
And, like a rat without a tail, 5 

" her necke 

" Withouten bleine, or scabbe, or roine." 
Shakspeare uses the substantive again in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, and the adjective roynish, in As you like it. 


4 in a sieve Pll thither sail,"] Reginald Scott, in his Dis- 
covery of Witchcraft, 1584, says it was believed that witches 
" could sail in an egg shell, a cockle or muscle shell, through 
and under the tempestuous seas." Again, says Sir W. D'Ave- 
nant, in his Albovine, 1629: 

" He sits like a witch sailing in a sieve" 
Again, in Newes from Scotland: Declaring the damnable 
Life of Doctor Fian a notable Sorcerer, who was burned at 
Edinbrough in Januarie last, 1591 ; which Doctor was Register 
to the Devill, that sundrie Times preached at North Baricke 
Kirke, to a Number of notorious Witches. With the true 
Examination of the said Doctor and Witches, as they uttered 
tJiem in the Presence of the Scottish King. Discovering how 
they pretended to bewitch and drowne his Majestic in the Sea 
camming from Denmarke, with other such wonderful Matters 
as the like hath not bin heard at anie Time. Published ac- 
cording to the Scottish Copie. Printedfor William Wright:- 
" and that all they together went to sea, each one in a riddle 
or cive, and went in the same very substantially with flaggons of 
wine, making merrie and drinking by the way in the same 
riddles or cives," &c. Dr. Farmer found the title of this scarce 
pamphlet in an interleaved copy of Maunsells Catalogue, &c. 
1595, with additions by Archbishop Harsenet and Thomas Baker 
the Antiquarian. It is almost needless to mention that I have 
since met with the pamphlet itself. STEEVENS. 

* And, like a. rat without a tail,] It should be remembered, 
(as it was the belief of the times,) that though a witch could 
assume the form of any animal she pleased, /the tail would still 
be wanting. 

The reason given by some of the old writers, for such a defi- 
ciency, is, that though the hands and feet, by an easy change, 
might be converted into the four paws of a beast, there was still 
no part about a woman which corresponded with the length of 
tail common to almost all our four-footed creatures. 



I'll do, I'll do, and Til 

2 WITCH. I'll give thee a wind. 7 
1 WITCH. Thou art kind. 

3 WITCH. And I another. 

1 WITCH. I myself have all the other ; 
And the very ports they blow, 8 
All the quarters that they know 

I'll do, Til do, and I'll do.- 

I' the shipman's card. 

Look what I have. ' 
Show me, show me.- 

Thus do go about, about; ] As I cannot help supposing 

this scene to have been uniformly metrical when our author 
wrote it, in its present state I suspect it to be clogged with in- 
terpolations, or mutilated by omissions. 

Want of corresponding rhymes to the foregoing lines, induce 
me to hint at vacuities which cannot be supplied, and intrusions 
which (on the bare authority of conjecture) must not be expelled. 

Were even the condition of modern transcripts for the stage 
understood by the public, the frequent accidents by which a 
poet's meaning is depraved, and his measure vitiated, would 
need no illustration. STEEVENS. 

7 /'// give thee a wind.] This free gift of a wind is to be 
considered as an act of sisterly friendship, for witches were sup- 
posed to sell them. So, in Summer's last Will and Testament, 

" in Ireland and in Denmark both, 

" Witches for gold will sell a man a wind, 
" Which in the corner of a napkin wrap'd, 
" Shall blow him safe unto what coast he will." 
Drayton, in his Mooncalf, says the same. It may be hoped, 
however, that the conduct of our witches did not resemble that 
of one of their relations, as described in an Appendix to the old 
translation of Marco Paolo, 1579: " they demanded that he 
should give them a winde; and he shewed, setting his handes 
behinde, from whence the wind should come," &c. STEEVENS. 

1 And the very ports they blow,"] As the word very is here 
of no other use than to fill up the verse, it is likely that Shak- 
speare wrote various, which might be easily mistaken for very, 

ac. in. MACBETH. 33 

Pthe shipman's cardfe/ 
I will drain him dry as 
Sleep shall, neither night nor day, 

being either negligently read, hastily pronounced, or imperfectly 
heard. JOHNSON. 

The very ports are the exact ports. Very is used here (as in, 
a thousand instances which might be brought) to express the 
declaration more emphatically. 

Instead of ports, however, I had formerly read points ; but 
erroneously. In ancient language, to blow sometimes means to 
bloiv upon. So, in Dumain's Ode in Love's Labour's Lost: 

" Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow ; ." 
i. e. blotu upon them. We still say, it blows East, or West, 
without a preposition. STEEVENS. 

The substituted word was first given by Sir W. D'Avenant, 
who, in his alteration of this play, has retained the old, while at 
the same time he furnished Mr. Pope with the new, reading : 
" I myself have all the other. 
*' And then from every port they blow, 
" From all the points that seamen know." MALONE. 

* the shipman's card.'] So, in The Microcosmos of John 

Davies, of Hereford, 4>to. 1605: 

" Beside the chiefe windes and collaterall 
" (Which are the windes indeed of chiefe regard) 
" Seamen observe more, thirtie two in all, 
*' All which are pointed out upon the carde." 
The card is the paper on which the winds are marked under 
the pilot's needle ; or perhaps the sea-chart, so called in our 
author's age. Thus, in The Loyal Subject, by Beaumont and 

" The card of goodness in your minds, that shews you 
" When you sail false." 

Again, in Churchyard's Prayse and Reporte ofMaister Martyne 
Foruoisher's Voyage to Meta Incognita, &c. 12mo. bl. 1. 1578 : 
" There the generall gaue a speciall card and order to his cap- 
taines for the passing of the straites," &c. STEEVENS. 

1 dry as hay ;] So, Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, B. III. 
c. ix: 

" But he is old and withered as hay." STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. D 


Hang upon his pent-house lid; 2 
He shall live a man forbid : 3 
Weary sev'n-nights, nine times nine, 
Shall he dwindle, 4 peak, and pine : 

* Sleep shall, neither night nor day, 

Hang upon his pent-house lid;] So, in The Miracles of 
Moses, by Michael Drayton : 

" His brows, like two steep pent-houses, hung down 
" Over his eye-lids." 

There was an edition of this poem in 1604?, but I know not 
whether these lines are found in it. Drayton made additions 
and alterations in his pieces at every re- impression. MALONE. 

3 He shall live a man forbid :] i. e. as one under a curse, an 
interdiction. So, afterwards in this play : 

" By his own interdiction stands accurs'd." 

So, among the Romans, an outlaw's sentence was, Aquae 8f 
Ignis interdictio ; i. e. he was forbid the use of water and fire, 
which implied the necessity of banishment. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Theobald has very justly explained jbrbid by accursed, 
but without giving any reason of his interpretation. To bid is 
originally to pray, as in this Saxon fragment : 
He ij- JMJ* $ bit ] bore, &c. 
He is wise that prays and makes amends. 
As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the 
word bid in its present sense, it signifies by the same kind of 
opposition to curse, when it is derived from the same word in its 
primitive meaning. JOHNSON. 

To bid, in the sense of to pray, occurs in the ancient MS. 
romance of The Sotvdon of Babyloyne, p. 78 : 
" Kinge Charles kneled adown 
" To kisse the relikes so goode, 
" And badde there an oryson 
" To that lorde that deyae on rode." 
Aforbodin fellow, Scot, signifies an unhappy one." 


It may be added that " bitten and Verbieten, in the German, 
signify to pray and to interdict." S. W. 

* Shall he dwindle, fyc.~\ This mischief was supposed to be 
put in execution by means of a waxen figure, which represented 
the person who was to be consumed by slow degrees. 

So, in Webster's Dutchess ofMalfy, 1623 : 

sc. in. MACBETH. *5 

Though his bark cannot be lost, 
Yet it shall be tempest-toss'd. 5 
Look what I have. 

2 WITCH. Show me, show me. 

1 WITCH. Here I have a pilot's thumb, 
Wreck'd, as homeward he did come. 

\_Drum within. 

3 WITCH. A drum, a drum ; 
Macbeth doth come. 

it wastes me more 

" Than wer't my picture fashion'd out of wax, 
*' Stuck with a magick needle, and then buried 
" In some foul dunghill. 1 ' 

So Holinshed, speaking of the witchcraft practised to destroy 
King Duffe : 

" found one of the witches roasting upon a wooden broch 

an image of wax at the fire, resembling in each feature the king's 
person, &c. 

" for as the image did waste afore the fire, so did the 

bodie of the king break forth in sweat. And as for the words 
of the inchantment, they served to keep him still waking from 
sleepe," &c. 

This may serve to explain the foregoing passage : 
" Sle.ep shall neither night nor day 
" Hang upon his pent-house lid." 
See Vol. IV. p. 227, n. 4-. STEEVENS. 

* Though his bark cannot be lost. 

Yet it shall be tempest-toss' d.] So, in Newesjrom Scotland, 
&c. a pamphlet already quoted : " Againe it is confessed, that 
the said christened cat was the cause of the Kinges Majesties 
shippe, at his coming fori he ofDenmarke, had a contrarie winde 
to the rest of his shippes then beeing in his companie, which thing 
was most straunge and true, as the Kinges Majestic acknow- 
ledgeth, for when the rest of the shippes had a faire and good 
winde, then was the winde contrarie and altogether against his 
Majestic. And further the sayde witch declared, that his 
Majestie had never come safely from the sea, if his faith had not 
prevayled above their ententions." To this circumstance per- 
haps our author's allusion is sufficiently plain. STEEVENS. 



ALL. The weird sisters, hand in hand, 8 
Posters of the sea and land, 

6 The weird sisters, hand in hand,"] These weird sisters, were 
the Fates of the northern nations ; the three hand-maids of 
Odin. Hce nominantur Valkyries, quas quodvis ad pralium 
Odinus mitlit. Hce viros morti destinant, et victoriam gubernant. 
Gunna, et Rota, et Parcarum minima Skullda: per aera et maria 
equitant semper ad morituros eligendos ; et cades in potestate 
habent. Bartholinus de Causis contemptae a Danis adhuc Gen- 
tilibus mortis. It is for this reason that Shakspeare makes them 
three; and calls them, 

Posters of the sea and land ; 

and intent only upon death and mischief. However, to give 
this part of his work the more dignity, he intermixes, with this 
Northern, the Greek and Roman superstitions ; and puts Hecate 
at the head of their enchantments. And to make it still more 
familiar to the common audience (which was always his point) 
he adds, for another ingredient, a sufficient quantity of our own 
country superstitions concerning witches ; their beards, their 
cats, and their broomsticks. So that his 'witch-scenes are like 
the charm they prepare in one of them ; where the ingredients 
are gathered from every thing shocking in the natural world, 
as here, from every thing absurd in the moral. But as extrava- 
gant as all this is, the play has had the power to charm and be- 
witch every audience, from that time to this. WARBURTON. 

Wierd comes from the Anglo-Saxon pypb,Jatum, and is used 
as a substantive signifying a prophecy by the translator of Hector 
Boethius, in the year 1541, as well as for the Destinies, by 
Chaucer and Holinshed. Of the tveirdis gevyn to Makbeth and 
Sanqhuo, is the argument of one of the chapters. Gawin 
Douglas, in his translation of Virgil, calls the Parcee, the weird 
sisters ; and in Ane verie excellent and delectabill Treatise in- 
titulit PHI LOTUS, quhairin we may persave the greit Inconveni- 
ences thatfallis out in the Mariage betweene Age and Zouth, 
Edinburgh, 1603, the word appears again: 
" How dois the quheill of fortune go, 
" Quhat wickit wierd has wrocht our wo." 
Again : 

'* Quhat neidis Philotus to think ill, 

" Or zit his wierd to warie ?" 

The other method of spelling [weyward] was merely a blunder 
of the transcriber or printer. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 37 

Thus do go about, about ; 
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, 
And thrice again, to make up nine : 
Peace ! the charm's wound up. 


MACS. So foul and fair a day I have not seen. 

BAN. How far/is't call'd/ to Fores ? 7 What are 

The Valhyrite, or Valfcyriur, were not barely three in number. 
The learned critic might have found, in Bartholinus, not only 
Gunna, Rota, et SkuUda, but also, Scogula, Hilda, Gondula, 
and Geiroscogula. Bartholinus adds, that their number is yet 
greater, according to other writers who speak of them. They 
were the cupbearers of Odin, and conductors of the dead. They 
were distinguished by the elegance of their forms ; and it would 
be as just to compare youth and beauty with age and deformity, 
as the Valkyrice of the North with the Witches of Shakspeare. 


The old copy has Keyword, probably in consequence of the 
transcriber's being deceived by his ear. The correction was 
made by Mr. Theobald. The following passage in Bellenden's 
translation of Hector Boethius, fully supports the emendation : 
" Be aventure Makbeth and,Banquho were passand to Fores, 
quhair kyng Duncane hapnit to be for y e tyme, and met be ye 
gait thre wemen clothit in elrage and uncouth weid. They wer 
jugit be the pepill to be iveird sisters." So also Holinshed. 


7 Hoiv Jar is't call'd to Fores ?"] The king at this time 
resided at Fores, a town in Murray, not far from Inverness. 
" It fortuned, (says Holinshed) as Macbeth and Banquo jour- 
neyed towards Fores, where the king then lay, they went sport- 
ing by the way, without other company, save only themselves, 
when suddenly in the midst of a laund there met them three 
women in straunge and ferly apparell, resembling creatures of an 
elder world," &c. STEEVENS. 

The old copy reads Soris. Corrected by Mr. Pope. 



So withered, and so wild in their attire ; 
That look not like the inhabitants o* the earth, 
And yet are on't ? Live you ? or are you aught 
That man may question? 8 You seem to understand 


By each at once her choppy finger laying 
Upon her skinny lips : You should be women, 9 
And yet your beards l forbid me to interpret 
That you are so. 

MACS. Speak, if you can ; What are you ? 

1 WITCH. All hail, Macbeth! 2 hail to thee, 
thane of Glamis ! 3 

* That man may question ?"] Are ye any beings with which 
man is permitted to nold converse, or of whom it is lawful to 
ask questions. JOHNSON. 

9 You should be tvomen,~\ In Pierce Pennilesse his Sup- 
plication to the Devill, 1592, there is an enumeration of spirits 
and their offices ; and of certain watry spirits it is said : " by 
the help of Alynach a spirit of the West, they will raise stormes, 
cause earthquakes, rayne, haile or snow, in the clearest day 
that is ; and if ever they appear to anie man, they come in too- 
men's apparell." HENDERSON. 

1 your beards ] Witches were supposed always to 

have hair on their chins. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, 

" Some women have beards, marry they are half 

tvitckes." STEEVENS. 

1 All hail, Macbeth'] It hath lately been repeated from 
Mr. Guthrie's Essay upon English Tragedy, that the portrait of 
Macbeth's wife is copied from Buchanan, " whose spirit, as 
well as words, is translated into the play of Shakspeare : and it 
had signifyed nothing to have pored only on Holinshed for 
facts." Animus etiam, per se ferox, prope quotidianis conviciis 
uxoris (quae omnium consiliorum ei erat conscia) stimulabatur.'* 
This is the whole that Buchanan says of the Lady, and truly 
I see no more spirit in the Scotch, than in the English chro- 
nicler. " The wordes of the three weird sisters also greatly 
encouraged him [to the murder of Duncan,] but specially his 
wife lay sore upon him to attempt the thing, as she that was 

sc. m. MACBETH. 39, 

2 WITCH. All hail, Macbeth ! hail to thee, thane 
of Cawdor ! 4 

very ambitious, brenning in unquenchable desire to beare the 
name of a queene." Edit. 1577, p. 244-. 

This part of Holinshed is an abridgement of Johne Bellen- 
den's translation of the Noble Clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at 
Edinburgh, in fol. 1541. I will give the passage as it is found 
there. " His wyfe impacient of lang tary (as all tvemen ar) 
specially quhare they are desirus of ony purpos, gaif hym gret 
artation to pursew the third weird, that sche micht be ane quene, 
calland hym oft tymis febyl cowart and nocht desyrus of 
hdnouris, sen he durst not assailze the thing with manheid and 
curage, quhilk is offerit to hym be beniuolence of fortoun. 
Howbeit sindry otheris hes assailzeit sic thinges afore with maist 
terribyl jeopardyis, quhen they had not sic sickernes to succeid 
in the end of thair laubouris as he had." p. 173. 

But we can demonstrate, that Shakspeare had not the story 
from Buchanan. According to Mm, the weird sisters salute 
Macbeth : " Una Angusiae Thanum, altera Moravise, tertia 
Regem." Thane of Angus, and of Murray, &c. but according 
to Holinshed, immediately from Bellenden, as it stands in Shak- 
speare : " The first of them spake and sayde, All hayle Makbeth 
Thane of Glammis, the second of them sayde, Hayle Makbeth 
Thane of Cawder ; but the third sayde, All hayle Makbeth, that 
hereafter shall be King of Scotland '." p. 243. 

1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thec, thane of Glamis! 

2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth ! Hail to thee, thane of Caivdor ! 

3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth ! that shalt be king hereafter ! 
Here too our poet found the equivocal predictions, on which 

his hero so fatally depended : " He had learned of certaine 

wysards, how that he ought to take heede of Macduffe: 

and surely hereupon had he put Macduffe to death, but a cer- 
taine witch, whom he had in great trust, had tolde, that he 
should neuer be slain with man borne of any woman, nor van- 
quished till the wood of Bernane came to the castell of Dunsi- 
nane." p. 244. And the scene between Malcolm and Macduff, 
in the fourth Act, is almost literally taken from the Chronicle. 


All hail, Macbeth .'] All hail is a corruption of al-hael, Saxon, 
i. e. ave, salve. MALONE. 

* thane of Glamis /] The thaneship of Glamis was the 
ancient inheritance of Macbeth's family. The casfle where they 
lived is still standing, and was lately the magnificent residence 


5 WITCH. All hail, Macbeth! thatshaltbe king 


BAN. Good sir, why do you start ; and seem to 


Things that do sound so fair? Pthe name of truth, 
Are ye fantastical, 5 or that indeed 
Which outwardly ye show ? My noble partner 
You greet with present grace, and great prediction 
Of noble havingy 6 and of royal hope, 

of the Earl of Strathmore. See a particular description of it in 
Mr. Gray's Letter to Dr. Wharton, dated from Glames Castle. 


4 thane o/"Cawdor!] Dr. Johnson observes, in his Jour- 
ney to the Western Islands of Scotland, that part of Colder 
Castle, from which Macbeth drew his second title, is still re- 
maining. In one of his Letters, Vol. I. p. 122, he takes notice 
of the same object : " There is one ancient tower with its bat- 
tlements and winding stairs the rest of the house is, though 
not modern, of later erection." STEEVENS. 

* Are ye fantastical,] By fantastical is not meant, according 
to the common signification, creatures of his own brain ; for he 
could not be so extravagant to ask such a question : but it is used 
for supernatural, spiritual. WARBURTON. 

By fantastical, he means creatures of fantasy or imagination : 
the question is, Are these real beings before us, or are we de- 
ceived by illusions of fancy ? JOHNSON. 

So, in Reginald Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft, 1584-: 
" He affirmeth these transubstantiations to be but fantastical, 
not according to the veritie, but according to the appearance." 
The same expression occurs in All's lost by Lust, 1633, by 
Rowley : 

" or is that thing, 

" Which would supply the place of soul in thee, 

" Merely phantastical?" 

Shakspeare, however, took the word from Holinshed, who in 
his account of the witches, says : " This was reputed at first 
but some vain fantastical illusion by Macbeth and Banquo." 


6 Of noble having,! Having is estate, possession, fortune. So, 
in Twelfth-Night: 

sc. m. MACBETH. 41 

That he seems rapt withal ; 7 to me you speak not : 
If you can look into the seeds of time, 
And say, which grain will grow, and which will not ; 
Speak then to me, who neither beg, nor fear, 
Your favours, nor your hate. 

1 WITCH. Hail! 

2 WITCH. Hail! 

3 WITCH. Hail! 

1 WITCH. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. 

2 WITCH. Not so happy, yet much happier. 

3 WITCH. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be 

So, all hail, Macbeth, and Banquo ! 

1 WITCH. Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail! 

MACS. Stay, you imperfect speakers,tellme more : 
By Sinel's death, 8 I know, I am thane of Glamis ; 

" my having is not much ; 

" I'll make division of my present store : 

'* Hold ; there is half my coffer." 

Again, in the ancient metrical romance of Syr Bevys of Hampton, 
bl. 1. no date : 

" And when he heareth this tydinge, 

" He will go theder with great having" 

See also note on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III. sc. ii. 


7 That he seems rapt withal ;] Rapt is rapturously affected, 
extra se raptus. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, IV. ix. 6 : 

" That, with the sweetness of her rare delight, 

" The prince half rapt, began on her to dote." 
Again, in Cymbeline : 

" What, dear sir, thus raps you ?" STEEVENS. 
By Sinel's death,] The father of Macbeth. POPE. 
His true name, which however appears, but perhaps only 
typographically, corrupted to Synele in Hector Boethius, from 
whom, by means of his old Scottish translator, it came to the 
knowledge of Holinshed, was Finleg. Both Finlay and Mac- 
beath are common surnames in Scotland at this moment. 



But how of Cawdor ? the thane of Carwdor lives, 
A prosperous gentleman ; and, to be king, 
Stands not within the prospect of belief, 
No more than .to be Cawdor. Say, from whence 
You owe this strange intelligence ? or why 
Upon this blasted heatftj^you stop our way 
With such prophetick greeting ? Speak, I charge 
you. [Witches vanish. 

SAN. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, 
Andtheseareof them: Whither are theyvanish'd? 

MACS. Into the air ; and what seem'd corporal, 

As breath into the wind. 'Would they had staid ! 

BAN. Were such things here, as we do speak 

about ? 

Or have we eaten of the insane root, 1 
That takes the reason prisoner ? 

9 blasted heath ] Thus, after Shakspeare, Milton, 

Paradise Lost, B. I. 615 : 

" their stately growth though bare 

" Stands on the blasted heath." STEEVENS. 

1 eaten of the insane root,] The insane root is the root 

which makes insane. THEOBALD. 

The old copies read " on the insane root." REED. 

Shakspeare alludes to the qualities anciently ascribed to hem- 
lock. So, in Greene's Never too late, 1616: '* You gaz'd 
against the sun, and so blemished your sight ; or else you have 
eaten of the roots of hemlock, that makes men's eyes conceit un- 
seen objects" Again, in Ben Jonson's Sejanus : 

** they lay that hold upon thy senses, 

" As thou hadst snuft up hemlock" STEEVENS. 

The commentators have given themselves much trouble to 
ascertain the name of this root, but its name was, I believe, 
unknown to Shakspeare, as it is to his readers ; Sir Thomas 
North's translation of Plutarch having probably furnished him 
with the only knowledge he had of its qualities, without speci- 
fying its name. In the Life of Antony, (which our author must 
have diligently read,) the Roman soldiers, while employed in the 

sc. m. MACBETH. 43 

MACS. Your children shall be kings. 

BAN. You shall be king. 

MACS. And thane of Cawdor too ; went it not 

BAN. To the self-same tune, and words. Who's 
here ? 

Enter ROSSE and ANGUS. 

ROSSE. The king hath happily received, Macbeth, 
The news of thy success : and when he reads 
Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight, 
His wonders and his praises do contend, 
Which should be thine, or his : Silenc'd with that, 2 

Parthian war, are said to have suffered great distress for want of 
provisions. " In the ende (says Plutarch) they were compelled 
to live of herbs and rootes, but they found few of them that 
men do commonly eate of, and were enforced to taste of them 
that were never eaten before ; among the which there was one 
that killed them, and made them out of their wits ; for he that 
had once eaten of it, his memorye was gone from him, and he 
Tcneta no manner of thing, but only busied himself in digging and 
hurling of stones from one place to another, as though it had 
been a matter of great .waight, and to be done with all possible 
speede." MALONE. 

* His wonders and his praises do contend, 

Which should be thine, or his: &c.] i. e. private admiration 
of your deeds, and a desire to do them public justice by com- 
mendation, contend in his mind for pre-eminence. Or, There 
is a contest in his mind whether he should indulge his desire of 
publishing to the world the commendations due to your heroism, 
or whether he should remain in silent admiration of what no 
words could celebrate in proportion to its desert. 

Mr. M. Mason would read wonder, not wonders ; for, says 
he, " I believe the word wonder, in the sense of admiration, has 
no plural." In modern language it certainly has none ; yet I 
cannot help thinking that, in the present instance, plural was 
opposed to plural by Shakspeare. STEEVENS. 

Silenc'd with that,] i. e. wrapp'd in silent wonder at the deeds 
performed by Macbeth, &c. MALONE. 


In viewing o'er the rest o* the self-same day, 
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks, 
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make, 
Strange images of death. As thick as tale, 3 

As thick as tale,] Meaning, that the news came as thick 

as a tale can travel with the post. Or we may read, perhaps, 
yet better : 

As thick as tale, 

Came post -with post; 

That is, posts arrived as fast as they could be counted. 

So, in King Henry VI. P. III. Act II. sc. i : 

" Tidings, as swiftly as the post could run, 

" Were brought," &c. 
Mr. Rowe reads as thick as hail. STEEVENS. 

The old copy reads Can post. The emendation is Mr. 
Rowe's. Dr. Johnson's explanation would be less exception- 
able, if the old copy had As quick as tale. Thick applies but 
ill to tale, and seems rather to favour Mr. Rowe's emendation. 
" As thick as hail,'* as an anonymous correspondent observes 
to me, is an expression in the old play of King John, 1591 : 
*' breathe out damned orisons, 
" As thick as hail-stones 'fore the spring's approach." 
The emendation of the word can is supported by a passage in 
King Henry IV. P. II: 

" And there are twenty weak and wearied posts 
" Come from the north." MALONE. 

Dr. Johnson's explanation is perfectly justifiable. As thick, 
in ancient language, signified us fast. To speak thick, in our 
author, does not therefore mean, to have a cloudy indistinct 
utterance, but to deliver uords with rapidity. So, in Cymbeline, 
Act III. sc. ii : 

" say, and speak thick, 

" (Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing 

" To the smothering of the sense) how far it is 

" To this same blessed Milford." 
Again, in King Henry IV. P. II. Act II. sc. iii : 

" And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish, 

" Became the accents of the valiant; 

" For those that could speak low and tardily, 

" Would turn &c. To seem like him." 
Thick therefore is not less applicable to tale, the old reading, 
than to hail, the alteration of Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS. 

sc. in- MACBETH. 45 

Came post with post ; and every one did bear 
Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence, 
And pour'd them down before him. 

ANG. We are sent, 

To give thee, from our royal master, thanks ; 
To herald the^*)into h* 8 sight;* not pay thee. 

ROSSE. And, for an earnest of a greater honour, 
He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: 
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane ! 
For it is thine. 

BAN. What, can the devil speak true ? 

MACS. The thane of Cawdor lives ; Why do you 

dress me 
In borrow'd robes ? 

ANG. Who was the thane, lives yet ; 

But under heavy judgment bears that life 
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was 
Combin'd with Norway ;^ or did line the rebel 
With hidden help and vantage ; or that with both 

4 To herald thee &c.] The old copy redundantly reads Only 
to herald thee &c. STEEVENS. 

* with Norway;] The old copy reads: 

with those of Norway. 

The players not understanding that by " Norway" our author 
meant the King of Norway, as in Hamlet 

" Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy," &c. 
foisted in the words at present omitted. STEEVENS. 

There is, I think, no need of change. The word combined 
belongs to the preceding line : 

" Which he deserves to lose. Whe'r he was combin'd 
" With those of Norway, or did line the rebel," &c. 
Whether was in our author's time sometimes pronounced and 
written as one syllable, whe'r. 
So, in King John: 

" Now shame upon you, whe'r she does or no." 



He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not ; 
But treasons capital, confess'd, and prov'd, 
Have overthrown him. 

MACS. Glamis, and thane of Cawdor : 

The greatest is behind. Thanks for your pains. 
Do you not hope your children shall be kings, 
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me, 
Promis'd no less to them ? 

BAN. That, trusted homey ^ 

trusted home,] i. e. entirely, thoroughly relied on. So, 

in All's well that ends toell: 

" lack'd the sense to know 

" Her estimation home." 
Again, in The Tempest: 

tf 1 will pay thy graces 

" Home, both in word and deed." STEEVENS. 

The added word home shows clearly, in my apprehension, 
that our author wrote That, thrusted home. So, in a subse- 
quent scene : 

* That every minute of his being thrusts 

" Against my nearest of life." 

Thrusted is the regular participle from the verb to thrust, and 
though now not often used, was, I believe, common in the time 
of Shakspeare. So, in King Henry V : 

" With casted slough and fresh legerity." 
Home means to the uttermost. So, in The Winter's Tale : 

" all my sorrows 

" You have paid home" 

It may be observed, that " thrusted home" is an expression 
used at this day ; but " trusted home," 1 believe, was never 
used at any period whatsoever. I have had frequent occasion to 
remark that many of the errors in the old copies of our author's 
plays arose from the transcriber's ear having deceived him. In 
Ireland, where much of the pronunciation of the age of Queen 
Elizabeth is yet retained, the vulgar constantly pronounce the 
word thrust as if it were written trust ; and hence, probably, the 
error in the text. 

The change is so very slight, and I am so thoroughly per- 
suaded that the reading proposed is the true one, that had it 
been suggested by any former editor, I should, without hesita- 
tion, have given it a place in the text. MALONE. MACBETH. 47 

Might yet enkindle yoilLVunto the crown, 

Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange : 

And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, . ..* 

The instruments of darkness tell us truths ; JT"*\ ' 

Win us with honest trifles, to betray us 

In deepest consequence. 

Cousins, a word, I pray you. 

MACS. Two truths are told, 8 

7 Might yet enkindle you ] Enkindle, for to stimulate you 
to seek. WARBURTON. 

A similar expression occurs in As you like it, Act I. sc. i : 

** nothing remains but that I kindle the boy thither.'* 


Might jire you with the hope of obtaining the crown. 


8 Two truths are told, &c.] How the former of these 
truths has been fulfilled, we are yet to learn. Macbeth could 
not become Thane of Glamis, till after his father's decease, of 
which there is no mention throughout the play. If the Hag 
only announced what Macbeth already understood to have hap- 
pened, her words could scarcely claim rank as a prediction. 


From the Scottish translation of Boethius it should seem that 
Sinel, the father of Macbeth, died after Macbeth's having been 
met by the weird sisters. " Makbeth (says the historian) re- 
volvyng all thingis, as they wer said to be the weird sisteris, began 
to covat y e croun. And zit he concludit to abide, quhil he saw 
y e tyme ganand thereto ; fermelie belevyng y l y e third weird 
suld cum' as the Jirst two did afore." This, indeed, is incon- 
sistent with our author's words, " By Sinel's death, I know, 
/ am thane of Glamis;" but Holinshed, who was his guide, 
in his abridgment of the History of Boethius, has particularly 
mentioned that Sinel died before Macbeth met the weird sisters : 
we may, therefore, be sure that Shakspeare meant it to be un- 
derstood that Macbeth had already acceded to his paternal title. 
Bellenden only says, " The first of them said to Macbeth, Hale 
thane of Glammis. The second said," &c. But in Holinshed 
the relation runs thus, conformably to the Latin original : " The 
first of them spake and said, All haile Mackbeth, thane of 
Glammis (for he had latelie entered into that dignitie and office 


As happy prologues to the swelling act 9 

Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen. 

This supernatural soliciting * 

Cannot be ill ; cannot be good : If ill, 

Why hath it given me earnest of success, 

Commencing in a truth ? I am thane of Cawdor : 

If good, why do I yield to that suggestion 2 

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, 3 

by the death of his father Sinell.} The second of them said," 

Still, however, the objection made by Mr. Steevens remains 
in its full force ; for since he knew that " by Sinel's death he 
was thane of Glamis," how can this salutation be considered as 
prophetic ? Or why should he afterwards say, with admiration, 
" GLAMIS, and thane of Cawdor ;" &c ? Perhaps we may sup- 
pose that the father of Macbeth died so recently before his 
interview with the weirds, that the news of it had not yet got 
abroad; in which case, though Macbeth himself knew it, he 
might consider their giving him the title of Thane of Glamis as 
a proof of supernatural intelligence. 

I suspect our author was led to use the expressions which have 
occasioned the present note, by the following words of Holin- 
shed : " The same night after, at supper, Banquo jested with 
him, and said, Now Mackbeth, thou hast obteined those things 
which the TWO former sisters PROPHESIED: there reraaineth 
onelie for thee to purchase that which the third said should com* 
to passe." MA LONE. 

' swelling act ] Swelling is used in the same sense in 

the prologue to King Henry V i 

" princes to act, 

" And monarchs to behold the swelling scene." 

1 This supernatural soliciting ] Soliciting for information. 


Soliciting is rather, in my opinion, incitement, than informa- 
tion. JOHNSON. 

* suggestion ] i. e. temptation. So, in All's well that 

ends well : " A filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the 
young earl." STEEVENS. 

* Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,] So Macbeth says, 
in the latter part of this play : 

sc. m. MACBETH. 49 

And make my seatect>heart knock at my ribs, 
Against the use of nature ? Present fears 


Are less than horrible imaginings : 5 

My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, 

Shakes so my single state of man, 6 that function 

-And my fell of hair 

" Would, at a dismal treatise, rouse and stir, 
"As life were in it." M. MASON. 

seated ] i.e. fixed, firmly placed. So, in Milton's 

Paradise Lost, B. VI. 643 : 

*' From their foundations loos'ning to and fro 
" They pluck'd the seated hills." STEEVENS. 

* Present fears 

Are less than horrible imaginings:] Present fears are 
fears of things present, which Macbeth declares, and every 
man has found, to be less than the imagination presents them 
while the objects are yet distant. JOHNSON. 

Thus, in All's ivell that ends well: " when we should 
submit ourselves to an unknown fear" 

Again, in The Tragedie of Croesus, 1604, by Lord Sterling : 
" For as the shadow seems more monstrous still, 
" Than doth the substance whence it hath the being, 
" So th* apprehension of approaching ill 
" Seems greater than itself, whilst fears are lying" 


By present fears is meant, the actual presence of any objects 
of terror. So, in The Second Part of King Henry IV. the 
King says: 

" All these bold fears 

" Thou see'st with peril I have answered." 
To fear is frequently used by Shakspeare in the sense of fright. 
In this very play, Lady Macbeth says 

" To alter favour ever is to fear." 
So, in Fletcher's Pilgrim, Curio says to Alphonso : 

" Mercy upon me, Sir, why are you feared thus ?" 
Meaning, thus affrighted. M. MASON. 

6 single state of man,"] The single state of man seems 

to be used by Shakspeare for an individual, in opposition to a 
commonwealth, or conjunct body. JOHNSON. 

By single state of man, Shakspeare might possibly mean 
somewhat more than individuality. He who, in the peculiar 



Is smother'd in surmise ; and nothing is, 
But what is not. 6 

BAN. Look, how our partner's rapt. 

MACS. If chance will have me king, why, chance 

may crown me, 
Without my stir. 

BAN. New honours come upon him 

situation of Macbeth, is meditating a murder, dares not com- 
municate his thoughts, and consequently derives neither spirit, 
nor advantage, from the countenance, or sagacity, of others. 
This state of man may properly be styled single, solitary, or 
defenceless, as it excludes the benefits of participation, and has 
no resources but in itself. 

It should be observed, however, that double and single anci- 
ently signified strong and iveak, when applied to liquors, and 
perhaps to other objects. In this sense the former word may be 
employed by Brabantio : 

" a voice potential, 

" As double as the duke's ;" 
and the latter, by the Chief Justice, speaking to Falstaff: 

" Is not your wit single?" 

The single state of Macbeth may therefore signify his weak 
and debile state of mind. STEEVENS. 

* Junction 

Is smother* din surmise; and nothing is, 

But ivhat is not.~\ All powers of action are oppressed and 
crushed by one overwhelming image in the mind, and nothing 
is present to me but that which is really future. Of things now 
about me I have no perception, being intent wholly on that 
which has yet no existence. JOHNSON. 

Surmise, is speculation, conjecture concerning the future. 


Shakspeare has somewhat like this sentiment in The Merchant 
of Venice : 

" Where, every something being blent together, 

" Turns to a wild of nothing. " 

Again, in King Richard II: 

" is nought but shadows 

" Of what it is not.'* STEEVENS. 

fc. m. MACBETH. 51 

Like our strange garments; cleave not to their 

But with the aid of use. 

MACS. Come what come may ; 

Time and the hour runs through the roughest 
day. 7 

BAN. Worthy .Macbeth, we stay upon your lei- 

7 Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.'] " By 
this, I confess I do not, with his two last commentators, 
imagine is meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or 
an allusion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation 
to time to hasten forward, but rather to say tempus et hora, 
time and occasion, will carry the thing through, and bring it 
to some determined point and end, let its nature be what it 

This note is taken from an Essay on the Writings and Genius 
of Shalcspeare, &c. by Mrs. Montagu. 

So, in the Lyfe of Saynt Radegunda, printed by Pynson, 4-to. 
no date : 

" How they dispend the tyme, the day, the houre." 
Such tautology is common to Shakspeare. 

" The very head and front of my offending," 
is little less reprehensible. Time and the hour, is Time with his 
hours. STEEVENS. 

The same expression is used by a writer nearly contemporary 
with Shakspeare : " Neither can there be any thing in the world 
more acceptable to me than death, whose hoiver and time if 
they were as certayne," &c. Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 
1579. Again, in Davison's Poems, 1621 : 

" Time's young hotures attend her still." 
Again, in our author's 126th Sonnet: 

" O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power 
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour ." 


' ive stay upon your leisure.] The same phraseology 

occurs in the Paston Letters, Vol. III. p. 80 : " sent late to 
me a man y e which wuld abydin uppon my leysir" &c. 


E <2 ' 


MACS. Give me your^favour s3rny dull brain 

was wrought' 

With things forgotten?Xindgentlemen, your pains 
Are registered where every day I turn 
The leaf to read them. 4 Let us toward the king. 
Think upon what hath chanc'd; and, at more time, 
The interim having weigh'd it, 3 let us speak 
Our free hearts each to other. 

BAN. Very gladly. 

MACS. Till then, enough. Come, friends. 


9 favour:] i. e. indulgence, pardon. STEEVENS. 

1 . . my dull brain was wrought 

With things forgotten.] My head was worked, agitated, 
put into commotion. JOHNSON. 

So, in Othello: 

" Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought, 
" Perplex'd in the extreme.'* STEEVENS. 

* . where every day I turn 

The leaf to read them.] He means, as Mr. Upton has 
observed, that they are registered in the table-book of his heart. 
So Hamlet speaks of the table of his memory. MALONE. 

3 The interim having weigh'd it,] This intervening portion 
of time is also personified : it is represented as a cool impartial 
judge ; as the pauser Reason. Or, perhaps, we should read 
./' th* interim. STEEVENS. 

I believe the interim is used adverbially : " you having 
weighed it in the interim." MALONE. 

sc. iv. MACBETH. 53 


Fores. A Room in the Palace. 

Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONAL- 
BAIN, LENOX, and Attendants. 

DUN. Is execution done on Cawdor ? Are noi* 
Those in commission yet returned ? 

MAL. My liege, 

They are not yet come back* But I have spoke 
With one that saw him diefrjj who did report, 
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons ; 
Implor'd your highness* pardon ; and set forth 
A deep repentance : nothing in his life 
Became him, like the leaving it ; he died 
As one that had been studied in his death, 6 , ^ 

4 Are not ] The old copy reads Or not. The 

emendation was made by the editor of the second folio. 


* With one that saw him die:~\ The behaviour of the thane 
of Caivdor corresponds, in almost every circumstance, with that 
of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, as related by Stowe, p. 793. 
His asking the Queen's forgiveness, his confession, repentance, 
and concern about behaving with propriety on the scaffold, are 
minutely described by that historian. Such an allusion could 
not fail of having the desired effect on an audience, many of 
whom were eye-witn esses to the severity of that justice which 
deprived the age of one of its greatest ornaments, and South- 
ampton, Shakspeare's patron, of his dearest friend. STEEVENS. 

6 studied in his death ,] Instructed in the art of dying. 

It was usual to say studied, for learned in science. JOHNSON. 

His own profession furnished our author with this phrase. To 
be studied in a part, or to have studied it, is yet the technical 
term of the theatre. MALONE. 

V L. 


To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd, 
As 'twere a careless trifle. 

DUN. There's no art, 

To find the mind's construction in the face : 7 
He was a gentleman on whom I built 
An absolute trust. O worthiest cousin ! 


The sin of my ingratitude even now 

Was heavy on me : Thou art so far before, 

That swiftest wing of recompense is slow 

To overtake thee. 'Would thou hadst less deserv'd ; 

That the proportion both of thanks and payment 

So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream : " Have you the lion's 
part written ? pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of 

The same phrase occurs in Hamlet. STEEVENS. 

* To jind the mind's construction in the face i\ The con- 
struction of the mind is, I believe, a phrase peculiar to Shak- 
peare : it implies the frame or disposition of the mind, by 
which it is determined to good or ill. JOHNSON.. 

Dr. Johnson seems to have understood the word construction 
in this place, in the sense of 'frame or structure; but the school- 
term was, I believe, intended by Shakspeare. The meaning 
is We cannot construe or discover the disposition of the mind 
by the lineaments of the face. So, in King Henry IV. P. II : 

" Construe the times to their necessities." 
In Hamlet we meet with a kindred phrase : 

" These profound heaves 

" You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them." 
Our author again alludes to his grammar, in Troilus and 
Cressida : 

" I'll decline the whole question." 

In his 93d Sonnet, however, we find a contrary sentiment 
asserted : 

** In many's looks the false heart's history 

" Is writ." MALONE. 

ac.m MACBETH. .55 

Might have been mine ! only I have left to ^y, 
More is thy due than more than all can pay.*/ 

MACS. The service and the loyalty I owe, 
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part 
Is to receive our duties ; and our duties 
Are to your throne andstate, children, andservants ; 
Which do but whiat they should, by doing every 

thingCy f\ 

Safe toward your love and honour.\i) 

* More is thy due than more than all can pay.~\ More is due 
to thee, than, I will not say all, but more than all, i. e. the 
greatest recompense, can pay. Thus in Plautus : Nihilo minus. 
There is an obscurity in this passage, arising from the word 
all, which is not used here personally, (more than all persons 
can pay) but for the whole wealth of the speaker. So, more 
clearly, in King Henry VIII : 

" More than my all is nothing." 

This line appeared obscure to Sir William D'Avenant, for be 
altered it thus : 

" I have only left to say, 

" That thou deservest more than I have to pay." 


9 servants; 

Which do but "what they should, by doing every thing ] 
From Scripture : " So when ye shall have done all those things 
which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants : 
we have done that which was our duty to do." HENLEY. 

1 Which do but ivhat they should, by doing every thing 

Safe toward your love and honour.] Mr. Upton gives the 
word safe as an instance of an adjective used adverbially. 


" Safe (i. e. saved toward you love and honour ;" 
and then the sense will be " Our duties are your children, and 
servants or vassals to your throne and state ; who do but what 
they should, by doing every thing with a saving of their love 
and honour toward you." The whole is an allusion to the 
forms of doing homage in the feudal times. The oath of allegi- 
ance, or liege homage, to the king, was absolute, and without 
any exception ; but simple homage, when done to a subject for 


DUN. Welcome hither : 

I have begun to plant thee, and will labour 

lands holden of him, was always with a saving of the allegiance 
(the love and honour) due to the sovereign. " Saiif la Joy que 
jeo doy a nostre seignor le roy," as it is in Littleton. And 
though the expression be somewhat stiff and forced, it is not 
more so than many others in this play, and suits well with the 
situation of Macbeth, now beginning to waver in his allegiance. 
For, as our author elsewhere says, [in Julius Ca?sar:~\ 
" When love begins to sicken and decay, 
" It useth an unforced ceremony." BLACKSTONE. 

A similar expression occurs also in the Letters of the Paston 
Family, Vol. II. p. 254-: " ye shalle fynde me to yow as 
kynde as I maye be, my consciense and ixiorshyp savy'd." 


A passage in Cupid's Revenge, a comedy by Beaumont and 
Fletcher, adds some support to Sir William Blackstone's emen- 
dation : 

" I'll speak it freely, always my obedience 

" And love preserved unto the prince." 

So also the following words, spoken by Henry Duke of Lan- 
caster, to King Richard II. at their interview in the Castle of 
Flint, (a passage that Shakspeare had certainly read, and perhaps 
remembered) : " My sovereign lorde and kyng, the cause of 
my coming, at this present, is, \_your honour saved,~\ to have 
againe restitution of my person, my landes, and heritage, through 
your favourable licence." Holinshed's Chron. Vol. III. 

Our author himself also furnishes us with a passage that like- 
wise may serve to confirm this emendation. See The Winter's 
Tale, Act IV. sc. iii : 

" Save him from danger ; do HIM love and honour.*' 
Again, in Twelfth- Night: 

" What shall you ask of me that I'll deny, 

" That honour sav'dmay upon asking give?*' 
Again, in Cymbeline : 

" I something fear my father's wrath, but nothing 

*' (Always reserv'd my holy duty] what 

*' His rage can do on me." 
Our poet has used the verb to safe in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" best you saf'd the bringer 

" Out of the host.*' MALONE. 

sc. jr. MACBETH. 57 

To make thee full of growing. 2 Noble Banquo, 
That hast no less deserv'd, nor must be known 
No less to have done so, let me infold thee, 
And hold thee to my heart. 

BAN. There if I grow, 

The harvest is your own. 

DUN. My plenteous joys, J^ 

Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves j 

In drops of sorrow. 3 Sons, kinsmen, thanes, 
And you whose places are the nearest, know, 
We will establish our estate upon 
Our eldest, Malcolm; whom we name hereafter, 
The prince of Cumberland : which honour must 
Not, unaccompanied, invest him only, 
But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine 
On all deservers. From hence to Invernes^J? 
And bind us further to you. 

* full of growing.] Is, I believe, exuberant, perfect, 

complete in thy growth. So, in Othello: 

" What Si full fortune doth the thick-lips owe?" 


3 My plenteous joys 

Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves 
In drops of sorrow,] 

" lachrymas non sponte cadentes 

" Effudit, gemitusque expressit pectore laeto ; 
" Non aliter manifesta potens abscondere mentis 
*' Guadia, quam lachrymis." Lucan, Lib. IX. 
There was no English translation of Lucan before 1614. 
We meet with the same sentiment again in The Winter's Tale: 
" It seemed sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their joy 
waded in tears." It is likewise employed in the first scene of 
Much Ado about Nothing. MALONE. 

It is thus also that Statius describes the appearance of Argia 
and Antigone, Theb. III. 4-26 : 

Flebile gavisce, STEEVENS. 

4 hence to Inverness,] Dr. Johnson observes, in his 

.58 MACBETH. ACT i. 

MACS. The rest is labour, which is not us'd for 


I'll be myself the harbinger, and make joyful 
The hearing of my wife with your approach ; 
So, humbly take my leave. 

DUN. My worthy Cawdor! 

MACS. The prince of Cumberland ! 5 That is a 

On which I must fall down, or else o'er-leap, 

*^7 / A 

Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, that the walls of the 
castle of Macbeth, at Inverness, are yet standing. STEEVENS. 

The circumstance of Duncan's visiting Macbeth is supported 
by history : for, from the Scottish Chronicles, it appears that 
it was customary for the king to make a progress through his 
dominions every year. " Inerat ei [Duncano] laudabilis con- 
suetudo regni pertransire regiones semel in anno." Fordun. 
Scotichron. Lib. IV. c. xliv. 

" Singulis annis ad inopum querelas audiendas perlustrabat 
provincias." Buchan. Lib. VII. MALONE. 

* The prince of Cumberland! ] So Holinshed, History 
of Scotland, p. 171 : " Duncan having two sonnes, &c. he 
made the elder of them, called Malcolmc, prince of Cumber- 
land, as it was thereby to appoint him successor in his kingdome 
immediatlie after his decease. Mackbeth sorely troubled here- 
with, for that he saw by this means his hope sore hindered, 
(where, by the old laws of the realme the ordinance was, that 
if he that should succeed were not of able age to take the 
charge upon himself, he that was next of bloud unto him should 
be admitted, ) he began to take counsel how he might usurpe 
the kingdome by force, having a just quarrel so to doe (as he 
tooke the matter,) for that Duncane did what in him lay to 
defraud him of all manner of title and claime, which he might, 
in time to come, pretend unto the crowne." 

The crown of Scotland was originally not hereditary. When 
4 successor was declared in the life-time of a king, (as was often 
the case, ) the title of Prince of Cumberland was immediately 
bestowed on him as the mark of his designation. Cumberland 
was at that time held by Scotland of the crown of England, as 
a fief. STEBVENS. 

sc. iv. MACBETH. 59 

For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires ! 
Let not light see my black and deep desires : 

The former part of Mr. Steevens's remark is supported by 
Bellenden's translation of Hector Boethius: " In the mene 
tyme Kyng Duncane maid his son Malcolme Prince of Cwnbir, 
to signify y<- lie suld regne eftir hym, quhilk was gret displeseir 
to Makbeth ; for it maid plane derogatioun to the thrid weird 
promittit afore to hym be this weird sisteris. Nochtheles he 
thoct gif Duncane were slane, he had maist rycht to the croun, 
because he wes nerest of blud yairto, be tenour of ye auld lavis 
maid eftir the deith of King Fergus, quhen young children wer 
unable to govern the croun, the nerrest of yair blude sal regne." 
So also Buchanan, Rerum Scoticarum Hist. Lib. VII : 

" Duncanus e filia Sibardi reguli Northumbrorum, duos filios 
genuerat. Ex iis Milcolumbum, vixdum puberem, Cumbria? 
praefecit. Id factum ejus Macbeth us molestius, quam credi 
poterat, tulit, earn videlicet moram sibi ratus injectam, ut, priores 
jam magistratus (juxtavisum nocturnum) adeptus, aut omnino a 
regno excluderetur, aut eo tardius potiretur, cum prcejecttira 
Cumbrice velut aditus ad supremum magistratum SEMPER esset 
habitus." It has been asserted by an anonymous writer [Mr. 
Ritson] that " the crown of Scotland was always hereditary, 
and that it should seem from the play that Malcolm was the Jlrst 
who had the title of Prince of Cumberland." An extract or 
two from Hector Boethius will be sufficient relative to these 
points. In the tenth chapter of the eleventh Book of his History 
we are informed, that some of the friends of Kenneth III. the 
eightieth King of Scotland, came among the nobles, desiring 
them to choose Malcolm, the son of Kenneth, to be Lord of 
Cumbir, " yt he mycht be yt laay the better cum to ye crotvn 
after his faderis deid" Two of the nobles said, it was in the 
power of Kenneth to make whom he pleased Lord of Cumber- 
land; and Malcolm was accordingly appointed. " Sic thingis 
done, King Kenneth, be advise of his nobles, abrogat ye auld 
laixis concerning the creation of yair king, and made new lawis 
in manner as followes : 1. The king beand decessit, his eldest 
son or his eldest nepot, (notwithstanding quhat sumevir age he 
be of, and youcht he was born efter his faderis death, sal suc- 
cede ye croun," &c. Notwithstanding this precaution, Mal- 
colm, the eldest son of Kenneth, did not succeed to the throne 
after the death of his father ; for after Kenneth, reigned Con- 
stantine, die son of King Culyne. To him succeeded Gryme, 
who was not the son of Constantine, but the grandson of King 


The eye wink at the hand ! yet let that be, 
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. 


DUN. True, worthy Banquo ; he is full so va- 
liant $/ 

And in his commendations I am fed ; 
It is a banquet to me. Let us after him, 
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome : 
It is a peerless kinsman. [Flourish. Exeunt. 

Duffe. Gryme, says Boethius, came to Scone, " quhare he was 
crownit by the tenour of the auld lawis." After the death of 
Gryme, Malcolm, the son of King Kenneth, whom Boethius 
frequently calls Prince of Cumberland, became King of Scot- 
land ; and to him succeeded Duncan, the son of his eldest 

These breaches, however, in the succession, appear to have 
been occasioned by violence in turbulent times ; and though the 
eldest son could not succeed to the throne, if he happened to be 
a minor at the death of his father, yet, as by the ancient laws 
the next of blood was to reign, the Scottish monarchy may be 
said to have been hereditary, subject however to peculiar regu- 
lations. MALONE. 

6 True, 'worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant;] i. e. he is to 
the full as valiant as you have described him. We must imagine, 
that while Macbeth was uttering the six preceding lines, Dun- 
can and Banquo had been conferring apart. Macbeth's conduct 
appears to have been their subject ; and to some encomium sup- 
posed to have been bestowed on him by Banquo, the reply of 
Duncan refers. STEKVENS. 

sc. v. MACBETH. 61 


Inverness. v4 .Room m Macbeth's Castle. 
Enter Lady MACBETH, reading a letter. 

LADY M. They met me in the day of success; 
and I have learned by the perfectest report, 1 they 
have more in them than mortal knowledge. When 
I burned in desire to question them further, they 
made themselves air, into which they vanished. 
Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came 
missives from the king, 6 who all-hailed me, Thane 
of Cawdor; by which title, before, these weird 
sisters saluted me, and referred me to the coming on 
of time, with, Hail, king that shalt be ! This have 
I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner 
of greatness; that thou mightest not lose tlie dues of 
rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is 
promised thee. Lay it to thy Jieart, and farewell. 

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor ; and shalt be 
What thou art promised : Yet do I fear thy na- 


It is too full o j the milk of human kindness, 
To catch the nearest way : Thou would'st be great; 
Art not without ambition ; but without 
The illness should attend it. What thou would'st 


7 - by the perfectest report,"] By the best intelligence. 


* - missives from the king,] i. e. messengers. So, in 
Antony and Cleopatra : 

" Did gibe ray missive out of audience." STEE YENS. 


That would'st them holily ; would'st not play false, 
And yet would'st wrongly win: thou'd'st have, 

great Glamis, 8 
That which cries, Thus thou must do, if thou 

have it; 

And that which rather thou dost fear to do? 
Than uishest should be undone. Hie thee hither, 
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear) 
And chastise w T ith the valour of my tongue 
All that impedes thee from the golden round, 
/ Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 

To have thee crown'd withal. 2 What is your 

tidings ? 

thou'd'st have, great Glamis, 

That -which cries, Thus thou must do, if thou have it', 
And that #c.] As the object of Macbeth's desire is here 
introduced speaking of itself, it is necessary to read : 

thou'd'st have, great Glamis, 

That which cries, thus thou must do, if thou have me. 


9 And that tvhich rather thou dost fear to do,] The construc- 
tion, perhaps, is, thou would'st have that, [i. e. the crown,} 
which cries unto thee, thou must do thus, if thou tvouldst have 
it, and thou must do that which rather, &c. Sir T. Hanmer, 
without necessity, reads And that's what rather . The diffi- 
culty of this line and the succeeding hemistich seems to have 
arisen from their not being considered as part of the speech 
uttered by the object of Macbeth's ambition. As such they ap- 
pear to me, and 1 have therefore distinguished them by Italicks. 


This regulation is certainly proper, and I have followed it. 


1 That I may pour my spirits in thine ear ;] I meet with the 
same expression in Lord Sterline's Julius Caesar, 1607 : 
" Thou in my bosom us'd to pour thy spright." 


* the golden round, 

Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 
To have thee crotvn'd 'withal.'] For seem, the sense eri- 
dentlv directs us to read?ee. The crown to which fate destines 

sc. v. MACBETH. 

Enter an Attendant. 

ATTEN. The king comes here to-night. 

LADY M. Thou'rt mad to say it : 

Is not thy master with him ? who, wer't so, 
Would have inform'd for preparation. 

thee, and which preternatural agents endeavour to bestow upon 
thee. The golden round is the diadem. JOHNSON. 

So, in Act IV: 

" And wears upon his baby brow the round 
" And top of sovereignty." STEEVENS. 

Metaphysical, for supernatural. But doth seem to have thee 
croivn' a withal, is not sense. To make it so, it should be sup- 
plied thus: doth seem desirous to have. But no poetic licence 
would excuse this. An easy alteration will restore the poet's 
true reading : 

doth seem 

To have croiun'd thee withal. 

i. e. they seem already to have crowned thee, and yet thy dis- 
position at present hinders it from taking effect. WARBURTON. 

The words, as they now stand, have exactly the same mean- 
ing. Such arrangement is sufficiently common among our ancient 
writers. STEEVENS. 

I do not concur with Dr. Warburton, in thinking that Shak-. 
speare meant to say, that fate and metaphysical aid seem to have 
crowned Macbeth. Lady Macbeth means to animate her hus- 
band to the attainment of " the golden round," with which fate 
and supernatural agency seem to intend to have him crowned, 
en a future day. So, in All's -well that ends luell: 

* Our dearest friend 

" Prejudicates the business, and would seem 
" To have us make denial." 

There is, in my opinion, a material difference between 
" To have thee crown'd," and " To have crown'd thee ;" of 
which the learned commentator does not appear to have been 

Metaphysical, which Dr. Warburton has justly observed, 
means supernatural, seems in our author's time, to have had 
no other meaning. In the English Dictionary, by H. C. 1655, 
Mctaphysicks are thus explained : " Supernatural arts." 



ATTEN. So please you, it is true ; our thane is 

coming : 

One of my fellows had the speed of him ; 
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more 
Than would make up his message. 

LADY M. Give him tending^ 

He brings great news. The raven himself is hoarse,^ 
*<U ^ ^ / 4i ^ *V r N [Exit Attendant. 
- ^C 

The raven himself is hoarse,] Dr. Warburton reads : 
The raven himself s not hoarse, 

Yet I think the present words may stand. The messenger, says 
the servant, had hardly breath to make up his message; to 
which the lady answers mentally, that he may well want breath, 
such a message would add hoarseness to the raven. That even 
the bird, whose harsh voice is accustomed to predict calamities, 
could not croak the entrance of Duncan but in a note of un- 
wonted harshness.. JOHNSON. 

The following is, in my opinion, the sense of this passage : 
Give him tending; the news he brings are worth the speed 
that made him lose his breath. [Exit Attendant.] *Tis certain 
now the raven himself is spent, is hoarse by croaking this very 
message, the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements. 

Lady Macbeth (for she was not yet unsexed) was likelier to 
be deterred from her design than encouraged in it by the sup- 
posed thought that the message and the prophecy (though 
equally secrets to the messenger and the raven) had deprived 
the one of speech, and added harshness to the other's note. 
Unless we absurdly suppose the messenger acquainted with the 
hidden import of his message, speed alone had intercepted his 
breath, as repetition the raven's voice; though the lady con- 
sidered both as organs of that destiny which hurried Duncan 
into her meshes. FUSEL.I. 

Mr. Fuseli's idea, that the raven has croaked till he is hoarse 
with croaking, may receive support from the following passage 
in Romeo and Juliet : 

" make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine 

" With repetition or my Romeo's name." 
Again, from one of the Parts of King Henry VI: 

" Warwick is hoarse with calling thee to arms." 


sc. v. MACBETH. 65 

That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan 
Under my battlements. Come, come, you spirits^ 
That tend on mortal thoughts^unsex me here ; 
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full 
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood, 
Stop up the access and passage to remorse j 6 
That no compunctious visitings of nature 
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between 
The effect, and it! 7 Come to my woman's breasts, 

4 Come, come, you spirits ] For the sake of the metre 

I have ventured to repeat the word come, which occurs only 
once in the old copy. 

All had been added by Sir William D' Avenant, to supply the 
same deficiency. STEEVENS. 

s mortal thoughts^ This expression signifies not the 

thoughts of mortals, but murderous, deadly, or destructive de- 
signs. So, in Act V : 

" Hold fast the mortal sword." 
And in another place : 

" With twenty mortal murders." JOHNSON. 

In Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, by T. Nashe, 
1592, (a very popular pamphlet of that time,) our author might 
have found a particular description of these spirits, and of their 

" The second kind of devils, which he most employeth, are 
those northern Martii, called the spirits (rf revenge, and the au- 
thors of massacres, and seedsmen of mischief; for they have 
commission to incense men to rapines, sacrilege, theft, murder, 
wrath, fury, and all manner of cruelties : and they command 
certain of the southern spirits to wait upon them, as also great 
Arioch, that is termed the spirit of revenge" MALONE. 

8 remorse ;] Remorse, in ancient language, signifies pity. 

So, in King Lear: 

' ThrilPd with remorse, oppos'd against the act." 
Again, in Othello : 

" And to obey shall be in me remorse ." 
See notes on that passage, Act III. sc. iii. STEEVENS. 

nor keep peace between 

The effect, and it!] The intent of Lady Macbeth evi- 
d ently is to wish that no womanish tenderness, or conscientious 

VOL. X. 


And take my milk for galr^ you murd'ring minis- 
Wherever in your sightless substances 

remorse, may hinder her purpose from proceeding to effect ; 
but neither this, nor indeed any other sense, is expressed by the 
present reading, and therefore it cannot be doubted that Shak- 
speare wrote differently, perhaps thus : 

That no compunctious visitings of nature 
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep pace between 

The effect and it. 

To keep pace between, may signify to pass between, to inter- 
vene. Pace is, on many occasions, a favourite of Shakspeare's. 
This phrase is, indeed, not usual in this sense ; but was it not 
its novelty that gave occasion to the present corruption ? 


and it /] The folio reads and hit. It, in many of our 
ancient books, is thus spelt. In the first stanza of Churchyard's 
Discourse of Rebellion, &c. 1570, we have, Hit is a plague Hit 
venom castes Hit poysoneth all Hit is of kinde Hit staynes 
the ayre. STEEVENS. 

The correction was made by the editor of the third folio. 
Lady Macbeth's purpose was to be effected by action. To 
keep peace between the effect and purpose, means, to delay the 
execution of her purpose ; to prevent its proceeding to effect. 
For as long as there should be a peace between the effect and 
purpose, or, in other words, till hostilities were commenced, 
till some bloody action should be performed, her purpose [i. e. 
the murder of Duncan] could not be carried into execution. 
So, in the following passage in King John, in which a corre- 
sponding imagery may be traced : 

" Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, 
" This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath 
" Hostility and civil tumult reigns 
" Between my conscience and my cousin's death" 
A similar expression is found in a book which our author is 
known to have read, The Tragicall Hystorie of Romeus and 
Juliet, 1562: 

" In absence of her knight, the lady no way could 

" Keep truce between her griefs and her, though ne'er so 

fayne she would." 

Sir W. D'Avenant's strange alteration of this play sometimes 
affords a reasonably good comment upon it. Thus, in the pre- 
sent instance : 

sc. v. MACBETH. 67 

You wait on nature's mischief! 9 Come, thick 
And pall thee* ; in the dunnest smoke of hell! 
That my keen knif<j3see no^ the wound it makes ; 

" make thick 

" My blood, stop all passage to remorse; 
" That no relapses into mercy may 
" Shake my design, nor make it Jail before 
*' 'Tis ripen' 'd to effect." M ALONE. 

8 take my milk for gall,'] Take away my milk, and put 

gall into the place. JOHNSON. 

9 You wait on nature's mischief!] Nature's mischief is mis- 
chief done to nature, violation of nature's order committed by 
wickedness. JOHNSON. 

1 Come, thick night, &c.] A similar invocation is found 

in A Warning for faire Women, 1599, a tragedy which was cer- 
tainly prior to Macbeth : 

* Oh sable night, sit on the eye of heaven, 

' That it discern not this black deed of darkness! 

* My guilty soul, burnt with lust's hateful fire, 

' Must wade through blood to obtain my vile desire : 

' Be then my coverture, thick ugly night ! 

' The light hates me, and I do hate the light." 

1 And pall thee ] i. e. wrap thyself in a pall. 


A pall is a robe of state. So, in the ancient black letter 
romance of Syr Eglamoure ofArtoys, no date : 
" The knyghtes were clothed mpall." 
Again, in Milton's Penseroso : 

" Sometime let gorgeous tragedy 
' In scepter'd pall come sweeping by." 
Dr. Warburton seems to mean the covering which is thrown 
over the dead. 

To pall, however, in the present instance, (as Mr. Douce 
observes to me,) may simply mean to wrap, to invest. 


' That my keen knife ] The word knife, which at present 
has a familiar undignified meaning, was anciently used to express 
a sword or dagger. So, in the old black letter romance of Syr 
Eglamoure ofArtoys, no date: 

" Through Goddes myght, and his knyfe, 
". There the gyaunte lost his lyfe." 

F 2 


Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, 4 / 
To cry, Hold, hold! b - Great Glamis ! worthy 
Cawdor ! 6 


^ -Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I. c. vi : 

" - the red-cross knight was slain with paynim knife" 


To avoid a multitude of examples, which in the present in- 
stance do not seem wanted, 1 shall only observe that Mr. 
Steevens's remark might be confirmed by quotations without 
end. REED. 

4 - the blanket of the dark,'] Drayton, in the 26th Song 
of his Polyplbion, has an expression resembling this : 

" Thick vapours, that, like ruggs, still hang the troubled 
air." STEEVENS. 

Polyolbion was not published till 1612, after this play had 
certainly been exhibited j but in an earlier piece Drayton has the 
same expression : 

" The sullen night in mistie rugge is wrapp'd." 

Mortimeriados, 4-to. 1596. 

Blanket was perhaps suggested to our poet by the coarse 
woollen curtain of his own theatre, through which probably, 
while the house was yet but half-lighted, he had himself often 
peeped. In King Henry VI. P. III. we have " night's cover- 

A kindred thought is found in our author's Rape ofLucrecc, 

" Were Tarquin's night, (as he is but night's child,} 

" The silver-shining queen he would distain ; 
" Her twinkling hand-maids too, [the stars] by him 


" Through night's black bosom should not peep again." 


' To cry, Hold, hold !] On this passage there is a long criti- 
cism in The Rambler, Number 168. JOHNSON. 

In this criticism the epithet dun is objected to as a mean one. 
Milton, however, appears to have been of a different opinion, 
and has represented Satan as flying 

" -- in the dun air sublime," 
and had already told us, in the character of Comus, 
'* 'Tis only day-light that makes sin, 
" Which these dun shades will ne'er report." 
Gawin Douglas employs dun as a synonyme to fulvus. 


sc. v. MACBETH. 69 


Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter ! 
Thy letters have transported me beyond 

v f^\ * 

This ignorant presenl(^)and I feel now 
The future in the instant. 

To cry, Hold, hold !] The thought is taken from the old 
military laws which inflicted capital punishment upon, " whoso- 
ever shall strike stroke at his adversary, either in the heat or 
otherwise, if a third do cry hold, to the intent to part them ; 
except that they did fight a combat in a place enclosed : and 
then no man shall be so hardy as to bid hold, but the general." 
P. 264 of Mr. Bellay's Instructions for the Wars, translated in 
1589. TOLLET. 

Mr. Toilet's note will likewise illustrate the last line of Mac- 
beth's concluding speech: 

" And damn'd be him who first cries, hold, enough /" 


6 Great Glamis ! worthy Candor /] Shakspeare has supported 
the character of Lady Macbeth by repeated efforts, and never 
omits any opportunity of adding a trait of ferocity, or a mark of 
the want of human feelings, to this monster of his own creation. 
The softer passions are more obliterated in her than in her 
husband, in proportion as her ambition is greater. She meets 
him here on his arrival from an expedition of danger, with such 
a salutation as would have become one of his friends or vassals ; 
a salutation apparently fitted rather to raise his thoughts to a 
level with her own purposes, than to testify her joy at his re- 
turn, or manifest an attachment to his person: nor does any 
sentiment expressive of love or softness fall from her throughout 
the play. While Macbeth himself, amidst the horrors of his 
guilt, still retains a character less fiend-like than that of his 
queen, talks to her with a degree of tenderness, and pours his 
complaints and fears into her bosom, accompanied with terms of 
endearment. STEEVENS. 

7 This ignorant present,] Ignorant has here the signification 
of unknowing; that is, I feel by anticipation those future ho- 
nours, of which, according to the process of nature, the present 
time would be ignorant. JOHNSON. 


MACS. My dearest love, 

Duncan comes here to-night. 

LADY M. And when goes hence ? 

MACS. To-morrow, as he purposes. 

LADY M. O, never 

Shall sun that morrow see ! 
Your face, my thane, is as-a book, where men 
May read strange matters v^To beguile the time, 

So, in Cymbeline : 

" his shipping, 

" Poor ignorant baubles," &c. 
Again, in The Tempest : 

*' ignorant fumes that mantle 

" Their clearer reason." STEEVENS. 

This ignorant present,] Thus the old copy. Some of our 
modern editors read : " present time:" but the phraseology 
in the text is frequent in our author, as well as other ancient 
writers. So, in the first scene of The Tempest : "If you can 
command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the 
present, we will not hand a rope more." The sense does not 
require the word time, and it is too much for the measure. 
Again, in Coriolanus: 

" And that you not delay the present; but" &c. 
Again, in Corinthians I. ch. xv. v. 6 : " of whom the greater 
part remain unto this present." 
Again, in Antony and Cleopatra .- 

" Be pleas'd to tell us 

" (For this is from the present) how you take 

" The offer I have sent you." STEEVENS. 

' Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men 

May read &c.] That is, thy looks are such as will awaken 
men's curiosity, excite their attention, and make room for sus- 
picion. HEATH. 

So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609 : 

" Her face the book of praises, where is read 
" Nothing but curious pleasures." STEEVENS. 

Again, in our author's Rape ofLucrece : 

** Poor women's faces are their own faults' books." 


*r. r. MACBETH. 71 

Look like the time j 3 * bear welcome in your eye, 

Your hand, your tongue : look like the innocent 


But be the serpent under it(y He that's coming 
Must be provided for : and you shall put 
This night's great business into my despatch ; 
Which shall to all our nights and days to come 
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. 

MACS. We will speak further. 

LADY M. Only look up clear j 

To alter favour ever is to fear : 2 
Leave all the rest to me. [Exeunt. 

9 To beguile the time, 

Look like the time ;] The same expression occurs in the 
8th Book of Daniel's Civil Wars : 

" He draws a traverse 'twixt his grievances ; 

" Looks like the time : his eye made not report 

" Of what he felt within ; nor was he less 

" Than usually he was in every part ; 

" Wore a clear face upon a cloudy heart." STEEVENS. 

The seventh and eighth Books of Daniel's Civil Wars were 
not published till the year 1609 ; [see the Epistle Dedicatorie to 
that edition :] so that, if either poet copied the other, Daniel 
must have been indebted to Shakspeare ; for there can be little 
doubt that Macbeth had been exhibited before that year. 


1 look like the innocent flower, 

But be the serpent under it.] Thus, in Chaucer's Squiere's 
Tale, 10,827 : 

" So depe in greyne he died his coloufes, 

" Right as a serpent hideth him under Jloures, 

" Til he may see his time for to bite." STEEVENS. 

* To alter favour ever is to fear :] So, in Love's Labour's 
Lost : 

" For blushing cheeks by faults are bred, 
" And fears by pale white shown." 

Favour is look, countenance. So, in Troilus and Cressida : 
" I know your favour, lord Ulysses, well." STEEVENS. 



The same. Before the Castle. 
Hautboys. Servants of Macbeth attending. 


DUN. This castle hath a pleasant seat; 3 the air 

* This castle hath a pleasant seat ;] Seat here means situation. 
Lord Bacon says, " He that builds a faire house upon an ill seat t 
committeth himself to prison. Neither doe I reckon it an ill 
seat, only where the aire is unwholsome, but likewise where the 
aire is unequal ; as you shall see many fine seats set upon a knap 
of ground invironed with higher hills round about it, whereby 
the heat of the sunne is pent in, and the wind gathereth as in 
troughs ; so as you shall have, and that suddenly, as great diver- 
sitie of heat and cold, as if you dwelt in several places." 

Essays, 2d edit. 4-to. 1632, p. 257. REED. 

This castle hath a pleasant seat ;] This short dialogue between 
Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of 
Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance 
of what in painting is termed repose. Their conversation very 
naturally turns upon the beauty of its situation, and the plea- 
santness of the air ; and Banquo, observing the martlet's nests in 
every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds 
most breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this 
quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to 
the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, 
and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately 
succeeds. It seems as if Shakspeare asked himself, What is a 
prince likely to say to his attendants on such an occasion ? 
Whereas the modern writers seem, on the contrary, to be al- 
ways searching for new thoughts, such as would never occur to 
men in the situation which is represented. This also is fre- 
quently the practice of Homer, who, from the midst of battles 
and horrors, relieves and refreshes the mind of the reader, by 
introducing some quiet rural image, or picture of familiar do- 
mestick life. SIR J. REYNOLDS. 

sc. n. MACBETH. 73 

Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses. 4 

BAN. This guest of summer, 

The temple-haunting martlet^ 6 does approve, 
By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath, 
Smells wooingly here : /no jutty, frieze^ 6 buttress, 
Nor coigne of vantages/but this bird hath made 

4 Unto our gentle senses.] Senses are nothing more than each 
man's sense. Gentle sense is very elegant, as it means placid, 
calm, composed, and intimates the peaceable delight of a fine day. 


* martlet j] This bird is in the old edition called barlet. 

The correction was made by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 

It is supported by the following passage in The Merchant of 
Venice : 

" -like the martlet 

" Builds in the weather on the outward wall." 


6 - no jutty, frieze ',] A comma should be placed after 
jutty. A jutty, or jetty, (for so it ought rather to be written) 
is not here, as has been supposed, an epithet to frieze, but a 
substantive ; signifying that part of a building which shoots 
forward beyond the rest. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 
1598 : " Barbacane. An outnooke or corner standing out of a 
house ; a jettie." " Sporto. A porch, a portal, a bay-window, 
or out-butting, or jettie, of a house, that jetties out farther 
than anie other part of the house." See also Surpendue, in 
Cotgrave's French Diet. 1611: "A jettie; an out-jetting 
room." MALONE. 

Shakspeare uses the verb to jutty, in King Henry V : 

" as fearfully as doth a galled rock 

" O'erhang and jutty his confounded base." 
The substantive also occurs in an agreement between Philip 
Henslowe, &c. &c. for building a new theatre, in the year 1599. 
See Vol. II: " besides a juttey forwards in eyther of the 
saide two upper stories &c." STEEVENS. 

7 coigne of vantage,} Convenient corner. JOHNSON. 

So, in Pericles: 

* c By the four opposing coignes, 

" Which the world together joins." STEEVENS. 


His pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where 
Most breed $ and haunt, I have observed, the air 

I ft S\ /-\1 1 f+f\ 4~ S\ 

Is delicate. 

Enter Lady MACBETH. 

DUN. See, see ! our honoured hostess ! 

The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble, 
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you, 
How you shall bid God yield us for your pains, o 
And thank us for your trouble. 1 

* Hzs pendent bed, and procreant cradle : Where they ] 
Lest the reader should think this verse defective in harmony, he 
ought to be told, that as needle was once written and pronounced 
neele and neeld, so cradle was contracted into crale, and conse- 
quently uttered as a monosyllable. 

Thus, in the fragment of an ancient Christmas carol now be- 
fore me : 

" on that day 

" Did aungels round him minister 

" As in his crale he lay." 

In some parts of Warwickshire, (as I am informed,) the word 
is drawlingly pronounced as if it had been written craale. 

9 Most breed] The folio must breed. STEEVENS. 

Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 

1 The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble, 
Which still uie thank as love. Herein I teach you. 
How you shall bid God yield us for your pains, 
And thank us for your trouble.] The attention that is paid 
us, (says Duncan on seeing Lady Macbeth come to meet him,) 
sometimes gives us pain, when we reflect that we give trouble to 
others ; yet still we cannot but be pleased with such attentions, be- 
cause they are a proof of affection. So far is clear ; but of the 
following words, I confess, I have no very distinct conception, 
and suspect them to be corrupt. Perhaps the meaning is, By 
being the occasion of so much trouble, I furnish you with a motive 
to pray to heaven to reward me for the pain I give you, inasmuch 
as the having such an opportunity of snowing your loyalty may 

sc. vi. MACBETH. 75 

LADY M. All our service 

In every point twice done, and then done double, 

hereafter prove beneficial to you; and herein also I afford you a 
motive to thank me for the trouble I give you, because by showing 
me so much attention, (however painful it may be to me to be the 
cause of it,) you have an opportunity of displaying an amiable 
character, and of ingratiating yourself with your sovereign: 
which, finally, may bring you both profit and honour. 


This passage is undoubtedly obscure, and the following is the 
best explication of it I am able to offer : 

Marks of respect, importunately shown, are sometimes trouble- 
some, though ive are still bound to be grateful for them, as indica- 
tions of sincere attachment. If you pray for us on account of the 
trouble we create in your house, and thank us for the molestations 
we bring with us, it must be on such a principle. Herein I teach 
you, that the inconvenience you suffer, is the result of our affec- 
tion ; and that you are therefore to pray for us, or thank us, only 
as Jar as prayers and thanks can be deserved for kindnesses that 
fatigue, and honours that oppress. You are, in short, to make 
your acknowledgments for intended respect and love, however 
irksome our present mode of expressing them may have proved. 
To bid is here used in the Saxon sense to pray. STEEVENS. 

How you shall bid God-yield us ] To bid any one God-yeld 
him, i. e. God-yield him, was the same as God reward him. 


I believe yield, or, as it is in the folio of 1623, eyld, is a cor- 
rupted contraction of shield. The wish implores not reward, 
but protection. JOHNSON. 

I rather believe it to be a corruption of God-yield, i. e. reward. 
In Antony and Cleopatra we meet with it at length : 

" And the gods yield you for't." 
Again, in the interlude of Jacob and Esau, 1568: 

" God yelde you, Esau, with all my stomach." 
Again, in the old metrical romance of Syr Guy of Wanoick, 
bl. 1. no date : 

" Syr, quoth Guy, God yield it you, 
" Of this great gift you give me now." 
Again, in Chaucer's Sompnoure's Tale, v. 7759 ; Mr. Tyr- 
whitt's edit. 

" God yelde you adoun in your village." 

76 MACBETH. ACT /.. 

Were poor and single business, to contend 
Against those honours deep and broad, wherewith 
Your majesty loads our house : For those of old, 
And the late dignities heap'd up to them, 
We rest your hermits. 2 

DUN. Where's the thane of Cawdor ? 

We cours'd him at the heels, and had a purpose 
To be his purveyor : but he rides well ; 
And his great love, sharp as his spurphath holp him 
To his home before us : Fair and noble hostess, 
We are your guest to-night. 

LADY M. Your servants ever 4 

Again, one of the Paston Letters, Vol. IV. p. 335, begins thus: 

" To begin, God y eld you for my hats." 
God shield means God forbid, and could never be used as a 
form of returning thanks. So, in Chaucer's Milleres Tale t 
" God shilde that he died sodenly." 

V. 3427 ; Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. STEEVENS. 
* We rest your hermits.] Hermits, for beadsmen. 


That is, we as hermits shall always pray for you. Thus, in 
A- of Wyntown's Cronykil, B. IX. c. xxvii. v. 99 : 
" His bedmen thai suld be for-thi, 
" And pray for hym rycht hartfully." 
Again, in Arden ofFeversham, 1592: 

" I am your beadsman, bound to pray for you." 
Again, in Heywood's English Traveller, 163,3 ; 

" worshipful sir, 

" I shall be still your beadsman" 
This phrase occurs frequently in The Paston Letters. 


' his great love, sharp as his spur,] So, in Twelfth-Night, 
Act III. sc. iii : 

my desire, 

" More sharp thanjiled steel, did spur me forth." 


4 Your servants ever &c.] The metaphor in this speech is 
taken from the Steward's compting-house or audit-room. In 
compt, means, subject to account. So, in Timon of Athens : 
" And have the dates in compt." 

sc.yn. MACBETH. 77 

Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in 


To make their audit at your highness* pleasure, 
Still to return your own. 

DUN. Give me your hand : 

Conduct me to mine host ; we love him highly, 
And shall continue our graces towards him. 
By your leave, hostess. [Exeunt. 


The same. A Room in the Castle. 

Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the 
stage, a Setveif&and divers Servants with dishes 
and service. Then enter MACBETH. 

MACS. If it were done, 6 when 'tis done, then 
'twere well 

The sense of the whole is : We, and all who belong to us, look 
upon our lives and fortunes not as our own properties, out as things 
we have received merely for your use, and for which we must be 
accountable, whenever you please to call us to our audit; when, 
like faithful stewards, we shall be ready to answer your summons, 
by returning you what is your own. STEEVENS. 

* Enter a Sewer,] I have restored this stage-direction 

from the old copy. 

A sewer was an officer so called from his placing the dishes 
upon the table. Asseour, French ; from asseoir, to place. Thus, 
in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad: 

" Automedon as fit 

" Was for the reverend sewer's place ; and all the 

browne joints serv'd 
" On wicker vessell to the board." 

Barclay, Eel. II. has the following remark on the conduct of 
these domesticks: 


It were done quickly : If the assassination 7 

" Slowe be the sewers in serving in alway, 

" But swift be they after, taking the meate away." 
Another part of the sewer's office was, to bring water for the 
guests to wash their hands with. Thus Chapman, in hie version 
of the Odyssey: 

" and then the sewre 

" Poured water from a great and golden ewre." 
The sewer's chief mark of distinction was a towel round his 
arm. So, in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman : " clap me a clean 
towel about you, like a sewer." Again : " See, sir Amorous has 
his towel on already. [He enters like a sewer.""] 

It may be worth while to observe, for the sake of preserving 
an ancient word, that the dishes served in by sewers were called 
sewes. So, jn the old MS. romance of The Sowdon of Baby- 
loyne, p. 66 : 

" Lest that lurdeynes come sculkynge out, 

" For ever they have bene shrewes, 

" Loke ech of them have such a cloute 

" That thay never etc moo sewes." STEEVENS. 

' If it were done, fyc.'] A sentiment parallel to this occurs in 
The Proceedings against Garnet in the Powder Plot. " It would 
have been commendable, when it had been done, though not 
before." FARMER. 

7 If the assassination &c.~] Of this soliloquy the meaning 

is not very clear ; I have never found the readers of Shakspeare 
agreeing about it. I understand it thus : 

" If that which I am about to do, when it is once done and 
executed, were done and ended without any following effects, 
it would then be best to do it quickly: if the murder could 
terminate in itself, and restrain the regular course of conse- 
quences, if its success could secure its surcease, if, being once 
done successfully, without detection, it could Jlx a period to all 
vengeance and enquiry, so that this blow might be all that I have 
to do, and this anxiety all that I have to suffer ; if this could be 
my condition, even here in this world, in this contracted period 
of temporal existence, on this narrow ban k in the ocean of eternity, 
/ would jump the life to come, I would venture upon the deed 
without care of any future state. But this is one of those cases 
in which judgment is pronounced and vengeance inBicted upon 
us here in our present life. We teach others to do as we have 
done, and are punished by our own example. JOHNSON. 


sc. vu. MACBETH. 79 

Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, 
With his surcease, success ; 8 that but this blow 

We are told by Dryden, that " Ben Jonson, in reading some 
bombast speeches in Macbeth, which are not to be understood, 
used to say that it was horrour." Perhaps the present passage 
was one of those thus depreciated. Any person but this envi- 
ous detractor would have dwelt with pleasure on the transcend- 
ent beauties of this sublime tragedy, which, after Othello, is per- 
haps our author's greatest work ; and would have been more apt 
to have been thrown into "strong shudders" and blood-freezing 
" agues," by its interesting and high-wrought scenes, than to 
have been offended by any imaginary hardness of its language ; 
for such, it appears from the context, is what he meant by hor- 
rour. That there are difficult passages in this tragedy, cannot 
be denied ; but that there are " some bombast speeches in it, 
which are not to be understood," as Dryden asserts, will not very 
readily be granted to him. From this assertion, however, and 
the verbal alterations made by him and Sir W. D'Avenant, in 
some of our author's plays, I think it clearly appears that 
Dryden and the other poets of the time of Charles II. were not 
very deeply skilled in the language of their predecessors, and 
that Shakspeare was not so well understood fifty years after his 
death, as he is at this day. MALONE. 

8 Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, 

With his surcease, success ;] I think the reasoning requires 
that we should read : 

With its success surcease. JOHNSON. 

A trammel is a net in which either birds or fishes are caught. 
So, in The Isle of Gulls, 1633 : 

" Each tree and shrub wears trammels of thy hair." 
Surcease is cessation, stop. So, in. The valiant Welchman, 

" Surcease brave brother: Fortune hath crown'd our 

His is used instead of its, in many places. STEEVENS. 

The personal pronouns are so frequently used by Shakspeare, 
instead of the impersonal, that no amendment would be neces- 
sary in this passage, even if it were certain that the pronoun his 
refers to assassination, which seems to be the opinion of Johnson 
and Steevens; but I think it more probable that it refers to 
Duncan; and that by his surcease Macbeth means Duncan 1 s 
death, which was the object of his contemplation. M. MASOI?. 


Might be the be-all and the end-all here, 
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, 9 
We'd jump the life to come. 1 But, in these cases, 
We still have judgment here ; that we but teach 
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return ^ 
To plague the inventor: 2 This even-handed justice^- 

His certainly may refer to assassination, (as Dr. Johnson, by 
his proposed alteration, seems to have thought it did,) for Shak- 
speare very frequently uses his for its. But in this place per- 
haps his refers to Duncan ; and the meaning may be, If the 
assassination, at the same time that it puts an end to the life of 
Duncan, could procure me unalloyed happiness, promotion to 
the crown unmolested by the compunctious visitings of con- 
science, &c. To cease often signifies in these plays, to die. So, 
in All's toell that ends tvell : 

" Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease." 
I think, however, it is more probable that his is used for its, 
and that it relates to assassination. MALONE. 

9 shoal of time,~\ This is Theobald's emendation, un- 
doubtedly right. The old edition has school, and Dr. Warburton 
shelve. JOHNSON. 

By the shoal of time, our author means the shallow ford of life, 
between us and the abyss of eternity. STEEVENS. 

1 We'd jump the life to come."] So, in Cymbeline, Act V. 
sc. iv: 

" or jump the after-inquiry on your own peril." 


" We'd jump the life to come," certainly means, We'd hazard 
or run the risk of what might happen in a future state of being. 
So, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" Our fortune lies 

" Upon this jump." 
Again, in Coriolanust 

" and wish 

" To jump a body with a dangerous physick, 
" That's sure of death without it." 
See note on this passage, Act III. sc. i. MALONE. 

* tue but teach 

Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return 
To plague the inventor :] So, in Bellenden's translation of 
Hector Boethius : " He [Macbeth] was led be wod furyis, as ye 

sc. vii. MACBETH. 81 

Commends the ingredients^of our poison'd chalice 
To our own lipsO^ He's here in double trust : 
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, 
Strong both against the deed ; then, as his host, 
Who should against his murderer shut the door, 
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan 
Hath borne his faculties so meetthath been 

nature of all tyrannis is, quhilks conquessis landis or kingdomes 
be wrangus titil, ay full of hevy thocht and dredour, and 
traisting ilk man to do siclik crueltes to hym, as he did afore to 
othir." MA LONE. 

* This even-handed justice ] Mr. M. Mason observes, 

that we might more advantageously read 

Thus even-handed justice, &c. STEEVENS. 

The old reading I believe to be the true one, because Shak- 
speare has very frequently used this mode of expression. So, 
a little lower : " Besides, this Duncan," &c. Again, in King 
Henry IV. P. I : 

" That this same child of honour and renown, 

" This gallant Hotspur, this all-praised knight .' ' 


4 Commends the ingredients ] Thus in a subsequent scene 
of this play : 

" I wish your horses swift, and sure of foot, 
" And so I do commend you to their backs." 
This verb has many shades of meaning. It seems here to 
signify offers, or recommends. STEEVENS. 

4 our poison'd chalice 

To our own lips."] Our poet, apis Matinte more modoque, 
would stoop to borrow a sweet from any flower, however humble 
in its situation. 

" The pricke of conscience (saysHolinshed) caused him ever 
to feare, lest he should be served of the same cup as he had 
ministered to his predecessor." STEEVENS. 

6 Hath borne his faculties so meek,] Faculties, for office, exer- 
cise of power, &c. WARBURTON. 

" Duncan (says Holinshed) was soft and gentle of nature." 
And again : " Macbeth spoke much against the king's softness, 
and overmuch slackness in punishing offenders." STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. G 


So clear in his great office, that his virtues 
Will plead like angeK trumpet-tongued, against 
The deep damnatiori-!/of his taking-off: 
And pity, like a naked new-born babe, 
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin^ hors'd 
Upon the sightless couriers of the air, 8 
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, 

7 The deep damnation ] So, in A dolfull Discourse of a Lord 
and a Ladie, by Churchyard, 1593 : 

" in state 

" Of deepe damnation stood." 

I shouM not have thought this little coincidence worth noting, 
had I not found it in a poem which it should seem, from other 
passages, that Shakspeare had read and remembered. 


* or heaven's cherubin, hors'd 

Upon the sightless couriers of the air,'] Courier is only run- 
ner. Couriers of air are minds, air in motion. Sightless is in- 
visible. JOHNSON. 

Again, in this play : 

" Wherever in your sightless substances," &c. 
Again, in Hey wood's Brazen Age, 1613 : 

" The flames of hell and Pluto's sightless fires." 

" Hath any sightless and infernal fire 

*' Laid hold upon my flesh ?" 
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II. c. xi : 

" The scouring winds that sightless in the sounding air 
' do fly." STEEVENS. 

So, in King Henry V : 

" Borne with the invisible and creeping wind." 
Again, in our author's 51st Sonnet : 

" Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind." 
Again, in the Prologue to King Henry IV. P. II: 
" I, from the orient to the drooping west, 
" Making the wind my post-horse ." 

The thought of the cherubin (as has been somewhere ob- 
served) seems to have been borrowed from the eighteenth 
Psalm : " He rode upon the cherubins and did fly ; he came 
Jiving upon the "wings of the wind." Again, in the Book of Job, 
en. xxx. v. 22 : " Thou causest me to ride upon the wind." 


sc. vii. MACBETH. 83 

That tears shall drown the wind. 9 I have no spur 
To prick the sides^of my intent, but only 
Vaulting ambitiori^wjiich o'er-leaps itself, 
And falls on the othetJv-How now, what news ? 

9 That tears shall drotun the ivind,] Alluding to the remission 
of the wind in a shower. JOHNSON. 

So, in King Henry VI. P. Ill : 

" For raging wind blows up incessant showers ; 
" And, when the rage allays, the rain begins." 
Again, in our author's Venus and Adonis : 

" Even as the tvind is hush'd before it raineth." 

Again, in The Rape of Lucrece : 

" This 'windy tempest, till it blow up rain 
" Held back his sorrow's tide, to make it more ; 
" At last it rains, and busy winds give o'er." 
Again, in Troilus and Cressida : 

** Where are my tears ? rain, rain to lay this uvwrf." 


1 / have no spur 

To prick the sides of my intent, but only 
Vaulting ambition,] The spur of the occasion is a phrase used 
by Lord Bacon. STEEVENS. 

So, in the tragedy of Caesar and Pompey, 1607 : 

" Why think you, lords, that 'tis ambition's spur, 
" That pricketh Caesar to these high attempts?" 


Again, in The First Part of the tragicall Raigne of Sclimus, 
&c. 4to. 1594: 

" My sonnes whom now ambition ginnes to pricke." 


* And falls on the other.] Sir T. Hanmer has on this occasion 
added a word, and would read 
And Jails on the other side. 

Yet they who plead for the admission of this supplement, 
should consider, that the plural of it, but two lines before, had 

I, also, who once attempted to justify the omission of this 
word, ought to have understood that Shakspeare could never 
mean to describe the agitation of Macbeth's mind, by the assist- 
ance of a halting verse. 

The general image, though confusedly expressed, relates to a 

G 2 


Enter Lady 3 MACBETH. 

LADY M. He has almost supp'd; Why have you 
Jf ^ left the chamber ? 

horse, who, overleaping himself, falls, and his rider under him. 
To complete the line we may therefore read 
" And falls upon the other." 

Thus, in The Taming of a Shrew : " How he left her with the 
horse upon her." 

Macbeth, as I apprehend, is meant for the rider, his intent 
for his horse, and his ambition for his spur; but, unluckily, as 
the words are arranged, the spur is said to over-leap itself. Such 
hazardous things are long-drawn metaphors in the hands of care- 
less writers. STEEVENS. 

3 Enter Lady ] The arguments by which Lady Macbeth 
persuades her husband to commit the murder, afford a proof of 
Shakspeare's knowledge of human nature. She urges the ex- 
cellence and dignity of courage, a glittering idea which has 
dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated sometimes the 
house-breaker, and sometimes the conqueror ; but this sophism 
Macbeth has for ever destroyed, by distinguishing true from 
false fortitude, in a line and a half; of which it may almost be 
said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though 
all his other productions had been lost: 

/ dare do all that may become a man ; 
Who dares do more, is none. 

This topick, which has been always employed with too much 
success, is used in this scene, with peculiar propriety, to a 
soldier by a woman. Courage is the distinguishing virtue of a 
soldier ; and the reproach of cowardice cannot be borne by any 
man from a woman, without great impatience. 

She then urges the oaths by which he had bound himself to 
murder Duncan, another art of sophistry by which men have 
sometimes deluded their consciences, and persuaded themselves 
that what would be criminal in others is virtuous in them : this 
argument Shakspeare, whose plan obliged him to make Mac- 
beth yield, has not confuted, though he might easily have shown 
that a former obligation could not be vacated by a latter ; that 
obligations, laid on us by a higher power, could not be over- 
ruled by obligations which we lay upon ourselves. JOHNSON. 

Part of Lady Macbeth's argument is derived from the trans- 
lation of Hector Boethius. See Dr. Farmer's note, p. 39. 


sc. vii. MACBETH. 8.5 

MACS. Hath he ask'd for me ? 

LADY M. Know you not, he has ? 

MACS. We will proceed no further in this business : 
He hath honoured me of late ; and I have bought 
Golden opinions from all sorts of people, 
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, 
Not cast aside so soon. 

LADY M. Was the hope drunk, 4 

Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since ? 
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale 
At what it did so freely ? From this time, 
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard 
To be the same in thine own act and valour, 
As thou art in desire ? Would'st thou have that 
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, 
And live a coward in thine own esteem ; 5 
Letting I dare not wait upon I would, 
Like the poor cat i* the adage ?> 

4 Was the hope drunk, &c.] The same expression is found in 
King John : 

" O, where hath our intelligence been drunk, 
" Where hath it slept ?" MALONE. 

5 Would 1 'st thou have that 

Which thou esttem'st the ornament of life, 
And live a coward in thine own esteem;] In this there seems 
to be no reasoning. I should read : 

Or live a coward in thine own esteem; 
Unless we choose rather : 

Would 1 st thou leave that. JOHNSON. 

Do you wish to obtain the crown, and yet would you remain 
such a coward in your own eyes all your life, as to suffer your 
paltry fears, which whisper, "I dare not," to controul your noble 
ambition, which cries out, " I would ?" STEEVENS. 


6 Like the poor cat f the adage ?] The adage alluded to is, 
The cat loves Jish, but dares not wet her feet : 

** Catus amat pisces, sed non vult tingere plantas." 

- e( . v / JOHNSON. 
\ V S \5 


MACS. Pr'ythee, peace : 

I dare do all that may become a man ; 
Who dares do more, is none. 7 .* 

LADY M. What beast was it then, 

That made you break this enterprize to me ? 
When you durst do it, then you were a man ; 
And, to be more than what you were, you would 
Be so much morejthe man. Nor time, nor place, 
Did then adheref^and yet you would make both : 
They have made themselves, and that their fitness 


Does unmake you. I have given suck; and know 
How tender 'tis, to love the babe that milks me : 
I would, while it was smiling in my face, 9 

7 Pr'ythee, peace: &c.~] A passage similar to this occurs in 
Measure for Measure, Act II. sc. ii : 

'* be that you are, 

" That is, a woman: if you're more, j'ou're none." 
The old copy, instead of do more, reads no more; but the pre- 
sent reading is undoubtedly right. 

The correction (as Mr. MaJone observes) was made by Mr. 

The same sentiment occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's Rollo : 
" My Rollo, tho* he dares as much as man, 
" Is tender of his yet untainted valour ; 
" So noble, that he dares do nothing basely." HENLEY. 

8 Did then adhere,] Thus the old copy. Dr. Warburton 
would read cohere, not improperly, but without necessity. In 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mrs. Ford says of Falstaff, that 
his words and actions " no more adhere and keep pace together, 
than" &c. Again, in The Winter's Tale : 

" a shepherd's daughter, 

" And what to her adheres," &c. STEEVENS. 

So, in A Warning for fair Women, 1599: 

" Neither time 

" Nor place consorted to my mind." MALONE. 

I -would, "while it "was smiling in my face,] Polyxo, in 

so. vii. MACBETH. 



Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless^ums, 
And dash'd(th^Drains out, had I so sworn'jUis you 
Have done to this. 

MACS. If we should fail, 

LADYM. We fail! 9 

the fifth Book of Statius's Thebais, has a similar sentiment of 

ferocity : 

" In gremio (licet amplexu lachrimisque moretur) 
" Transadigara ferro ." STEEVENS. 

1 had I so sworn,] The latter word is here used as a dis- 
syllable. The editor of the second folio, from his ignorance of 
our author's phraseology and metre, supposed the line defective, 
and reads had I but so sworn ; which has been followed by all 
the subsequent editors. MA LONE. 

My regulation of the metre renders it unnecessary to read 
stKorn as a dissyllable, a pronunciation, of which I believe there 
is no example. STEEVENS. 

s We fail!] I am by no means sure that this punctuation is 
the true one. " If we fail, we fail," is a colloquial phrase still 
in frequent use. Macbeth having casually employed the former 
part of this sentence, his wife designedly completes it. We Jail, 
and thereby know the extent of our misfortune. Yet our success 
is certain, if you are resolute. 

Lady Macbeth is unwilling to afford her husband time to state 
any reasons for his doubt, or to expatiate on the obvious conse- 
quences of miscarriage in his undertaking. Such an interval for 
reflection to act in, might have proved unfavourable to her 
purposes. She therefore cuts him short with the remaining part 
of a common saying, to which his own words had offered an apt, 
though accidental introduction. 

This reply, at once cool and determined, is sufficiently cha- 
racteristic of the speaker : according to the old punctuation, 
she is represented as rejecting with contempt, (of which she had 
already manifested enough,) the very idea of failure. Accord- 
ing to the mode of pointing now suggested, she admits a possi- 
bility of miscarriage, but at the same instant shows herself not 
afraid of the result. Her answer, therefore, communicates no 
discouragement to her husband. We Jail! is the hasty inter- 
ruption of scornful impatience. We Jail. is the calm deduc- 
tion of a mind which, having weighed all circumstances, is pre- 


But screw your courage to the sticking-place, 3 
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep, 
(Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey 
Soundly invite him,) his two chamberlains 
Will I with wine and wassel so convince, 4 

pared, without loss of confidence in itself, for the worst that can 
happen. So Hotspur: 

" If we fall in, good night: or sink, or swim." 


* But screw your courage to the sticking-place,] This is a 
metaphor from an engine formed by mechanical complication. 
The sticking-place is the stop which suspends its powers, till 
they are discharged on their proper object ; as in driving piles, 
&c. So, in Sir W. D' Avenant's Cruel Brother, 1630 : 

" There is an engine made, 

" Which spends its strength by force of nimble wheels ; 

" For they, once screwed up, in their return 

t( Will rive an oak." 
Again, in Coriolanus, Act I. sc, viii: 

" Wrench up thy power to the highest." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the ninth Book of Homer's 
Odyssey : 

" my wits which to their height 

" I striv'd to screw up; " 
Again, in the fifteenth Book : 

" Come, join we hands, and screw up all their spite." 
Perhaps, indeed, Shakspeare had a more familar image in 
view, and took his metaphor from the screwing up the chords 
of string-instruments to their proper degree of tension, when the 
peg remains fast in its sticking-place, i. e. in the place from which 
it is not to move. Thus, perhaps, in Twelfth- Night : 

" And that I partly know the instrument 

" That screws me from my true place," &c. STEEVENS. 
Mr. Steevens's last interpretation is, in my apprehension, the 
true one. Sir W. D'Avenant misunderstood this passage. By 
the sticking-place, he seems to have thought the poet meant the 
stabbing place, the place where Duncan was to be wounded ; for 
he reads, 

" Bring but your courage to the fatal place, 

" And we'll not fail." MALONE. 

4 his two chamberlains 

. Will I with wine and wassel so convince, &c.] The cir- 

sc. vn. MACBETH. 89 

That memory, the warder of the bra 

cumstance relative to Macbcth's slaughter of Duncan's Cham- 
berlains, (as I observed so long ago, as in our edition 1773,) 
is copied from Holinshed's account of King Duffe's murder by 

Mr. Malone has since transcribed the whole narrative of this 
event from the Chronicle; but being too long to stand here as a 
note, it is given, with other bulky extracts, at the conclusion of 
the play. STEEVENS. 

To convince is, in Shakspeare, to overpower or subdue, as in 
this play : 

" Their malady convinces 

" The great assay of art." JOHNSON. 

So, in the old tragedy of Cambyses : 

" If that your heart addicted be the Egyptians to con- 
Again : 

" By this his grace, by conquest great the Egyptians did 


Again, in Holinshed : " thus mortally fought, intending to 
vanquish and convince the other." Again, in Chapman's version 
of the sixth Iliad : 

" Chymera the invincible he sent him to convince." 


and wassel ] What was anciently called tuas-haile (as 

appears from Selden's notes on the ninth Song of Drayton's 
Polyolbion,) was an annual custom observed in the country on 
the vigil of the new year ; and had its beginning, as some say, 
from the words which Ronix, daughter of Hengist, used, when 
she drank to Vortigern, loverd king was-heil; he answering her, 
by direction of an interpreter, drinc-heile ; and then, as Robert 
of Gloucester says, 

" Kuste hire and sitte hire adoune and glad dronke hire 


" And that was tho in this land the verst was-hail, 
" As in langage of Saxoyne that me might evere iwite, 
" And so wel he paith the folc about, that he is not yut 


Afterwards it appears that was-haile, and drinc-heil, were the 
usual phrases of quaffing among the English, as we may see from 
Thomas de la Moore in the Life of Edward II. and in the lines 
of Hanvil the monk, who preceded him : 


Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason 6 
A limbeck only: 7 When in swinish sleep 
Their drenched nature! 8 He, as in a death, 
What cannot you and I perform upon 
The unguarded Duncan ? what not put upon 

" Ecce vagante cifo distento gutture wass-heil, 

" Ingeminant wass-heil " 

But Selden rather conjectures it to have been a usual ceremony 
among the Saxons before Hengist, as a note of health-wishing, 
supposing the expression to be corrupted from "wish-hell. 

Wassel or Wassail is a word still in use in the midland coun- 
ties, and signifies at present what is called Lambs'- Wool, i. e. 
roasted apples in strong beer, with sugar and spice. See Beggars 
Bush, Act IV. sc. iv : 

" What think you of a wassel? 

" thou, and Ferret, 

" And Ginks, to sing the song ; I for the structure, 
" Which is the bowl." 

Ben Jonson personifies wassel thus : Enter Wassel like a neat 
sempsfer and songster, her page bearing a brown bowl drest "with 
ribbands and rosemary, before her. 

Wassel is, however, sometimes used for general riot, intem- 
perance, or festivity. On the present occasion I believe it means 
intemperance. STEEVENS. 

So, in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" Antony, 

" Leave thy lascivious wassels." 
See also Vol. VII. p. 165, n. 6. MALONE. 

* the warder of the brain,'] A warder is a guard, a senti- 
nel. So, in King Henry VI. P. I : 

" Where be these warders, that they wait not here ?" 


6 the receipt of reason^} i. e. the receptacle. MALONE. 

7 A limbeck only:] That is, shall be only a vessel to emit 
fumes or vapours. JOHNSON. 

The limbeck is the vessel, through which distilled liquors pass 
into the recipient. So shall it be with memory ; through which 
every thing shall pass, and nothing remain. A. C. 

* Their drenched natures ] i. e. as we should say at pre- 
sent soaked, saturated with liquor. STEEVENS. 

sc. Fir. MACBETH. 91 

His spongy officers ;^ho shall bear the guilt 
Of our great quell rcx 

MACS. Bring forth men-children only ! 

For thy undaunted mettle should compose ^ 
Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv'ct, 1 ' 
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two 
Of his own chamber, and us'd their very daggers, 
That they have don't ? 

LADY M. Who dares receive it other, 5 

As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar 
Upon his death ? 

MACS. I am settled, and bend up 3 

8 ivho shall bear the guilt 

Of our great quell ?] Quell is murder, manquellers being, in 
the old language, the term for which murderers is now used. 


So, in Chaucer's Tale of the Nonnes Priest, v. 15,396, Mr. 
Tyrwhitt's edit : 

" The dokes cryeden as men wold hem quelled 
The word is used in this sense by Holinshed, p. 567 : " the 
poor people ran about the streets, calling the capteins and go- 
vernors murtherers and manquetters." STEEVENS. 

1 Will it not be receiv'd,] i. e. understood, apprehended. 

So, in Twelfth-Night : 

" To one of your receiving 

" Enough is shown." STEEVENS. 

s Who dares receive it other,'] So, in Holinshed : " he 
burthen'd the chamberleins, whom he had slaine, with all the 
fault, they having the keyes of the gates committed to their 
keeping all the night, and therefore it could not be otherwise 
(said he) but that they were of counsel in the committing of 
that most detestable murther." MALONE. 

3 and bend up ] A metaphor from the bow. So, in 

King Henry V : 

" bend up every spirit 

To his full height." 

The same phrase occurs in Melvil's Memoirs : " but that 
rather she should bend up her spirit by a princely, &c. beha- 
viour." Edit. 1735. p. 148. 


Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. 
Away, and mock the time with fairest show : 
False face must hidewhat the false heart doth know. 


Till this instant, the mind of Macbeth has been in a state of 
uncertainty and fluctuation. He has hitherto proved neither 
resolutely good, nor obstinately wicked. Though a bloody idea 
had arisen in his mind, after he had heard the prophecy in his 
favour, yet he contentedly leaves the completion of his hopes to 
chance. At the conclusion, however, of his interview with 
Duncan, he inclines to hasten the decree of fate, and quits the 
stage with an apparent resolution to murder his sovereign. But 
no sooner is the king under his roof, than, reflecting on the 
peculiarities of his own relative situation, he determines not to 
offend against the laws of hospitality, or the ties of subjection, 
kindred, and gratitude. His wife then assails his constancy 
afresh. He yields to her suggestions, and, with his integrity, 
his happiness is destroyed. 

I have enumerated these particulars, because the waverings of 
Macbeth have, by some cri ticks, been regarded as unnatural and 
contradictory circumstances in his character ; not remembering 
that nemo repentcjuit turpissimus, or that (as Angelo observes) 

" when once our grace we have forgot, 

" Nothing goes right ; we would, and we would not." 
a passage which contains no unapt justification of the changes 
that happen in the conduct of Macbeth. STEEVKNS. 



The same. Court within the Castle. 

Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, and a Servant, with 
a torch before them. 

BAN. How goes the night, boy ? 

FLE. The moon is down ; I have not heard the 

BAN. And she goes down at twelve. 

FLE. I take't, 'tis later, sir. 

BAN. Hold, take my sword : There's husban- 
dry in heaven^ 

Their candles are all out. 6 Take thee that too. 
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me, 
And yet I would not sleep : Merciful powers ! 

4 Scene /.] The place is not marked in the old edition, nor is 
it easy to say where this encounter can be. It is not in the hall, 
as the editors have all supposed it, for Banquo sees the sky; it is 
not far from the bedchamber, as the conversation shows : it must 
be in the inner court of the castle, which Banquo might properly 
cross in his way to bed. JOHNSON. 

* There's husbandry in heaven^] Husbandry here means thrift, 
frugality. So, in Hamlet: 

" And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry" 


6 Their candles are all out.'] The same expression occurs in 
Romeo and Juliet : 

" Night's candles are burnt out" 
Again, in our author's 21st Sonnet: 

" As those gold candles fix'd in heaven's air." 
See Vol. VII. p. 386, n. 5. MALONE. 


Restrain in me the cursed thoughts, that nature 
Gives way to in repose ! 7 Give me my sword ; 

Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch. 

Who's there ? 
MACS. A friend. 

BAN. What, sir, not yet at rest ? The king's 

a-bed : 

He hath been in unusual pleasure, and 
Sent forth great largess to your offices : * 

7 Merciful powers ! 

Restrain in me the cursed thoughts, that nature 
Gives ixay to in repose f] It is apparent from what Banquo 
says afterwards, that he had been solicited in a dream to attempt 
something in consequence of the prophecy of the Witches, that 
his waking senses were shocked at ; and Shakspeare has here 
most exquisitely contrasted his character with that of Macbeth. 
Banquo is praying against being tempted to encourage thoughts 
of guilt even in his sleep; while Macbeth is hurrying into temp- 
tation, and revolving in his mind every scheme, however flagiti- 
ous, that may assist him to complete his purpose. The one is un- 
willing to sleep, lest the same phantoms should assail his resolu- 
tion again, while the other is depriving himself of rest through 
impatience to commit the murder. 

The same kind of invocation occurs in Cymbeline . 
" From fairies, and the tempters of the night, 
" Guard me !" STEEVENS. 

' Sent forth great largess to your offices :] Thus the old copy, 
and rightly. Offices are the rooms appropriated to servants and 
culinary purposes. Thus, in Timon : 

" When all our offices have been oppress'd 
" By riotous feeders." 
Again, in King Richard II: 

" Unpeopled (ffices, untrodden stones." 
Duncan was pleased with his entertainment, and dispensed his 
bounty to those who had prepared it. All the modern editors 
have transferred this largess to the officers of Macbeth, who 
would more properly have been rewarded in the field, or at their 
return to court. STEEVENS. 

sc. /. MACBETH. 03 

This diamond he greets your wife withal, 

By the name of most kind hostess ; and shut up 9 , w * i 

In measureless content. 

MACS. Being unprepar'd, 

Our will became the servant to defect ; 
Which else should free have wrought. 1 

BAN. All's well> > 

I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters : 
To you they have show'd some truth. 

MACS. . I think not of them : 

Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve, 
Would spend it in some words upon that business, 
If you would grant the time. 

9 shut up ] To shut up, is to conclude. So, in The 

Spanish Tragedy: 

" And heavens have shut up day to pleasure us." 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. ix : 

" And for to shut up all in friendly love." 

Again, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, 1621, 

fourth edit. p. 137 : " though the parents have already shut up 

the contract." Again, in Stowe's Account of the Earl of Essex's 

Speech on the scaffold : '* he shut up all with the Lord's prayer." 


Again, in Stowe's Annals, p. 833 : " the kings majestic 
[K. James] shut up. all with a pithy exhortation on both sides." 


1 Being unprepar'd, 
Our will became the servant to defect ; 

Which else should free have wrought.] This is obscurely ex- 
pressed. The meaning seems to be : Being unprepared, our 
entertainment was necessarily defective, and we only had it in 
our power to show the King our willingness to serve him. Had 
we received sufficient notice of his coming, our zeal should have 
been more clearly manifested by our acts. 

Which refers, not to the last antecedent, defect, but to will. 


* All's well.] I suppose the poet originally wrote (that the 
preceding verse might be completed,) Sir, all is well." 


1)6 MACBETH. ACT u. 

BAN. At your kind'st leisure. 

MACS. If you shall cleave to my consent, when 
'tis, 3 

* If you shall cleave to my consent, token 'tis,"] Consent for 
will. So that the sense of the line is, If you shall go into my 
measures when I have determined of them, or when the time 
comes that I want your assistance. WARBURTON. 

Macbeth expresses his thought with affected obscurity ; he 
does not mention the royalty, though he apparently had it in his 
mind. If you shall cleave to my consent, if you shall concur with 
me when I determine to accept the crown, when 'tis, when that 
happens which the prediction promises, it shall make honour for 
you. JOHNSON. 

Such another expression occurs in Lord Surrey's translation 
of the second Book of Virgil's JEneid: 

*' And if thy will stick unto mine, I shall 
" In wedlocke sure knit, and make her his owne." 
Consent has sometimes the power of the Latin concentus. Both 
the verb and substantive, decidedly bearing this signification, 
occur in other plays of our author. Thus, in K. Henry VI. 
P. I. sc. i: 

" scourge the bad revolting stars 

" That have consented to king Henry's death ; ." 
i. e. acted in concert so as to occasion it. Again, in King 
Henry IV. P. II. Act V. sc. i : " they (Justice Shallow's ser- 
vants) flock together in consent, (i. e. in a party,") like so many 
wild geese." In both these instances the words are spelt erro- 
neously, and should be written concent and concented. See 
Spenser, &c. as quoted in a note on the passage already adduced 
from King Henry VI. 

The meaning of Macbeth is then as follows : If you shall 
cleave to my consent i. e. if you shall stick, or adhere, to my 
party when 'tis, i. e. at the time when such a party is formed, 
your conduct shall produce honour for you. 

That consent means participation, may be proved from a pas- 
sage in the 50th Psalm. I cite the translation 1568: ' When 
thou sawedst a thiefe, thou dydst consent unto hym, and hast 
been partaker with the adulterers." In both instances the par- 
ticeps criminis is spoken of. 

Again, in our author's As you like it, the usurping Duke says, 
after the flight of Rosalind and Celia 

" some villains of my court 

" Are of consent and sufferance in this." 

sc. i. MACBETH. 97 

It shall make honour for you. 

BAN* So I lose none, 

Again, in King Henry V: 

" We carry not a heart with us from hence, 
" That grows not in a fair consent with ours." 

Macbeth mentally refers to the crown he expected to obtain 
in consequence of the murder he was about to commit. The 
commentator, indeed, (who is acquainted with what precedes 
and follows,) comprehends all that passes in the mind of the 
speaker ; but Banquo is still in ignorance of it. His reply is 
only that of a man who determines to combat every possible 
temptation to do ill ; and therefore expresses a resolve that in 
spite of future combinations of interest, or struggles for power, 
he will attempt nothing that may obscure his present honours, 
alarm his conscience, or corrupt his loyalty. 

Macbeth could never mean, while yet the success of his attack 
on the life of Duncan was uncertain, to afford Banquo the most* 
dark or distant hint of his criminal designs on the crown. Had 
he acted thus incautiously, Banquo would naturally have become 
his accuser, as soon as the murder had been discovered. 


That Banquo was apprehensive of a design upon the crown, 
is evident from his reply, which affords Macbeth so little en- 
couragement, that he drops the subject. RITSON. 

The word consent has always appeared to me unintelligible in 
the first of these lines, and was, I am persuaded, a mere error 
of the press. A passage in The Tempest leads me to think that 
our author wrote content. Antonio is counselling Sebastian to 
murder Gonzalo : 

" O, that you bore 

" The mind that I do ; what, a sleep were there 
" For your advancement ! Do you understand me ? 
" Seb. I think I do. 

" Ant. And how does your content 

" Tender your own good fortune ?" 

In the same play we have " Thy thoughts I cleave to" which 
differs but little from " I cleave to thy content." 

In The Comedy of Errors our author has again used this word 
in the same sense : 

" Sir, I commend you to your own content." 
Again, in All's well that ends tuell : 

" Madam, the care I have taken to even your con- 
VOL. X. H 


In seeking to augment it, but still keep 
My bosom franchis'd, and allegiance clear, 
I shall be counsel'd. 

i. e. says Dr. Johnson, to act up to your desires. Again, in King 
Richard III: 

" God hold it to your honour's good content /" 

Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : " You shall hear 
how things go, and, I warrant, to your own content." 

The meaning then of the present difficult passage, thus cor- 
rected, will be : If you will closely adhere to my cause, if you 
will promote, as far as you can, what is likely to contribute to 
my satisfaction and content, when 'tis, when the prophecy of the 
weird sisters is fulfilled, when I am seated on the throne, the 
event shall make honour for you. 

The word content admits of this interpretation, and is sup- 
ported by several other passages in our author's plays ; the word 
consent, in my apprehension, affords here no meaning whatso- 

Consent or concent may certainly signify harmony, and, in a 
metaphorical sense, that union which binds to each other a party 
or number of men, leagued together for a particular purpose ; 
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 in- 
struments can signify the instruments themselves, or the musi- 
cians 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, 1 ap- 
prehend, 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 com- 
modiously 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." 



sc. i. MACBETH. 99 

MACS. Good repose, the while ! 

BAN. Thanks, sir; The like to you ! 

[Exit BANQUO. 

MACS. Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is 

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* 

thee : 

I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. 

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible 

To feeling, as to sight ? or art thou but 

A dagger of the mind ; a false creation, 

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain ? 

I see thee yet, in form as palpable 

As this which now I draw. 

Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going ; 

And such an instrument I was to use. 

Mine eyes are made the fools o* the other senses, 

Qr else worth all the rest : I see thee still ; 

And on thy blade, and dudgeon, gouts of blood, 8 

4 when my drink is ready,] See note on " their possets," 

in the next scene, p. 108. STEEVENS. 

* clutch ] This word, though reprobated by Ben Jon- 
son, who sneers at Decker for using it, was employed by other 
writers beside Decker and our author. So, in Antonio's Re- 
venge, by Marston, 1602: 

" all the world is clutch* d 

" In the dull leaden hand of snoring sleep." MALONE. 

6 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 ex- 
pression, manubrium apiatum, which means a handle of wood, 

H 2 

100 MACBETH. ACT n. 

Which was not so before. There's no such thing: 
It is the bloody business, which informs 
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half world 
Nature seems dead, 7 and wicked dreams abuse 

with a grain rough as if the seeds of parsley uere sirorvn over 

Thus, in the concluding page of the Dedication of Stany- 
hurst'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 Per- 
seda, is the following passage : 

" Typhon me no Typhons, 

" But swear upon my dudgeon dagger." 
Again, in Decker's Satiromastix : " 1 am too well ranked, 
Asinius, to be stabb'd with his dudgeon wit " 

Again, in Skialetheia, a collection of Epigrams, Satires, &c. 

" A dudgin dagger that's new scowr'd and glast." 


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 Deyng, 1503 : " Befor the jugement all herbys shal 
sweyt read goutys of water, as blood." STEEVENS. 

7 Notv o'er the one halftuorld 

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, lias been adopted by 
Dryden, in his Conquest of Mexico: 

" All things are hush'd as Nature's self lay dead, 
" The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head ; 
" The little birds in dreams their songs repeat, 
" And sleeping flow'rs beneath the night dews sweat. 
" Even lust and envy sleep !" 

sc. i. MACBETH. 101 

The curtain'd sleep ; now witchcraft celebrates * 

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 dther of perturbation. In the night of Dry- 
den, 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 Shak- 
speare, looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. 
One is the night of a lover ; the other, of a murderer. 


Perhaps Sir Philip Sidney had the honour of suggesting the 
last image in Dryden's description : 

" Night hath clos'd all in her cloke, 
" Twinkling starres love-thoughts provoke ; 
" Daunger hence good care dooth keepe ; 
" Jealousie itselfe dooth sleepe." 

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 

In the dull leaden hand of snoring sleep : 

No breath disturbs the quiet of the air, 

No spirit moves upon the breast of earth, 

Save howling dogs, night-crows, and screeching-owls. 

Save meagre ghosts, Piero, and black thoughts. 

1 am great in blood, 

' Unequal'd in revenge : you horrid scouts 

That sentinel swart night, give loud applause 
" From your large palms." MALONE. 

8 The curtain'd sleep; now witchcraft celebrates ] The word 
now has been added for the sake of metre. Probably Shak- 
speare wrote : The curtain'd sleeper. The folio spells the word 
sleepe, and an addition of the letter r only, affords the proposed 

Milton has transplanted this image into his Masque at Ludlow 
Castle, v. 554* : 

" steeds 

** That draw the litter of close-curtain d sleep" 

Mr. Steevens's emendation of " the curtain'd sleeper," is well 

102 MACBETH. ACT n. 

Pale Hecate's offerings ; and withered murder, 
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, 
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, 
With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design 

Moves like a ghost. 9 Thou sure and firm-set 

earth, 1 - 

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 cau- 
tion, 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 

thus with his stealthy pace, 

With Tarquin ravishing, slides toufrds his design, 

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 a-sleep, but 
those who are employed in wickedness ; the witch who is sacri- 
ficing to Hecate, and the ravisher, and the murderer, who, like 
me, are stealing upon their prey. 

When the reading is thus adjusted, he wishes, with great pro- 
priety, in the following lines, that the earth may not hear his 
steps. JOHNSON. 

sc. i. MACBETH. 103 

Hear not my steps, which way they walk^lior fear 

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 tu- 
multuous effort, the following instance, from Harrington's trans- 
lation of Ariosto, [1591,] may be brought: 

" He takes a long and leisurable stride, 

" And longest on the hinder foot he staid; 
" So soft he treads, altho' his steps were wide, 
" As though to tread on eggs he was afraid. 
" And as he goes, he gropes on either side 
" To find the bed," &c. 

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 re- 
peated 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. Syl- 
vester, 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 

" Suspenso digitis fert taciturna gradu." Ovid. Fasti. 

" Eunt taciti per maesta silentia magnis 
Passibus." Statius, Lib. X. 

It is observable that Shakspeare, when he has occasion, in his 
Rape ofLucrece, to describe the action here alluded to, uses a 
similar expression ; and perhaps would have used the word stride, 
if he had not been fettered by the rhyme : 

" Into the chamber wickedly he stalks." 

Plausible, however, as this emendation may appear, the old 
reading, sides, is, I believe, the true one ; I have therefore ad- 
hered to it, on the same principle on which I have uniformly 

104 MACBETH. Acrir. 

Thy very stones prate of my whcre-about^ 

proceeded throughout my edition, that of leaving the original 
text undisturbed, whenever it could be justified either by com- 
paring our author with himself or with contemporary writers. 
The following passage in Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Elegies, 
8vo. no date, but printed about 1598, adds support to the read- 
ing of the old copy : 

" I saw when forth a tired lover went, 

" His side past service, and his courage spent." 

" Vidi, cum foribus lassus prodiret amator, 

" Invalidum referens emeritumque latus." 
Again, in Martial : 

" Tu tenebris gaudes; me ludere, teste lucerna, 

" Et juvat admissa rumpere luce latus." 

Our poet may himself also furnish us with a confirmation of 
the old reading; for in Troilus and Cressida we find 
" You, like a lecher, out of ivhorish loins 
" Are pleas'd to breed out your inheritors." 
It may likewise be observed that Falstaff, in the fifth Act of 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, says to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page, 
" Divide me like a bribe-buck, each a haunch : I will keep my 
sides to myself," &c. Falstaff certainly did not think them, like 
those of Ovid's lover, past service ; having met one of the ladies 
by assignation. I believe, however, a line has been lost after 
the words " stealthy pace." MALONE. 

Mr. Malone's reasons, &c. for this supposition, (on account 
of their length,) are given at the conclusion of the play, with a 
reference to the foregoing observations. 

How far a Latinism, adopted in the English version of a Roman 
poet; or the mention of loins, (which no dictionary acknowledges 
as a synonyme to fides,) can justify Mr. Malone's restoration, let 
the judicious reader determine. 

Falstaff, dividing himself as a buck, very naturally says he 
will give away his best joints, and keep the worst for himself, 
A side of venison is at once an established term, and the least 
elegant part of the carcase so divided But of what use could 
sides, in their Ovidian sense, have been to Falstaff, when he had 
already parted with his haunches? 

It is difficult to be serious on this occasion. I may therefore 
be pardoned if I observe that Tarquin, just as he pleased, might 
have walked -with moderate steps, or lengthened them into 
strides; but, when we are told that he carried his "sides" with 
him, it is natural to ask how he could have gone any where 
without them. 

x. i. MACBETH. 10.5 

And take the present horror from the time, 

Nay, further,- However sides, (according to Mr. Malone's 
interpretation of the word,) might have proved efficient in Lu- 
cretia's bedchamber, in that of Duncan they could answer no 
such purpose, as the lover and the murderer succeed by the 
exertion of very different organs. 

I am, in short, of the Fool's opinion in King Lear 

" That going should be used with feet" 

and, consequently, that sides are out of the question. Such re- 
storations of superannuated mistakes, put our author into the 
condition of Gibber's Lady Dainty, who, having been cured of 
her disorders, one of her physicians says, " Then I'll make her 
go over them again." STEEVENS. 

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, 

" When heavy sleep had clos'd up mortal eyes ; 

" No comfortable star did lend his light, 

" No noise but owls' and wolves' dead-boding cries; 

" Now serves the season that they may surprise 

" The silly lambs. Pure thoughts are dead and still, 

" While lust and murder inake, to stain and Mil.'* 


1 Thou sure and jirm-set earth,] The old copy Thou 

soiare &c. which, though an evident corruption, directs us to the 
reading I have ventured to substitute in its room. 
So, in Act IV. sc. iii : 

M Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure." STEEVENS. 

* tiohich way they walk,"] The folio reads : 
which they may tvalk, STEEVENS. 

Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 

3 Thy very stones prate of my inhere-about,] The following 
passage in a play which has been frequently mentioned, and 
which Langbaine says was very popular in the time of Queen 
Elizabeth, A Warning for fair e Women, 1599, perhnps sug- 
gested this thought: 

* Mountains will not suffice to cover it, 

' Cimmerian darknesse cannot shadow it, 

* Nor any policy wit hath in store, 

* Cloake it so cunningly, but at the last, 

* If nothing else, yet will the very stones 

* That lie within the street, cry out for vengeance, 

" And point at us to be the murderers." MALONE. 

106 MACBETH. ACT n. 

Which now suits with it. 4 Whiles I threat, he 

lives ; . , 

Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. 5 

[A bell rings. 

So, as Dr. Farmer observes, in Churchyard's Chaise : 
' The stepps I tread, shall tell me my offence."' 

4 And take the present horror from the time, 

Which now suits ivith it.~\ i. e. lest the noise from the stones 
take away from this midnight season that present horror which 
suits so well with what is going to be acted in it. What was the 
horror he means ? Silence, than which nothing can be more 
horrid to the perpetrator of an atrocious design. This shows a 
great knowledge of human nature. WARBURTON. 

Whether to take horror from the time means not rather to 
catch it as communicated, than to deprive the time of horror, de- 
serves to be considered. JOHNSON. 

The latter is surely the true meaning. Macbeth would have 
nothing break through the universal silence that added such a 
horror to the night, as suited well with the bloody deed he was 
about to perform. Mr. Burke, in his Essay on the Sublime and 
Beautiful, observes, that " all general privations are great, be- 
cause they are all terrible ;" and, with other things, he gives 
silence as an instance, illustrating the whole by that remarkable 
passage in Virgil, where, amidst all the images of terror that 
could be united, the circumstance of silence is particularly dwelt 

" Dii quibus imperium est animarum, umbraeque silentes, 

" Et Chaos et Phlegethon, loca nocte tacentia late." 
When Statius, in the fifth Book of the Thebaid, describes the 
Lemnian massacre, his frequent notice of the silence and soli- 
tude, both before and after the deed, is striking in a wonderful 
degree : 

" Conticuere domus," &c. 

and when the same poet enumerates the terrors to which Chiron 
had familiarized his pupil, he subjoins 

** nee ad vastae trepidare silentia sylvse." 


Again, when Tacitus describes the distress of the Roman 
army, under Caecina, he concludes by observing, " duceraque 
terruit dira quies." See AnnaL I. LXV. 

In all the preceding passages, as Pliny remarks, concerning 
places of worship, silentia ipsa adoramus. STEEVENS. 

In confirmation of Steevens's ingenious note on this passage, 

sc. i. MACBETH. 107 


I go, and it is done ; the bell invites me.x 
Hear it not, Duncan ; for it is a knell 
That summons theeto heaven, or to 

it may be observed, that one of the circumstances of horror 
enumerated by Macbeth is, Nature seems dead. M. MASON. 

So also, in the second JEneid: 

" vestigia retro 

" Observata sequor per noctem, et lumine lustro. 

" Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent." 
Dryden's well-known lines, which exposed him to so much 

" An horrid stillness first invades the ear, 

" And in that silence we the tempest hear," 
show, that he had the same idea of the awfulness of silence as 
our poet. MALONE. 

* Whiles I threat, he lives ; . 

Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.] Here is 
evidently a false concord ; but it must not be corrected, for it is 
necessary to the rhyme. Nor is this the only place in which 
Shakspeare has sacrificed grammar to rhyme. In Cymbeline, 
the song in Cloten's serenade runs thus : 

' Hark ! hark ! the lark at heaven's gate sings, 

" And Phoebus 'gins to rise, 
" His steeds to water at those springs 

" On chalic'd flowers that lies.'' 
And Romeo says to Friar Lawrence: 

" both our remedies 

" Within thy help and holy physick lies." M. MASON. 

6 the bell invites me.] So, in Cymbeline : 
" The time inviting thee?" STEEVENS. 

7 - it is a knell 

That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.] Thus Raleigh, 
speaking of love, in England's Helicon, 4to. 1600: 
" It is perhaps that sauncing bell, 
'* That toules all in to heauen or hell." 

Sauncing is probably a mistake for sacring, or saints' bell ; 
originally, perhaps, written (with the Saxon genitive) saint/s bell. 
In Hudibras (as Mr. Ritson observes to me) we find 

" The only saints' bell that rings all in." STEEVENS. 

Saunce bell (still so called at Oxford) is the small bell which 
hangs in the window of a church tower, and is always rung 
when the clergyman enters the church, and also at funerals. In 
some places it is called tolling all in, i. e. into church. HARRIS. 

108 MACBETH. ACT 11. 


The same. 
Enter Lady MACBETH. 

LADY M. That which hath made them drunk, 

hath made me bold : 
What hath quench'd them, hath given me fire : 

Hark ! Peace ! 

It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman, 
Which gives the stern'st good-night^ He is about 


The doors are open ; and the surfeited grooms 
Do mock their charge will} snores : !j I have drugg'd 

their possetsV 

8 It was the owl that shriek* d, the fatal bellman, 

Which gives the sternest good-night.] Shakspeare has here 
improved on an image he probably found in Spenser's Fairy 
Queen, B. V. c. vi. 27 : 

" The native belman of the night, 

" The bird that warned Peter of his fall, 

" First rings his silver bell t'each sleepy wight." 


It was the owl that shriek'd ; the fatal bellman^\ So, in King 
Richard HI: 

" Out on ye, owls ! nothing but songs of death!" 


9 the surfeited grooms 

Do mock their charge with snores .-] i. e. By going to sleep, 
they trifle and make light of the trust reposed in them, that of 
watching by their king. So, in Othello : " O mistress, villainy 
hath made mocks with love." MALONE. 

1 their possets,] It appears from this passage, as well as 

from many others in our old dramatick performances, that it was 
the general custom to eat possets just before bed-time. So, in 
the first part of King Edward IV. by Heywood : " thou shalt 
be welcome to beef and bacon, and perhaps a bag-pudding; and 
my daughter Nell shall pop a posset upon thee when thou goest 
to bed." Macbeth has already said : 

sc. n. MACBETH. 109 

That death and nature do _ contend about them, 
Whether they live, or die. 2 

MACS. \}Vithin^\ Who's there ? what, ho ! 

LADY M. Alack! I am afraid they have awak'd, 
And 'tis not done : the attempt, and not the deed, 
Confounds us: Hark! J laid their daggers ready, 
He could not miss them 5 *^ Had he not resembled 
My father as he slept, I had done't. 4 My husband? fe> C? 


" Go bid thy mistress when my drink is ready, <;, r5> ''*>' 1 

" She strike upon the bell." / ^ & 

Lady Macbeth has also just observed 

" That which hath made them drunk, hath made me 


and in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mrs. Quickly promises 
Jack Rugby a posset at night. This custom is also mentioned 
by Froissart. STEEVENS. 

* death and nature do contend about them, 

Whether they live, or die.'] Of this image our ancient writers 
were peculiarly fond. Thus again, in Twine's translation of 
the story of Prince Appollyn : " Death strived with life within 
her, and the conflict was daungerous and doubtfull who should 

Again, in All's well that ends tuell : 

" thy blood and virtue 

" Contend for empire in thee." STEEVENS. 

Again, ibid: 

" Nature and sickness 

" Debate it at their leisure." MALONE. 

* Hark ! / laid their daggers ready, 

He could not miss them.~\ Compare Euripides, Orestes, 
v. 1291 where Electra stands centinel at the door of the palace, 
whilst Orestes is within for the purpose of murdering Helen. 
The dread of a surprize, and eagerness for the business, make 
Electra conclude that the deed must be done ere time enough 
had elapsed for attempting it. She listens with anxious impati- 
ence ; and hearing nothing, expresses strong fears lest the dag- 
gers should have failed. Read the whole passage. S. W. 

* Had he not resembled 

My father as he slept, I had done* ti\ This is very artful. 
For, as the poet has drawn the lady and her husband, it would 

110 MACBETH. ACT n. 


MACS. I have done the deed : Didst thou not 
hear a noise ? 

LADY M. I heard the owl scream, and the crick- 

ets cry. 
J)id not you speak ? 

MACS. When ? 

LADY M. Now. 

MACS. ' As I descended? 

LADY M. Ay. 
MACS. Hark ! 
Who lies i'the second chamber ? 

LADY M. Donalbain. 

MACS. This is a sorry sight. 5 

[Looking on his hands. 

be thought the act should have been done by her. It is likewise 
highly just; for though ambition had subdued in her all the 
sentiments of nature towards present objects, yet the likeness of 
one past, which she had been accustomed to regard with reve- 
rence, made her unnatural passions, for a moment, give way to 
the sentiments of instinct and humanity. WARBURTON. 

The same circumstance, on a similar occasion, is introduced 
by Statius, in the fifth Book of his Thebaid, v. 236 : 

" Ut vero Alcimeden etiamnum in murmure truncos 
" Ferre patris vultus, et egentem sanguinis ensem 
" Conspexi, riguere comae, atque in viscera saevus 
" Horror iit. Meus ille Thoas, mea dira videri 
" Dextra mihi. Extemplo thalamis turbata paternis 
" Inferor." 
Thoas was the father of Hypsipyle, the speaker. S TEE YENS. 

* This is a sorry sight.] This expression might have been 
borrowed from Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. V. c. i. st. 14 : 
" To whom as they approched, they espide 
" A sorie sight as ever scene with eye ; 
" A headlesse ladie lying him beside, 
" In her own bloud all wallow'd woefully." WHALLEY. 

sc.n. MACBETH. ill 

LADY M. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. 

MACS. There's one did laugh in his sleep, and 

one cried, murder! 
That they did wake each other ; I stood and heard 


But they did say their prayers, and address'd them 
Again to sleep. 

LADY M. There are two lodg'd together. 

MACS. One cried, God bless us, and, Amen, the 

other; ^ 

As they had seen mefewith these hangman's hands. 
Listening their fearj^I could not^ay, amen, 
When they -did say,/ God bless usfe 

6 As they had seen me,] i. e. as if. So, in The Winters 

" As we are mock'd with art." STEEVENS. 

7 Listening their fear.'] i. e. Listening to their fear, the par- 
ticle omitted. This is common in our author. Thus, in Julius 
Ccesar, Act IV. sc. i : 

" and now, Octavius, 

" Listen great things." 

Contemporary writers took the same liberty. So, in The 
World toss'd at Tennis, by Middleton and Rowley, 1620: 

" Listen the plaints of thy poor votaries." 
Again, in Lyly's Maid's Metamorphosis, 1600: 

" There, in rich seats, all wrought of ivory, 

" The Graces sit, listening the melody 

" Of warbling birds." STEEVENS. 

When they did say, God bless us.} The words did say, 
which render this hemistich too long to unite with the next in 
forming a verse, persuade me that the passage originally ran 
thus : 

1 could not say, amen, 

When they, God bless us. 

i. e. when they could say God bless us. Could say, in the second 
line, was left to be understood ; as before 

" and, Amen, the other :" 

i. e. the other cried Amen. But the players, having no idea of 
the latter ellipsis, supplied the syllables that destroy the measare. 


112 MACBETH. ACT n. 

LADY M. Consider it not so deeply. 

MACS. But wherefore could not I pronounce, 

amen ? 

I had most need of blessing, and amen 
Stuck in my throat. 

LADY M. These deeds must not be thought 
After these ways ; so, it will make us mad. 

MACS. Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no 

more ! 

Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep; 
Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, 9 

9 the ravell'd sleave of care,] Sleave signifies the ravelled 

knotty part of the silk, which gives great trouble and embarrass- 
ment to the knitter or weaver. HEATH. 

Drayton, a poet of Shakspeare's age, has likewise alluded to 
sleaved or ravelled silk, in his Quest of Cynthia : 
" At length I on a fountain light, 
" Whose brim with pinks was platted, 
" The banks with daffadillies dight, 
" With grass, like sleave, was matted." LANGTON. 

Sleave is properly silk which has not been twisted. It is men- 
tioned in Holinshed's History of England, p. 835: " Eight wild 
men all apparelled in green moss made with sieved silk." 
Again, in The Muses' Elizium, by Drayton : 

" thrumb'd with grass 

" As soft as sleave or sarcenet ever was." 
Again, ibid .- 

" That in the handling feels as soft as any sleave." 


Sleave appears to have signified coarse, soft, un wrought silk. 
Seta grossolana, Ital. Cotgrave, in his DICT. 1660, renders soye 
jlosche, " sleave silk." See also, ibid: " Cadarce, pour faire 
capiton. The tow, or coarsest part of silke, whereof sleave is 
made." In Troilus and Cressida we have " Thou idle imma- 
terial skein of sleave silk." MALONE. 

Ravelled means entangled. So, in The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona, Thurio says to Proteus, speaking of Sylvia 
" Therefore as you unwind her love from him, 
" Lest it should ravel, and be good to none, 
** You must provide to bottom it on me." M. MASON. 

sc.n. MACBETH. 113 

The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, 1 

1 The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, &c.] In this 
encomium upon sleep, amongst the many appellations which are 
given it, significant of its beneficence and friendliness to life, we 
find one which conveys a different idea, and by no means agrees 
with the rest, which is The death of each day's life. 1 make 
no question but Shakspeare wrote 
The birth of each day's life. 

The true characteristick of sleep, which repairs the decays of 
labour, and assists that returning vigour which supplies the next 
day's activity. WARBURTON. 

The death of each day's life, means the end of each day's labour, 
the conclusion of all that bustle and fatigue that each day's life 
brings faith it. 

Thus also Chapman, in his version of the nineteenth Iliad: 
" But none can live without the death of sleepe" 


Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, 
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds,] Is it not probable that Shakspeare re- 
membered the following verses in Sir Philip Sydney's Astrophel 
and Stella, a poem, from which he has quoted a line in The 
Merry Wives of Windsor? 

" Come sleepe, O sleepe, the certain knot of peace, 
" The bathing place of wits, the balm of woe, 
" The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release, 
" The indifferent judge between the high and low." 
So also, in The famous Historic of George Lord Fauconbridge, 
&c. bl. 1. " Yet sleep, the comforter of distressed minds, could 
not lock up her eyes." Again, in Golding's translation of Ovid's 
Metamorphoses, B. VIII. 1587 : 

" At such a time as folkes are wont to find release 

" Of cares that all the day before were working in their 


" By sleep," &c. 
Again, ibid. B. XI : 

" O sleepe, quoth she, the rest of things, O gentlest of 

the goddes, 
" Sweete sleepe, the peace of mind, with whom crookt 

care is aye at odds ; 
" Which cherishest men's weary limbs appall'd with 

toyling sore, 
" And makest them as fresh to worke, and lustie as 

VOL. X. J 


Balm of hurt minds, great nafare's second course, 
Chief nourisher in life" '$ feast >V- 

LADY M. What do you mean ? 

MACS. Still it cried, Sleep no more! to all the 

house : 

Glamis hath murder* d sleep; and therefore Catudor 
Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more ! 3 

LADY M. Who was it that thus cried ? Why, 

worthy thane, 

You do unbend your noble strength, to think 
So brainsickly of things : Go, get some water, 
And wash this filthy witness from your hand. 
Why did you bring these daggers from the place ? 
They must lie there : Go, carry them ; and smear 
The sleepy grooms with blood. 

MACS. I'll go no more : 

The late Mr. Gray had perhaps our author's " death of each 
day's lite" in his thoughts, when he wrote 

" The curfew tolls the knell of parting day?' MALONE. 

He might as probahly have thought on the following passage 
in the first scene of The Second Part of King Henry IV: 

*' a sullen bell 

" Remember'd knotting a departed friend." STEEVENS. 

* Chief nourisher in life' s feast ;~\ So, in Chaucer's Squiere's 
Tale, v. 10,661 ; Mr. Tyrwhitt's edition: 

" The norice of digestion, the slepe" STEEVENS. 

' Glamis hath murdered sleep ; and therefore Cawdor 

Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more /] This 
triple menace, accommodated to the different titles of Macbeth, 
is too quaint to be received as the natural ebullition of a guilty 
mind. Introduce the adjuncts of a modern nobleman in the 
same manner, and the fault of the passage will become yet more 
conspicuous : as for instance 

Norfolk hath murder' d sleep; and therefore Surrey 
Shall sleep no more t Howard shall sleep no more ! 


sc. ii. MACBETH. 115* 

I am afraid to think what I have done j 
Look on't again, I dare not. 

LADY M. Infirm of purpose ! 

Give me the daggers : The sleeping, and the dead, 
Are but as pictures : 'tis tta eye of childhood, 

That fears a painted deviCy If he do bleed, 
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, 
For it must seem their guilt. 5 

[Exit. Knocking within. 

MACS. Whence is that knocking ? 

How is't with me, when every noise appals me ? 
What hands are here ? Ha ! they pluck out mine 

eyes ! 
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this bloOcfr^ 

4 'tis the eye of 'childhood ', 

That fears a painted devil."] So, in Vittoria Corombona, 

Terrify babes, my lord, with painted devils." 


* gild the faces of the grooms tvithal, 

For it must seem their guilt.] Could Shakspeare mean to 
play upon the similitude of gild and guilt? JOHNSON. 

This quibble too frequently occurs in the old plays. A feur 
instances (for I could produce a dozen at least) may suffice: 

" Cand. You have a silver beaker of my wife's ? 
" Flu. You say not true, 'tis gilt. 

" Cand. Then you say true : 

" And being gilt, the guilt lies more on you." 
Again, in Middleton's comedy of A mad World my Masters, 

" Though guilt condemns, 'tis gilt must make us glad." 
And, lastly, from Shakspeare himself: 

" England shall double gild his treble guilt" Henry IV. 
P. II. Again, in King Henry V : 

" Have for the gilt of France, O guilt indeed !" 


' Witt all great Neptune's ocean laash this blood &c.] 

*' Suscipit, 6 Gelli, quantum non ultima Tethys, 

" Nee genitor nympharum abluit oceanus." 

Catullus in Gellium, 83. 

I 2 


Clean from my hand ? No ; this my hand will rather 
The multitudinous seas incarnardine, 7 

1< O7aa< yaf a? dv"l<rrgov art $<riv dv 

" N^|/aj xa0af|iuo rtjvSe rr t v crr'sytp" Sophoc. Oedip. 

" Quis eluet me Tanais ? out quce barbaris 
" Mceotis undis Pontico incumbens mart? 
" Non ipse toto magnus oceano pater 
" Tantum expiarit sceleris. rt Senec. Hippol. 
Again, in one of Hall's Satires: 

" If Trent or Thames ." &c. STEEVENS. 

" Non, si Neptuni fluctu renovare operam des; 
" Non, mare si totum velit eluere omnibus undis." 

Lucret. L. VI. v. 1074. HOLT WHITE. 

So, in The Insatiate Countess, by Marston, 1613: 
" Although the waves of all the northern sea 
'* Should flow for ever through these guilty hands, 
*' Yet the sanguinolent stain would exstant be.'* 


7 The multitudinous seas incarnardine,] To incarnardine is to 
stain any thing of a flesh colour, or red. Carnardine is the old 
term tor carnation. So, in a comedy called Any Thing for a 
quiet Life : 

" Grograms, sattins, velvet fine, 

" The rosy-colour'd carnardine." STEEVENS. 

Shakspeare's word may be exemplified from Carew's Obsequies 
to the Lady Anne Hay : 

" One shall ensphere thine eyes ; another shall 
" .Impearl thy teeth ; a third, thy white and small 
" Hand shall besnow ; a fourth, incarnadine 
" Thy rosy cheek." WAKEFIELD. 

By the multitudinous seas, perhaps, the poet meant, not the 
seas of every denomination, as the Caspian, &c. (as some have 
thought,) nor the many-coloured seas, (as others contend,) but 
the seas which swarm with myriads of inhabitants. Thus 
Homer : 

" Ilovrov sir' IX0TOENTA <piXwv enr&vevQe feganv." 

The word is used by Ben Jonson, and by Thomas Docker, in 
The Wonderful Year, 1603, in which we find " the multitu- 
dinous spaivn." It is objected, by Mr. Kenrick, that Macbeth, 
in. his present disposition of mind, would hardly have adverted 
to a property of the sea, which has so little relation to the ob- 
ject immediately before him ; and if Macbeth had really spoken 

sc. n. MACBETH. 117 

Making the green one red. 8 

this speech in his castle of Inverness, the remark would be just. 
But the critick should have remembered, that this speech is not 
the real effusion of a distempered mind, but the composition of 
Shakspeare ; of that poet, who has put a circumstantial account 
of an apothecary's shop into the mouth of Romeo, the moment 
after he has heard the fatal news of his beloved Juliet's death ; 
and has made Othello, when in the anguish of his heart he de- 
termines to kill his wife, digress from the object which agitates 
his soul, to describe minutely the course of the Pontick sea. 

Mr. Steevens objects, in the following note, to this explana- 
tion, thinking it more probable that Shakspeare should refer 
" to some visible quality in the ocean," than " to its concealed 
inhabitants ; to the waters that might admit of discoloration," 
than ** to the fishes whose hue could suffer no change from the 
tinct of blood." But in what page of our author do we find 
his allusions thus curiously rounded, and complete in all their 
parts ? Or, rather, does not every page of these volumes furnish 
us with images, crouded on each other, that are not naturally 
connected, and sometimes are even discordant ? Hamlet's pro- 
posing to take up arms against a sea of troubles is a well known 
example of this kind, and twenty others might be produced. 
Our author certainly alludes to the waters, which are capable of 
discoloration, and not to the fishes. His allusion to the waters 
is expressed by the word seas; to which, if he has added an 
epithet that has no very close connection with the subject imme- 
diately before him, he has only followed his usual practice. 

If, however, no allusion was intended to the myriads of inhabit- 
ants with which the deep is peopled, I believe, by the multitu- 
dinous seas, was meant, not the many-waved ocean, as is suggest- 
ed, but the countless masses of waters wherever dispersed on the 
surface of the globe; the multitudes of seas, as Hey wood has it, 
in a passage quoted below, that perhaps our author remembered : 
and, indeed, it must be owned, that his having the plural, seas, 
seems to countenance such an interpretation ; for the singular, 
sea, is equally suited to the epithet multitudinous, in the sense 
of t^fluosvra, and would certainly have corresponded better with 
the subsequent line. M ALONE. 

I believe that Shakspeare referred to some visible quality in 
the ocean, rather than to its concealed inhabitants ; to the 
waters that might admit of discoloration, and not to the fishes, 
whose hue could suffer no change from the tinct of blood. 
Waves appearing over waves are no unapt symbol of a croud. 

118 MACBETH. ACT 1 1. 

Re-enter Lady MACBETH. 

LADY M. My hands are of your colour ; but I 

** A sea of heads" is a phrase employed by one of our legitimate 
poets, but by which of them I do not at present recollect. Black- 
more, in his Job, has swelled the same idea to a ridiculous bulk: 
" A waving sea of heads was round me spread, 
" And still fresh streams the gazing deluge fed." 
He who beholds an audience from the stage, or any other mul- 
titude gazing on any particular object, must perceive that their 
heads are raised over each other, velut undo supervenit undam. 
If, therefore, our author, by the " multitudinous sea*' does not 
mean the aggregate of seas, he must be understood to design the 
multitude of waves, or the waves that have the appearance of a 
multitude. In Coriolanus we have " the many-headed multi- 
tude" STEEVENS. 

. Making the green one red.~\ The same thought occurs in 
The Doiunfal of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601 : 

" He made the green sea red with Turkish blood." 

" The multitudes of seas died red with blood." 
Another, not unlike it, is found in Spenser's Fairy Queen, 
B. II. c. x. st. 4-8 : 

" The whiles with blood they all the shore did stain, 

" And the grey ocean into purple dye" 
Again, in the 19th Song of Dray ton's Polyolbion: 

" And the vast greenish sea discoloured like to blood" 


The same thought is also found in The Two Noble Kinsmen, 
by Fletcher, 1634 : 

" Thou mighty one, that with thy power hastturn'd 

" Green Neptune into purple." 

The present passage is one of those alluded to in a not? at 
the end of As you like it, Vol. VIII. in which, I apprehend, our 
author's words have been refined into a sense that he never 
thought of. The other is in Othello : 

' Put out the light, and then put out the light." 
The line before us, on the suggestion of the ingenious author 
of The Gray's- Inn Journal, has been printed in some late edi- 
tions in the following manner : 

Making the green one red. 

sc.n. MACBETH. 119 

To wear a heart so whiteC^ [Knock.~\ I hear a 

Every part of this line, as thus regulated, appears to me ex 
ceptionable. One red does not sound to my ear as the phrase- 
ology of the age of Elizabeth ; and the green, for the green one, 
or for the green sea, is, I am persuaded, unexampled. The 
quaintness introduced by such a regulation seems of an entirely 
different colour from the quaintnesses of Shakspeare. He would 
have written, I have no doubt, " Making the green sea, red," 
(So, in The Tempest: 

" And 'twixt the green sea and the azure vault 

" Set roaring war.") 

if he had not used the word seas in the preceding line, which 
forced him to employ another word here. As, to prevent the 
ear being offeflded, we have, in the passage before us, " the 
green one," instead of " the green sea," so we have in King 
Henri/ VIII. Act I. sc. ii : " lame ones," to avoid a similar re- 
petition : 

" They have all new legs, and lame ones" 
Again, in The Merchant of Venice: 

" A stage where every man must play a part, 

" And mine a sad one." 

Though the punctuation of the old copy is very often faulty, 
yet in all doubtful cases it ought, when supported by more deci- 
sive circumstances, to have some little weight. In the present 
instance, the line is pointed as in my text : 

Making the green one, red. MA LONE. 

If the new punctuation be dismissed, we must correct the fore- 
going line, and read " the multitudinous sea; for how will the 
plural seas, accord with the green one?" Besides, the sense 
conveyed by the arrangement which Mr. Malone would reject, 
is countenanced by a passage in Hamlet : 

" Hath now his dread and black complexion smear'd 

" With heraldry more dismal ; head to foot 

" Nov,' is he total gules" 

i. e. one red. The expression " one red, 1 ' may also be justified 
by language yet more ancient than that of Shakspeare. In 
Genesis, ii. 24-, (and several other places in script ure^ we have 
-" one flesh." Again, in our Liturgy: '* be made one Ibid 
under one shepherd.'* Again, in Milton's Camus, v. 133: 

" And makes one blot of all the air." 

But, setting aside examples, are there not many unique phrase* 
in our author ? STEEVENS. 

j 20 MACBETH, ACT n. 

At the south entry: retire we to our chamber : 

A little water clears us of this deed : 

How easy is it then ? Your constancy 

Hath left you unattended. [Knocking, ,] Hark ! 

more knocking : 

Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us, 
And show us to be watchers : Be not lost 
So poorly in your thoughts. 

MACS. To know my deed, 'twere best not know 

myself. 1 [Knock. 

Wake Duncan with thy knocking ! Ay, 'would 

thou could'sttf? 

9 My hands are of your colour ; but I shame 

To wear a heart so white.] A similar antithesis is found in 
Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, written before 1593 : 

" Your cheeks are black, let not your soul look ivhite." 


1 To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.] i. e. While 
I have the thoughts of this deed, it were best not know, or be lost 
to, myself. This is an answer to the lady's reproof: 

be not lost 

So poorly in your thoughts. WARBURTONT. 

* Wake Duncan with thy knocking /] Macbeth is addressing 
the person who knocks at the outward gate. Sir W. D' Avenant, 
in his alteration of this play, reads (and intended probably to 
point) " Wake, Duncan, with this knocking !" conceiving that 
Macbeth called upon Duncan to awake. From the same mis- 
apprehension, I once thought his emendation right ; but there 
is certainly no need of change. MALONE. 

See Mr. Malone's extract from Mr. Whately's Remarks on 
some of the Characters of Shakspeare, at the conclusion of this 
tragedy. STEEVENS. 

* Ay, 'would thou could* st /] The old copy has 7 ; but 

as ay, the affirmative particle, was thus written, I conceive it 
to have been designed here. Had Shakspeare meant to express 
'* / would," he might, perhaps, only have given us 'Would t 
as on many other occasions. The repentant exclamation of 
Macbeth, in my judgment, derives force from the present 

sc.m. MACBETH. 121 


The same. 
Enter a Porter. [Knocking within. 

PORTER. Here's a knocking, indeed ! If a man 
were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turn- 
ing the key. 5 [Knocking.'] Knock, knock, knock : 
Who's there, i'the name of Belzebub ? Here's a 
farmer, that hanged himself on the expectation of 
plenty: Come in time; have napkins enougl&about 
you ; here you'll sweat for't. [Knocking.] Knock, 
knock : Who's there, i'the other devil's name ? 
'Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in 

change; a change which has been repeatedly made in spelling 
this ancient substitute for the word of enforcement ay, in the 
very play before us. 

If it be urged, that the line is roughen'd by the reading I 
would introduce, let not the following verse, in Act III. sc. vi. 
of this very tragedy, be forgotten : 

" Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too?'* 


4 Scene III.'] Though Shakspeare (see Sir J. Reynolds's ex- 
cellent note on Act I. sc. vi. p. 72,) might have designed this 
scene as another instance of what is called the repose in painting, 
I cannot help regarding it in a different light. A glimpse of 
comedy was expected by our author's audience in the most seri- 
ous drama ; and where else could the merriment, which he him- 
self was always struggling after, be so happily introduced ? 


4 he should have 

should have old turning the key.'] i. e. frequent, 
more than enough. So, in King Henry IV. P. II. the Drawer 
says, " Then here will be old utis." See note on this passage. 


* napkins enough ] i.e. handkerchiefs. So, in Othello: 

" Your napkin is too little." STEEVENS. 

122 MACBETH. ACT n. 

both the scales against either scale; who committed 
treason enough for God's sake, 7 yet could not 
equivocate to heaven : O, come in, equivocator. 
[Knocking. ] Knock, knock, knock : Who's there ? 
'Faith, here's an English tailor come hither, for 
stealing out of a French hose : 8 Come in, tailor ; 

7 here's an equivocator, who committed treason enough 

Jbr God's sake,] Meaning a Jesuit : an order so troublesome to 
the state in Queen Elizabeth and King James the First's time. 
The inventors of the execrable doctrine of equivocation. 


here's an English tailor come hither , for stealing out 

of a French hose :] Ihe archness of the joke consists in this, 
that a French hose being very short and strait, a tailor must be 
toaster of his trade who could steal any thing from thence. 


Dr. Warburton has said this at random. The French hose 
(according to Stubbs, in his Anatomic of Abuses ,) were in the 
year 1595 much in fashion: " The Gallic hosen are made very 
large and wide, reaching down to their knees only, with three or 
Jbure gardes apeece laid down along either hose." 
Again, in The Ladies Privilege, 1640: 

* wear their long 

' Parisian breeches, with five points at knees, 
' Whose tags, concurring with their harmonious spurs, 
' Afford rare music; then have they doublets 
< So short i'th* waist, they seem as twere begot 
* Upon their doublets by their cloaks, which to save stuff 
' Are but a year's growth longer than their skirts ; 
' And all this magazine of device is furnish'd 
' By your French taylor." 

Again, in The Defence of Coneycatching, 1592: " Blest be 
the French sleeves and breech verdingales that grants them (the 
tailors) leave to coney-catch so mightily." STEEVENS. 

When Mr. Steevens censured Dr. Warburton in this place, 
he forgot the uncertainty of French fashions. In The Treasury 
of ancient and modern Times, 1613, we have an account (from 
Guyon, I suppose,) of the old French dresses: " Me ns hose 
answered in length to their short-skirted doublets; being made 
close to their limbes, wherein they had no meanes for pockets." 
And Withers, in his Satyr against Vanity, ridicules " the spruze, 
diminitive, neat, Frenchman's hose." FARMER. 

sc. ///. MACBETH. 123 

here you may roast your goose. [Knocking.] Knock, 
knock: Never at quiet ! What are you? But this 
place is too cold for hell. I'll devil-porter it no 
further : I had thought to have let in some of all 
professions, that go the primrose way to the ever- 
lasting bonfirei?} [Knocking.] Anon, anon ; I pray 
you, remember the porter. [Opens the gate. 


MACD. Was it so late,friend,ere you went to bed, 
That you do lie so late ? 

PORT. 'Faith, sir, we were carousing till the 
second cock C? and drink, sir, is a great provoker 
of three things. 

From the following passages in The Scornful Lady, by Beau- 
mont and Fletcher, which appeared about the year 1613, it inay 
be collected that large breeches were then in fashion : 

Saville. [an old steward.] " A comelier wear, I wis, than 
your dangling slops." Afterwards Young Loveless says to the 
steward, " This is as plain as your old minikin breeches." 


9 the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.] So, in 

Hamlet : 

" Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads." 

Again, in All's well that ends well: " thejlowery way that 
leads &c. to the great Jire." Chaucer also, in his Persone's Tale, 
calls idleness " the greene path-way to hell." STEEVENS. 

1 till the second cock:] Cockcrowing. So, in King 
Lear: " he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock." 
Again, in The Twelfth niery leste of the Widow Edith, 1573 : . 
" The time they pas merely til ten of the clok, 
" Yea, and I shall not lye, til after the first cole." 


It appears, from a passage in Romeo and Juliet, that Shak- 
speare means, that they were carousing till three o'clock: 

" The second cock has crow'd ; 

" The curfew-bell has toll'd : 'tis three o'clock." 



MACD. What three things does drink especially 
provoke ? 

PORT. Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. 
Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes : it pro- 
vokes the desire,but it takes away the performance: 
Therefore, much drink may be said to be an equi- 
vocator with lechery : it makes him, and it mars 
him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it per- 
suades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand 
to, and notfcStand to: in conclusion, equivocates him 
in a sleep^ and, giving him the lie, leaves him. 

MACD. I believe, drink gave thee the lie last 
night. 3 

* in a sleep,] Surely we should read into a sleep, or 

into sleep. M. MASON. 

The old reading is the true one. Our author frequently uses 
in for into. So, in King Richard III: 

" But, first, I'll turn yon' fellow in his grave." 
Again, ibid: 

" Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects." STEEVENS. 

* / believe, drink gave thee the lie last night.] It is not very 
easy to ascertain precisely the time when Duncan is murdered. 
The conversation that passes between Banquo and Macbeth, in 
the first scene of this Act, might lead us to suppose that when 
Banquo retired to rest it was not much after twelve o'clock : 

" Ban. How goes the night, boy? 

" Fie. The moon is down ; I have not heard the clock. 

" Ban. And she goes down at twelve. 

" Fie. I take't 'tis later sir." 

The King was then " abed ;" and immediately after Banquo 
retires Lady Macbeth strikes upon the bell, and Macbeth com- 
mits the murder. In a few minutes afterwards the knocking at 
the gate commences, (end of sc. ii.) and no time can be sup- 
posed to elapse between the second and the third scene, because 
the Porter gets up in consequence of the knocking : yet here 
Macduff talks of last night, and says that he was commanded 
to call timely on the King, and that he fears he has almost over- 
pass'd the hour ; and the Porter tells him " we were carousing 
till the second cock;" so that we must suppose it to be now at 

4fc m. MACBETH. 

PORT. That it did, sir, i'the very throat o'me : 
But I requited him for his lie; and, I think, being 
too strong for him, though he took up my legs 
sometime, yet I made a shift to cast himvD 

least six o'clock ; for Macduff has already expressed his surprize 
that the Porter should lie so late. 

From Lady Macbeth's words in the fifth Act, " One two 
'tis time to do't," it should seem that the murder was com- 
mitted at two o'clock, and that hour is certainly not inconsistent 
with the conversation above quoted between Banquo and his 
son ; for we are not told how much later than twelve it was 
when Banquo retired to rest: but even that hour of two will not 
correspond with what the Porter and Macduft' say in the present 

I suspect our author, (who is seldom very exact in his com- 
putation of time,) in fact meant, that the murder should be 
supposed to be committed a little before day-break, which ex- 
actly corresponds with the speech of Macduff now before us, 
though not so well with the other circumstances already men- 
tioned, or Vith Lady Macbeth's desiring her husband to put on 
his nightgown, (that he might have the appearance of one 
newly roused from bed, ) lest occasion should call them, " and 
show them to be 'watchers ;" which may signify persons who sit 
up late at night, but can hardly mean those who do not go to 
bed till day-break. 

Shakspeare, I believe, was led to fix the time of Duncan's 
murder near the break of day by Holinshed's account of the 
murder of King Duffe, already quoted : " he was long in his 
oratorie, and there continued till it was late in the night" 
Donwald's servants " enter the chamber where the king laie, a 
little before cocks crow, where they secretlie cut his throat." 
Donwald himself sat up with the officers of the guard the whole 
of the night. MALONE. 

* / made a shift to cast him.'} To cast him up, to ease my 

stomach of him. The equivocation is between cast or throw, as 
a term of wrestling, and cast or cast up. JOHNSON. 

I find a similar play upon words, in an old comedy, entitled, 
The Two angry Women of Abington, printed 1599: " to- 
night he's a good huswife, he reels all that he wrought to-day, 
and he were good now to play at dice, for he casts excellent 
well." STEEVENS. 

1 26 MACBETH. ACT u. 

MACD. Is thy master stirring ? 
Our knocking has awak'd him ; here he comes. 


LEN. Good-morrow, noble sir ! 
MACS. Good-morrow, both ! 

MACD. Is the king stirring, worthy thane ? 
MACS. Not yet. 

MACD. He did command me to call timely on 

him ; 
I have almost slipp'd the hour. 

MACS. I'll bring you to him. 

MACD. I know, this is a joyful trouble to you ; 
But yet, 'tis one. 

MACS. The labour we delight in, physicks pain.* 
This is the door. 

MACD. I'll make so bold to call, 

For 'tis my limited service. 6 {Exit MACDUFF. 

The labour we delight in, physicks pain.'] i. e. affords a 
cordial to it. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act I. sc. i : '* It is a 

fallant child ; one that, indeed, physicks the subject, makes old 
earts fresh." STEEVENS. 

So, in The Tempest: 

" There be some sports are painful; and their labour 
" Delight in them sets off." MALONE. 

* For 'tis my limited service.'] Limited, for appointed. 

So, in Timon : 

" for there is boundless theft, 

" In limited professions." 

i. e. professions to winch people are regularly and legally, ap- 
pointed. STEEVENS. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 127 

LEN. Goes the king 

From hence to-day ? 

MACS. He does : he did appoint so 

LEN. The night has been unruly: Where we lay, 
Our chimneys were blown down: and, as they say, 
Lamentings heard i'the air; strange screams of 

death ; 

And prophecying, with accents terrible, 
Of dire combustion, and confus'd events, 
New hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird 
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth 
Was feverous, and did shake3 

7 Goes the king 

From hence to-day ?] I have supplied the preposition 
from, for the sake of metre. So, in a former scene, Duncan 

" From hence to Inverness," &c. STEEVENS. 

* He does : he did appoint so.] The words he does are 
omitted by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton. But 
perhaps Shakspeare designed Macbeth to shelter himself under 
an immediate falshood, till a sudden recollection of guilt re- 
strained his confidence, and unguardedly disposed him to qualify 
his assertion ; as he well knew the King's journey was effectually 
prevented by his death. A similar trait had occurred in a former 
scene : 

" L. M. And when goes hence ? 

" M. To-morrow, as he purposes." STEEVENS. 

9 strange screams of death; 

. And prophecying, ivith accents terrible. 
Of dire combustion, and confused events, 
New hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird 
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth 
Was feverous, and did shake.] These lines, I think, should 
be rather regulated thus : 

prophecying ivith accents terrible, 

Of dire combustion and confus'd events. 
New-hatch'd to the woeful time, the obscure bird 
Clamour'd the live-long night. Some say, the earth 
Was feverous and did shake. 

128 MACBETH. ACT n. 

MACS. 'Twas a rough night. 

LEN. My young remembrance cannot parallel 
A fellow to it. 

A prophecy of an event new-hatch'' d seems to be a prophecy of 
an event past. And a prophecy new-hatch' d is a wry expression. 
The term new-hatch 'd is properly applicable to a bird, and that 
birds of ill omen should be new-hatched to the woeful time, that 
is, should appear in uncommon numbers, is very consistent with 
the rest of the prodigies here mentioned, and with the universal 
disorder into which nature is described as thrown by the perpe- 
tration of this horrid murder. JOHNSON. 

I think Dr. Johnson's regulation of these lines is improper. 
Prophecying is what is new-hatch' d, and in the metaphor holds 
the place ot the egg. The events are the fruit of such hatching. 


I think Steevens has justly explained this passage, but should 
wish to read prophecyings in the plural. M. MASON. 

Dr. Johnson observes, that " a prophecy of an event new- 
hatch' d seems to be a prophecy of an event past. And a pro- 
phecy new-hatched is a wry expression." The construction sug- 
gested by Mr. Steevens meets with the first objection. Yet the 
following passage in which the same imagery is found, inclines 
me to believe that our author meant, that new-hatch 1 d should 
be referred to events, though the events were yet to come. 
Allowing for his usual inaccuracy with respect to the active and 
passive participle, the events may be said to be " the hatch and 
brood of time." See King Henry IV. P. II : 

" The which observ'd, a man may prophesy, 

" With a near aim, of the main chance of things 

** As yet not come to life ; which in their seeds 

" Ana weak beginnings lie entreasured. 

" Such things become the hatch and brood of time." 
Here certainly it is the thing or event, and not the prophecy, 
which is the hatch of time; but it must be acknowledged, the 
word " become" sufficiently marks the future time. If therefore 
the construction that I have suggested be the true one, hatched 
must be here used for hatching, or " in the state of being 
hatch 'd." To the woeful time, means to suit the woeful time. 


some say, the earth 

Was feverous, and did shake."] So, in Coriolanus : 

tf as if the world 

" Was feverous, and did tremble." STEEVENS. 

sc. m, MACBETH. 129 

Re-enter MACDUFF. 

MACD. O horror ! horror ! horror ! Tongue, nor 

Cannot conceivey^nor name thee ! 

MACS. LEN. What's the matter ? 

MACD. Confusion now hath made his master- 
piece ! 

Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope 
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence 
The life o'the building. 

MACS. What is't you say ? the life ? 

LEN. Mean you his majesty ? 

MACD. Approach the chamber, and destroy your 


With a new Gorgon : Do not bid me speak ; 
See,andthenspeakyourselves. Awake ! awake ! 
[Exeunt MACBETH and LENOX. 
Ring the alarum-bell : Murder ! and treason! 
Banquo, and Donalbain ! Malcolm ! awake ! 
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, 
And look on death itself! up, up, and see 

The great doom's image ! Malcolm ! Banquo ! 

As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprights, 
To countenance this horror!- [Bell rings. 

Cannot conceive, &c.] The use of two negatives, not to 
make an affirmative, but to deny more strongly, is very common 
in our author. So, in Julius Ccesar > Act III. sc. i : 

" there is no harm 

" Intended to your person, nor to no Roman else." 


* this horror!] Here the old copy adds Ring the bell- 


VOL. X. K 

139 MACBETH. ACT n. 

Enter Lady MACBETH. 

LADY M. What's the business, 
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley 
The sleepers of the house ? fSp^dkyspaak^ 3 

MACD. O, gentle lady, 

'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak : 
The repetition, in a woman's ear, 
Would murder as it fell& O Banquo ! Banquo ! 

The subsequent hemistich " What's the business ?" which 
completes the metre of the preceding line, without the words 
" Ring the bell," affords, in my opinion, a strong presumptive 
proof that these words were only a marginal direction. It should 
be remembered that the stage directions were formerly often 
couched in imperative terms: " Draw a knife ;" " Play musick;" 
" Ring the bell ;" &c. In the original copy we have here in- 
deed also Bell rings, as a marginal direction ; but this was 
inserted, I imagine, from the players misconceiving what Shak- 
speare had in truth set down in his copy as a dramatick direction 
to the property-man, (" Ring the bell.") fora partofMacduff's 
speech ; and, to distinguish the direction which they inserted, 
from the supposed words of the speaker, they departed from the 
usual imperative form. Throughout the whole of the preceding 
scene we have constantly an imperative direction to the prompter: 
" Knock within." 

I suppose, it was in consequence of an imperfect recollection 
of this hemistich, that Mr. Pope, having, in his Preface, charged 
the editors of the first folio with introducing stage-directions into 
their author's text, in support of his assertion, quotes the follow- 
ing line : 

" My queen is murder'd : ring the little bell." 
a line that is not found in any edition of these plays that I have 
met with, nor, I believe, in any other book. MALONE. 

* speak, speak, ] These words, which violate the 

metre, were probably added by the players, who -were of opinion 
that speak, in the following line, demanded such an introduc- 
tion. STEEVENS. 

4 The repetition in a woman's ear, 
Would murder as it fell.'] So, in Hamlet: 

sc. in. MACBETH. 131 

Enter BANQUO. 

Our royal master's murder'd ! 

LADY M* Woe, alas ! 

What, in our house ? 5 

BAN. Too cruel, any where. 

Dear Duff, I pr'ythee, contradict thyself, 
And say, it is not so. 

Re-enter MACBETH and LENOX. 

MACS. Had I but died an hour before this chance, 
I had liv'd a blessed time (*> for, from this instant, 
There's nothing serious in mortality : 
All is but toys : renown, and grace, is dead ; 

" He would drown the stage with tears, 

" And cleave the general ear with horrid speech." 
Again, in The Puritan, 1607: " The punishments that shall 
follow you in this world, would voith horrour kill the ear should 
hear them related." MALONE. 

* What, in our house?'] This is very fine. Had she been 
innocent, nothing but the murder itself, and not any of its 
aggravating circumstances, would naturally have affected her. 
As it was, her business was to appear highly disordered at the 
news. Therefore, like one who has her thoughts about her, she 
seeks for an aggravating circumstance, that might be supposed 
most to affect her personally ; not considering, that by placing it 
there, she discovered rather a concern for herself than for the 
King. On the contrary, her husband, who had repented the 
act, and was now labouring under the horrors of a recent mur- 
der, in his exclamation, gives all the marks of sorrow for the 
fact itself. WARBURTON. 

6 Had I but died an hour before this chance, 
I had liv'd a blessed time ;] So, in The Winter's Tale: 
Undone, undone ! 

" If I might die within this hour, I have liv'd 
" To die when 1 desire." MALONE. 

K 2 

132 MACBETH. ACT n. 

The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees 
Is left this vault to brag of. 


DON. What is amiss ? 

MACS. You are, and do not know it : 

The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood 
Is stopp'd ; the very source of it is stopp'd. 

MACD. Your royal father's murder'd. 

MAL. O, by whom ? 

LEN. Those of his chamber, as it seem'd, had 

done't : 

Their hands and faces were all badg'd with blood y 
So were their daggers, which, unwip'd, we found 
Upon their pillows J 

They star'd, and were distracted ; no man's life 
Was to be trusted with them. 

MACS. O, yet I do repent me of my fury, 
That I did kill them. 

MACD. Wherefore did you so ? 

MACS. Who can be wise, amaz'd, temperate, and 

Loyal and neutral, in a moment ? No man : 

7 badg'd iioith blood,'] I once thought that our author 

wrote bath'd; but badg'd is certainly right. So, in The Second 
Part of King Henry VI: 

" With murder's crimson badge" MALONE. 

* their daggers, to/rich, untvip'd, tve found 

Upon their pMouis:~\ This idea, perhaps, was taken from 
The Man of Lawes Tale, by Chaucer, 1. 5027, Mr. Tyrwhitt's 

" And in the bed the blody knif he fond." 
See also the foregoing lines. STEEVENS. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 133 

The expedition of my violent love 

Out-ran the pauser reason. Here lay Duncaji, 

His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood ; 9 

9 Here lay Duncan, 

His silver skin lac'd -with his golden blood ;] Mr. Pope has 
endeavoured to improve one of these lines, by substituting goary 
blood for golden blood ; but it may be easily admitted that he, 
who could, on such an occasion, talk of lacing the silver skin, 
would lace it with golden blood. No amendment can be made 
to this line, of which every word is equally faulty, but by a ge- 
neral blot. 

It is not improbable, that Shakspeare put these forced and un- 
natural metaphors into the mouth of Macbeth, as a mark of 
artifice and dissimulation, to shew the difference between the 
studied language of hypocrisy, and the natural outcries of sudden 
passion. This whole speech, so considered, is a remarkable in- 
stance of judgment, as it consists entirely of antithesis and me- 
taphor. JOHNSON. 

His silver skin lac'd luith his golden blood;} The allusion is 
to the decoration of the richest habits worn in the age of Shak- 
speare, when it was usual to lace cloth of silver with gold, and 
cloth of gold with silver. The second of these fashions is men- 
tioned in Much Ado about Nothing, Act III. sc. iv : " Cloth of 
gold, laced with silver." 

To gild any thing with blood is a very common phrase in the 
old plays. So Heywood, in the second part ofhis Iron Age, 1632 : 

" we have gilt our Greekish arms 

' " With blood of our own nation." 
Shakspeare repeats the image in King John : 

" Their armours that march'd hence so silver bright, 
" Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen's blood" 


We meet with the same antithesis in many other places. 
Thus, in Much Ado about Nothing: 

" to see the fish 

" Cut with her golden oars the silver stream." 
Again, in The Comedy of Errors : 

" Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs." 


The allusion is so ridiculous on such an occasion, that it dis- 
covers the declaimer not to be affected in the manner he would 
represent himself. The whole speech is an unnatural mixture of 
far-fetched and common-place thoughts, that shows him to be 
acting a part. WARBURTON. 

134 MACBETH. ACT ii. 

And his gash'd stabs look'd like a breach in nature, 
For ruin's wasteful entrance inhere, the murderers, 
Steep'd in the colours of their trade, their daggers 
Unmannerly breech* d with gore : 2 Who could re- 

1 a breach in nature,' 

For ruin's wasteful entrance:] This comparison occurs 
likewise in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. Ill : " battering down the 
wals of their armour, making breaches almost in every place, 
for troupes of wounds to enter." Again, in A Herring's Tayle, 
a poem, 1598 : 

" A batter'd breach where troopes of wounds may enter 

* Unmannerly breech'd toith gore:"] The expression may 
mean, that the daggers were covered with blood, quite to their 
breeches, i. e. their hilts or handles. The lower end of a cannon 
is called the breech of it ; and it is known that both to breech 
and to unbreech a gun are common terms. So, in Beaumont 
and Fletcher's Custom of the Country : 

" The main-spring's weaken'd that holds up his cock, 

" He lies to be new breeched." 
Again, in A Cure for a Cuckold, by Webster and Rowley : 

" Unbreech his barrel, and discharge his bullets." 


Mr. Warton has justly observed that the word unmannerly is 
here used adverbially. So friendly is used forfriendily in King 
Henry IV. P. II. and faulty for faultily in As you like it. A 
passage in the preceding scene, in which Macbeth's visionary 
dagger is described, strongly supports Mr. Steevens's interpreta- 
tion : 

" 1 see thee still ; 

'* And on thy blade, and dudgeon, [i. e. hilt or haft] 
gouts of blood, 

" Which was not so before." 

The following lines in King Henry VI. P. III. may, perhaps, 
after all, form the best comment on these controverted words : 

" And full as oft came Edward to my side, 

" With purple faulchion, painted to the hilt 

" In blood of those that had encounter'd him." 
So also, in The Mirrourfor Magistrates, 1587 : 

" a naked sword he had, 

" That to the hilts with blood was all embrued." 

sc. in. MACBETH. 135 

That had a heart to love, and in that heart 
Courage, to make his love known ? 

The word unmannerly is again used adverbially in King 
Henry VIII: 

" If I have us'd myself unmannerly ." 

So also in Taylor the Water-poet, Works, 1630, p. 173: 
" These and more the like such pretty aspersions, the outcast 
rubbish of my company hath very liberally and unmannerly and 
ingrate fully bestowed upon me." 

Though so much has been written on this passage, the com- 
mentators have forgotten to account for the attendants of Dun- 
can being furnished with daggers. The fact is, that in Shak- 
speare's time a dagger was a common weapon, and was usually 
carried by servants and others, suspended at their backs. So, 
in Romeo and Juliet : :>. ,- 

" Then I will lay the serving creature's dagger on your 

Again, ibid: 

" This dagger hath mista'en ; for lo ! his house 

" Is empty on the back of Montague, 

" And is mis-sheathed in my daughter's bosom !" 


The sense is, in plain language, Daggers Jilthily in a foul 
manner, sheath' d with blood. A scabbard is called a pilche, 
& leaf her coat, in Romeo; but you will ask, whence the allu- 
sion of breeches? Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson have well 
observed, that this speech of Macbeth is very artfully made up 
of unnatural thoughts and language. In 1605, (the year in 
which the play appears to have been written,) a book was pub- 
lished by Peter Erondell, (with commendatory Poems by Daniel, 
and other wits of the time,) called The French Garden, or a 
Summer Dayes Labour; containing, among other matters, 
some dialogues of a dramatick cast, which, I am persuaded, our 
author read in the English ; and from which he took, as he sup- 
posed, for his present purpose, this quaint expression. I will 
quote literatim from the 6th dialogue : " Boy ! you do nothing 
but play tricks here, go fetch your master's silver-hatched dag- 
si gers, you have not brushed their breeches, bring the brushes, 
-j and brush them before me." Shakspeare was deceived by the 
pointing, and evidently supposes breeches to be a new and 
affected term for scabbards. But had he been able to have read 
the French on the other page, even as a learner, he must have 
been set right at once : " Ga^on, vous tie faites que badiner, 

136 MACBETH. ACT n. 

LADY M. Help me hence, ho ! 

MACD. Look to the lady. 3 

MAL. Why do we hold our tongues, 

That most may claim this argument for ours ? 

DON. What should be spoken here, 
Where our fate, hid within an augre-holej) 

allez querir les poignards argentez de vos maistres, vous n'avez 
pas espoussete* leur hdut-de-chausses," their breeches, in the 
common sense of the word : as in the next sentence bas-de- 
chausses, stockings, and so on through all the articles of dress. 


* Look to the lady."] Mr. Whateley, from whose ingenious 
remarks on this play J have already made a large extract, justly 
observes that, " on Lady Macbeth's seeming to faint, while 
Banquo and MacdufF are solicitous about her, Macbeth, by his 
unconcern, betrays a consciousness that the fainting is feigned." 

I may add, that a bold and hardened villain would, from a 
refined policy, have assumed the appearance of being alarmed 
about her, lest this very imputation should arise against him : 
the irresolute Macbeth is not sufficiently at ease to act such a 
part. MALONE. 

4 here, 

Where our fate, hid within an augre-hole,] The oldest 
copy reads only " in an augre-hole." I have adopted the 
correction of the second folio within. 
Mr. Malone reads 

" Here, where our fate, hid in an augre-hole." 


In the old copy the word here is printed in the preceding line. 
The lines are disposed so irregularly in the original edition of this 
play, that the modern editors have been obliged to take many 
liberties similar to mine in the regulation of the metre. In'this 
very speech the words our tears do not make part of the follow- 
ing line, but are printed in that subsequent to it. Perhaps, 
however, the regulation now offered is unnecessary ; for the 
word where may have been used by our author as a dissyllable. 
The editor of the second folio, to complete the measure, reads 
"within an augre-hole. A word having been accidentally omitted 
in King Henry V : " Let us die in [fight]," Mr. Theobald, 
with equal impropriety, reads there " Let us die instant:" 

sc. m. MACBETH. 137 

May rush, and seize us ? Let's away ; our tears 

Are not yet brew'd. 


MAL. Nor our strong sorrow on ^ 

The foot of motion. 

BAN. Look to the lady : 

[_Lady MACBETH is carried out. 
And when we have ournaked frailties hid, 
That suffer in exposure/let us meet, 
And question this most bloody piece of work, 
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us : 
,In the great hand of God I stand ; and, thence, 
Against the undivulg'd pretence I fight 
Of treasonous malice. 7 

but I believe neither transcriber or compositor ever omitted half 
a word. MALONE. 

More skilful and accurate compositors than those employed in 
our present republication, cannot easily be found ; and yet, I 
believe, even they will not deny their having occasionally fur- 
nished examples of the omission of half a. word. 

'within an augre-hole,] So, in Coriolanus: 

" confin'd 

" Into an augre's bore." STEEVENS. 

* on ] The old copy upon. STEEVENS. 

6 And when we have our nakedfrailties hid, 

That suffer in exposure,] i. e. when we have clothed our 
half-drest bodies, which may take cold from being exposed to the 
air. It is possible that, in such a cloud of words, the meaning 
might escape the reader. STEEVENS. 

The Porter, in his short speech, had observed, that " this 
place [i. e. the court in which Banquo and the rest now are,] 
is too cold for hell." Mr. Steevens's explanation is likewise 
supported by the following passage in Timon of Athens: 

" Call the creatures, 

*' Whose naked natures live in all the spight 

" Of wreakful heaven." MALONE. 

7 In the great hand of God I stand ; and, thence. 
Against the undivulg^d pretence Ijight 
Of treasonous malice.'] Pretence is intention, design, a 

138 MACBETH. ACT n. 

MACS. And so do I. 

ALL. So all. 

MACS. Let's briefly put on manly readiness. 
And meet i'the hall together. 

ALL. Well contented. 

[Exeunt all but MAL. and DON. 

MAL. What will you do ? Let's not consort with 

them : 

To show an unfelt sorrow, is an office 
Which the false man does easy : I'll to England. 

DON. To Ireland, I ; our separated fortune 
Shall keep us both the safer : where we are, 
There's daggers in men's smiles : the near in blood, 
The nearer bloody. 8 

sense in which the word is often used by Shakspeare. So, in 
The Winter's Tale: " conspiring with Camillo to take away 
the life of our sovereign lord the king, thy royal husband, the 
pretence whereof being by circumstance t partly laid open." 
Again, in this tragedy of Macbeth: 

" What good could they pretend?" 

i. e. intend to themselves. Banquo's meaning is, in our pre- 
sent state of doubt and uncertainty about this murder, I have 
nothing to do but to put myself under the direction of God ; 
and, relying on his support, I here declare myself an eternal 
enemy to this treason, and to all its further designs that have not 
yet come to light. STEEVENS. 

See Vol. IV. p. 239, n. 6. Hand, as Mr. Upton has ob- 
served, is here used for power, or providence. So, in Psalm xxii : 
" Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power 
[Heb. from the hand'} of the dog." In King Henry V. we 
have again the same expression : 

" Let us deliver 

" Our puissance into the hand of God." M ALONE. 

* the near in blood. 

The nearer bloody.'] Meaning, that he suspected Macbeth 
to be the murderer ; for he was the nearest in blood to the two 
princes, being the cousin-german of Duncan. STEEVENS. 

sc. iv. MACBETH. 139 

MAL. This murderous shaft that's shot, 

Hath not yet lighted j 9 and our safest way 
Is, to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse j 
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking, 
But shift away: There's warrant in that theft 
Which steals itself, when there's no mercy left. 



Without the Castle. 
Enter ROSSE and an old Man. 

OLD M. Threescore and ten I can remember 


Within the volume of which time, I have seen 
Hours dreadful, and things strange ; but this sore 

Hath trifled former knowings. 

ROSSE. Ah, good father, 

Thou see'st, the heavens, as troubled with man's act, 

9 This murderous shaft that's skot t 

Hath not yet lighted;] The design to fix the murder upon 
some innocent person has not yet taken effect. JOHNSON. 

The shaft is not yet lighted, and though it has done mischief in 
its flight, ive have reason to apprehend still more before it has 
spent its force and Jails to the ground. The end for which the 
murder was committed is not yet attained. The death of the 
king only, could neither insure the crown to Macbeth, nor ac- 
complish any other purpose, while his sons were yet .living, who 
had, therefore, just reason to apprehend they should be removed 
by the same means. 

Such another thought occurs in Bussy D'Amkois, 1607 : 
" The chain-shot of thy lust w yet aloft, 
" And it must murder,'' &c. STEEVENS. 

1 40 MACBETH. ACT u. 

Threaten his bloody stage : by the clock, 'tis day, 
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp : 
Is it night's predominance, or the day's shame, 
That darkness does the face of earth intomb, 
When living light should kiss it? 1 

OLD M. 'Tis unnatural, 

Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last, 
A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place>*3 
Was by a mousing owl 3 hawk'd at, and kill'd. 

ROSSE. And Duncan's horses, (a thing most 

strange and certain,) 
Beauteous and swift, the minions of jkhei* 

1 darkness does the face of earth intomb, 

When living light should kiss it?] 'After the murder of 
King Duffe, (says Holinshed,) " for the space of six moneths 
togither there appeared no sunne by day, nor raoone by night, 
in anie part of the realme, but still was the sky covered with 
continual clouds ; and sometimes such outrageous winds arose 
with lightenings and tempests, that the people were in great 
fear of present destruction." It is evident that Shakspeare had 
this passage in his thoughts. MALONE. 

See note at the end of the play, with a reference to p. 89. 


* in her pride of place,] Finely expressed, for confidence 

in its quality. WARBURTON. 

In a place of which she seemed proud ; in an elevated 
situation. MALONE. 

* by a mousing owl ] i. e. by an owl that was hunting 

for mice, as her proper prey. WHALLEY. 

This is also found among the prodigies consequent on King 
Duffe's murder : " There was a sparhaivtc strangled by an owl." 


4 minions of their race,] Theobald reads 

minions o/Hhe race, 

very probably, and very poetically. JOHNSON. 

Their is probably the true reading, the same expression being 
found in Romeua andJuliet t 1562, a poem which Shakspeare had 
certainly read : 

x. m MACBETH. 1 H 

Turn'd wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, 
Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make 
War with mankind. 

OLD M. 'Tis said they eat each other. 

ROSSE. They did so; to the amazement of mine 


That look'd upon't. Here comes the good Mac- 


1 21 3'i' 


How goes the world, sir, now ? 
MACD. Why, see you not ? 

ROSSE. Is't known, who did this more than 

bloody deed? 
MACD. Those that Macbeth hath slain. 

ROSSE. Alas, the day! 

What good could they pretend ? 5 

" There were two ancient stocks, which Fortune high 

did place 

"Above the rest, endew'd with wealth, the nobler of 
their race" MALONE. 

I prefer " minions of the race," i. e. the favourite horses on 
the race-ground. Thus, in Henry IF, P. I. we have " minions 
of the moon." The horses of Duncan have just been celebrated 
for being swift. 

Most of the prodigies just before mentioned are related by 
Holinshed, as accompanying King Duffe's death; and it is in 
particular asserted, that horses of singular beauty and swiftness 
did eat their otnnjlesh. STEEVENS. 

s What good could they pretend?] To pretend is here to 
propose to themselves, to set before themselves as a motive of 
action. JOHNSON. 

To pretend, in this instance, as in many others, is simply to 
intend, to design. STEEVBNS. 

* J^>> " ? I 

<i lf*2 MACBETH. ACT n. 

MACD. They were suborn'd : 

Malcolm, and Donalbain, the king's two sons, 
Are stol'n away and fled ; which puts upon them 
Suspicion of the deed. 

ROSSE. 'Gainst nature still : 

Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up*' 6 > 
Thine own life's means ! Then 'tis most like, 7 
The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth. 8 

MACD. He is already nam'd j and gone to Scone, 
To be invested. 

ROSSE. Where is Duncan's body ? 

MACD. Carried to Colmes-kill ; 9 
V* Ste 

So, in Goulart's Histories, 1607 : " The carauell arriued safe 
at her pretended port." p. 575. Again, p. 586 : " As for the 
Sclauonian captaine, he cast himself e into the sea, meaning to 
swimme vnto the shelfes neere vnto the fort, where hee pre- 
tended to saue himselfe." RITSON. 

6 that wflt ravin up ] The old copy reads mill. 

Corrected by Sir Thomas Hanmer. MALONE. 

7 Then 'tis most like,"] To complete the measure, I sup- 
pose, with Sir T. Hanmer, that our author wrote 
Why, then it is most like, . STEEVENS. 

8 Then 'tis most like, 

The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth^ Macbeth, by 
his birth, stood next in the succession to the crown, immediately 
after the sons of Duncan. King Malcolm, Duncan's predecessor, 
had two daughters, the eldest of whom was the mother of Dun- 
can, the youngest, the mother of Macbeth. Holinshed. 


9 ColmeS'kill ;] Or Colm-kill, is the famous lona, one 

of the western isles, which Dr. Johnson visited, and describes in 
his Tour. Holinshed scarcely mentions the death of any of the 
ancient kings of Scotland, without taking notice of their being 
buried with their predecessors in Colme-kill. STEEVENS. 

It is now called Icplmkill. Kill, in the Erse language, signi- 
fies a burying-place. MALONE. 

ACT m. MACBETH. 143 

The sacred storehouse of his predecessors, 
And guardian of their bones. 

ROSSE. Will you to Scone ? 

MACD. No, cousin, I'll to Fife. 

ROSSE. Well, I will thither. 

MACD. Well, may you see things well done 

there ; adieu ! 

Lest our old robes sit easier than our new! 

ROSSE. Father, farewell. 

OLD M. God's benison go with you j and with 


That would make good of bad, and friends of foes ! 



Fores. A Room in the Palace. 

""". ' 

Enter BANQUO. 

BAN. Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, 


As the weird women promis'd ; * and, I fear, 
Thou play'dst most foully for't : yet it was said, 
It should not stand in thy posterity ; 

1 Thou hast it notv, King, Cawrfor, Glamis, all, 

As the tveird women promis'd ;] Here we have another 
passage, that might lead us to suppose that the thaneship of 
Glamis descended to Macbeth subsequent to his meeting the 
weird sisters, though that event had certainly taken place before. 
.See p. 47- MALONB. 

] 44 MACBETH. ACT in. 

But that myself should be the root, and father * 
Of many kings. If there come truth from them, 
(As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine,}- 
Why, by the verities on thee made good, 
May they not be my oracles as well, 
And set me up in hope ? But, hush ; no more. 

Senet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as King ; Lady 
MACBETH, as Queen; LENOX, ROSSE, Lords, 
Ladies, and Attendants. 

MACS. Here's our chief guest. 

LADY M. If he had been forgotten, 

It had been as a gap in our great feast, 
And all-things unbecoming. 

MACS. To-night we hold a solemn supper, sir, 
And I'll request your presence.'^ 

* (As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine,) ] Shine, 
for prosper. WARBURTON. 

Shine, for appear with all the lustre of conspicuous truth. 


I rather incline to Dr. Warburton's interpretation. So, in 
King Henry VI. P. I. sc. ii : 

" Heaven, and our lady gracious, hath it pleased 

" To shine on my contemptible estate." STEEVENS. 

* And I'll request your presence."] I cannot help suspecting 
this passage to be corrupt, and would wish to read : 

And I request your presence. 

Macbeth is speaking of the present, not of any future, time. 
Sir W. D'Avenant reads : 

And all request your presence. 

The same mistake has happened in King Richard III. Act I. 
sc. iii. where we find in the folio : 

" O Buckingham, F II kiss thy princely hand, " 
instead of 7 kiss the reading of the quarto. 

In Timon of Athens the same error is found more than once. 


ate. /. MACBETH. 145 

BAN. Let your highness 

Command upon me to the which, my duties 
Are with a most indissoluble tie 
For ever knitO) 

MACS. Ride you this afternoon ? 

BAN. Ay, my good lord. 

MACB. We should have else desir'd your good 


(Which still hath been both grave and prosperous.) 
In this day's council j but we'll take to-morrow!?' 5 
Is't far you ride ? 

The old reading is, I believe, the true one. So, in King 
John : 

" Pll tell thee, Hubert, half my power" &c. 


4 Let your highness 

Command upon me ;] Thus the old copy, and perhaps 
rightly, though modern editors have been content to read Lay 
your highness &c. Every uncouth phrase in an ancient author 
should not be suspected of corruption. 

In As you like it an expression somewhat similar occurs : 
" And take upon command what help we have." 


The change was suggested by Sir W. D'Avenant's alteration 
of this play: it was made by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 

I should rather read lay, or set your command upon me, than 
let : for unless command is used as a noun, there is nothing to 
which the following words to the which can possibly refer. 


to the which, my duties 

Are faith a most indissoluble tie 

For ever knit.] So, in our author's Dedication of his Rape 
of Lucrece, to Lord Southampton, 1594- : u What I have done 
is yours, being part in all I have devoted yours. Were my worth 
greater, my duty would show greater; mean time as it is, it is 
bound to your lordship." MALONE. 

we'll take to-morrow.] Thus the old copy, and, in 

my opinion, rightly. Mr. Malone would read 
-we'll talk to-morrow* STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. L 

146 MACBETH. ACT in. 

BAN. As far, my lord, as will fill up the time 

I proposed this emendation some time ago, and having since 
met with two other passages in which the same mistake has 
happened, I trust I shall be pardoned for giving it a place in my 
text. In King Henry V. edit. 1623, we find, 

" For f can take [talke] for Pistol's cock is up." 
Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1623, p. 31 : " It 
is no matter for that, so she sleep not in her take." [instead of 
talke, the old spelling of talk."] On the other hand, in the first 
scene of Hamlet, we find in the folio, 1623 : 

" then no planet strikes, 

" No fairy talkes ." 

So again, in the play before us : 

" The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak 

" Our free hearts each to other." 
Again, Macbeth s&ys to his wife : 

" We will speak further." 

Again, in a subsequent scene between Macbeth and the assassins : 

" Was it not yesterday we spoke together?" 
In Othello we have almost the same sense, expressed in other 
words : 

" To-morrow, with the earliest, 

" Let me have speech "with you" 

Had Shakspeare written take, he would surely have said 
" but we'll take'* to-morrow." So, in the first scene of the se- 
cond Act, Fleance says to his father : " I take'*, 'tis later, sir." 


I do not perceive the necessity of change. The poet's mean- 
ing could not be misunderstood. His end was answered, if his 
language was intelligible to his audience. He little supposed 
the time would arrive, when his words were to abide the 
strictest scrutiny of verbal criticism. With the ease of conver- 
sation, therefore, he copied its incorrectness. To take, is to 
use, to employ. To take time is a common phrase ; and where 
is the impropriety of saying " we'll take to-morrow?" i. e. we 
will make use of to-morrow. So, in King Henry VI. P. III. 
Act V. sc. i : 

'* Come, Warwick, take the time." 

Banquo, " without a prompter," must have understood, by this 
familiar expression, that Macbeth would employ to-morrow, as 
he wished to have employed to-day. 

When Pistol says " 1 can take" he means, he can kindle, 
or lay hold, as fire does on its object. So, Dryden, speaking of 
flames : 

" At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take" 

sc.ii MACBETH. 147 

'Twixt this and supper: go not my horse the 

better, 7 

I must become a borrower of the night, 
For a dark hour, or twain. 

MACS. Fail not our feast. 

Again, in Froissart's Chronicle, Vol. II. cap. C.xcii. fol. 
CCxliii. b. " he put one of the torches that his servauntes 
helde, so nere, that the heate of the fyre entred into the flaxe 
(wherein if fyre take, there is no remedy)," &c. 

That the words talk and take may occasionally have been 
printed for each other, is a fact which no man conversant with 
the press will deny ; and yet the bare possibility of a similar mis- 
take in the present instance, ought to have little weight in op- 
position to an old reading sufficiently intelligible. 

The word take is employed in quite a different sense by Fle- 
ance, and means to understand in any particular sense or man- 
ner. So, Bacon : " I take it, that iron brass, called white brass, 
hath some mixture of tin." Again in King Henry VIII: 

" there, I take it, 

" They may, cum privilegio, wear away 

" The Jag end of their lewdness." STEEVENS. 

7 go not my horse the better,] i. e. if he does not go well. 

Shakspeare often uses the comparative for the positive and su- 
perlative. So, in King Lear: 

" her smiles and tears 

" Were like a better day." 
Again, in Macbeth: 

" it hath cow'd my better part of man." 

Again, in King John : 

" Nay, but make haste; the better foot before." 
Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Nat. Hist. B. IX. 
c. xlvi : " Many are caught out of their fellowes hands, if they 
bestirre not themselves the better." Thus also Virgil : 

" oblitos famre melioris amantes." 

It may, however, mean, If my horse does not go the better 
for the haste I shall be in to avoid the night. STEEVENS. 

Mr. Steevens's first interpretation is, I believe, the true one. 

It is supported by the following passage in Stowe's Survey of 

London, 1603 : " and hee that hit it not full, if he rid not the 

faster, had a sound blow in his neck, with a bag full of sand 

hanged on the other end." MALONE. 

L 2 

148- MACBETH. jicrnr. 

BAN. My lord, I will not. 

MACS. We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd 
In England, and in Ireland ; not confessing 
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers 
With strange invention : But of that to-morrow 5 
When, therewithal, we shall have cause of state, 
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse : Adieu, 
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you ? 

BAN. Ay, my good lord: our time does call 
upon us. 

MACS. I wish your horses swift, and sure of foot; 
And so I do commend you to their backsdP 

Farewell. [Exit BANQUO. 

Let every man be master of his time 
Till seven at night; to make society 
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself 
Till supper-time alone : while then, God be with you. 
[Exeunt I^qdy MACBETH, Lords, Ladies, fyc. 
Sirrah, a word $ Attend those men our pleasure ? 

* And so I do commend you to their backs."] In old language 
one of the senses of to commend was to commit, and such is the 
meaning here. So, in King Richard II: 

" And now he doth commend his arms to rust." 

So, in Milton's Comus, v. 831 : 

" Commended her fair innocence to the flood." 
Commend, however, in the present instance, may only be a 
civil term, signifying send. Thus, in King Henry VIII : 

" The king's majesty commends his good opinion to you." 
Thus also, in Chapman's version of the eighteenth Book of 
Homer's Odyssey : 

" The others other wealthy gifts commended 
" To her fair hand." 

What Macbeth, therefore, after expressing his friendly wish 
relative to their horses, appears to mean, is so I send (or dis- 
miss) you to mount them. STEEVENS. 

9 Sirrah, a word .- &c.] The old copy reads 

Sirrah, a word with you : Attend those men our plea- 
sure ? 

so. i. MACBETH. 149 

ATTEN. They are, my lord, without the palace 

MACS. Bring them before us. [Exit Atten.] 

To be thus, is nothing ; 
But to be safely thus : Our fears in Banquo 
Stick deep ; and in his royalty of nature l 
Reigns that, which would be fear'd : 'Tis much he 

dares ; 

And, to 2 that dauntless temper of his mind, 
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valourc/ 
To act in safety. There is none, but he 
Whose being I do fear : and, under him, 
My genius is rebuk'd ; as, it v is said, 
Mark Antony's was by Caesar.C'He chid the sisters, 

The words I have omitted are certainly spurious. The metre 
is injured by them, and the sense is complete without them. 


1 royalty of nature ] Royalty, in the present instance, 

signifies nobleness, supreme excellence. Thus, in Twelfth-Night, 
we have " Sport royal," for excellent sport ; and Chaucer, in his 
Squiere's Tale, has " crowned malice," for eminence of malignity. 

* -to ] i. e. in addition to. See p. 16, n. 2. 


3 to that dauntless temper of his mind, 

He hath the wisdom that doth guide his valour] So, in 
Chapman's version of the fifteenth Iliad : 

" superior to his sire in feet, fight, noblenes 

" Of all the virtues ; and all those did such a ivisdome 
guide, " STEEVENS. 

4 My genius is rebuk'd; as, it is said, 

Mark Antony's was by Caesar.] For the sake of metre, the 
prcenomen Mark (which probably was an interpolation) might 
safely be omitted. STEEVENS. 

Though I would not often assume the critick's privilege of 
being confident where certainty cannot be obtained, nor indulge 
myself too far in departing from the established reading ; yet I 
cannot but propose the rejection of this passage, which I believe 
was an insertion of some player, that, having so much learning 

1.50 MACBETH. ACT m. 

When first they put the name of King upon me, 
And bade them speak to him ; then, prophet-like, 
They hail'd him father to a line of kings : 
Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown, 
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe, 
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand, 
No son of mine succeeding. If it be so, 
For Banquo's issue have !<&! my mind ; 5 

as to discover to what Shakspeare alluded, was not willing that 
his audience should be less knowing than himself, and has 
therefore weakened the author's sense, by the intrusion of a re- 
*i mote and useless image into a speech bursting from a man wholly 
possessed with his own present condition, and therefore not at 
leisure to explain his own allusions to himself. If these words 
are taken away, by which not only the thought, but the num- 
bers are injured, the lines of Shakspeare close together without 
any traces of a breach : 

My genius is rebuk'd. He chid the sisters . 
This note was written before I was fully acquainted with 
Shakspeare's manner, and I do not now think it of much 
weight : for though the words which I was once willing -to eject, 
seem interpolated, I believe they may still be genuine, and add- 
ed by the author in his revision. Mr. Heath cannot admit the 
measure to be faulty. There is only one foot, he says, put for 
another. This is one of the effects of literature in minds not 
naturally perspicacious. Every boy or girl finds the metre im- 
perfect, but the pedant comes to its defence with a tribrachys 
or an anapaest, and sets it right at once, by applying to one lan- 
guage the rules of another. If we may be allowed to change 
feet, like the old comick writers, it will not be easy to write a 
line not metrical. To hint this once is sufficient. JOHNSON. 

Our author having alluded to this circumstance in Antony and 
Cleopatra, there is no reason to suspect any interpolation nere : 
" Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side: 
" Thy daemon, that's thy spirit which keeps thee, is 
" Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable, 
" Where Caesar's is not ; but near him thy angel 
" Becomes ajear, as being overpowered." MALONE. 

4 For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind;] We should read : 

--- "filed my mind; 
i. e. defiled. WARBURTON. 

*v/. MACBETH. 151 

For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd ; 

Put rancours in the vessel of jny peace 

Only for them ; and mine eternal jev^el 

Given to the common enemy of many 6 -* 

To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings^J) 

Rather than so, come, fate, into the list, 

And champion me to the utterance ! 8 Who's 

there ? 

This mark of contraction is not necessary. To file is in the 
Bishops' Bible. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1608: 

" He call'd his father villain, and me strumpet, 
" A name I do abhor to file my lips with." 
Again, in The Miseries of in/ore 1 d Marriage, 1607: " like 
smoke through a chimney that files all the way it goes." Again, 
in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. III. c. i : 

" She lightly lept out of her filed bed." STEEVENS. 

fi the common enemy of man,'] It is always an enter- 
tainment to an inquisitive reader, to trace a sentiment to its 
original source ; and therefore, though the term enemy of man t 
applied to the devil, is in itself natural and obvious, yet some 
may be pleased with being informed, that Shakspeare probably 
borrowed it from the first lines of The Destruction of Troy, 
a book which he is known to have read. This expression, how- 
ever, he might have had in many other places. The word fiend, 
signifies enemy. JOHNSON. 

Shakspeare repeats this phrase in Twelfth-Night, Act III. 
sc. iv : " Defy the devil : consider, he's an enemy to mankind" 
Again, in Fairfax's Tasso, IV. i : 

" The ancient foe to man and mortal seed, 
" His wannish eies upon them bent askance." 


7 the seed of Banquo kings /] The old copy reads seeds. 

Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

come, fate, into the list, 

And champion me to the utterance!] This passage will be 
best explained by translating it into the language from whence 
the only word of difficulty in it is borrowed. Que la destinee se 
rende en lice, et qu'elle me donne un defi a 1'outrance. A chal- 
lenge, or a combat a I'vutrance, to extremity, was a fixed term 


Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers. 

Now to the door, and stay there till we call*?' 

[Exit Attendant. 
Was it not yesterday we spoke together ? 

1 MUR. It was, so please your highness. 

MACS. Well then, now 

Have you considered of my speeches ? Know, 
That it was he, in the times past, which held you 
So under fortune ; which, you thought, had been 
Our innocent self: this I made good to you 

in the law of arms, used when the combatants engaged with an 
odium internecinum, an intention to destroy each other, in op- 
position to trials of skill at festivals, or on other occasions, 
where the contest was only for reputation or a prize. The sense 
therefore is: Let fate, that has fore-doomed the exaltation of the 
sons of Banquo, enter the lists against me, with the utmost ani- 
mosity, in defence of its own decrees, which I will endeavour to 
invalidate, whatever be the danger. JOHNSON. 

We meet with the same expression in Gawin Douglas's trans- 
lation of Virgil, p. 331, 49 : 

" That war not put by Greikis to utterance." 
Again, in The History of Ground Amoure and la bel Pucelle, 
&c. by Stephen Hawes, 1555: 

" And so many monsters put to utterance* 
Again, and more appositely, in the 14th Book of Golding's 
translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis : 

" To both the parties at the length from battell for to rest, 
" And not to fight to utterance." 
Shakspeare uses it again in Cymbeline, Act III. sc. i. 


Now to the door, and stay there till we call."] The old copy 

Now go to the door, &c. 

but, for the sake of versification, I suppose the word go, which 
is understood, may safely be omitted. Thus in the last scene of 
the foregoing Act: 

'* Will you to Scone ? 
' No, cousin, I'll to Fife." 
In both these instances go is mentally inserted. STBEVJSNS. 

*. /. MACBETH. 153 

In our last conference ; pass'd in probation with 

How you were borne in handj 1 how cross'd; the 

instruments ; 
Who wrought with them j and all things else, that 


To half a soul, and a notion craz'd, 
Say, Thus did Banquo. 

1 M UR. You made it known to us. 

MACS. I did so ; and went further, which is now 
Our point of second meeting. Do you find 
Your patience so predominant in your nature, 
That you can let this go ? Are you so gospell'd, 2 

pass'd in probation with you, 

Hoia you were borne in hand ; 8$c.~\ The words with you, 
I regard as an interpolation, and conceive the passage to have 
been originally given thus : 

In our last conference; pass'd in probation how 
You were borne in hand; how cross'dj &c. 
Pass'd in probation is, I believe, only a bulky phrase, em- 
ployed to signify proved. STEEVENS. 

The meaning may be, " past in proving to you, how you 
were," &c. So, in Othello: 

li so prove it, 

*' That the probation bear no hinge or loop 

" To hang a doubt on." 

Perhaps after the words " with you," there should be a 
comma, rather than a semicolon. The construction, however, 
may be different. " This I made good to you in our last con- 
ference, past &c. I made good to you, how you were borne," 
&c. To bear in hand is, to delude by encouraging hope and 
holding out fair prospects, without any intention of perform- 
ance. MALONE. 

So, in Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611 : 

" Yet I will bear a dozen men in hand, 

" And make them all my gulls." 
See Vol. VI. p. 224-, n. 9. STEEVENS. 

8 Are you so gospell'd,'] Are you of that degree of pre- 
cise virtue ? Gospeller was a name of contempt given by the 
Papists to the Lollards, the puritans of early times, and the pre- 
cursors of protestantism. JOHNSON. 


To pray for this good man, and for his issue, 
Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave, 
And beggar'd yours for ever ? 

1 MUR. We are men, my liege. 3 

MACS. Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men ; 
As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, 


Shoughs, 4 water-rugs, and demi-wolves, are cleped 
All by the name of dogs : the valued file 5 

So, in the Morality called Lusty Juventus, 1561 : 
" What, is Juventus become so tame 
* To be a newe gospeller?" 

" And yet ye are a great gospeller in the mouth." 
I believe, however, that gospelled means no more than kept 
in obedience of that precept of the gospel, which teaches us '* to 
pray for those that despitejully use MS." STEEVENS. 

3 We are men, my liege.'] That is, we have the same feelings 
as the rest of mankind, and, as men, are not without a manly re- 
sentment for the wrongs which we have suffered, and which you 
have now recited. 

I should not have thought so plain a passage wanted an expla- 
nation, if it had not been mistaken by Dr. Grey, who says, 
" they don't answer in the name of Christians, but as men, 
whose humanity would hinder them from doing a barbarous 
act." This false interpretation he has endeavoured to support 
by the well-known line of Terence : 

" Homo sum, human! nihil a me alienum puto." 

That amiable sentiment does not appear very suitable to a cut- 
throat. They urge their manhood, in my opinion, in order to 
show Macbeth their willingness, not their aversion, to execute 
his orders. MA LONE. 

4 Shoughs,'] Skoughs are probably what we now call shocks, 
demi-wolves, lyciscee; dogs bred between wolves and dogs. 


This species of dogs is mentioned in Nash's Lenten Stuffe, 
&c. 1599: " a trundle-tail, tike, or shough or two." 


* the valued file ] In this speech the word Jile occurs 

twice, and seems in both places to have a meaning different from 
its present use. The expression, valued Jile, evidently means, 
a list or catalogue of value. A station in the Jile, and not in 

sc. i. MACBETH. 1.5.5 

Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle, 
The house-keeper, the hunter, every one 
According to tne gift which bounteous nature 
Hath in him clos'd ; whereby he does receive 
Particular addition, from the bill 
That writes them all alike : and so of men. 
Now, if YOU have a station in the file, 
And not5n the worst rank of manhood, say it ; 
And I will put that business in your bosoms, 
Whose execution takes your enemy off; 
Grapples you to the heart and love of us, 
Who wear our health but sickly in his life, 
Which in his death were perfect. 

the worst rank, may mean, a place in the list of manhood, and 
not in the lowest place. But Jile seems rather to mean, in this 
place, a post of honour ; the first rank, in opposition to the last ; 
a meaning which I have not observed in any other place. 


The valued Jile is the file or list where the value and peculiar 
qualities of every thing is set down, in contradistinction to what 
he immediately mentions, the bill that writes them all alike. 
File, in the second instance, is used in the same sense as in this, 
and with a reference to it: Now if you belong to any class that 
deserves a place in the valued file of man, and are not of the 
lowest rank, the common herd of mankind, that are not worth dis- 
tinguishing from each other. 

File and list are synonymous, as in the last Aot of this play : 

" 1 have a Jile 

" Of all the gentry." 

Again, in Heywood's Dedication to the second Part of his Iron 
Age, 1632: " to number you in the Jile and list of my best 
and choicest well-wishers." This expression occurs more than 
once in The Beggars' Bush of Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" all ways worthy, 

" As else in any Jile of mankind." 

Shakspeare likewise has it in Measure for Measure: " The 
greater Jile of the subject held the duke to be wise." In short, 
the valued Jile is the catalogue with prices annexed to it. 


6 And not ] And was supplied by Mr. Rowe for the sake of 
metre. STEEVENS. 

1.56 MACBETH. ACT m. 

2 MUR. I am one, my liege, 

Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world 
Have so incens'd, that I am reckless what 
I do, to spite the world. 

1 MUR. And I another, 

So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune^' 
That I would set my life on any chance, 
To mend it, or be rid on't. 

MACS. Both of you 

Know, Banquo was your enemy. 

2 MUR. True, my lord. 

MACS. So is he mine : and in such bloody dis- 
tance, 8 

7 So weary with disasters, tugg'd taith fortune,] We see the 
speaker means to say, that he is weary with struggling with ad- 
verse fortune. But this reading expresses but half the idea ; 
viz. of a man tugged and haled by fortune without making re- 
sistance. To give the complete thought, we should read 

So weary with disastrous tugs with fortune. 
This is well expressed, and gives the reason of his being weary, 
because fortune always hitherto got the better. And that Shak- 
speare knew how to express this thought, we have an instance 
in The Winter's Tale: 

" Let myself and fortune 
" Tug for the time to come." 
Besides, to be tugg'd taith fortune, is scarce English. 


Tugg'd taith fortune may be, tjtgg'd or worried by fortune. 


I have left the foregoing note as an evidence of Dr. Warbur- 
ton's propensity to needless alterations. 

Mr. Malone very justly observes that the old reading is con- 
firmed by the following passage in an Epistle to Lord Southamp- 
ton, by S. Daniel, 1603 : 

" He who hath never warr'd with misery, 
" Nor ever tugg'd witkfortune and distress." 


' in such bloody distance,] Distance, for enmity 

so. I. MACBETH. 157 

That every minute of his being thrusts 
Against my near'st of life : And though I could 
With bare-fac'd power sweep him from my sight, 
And bid my will avouch it ; yet I must not, 
For certain friends 9 that are both his and mine, 
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall 
Whom I myself struck down : and thence it is, 
That I to your assistance do make love ; 
Masking the business from the common eye, 
For sundry weighty reasons. 

2 MUR. We shall, my lord, 

Perform what you command us. 

1 MUR. Though our lives 

MACS. Your spirits shine through you. Within^ . TL.S 
this hour, at mostpV^ v'*') <v/ A ^(r^ \^r 
I will advise you where to plant yourselves/ 
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o'the time, 
The moment on't ; 2 for't must be done to-night, 

By bloody distance is here meant, such 9 distance as mortal 
enemies would stand at from each other, when their quarrel 
must be determined by the sword. This sense seems evident 
from the continuation of the metaphor, where every minute of 
his being is represented as thrusting at the nearest part inhere lift 
resides. STEEVENS. 

9 For certain friends ] For, in the present instance, signifies 
because of. So, in Coriolanus: 

" Speak, good Cominius, 

" Leave nothing out for length." STEEVENS. 

1 at most,'] These words have no other effect than to 

spoil the metre, and may therefore be excluded as an evident 
interpolation. STEEVENS. 

* Acquaint you ivith the perfect spy o'the time, 

The moment ont ;] What is meant by the spy of the time, 
it will be found difficult to explain ; and therefore sense will be 
cheaply gained by a slight alteration. Macbeth is assuring the 
assassins that they shall not want directions to find Banquo, and 
therefore says : 


And something from the palace ; always thought, 

/ will 

Acquaint you with a perfect spy o 'the time. 
Accordingly a third murderer joins them afterwards at the 
place of action. 

Perfect is well instructed, or well iiiformed, as in this play : 

" Though in your state of honour I am perfect." 
Though I am well acquainted with your quality and rank. 


the perfect spy o'the time,] i. e. the critical juncture. 


How the critical juncture is the spy othe time, I know not, 
but I think my own conjecture right. JOHNSON. 

I rather believe we should read thus : 

Acquaint you, with the perfect spot, the time, 
The moment ont; TYRWHITT. 

I believe that the word with has here the force of by; in 
which sense Shakspeare frequently uses it ; and that the mean- 
ing of the passage is this : " I will let you know by the person 
best informed, of the exact moment in which the business is to 
be done." And accordingly we find, in the next scene, that 
these two murderers are joined by a third, as Johnson has ob- 
served. In his letter to his wife, Macbeth says, " I have heard 
by the perfectest report, that they have more than mortal know- 
ledge.*' And in this very scene, we find the word with used 
to express by, where the murderer says he is " tugg'd with for- 
tune/' M. MASON. 

The meaning, I think, is, I will acquaint you with the time 
when you may look out for Banquo's coming, with the most 
perfect assurance of not being disappointed ; and not only with 
the time in general most proper for lying in wait for him, but 
with the very moment when you may expect him. MALONE. 

I explain the passage thus, and think it needs no reformation, 
but that of a single point : 

Within this hour at most, 

I will advise you where to plant yourselves. 

Here I place a full stop ; as no further instructions could be 
given by Macbeth, the hour of Banquo's return being quite 
uncertain. Macbeth therefore adds " Acquaint you" &c. i. e. 
in ancient language, " acquaint yourselves" with the exact time 
most favourable to your purposes ; for such a moment must be 
spied out by you, be selected by your own attention and scrupu- 

sc. i. MACBETH. 159 

That I require a clearness: 3 And with him, 
(To leave no rubs, nor botches, in the work,) 
Fleance his son, that keeps him company, 
Whose absence is no less material to me 
Than is his father's, must embrace the fate 
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart ; 
I'll come to you ano^*^ 

2 M UR. We are resolv'd, my lord. 

lous observation. You is ungrammatically employed, instead of 
yourselves; as him is for himself, in The Taming of the Shrew : 

" To see her noble lord restor'd to health, 

" Who, for twice seven yearg, hath esteemed him 

" No better than a poor and loathsome beggar." 
In this place it is evident that him is used instead of himself. 
Again, in King Henry IV. P. I: 

" Advantage feeds him fat." i. e. himself. 
Again, more appositely, in King Richard II. where York, 
addressing himself to Bolingbroke, Northumberland, and others, 

" enter in the castle 

" And there repose you [i. e. yourselves] for this night." 
Again, in Coriolanus: 

" Breathe you, my friends ; " 

Macbeth, in the intervening time, might have learned, from 
some of Banquo's attendants, which way he had ridden out, and 
therefore could tell the murderers where to plant themselves so 
as to cut him off on his return ; but who could ascertain the 
precise hour of his arrival, except the ruffians who watched for 
that purpose ? STEEVENS. 

3 always thought 

That I require a clearness :] i. e. you must manage matters 
so, that throughout the whole transaction I may stand clear of 
suspicion. So, Holinshed : " appointing them to meet Banquo 
and his sonne without the palace, as they returned to their lodg- 
ings, and there to slea them, so that he would not have his house 
slandered, but that in time to come he might cleare himself." 


4 I'll come to you anon.] Perhaps the words to you, which 
corrupt the metre, without enforcing the sense, are another play- 
house interpolation. STEEVENS. 

1 60 MACBETH. ACT m. 

MACS. I'll call upon you straight ; abide within. 

It is concluded : Banquo, thy soul's flight, 

If it find heaven, must find it out to-night. 



The same. Another Room. 

Enter Lady MACBETH, and a Servant. 

LADY M. Is Banquo gone from court ? 
SERV. Ay, madam, but returns again to-night. 

LADY M. Say to the king, I would attend his 

For a few words. 

SERV. Madam, I will. \Exlt. 


LADY M. Nought's had, all's spent^ 1 

Where our desire is got without content : 
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy, 
Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy. 

* Nought's had, all's spent,"] Surely, the unnecessary words 
Nought's had, are a tasteless interpolation ; for they violate the 
measure without expansion of the sentiment. 

For a few words. Madam, I will. All's spent, 
is a complete verse. 

There is sufficient reason to suppose the metre of Shakspeare 
was originally uniform and regular. His frequent exactness in 
making one speaker complete the verse which another had left 
imperfect, is too evident to need exemplification. Sir T. Hanmer 
was aware of this, and occasionally struggled with such metrical 
difficulties as occurred; though for want of familiarity with 
ancient language, he often failed in the choice of words to be 
rejected or supplied. STEEVENS. 

sc. n. MACBETH. 161 


How now, my lord ? why do you keep alone, 
Of sorriest fancieityour companions making? 1 ' 
Using those thoughts, which should indeed have- 

With them they think on? Things without remedy, 7 
Should be without regard : what's done, is done. 

MACS. We have siaafcfed 8 tne snake, not kill'd it; 
She'll close, and be herself; whilst our poor malice 
Remains in danger of her former tooth. 
But let 
The frame of things disjoint,both theworlds suffer, 9 

" sorriest fancies ] i. e. worthless, ignoble, vile. So, 

in Othello . 

" 1 have a salt and .sorry rheum offends me." 
Sorry, however, might signify sorrowful, melancholy, dismal. 
So, in The Comedy of Errors : 

" The place of death and sorry execution.'* 
Again, in -the play before us, (as Mr. M. Mason observes,) 
Macbeth says, " This is a sorry sight." STEEVENS. 

7 Things -without remedy,] The old copy all remedy. 

But surely, as Sir T. Hanmer thinks, the word all is an interpo- 
lation, hurtful to the metre, without improvement of the sense. 
The same thought occurs in King Richard II. Act II. sc. iii: 
" Things past redress, are now with me past care." 

Jf\iv scctdM ] Mr. Theobald. Fol.jicorcfcd. JOHNSON. 

Scotched is the true reading. So, in Coriolanus, Act IV. sc. v : 
** he scotch d him and notch'd him like a carbo- 
nado." STEEVENS. 

But let 

The frame of things disjoint, both the worlds srtffer,"] The 
old copy reads thus, and I have followed it, rejecting the modern 
contraction, which was : 

But let both worlds disjoint, and all things suffer. 
The same idea occurs in Hamlet : 

That both the worlds I give to negligence." 


VOL. X. M 

1 62 MACBETH. ACT m. 

Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep 

In the affliction of these terrible dreams, 

That shake us nightly : Better be with the dead, 

Whom we, to gain our place, have sent to peace, 1 

Thrn on the torture of the mind to lie 

In restless ecstacy^y Duncan is in his grave ; 

After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well ; 

Treason has done his worst : nor steel, nor poison, 

Malice domestick, foreign levy, nothing, 

Can touch him further ! 

LADY M. Come on ; 

Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks ; 
Be bright and jovial 'mong your guests to-night. 

MACS. So shall I, love^ and so, I pray, be you : 
Let your remembrancd 3 apply to Banquo ; 
Present him eminence, 4 both with eye and tongue : 

1 Whom tve, to gain our place, have sent to peace,'] The old 
copy reads : 

Whom we, to gain our peace . 

For the judicious correction -place, we are indebted to the 
second folio. STEEVENS. 

* In restless ecstacy.] Ecstacy, for madness. WARBURTON. 

Ecstacy, in its general sense, signifies any violent emotion of 
the mind. Here it means the emotion of pain, agony. So, in 
Marlowe's Tamburlaine, P. I : 

" Griping our bowels with retorqued thoughts, 
" And have no hope to end our cxtasies." 

Again, Milton, in his ode on The Nativity : 

" In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit." 
Thus also Chapman, in his version of the last Iliad, where he 

describes the distracting sorrow of Achilles : 

" -Although he saw the morn 

" Shew sea and shore his extasie." STEEVENS. 

remembrance ] is here employed as a quadrisyllable. 

So, in Twelfth-Night: 

" And lasting in her sad remembrance." STEEVENS. 

4 Present him eminence,'] i. e. do him the highest honours. 


sc. ii. MACBETH. 163 

Unsafe the while, that we 

Must lave our honours in these flattering streams; 
And make our faces vizards to our hearts, 
Disguising what they are.*' 

LADY M. You must leave this. 

MACE, O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! 
Thou know'st, that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives. 

LADYM. But in them nature's copy's not eterne. 6 

* Unsafe the while, that toe 

Must lave our honours in these Jlattering streams ; 
And make our faces vizards to our hearts, 
Disguising what they are.] The sense of this passage 
(though clouded by metaphor, and perhaps by omission,) ap-. 
pears to be as follows: It is a sure sign that our royalty is 
unsafe, when it must descend to flattery, and stoop to dissimula- 

And yet I cannot help supposing (from the hemistich, unsafe 
the while that we,) some words to be wanting which originally 
rendered the sentiment less obscure. Shakspeare might have 

Unsafe the while it is for us, that we &c. 
By a different arrangement in the old copy, the present hemis- 
tich, indeed, is avoided ; but, in my opinion, to the disadvantage 
of the other lines. See former editions. STEEVENS. 

6 nature's copy's not eterne.] The copy, the lease, by 

which they hold their lives from nature, has its time of termina- 
tion limited. JOHNSON. 

Eterne for eternal is often used by Chaucer. So, in The 
Knight's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 1305: 

" O cruel goddes, that governe 

" This world with binding of your word eterne, 

" And writen in the table of athamant 

** Your parlement and your eterne grant." STEEVENS. 

Dr. Johnson's interpretation is supported by a subsequent pas- 
sage in this play : 

" and our high-plac'd Macbeth 

*' Shall live the lease (if nature, pay his breath 
w To time and mortal custom." 

M 2 

164 MACBETH. ACT ///. 

/ / i J 

MACS. There's comfort yet,; they are jassaijable ; 

Then be thou jocuni: Ere tfie bat ham/flown 
His cloisjcer'd flight/ We, ta black HecAte's/sum- 

The shard-borne beetle, 8 with his drowsy hums, 

Again, by our author's 13th Sonnet: 

" So should that beauty which you hold in lease, 
" Find no determination." MALONE. 

I once thought that by " Nature's copy" &c. our author meant 
(to use a Scriptural phrase) man, as formed after the Deity, 
though not, like him, immortal. So, in K. Henry VIII: 
" - how shall man, 

" The image of his Maker, hope to thrive by't ?" 
Or, as Milton expresses the same idea, Comus, v. 69 : 
" - the human countenance, 
" Th* express resemblance of the gods ." 
But, (as Mr. M. Mason observes,) in support of Dr. Johnson's 
explanation, we find that Macbeth, in his next speech but one, 
alluding to the intended murder of Banquo and Fleance, says : 
" Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond 
" That keeps me pale." 

Mr. M. Mason, however, adds, that by " nature's copy," 
Shakspeare might only mean the human form divine. 


The allusion is to an estate for lives held by copy of court-roll. 
. It is clear, from numberless allusions of the same kind, that 
Shakspeare had been an attorney's clerk. RITSON. 

7 - the bat hath 


His cloister' d flight;] The bats wheeling round the dim 
cloisters of Queen's College, Cambridge, have frequently im- 
pressed on me the singular propriety of this original epithet. 


Bats are often seen flying round cloisters, in the dusk of the 
evening, for a considerable length of time. MALONE. 

8 The shard-borne beetle,"] i. e. the beetle hatched in clefts of 
wood. So, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" They are his shards, and he their beetle." 


The shard-borne beetle is the beetle borne along the air by 
its shards or scaly luings. From a passage in Gower, De Con" 
fessione Amantis, it appears that shards signified scales : 

sc. ii. MACBETH. 165 

Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be 

A deed of dreadful note. 

" She sigh, her thought, a dragon tho, 

" Whose scherdes shynen as the sonne." L. VI. fol. 138. 
and hence the upper or outward wings of the beetle were called 
shards, they being of a scaly substance. To have an outward 
pair of wings of a scaly hardness, serving as integuments to 
a Jilmy pair beneath them, is the characteristick of the beetle 

Ben Jonson, in his Sad Shepherd, says 

" The scaly beetles with their habergeons, 

" That make a humming murmur as they fly.'* 
In Cymbeline, Shakspeare applies this epithet again to the 
beetle : 

" we find 

" The sharded beetle in a safer hold 

" Than is the full-wing'd eagle." 

Here there is a manifest opposition intended between the 
wings and flight of the insect and the bird. The beetle, whose 
sharded wings can but just raise him above the ground, is often 
in a state of greater security than the vast-ioinged eagle, that can 
soar to any height. 

As Shakspeare is here describing the beetle in the act of flying, 
(for he never makes his humming noise but when he flies,) it 
is more natural to suppose the epithet should allude to the peculi- 
arity of his wings, than to the circumstance of his origin, or his 
place of habitation, both of which are common to him with 
several other creatures of the insect kind. 

Such another description of the beetle occurs in Chapman's 
Eugenia, 4to. 1614 : 

The beetle 

" there did raise 

" With his Irate wings his most unwieldie paise ; 

" And with his kn'ellike humming gave the dor 

" Of death to men ." 

It is almost needless to say, that the word irate, in the second 
line, must be a corruption. 

The quotation from Antony and Cleopatra, seems to make 
against Dr. Warburton's explanation. 

The meaning of ^Enobarbus, in that passage, is evidently as 
follows : Lepidus, says he, is the beetle of the triumvirate, a 
dull, blind creature, that would but crawl on the earth, if Octa- 
vius and Antony, his more active colleagues in power, did not 

1 66 MACBETH. ACT ///. 

LADY M. What's to be done ? 

serve him for shards or wings to raise him a little above the 

What idea is afforded, if we say that Octavius and Antony are 
two clefts in the old wood in which Lepidus was hatched? 


The shard-born beetle is the beetle born in dung. Aristotle 
and Pliny mention beetles that breed in dung. Poets as well as 
natural historians have made the same observation. See Dray ton's 
Ideas, 31 : " I scorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies." So, Ben 
Jonson, Whalley's edit. Vol. 1. p. 59: 

" But men of thy condition feed on sloth, 

" As doth the beetle on the dung she breeds in." 

That shard signifies dung, is well known in the North of Staf- 
fordshire, where cowshard is the word generally used for cou>- 
dung. So, in A petite Palace of Petite his Pleasure, p. 165 : " The 
humble-bee taketh no scorn to loge on a cowe's foule shard." 
Again, in Bacon's Natural History, exp. 775 : *' Turf and peat, 
and cow sheards, are cheap fuels, and last long." 

Sharded beetle, in Cymbeline, means the beetle lodged in dung; 
and there the humble earthly abode of the beetle is opposed to 
the lofty eyry of the eagle in " the cedar, whose top branch over- 
peer'd Jove's spreading tree," as the poet observes, in The 
Third Part of King Henry VI. Act V. sc. ii. TOLLET. 

The shard-born beetle is, perhaps, the beetle born among 
shards, i. e. (not cow's dung, for that is only a secondary or 
metonymical signification of the word, and not even so, gene- 
rally, but) pieces of broken pots, tiles, and such-like things, 
which are frequently thrown together in corners as rubbish, and 
under which these beetles may usually breed, or (what is the 
same) may have been supposed so to do. 

Thus, in Hamlet, the Priest says of Ophelia: 

" Shards, flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on her." 

Would Mr. Toilet say that cows' dung was to be thrown into 
the grave ? It is true, however, that sharded beetle seems 
scarcely reconcilable to the above explanation. Mr. Steevens 
maybe right; but Dr. Warburton and Mr. Toilet are certainly 
wrong. RITSON. 

The shard-born beetle is the cock-chafer. Sir W. D'Avenant 
appears not to have understood this epithet, for he has given, 
instead of it 

the sharp-brow'd beetle. 

Mr. Steeveris's interpretation is, I think, the true one, in the 
"passage before UB. MALOKE. 

sc. n. MACBETH. 167 

MACS. Be. innocent of the knowledge, dearest 

chuck, 9 

Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, 1 
Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day ; 
And with thy bloody and invisible hand, 
Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond 
Which keeps me Dale />-Light thickens; and the 

Mr. Steevens's interpretation is no doubt the most suitable to 
the context. The succeeding passages, however, make in favour 
of Mr. Toilet's explanation. In A brief e Discourse of the 
Spanish State, 1590, p. 3, there is, " How that nation rising 
like the beetle from the cowshern hurtleth against al things." 
And in Dryden, The Hind and the Panther: 

" Such souls as shards produce, such beetle things, 
" As only buzz to heaven with evening wings." 
The Beetle and the Chafer are distinct insects. HOLT WHITE. 

9 - dearest chuck,] I meet with this term of endearment, 
(which is probably corrupted from chick or chicken,) in many of 
our ancient writers. So, in Warner's Albion's England, B. V. 
c. xxvii: 

" - immortal she-egg chuck of Tyndarus his wife." 
It occurs also in our author's Twelfth- Night: 

" - how dost thou chuck? 

" - Ay, biddy, come with me." STEEVENS. 

1 - Come, seeling night,"] Seeling, i. e. blinding. It is a 
term in falconry. WABBURTON. 

So, in The Booke of Haukyng, Huntyng, &c. bl. 1. no date : 
" And he must take wyth hym nedle and threde, to ensyle the 
haukes that bene taken. And in thys manner they must be 
ensiled. Take the nedel and thryde, and put it through the 
over eye lyd, and soe of that other, and make them fast under 
the becke that she se not," &c. Again, in Chapman's version 
of the thirteenth Iliad : 

" - did seele 

" Th' assailer's eyes up." 
Again, in the thirteenth Odyssey : 

" - that sleep might sweetly seel 

" His restful eyes. 1 ' STEEVENS. 

1 Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond 

Which keeps me pate /] This may be well explained by the 
following passage in King Richard III.' 

\ 68 MACBETH. ACT m. 

Makes wing to the rooky wood : 4 

" Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray." 

Again, in Cymbeline, Act V. sc. iv : 

" take this life, 

" And cancel these cold bonds." STEEVENS. 

' Light thickens ; and the crow &c.] By the expression, 

light thickens, Shakspeare means, the light grows dull or muddy. 
In this sense he uses it in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" my lustre thickens 

" When he shines by." EDWARDS'S MSS. 

It may be added, that in The Second Part of King Henry IV. 
Prince John of Lancaster tells Falstaff, that " his desert is too 
thick to shine." Again, in The Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, 
Act I. sc. ult : 

" Fold your flocks up, for the air 

" 'Gins to thicken, and the sun 

" Already his great course hath run." STEEVENS. 

Again, in Spenser's Calendar, 1579: 

" But see, the welkin thicks apace, 

<* And stouping Phoebus steepes his face ; 

" It's time to haste us home-ward." MALONE. 

4 Makes wing to the rooky wood:~\ Rooky may mean damp, 
misty, steaming with exhalations. It is only a North country 
variation of dialect from reeky. In Coriolanus, Shakspeare 

" the reek of th f rotten fens." 

And in Caltha Poetarum, &c. 1599 : 

" Comes in a vapour like a rookish ryme." 
Rooky wood, indeed, may signify a rookery, the wood that, 
abounds with rooks ; yet, merely to say of the crow that he is 
flying to a wood inhabited by rooks, is to add little immediately 
pertinent to the succeeding observation, viz. that 

things of day begin to droop and drowse. 

I cannot, therefore, help supposing our author wrote 

\ makes wing to rook i' th' wood. 

i. e. to roost in it. Ruck, or Rouke, Sax. So, in K. Henry VI. 
P. I. Act V sc. vi : 

" The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top." 
See note on this passage. 

Again, in Chaucer's Nonnes Preestes Tale: 

" O false morderour, rucking in thy den." 
Again, in Gower, De Confessione dmantis, Lib. IV. fol. 72: 

" But how their rucken in her nest. 

sc\ n. MACBETH. 169 

Good things of day begin to droop and drowse ; 
Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouse. 5 

Again, in the 15th Book of A. Golding's translation of Ovid's 
Metamorphosis : 

" He rucketh down upon the same, and in the spices 


Again, in The Contention betvoyxte Churchyeard and Camell, 
&c. 1560 : 

" All day to rucken on my taile, and poren on a booke." 
The harmless crow, that merely flew to the rooky wood, for 
aught we are conscious of on this occasion, might have taken a 
second flight from it ; but the same bird, when become drowsy, 
would naturally ruck or roost where it settled, while the agents 
of nocturnal mischief were hastening to their prey. The quies- 
cent state of innoxious birds is thus forcibly contrasted with the 
active vigilance of destructive beings. So Milton, in the con- 
cluding lines of the first Book of his Paradise Regained : 

" for now began 

" Night with her sullen wings to double-shade 
" The desert; fowls in their clay nests were couch'd ; 
" And now wild beasts came forth the woods to roam." 
Should this attempt to reform the passage before us be con- 
demned, " the substance which underwent the operation, at the 
very worst, is but where it was." 

Such an unfamiliar verb asrook, might, (especially in a play- 
house copy,) become easily corrupted. STEEVENS. 

4 Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouse."] This ap- 
pears to be said with reference to those daemons who were sup- 
posed to remain in their several places of confinement all day, 
but at the close of it were released ; such, indeed, as are men- 
tioned in The Tempest, as rejoicing " To hear the solemn cur- 
few," because it announced the hour of their freedom. So also, 
in Sydney's Astropheland Stella : 

" In night, of sprites the ghastly powers do stir." 

Thus also in Ascham's Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 13 : " For 
on the night time and in corners, spirites and theeves, &c. &c. 
use most styrring, when in the day light, and in open places 
which be ordeyned of God for honest things, they dare not 
once come ; which thing Euripides noteth very well, saying 
Iph. in Taur : 

" 111 thyngs the nyght, good thyngs the day doth haunt 
and use.'' 

The old copy reads prey's. S.TEEVENS. 

170 MACBETH. ACT m. 

Thou marvell'st at my words : but hold thee still ; 
Things, bad begun, make strong themselves by ill : 
So, pr'ythee, go with me. \ExeunL 


The same. A Park or Lawn, with a Gate leading 
to the Palace. 

Enter Three Murderers. 

1 MUR. But who did bid thee join with us ? 6 

3 MUR. Macbeth. 

2 MUR. He needs not our mistrust ; since he 


Our offices, and what we have to do, 
To the direction just. 

1 MUR. Then stand with us. 

The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day : 

6 But uho did bid thee join faith us?] The meaning of this 
abrupt dialogue is this. The perfect spy, mentioned by Mac- 
beth in the foregoing scene, has, before they enter upon the 
stage, given them the directions which were promised at the 
time of their agreement; yet one of the murderers suborned, 
suspects him of intending to betray them ; the other observes, 
that, by his exact .knowledge of what they were to do, he appears 
to be employed by Macbeth, and needs not to be mistrusted. 


The third assassin seems to have been sent to join the others, 
from Macbeth's superabundant caution. From the following 
dialogue it appears that some conversation has passed between 
them before their present entry on the stage. MALONE. 

The third Murderer enters only to tell them where they should 
place themselves. STEEVENS. 

so. m. MACBETH. 171 

Now spurs the late-'/traveller apace, 

To gain the timely inn ; and near approaches 

The subject of our watch. 

3 MUR. Hark ! I hear horses. 

BAN. [Within.'] Give us a light there, ho ! 

2 MUR. Then it is he ; the rest 
That are within the note of expectation, 8 
Already are i'the couHi 

1 MUR. His horses go about. 

3 MUR. Almost a mile : but he does usually, 
So all men do, from hence to the palace gate 
Make it their walk. 

Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, a Servant 'with a 
torch preceding them. 

2 MUR. A light, a light ! 

3 MUR. 'Tis he. 

7 lated ] i. e. belated, benighted. So, again, in An- 
tony and Cleopatra: 

" I am so lated in the world, that I 

" Have lost my way for ever." STEEVENS. 

' the note of expectation,] i. e. they who are set down in 

the list of guests, and expected to supper. SXEEVENS. 

9 Then it is he ; the rest 
That are tuithin the note of expectation, 
Already are i'the court.'] Perhaps this passage, before it fell 
into the hands of the players, stood thus : 
Then it is he; 

The rest within the note of expectation, 
Are i'the court. 

The hasty recurrence of are, in the last line, and the redun- 
dancy of the metre, seem to support my conjecture. Number- 
less are the instances in which the player editors would not per- 
mit the necessary something to be supplied by the reader. They 
appear to have been utterly unacquainted with an ellipsis. 


1 72 MACBETH. ACT ///. 

1 MUR. Stand to't. 
BAN. It will be rain to-night. 
1 MUR. Let it come downv^ 

[Assaults BANQUO. 

BAN. O, treachery ! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, 

Thou may'st revenge. O slave ! 

[Dies. Fleance and Servant escape? 

3 MUR. Who did strike out the light ? 

1 MUR. Was't not the way *} 
3 MUR. There's but one down ; the son is fled. 

2 MUR. We have lost best half of our affair. 

1 MUR. Well, let's away, and say how much is 
done. \_Exeunt. 

1 Stand tot. 

It will be rain to-night. 

Let it come down.~\ For the sake of 
metre, we should certainly read 
Stand to't. 

'Twill rain to-night . 

Let it come down. STEEVENS. 

* Fleance fyc. escape."] Fleance, after the assassination of his 
father, fled into Wales, where, by the daughter of the Prince of 
that country, he had a son named Walter, who afterwards be- 
came Lord High Steward of Scotland, and from thence assumed 
the name of Walter Steward. From him, in a direct line, King 
James I. was descended ; in compliment to whom our author 
has chosen to describe Banquo, who was equally concerned with 
Macbeth in the murder of Duncan, as innocent of that crime. 


Was't not the way ?} i. e. the best means we could take to 
evade discovery. STEEVENS. 

Rather, to effect our purpose. RITSON. 

sc, jr. MACBETH. 17S 


A Room of State in the Palace. 

A Banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, Lady 
MACBETH, ROSSE, LENOX, Lords, and At- 

MACS. You know your own degrees, sit down : 

at first 
And last, the hearty 

LORDS. Thanks to your majesty. 

MACS. Ourself will mingle with society, 
And play the humble host. t_ 
Our hostess keeps her state j^but, in best time, 
We will require her welcome. 

* You know your own degrees, sit down : at Jirst , 

And last, the hearty -welcome^ I believe the true reading is : 
You know your own degrees, sit down. To Jirst 
And last the hearty welcome. 

All, of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, may 
be assured that their visit is well received. JOHNSON. 

* Our hostess keeps her state ; &c.] i. e. continues in her 
chair of state at the head of the table. This idea might have 
been borrowed from Holinshed, p. 805 : " The king ( Henry 
VIII.) caused the queene to keepe the estate, and then sat the 
ambassadours and ladies as they were marshalled by the king, 
who would not sit, but walked from place to place, making 
cheer," &c. 

To keep state is a phrase perpetually occurring in our ancient 
dramas, &c. So, Ben Jonson, in his Cynthia's Revels .* 
" Seated in thy silver chair 
" State in wonted manner keep." 
Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Wild Goose Chase : 

" What a state she keeps ! how far off they sit from 


Many more instances, to the same purpose, might be given. 


174 MACBETH. ACT m. 

LADY M. Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our 

friends ; 
For my heart speaks, they are welcome. 

Enter Jirst Murderer, to tJie door. 

MACS. See,they encounter thee with their hearts* 

thanks : 

Both sides are even : Here I'll sit i'the midst : 
Be large in mirth ; anon, we'll drink a measure 
The table round. There's blood upon thy face. 

MUR. 'Tis Banquo's then. 

MACS. 'Tis better thee without, than he within. 6 
Is he despatch'd? \j ^ \ k - *V* l 4 V- 

MUR. My lord, his throat is cut ; V that I did for 

MACS. Thou art the best o'the cut-throats : Yet 
he's good, 

A state appears to have been a royal chair with a canopy over 
it. So, in King Henry IV. P. I : 

" This chair shall be my state." 

Again, in Sir T. Herbert's Memoirs of Charles I: " where 
being set, the king under a state,*' &c. Again, in The View of 
France, 1598: " espying the chayre not to stand well under 
the state, he mended it handsomely himself." MALONE. 

6 'Tis better thee without, than he within.] The sense requires 
that this passage should be read thus : 

' Tis better thee without, than him within. 

That is, lam better pleased that the blood of Ban quo should 
be on thy face than in his body. 

The author might mean, It is better that Bangui's b'cod were 
on thy face, than he in this room. Expressions thus in perfect 
are common in his works. JOHNSON. 

I have no doubt that this last was the author's meaning. 


That did the like for Fleance : if thou didst it, 
Thou art the nonpareil. 

MUR. Most royal sir, 

Fleance is 'scap'd. 

MACS. Then conies my fit again : I had else 

been perfect ; 

Whole as the marble, founded as the rock ; 
As broad, and general, as the casing air : 
But now, I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in 
To saucy doubts and fears. But Bariquo's safe ? 

MUR. Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides, 
With twenty trenched gashes 7 on his head ; 
The least a death to nature. 

MACS. Thanks for that : ' 

There the grown serpent lies ; the worm, 8 that's 


Hath nature that in time will venom breed, 
No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; to- 
We'll hear, ourselves again. [Exit Murderer. 

LADY M. My royal lord, 

You do not give the cheer : the feast is sold, 9 

7 trenched gashes ] Trancher, to cut. Fr. So, in Arden 

vf Fever sham, 1592: 

" Is deeply trenched on my blushing brow." 
Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona: 

" like a figure 

" Trenched in ice." STEEVENS. 

9 the worm,] This term, in our author's time, was ap- 
plied to all of the serpent kind. MALONE. 

9 the feast is sold, Sfc.'] Mr. Pope reads: the feast is 

cold, and not without plausibility. Such another phrase oc- 
curs in The Elder Brother of Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" You must be welcome too : the feast is flat else." 

But the same expression as Shakspeare's is found in The 
Romaunt of the Rose: 

1 76 MACBETH. ACT m. 

That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a making, 
'Tis given with welcome : To feed, were best at 

home ; 

From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony ; 
Meeting were bare without it. 

MACS. Sweet remembrancer ! 

Now, good digestion wait on appetite^ 
And health on both ! 

LEN. May it please your highness sit ? 

{The Ghost of BANQUO rises$and sits in 
MACBETH'S place. 

MACS. Here had we now our country's honour 


Were the grac'd person of our Banquo present ; 
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness, 
Than pity for mischance ! 3 

** Good dede done through praiere, 

** Is sold and bought to dere." STEEVENS. 

The meaning is, That which is not given cheerfully, cannot 
be called a gift, it is something that must be paid for. 


It is still common to say, that we pay dear for an entertain- 
ment, if the circumstances attending the participation of it prove 
irksome to us. HENLEY. 

1 Now, good digestion -wait on appetite,'] So, in Kins; 
Henry VIII: 

" A good digestion to you all." STEEVENS. 

* The Ghost of Banquo rises,"] The circumstance of Banquo s 
ghost seems to be alluded to in The Puritan, first printed in 
1607, and ridiculously ascribed to Shakspeare: " We'll ha' the 
ghost i* th' white sheet sit at upper end o' th* table" FARMER. 

1 Than pity for mischance .'] This is one of Shakspeare'g 
touches of nature. Macbeth, by these words, discovers a con- 
sciousness of guilt ; and this circumstance could not fail to be 
recollected by a nice observer on the assassination of Banquo 
being publickly known. Not being yet rendered sufficiently cal- 

ac. iv. MACBETH. 

ROSSE. His absence, sir, 

Lays blame upon his promise. Please it your high* 

To grace us with your royal company? 

MACB. The table's full. 

LEX. Here's a place reserved, sin 

MACS. Where ? 

LEN. Here, my lord What is't that 

moves your highness ? 

MACB. Which of you have done this ? 

LORDS. What, my good lord ? 

MACS. Thou can'st not say, I did it: never shake 
Thy gory locks at me. 

ROSSE. Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well, 

LADY M. Sit, worthy friends : my lord is often 


And hath been from his youth : 'pray you, keep 
seat $ 

lous by " hard use," Macbeth betrays himself (as Mr. Whatefe}' 
has observed) " by an over-acted regard for Banquo, of whose 
absence from the feast he affects to complain, that he may not 
be suspected of knowing the cause, though at the same time he 
very unguardedly drops an allusion to that cause." MALONE. 

These words do not seem to convey any consciousness of guilt 
on the part of Macbeth, or allusion to Banquo's murder, as Mr. 
Whateley supposes. Macbeth only means to say" I have 
more cause to accuse him of unkindness for his absence, than 
to pity him for any accident or mischance that may have occa- 
sioned it." DOUCE. 

4 Here, my lord. &c J The old copy my good lord ; an 
interpolation that spoils the metre. The compositor's eye had 
eaught good from the next speech but one. STEEVENS, 

VOL. X. N 

1 78 MACBETH. ACT ///. 

The fit is momentary; upon a thought 5 
He will again be well : If much you note him, 
You shall offend him, and extend his passion ; 6 
Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man ? 

MACS. Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that 
Which might appal the devil. 

LADY M. O proper stuff! 7 -^ 

This is the very painting of your fear : 
This is the air-drawn dagger, which, you said, 
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws, and starts, 
(Impostors to true fear,) would well become 8 

upon a thought ] i. e. as speedily as thought can be 

exerted. So, in King Henry IV. P. I : " and, with a thought , 
seven of the eleven 1 pay'd." Again, in Hamlet; 

" as swift 

" As meditation, or the thoughts of love." STEE VENS. 

6 extend his passion;"] Prolong his suffering; make his 

fit longer. JOHNSON. 

7 proper stuff'!'] This speech is rather too long for the cir- 
cumstances in which it is spoken. It had begun better at 
Shame itself! JOHNSON. 

Surely it required more than a few words, to argue Macbeth 
out of the horror that possessed him. M. MASON. 

8 0, these flaws, and starts, 

(Impostors to true fear,) would well become &c.] i. e. these 
flaws and starts, as they are indications of your needless fears, 
are the imitators or impostors only of those which arise from a 
fear well grounded. WARBURTON. 

Flaws are sudden gusts. JOHNSON. 

So, in Coriolanus : 

" Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw." 

Agajn, in Venus and Adonis : 

" Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds." 


Impostors to true fear, mean impostors when compared with 
true fear. Such is the force of the preposition to rn this place. 


5C. /r. MACBETH. 

A woman's story, at a winter's fire, 
Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself! 
Why do you make such faces ? When all's done^ 
You look but on a stool. 

MACS. Pr'ythee, see there ! behold ! look ! lo ! 

how say you ? 

Why, what care I ? If thou canst nod, speak too. 
If charnel-houses, and our graves, must send 
Those that we bury, back^ur monuments 

Shall be the maws of kite^ [Ghost disappears* 
LADY M. What ! quite unmann'd in felly rv 
MACS. If I stand here, I saw him. 
LADY M. Fye, for shame ! 

MACS. Blood hatlybeen shed ere now, i'the 
olden tima, 2 } 

Scr, in King Henry VIII: " Fetch me a dozen crab-tree 
staves, and strong ones ; these are but switches to them." 


To may be used for of. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona we 
have an expression resembling this : 

" Thou counterfeit to thy true friend." MALONE. 

9 Shall be the maws of kites."] The same thought occurs iri 
Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II. c. viii f 

" Be not entombed in the raven or the bight." 
Thus also, inter nubes tenebrasque Lycophronis atri,v. 413 : 
" IIoAActfy ydtp sv CTfAay^vdierj T'v 

" In splendidissimum quemque captivitm, non sine verborum 
ontumelia, saeviit : ut quidem uni suppliciter sepulturam pre- 
canti respondisse dicatur, jam istam in volucrumfore potestatemJ" 
Sueton. in August. 13. MALONE. 

1 What! quite unmann'd in folly?] Would not this question 
be forcible enough without the two last words, which overflow 1 
the metre, and consequently may be suspected as interpolations ? 


* - - i'the olden time,'] Mr., M. Mason proposes to read 
** the golden time," meaning the golden age : but the ancient 



Ere human statute purg'd the gentle weal; 3 
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed 
Too terrible for the ear : the times have been, 
That, when the brains were out,the man would die. 
And there an end: but now, they rise again, 
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, 
And push us from our stools : This is more strange 
Than such a murder is. 

LADY M. My worthy lord, 

Your noble friends do lack you. 

MACS. I do forget : 

Do not muse at me, 4 my most worthy friends ; 
I- have a strange infirmity, which is nothing 
To those that know me. Come, love and hoalth 
to all j 

reading may be justified by Holinslied, who, speaking of the 
Witches, says, they " resembled creatures of the elder world;" 
and in Twelfth-Night we have 

" dallies with the innocence of love, 

" Like the old age." 

Again, in Thystorie of Jacob and his twelve Sones, bl. 1. printed 
by Wynkyn de Worde : 

" Of dedes done in the olde tyme." 
Again, in our Liturgy " and in the old time before them." 


3 Ere human statute purg'd the gentle weal ;] The gentle weal, 
is, the peaceable commifnity, the state made quiet and safe by 
human statute';. 

" Mollia secures peragebant otia gentes." JOHNSON. 

In my opinion it means " That state of innocence which did 
not require the aid of human laws to render it quiet and secure." 


4 Do not muse at me,~\ To muse anciently signified to wonder, 
to be in mnnzf.. So, in King Henry IV. P. II. Act IV : 

*' I muse, you make so slight a question." 
Again, in All's well that ends well: 

" And rather muse, than ask, why I entreat you." 


J5C.u\ MACBETH. .181 

Then I'll sit down :- Give me some wine, fill 


I drink to the general joy of the. whole table, 

Ghost rises. 

And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss j. 
Would he were here! to all,, and him, we thirst3 
And all to all 

LORDS. Our duties, and the pledge. 

MACS. Avaunt ! and quit my sight ! Let the 

earth hide thee ! 

Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is^cold j 
Thou hast no speculation in those eye^y 
Which thou dost glare with ! 

LADY M, Think of this, good peers, 

But as a thing of custom : 'tis no other j 
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time. 

MACS. What man dare, I dare : 
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, 

4 to all, and him, te thirst,] We thirst, I suppose, means 

we desire to drink. So, in Julius Ccesar, Cassius says, when 
Brutus drinks to him, to bury all unkindness - 

" My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge." M. MASON. 

6 And all to a//.] i. e. all good wishes to all ; such as he had 
named above, love, health, and joy. WARBURTON. 

I once thought it should be hail to all, but I now think that 
the present reading is right. JOHNSON. 

Tiraon uses nearly the same expression* to his guests, Act I: 
< All to you." 

Again, in King Henry VIII. more intelligibly : 
" And to you all good health." STEEVENS. 

7 no speculation in those eyes ] So, in the 115th Psalm : 

eyes have they, but see not.'" STEEVENS. 

1 82 MACBETH. ACT m. 

The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tigeffx 
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves 
Shall never tremble : Or, be alive again, 
And dare me to the desert with thy sword ; 
If trembling I inhibit^ihee, protest me 

the Hyrcan tiger,] Theobald chooses to read, in oppo- 
sition to the old copy Hyrcanian tiger; but the alteration was 
unnecessary, as Dr. Phifemon Holland, in his translation of 
Pliny's Natural History, p. 122, mentions the Hyrcane sea. 


Alteration certainly might be spared: in Riche's Second Part 
of Simonides, 4to. 1584, sign. C 1, we have " Contrariewise 
these souldiers, like to Hircan tygers, revenge themselves on 
their own bowelles ; some parricides, some fratricides, all homU 
cides." REED. 

Sir William D* Avenant unnecessarily altered this to Hircanian. 
tiger, which was followed by Theobald, and others. Hircan 
tigers are mentioned by Daniel, our author's contemporary, in 
his Sonnets, 1594- : 

" restore thy fierce and cruel mind 

" To Hircan tygcrs, and to ruthless beares." MALONB. 

If trembling I inhibit ] Inhabit is the original reading, 
which Mr. Pope changed to inhibit, which inhibit Dr. Warbur- 
ton interprets re/use. The old reading may stand, at least as 
well as the emendation. JOHNSON. 

Inhibit seems more likely to have been the poet's own word, 
as he uses it frequently in the sense required in this passage. 
Othello, Act I. sc. vii : 

" a practiser 

" Of arts inhibited," 
Hamlet, Act IJ. sc. vi : 

" I think their inhibition comes of the late innovation." 
To inhibit is to forbid. STEEVKNS. 

I have not the least doubt that " inhibit thee," is the true 
reading. In AWs ivell that ends well, we find, in the second, 
and all the subsequent folios " which is the most inhabited sin 
of the canon," instead of inhibited. 

The same error i* found in Stowe's Survey of London, 4to. 

18, p. 772: Also Robert Fabian writeth, that in the year 

506, the one and twentieth of Henry the Seventh, the said 

stew-houses in Southwarke were for a season inhabited, and the 

sc. iv. MACBETH. 183 

The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow ! 

[Ghost disappears. 

doores closed up, but it was not long, saith he, ere the houses 
there were set open again, so many as were permitted." The 
passage is not in the printed copy of Fabian, but that writer left 
in manuscript a continuation of his Chronicle from the accession 
of King Henry VII. to near the time of his own death, (1512,) 
which was in Stowe's possession in the year 1600, but I believe 
is now lost. 

By the other slight but happy emendation, the reading thee 
instead of then, which was proposed by Mr. Steevens, and to 
which I have paid the respect that it deserved, by giving it a place 
in my text, this passage is rendered clear and easy. 

Mr. Steevens's correction is strongly supported by the punc- 
tuation of the old copy, where the line stands If trembling 1 in- 
habit then, protest &c. and not If trembling I inhabit, then 
protest &c. In our author's King Richard II. we have nearly 
the same thought : 

" If I dare eat, or drink, or breathe, or live, 
" / dare meet Surrey in a wilderness." MALONE. 
t if 

Inhabit is the original reading ; and it needs no alteration. 
The obvious meaning is Should you challenge me to encounter 
you in the desert, and I, through fear, remain trembling in my 
castle, then protest me, &c. ' Shakspeare here uses the verb in- 
habit in a neutral sense, to express continuance in a given situa- 
tion ; and Milton has employed it in a similar manner : 
" Meanwhile inhabit lax, ye powers of heaven!" 


To inhabit, a verb neuter, may undoubtedly have a meaning 
like that suggested by Mr. Henley. Thus, in As you like it : 
" O knowledge ill-inhabited! worse than Jove in a thatched 
house !" Inhabited, in this instance, can have no other meaning 
than lodged. 

It is not, therefore, impossible, that by inhabit, our author ca- 
priciously meant stay within doors. If, when you have chal- 
lenged me to the desert, I sculk in my house, do not hesitate to 
protest my cowardice. STEEVENS. 

The reading " If trembling I inhibit'* and the explanation 
of it, derive some support from Macbeth's last words 

" And damn'd be him that first cries, hold ! enough !" 

I cannot reconcile myself to Henley's or Steevens's explana- 
tion of inhabit. M. MASON. 

184 MACBETH. ACT in. 

Unreal mockeryphence ! Why, so ; being gone, 
I am a man again. Pray you, sit still. 

LADY M. You have displac'd the mirth, broke 

the good meeting, 
With most admir'd disorder. 

MACS. Can such things be, 

And overcome us like a summer's cloud, 
Without our special wonder You make me 

Even to the disposition that I owe, 3 

1 Unreal mockery,'] i.e. unsubstantial pageant, as our author 
calls the vision in The Tempest; or the picture in Timon of 
Athens, " a mocking of the life." STEEVENS. 

f Can suck things be, 
And overcome us like a summer's cloudy 
Without our special wonder?] The meaning is, can such 
wonders as these pass over us without wonder, as a casual sum- 
mer cloud passes over us ? JOHNSON. 

No instance is given of this sense of the word overcome, which 
has caused all the difficulty ; it is, however, to be found in Spen- 
ser's Fairy Queen, B. III. c. vii, st. 4 : 
" A little valley 

" All covered with thick woods, that quite it overcame" 

Again, in Chapman's version of the fifteenth Iliad : 

" his eyes were overcome 

" With fervour, and resembled flames ; " 
Again, in the fourth Iliad : 

" So (after Diomed) the field was overcome 

" With thick impressions of the Greeks ; " STEEVENS, 

Again, in Marie Magdalene's Repentaunce, 1567 : 

" With blode overcome were both his eyen." MALONE. 

* You make me strange 

Even to the disposition that I owe,"] Which, in plain English, 
is only: You make me just mad. WARBURTON. > 

You produce in me an alienation of mind; which is probably 
the expression which our author intended to paraphrase. 



When now I think you can behold such sights, 
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks, 
When mine are blanch'd with feari* 

I do not think that either of the editors has very successfully 
explained this passage, which seems to mean, You prove to me 
that I am a stranger even to my own disposition, "when I per- 
ceive that the very object which steals the colour from my cheek, 
permits it to remain in yours. In other words, You prove to 
me how false an opinion I have hitherto maintained of my own 
courage, when yours, on the trial, is found to exceed it. A thought 
somewhat similar occurs in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 
II. sc. i: "I'll entertain myself like one I am not acquainted 
withal." Again, in All's "well that ends well, Act V: 

" if you know 

" That you are well acquainted with yourself." 


The meaning, I think, is, You render me a stranger to, or 
forgetful of, that brave disposition which I know I possess, and 
make me fancy myself a coward, when I perceive that I am 
terrified by a sight which has not in the least alarmed you. A 
passage in As you like it may prove the best comment on that 
before us : 

" If with myself I hold intelligence, 

" Or have acquaintance with my own desires ." 

So Macbeth says, he has no longer acquaintance with his 
own brave disposition of mind: His wife's superior fortitude 
makes him as ignorant of his own courage as a stranger might 
be supposed to be. MALONE. 

I believe it only means, you make me amazed. The word 
^strange was then used in this sense. So, in The History of 
Jack ofNewberry : " I jest not, said she ; for I mean it shall 
be ; and stand not strangely, but remember that you promised 
me," &c. REED. 

4 are blanch'd irithfear.] i. e. turned pale, as in Web- 

gter's Dutchcss ofMalfy, 1623: 

" Thou dost blanch mischief, 

" Dost make it white." STEEVENS. 

The old copy reads is blanch'd. Sir T. Hanmer corrected 
this passage in the wrong place, by reading cheek ; in which 
he has been followed by the subsequent editors. His correction 
gives, perhaps, a more elegant text, but not the text of Shak- 

1 86 MACBETH. ACT m. 

ROSSE. What sights, my lord? 

LADY M. I pray you, speak not 5 he grows worse 

and worse ; 

Question enrages him : at once, good night : 
Stand not upon the order of your going, 
But go at once. 

i LEN. Good night, and better health 

Attend his majesty ! / 

LADY M. A kind good night to alH^ 

[Exeunt Lords and Attendants. 

MACS. It will have blp^d ; they say, blood will 
have blood 

speare. The alteration now made is only that which every edi- 
tor has been obliged to make in almost every page of these plays. 
In this very scene the old copy has " the times has been," 
&c. Perhaps it may be said that mine refers to ruby, and that 
therefore no change is necessary. But this seems very harsh. 


A kind good night to all.'} I take it for granted, that the 
redundant and valueless syllables a kind, are a play-house in- 
terpolation. STEEVENS. 

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:] So, in 
The Mirror of Magistrates, p. 118: 

" Take heede, ye princes, by examples past, 
*' Dloud vcill have bloud, eyther at first or last." 


1 would thus point the passage : 

It will have blood ; they say, blood icill have blood. 
As a confirmation of the reading, I would add the following 
authority : 

*' Blood asketh blood, and death must death requite." 
Ferrex and Porrex, Act IV. sc. ii. WHALLEY. 

I have followed Mr. Whalley's punctuation, instead of placing 
the semicolon after say. 

The same words occur in The Battle of Alcazar, 1594?: 

" Blond to/// have bloud, foul murther scape no scourge." 


Sff. iv. MACBETH. 187 

Stones have been known to move, and trees to 

speak & 

Augurs, and understood relations, 8 have 
By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks, brought 


7 and trees to speak;] Alluding perhaps to the 

vocal tree which ( See the third Book of the JEneid) revealed 
the murder of Polydorus. STEEVENS. 

* Augurs, and understood relations, &c.] By the word re- 
lation is understood the connection of effects with causes; to 
understand relations as an augur, is to know how those things 
relate to each other, which have no visible combination or de- 
pendence. JOHNSON. 

Shakspeare, ii> his licentious way, by relations, might only 
mean languages; i. e. the language of birds. WARBURTON. 

The old copy has the passage thus : 

Augures, and understood relations, hate 
By maggot-pies and choughs, &c. 
The modern editors have read : 

Augurs that understand relations, have 
By magpies and by choughs, &c. 

Perhaps we should read, auguries, i. e. prognostications by 
means of omens and prodigies. These, together with the con- 
nection of effects with causes, being understood, (says he,) have 
been instrumental in divulging the most secret murders. 

In Cotgrave's Dictionary, a magpie is called magatapie. So, 
in The Night-Raven, a Satirical Collection &c. 
" I neither tattle with a iack-daw, 
" Or Maggot-pye on thatch'd house straw." 
Magot-pie is the original name of the bird ; Magot being the 
familiar appellation given to pies, as we say Robin to a redbreast, 
Tom to a titmouse, Philip to a sparrow, &c. The modern mag 
is the abbreviation of the ancient Magot, a word which we had 
from the French. STEEVENS. 

Mr. Steevens rightly restores Magot-pies. In Minsheu's 
Guide to the 'Tongues, 1617, we meet with a ma ggatapie : and 
Middleton, in his More Dissemblers beside Women, says: " Ho 
calls her magot o' pie." FARMER. 

It appears to me that we ought to read : 

Augurs that understood relations, &c. 
which, by "a very slight alteration, removes every difficulty. 



The secret'st man of blooti/^-What is the night? 

LADY M. Almost at odds with morning, which 
is which. 

MACS. How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his 

person, _ 
At our great bidding 5~ 

8 and choughs, and rooks, brought forth 

The secret'st man of blood.'] The inquisitive reader- will 
find such a story in Thomas Lupton's Thousand notable Things, 
&c. 4to. bl. 1. no date, p. 100; and in Goulart's Admirable His- 
tories, &c. p. 425, ito. 1607. STEEVENS. 

1 //ore say'st thou, &c.] Macbeth here asks a question, which 
the recollection of a moment enables him to answer. Of this 
forgetfulness, natural to a mind oppressed, there is a beautiful 
instance in the sacred song of Deborah and Barak: " She asked 
her wise women counsel ; yea, she returned answer to herself." 

Mr. M. Mason's interpretation of this passage has, however, 
taught me diffidence of my own. He supposes, and not with- 
out sufficient reason, that " what Macbeth means to say, is this: 
What do you think of this circumstance, that Macdujf denies 
to come at our great bidding? What do you infer from thence? 
What is your opinion of the matter?" 

So, in Othello, when the Duke is informed that the Turkish 
fleet was making for Rhodes, which he supposed to hare been 
bound for Cyprus, he says 

" How say you by this change ?" 
That is, what do you think of it ? 

In The Coxcomb, Antonio says to Maria 

" Sweetheart, how say you by this gentleman ? 
" He will away at midnight." 
Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Speed says 

" But Launce, how say"st thou, that my master is become a 
notable lover?" 

Again, Macbeth, in his address to his wife, on the first ap- 
pearance of Banquo's ghost, uses the same form of words : 
" behold! look! lo! how say you?" 

The circumstance, however, on which this question is founded, 
took its rise from the old history, Macbeth sent to Macduff to 
assist in building the castle of Dunsinane. Macduff sent work- 
men, &c. but did not choose to trust his person in the tyrant's 
power. From that time he resolved on his death. STEEVENS. 

sc. iv. MACBETH. 18 

LADY M. Did you send to him, sir ? 

MACS. I hear it by the way ; but I will send : 
There's not a one of them^ uut in his house 
Ikeep a servant fee'd. I will to-morrow, 
imes I will jf mrto the weird sisters & 
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know, 
By the worst means, the worst: for mine own good, 
All causes shall give way ; I am in blood 
Stept in so far, that, should I wade nomore, . 
Returning were as tedious as go o'er *& 
Strange tilings I have in head, that will to han< 
Which must be acted, ere they may be scann'<j2 

* There's not a one of them,'] A one of them, however un- 
couth the phrase, signifies an individual. Chaucer frequently 
prefixes the article a to nouns of number. See Squiere's Tale f 
10,697 : 

" And up they risen, wel a ten or twelve." 

In Albumazar, 1614-, the same expression occurs : " Not 
a one shakes his tail, but I sigh out a passion." Theobald would 
read thane ; and might have found his proposed emendation in 
D'Avenant's alteration of Macbeth, 1674. This avowal of the 
tyrant is authorized by Holinshed : " He had in every noble- 
man's house one slie fellow or other in fee with him to reveale 
all," &c. STEEVENS. 

3 (Betimes I will,) unto the weird sisters:] The ancient 
copy reads 

And betimes I will to the weird sisters. 

They whose ears are familiarized to discord, may perhaps 
object to my omission of the first word, and my supplement to 
the fifth. STEEVENS. 

4 ' / am in blood 

Stept in so far, that, should I wade no more, 
Returning were as tedious as go o'er :] This idea is bor- 
rowed by Dryden, in his (Edipus, Act IV : 

** 1 have already past 

" The middle of the stream ; and to return 
" Seems greater labour, than to venture o'er." 


4 be scann'd.] To scan is to examine nicely. Thus, in 

Hamlet: '' ' 


LADY M. You lack the season of all natures, 
sleep. 6 

MACS. Come, we'll to sleep: My strange and 


Is the initiate fear, that wants hard use : 
We are yet but young in deed. 7 \_Exeunt. 

" so he goes to heaven, 

" And so am I reveng'd : That would be scann'd." 


* You lack the season of all natures, sleep."] I take the 
meaning to be, You ivant sleep, which seasons, or gives the 
relish to, all nature. " Indiget somni vita condimenti." 


This word is often used in this sense by our author. So, in 
All's well that ends laell: " 'Tis the best brine a maiden can 
season her praise in." Again, in Much Ado about Nothing^ 
where, as in the present instance, the word is used as a sub- 
stantive : 

" And salt too little, which may season give 
" To her foul tainted flesh." 

An anonymous correspondent thinks the meaning is, " You 
stand in need of the time or season of sleep, which all natures 
require.'* MALONE. 

7 We are yet but young in deed.] The editions before Theo- 
bald read 

We're but young indeed. JOHNSON. 

The meaning is not ill explained by a line in King Henry VI. 
P. Ill : We are not, Macbeth would say, 

" Made impudent with use of evil deeds'* 

or, we are not yet (as Romeo expresses it) " old murderers." 
Theobald's amendment may be countenanced by a passage ia 
Antony and Cleopatra : " Not in deed, madam, for I can do 

Again, in Chapman's translation of the eleventh Book of the 
Iliad, fol. edit. p. 146. 

" And would not be the first in name, unlesse the first 

in deed" 
Again, in Hamlet: 

" To show yourself in deed your father's son 
| More than in words." 
The initiate Jear, is the fear that always attends the 1 first 

sc. v. MACBETH. , 191 


The Heath. 

Thunder. Enter HECATE^ meeting the Three 

1 WITCH. "Why, how now, Hecate ? 9 you look 

initiation into 4 guilt, before the mind becomes callous and insen- 
sible by frequent repetition of it, or (as the poet says) by hard 

8 Enter Hecate,'] Shakspeare has been censured for intro- 
ducing Hecate among the vulgar witches, and, consequently, 
for confounding ancient with modern superstitions. He has, 
however, authority for giving a mistress to the witches, Delrio 
Disquis. Mag. Lib. II. quaest. 9, quotes a passage of Apuleius, 
Lib. de Asino aureo : " de quadam Caupona, regina Sagarum." 
And adds further; " ut scias etiam turn quasdam ab iis hoc 
titulo honoratas." In consequence of this information, Ben 
Jonson, in his Masque of Queens, has introduced a character 
which he calls a Dame, who presides at the meeting of the 
Witches '. 

" Sisters, stay; we want our dame." 

The dame accordingly enters, invested with marks of supe- 
riority, and the rest pay an implicit obedience to her commands. 

Again, in A true Examination and Confession of Elizabeth 
Stile, alias Rockyngham, &c. 1579, bl. 1. 12mo: "Further she 
saieth, that Mother Seidre, dwelling in the almes house, was the 
maistres witche of all the reste, and she is now deade." 

Shakspeare is therefore blameable only for calling his pre- 
siding character Hecate, as it might have been brought on with 
propriety under any other title whatever. STKEVKNS. 

The Gothic and Pagan fictions were now frequently blended 
and incorporated. The Lady of the Lake floated in the suite of 
Neptune before Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth ; Ariel assumes 
the semblance of a sea-nymph, and Hecate, by an easy asso- 
ciation, conducts the rites of the weird sisters in Macbeth. 


192 MACBETH. ACT ni. 

HEC. Have I not reason, beldams, as you are, 
Saucy, and overbold ? How did you dare 
To trade and traffick with Macbeth, 
In riddlesj and affairs of death; 
And I, the mistress of your charms, 
The close contriver of all harms, 
Was never call'd to bear my part, 
Or show the glory of our art ? 
And, which is worse, all you have done 
Hath been but for a wayward son, 

Shakspeare seems to have been unjustly censured for intro- 
ducing Hecate among the modern witches. Scot's Discovery of 
Witchcraft, B. III. c. ii. and c. xvi. and B. XIJ. c. iii. men- 
tions it as the common opinion of all writers, that witches were 
supposed to have nightly " meetings with Herodias, and the 
Pagan gods," and '* that in the night-times they ride abroad 
with Diana, the goddess of the Pagans," &c. Their dame or 
chief leader seems always to have been an old Pagan, as " the 
Ladie Sibylla, Minerva, or Diana." TOLLET. 

In Jonson's Sad Shepherd, Act II. sc. iii. Maudlin, the witch, 
(who is the speaker,) calls Hecate the mistress of witches, " our 
Dame Hecate;" which has escaped the notice of Mr. Steevens 
and Mr. Toilet, in their remarks on Shakspeare's being censured 
for introducing Hecate among the vulgar witches. TODD. 

9 Why, how notK, Hecate ?] Marlowe, though a scholar, has 
likewise used the word Hecate, as a dissyllable : 
" Plutoe's blew fire, and Herat's tree, 
" With naagick spells so compass thee." 

Dr. Faustus. MALON. 

Mr. Todd, among his ingenious notes on Comus, has pointed 
out the same illegitimate pronunciation in The Sad Shepherd of 
Ben Jonson, Act II. sc. iii : 

* that very night 

* We earth'd her in the shades, when our dame Hecat 
' Made it her gaing night over the kirk-yard." 

Milton, in his Comus, has likewise taken the same liberty ; 

' Stay thy cloudy ebon chair, 

' Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat, and befriend 

' Us" &c. STEEVENS. 
Again, in King Lear, Act I. sc. i: 

** The mysteries of Hecate and the night." REED. 

sc. v. MACBETH. 193 

Spiteful, and wrathful ; who, as others do, 
Loves for his own ends, not for- you. 1 ' 
But make amends now : Grt you gone, 
And at the pit of Acheroii5> 

1 for a "wayward son, 

Spiteful, and -wrathful ; "who, as others do, 
Loves for his own ends, not for you.] Inequality of measure, 
(the first of these lines being a foot longer than the second,) 
together with the unnecessary and weak comparison as others 
do, incline me to regard the passage before us as both maimed 
and interpolated. Perhaps it originally ran thus : 

"for a wayward son, 
A.' spiteful and a wrathful, who 
Loves for his own ends, not for you. 

But the repetition of the article a being casually omitted by 
some transcriber for the theatre, the verse became too short, 
and a fresh conclusion to it was supplied by the amanuensis, who 
overlooked the legitimate rhyme who, when he copied the play 
for publication. 

If it be necessary to exemplify the particular phraseology in- 
troduced by way of amendment, the following line in Chaucer, 

" A frere there was, a wanton and a mery ;" 
and a passage in The Witch, by Middleton, will sufficiently an- 
swer that purpose : 

" What death is't you desire for Almachildes ? 

** A sudden, and a subtle." 

In this instance, the repeated article a is also placed before 
two adjectives referring to a substantive in the preceding line. 
See also The Paston Letters, Vol. IV. p. 155 : " Pray God send 
us a good world and a peaceable." Again, in our author's King 
Henry IV : " A good portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent." 

Again, in an ancient MS. entitled The Boke of Huntyng, that 
is cleped Mayster of Game : " It [the Boar] is a prowde beest, 
a feers, and a perilous." STEEVENS. 

* the pit of Achevon ] Shakspeare seems to have 

thought it allowable to bestow the name of Acheron on any 
fountain, lake, or pit, through which there was vulgarly sup- 
posed to be a communication between this and the infernal 
world. The true original Acheron was a river in Greece ; and 
yet Virgil gives this name to his lake in the valley of Amsanctus 
in Italy. STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. O 

194 MACBETH. ACT m. 

Meet me i'the morning ; thither he 
Will come to know his destiny. 
Your vessels, and your spells, provide, 
Your charms, and every thing beside : 
I am for the air ; this njght I'll spend 
Unto a dismal-fatal enc(2/ 
Great business must be wrought ere noon : 
Upon the corner of the moon 4 

r i. f^\ 

There hangs a vaporous drop profound^ 
I'll catch it ere it come to ground : 
And that, distill'd by magick slights^ 5 - 
Shall raise such artificial sprights, 

3 Unto a dismal-fatal end."] The old copy violates the metre 
by needless addition : 

Unto a dismal and a fatal end. 

I read dismaLfatal. Shakspeare, as Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, 
in a note on King Richard III. is fond of these compound 
epithets, in which the first adjective is to be considered as an 
adverb. So, in that play, we meet with childish-foolish, sense- 
less-obstinate, and mortal-staring. And, in King John, we have 
stubborn-hard. STEEVENS. 

* Upon the corner of the moon ^c.] Shakspeare's mythological 
knowledge, on this occasion, appears to have deserted him ; for 
as Hecate is only one of three names belonging to the same 
goddess, she could not properly be employed in one character to 
catch a drop that fell from her in another. In the Midsummer- 
Night's Dream, however, our poet was sufficiently aware of her 
three-fold capacity: 

" fairies, that do run 

" By the triple Hecat's team, ." STEEVENS. 

vaporous drop profound ;] That is, a drop that 

found, deep, or hidden qualities. JOHNSON. 

This vaporous drop seems to have been meant for the same as 
the virus lunare of the ancients, being a foam which the moon 
was supposed to shed on particular herbs, or other objects, when 
strongly solicited by enchantment. Lucan introduces Erictho 
using it. L. VI : 

" -et virus large lunare ministrat." STEEVENS. 

* slights,] Arts; subtle practices. JOHNSON. 

sc. v. MACBETH. 195 

As, by the strength of their illusion, 
Shall draw him on to his confusion : 
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear 
His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear : 
And you all know, security 
Is mortals' chiefest enemy. 

SONG. \)Vithin^\ Come away, come awayj &c. 
Hark, I am call'd ; my little spirit, see, 
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me. [Exit. 

1 WITCH. Come, let's make haste ; she'll soon 
be back again. [Exeunt. 

7 Come away, come aivay, &c.] This entire song I found 
in a MS. dramatic piece, entitled, " A Tragi-Coomodie called 
THE WITCH ; long since acted &c. written by Thomas Middle- 

The Hecate of Shakspeare has said 

" I am for the air," &c. 

The Hecate of Middleton (who, like the former, is summoned 
away by aerial spirits, ) has the same declaration in almost the 
same words 

" I am for aloft" &c. 
Song.-] "Come away, come away: \intheaire. 

" Heccat, Heccat, come away, &c. ) 
See my note among Mr. Malone's Prolegomena, Article Mac- 
beth, [Vol. I.] where other coincidences, &c. are pointed out. 


O 2 

196 MACBETH. ACT in. 

Fores. A Room in the Palace. 

Enter LENOX, and another Lor 

LEN. My former speeches have but hit your 


Which can interpret further : only, I say, 
Things have been strangely borne : The gracious 


Was pitied of Macbeth : marry, he was dead : 
And the right-valiant Banquo walk'd too late ; 
Whom, you may say, if it please you, Fleance 


For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late^ 
Who can*at want the thought^ how monstrous- 1 - 5 

Enter Lenox, and another Lord.~\ As this tragedy, like the 
rest of Shakspeare's, is perhaps overstocked with personages, it 
is not easy to assign a reason why a nameless character should 
be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not with 
equal propriety have been put into the mouth of any other dis- 
affected man. I believe, therefore, that in the original copy it 
was written with a very common form of contraction, Lenox 
and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, 
set down, Lenox and another Lord. The author had, indeed, 
been more indebted to the transcriber's fidelity and diligence, 
had he committed no errors of greater importance. JOHNSON. 

9 Who cannot -want the thought,] The sense requires : 

Who can want the thought. 

Yet, I believe, the text is not corrupt. Shakspeare is some- 
times incorrect in these minutiae. MALONE. 

1 monstrous ] This word is here used as' a trisyllable. 


So, in Chapman's version of the 9th Book of Homer's Odyssey: 
" A man in shape, iinmaue and monsterous" 


x. vt. MACBETH. 197 

It was for Malcolm, and for Donalbain, 

To kill their gracious father ? damned fact ! 

How it did grieve Macbeth ! did he not straight, 

In pious rage, the two delinquents tear, 

That were the slaves of drink, and thralls of sleep ? 

Was not that nobly done ? Ay, and wisely too ; 

For 'twould have anger'd any heart alive, 

To hear the men deny it. So that, I say, 

He has borne all things well : and I do think, 

That, had he Duncan's sons under his key, 

(As, an't please heaven, he shall not,) they should 


What 'twere to kill a father ; so should Fleance. 
But, peace ! for from broad words, and 'cause he 


His presence at the tyrant's feast, I hear, 
Macduff lives in disgrace : Sir, can you tell 
Where he bestows himself? _ 

LORD. The son of Duncan^ 

From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth, 
Lives in the English court ; and is receiv'd 
Of the most pious Edward with such grace, 
That the malevolence of fortune nothing 
Takes from his high respect : Thither Macduff 
Is gone to pray the holy king, on his aid^ 
To wake Northumberland, and warlike Siward : 
That, by the help of these, (with Him above 
To ratify the work,) we may again 
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights ; 
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives 

* The son of Duncan,"] The old copy sons. MALONE. 
Theobald corrected it. JOHNSON. 

* on his aid ] Old copy upon. STEEVENS. 

* Free from our Jeasts and banquets lloody knives;"] The 
construction is Free our feasts and banquets from bloody 

198 MACBETH. ACT in. 

Do faithful homage, and receive free honours^ 
All which we pine for now : And this report 
Hath so exasperate$Hhe king)that he 
Prepares for some attempt of ware* 

LEN. Sent he to Macduff? 

LORD. He did : and with an absolute, Sir, not I, 
The cloudy messenger turns me his back, 
And hums; as who should say, You'll rue the time 
That clogs me with this answer. 

LEN. And that well might 

Advise him to a caution? to hold what distance 

knives. Perhaps the words are transposed, and the line origi- 
nally stood : 

Our feasts and banquets free from bloody knives. 


Aukward transpositions in ancient language are so frequent, 
that the passage before us might have passed unsuspected, had 
there not been a possibility that the compositor's eye caught the 
word free from the line immediately following. We might read, 
fright, or fray, (a verb commonly used by old writers,) but any 
change, perhaps, is needless. STEEVENS. 

* and receive free honours,'] Free may be either honours 

freely bestowed, not purchased by crimes ; or honours without 
slavery, without dread of a tyrant. JOHNSON. 

exasperate ] i. e. exasperated. So contaminate is 

used for contaminated in King Henry V. STEEVENS. 

7 the king,'] i. e. Macbeth. The old copy has, less in- 
telligibly their. STEEVENS. 

Their refers to the son of Duncan, and Macduff. Sir T. Han- 
raer reads, unnecessarily, I think, the king. MALONE. 

1 Prepares for some attempt of war.] The singularity of this 
expression, with the apparent redundancy of the metre, almost 
persuade me to follow Sir T. Hanmer, by the omission of the two 
last words. STEEVENS. 

Advise him to a caution,] Sir T. Hanmer, to add smoothness 
to the versification, reads to a care. 

I suspect, however, the words to a, are interpolations, de- 
signed to render an elliptical expression more dear, according to 


His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel 
Fly to the court of England, and unfold 
His message ere he come j that a swift blessing 
May soon return to this pur suffering country 
Under a hand accurs'dO 

LORD. My prayers with him ! '- 


ome player's apprehension. Perhaps the lines originally stood 

And that -well might 

Advise him caution, and to hold "what distance 

His wisdom can provide. STEEVENS. 

1 to this our suffering country 

Under a hand occurs* df] The construction is, to our 
country suffering under a hand accursed. MALONE. 

* My prayers with him /] The old copy, frigidly, and in de- 
fiance of measure, reads* 

I'll send my prayers with him. 

I am aware, that for this, and similar rejections, I shall be cen- 
sured by those who are disinclined to venture out of the track of 
the old stage-waggon, though it may occasionally conduct them 
into a slough. It may soon, therefore, be discovered, that 
numerous beauties are resident in the discarded words /'// 
send; and that as frequently as the vulgarism on, has been 
displaced to make room for of, a diamond has been exchanged 
for a pebble. For my own sake, however, let me add, that, 
throughout the present tragedy, no such liberties have been 
exercised, without the previous approbation of Dr. Farmer, who 
fully concurs with me in supposing the irregularities of Shak- 
speare's text to be oftener occasioned by interpolations, than by 
omissions. STEEVENS. 

MACBETH. Acrir. 

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Cauldron boiling. 

Thunder. Enter the Three Witches. 
1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. 4 

s Scene /.] As this Is the chief scene of enchantment in the 
play, it is proper, in this place, to observe, with how much 
judgment Shakspeare has selected all the circumstances of his 
infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to com- 
nion opinions and traditions : 

" Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd." 

The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to con- 
verse with witches, is that of a cat. A witch, who was tried 
about half a century before the time of Shakspeare, had a cat 
named Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of those witches was 
Grimalkin ; and when any mischief was to be done, she used to 
bid Rutterkin go and jly. But once, when she would have sent 
Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the Countess of Rutland, in- 
stead of going or flying, he only cried meu, from whence she 
discovered that the lady was out of his power, the power of 
witches being not universal, but limited, as Shakspeare has 
taken care to inculcate : 

" Though his bark cannot be lost, 

" Yet it shall be tempest-tost." 

The common afflictions which the malice of witches produced, 
were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh, which are threatened by 
one of Shakspeare's witches : 

" Weary sev'n nights, nine times nine, 

" Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine." 

It was likewise their practice to destroy the cattle of their 
neighbours, and the farmers have to this day many ceremonies 
to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft ; but they 
seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. 
Sbakspeare has accordingly made one of his witches declare 
that she has been killing swine ; and Dr. Harsnet observes, 
that, about that time, " a sow could not be ill of the measles, 

sc. i. MACBETH. 201 

2 WITCH. Thrice ; and once the hedge-pig 

nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with 

" Toad, that under the cold stone, 

" Days and nights hast thirty-one, 

" Swelter'd venom sleeping got, 

" Boil thou first i'the charmed pot." 

Toads have likewise long lain under the reproach of being by 
some means accessary to witchcraft,for which reason Shakspeare, 
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 btifo vitro inclusus^ a great toad shift in a vial, 
upon which those that prosecuted him Veneficium exprobrabant, 
charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft. 

" Fillet of a fenny snake, 

" In the cauldron boil and bake : 

" Eye of newt, and toe of frog; 

" FjoiLA charm/' &c. 

The propriety of these ingredients may be known by con- 
sulting 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 enchant- 
ments, 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 ob- 
tervable, 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, 

'* Black spirits and white, 
" Red spirits and grey, 

** Mingle, mingle, mingle, 
" You that mingle may." 

202 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

3 WITCH. Harper cries : 6 'Tis time, 'tis timei 7 

And, in a former part : 

" weird sisters, hand in hand, 

" Thus do go about, about; 

" Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, 

" 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 a practice really observed by the uncivilised natives of that 
country : " When any one gets a fall, says the informer of 
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. 


4 Thrice the brinded cat hath meiu'd.] A cat, from time imme- 
morial, has been the agent and favourite of Witches. This su- 
perstitious fancy is pagan, and very ancient; and the original, 
perhaps, this : " When Galinthia was changed into a cat by the 
Fates, (says Antonius Liberalis, Metam. c. xxix.) by witches, 
(says Pausanias in his Bceotics,) 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 god- 
desses to hide themselves in animals, assumed the shape of a cat. 
So, Ovid: 

" Fele soror Phaebi latuit." WARBURTON. 

* Thrice ; and once the hedge-pig ivhin'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. 

sc. T. MACBETH. 203 

1 WITCH. Round about the cauldron go vfJ 
In the poison'd entrails throw. 

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 twee. 
This even, sir, is no good number." Twice and once, however, 
might be a cant expression. So, in King Henry IV. P. II. 
Silence says, " I have been merry twice and once, ere now.'* 


The urchin, or hedgehog, from its solitariness, the ugliness of 
its appearance, and from a popular opinion that it sucked or poi- 
soned the udders of cows, was adopted into the demonologic 
system, and its shape was sometimes supposed to be assumed by 
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, concern- 
ing whos.e etymology and office, the reader may be wiser than 
the editor. Those who are acquainted with Dr. Farmer's pamph- 
let, will be unwilling to derive the name of Harper from Ovid's 
Harpalos, ab apitdfa rapio. See Upton's Critical Observations, 
&c. edit. 1748, p. 155. 

Harper, however, may be only a mis-spelling, as 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 J', APHH ehv'fa, -rwirttpyi, 

Thus rendered by Chapman : 

" And like a harpie, with a voice that shrieks," &c. 


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 com- 
municates the notice to her sisters : 

Harper cries: ' Tis time, 'tis time. 
Thus too the Hecate of Middleton, already quoted : 

" Hec.] Heard you the owle yet? 

" Stad.] Briefely in the copps. 

" Hec.~\ 'Tis high time for us then." STEKVENS. 

so* MACBETH. ACT ir. 

Toad, that under coldest stone, 9 
Days and nights basfcQ;hirty-one 
Swelter'd venom09sleeping got, 
Boil thou first i'the charmed pot ! 

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble ; 3 
Fire, burn ; and, cauldron, bubble. 

2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the cauldron boil and bake : 

8 Round about the cauldron go;"] Milton has caught this image 
hi 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. Fanner, or it would not have ap- 
peared in the text. STEEVENS. 

The was added by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

1 Days and nights hast ] Old copy has. Corrected by Sir 
T. Hanmer. MALONE. 

* Swelter'd venom ] This word seems to be employed by 
Shakspeare, to signify that the animal was moistened with its own 
cold exsudations. So, in the twenty-second Song of Drayton's 
PolyoUiion : 

" 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, [1620] the follow- 
ing 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." 


* Double, double toil and trouble ;] As this was a very ex- 
traordinary incantation, they were to double their pains about 
it. I think, therefore, it should be pointed as I have pointed it I 

Double, double toil and trouble ; 

otherwise the solemnity is abated by the immediate recurrence 
of the rhyme. STEEVENS. 

sc. i. MACBETH. 20J 

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat,,a-nd tongue of dog, 
Adder's forl^knd blind-worm's stingy^* 
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble ; 
Fire, burn ; and, cauldron, bubble. 

3 WITCH. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf; 
Witches' mummy; maw, anclgulfp) 
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark gj 
Root of hemlock, digg'd i'the dark; 

4 Adder's fork,] Thus Pliny, Nat. Hist. Book XI. ch. xxxvii : 
*' Serpents have very thin tongues, and the same ihreeforked." 
P. Holland's translation, edit. 1601, p. 338. STEEVENS. 

4 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." 


maw, and gulf,] The gulf is the swallow, the throat. 


In The Mirror for Magistrates, we have " monstrous mawes 
and gulfes." 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 

" I met the ravin lion, when he roar'd 

" With sharp constraint of hunger." 
And in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid of the Mill, Gillian says : 

"When nurse Amaranta 

" Was seiz'd on by a fierce and hungry bear, 

" 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 be- 
fore us, occurs : 

" But slew, devour'd and fill'd his empty maw ; 

" But with his raven'd prey his bowells broke, 

" So into four divides his brazen yoke." 

206 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

Liver of blaspheming Jew ; 
Gall of goat, and slips of yew, 
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse i? 
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lipsj- 9 
Finger of birth-strangled babe, 
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, ^-, 
Make the gruel thick and slab & 

Ravin'd is glutted with prey. Ravin is the ancient word 
for prey obtained by violence. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, 
Song 7 : 

" but a den for beasts of ravin made." 

The same word occurs again in Measure for Measure. 


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. 

Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse ;] Sliver is a common 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. 

' 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. 

1 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 
" Keep the tissue close and strong." Fatal Sisters. 


sc. i. MACBETH. 207 

Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,* 
For the ingredients of our cauldron. 

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble ; 
Fire, burn ; and, cauldron, bubble. 

2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon's blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good. 

Enter HECATE, and the other Three Witches.* 

HEC. O, well done ! 4 I commend your pains ; 
And every one shall share i'the gains. 

* 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, 1 meet with a receipt to make a pud- 
ding 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, No. 3. p. 140. See also 
Mr. Pegge's Forme of Cury, a Roll of ancient English Cookery, 
&c. 8vO. 1780, p. 66. STEEVENS. 

1 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 Shak- 
speare 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" intro- 
duced in page 219. STEEVENS. 

* O, taell 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 Shak- 
speare' s Witches, and the final address of Prospero to the aerial 
spirits under his command. 


And now about the cauldron sing, 

Like elves and fairies in a ring, 

Enchanting all that you put in. [Mustek. 

Black spirits and white, 

Red spirits and grey ; 
Mingle, mingle, mingle, 

You that mingle may. 

It may be remarked also, that Shakspeare's Hecate, after de- 
livering a speech of five lines, interferes no further in the busi- 
ness 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. 

* Song.~\ In a former note on this tragedy, I had observed, 
that the original edition contains only the two first words of the 
song befor e us ; but have since discovered the entire stanza in 
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, 

" Be thou black, or white, or green, 
" Be thou heard, or to be seen." 

Perhaps, indeed, this musical scrap (which does not well ac- 
cord 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 ap- 
propriate and solemn : " Spirits of every hue, who are permitted 
to unite your various influences, unite them on the present occa- 
tion" STEEVENS. 

Reginald Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, 1584, enume- 
rating the different kinds of spirits, particularly mentions white, 
black, grey, and red spirits. See also a passage quoted from 
Camden, ante, p. 202, n. 3. The modern editions, without au- 
thority, read Blue spirits and grey. MALONE. 

$c.i. MACBETH; 209 

2 WlTCHi By the pricking of my 
Something wicked this way comes : 
Open, locks, whoever knocks. 


MACS. How now, you secret, black, and mid- 
night hags? 
What is'tyou do? 

ALL. A deed without a name. 

MACS. I c6njure you, by that which you profess, 
(Howe'er you come to know it,) answer me : 
Though you untie the winds, and let them %}$ 
Against the churches; though theyesty wavesl 7 
Confound and swallow navigation up ; 
Though bladed corn be lodg'd, 8 and trees blown 

down ; 
Though castles topple^, on their warders' heads ; 

6 By the pricking of my thumbs, &c.~\ It is a very ancient 
superstition, that all sudden pains of the body, and other sen- 
sations 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 hie, ita dorsus totus prurit." 


7 y e$ ty waves ] That is, foaming or frothy 'waves. 


' Though bladed corn be lodg'd,] So, in K\ng Richard II: 

" Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer corn.'* , 
Again, in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" Like to the summer corn by tempest lodged" 
Corn, prostrated by the wind, in modern language, is said to 
be lay d; but lodg'dhad. 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." 

VOL. X. 


Though palaces, and pyramids, do slope 
Their heads to their foundations ; though the trea- 

Of nature's germins 1 tumble all together, 
Even till destruction sicken, answer me 
To what I ask you. 

1 WITCH. Speak. 

2 WITCH. Demand. 

3 WITCH. We'll answer. 
1 WITCH. Say, if thoud'st rather hear it from our 

Or from our masters' ? 

MACS. Call them, let me see them. 

1 WITCH. Pour in^ sow's blood, that hath eaten 
Her nine farrow j 2 grease, that's sweaten 

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. 

1 sow's blood, that hath eaten 

Her nine farrow ;] Shakspeare probably caught the idea of 
this offence against nature from the laws of Kenneth II. King 
of Scotland : " If a sotve 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. 

sc.z. MACBETH. 211 

From the murderer's gibbet, throw 
Into the flame. 

ALL. Come, high, ojjow ; 

Thyself, and office, deftly show. 3 

Thunder. An Apparition of an armed Head rises.* 

MACS. Tell me, thou unknown power, 

1 WITCH. He knows thy thought ; 

Hear his speech, but say thou nought. 5 

3 deftly skoiv,] i. e. with adroitness, dexterously. So, 

in the Second Part of King Edward IV. by Hey wood, 1626 : 

" my mistress speaks deftly and truly." 

Again, in Warner's Albion's England : 

" Tho Roben Hood, Hell 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 be- 
fore them to Dunsinane. This observation I have adopted from 
Mr. Upton. STEEVENS. 

Lord Howard, in his Defensative against the Poison of sup- 
posed 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. 

* say thou nought, ,] Silence was necessary during all in- 
cantations. So, in Doctor Faustus, 1604?: 

" Your grace, demand no questions, 

" But in dumb silence let them come and go.'* 
Again, in The Tempest : 

" be mute, or else our spell is marr'd." STEEVENS. 

P 2 


APP. Macbeth ! Macbeth ! Macbeth ! beware 

Macduff; >^ 

Beware thethaiie of Fif&^-Dismiss me: Enough. 


MACS. What-e'er thou art, for thy good caution, 

thanks ; 
Thou hast harp'd my fear aright :t-But one word 

more : 
1 WITCH. He will not be commanded : Here's 

More potent than the first. 

Thunder. An Apparition of a bloody Child rises. 

APP. Macbeth ! Macbeth ! Macbeth ! 

v MACS. Had I three ears, I'd hear thee. 8 

APP. Be bloody, bold, 

\~t And resolute: laugh to scorn ;the power of man, 
For none of woman born shall harm Macbeth,. 9 / 


Beware the thane of Fife.'] " He had learned of 

certain wizzards, in whose words he put great confidence, how 
that he ought to take heede of Macduff" &c. Holinshed. 


7 Thou hast harp'd my fear aright:] To harp, is to touch on a 
passion as a harper touches a string. So, in Coriolanus, Act II. 
SC. idt : 

" Harp on that still." STEEVENS. 

1 Had I three ears, &c.] Does Macbeth mean to say that if 
his sense of hearing were thrice what it is, &c. ? or that if the 
number of his ears toere equal to that of the spectre's' invocations 
of his name, &c. ? Let the reader determine. STEEVENS. 

9 " shall harm Macbeth.] So, Holinshed : " And surely 
hereupon he had put Macduff to death, but that a certeine witch, 
whom he had in great trust, had told him, that he should never 
be slaine with man borne of anie woman, nor vanquished till the 
wood of Bernane came to the castell of Dunsinane. This pro- 
phecie put all feare out of his heart." STEEVENS. 

sc. i. MACBETH. 213 

MACS. Then live, Macduff; What need I fear 

of thee ? 

But yet I'll make assurance double sure, 
And take a bond of fate : l thou shalt not live j 
That I may tell pale-hearted fear, it lies, 
And sleep in spite of thunder. What is this, 

Thunder. An Apparition of a Child crowned^ with 
a Tree in his Hand, rises. 

That rises like the issue of a king ; 

And wears upon his babvJbrow the round 

And top of sovereignty fe 

ALL. Listen, but speak n 

APP. Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care 
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are : 
Macbeth shall never/vanquish'd be, until *\ 
Great Birham wood/to high^Dunsinane hiH. 4J 
I / 

1 take a bond of fate :] In this scene the attorney has 

more than once degraded the poet ; for presently we have 
" the lease of nature." STEEVENS. 

8 the round 

And top of sovereignty'?'} The round is that part of the 
crown that encircles the head. The top is the ornament that 
rises above it. JOHNSON. 

3 Listen, but speak not.l The old copy, injuriously to measure, 

Listen, but speak not to't. STEEVENS. 

4 high Dunsinane hill ] The present quantity of Dun- 

slnane is right. In every subsequent instance the accent is mis- 
placed. Thus, in Hervey's Life of King Robert Bruce, 1729, 
(a good authority) : 

" The noble AVeemyss, M c duff's immortal son, 
" M c duff! th'' asserter o'f the Scottish throne; 
" Whose deeds let Birnam &n<&Dunsijinan tell, 
" When Caomore bailed, and'the viflain * fell." 



214 MACBETH. ACT ir. 

Shall come against him. [Descends. 

MACS. ^.That will never be ; 

Who can impress the foresty^bid the tree 
Unfix his earth-bound root ? sweet bodements ! 

good ! 
Rebellious head, rise never* 6 ' till the wood 

This accent maybe defended on the authority of A. of Wyn- 
town's Cronykil, B. VI. ch. xviii : 

" A gret hows for to mak of were 

" A-pon the hycht of Dwnsynane: 

" Tymbyr thare-til to drawe and stane, ." v. 120. 
It should be observed, however, that Wyntown employs both 
quantities. Thus, in B. VI. ch. xviii. v. 190: 

" the Thane wes thare 

" Of Fyfe, and till DwnsynSne fare 

" To byde Makbeth ; ." STEEVENS. 

Prophesies of apparent impossibilities were common in Scot- 
land ; such as the removal of one place to another. Under this 
popular prophetick formulary the present prediction may be 
ranked. In the same strain, peculiar to his country, says Sir 
David Lindsay : 

'* Quhen the Bas and the Isle of May 

" Beis set upon the Mount Sinay, 

" Quhen the Lowmound besyde Falkland 

" Be liftit to Northumberland ." T. WARTON. 

4 Who can impress the forest ;] i. e. who can command the 
forest to serve him like a soldier impressed. JOHNSON. 

Rebellious head, rise never,"} The old copy has rebellious 
dead. MALONI. 

We should read Rebellious head, i. e. let rebellion never 
make head against me till a forest move, and I shall reign in 
safety. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Theobald rightly observes, that head means host, or 

" That Douglas and the English rebels met ; 
* A mighty and a fearful head they are." 

King Henry IV. P. I. 
Again, in King Henry VIII: 

;< My noble father, Henry of Buckingham, 

"Who first ruis'd head against usurping Richard." 


sc. I. MACBETH. 215 

Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac'd Macbeth 
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath 
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart 
Throbs to know one thing; Tell me, (if your art 
Can tell so much,) Shall Banquo's issue ever 
Reign in this kingdom ? 

ALL. Seek to know no more. 

MACS. I will be satisfied : deny me this, 
And an eternal curse fall on you ! Let me know :-t 
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this$ 7 


I WITCH. Show! 2 WITCH. Show! 3 WITCH. 

ALL. Show his eyes, and grieve his heart ; 
Come like shadows, so depart. 

This phrase is not peculiar to Shakspeare : So, in The Death 
of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601 : 

" -r howling like a head of angry wolves." 

Again, in Look about you, 1600 : 

" Is, like a head of people, mutinous.'* STEEVENS. 

7 uihat noise is this?] Noise, in our ancient poets, 

is often literally synonymous for musick. See a note on King 
Henry IV. P. II. Act II. sc. iv. Thus also Spenser, Fairie 
Queene, B. I. xii. 39 : 

" During which time there was a heavenly noise." 

See likewise the 47th Psalm : " God is gone up with a merry 
noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump." STEEVENS. 

210 M ACBETH. ACT i r . 

Eight Kings 8 appear, and pass over the Stage in 
order; the last with a Glass in his Hand; 
BANQUO following. 

MACS. Thou art too like the Spirit of Ban quo ; 

down! -. ..i 

Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls ^-^-And thy 


Thou other gold-bound braw, is like the first : 
A third is like the formerly Filthy hags! 

* Eight kings"] "It is reported that Voltaire often laughs 
at the tragedy of Macbeth, for having a legion of ghosts in it. 
One should imagine he either had not learned English, or had 
forgot his Latin ; for the spirits of Banquo's line are no more 
ghosts, than the representation of the Julian race in the JEneid; 
and there is no ghost but Banquo's throughout the play." 
Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shahspeare, &c. by Mrs. 
Montagu. STEEVENS. 

9 Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls:} The expression of 
Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye-balls, is taken from the 
method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or 
competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which 
dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind. 


1 And thy hair, 

Thou other gold- bound roto, is. like the jirst : 
A third is like the former .-] As Macbeth expected to see 
a train of kings, and was only enquiring from what race they 
would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the 
second was bound with gold like that of the first ; he was of- 
fended only that the second resembled the first, as the first re- 
sembled Banquo, and therefore said : 

and thy air, 

Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the Jirst. 
This Dr Warburton has followed. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Winter's Tale: 

* Your father's image is so hit in you, 

" His very air, that I should call you brother 

" As I did him." 

-i<7./. MACBETH. 217 

Why do you show me this ? A fourth ? Start, 

What ! will the line stretch out to the crack of 

Another yet ? A seventh ? I'll see no more : 
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass, 3 

The old reading, however, as Mr. M. Mason observes, may 
be the true one. " It implies that their hair was of the same 
colour, which is more likely to mark a family likeness, than the 
air, which depends on habit" &c. A similar mistake has hap- 
pened in The Maid's Tragedy, by Beaumont and Fletcher: 

" Mine arms thus ; and mine air [hair] blown with the 
wind." STEEVENS. 

* . to the crack of doom?] i.e. the dissolution of 

nature. Crack has now a mean signification. It was anciently 
employed in a more exalted sense. So, in The Valiant Welch- 
man , 1615 : 

" And will as fearless entertain this sight, 

" As a good conscience doth the cracks of Jove." 


3 And yet the eighth appears, ivho bears a glass,'] This 
method of juggling prophecy is again referred to in Measure 
for Measure, Act II. sc. vii: 

" and like a prophet, 

" Looks in a glass, and shows me future evils." 
'- So, in an Extract from the Penal Latvs against Witches, it 
is said " they do answer either by voice, or else do set before 
their eyes in glasses, chrystal stones, &c. the pictures or images 
of the persons or things sought for." Among the other knave- 
ries with which Face taxes Subtle in The Alchemist, this seems 
to be one : 

" And taking in of shadows with a, glass." 
Again, in Humor's Ordinarie, an ancient collection of satires, 
no date: 

" Shew you the devil in a chrystal glass." 
Spenser has given a very circumstantial account of the glass 
which Merlin made for King Ryence, in the second canto of the 
third Book of The Fairy Queen. A mirror of the same kind 
was presented to Cambuscan in The Squier's Tale of Chaucer ; 
and in John Alday's translation of Pierre Boisteau's Theatrum 
Mundi &c. bl. 1. no date : " A certaine philosopher did the like 
to Pompey, the which shewed him in a glasse the order of his 
enemies march." STEEVENS. 

2 1 8 MACBETH. ACT ir. 

Which shows me many more ; and some I see, 
That two-fold balls and treble scepters cariy: 4 
Horrible sight ! Ay, now, I see, His true i* 
For the blood-bolter'd Banquo 6 smiles upon me, 
And points at them for his. What, is this so? 

* That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry :] This was 
intended as a compliment to King James the First, who first 
united the two islands and the three -kingdoms under one head ; 
whose house too was said to be descended from Banquo. 


Of this last particular our poet seems to have been thoroughly 
aware, having represented Banquo not only as an innocent, but 
as a noble character ; whereas, according to history, he was 
confederate with Macbeth in the murder of Duncan. The 
flattery of Shakspeare, however, is not more gross than that of 
Ben Jonson, who has condescended to quote his majesty's ridi- 
culous book on Dcemonology, in the notes to The Masque of 
Queens, 1609. STEEVENS. 

* Ay, note, / see, 'tis true;~\ That the metre may be com- 
plete, I have supplied ay, an adverb employed by our author 
in other places, to enforce his meaning. STEEVENS. 

e the blood-bolter'd Banquo ] To bolter, in Warwick- 
shire, signifies to daub, dirty, or begrime. " I ordered (says 
my informant) a harness-collar to be made with a linen lining, 
but blacked, to give it the appearance of leather. The sadler 
made the lining as he was directed, but did not black it, saying, 
it would bolter the horse. Being asked what he meant by bolter, 
he replied, dirty, besmear; and that it was a common word in 
his country. Ihis conversation passed within eight miles of 
Stratford on Avon." 

In the same neighbourhood, when a boy has a broken head, 
so that his hair is matted together with blood, his head is said 
to be boltered [pronounced baltered.] So, in Philemon Hol- 
land's translation of Pliny's Natural History, 1601, Book XII. 
eh. xvii. p. 370 : " they doe drop and distill the said moisture, 
which the shrewd and unhappie beast catcheth among the shag 
long haires of his beard. Now by reason of dust getting among 
H, it baltereth and cluttereth into knots &c." Such a term is 
therefore strictly applicable to Banquo, who had twenty trenched 
gashes on his head. 

The propriety of the foregoing note has been abundantly con- 
firmed by Mr. Homer, a truly respectable clergyman of War- 

sc. i. MACBETH. 219 

1 WITCH. Ay, sir, all this is so : But why 
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly? 
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprights, 7 
And show the best of our delights.;, 
1*11 charm the air to give a soundl ^. 
While you perform your antique roundd 9 ' 
That this great king may kindly say, 
Our duties did his welcome pay. 

\_Musick. The Witches dance, and vanish. 

MACS. Where are they? Gone? Let this per- 

s nicipus hour 

Stand aye/accutfsed in the calendar ! l 
Come in, without there ! 

wickshire. I seize this opportunity to offer my best acknow- 
ledgment for his remarks, which were obligingly conveyed to 
me by his son, the late Reverend and amiable Henry Homer, 
who favoured the world with editions of Sallust and Tacitus, the 
elegance of which can only be exceeded by their accuracy. 


7 cheer we up his sprights,] i. e. spirits. So, in Sidney's 

Arcadia, Lib. II : 

" Hold thou my heart, establish thou my sprights" 


Pll charm the air to give a soundj] The Hecate of Mid- 
illeton says, on a similar occasion : 

" Come, my sweete sisters, let the air strike our tune, 
" Whilst we show rererence to yon peeping moone." 


9 your antique round: and The Witches dance, and 

vanish.] These ideas, as well as a foregoing one 

** The weird sisters, hand in hand" 

might have been adopted from a poem, intitled Churchyard's 
Dreame, 1593: 

" All hand in hand they traced on 

" A tricksie ancient round; 
" And soone as shadowes were they gone, 
" And might no more be found." STEEVENS. 

1 Stand aye accursed in the calendar!"} In the ancient al- 
manacks the unlucky days were distinguished by a mark of re- 
probation. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 : 

2 <20 MACBETH. ACT tr. 

Enter LENOX. 

LEN. What's your grace's will ? 

MACS. Saw you the weird sisters ? 

LEN. No, my lord. 

MACS. Came they not by you ? 

LEN. No, indeed, my lord. 

MACS. Infected be the air whereon they ride; 2 
And damn'd, all those that trust them! I did hear 
The galloping of horse : Who was't came by ? 

LEN. 'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you 

Macduff is fled to England. 

MACS. Fled to England ? 

LEN. Ay, my good lord. 

MACS. Time, thou anticipat'st my dread ex- 
ploits : 3 

The flighty purpose never is o'ertook, 
Unless the deed go,with it : From this moment, 
The very firstlings 4 bf my heart shall be 

" henceforth let it stand 

" Within the wizard's book, the kalender, 

" Marked with a marginal Jinger, to be chosen, 

" By thieves, by villains, and black murderers." 


* Infected be the air whereon they ride;~\ So, in the first part 
of Selimus, 1594-: 

" Now Baiazet will ban another while, 

" And vtter curses to the concaue skie, 

" Which may infect the regions of the ayre." TODD. 

' Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits :] To anticipate 
is here to prevent, by taking away the opportunity. JOHNSON. 

1 The very firstlings ] Firstlings, in its primitive sense, is 
the first produce or offspring. So, in Hey wood's Silver Age, 
\ < > 1 .'J : 

sc. r. MACBETH. 221 

The firstlings of my hand. And even now 

To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought 

and done : 

The castle of Macduff I will surprise ; 
Seize upon Fife ; give to the edge o'the sword 
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls 
That trace his line. 5 No boasting like a fool ; 
This deed I'll do, before this purpose cool : 
But no more sights ! 6 Where are these gentle- 
men ? 

Come, bring me where they are. [Exeunt. 


" Thejirstlings of their vowed sacrifice." 
Here it means the thing first thought or done. The word is 
used again in the prologue to Troilus and Cressida : 

" Leaps o'er the vant andjirstlings of these broils.'* 


That trace his line.'] i. e. follow, succeed in it. Thus, 
in a poem interwoven with A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's 
Cautels ; SfC. translated out of French fyc. by H. W. [Henry 
Wotton]4. 1578: 

" They trace the pleasant groves, 
" And gather floures sweete ." 

Again, in Sir Arthur Gorges' translation of the third Book of 
Lucan, 1614 : 

" The tribune's curses in like case 
" Said he, did greedy Crassus trace" 
The old copy reads 

That trace him in his line. 

The metre, however, demands the omission of such unneces- 
sary expletives. STEEVENS. 

8 But no more sights /] This hasty reflection is to be con- 
sidered as a moral to the foregoing scene : 

" Tu ne qucesieris scire (nefas) quern mihi, quern tibi 
" Finem Di dederint Leuconoe, et Babylonios 
" Tentaris numeros, ut melius, quicquid erit, pati" 




Fife. A Room in MacdufFs Castle. 
Enter Lady MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSSE. 

L. MACD. What had he done, to make him fly 
the land ? 

ROSSE. You must have patience, madam. 

L. MACD. He had none : 

His flight was madness: When our actions do not, 
Our fears do make us traitors. 7 

ROSSE. You know not, 

Whether it was his wisdom, or his fear. 

L. MACD. Wisdom ! to leave his wife, to leave 

his babes, 

His mansion, and his titles, in a place 
From whence himself does fly ? He loves us not ; 
He wants the natural touch : 8 for the poor wrerr, 9 

7 Our fears do make us traitors.] i. e. our flight is considered 
as an evidence of our treason. STEEVENS. 

* natural touch.] Natural sensibility. He is not touched 

with natural affection. JOHNSON. 

So, in an ancient MS. play, intitled The Second Maiden's 

" How she's beguil'd in him! 

" There's no such natural touch, search all his bosom." 


9 the poor wren, &c.] The same thought occurs in The 

Third Part of King Henry VI: 

doves will peck, in safety of their brood. 
" Who hath not seen them (even with those wings 
Which sometimes they have us'd in fearful flight) 
* Make war with him that climb'd unto their nest, 
" Offering their own lives in their young's defence ?" 


sc. n. MACBETH. 223 

The most diminutive of birds, will fight, 
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl. 
All is the fear, and nothing is the love ; 
As little is the wisdom, where the flight 
So runs against all reason. 

ROSSE. My dearest coz% 

I pray you, school yourself: But, for your hus- 

He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows 
The fits o'the season. 1 I dare not speak much fur- 


But cruel are the times, when we are traitors, 
And do not know ourselves; 2 when we hold rumour 
From what we fear, 3 yet know not what we fear ; 

1 The fits o'the season."] The Jits of the season should appear 
to be, from the following passage in Coriolanus, the violent dis- 
orders of the season, its convulsions : 

but that 

" The violent Jit o'th* times craves it as physick." 


Perhaps the meaning is, what is mostjitting to be done in 
every conjuncture. ANONYMOUS. 

* tvhcn lue are traitors. 

And do not know ourselves;] i. e. we think ourselves inno- 
cent, the government thinks us traitors ; therefore we are igno- 
rant of ourselves. This is the ironical argument. The Oxford 
editor alters it to 

And do not know't ourselves: 

But sure they did know what they said, that the state esteemed 
them traitors. WARBURTON. 

Rather, when we are considered by the state as traitors, while 
at the same time we are unconscious of guilt ; when we appear 
to others so different from what we really are, that we seem not 
to knota ourselves. MALONE. 

9 vohen tve hold rumour 

From what ivejear,"] To hold rumour signifies to be go- 
verned by the authority of rumour. WARBURTON. 

I rather think to hold means, in this place, to believe, as we 
say, / hold such a thing to be true, i. e. / take it, I believe it to 
be so. Thus, in King Henry VIII: 


But float upon a wilc^nd violent sea, 

Each way,<tfBgl movel>-I take my leave of you : 

Shall not be long but I'll be here again : 

Things at the worst will cease, or else climb up- 


To what they were before. My pretty cousin, 
Blessing upon you! 

L. MACD. Father'd he is, and yet he's father- 

ROSSE. I am so much a fool, should I stay longer, 
It would be my disgrace, and your discomfort : 
I take my leave at once. {Exit ROSSE. 

L. MACD. Sirrah, your father's dead 

And what will you do now ? How will you live? 

SON. As birds do, mother. 

" - Did you not of late days hear, &c. 

" 1 Gen. Yes, but held it not." 

The sense of the whole passage will then be : The times are 
cruel when our fears induce us to believe, or take for granted, 
ivhat we hear rumoured or reported abroad; and yet at the same 
time, as we live under a tyrannical government where will is 
substituted for law, we know not what we have to fear ; because 
n>e know not when we offend. Or: When we are led by our 
fears to believe every rumour of danger we hear, yet are not 
conscious to ourselves of any crime for which we should be 
disturbed with those fears. A passage like this occurs in King 
John : 

" Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams, 

" Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear." 
This is the best I can make of the passage. STEEVENS. 

4 Each way, and move. ] Perhaps the poet wrote And 
each way move. If they Jloated each way, it was needless to 
inform us that they moved. The words may have been casually 
transposed, and erroneously pointed. STEEVENS. 

* Sirrah, your fathers dead;} Sirrah, in our author's time, 
was not a term of reproach, but generally used by masters to 
servants, parents to children, &c. So before, in this play, 
Macbeth gays to his servant, " Sirrah, a word with you : attend 
those men our pleasure ?" MALONB. 

so. n. MACBETH. 225 

L. MACD. What, with worms and flies ? 

SON. With what I get, I mean ; and so do they. 

L. MACD. Poor bird! thou'dst never fear the 

net, nor lime, 
The pit-fall, nor the gin. 

Sow. Why should I, mother? Poor birds they 

are not set for. 
My father is not dead, for all your saying. 

L. MACD. Yes, he is dead j how wilt thou do 
for a father ? 

SON. Nay, how will you do for a husband ? 

L. MACD. Why, I can buy me twenty at any 

SON. Then you'll buy 'em to sell again. 

L. MACD. Thou speak'st with all thy wit ; and 

yet i'faith, 
With wit enough for thee. 

SON. Was my father a traitor, mother ? 

L. MACD. Ay, that he was. 

SON. What is a traitor ? 

L. MACD. Why, one that swears and lies. 

SON. And be all traitors, that do so ? 

L. MACD. Every one that does so, is a traitor, 
and must be hang'd. 

SON. And must they all be hang'd, that swear 
and lie ? 

L. MACD. Every one. 
SON. Who must hang them ? 
L. MACD. Why, the honest men. 
SON. Then the liars and swearers are fools : for 
VOL. x. Q 


there are liars and swearers enough to beat the 
honest men, and hang up them. 

L. MACD. Now God help thee, poor monkey ! 
But how wilt thou do for a father ? 

SON. If he were dead, you'd weep for him : if 
you would not, it were a good sign that I should 
quickly have a new father. 

L. MACD. Poor prattler ! how thou talk'st. 

Enter a Messenger. 

MESS. Bless you, fair dame ! I am not to you 


Though in your state of honour I am perfedCV 
I doubt, some danger does approach you nearly: 
If you will take a homely man's advice, 
Be not found here ; hence, with your little ones. 
To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage ; 
To do worse to you, were fell cruelty, 7 

8 in your state of honour I am perfect.] i. e. I am 

perfectly acquainted with your rank of honour. So, in the old 
book that treateth of the Lyfe of Virgil, &c. bl. 1. no date : 
" which when Virgil saw, ne looked in his boke of negro- 
mancy, wherein he was perfit." Again, in The Play of the 
four P's, 1569: 

" Pot. Then tell me this : Are you perfit in drinking ? 
" Ped. Perfit in drinking as may be wish'd by thinking." 


7 To do worse to you, loerejell cruelty,] To do tuorse is to 
let her and her children be destroyed without warning. 


Mr. Edwards explains these words differently. " To do laorse 
to you (says he) signifies, to fright you more, by relating all 
the circumstances of your danger ; which would detain you so 
long that you could not avoid it." The meaning, however, may 
l>e, To do "worse to you, not to disclose to you the perilous situ- 

sc. if. MACBETH. 227 

Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve 

I dare abide no longer. [Exit Messenger. 

L. MACD. Whither should I fly ? 

I have done no harm. But I remember now 
I am in this earthly world ; where, to do harm, 
Is often laudable ; to do good, sometime, 
Accounted dangerous folly : Why then, alas ! 
Do I put up that womanly defence, 

To say, I have done no harm ? What are these 

faces ? 

Enter Murderers. 

MUR. Where is your husband ? 

L. MACD. I hope, in no place so unsanctified, 
Where such as thou may'st find him. 

MUR. He's a traitor. 

SON. Thou ly'st, thou shag-ear'd villairiv 8 ^ 

ation you are in, from a foolish apprehension of alarming you, 
would be fell cruelty. Or the Messenger may only mean, to do 
more than alarm you by this disagreeable intelligence, to do 
you any actual and bodily harm, were fell cruelty. M ALONE. 

9 shag-ear'd villain.'] Perhaps we should read shag' 

hair'd, for it is an abusive epithet very often used in our ancient 
plays, &c. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, P. II. 1630: 
" a shag-haired cur." Again, in our author's K. Henry VI. 
P. II: " like a shag-haired crafty Kern." Again, in Sir 
Arthur Gorges' translation of Lucan, 1614: 

" That shag-haired Caicos tam'd with forts." 
And Chapman, in his translation of the 7th 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 shagkeard horson's home." 



MUR. What, you egg ? [Stabbing him. 

Young fry of treachery ? 

SON. He has kill'd me, mother : 

Run away, I pray you. [Dies. 

[Exit Lady MACDUFF, crying murder, 
and pursued by the Murderers. 

It may be observed, that, in the seventh Iliad of Homer, 
the xafi)xo'jtx,oa;v7tj A%cuo) 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 sauci- 
ness :" and we have had in this play hair instead of air. These 
two words, and the word ear, were all, I believe, in the time 
of our author, pronounced alike. See a note on Venus and 
Adonis, p. 456, n. 5, edit. 1780, octavo. 

Hair was formerly written heare. Hence perhaps the mis- 
take. So, in Ives's Select Papers, chiefly relating to English 
Antiquities, N. 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'rf is used as an epithet of contempt in The Taming 
of the Shrew, 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 
Kolle said it had been determined that these words, " Where is 
that long-locked, shag-haired, murdering rogue?" were action- 
able. Aleyn's Reports, p. 61. REED. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 229 


England. A Room in the King's Palace. 

MAL. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and 

9 Enter Malcolm and Macduff.] The part of Holinshed's 
Chronicle which relates to this play, is no more than an abridg- 
ment of John Bellenden's translation of The Noble Clerk, Hector 
Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, 1541. For the satisfaction of 
the reader, I have 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 coun- 
trie 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 
blouclie tyrannic of Makbeth now is. Hereunto Makduffe an- 
swered : 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 my counsel!. 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 
J might injoy their lands, goods and possessions ; and therefore 


Weep our sad bosoms empty. 
MACD. Let us rather 

to shew you what mischiefe may insue on you through mine 
unsalable covetousnes, I will rehearse unto you a fable. There 
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 notverie 
eagerlie, should be chased awaie, other that are emptie and fellie 
an hungred, should light in their places, and sucke out the resi- 
due 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 far woorse 
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 
counsel!, 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 natu- 
rallie 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, vc- 
ritie, 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 

sc. ///. MACBETH. 231 

Hold fast the mortal sword ; and, like good men, 
Bestride our down-fall'n birthdom : 1 Each new 

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 ba- 
nished man for ever, without comfort or consolation : and with 
these woords the brackish tears trickled downe his cheekes verie 

'* 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. 

1 Bestride our down-fall'n birthdom :] The old copy has 
do'um-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-fall'n birthdom . 

The allusion is to a man 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 jt 
with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or 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 

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." STEEVENS. 

See Vol. XI. King Henry IV. Act V. sc. i. MALONE. 


New widows howl ; new orphans cry ; new sorrows 
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds 
As if it felt with Scotja^d, and yell'd out 
Like syllable of dolour. 2 

MAL. What I believe, I'll wail ; 

What know, believe ; and, what J can redress, 
As I shall find the time to friend, 3 1 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 

You may deserve of him through me )md wisdom 5 

* 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 
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. 


* to friend,] i. e. to befriend. STEEVENS. 

* You may deserve of him through me;~\ The old copy 
reads discerne. The emendation was made by Mr. Theobald, 
who supports it by Macduff's answer : 

" I am not treacherous." MALONE. 

* and wisdom ] That is, and 'tis wisdom. HEATH. . 

The sense of this passage is obvious, but the construction dif- 
ficult, as there is no verb to which wisdom can refer. Something 
is omitted, either through the negligence of the printer, or pro- 
bably 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. 


I suspect this line to have suffered by interpolation, as well as 
omission, and that it originally ran thus: 

but something 

You may deserve through me ; and wisdom is it 
To offer &c. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 233 

To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb, 
To appease an angry god. 

MACD. I am not treacherous. 

MAL. But Macbeth is. 

A good and virtuous nature may recoil, 
In an imperial charge. 6 But, 'crave your pardon y 
That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose : 
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell : 
Though all things foul 8 would wear the brows of 

Yet grace must still look so. 

MACD. I have lost my hopes. 

MAL. Perchance, even there, where I did find 
my doubts. 

So, in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" 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. 160, n. 5. STEEVENS. 

6 A good and virtuous nature may recoil, 

In an imperial charge.] A good mind may recede from 
goodness in the execution of a royal commission. JOHNSON. 

7 But 'crave your pardon ;] The old copy, without at- 
tention to measure, reads : 

But I shall crave your pardon. STEEVENS. 

8 Though all things foul &c.] This is not very clear. The 
meaning, perhaps, is this : My suspicions cannot injure you, if 
you be virtuous, by supposing that a traitor may put on your vir- 
tuous appearance. I do not say that your virtuous appearance 
proves you a traitor ; for virtue must wear its proper form t though 
that form be counterfeited by villainy. JOHNSON. 

An expression of a similar nature occurs in All's well that 
ends well. Act II. sc. iii. 

-Good alone 

./+J ^^VJI Wvt cllL/1 IO 

J "Is good ; without a name vileness is so." M. MASON. 

234 MACBETH. ACT /r. 

Why in that rawness 9 left you wife, and child, 

(Thoseprecious motives,those strongknotsoflove,) 

Without leave-taking ? I pray you, 

Let not my jealousies be your dishonours, 

But mine own safeties : You may be rightly just, 

Whatever I shall think, 

MACD. Bleed, bleed, poor country ! 

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,. 
For goodness dares not. .check theetl/wear thou 

thy wrongi^ > 
Thy title is afreer'df^-Fare thee well, lord : 

9 Why in that rawness ] Without previous provision, with- 
out due preparation, without maturity of counsel. JOHNSON. 

I meet with this expression in Lyly's Euphues, 1580, and in 
the quarto, 1608, of King Henry V: 

" Some their wives rawly left." STEEVENS. 

1 For goodness dares not check thee /] The old copy reads 
dare. Corrected in the third folio. MALONE. 

* ivear thou thy ivrongs,] That is, Poor country, tuear 

thou thy wrongs. JOHNSON. 

* Thy title is affeer'd !] Affeer'd, a law term for confirm'd. 


What Mr. Pope says of the law term is undoubtedly true ; 
but is there absolute reason why we should have recourse to it 
for the explanation of this passage ? Macduff first apostrophises 
his country, and afterwards, pointing to Malcolm, may say, 
that his title was qfear'd, i. e. frighted from exerting itself. 
Throughout the ancient editions of Shakspeare, the word afraid 
is frequently written as it was formerly pronounced, afear'd. 
The old copy reads The title &c. i. e. the regal title is afraid 
to assert itself. 

I have, however, adopted Mr. Malone's emendation, as it 
varies, but in a single letter, from the reading of the old copy. 
See his subsequent note. STEEVENS. 

If we read The title is affeer'd, the meaning may be : POOP 
country, wear thou thy wrongs, the title to them is legally settled 
by those <who had the final judication of it. 

so. m. MACBETH. 235 

I would not be the villain that thou think'st 
For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp, 
And the rich East to boot. 

MAL. Be not offended : 

I speak not as in absolute fear of you. 
I think, our country sinks beneath the yoke ; 
It weeps, it bleeds ; and each new day a gash 
Is added to her wounds : I think, withal, 
There would be hands uplifted in my right ; 
And here, from gracious England, have I offer 
Of goodly thousands : But, for all this, 
When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head, 
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country 
Shall have more vices than it had before ; 
More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever, 
By him that shall succeed. 

MACD. What should he be ? 

MAL. It is myself I mean : in whom I know 
All the particulars of vice so grafted, 

Affeerers had the power of confirming, or moderating, fines 
and amercements. TOLLET. 

To qffeer (for so it should be written) is to assess, or reduce 
to certainty. All amerciaments that is, judgments of any 
court of justice, upon a presentment or other proceeding, that 
a party shall be amerced, or in mercy, are by Magna Charta to 
be qffeered by lawful men, sworn to be impartial. This is the 
ordinary practice of a Court Leet, with which Shakspeare seems 
to have been intimately acquainted, and where he might have 
occasionally acted as an qffeerer. RITSON. 

For the emendation now made I am answerable. The was, I 
conceive, the transcriber's mistake, from the similar sounds of the 
and thy, which are frequently pronounced alike. 4 

Perhaps the meaning is, Poor country, "wear thou thy wrongs ! 
Thy title to them is noinjully established by law. Or, perhaps, 
he addresses Malcolm. Continue to endure tamely the wrongs 
you suffer: thy just title to the throne is cotoV, has not spirit to./ 
establish itself. MALONE. 


That, when they shall be open'd, black Macbeth 
Will seem as pure as snow ; and the poor state 
Esteem him as a lamb, bein& compared 
With my confineless harm^. 4 , 

MACD. Not in the legions 

Of horrid hell, can come a devil more damn'd 
In evils, to top Macbeth. 

MAL. I grant him bloody, 

Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, 
Sudden, maliciously/smacking of every sin 
That has a name : But there's no bottom, none, 
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters, 
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up 
The cistern of my lust ; and my desire 
All continent impediments would o'er-bear, 
That did oppose my will : Better Macbeth, 
Than such a one to reign. 

MACD. Boundless intemperance^ 

In nature is a tyranny ; it hath been 
The untimely emptying of the happy throne, 
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet 
To take upon you what is yours : you may 
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty, 
And yet seem cold, the time you may so hood-wink. 
We have willing dames enough ; there cannot be 
That vulture in you, to devour so many 

4 confineless harms."] So, in The Merry Wives ' of 

Windsor, Act II. sc. ii: " thou unconfinable baseness ." 


* Sudden, malicious,"] Sudden, for capricious. 


Rather, violent, passionate, hasty. JOHNSON. 

* Boundless intemperance ] Perhaps the epithet boundless, 
which overloads the metre, was a play-house interpolation. 


sr. ///. MACBETH. 237 

As will to greatness dedicate themselves, 
Finding it so inclined. 

MAL. With this, there grows, 

In my most ill-compos' d affection, such 
A stanchless avarice, that, were I king, 
I should cut off the nobles for their lands ; 
Desire his jewels, and this other's house : 
And my more-having would be as a sauce 
To make me hunger more ; that I should forge 
Quarrels unjust against the good, and loyal, 
Destroying them for wealth. 

MACD. This avarice 

Sticks deeper ; grows with more pernicious root 
Than summer-seeding lust : r% and it hath been 

7 ' grows with more pernicious root 

Than summer-seeding lust;'] The old copy has summer- 
seeming. STEEVENS. 

Summer-seeming has no manner of sense : correct, 

Than summer- teem ing lust ; 

i. e. the passion that lasts no longer than the heat of life, and 
which goes off in the winter of age. WARBURTON. 

When I was younger and bolder, I corrected it thus : 

Than fume, or seething lust. 
That is, than angry passion, or boiling lust. JOHNSON. 

Summer-seeming lust, may signify lust that seems as hot as 
summer. STEEVENS. 

Read summer-seeding. The allusion is to plants ; and the 
sense is, " Avarice is a perennial weed ; it has a deeper and 
more pernicious root than lust , which is a mere annual, and lasts 
but for a summer, when it sheds its seed and decays." 


I have paid the attention to this conjecture which I think it 
deserves, by admitting it into the text. STEEVENS. 

Summer-seeming is, I believe, the true reading. In Donne's 
Poems we meet with *' winter-seeming." MALONE. 

Sir W. Blackstone's elegant emendation is countenanced by 
the following passages : Thus, in The Rape ofLucrece ; 
" How will thy shame be seeded in thine age, 
" When thus thy vices bud before thy spring ? n 

238 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

The sword of our slain kings : Yet do not fear ; 
Scotland hath foysong. 8 to fill up your will, 
Of your mere own : All these are portable^ 
With other graces weighed. 

MAL. But I have none : The king-becoming 


As justice, verity, temperance, stableness, 
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, 
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, 
I have no relish of them ; but abound 
In the division of each several crime, 
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should 
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, 
Uproar the universal peace, confound 
All unity on earth. 1 ; 

And in Troilus and Cressida : 

" The seeded pride 

" That hath to its maturity grown up 
" In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp'd 
" Or, shedding, breed a nursery of evil 
" To over-bulk us all." HENLEY. 

* foysons ] Plenty. POPE. 

It means provisions in plenty. So, in The Ordinary, by 
Cartwright : " New foysons byn ygraced with new titles." The 
word was antiquated in the time of Cartwright, and is by him 
put into the mouth of an antiquary. Again, in Holinshed's 
Reign of King Henry VI, p. 1613 : " fifteene hundred men, 
and great foison of vittels." See Vol. IV. p. 133, n. 8. 


9 All these are portable,] Portable is, perhaps, here used 

for supportable. All these vices, being balanced by your virtues, 
may be endured. MALONE. 

Portable answers exactly to a phrase now in use. Such fail- 
ings may be borne uitk, or are bearable. STEEVENS. 

1 Nay, had Ipotver, I should 

Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, 
Uproar the universal peace, confound 

AU unity on earth."] Malcolm, I think, means to say, that 
f he had ability, he would change the general state of things, 

so. m. MACBETH. 239 

MACD. O Scotland ! Scotland ! 

MAL. If such a one be fit to govern, speak : 
I am as I have spoken. 

MACD. Fit to govern ! 

No, not to live. O nation miserable, 
With an untitled tyranr^Woody-scepter'd, 

and introduce into hell, and earth, perpetual vexation, uproar, 
and confusion. Hell, in its natural state, being always repre- 
sented as full of discord and mutual enmity, in which its inhabit- 
ants may be supposed to take the greatest delight, he proposes 
as the severest stroke on them, to pour the sweet milk of concord 
amongst them, so as to render them peaceable and quiet, a state 
the most adverse to their natural disposition ; while on the other 
hand he would throw the peaceable inhabitants of earth into up- 
roar and confusion. 

Perhaps, however, this may be thought too strained an inter- 
pretation. Malcolm, indeed, may only mean, that he will pour 
all that milk of human kindness, which is so beneficial to man- 
kind, into the abyss, so as to leave, the earth without any portion 
of it ; and that by thus depriving mankind of those humane 
affections which are so necessary to their mutual happiness, he 
will throw the whole world into confusion. I believe, however, 
the former interpretation to be the true one. 

In King James's first speech to his parliament, in March 
1603-4, he says, that he had " sucked the milk of God's truth 
with the milk of his nurse." 

The following passage in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which 
exhibits the reverse of this image, may be urged in favour of my 
first interpretation : 

*' If he, compact of jars, grow musical, 

" We shall have shortly discord in the spheres" 


I believe, all that Malcolm designs to say is, that, if he had 
power, he would even annihilate the gentle source or principle 
of peace : pour the soft milk by which it is nourished, among the 
flames of hell, which could not fail to dry it up. 

Lady Macbeth has already observed that her husband was 
'* too full of the milk of human kindness." STEEVENS. 

* an untitled tyrant ] Thus, in Chaucer's Manciple's 


" Right so betwix a titleles tiraunt 
" And an outlawe." STEEVENS. 


When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again ? 

Since that the truest issue of thy throne 

By his own interdiction stands accurs'd, 

And does blaspheme his breed ? Thy royal father 

Was a most sainted king; the queen, that bore thee, 

Oftner upon her knees than on her feet, 

Died every day she livec&P Fare thee well ! 

These evils, thou repeat'st upon thyself, 

Have banish'd me from Scotland. O, my breast, 

Thy hope ends here ! 

MAL. Macduff, this noble passion, 

Child of integrity, hath from my soul 
Wip'd the black scruples, reconcil'd my thoughts 
To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth 
By many of these trains hath sought to win me 
Into his power ; and mode^i.wisdom plucks me 
From over-credulous haste YV But God above 
Deal between thee and me ! for even now 
I put myself to thy direction, and 
Unspeak mine own detraction ; here abjure 
The taints and blames I laid upon myself, 
For strangers to my nature. I am yet 
Unknown to woman ; never was forsworn ; 
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own ; 
At no time broke my faith ; would not betray 
The devil to his fellow ; and delight 

1 Died every day she lived.] The expression is borrowed from 
the sacred writings : " I protest by your rejoicing which I have 
in Christ Jesus, I die daily.'" MALONE. 

J. Davies, of Hereford, in his Epigram on A proud lying 
Dyer> has the same allusion : 

" Yet (like the mortifide) he dyes to live. 1 * 

To die unto sin, and to live unto righteousness, are phrases 
employed in our Liturgy. STEEVENS. 

* From over-credulous haste :] From over-hasty credulity. 


sc. m. MACBETH. 241 

No less in truth, than life : my first false speaking 

Was this upon myself: What I am truly, 

Is thine, and my poor country's, to command : 

Whither, indeed, before thy here-approach{f) 

Old Siward, with teruthousand warlike men, 

All ready at a points/was setting forth : 

Now we'll together; And the chance, of goodness, 

Belike our warranted quarrel lAVhy are you silent? 

* thy here-approach,] The old copy has they here. 

Corrected by the editor of the second folio. MALONE. 

ten thousand warlike men, 

All ready at a point,] At a pointy may mean all ready at a 
time ; but Shakspeare meant more : He meant both time and 
place, and certainly wrote : 

All ready at appoint, 

i. e. at the place appointed, at the rendezvous. WARBURTON. 

There is no need of ckange. JOHNSON. 

So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I. c. ii : 

" A faithlesse Sarazin all arm'd to point ." MALONE. 

7 And the chance, of goodness, 

Be like our warranted quarrel!"] The chance of goodness , 
as it is commonly read, conveys no sense. If there be not some 
more important error in the passage, it should at least be pointed 

and the chance, of goodness, 

Be like our warranted quarrel ! 

That is, may the event be, of the goodness of heaven, [pro 
justitia divina,~\ answerable to the cause. 

Mr. Heath conceives the sense of the passage to be rather 
this : And may the success of that goodness, which is about to exert 
itself in my behalf, be such as may be equal to the justice of my 

But I am inclined to believe that Shakspeare wrote : 

and the chance, O goodness, 

Be like our warranted quarrel ! 

This some of his transcribers wrote with a small o, which an- 
other imagined to mean of. If we adopt this reading, the sense 
will be : And thou sovereign goodness, to whom we now appeal, 
may our fortune answer to our cause. JOHNSON. 

VOL. X. R 

242 MACBETH. ACT if. 

MACD. Such welcome and unwelcome things at 

'Tis hard to reconcile. 

Enter a Doctor. 

MAL. Well ; more anon. Comes the king forth, 
I pray you ? 

DOCT. Ay, sir: there area crew of wretched souls. 
That stay his cure : their malady convinces - 
The great assay of art ; but, at his touch, 
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand, 
They presently amend. 

MAL. I thank you, doctor. 

\_Exit Doctor. 

MACD. What's the disease he means ? 

MAL. 'Tis call'd the evil : 

A most miraculous work in this good king ; 
Which often, since my here-remain in England, 
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven, 
Himself best knows : but strangely-visited people, 
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye, 
The mere despair of surgery, he cures ; 8 

' convinces ] i. e. overpowers, subdues. See p. 88, 
n. 4. STEEVENS. 

' The mere despair of surgery, he cures ;] Dr. Percy, in his 
notes on The Northumberland Houshold Book, says, " that our 
ancient kings even in those dark times of superstition, do not 
eem to have affected the cure of the king's evil. This miracu- 
lous gift was left to be claimed by the Stuarts : our ancient Plan- 
tagenets were humbly content to cure the cramp." In this 
assertion, however, the learned editor of the above curious 
volume has been betrayed into a mistake, by relying too im- 
plicitly on the authority of Mr. Anstis. The power of curing 
the king's evil was claimed by many of the Plantagenets. Dr. 

sc. in. MACBETH. 243 

Hanging a golden stamp l about their necks, 
Put on with holy prayers : and 'tis spoken, 
To the succeeding royaljty he leaves 
The healing benediction?HVith this strange virtue, 

Borcle, who wrote in the time of Henry the VHIth, says, " The 
kynges of England by the power that God hath given to them 
dothe make sicke men whole of a sycknes called the Kynge's 
Evyll." In Lan chain's Account of the Entertainment at Kenel- 
worth Castle, it is said, " and also by her highness [Q. Eliza- 
beth] accustomed mercy and charitee, nyne cured of the peyn- 
ful and dangerous diseaz called the King's Evil, for that kings 
and queens of this realm without oother medsin, (save only by 
handling and prayer,) only doo it." Polydore Virgil asserts the 
same; and Will. Tooker, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 
published a book on this subject, an account of which is to be 
seen in Dr. Douglas's treatise, entitled, The Criterion, p. 191. 
See Dodsley's Collection of old Plays, Vol. XII. p. 428, edit. 
1780. REED. 

1 a golden stamp &c."] This was the coin called an angel. 
So, Shakspeare, in The Merchant of Venice : 

" A coin that bears the figure of an angel 
" Stamped in gold, but that's insculp'd upon." 
The value of the coin was ten shillings. STEEVENS. 

8 and 'tis spoken 

To the succeeding royalty he leaves 

The healing benediction.] It must be owned, that Shak- 
speare is often guilty of strange absurdities in point of history 
and chronology. Yet here he has artfully avoided one. He 
had a mind to hint, that the cure of the evil was to descend to 
the successors in the royal line, in compliment to James the 
First. But the Confessor was the first who pretended to the 
gift : How then could it be at that time generally spoken of, 
that the gift was hereditary ? This he has solved by telling us 
that Edward had the gift of prophecy along with it. 


Dr. Warburton here invents an objection, in order to solve it 
" The Confessor (says he) was the Jirst who pretended to this 
gift : how then could it be at that time generally spoken of, that 
the gift was hereditary ? This he [Shakspeare] has solved, by 
telling us that Edward had the gift of prophecy along with it." 
But Shakspeare does not say, that it was hereditary in Edward, 

R 2 

244 MACBETH. ACT ir. 

He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy ; 

And sundry blessings hang about his throne, 

That speak him full of grace. 

Enter ROSSE. 

MACD. See, who comes here ? 

MAL. My countryman ; but yet I know him 
not 3 / 

MACD. My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither- 

MAL. I know him now : Good God, betimes re- 
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 call'd our mother,but our grave : where nothing, 

or, in other words, that he had inherited this extraordinary 
power from his ancestors; but that " it was generally spoken, 
that he leaves the healing benediction to succeeding kings:" and 
such a rumour there might be in the time of Edward the Con- 
fessor, (supposing he had such a gift,) without his having the 
gift of prophecy along with it. 

Shakspeare has merely transcribed what he found in Holin- 
shed, without the conceit which Dr. Warburton has imputed to 
him : " As hath beene thought, he was inspired with the gift 
of prophesie, and also to have had the gift of healing infirmities 
and diseases. He used to helpe those that were vexed with the 
disease commonlie called the King's Evil, and left that virtue as 
it were a portion of inheritance unto his successors, the kings of 
this realme." Holinshed, Vol. I. p. 19.5. MALONK. 

1 My countryman; but yet I know him not.'] Malcolm discovers 
Rosge to be his countryman, while he is yet at some distance 
from him, by his dress. STEEVENS. 

sc. in. MACBETH. 245 

But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile ; 
Where sighs, and groans, and shrieks that rent the 

Are made, not mark^; where violent sorrow seems 
A modern ecstacy (jjthe dead man's knell 
Is there scarce ask'd,for who; and gooojmen's lives 
Expire before the flowers in their caps* 6 ) 
Dying, or ere they sicken. 

MACD. O, relation, 

Too nice, and yet too true & 

MAL. What is the newest grief? 

ROSSE. That of an hour's age doth hiss the 

speaker ; 
Each minute teems a new one. 

* rent the air,] To rent is an ancient verb, which has 

been long ago disused. So, in Ccesar and Pompey, 1607 : 
" With rented hair and eyes besprent with tears." 


Again, in The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydicc, 1597: 
" While with his fingers he his haire doth rent." 


4 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, com" 
mon; as ** modern instances," in As you like it, &c. &c. See 
Vol. VIII. p. 74, n. 4. STEEVENS. 

Ecstacy is used by Shakspeare for a temporary alienation of 
mind. MALONE. 

6 Expire before thejlofaers in their caps,] So, in AWs tuell that 
ends well: 

" whose constancies 

" Expire before their fashions." STEEVENS. 

7 Too nice, and yet too true f] The redundancy of this hemi- 
stich induces me to believe our author only wrote 

Too nice, yet true i STEEVENS. 

246 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

MACD. How does my wife r 

ROSSE. Why, well. 8 

MACD. 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 


Which I have heavfly borne, there ran a rumour 
Of many worthy fellows that were out ; 
Which was to my belief witnessed the rather, 
For that I saw the tyrant's power a-foot : 
Now is the time of help ; your eye in Scotland 
Would create soldiers, makje^pur women fight, 
To doff their dire distressefux 

MAL. Be it their comfort, 

We are coming thither : gracious England hath 
Lent us good Siward, and ten thousand men ; 
An older, and a better soldier, none 
That Christendom gives out. 

ROSSE. 'Would I could answer 

This comfort with the like ! But I have words, 

Why, tuell. Well too.'] So, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" We use 

" To say, the dead are well." STEEVENS. 

children?] Children is, in this place, used as a trisyl- 

lable. So, in The Comedy of Errors : 

" These are the parents to these children." 
See note on this passage, Act V. STEEVENS. 

1 To doff their dire distresses.] To doff is to do off, to put off. 
See King John, Act III. sc. i. STEEVENS. 

sc. ill. MACBETH, 247 

That would be howl'd out in the desert air, 
Where hearing should not latch them. 2 

MACD. What concern they ? 

The general cause ? or is it a fee-grief!^ 
Due to some single breast ? 

ROSSE. No mind, that's honest, 

But in it shares some woe j 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 

1 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 lachc, 
" With such duresse," &c. 
Again, B. 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 trans- 
lated 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 


" 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. 

So, in our author's Lover's Complaint: 

My woeful self that did in freedom stand, 
" And was my ownfee-simple." M ALONE. 

It must, I think, be allowed that, in both the foregoing in- 
stances, the Attorney has been guilty of a flat trespass on the 

248 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound, 
That ever yet they heard. 
MACD. Humph ! I guess at it. 

ROSSE. Your castle is surpriz'd ; your wife, and 


Savagely slaughter'd : to relate the manner, 
Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer, 4 
To add the death of you. 

MAL. Merciful heaven ! 

What, man ! ne'er pull your hat upon your brows & 
Give sorrow words : the grief, that does not speakf 3 / 
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break. 

* Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,] Quarry is a 
term used both in hunting undfalconry. In both sports it means 
the game after it is killed. So, in Massinger's Guardian : 

" he strikes 

" The trembling bird, who even in death appears 

" Proud to be made his quarry" 

Again, in an ancient MS. entitled The Boke ofHuntyng that 
is cleped Mayster of Game: " While that the huntyng lesteth, 
should cartes go fro place to place to bringe the deer to the 
guerre," &c. *' to kepe the guerre, 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 guerre til the king come, safe 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. 

* ne'er pull your hat upon your broias ;] The same 

thought occurs in the ancient ballad of Northumberland betrayed 
by Douglas : 

" He putted his halt over his brotioe, 
" And in his heart he was full woe," &c. 

'* Jamey his hatt pulTd over his brow," &c. STEEVENS. 

' the grief, that does not speak,] So, in Vittoria Corom- 
bona, 1612: 

sc. in. MACBETH. 24<J 

MACD. My children too ? 

ROSSE. Wife, children, servants, all 

That could be found. 

MACD. 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 childrei/JU-All my pretty 
ones ? 

" Those -are the killing griefs, which dare not speak." 
Curce leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent. 

Again, in Greene's old bl. 1. novel entitled The Tragicall 
History ofFaire Bcllora : 

" Light sorrowes often speake, 

" When great the heart in silence breake." STEEVENS. 

In Daniel's Complaint of Rosamond, 1595, we have the like 
sentiment : 

" Striving to tell his woes words would not come ; 
" For light cares speak, when mighty griefs are dombe." 

So, in Venus and Adonis t 

" the heart hath treble wrong, 

" When it is barr'd the aidance of the tongue." 


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 from what passage we are to infer that Macbeth 
had children alive. Holinshed's Chronicle does not, as I re- 
memberj mention any. The same thought occurs again in King 
John : 

" He talks to me that never had a son." 


Did you say, all ? O, hell-kite ! All ? 
What, all my pretty chickens, and their dam, 

Again, in King Henry VI. P. Ill: 

" You nave no children : butchers, if you had, 

" The thought of them would have stir'd up remorse." 


Surely the latter of the two interpretations offered by Mr. 
Steevens is the true one, supposing these words to relate to 

The passage, however, quoted from King John, seems in fa- 
tour of the supposition that these words relate to Malcolm. 

That Macbeth had children at some period, appears from 
what Lady Macbeth says in the first Act: .' I have given 
suck," &c. 

I am still more strongly confirmed in thinking these words 
relate to Malcolm, and not to Macbeth, because Macbeth had 
a son then alive, named Lulah, who after his father's death was 
proclaimed king by some of his friends, and slain at Strathbolgie, 
about four months after the battle of Dunsinane. See Fordun. 
Scoti-Ckron. L. V. c. viii. 

Whether Shakspeare was apprized of this circumstance, can- 
not be now ascertained ; but we cannot prove that he was un- 
acquainted with it. MALONE. 

My copy of the Scotichronicon (Goodall's edit. Vol. I. p. 252,) 
affords me no reason for supposing that Lulach was a son of 
Macbeth. The words of Fordun are : " Subito namque post 
mortem Machabedae convenerunt quidam ex ejus parentela 
sceleris hujusmodi fautores, suum consobrinum, nomine Lulach, 
ignomine t'atuum, ad Sconam ducentes, et impositum sede regali 
constituunt regem," &c. Nor does Wyntown, in his CronykU, 
so much as hint that this mock-monarch was the immediate off- 
spring of his predecessor : 

" Eftyre all this, that ilke yhere, 

" That this Makbeth was browcht on bere, 

" LulaiKch fule ras, and he 

" As kyng regnyd monethis thre. 

" This Malcolme gert sla hym syne 

" Wyth-in the land of Stray bolgyne." B. VI. 4-7, &c. 

It still therefore remains to be proved that " Macbeth had 

aon then alive." Besides, we have been already assured, by 

himself, on the authority of the Witches, p. 150, that his scepter 

would pass away into another family, " no son of his succeeding." 


sc. in. MACBETH. 251 

At one fell swoop I3- 7 

MAL. Dispute it like a mai 

MACD. I shall do so ; 

But I must also feel it as a man : 
I cannot but remember such things were, 
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look 


And would not take their part ? Sinful Macduff, 
They were all struck for thee ! naught that I am, 
Not for their own demerits, bu>for mine, 
Fell slaughter on their soulskf 1 ,Heaven rest them 


MAL. Be this the whetstone of your sword : let 

Convert to anger ; blunt not the heart, enrage it. 

MACD. O, I could play the woman with mine 

And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle 

Cut short all intermission j - front to front, 

* At one Jell swoop ?] Swoop is the descent of a bird of prey 
on his quarry. So, in The White Devil, 1612: 

" That she may take away all at one snoop." 
Again, in The Beggar's Bush, by Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" no star prosperous ! 

" All at a siKoop" 

It is frequently, however, used by Drayton, in his Polyolbion, 
to express the swift descent of rivers. STEEVENS. 

9 Dispute it like a man.'} i. e. contend with your present sor- 
row like a man. So, in Twelfth Night, Act IV. sc. iii : 

" For though my soul disputes well with my sense," &c. 
Again, in Romeo and Juliet : 

" Let me dispute with thee of thy estate.*' STEEVENS. 

i Sinful Macduff; 

They tvere all struck for thee ! &c.] See the prophet Isaiah, 
c. liii. v. 5. HARRIS. 

* Cut short all intermission;] i. e. all pause, all intervening 
time. So, in King Lear : 

" Delivered letters, spite of intermission ." STEEVENS. 

252 MACBETH. ACT iv. 

Bring thou this fiend of Scotland, and myself; 
Within my sword's length, set him ; if he 'scape, 
Heaven forgive him too !; 3 

MAL. This tune: 4 J*oes manly. 

Come, go we to the king ; our power is ready ; 
Our lack is nothing but our leave : Macbeth 
Is ripe for shaking, 5 and the powers above 
Put on their instruments./ Receive what cheer 

you may ; 
The night is long, that never finds the day. 


if he 'scape, 

Heaven forgive him too /] That is, if he escape my venge- 
ance, let him escape that of Heaven also. 

An expression nearly similar occurs in The Chances, where 
Petruchio, speaking of the Duke, says : 

" He scap'd me yesternight ; which if he dare 
" Again adventure for, heaven pardon him ! 
" I shall, with all my heart." M. MASON. 

The meaning, I believe, is, If heaven be so unjust as to let 
him escape my vengeance, I am content that it should proceed 
still further in its injustice, and to impunity in this world add 
forgiveness hereafter. MALONE. 

This tune ] The folio reads This time. Tune is Howe's 
emendation. STEKVENS. 

The emendation is supported by a former passage in this play, 
where the word is used in a similar manner : 
" Macb. Went it not so ? 
" Bang. To the self-same tune and words." MALONE. 

9 Macbeth 

Is rive for shaking, &c.] See St. John's. Revelation, c. xiv. 
V. 15. HARRIS. 

Put on their instruments^ i. e. encourage, thrust forward 
us their instruments against the tyrant. So, in King Lear, 
Act I. sc. iv : 

" That you protect this course, and put it on 
" By your allowance." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the eleventh Iliad: 

For Jove makes Trojans instruments, and virtually then 
" Wields arms himself." STEEVENS. 



Dunsinane. A Room in the Castle. 

Enter a Doctor of Physic/c, and a waiting Gentle- 

DOCT. I have two nights watched with you, but 
can perceive no truth in your report. When was 
it she last walked ? 

GENT. Since his majesty went into the field, 7 I 

7 Since his majesty went into the field,] This is one of Shak- 
speare's oversights. He forgot that he had shut up Macbeth in 
Dunsinane, and surrounded him with besiegers. That he could 
not go into the fold, is observed by himself with splenetic impa- 
tience : 

" - i - our castle's strength 
" Will laugh a siege to scorn. Here let them lie 
" Till famine and the ague eat them up. 
" Were they not forc'd with those that should be ours, 
" We might have met them darefiil, beard to beard, 
"And beat them backward home." 

It is clear also, from other passages, that Macbeth's motions 
had long been circumscribed by the walls of his fortress. 

The truth may be, that Shakspeare thought the spirit of Lady 
Macbeth could not be so effectually subdued, and her peace of 
mind so speedily unsettled by reflection on her guilt, as during 
the absence of her husband: 

- - deserto jacuit dumjrigida lecto, 
Dum queritur tardos ire relicta dies. 

For the present change in her disposition, therefore, our poet 
(though in the haste of finishing his play he forgot his plan) 
might mean to have provided, by allotting her such an interval 
of solitude as would subject her mind to perturbation, and dis- 
pose her thoughts to repentance. 

It does not appear, from any circumstance within the compass 
of this drama, that she had once been separated from her hus- 
band, after his return from the victory over Macdonwald, and 
the King of Norway. STEEVENS. 

254 MACBETH. ACT v. 

have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night- 
gown upon her, unlock Jier closet, take forth paper, 
fold it, write upon it, read it, afterwards seal it, and 
again return to bed j yet all this while in a most 
fast sleep. 

DOCT. A great perturbation in nature! to receive 
at once the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of 
watching. In this slumbry agitation, besides her 
walking, and other actual performances, what, at 
any time, have you heard her say ? 

GENT. That, sir, which I will not report after 

DOCT. You may, to me ; and 'tis most meet you 

GENT. Neither to you, nor any one ; having no 
witness to confirm my speech. 

Enter Lady MACBETH, with a Taper. 

Lo you, here she comes ! This is her very guise ; 
and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her ; stand 

DOCT. How came she by that light ? 

GENT. Why, it stood by her : she has light by 
her continually ; 'tis her command. 

DOCT. You see, her eyes are open 


GENT. Ay, but their sense is shut. 7 

6 her eyes are open.] So, in The Tempest . 

" This is a strange repose, to be asleep 
" With eyes wide open" &c. STEEVENS. 

7 Ay, but their sense is shut.] The old copy has are sJiut ; 
and so the author certainly wrote, though it sounds very harshly 
to our ears. So again, in his 112th Sonnet: 

sc. /. MACBETH. 2.55 

DOCT. What is it she does now ? Look, how she 
rubs her hands. 

GENT. It is an accustomed action with her, to 
seem thus washing her hands ; I have known her 
continue in this a quarter of an hour. 

LADY M. Yet here's a spofi) 

DOCT. Hark, she speaks : I will set down what 
comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the 
more strongly. 

LADY M. ^Out, damned spot ! out, I say ! 

One ; Two ^..'Why, then 'tis time to do't : 

Hell is murky ! l Fye, my lord, fye ! a soldier, and 

" In so profound abysm I throw all care 

" Of others' voices, that my adder's sense 

" To critick and to flatterer stopped are." MALONE. 

In the Sonnet our author was compelled to sacrifice grammar 
to the convenience of rhyme. In the passage before us, he was 
free from such constraint. 

What, therefore, should forbid us to read, with the present 
text ? 

Ay, but their sense is shut. STEEVENS. 

8 Yet here's a spot."] A passage somewhat similar occurs in 
Webster's Vittoria Corombona, &c. 1612 : 

" Here's a white hand ! 

" Can blood so soon be wash'd out ?" 

Webster's play was published in 1612. Shakspeare's in 1623. 


9 One; Two;"] Macbeth does not, previously to the 

murder, mention the hour at which Lady Macbeth is to strike 
upon the bell, which was to be the signal for his going into Dun- 
can's chamber to execute his wicked purpose ; but it seems that 
Lady Macbeth is now thinking of the moment when she rang 
the bell ; and that two o'clock was the hour when the deed was 
perpetrated. This agrees with the scene that immediately pre- 
cedes the murder, but not with that which follows it. See 
p. 124, n. 3. MALONE. 

Hell is murky!] Murky is dark. So, in The Tempest, 

Act IV. sc. i : 

256 MACBETH. ACT v. 

afear'd? What need we fear who knows it, when 
none can call our power to account ? Yet who 
would have thoughj^the old man to have had so 
much blood in himQ}/ 
DocT. Do you mark that ? 

LADY M. The thane of Fife had a wife ; Where 

is she now ? What, will these hands ne'er be 

clean ? No more o'that, my lpj;d, no more o'that : 
you mar all with this starting^/ 

DOCT. Go to, go to ; you have known what you 
should not. 

" the murkiest den 

" The most opportune place," &c. 

Lady Macbeth is acting over, in a dream, the business of the 
murder of Duncan, and encouraging her husband as when 
awake. She, therefore, would not have even hinted the terrors 
of hell to one whose conscience she saw was too much alarmed 
already for her purpose. She certainly imagines herself here 
talking to Macbeth, who, (she supposes,) had just said, Hell is 
murky, (i. e. hell is a dismal place to go to in consequence of 
such a deed,) and repeats his words in contempt of his 

Hell is murky ! Fye, my lord, fye ! a soldier, and qfear'd? 
This explanation, I think, gives a spirit to the passage, which 
has hitherto appeared languid, being perhaps misapprehended 
by those who placed a full point at the conclusion of it. 


* ivho iKould have thought the old man to have had so 

much blood in him?] Statius, in a passage already quoted, 
speaking of the sword by which an old man was slain, calls it 
egentem sanguinis ensem ; and Ovid, [Met. L. VII.] describing 
a wound inflicted on a superannuated ram, has the same cir- 
cumstance : 

" guttura cultro 

" Fodit, et exiguo maculavit sanguine ferrum." 


* you mar all ivitk this starting.] Alluding to the terrors 

of Macbeth, when the Ghost broke in on the festivity of the ban- 
quet. STEEVENS. 

sc. i. MACBETH. 25? 

GENT. She has spoke what she should not, I am 
sure of that: Heaven knows what she has known. 

LADY M. Here's the smell of the blood still : all 
the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little 
hand. Oh! oh! oh! 

DOCT. What a sigh is there ! The heart is sorely 

GENT. I would not have such a heart in my bo- 
som, for the dignity of the whole body. 

DOCT. Well, well, well, 
GENT. 'Pray God, it be, sir. 

DOCT. This disease is beyond my practice : Yet 
I have known those which have walked in their 
sleep, who have died holily in their beds. 

LADY M. Wash your hands, put on your night- 
gown ; look not so pale : I tell you yet again, 
Banquo's buried ; he cannot come out of his grave. 

DOCT. Even so ? 

LADYjM. To bed, to bed ; there's knocking at 
the gat&OCome, come, come, come, give me your 
hand ; Wnat's done, cannot be undone : To bed, 
to bed, to bed. [Exit Lady MACBETH. 

DOCT. Will she go now to bed? 
GENT. Directly. 

DOCT. Foul whisperings are abroad : Unnatural 


Do breed unnatural troubles : Infected minds 
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. 

* To bed, to bed ; there's knocking at the gate."] Lady Mac- 
beth, in her sleep, is talking of Duncan's murder, and recalls 
to her mind the circumstance of the knocking at the gate just 
after it. A. C. 

VOL. X. S 

258 MACBETH. ACT v. 

More needs she the divine, than the physician. 
God, God, forgive us all ! Look after her ; 
Remove from her the means of all annoyance, 
And still keep eyes upon her : So, good night : 
My mind she has mated, 5 and amaz'd my sight : 
I think, but dare not speak. 

GENT. Good night, good doctor. 


* My mind she has mated,] Astonished, confounded, 

The expression is taken from chess-playing : 

" that so young a warrior 

" Should bide the shock of such approved knights, 
" As he this day hath match'd and mated too." 

Soliman and Perseda. 


" Worse than Medusa mateth all our minds." 

Orlando Furioso, by R. Greene, 1599. 
" Not mad, but mated." Comedy of Errors. 
In the following instances, (both taken from the ancient me- 
trical romance of The Sotvdon ofBabyloyne, MS.) the allusion 
to chess is still more evident: 

" The dikes there so develye depe 

" Thai held them selfe chek mate." P. 7. 

" Richard raught him with a barr of bras 
" That he caught at the gate ; 
" He brake his legges, he cryed alas, 
" And felle alle chek mate." STEEVENS. 
Scory, in the commendatory verses prefixed to Drayton's 
Hcroicall Epistles, makes use of this phrase, and exactly in the 
same sense : 

" Yet with these broken reliques, mated mind, 
" And what a justly-grieved thought can say." 


Our author, as well as his contemporaries, seems to have used 
the word as explained by Dr. Johnson. Mr. Pope supposes 
mated to mean here conquered or subdued; but that clearly is 
not the sense affixed to it by Shakspeare ; though the etymology, 
supposing the expression to be taken from chess-playing, might 
favour such an interpretation. " Cum sublatis gregariis agitur 
regis de vita et sanguine, sic cum nulla est elabendi via, nullum 

w. //. MACBETH. 25<J 


The Country near Dunsinane. 

Enter, with Drum and Colours, MENTETH, CATH- 
NESS, ANGUS, LENOX, and Soldiers. 

MENT. The English power is near, led on by 


His uncle Siward, 6 and the good Macduff. 
Revenges burn in them : for their dear causes 
Would, to the bleeding, and the grim alarm, 
Excite the mortified man. 7 

subterfugium, qui vicit, MATE, inquit, quasi matado ; i. e. oc- 
cisus, killed, a mater, [Hispan.] occidere." Minsheu's DICT. 
in v. Mate. 

The original word was to amate, which Bullokar, in his Ex- 
positor, 8vo. 1616, explains by the words, * to dismay, to make 
afraid :" so that mate, as commonly used by our old writers, has 
no reference to chess-playing. MALONE. 

6 His uncle Siward,} " Duncan had two sons (says Holin- 
shed) by his wife, who was the daughter of Siward, Earl of 
Northumberland." See, however, a note on the Persons Dra- 
matis. STEEVENS. 

7 Excite the mortified man.'] Mr. Theobald will needs explain 
this expression. " It means (says he) the man who has aban- 
doned himself to despair, who has no spirit or resolution left" 
And, to support this sense of mortified man, he quotes mortified 
spirit in another place. But, if this was the meaning, Shakspeare 
had not wrote the mortified man, but a mortified man. In a word, 
by the mortified man, is meant a religious; one who has subdued 
his passions, is dead to the world, has abandoned it, and all the 
affairs of it: an Ascetic. WARBURTON. 

So, in Monsieur D* Olive, 1606 : 

" He like a mortified hermit sits." 

Again, in Greene's Never too late, 1616: " I perceived in the 
words of the hermit the perfect idea of a mortified man." 


260 MACBETH. ACT r. 

ANG. Near Birnam wood 

Shall we well meet them ; that way are they com- 

CATH. Who knows, if Donalbain be with his 
brother ? 

LEN. For certain, sir, he is not: I have a file 
Of all the gentry ; there is Si ward's son, 
And many unrough youths, 8 that even now 
Protest their first of manhood. 

MENT. What does the tyrant ? 

CATH. Great Dunsiriane he strongly fortifies : 
Some say, he's mad ; others, that lesser hate him, 
Do call it valiant fury: but, for certain, 
He cannot buckle his distemper'd cause 
Within the belt of rule/^\ 

ANG. Now does he feel 

His secret murders sticking on his hands ; 
Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach ; 
Those he commands, move only in command, 
Nothing in love : now does he feel his title 

Again, in Love's Labour's Lost, Act I. sc. i: 

" My loving lord, Dumain is mortified; 
" The grosser manner of this world's delights 
" He throws upon the gross world's baser slaves," &c. 


' unrough youths^] An odd expression. It means 

smooth-faced, unbearded. STEEVENS. 

See The Tempest: 

" till new-born chins 

" Be rough and razorable." 
Again, in King John : 

" This unhair'd sauciness, and boyish troops, 
" The king doth smile at." MA LONE. 

9 He cannot buckle his distempered cause 

Within the belt of rule."] The same metaphor occurs in 
Troilus and Cressida : 

" And buckle in a waist most fathomless." STEEVENS. 

sc. //. MACBETH. 261 

Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe 
Upon a dwarfish thief. 

MENT. Who then shall blame 

His pester'd senses to recoil, and start, 
When all that is within him does condemn 
Itself, for being there ? l 

CATH. Well, march we on, 

To give obedience wh^re 'tis truly ow'd : 
Meet we the medeciroof the sickly weal ; 
And with him pour we, in our country's purge, 
Each drop of us. 

LEN. Or so much as it needs, 

To dew the sovereign flower, and drown the weeds. 3 
Make we our march towards Birnam. 

[Exeunt, marching. 

1 When all that is "within him does condemn 

Itself, for being there f] That is, when all the faculties of the 
mind are employed in self-condemnation. JOHNSON. 

* ike medecin ] i. e. physician. Shakspeare uses this 

word in the feminine gender, where Lafeu speaks of Helen in 
AWs "well that ends-well; and Florizel, in The Winter's Tale, 
calls Camillo " the medecin of our house." STEEVENS. 

3 To dew the sovereign Jloiaer, &c.] This uncommon verb oc- 
curs in Look about you, 1600 : 

" Delving your princely hand with pity's tears." 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. viii : 

" Deufd with her drops of bounty soveraigne." 


262 MACBETH. ACT v. 


Dunsinane. A Room in the Castle. 
Enter MACBETH, Doctor, and Attendants. 

MACS. Bring me no more reports ; let them fly 

all; 4 

Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane, 
I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy Malcolm ? 
Was he not born of woman ? The spirits that kitpw 
All mortal consequents, pronounc'd me thus i. 5 
Fear not, Macbeth; no man, that's born of woman, 
Shall e'er have power on thee&- - Then fly, false 

And mingle with the English 

* Bring me no more reports ; &c.] Tell me not any more of 
desertions: Let all my subjects leave me: / am safe till&c. 


All mortal consequents, pronounced me thus .] The old copy 

All mortal consequences, have pronounc'd me thus. 
But the line must originally have ran as I have printed it : 
Current, consequen/s, occurrente, ingredient, &c. are always 
spelt, in the ancient copies of our author's plays, " currence, con- 
sequence, occurrence, ingredience," &c. STEEVENS. 

- on thce.~] Old copy -upon. STEEVENS. 

7 - English epicures:'] The reproach of epicurism, on which 
Mr. Theobald has bestowed a note, is nothing more than a natural 
invective uttered by an inhabitant of a barren country, against 
those who have more opportunities of luxury. JOHNSON. 

Of the ancient poverty of Scotland, the following mention is 
made by Froissart, Vol. II. cap. iii : " They be lyke wylde and 
savage people they dought ever to lese that they have, for it is 
a poore countrey. And when the Englysshe men maketh any 
roode or voyage into the countrey, if they thynke to lyve, they 

sc. m* MACBETH. 263 

The mind I sway by, and the heart I bear, 
Shall never sagg with doubj^nor shake with fear. 

must cause their provysion and vitayle to followe theym at their 
backe, for they shall fynde nothyng in that countrey," &c. 

Shakspeare, however, took the thought from Holinshed, 
p. 179 and 180, of his History of Scotland: " the Scotish 
people before had no knowledge nor understanding of fine fare 
or riotous surfet ; yet after they had once tasted the sweet poi- 
soned bait thereof &c. those superfluities which came into the 
realme of Scotland with the Englishmen" &c. Again : " For 
manie of the people abhorring the riotous manners and super- 
fluous gormandizing brought in among them by the Englysshe- 
men, were willing inough to receive this Donald for their king, 
trusting (because he had beene brought up in the Isles, with the 
old customes and manners of their antient nation, without tast 
of English likerous delicats), they should by his seuere order in 
gouernement recouer againe the former temperance of their old 
progenitors." The same historian informs us, that in those ages 
the Scots eat but once a day, and even then very sparingly. It 
appears from Dr. Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of 
Scotland, that the natives had neither kail nor brogues, till they 
were taught the art of planting the one, and making the other, 
by the soldiers of Cromwell ; and yet King James VI. in his 7th 
parliament, thought it necessary to form an act " against super- 
fluous banqueting." STEEVENS. 

' Shall never sagg ivith doubt t ~\ To sag, or swag, is to sink 
down by its own weight, or by an overload. See Junius's 
Etymologicon. It is common in Staffordshire to say, " a beam 
in a building sags, or has sagged." TOLLET. 

So, in the 16th Song of Dray ton's Polyolbion : 

" This said, the aged Street sag'd sadly on alone." 
Drayton is personifying one of the old Roman ways. 

Again, in The Misfortunes of Arthur, 1587 : 

" The more his state and tottering empire sagges." 


Again, in Wits, Fits, and Fancies, 1595 : " He tooke excep- 
tions to his traveller's bag, which he wore sagging down his belly 
before." MALONE. 

264 MACBETH. ACT r. 

Enter a Servant. 

The devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac'd loon JS> 
Where got'st thou that goose look .O. 

SERV. There is ten thousand 

MACS. Geese, villain ? 

SERV. Soldiers, sir. 

MACS. Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy 

fear, ^ 

Thou lily-liver* d boyS^* What soldiers, patch \y 
Death of thy soul ! those linen cheeks of thine 

9 loon !] At present this word is only used in Scotland, 

and signifies a base fellow. So, in Marlowe's tragedy of King 
Edward II. 1598: 

" For shame subscribe ! and let the lowne depart." 
Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, second part, 1630 : 

** The sturdy beggar, and the lazy lowne." 
King Stephen, in the old song, called his taylor, loon. 


1 Where got'st thou that goose look ?~\ So, in Coriolanus : 

" ye souls of geese, 

'* That bear the shape of men, how have ye run 
" From slaves that apes would beat ?" MALONE. 

* lily-liver' 'd boy.'] Chapman thus translates a passage in 

the 20th made 

" his sword that made a vent for his white liver's 


" That cans' d such pitiful effects ." 

Again, Falstaff says, in The Second Part of King Henry IV: 
" left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusilla- 
nimity and cowardice." STEEVENS. 

4 patch?] An appellation of contempt, alluding to the 

vied, patched, or particoloured coats anciently worn by the fools 
belonging to noble families. STEEVENS. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 26.5 

Are counsellors to fear. 4 What soldiers, whey-face l?J 
SERV. The English force, so please you. 

MACS. Take thy face hence. Seyton \-rrI am 

sick at heart, 

When I behold Seyton, I say ! This push 
Will cheer me ever, or disseat me now. 6 
I have hVd long enough : my way 

4 those linen clieeks of thine 

Are counsellors to fear .] The meaning is, they infect others 
who see them, with cowardice. WARBURTON. 

In King Henry V. his Majesty says to the Conspirators 
" Your cheeks are paper.'* STEEVENS. 

3 whey face ?] So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, 4to. 

edit. 1619 : " and has as it were a ivhey-co\oured beard." 


or disseat me wotv.] The old copy reads disseat, though 
modern editors have substituted disease in its room. The word 
disseat occurs in The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Fletcher and 
Shakspeare, scene the last, where Perithous is describing the 
fall of Arcite from his horse : 

" seeks all foul means 

" Of boisterous and rough jadry, to disseat 
" His lord that kept it bravely." 
Dr. Percy would read : 

" Will chair me ever, or disseat me now." 
It is still, however, possible, that disease may be the true read- 
ing. Thus, in N. Breton's Toyes of an idle Head, 1577 : 
" My ladies maydes too I must please, 

" But chiefely Mistress Anne, 
*' For else by the masse she tuill disease 

" Me vyly now and than." 
Disease is the reading of the second folio. STEEVENS. 

1 1 have liv'd long enough .- my way of life 4*c.] As there is no 
relation between the way of life, and fallen into the sear, I am 
inclined to think that the W is only an M inverted, and that it 
was originally written : 

my May of life. 

1 am now passed from the spring to the autumn of my days: 
but I am without those comforts that should succeed the spright- 
liness of bloom, and support me in this melancholy season. 

The author has May in the same sense elsewhere. JOHNSON. 

266 MACBETH. ACT r. 

Is fall'n into the sear, 8 the yellow leaf: 
And that which should accompany old age, 

An anonymous writer [Dr. Johnson, whose Remarks on this 
tragedy were originally published, without his name, in 1745,] 
would have it : 

my May of life : 

But he did not consider that Macbeth is not here speaking of 
his rule or government, or of any sudden change ; but of the 
gradual decline of life, as appears from that line : 

" And that, which should accompany old age." 
And way is used for course, progress. WARBURTON. 

To confirm the justness of May of life for ivay of life, Mr. 
Colraan quotes from Much Ado about Nothing : 

" May of youth and bloom of lustyhood." 
And Kins Henry V : 

"My puissant liege is in the very May-morn of his 
youth." LANGTON. 

So, in Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, stanza 21 : 

" If now the May of my years much decline." 
Again, in The Spanish Curate of Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" you met me 

" With equal ardour in your May of blood" 
Again, in The Sea Voyage, by the same authors: 

" And in their May of youth," &c. 
Again, in The Guardian of Massiuger : 

" I am in the May of my abilities, 

" And you in your December." 
Again, in The Renegado of the same author : 

" Having my heat and May of youth, to plead 

" In my excuse." 
Again, in Claudius Tiberius Nero, 1607: 

" Had I in this fair Mat/ of all my glory," &c. 
Again, in King John and Matilda, by R. Davenport, 1655: 

" Thou art yet in thy green May, twenty-seven sum- 
mers," &c. STEEVENS. 

I have now no doubt that Shakspeare wrote May, and not 
way. It is observable, in this very play, that the contrary error 
of the press has happened from a mistake of the same letters : 
'* Hear not my steps which may they walke." 

Besides, that a similarity of expression in other passages of 
Shakspeare, and the concinnity of the figure, both unite to sup- 
port the proposed emendation. 

w. m. MACBETH. 267 

As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, 
I must not look to have j but, in their stead, 

Thus, in his Sonnets : 

" Two beauteous springs to yellow autumns turn'd." 
Again, in King Richard II : 

" He that hath suffered this disorder'd spring, 
** Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf." 
The sentiment of Macbeth I take to be this : The tender leaves 
of hope, the promise of my greener days, are now in my autumn, 
"withered and fruitless : my mellow hangings are all shook down, 
and I am left bare to the weather. HENLEY. 

The old reading should not have been discarded, as the fol- 
lowing passages prove that it was a mode of expression in use at 
that time, as course of life is now. 

In Massinger's Very Woman, the Doctor says 

" In way of life I did enjoy one friend." 

Again, in The New Way to pay Old Debts, Lady Allworth says 
" If that when I was mistress of myself, 
" And in my 'way of youth," &c. M. MASON. 

Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609, Act I. sc. i: 
" Thus ready for the way of life or death, 
" I wait the sharpest blow." STEEVENS. 

The meaning of this contested passage, I think, is this. I have 
lived long enough. In the course or progress of life, I am arrived 
at that period when the body begins to decay ; I have reached 
the autumn of my days. Those comforts which ought to ac- 
company old age, (to compensate for the infirmities naturally 
attending it,) I have no title to expect ; but on the contrary, the 
curses of those I have injured, and the hollow adulation of morti- 
fied dependants. I have lived long enough. It is time for me 
to retire. 

A passage in one of our author's Sonnets, (quoted by Mr. 
Steevens, in a subsequent note,) may prove the best comment 
on the present : 

" That time of year in me thou may'st behold, 

" When yellow leaves or none or few do hang 
" Upon those boughs, which shake against the cold, 
*' Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang." 

Are not these lines almost a paraphrase on the contested part 
of the passage before us ? He who could say that you might 
behold the autumn in him, would not scruple to write, that he 
was fallen into the autumn of his days (i. e. into that decaj 
which always accompanies autumn ) ; and now easy is the tran- 

268 MACBETH. ACT v. 

Curses, not loud, but deep, mouth-honour, breath, 

sition from this to saying that " the course or progress of his life 
had reached the autumnal season.?" which is all that is meant by 
the words of the text, " My way of life," &c. 

The using " the sear, the yellow leaf," simply and absolutely 
for autumn, or rather autumnal decay, because in autumn the 
leaves of trees turn yellow, and begin to fall and decay, is cer- 
tainly a licentious mode of expression ; but it is such a licence 
as tnay be found in almost every page of our author's works. 
It would also have been more natural for Macbeth to have said, 
/hat, in the course or progress of life, he had arrived at his 
autumn, than to say, that the course of his life itself had fallen 
into autumn or decay ; but this too is much in Shakspeare's 
manner. With respect to the word fallen, which at first view 
seems a very singular expression, I strongly suspect that he 
caught it from the language of conversation, in which we at this 
day often say that this or that person is "fallen into a decay;" 
a phrase that might have been current in his time also. It is the 
very idea here conveyed. Macbeth is fallen into his autumnal 

In King Henry VIII. the word way seems to signify, as in 
the present passage, course or tenour: 

" The way of our profession is against it." 
And in King Richard II. " the fall of leaf" is used, as in the 
passagfe before us, simply and absolutely for bodily decay: 
" He who hath suffer'd this disorder'd spring, 
" Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf." 
When a passage can be thus easily explained, and the mode 
of expression is so much in our poet's general manner, surely any 
attempt at emendation is not only unnecessary, but dangerous. 
However, as a reading which was originally proposed by Dr. 
Johnson, and has been adopted in the modern editions, " my 
May of life," has many favourers, I shall add a word or two on 
that subject. 

By his " May of life having fallen into the yellow leaf," that 
is, into autumn, we must understand that Macbeth means either, 
that being in reality young, he is, in consequence of his cares, 
arrived at a premature old age ; or that he means simply to 
assert, that in the progress of life he has passed from May or 
youth to autumn or old age ; in other words, that he is now an 
old man, or at least near being one. 

If the first interpretation be maintained, it is sufficient to say, 
(I use the words of my friend Mr. Flood, whose ingenious com- 
ment on this passage I published some years ago,) that " Mac- 

sc. m. MACBETH. . 269 

Which the poor heart would fain deny, but dare 

Seyton ! 

beth, when he speaks this speech, is not youthful. He is con- 
temporary to Banquo, who is advanced in years, and who hath 
a son upon the scene able to escape the pursuit of assassins and 
the vigilance of Macbeth." I may likewise add that Macbeth, 
having now sat for seventeen years on the throne of Scotland, 
cannot with any probability be supposed to be like our author's 
Henry V. " in the May-morn of his youth." We must there- 
fore understand these words in the latter sense ; namely, that he 
means only, that in the ordinary progress he has passed from 
the spring to the autumn of life, from youth to the confines of 
age. What then is obtained by this alteration ? for this is pre- 
cisely the meaning of the words as they stand in the old copy. 

There is still another very strong objection to the proposed 
emendation. It is alledged that in this very play may is printed 
instead of ivay, and why may not the contrary error have hap- 
pened here ? For this plain reason; because May (the month) 
both in manuscript and print always is exhibited with a capital 
letter, and it is exceedingly improbable that a compositor at the 
press should use a small w instead of a capital M. 

But, without going further into this subject, it is sufficient for 
our purpose, that the text, as it is exhibited in the ancient copy, 
affords an obvious, easy sense, without any emendation whatso- 
ever. MALONE. 

the sear,] Sear is dry. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's 

Monsieur Thomas, 1639 : 

" sear winter 

" Hath seal'd the sap up." 
And Milton has " Ivy never sear" 

Shakspeare has the same thought in his 73d Sonnet : . 

" That time of year thou may'st in me behold, 

" When yellow leaves," &c. STEEVENS. 

Again, in our author's Lover's Complaint, where the epithet 
is so used, as clearly to ascertain the meaning of " the sear, the 
yellow leaf," in the passage before us : 

" spite of heaven's fell rage, 

" Some beauty peep'd through lattice ofsear'd age." 


270 MACBETH. ACT v. 

Enter SEYTON. 

SEY. What is your gracious pleasure ? 

MACS. What news more ? 

SEY. All is confirm'd, my lord, which was re- 

MACS. I'll fight, till from my bones my flesh be 

Give me my armour. 

SEY. 'Tis not needed yet. 

MACS. I'll put it on. 

Send out more horses, skirr the country round j" 
Hang those that talk of fearvy-Give me mine ar- 
How does your patient, doctor ? 

DOCT. Not so sick, my lord, 

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies, 
That keep her 2 from her rest. 

9 skirr the country round;} To skirr, I believe, signifies 

to scour, to ride hastily. The word is used by Beaumont and 
Fletcher, in The martial Maid : 

" Whilst I, with this and this, well mounted, skirr'd 

" A horse troop, through and through." 
Again, in King Henry V : 

" And make them skirr away, as swift as stones 

" Enforced from the old Assyrian slings." 
Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca: 

" the light shadows, 

" That, in a thought, scur o'er the fields of corn, 

" Halted on crutches to them." STEEVENS. 

1 talk o/Tear.] The second folio reads stand in fear. 


* That keep her ] The latter word, which was inadvertently 
omitted in the old copy, was added by the editor of the second 
folio. MA LONE. 

sc. in. MACBETH. 271 

MACS. Cure her of that: 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd ; 
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow ; 
Raze out the written troubles of the brain ; 
And, with some sweet oblivious antidote, 3 
Cleanse the stuff* d bosom of that perilous stuff, 4 
Which weighs upon the heart ? 

* And ivith some sweet oblivious antidote,] Perhaps, as Dr. 
Farmer has observed, our poet here remembered Spenser's de- 
scription of Nepenthe : 

" Nepenthe is a drinck of sovereign grace, 
" Devized by the gods for to asswage 
" Harts grief, and bitter gall away to chace, 
" Instead thereof sweet peace and quietage 
" It doth establish in the troubled mynd." 

Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. iii. st. 34*. M ALONE. 

Our author's idea might have been caught from the 6th Book 
of the JEneid, where the effects of Lethe are described : 

" Lethaei ad fluminis undam 

" Secures latices, et longa oblivia potant." 
Thus translated by Phaer, 1558 : 

" These liquors quenching cares, and long forgetful 

draughts thei drink 
" That of their Hues, and former labours past, they 

neuer thinck." 
Thus also Statius, Theb. I. 341 : 

" Grata laboratae referens oblivia vitas." STEEVENS. 

4 Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff,'] Stuff d is 
the reading of the old copy; but, for the sake ot the ear, which 
must be shocked by the recurrence of so harsh a word, I am 
willing to read -foul, as there is authority for the change from 
Shakspeare himself, in As you like it, Act II. sc. vi: 

" Cleanse the foul body of the infected world." 

We properly speak of cleansing what is foul, but not what is 
stufftd. STEEVENS. 

The recurrence of the word stuff, in this passage, is very un- 
pleasing to the ear, but there is no ground, I think, to suspect 
the text to be corrupt ; for our author was extremely fond of 
such repetitions. Thus, in Antony and Cleopatra : 
" Now for the love of love ." 
" The greatest grace lending grace." 

AWs well that ends well 

272 MACBETH. ACT v. 

DOCT. Therein the patient 

Must minister to himself. 

MACS. Throw physick to the dogs, I'll none of 

Come, put mine armour on j give me my staff: 

" with what good speed 

" Our means will make us means" 

All's well that ends well. 
" Is only grievous to me, only dying." 

King Henry VIII. 
" Upon his brow shame is asham'd to sit." 

Romeo and Juliet. 

ft For by this knot thou shall so surely tie 
" Thy now unsur'd assurance to the crown." King John. 

" Believe me, I do not believe thee, man." Ibid. 

" Those he commands, move only in command ." 


The words stuff and stiiff'd, however mean they may sound 
at present, have, like many other terms, been debased by time, 
and appear to have been formerly considered as words proper to 
be used in passages of the greatest dignity. As such Shakspeare 
has employed them in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet y The Winter's 
Tale, Julius Ctesar, &c. Again, in The Tempest, in a passage 
where the author certainly aimed at dignity : 

** And, like this unsubstantial pageant, faded, 
" Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
" As dreams are made of." v 

In a note on a passage in Othello, Dr. Johnson observes, that 
" stuff", in the Teutonick languages, is a word of great force. 
The elements (he adds) are called in Dutch hoefd stoffen, or 
head-stuffs." MALONE. 

The present question is not concerning the dignity of the 
word stuffed, but its nauseous iteration, of which no example 
has been produced by Mr. Malone ; for that our author has in- 
dulged himself in the repetition of harmonious words, is no 
proof that he would have repeated harsh ones. 

I may venture also (in support of my opinion) to subjoin, 
that the same gentleman, in a very judicious comment on King 
Henry IV. P. II. has observed, " that when a werd is repeated 
without propriety, in the same, or two succeeding lines, there ifc 
great reason to suspect some corruption." STEEVENS. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 27S 

Seyton, send out. Doctor, the thanes fly from 

me : 

Come, sir, despatch: If thou could'st, doctor, cast 
The water of my land, 5 find her disease, 
And purge it to a sound and pristine health, 
I would applaud thee to the very echo, 
That should applaud again. Pull't off, I say. 
What rhubarb, senna, 6 or what purgative drug, 
Would scour these English hence ? Hearest thou 

of them ? 

DOCT. Ay, my good lord ; your royal preparation 
Makes us hear something. 

MACS. Bring it after me. 

I will not be afraid of death and bane, 

Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane. [Exit. 

DOCT. Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, 
Profit again should hardly draw me here. [Exit. 


The 'water of my land,] To cast the ivater was the phrase in 
use for finding out disorders by the inspection of urine. So, in 
Eliosto Libidinoso, a novel, by John Hinde, 1606 : " Lucilla 
perceiving, without casting her "water, where she was pained," 
&c. Again, in The wise Woman of Hogsdon, 1638 : " Mother 
Nottingham, for her time, was pretty well skilled in casting 
ivaters." STEEVENS. 

6 senna,] The old copy reads cyme. STEEVENS. 

Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. <# * 

3 6 A' 

VOL. X. 

274 MACBETH. ACT r. 


Country near Dunsinane : A Wood in view. 

Enter, with Drum and Colours, MALCOLM, old 

MAL. Cousins, I hope, the days are near at hand, 
That chambers will be safe. 

MENT. We doubt it nothing. 

Siw. What wood is this before us ? 

MENT. The wood of Birnam. 

MAL. Let every soldier hew him down a bough, 
And bear't before him ; thereby shall we shadow 
The numbers of our host, and make discovery 
Err in report of us. 

SOLD. It shall be done. 

Siw. We learn no other, but the confident tyrant 7 
Keeps still in Dunsinane, and will endure 
Our setting down before't. 

MAL. 'Tis his main hope : 

For where there is advantage to be given, 
Both more and less have given him the revolt j 8 

7 but the confident tyrant ] We must surely read : 
the confin'd tyrant. WARBURTON. 

He was confident of success ; so confident that he would not 
fly, but endure their setting doian before his castle. JOHNSON. 

1 For "where there is advantage to be given, 

Both more and less have given him the revolt;"] The impro- 
priety of the expression advantage to be given, instead ofadvan- 
ta S e S* ven t and the disagreeable repetition of the word given, in 
the next line, incline me to read : 

so. iv. MACBETH. 275 

And none serve with him but constrained things, 
Whose hearts are absent too. 

MACD. Let our just censures 

Attend the true event, 9 and put we on 
Industrious soldiership. 

luhere there is a 'vantage to be gone, 
Both more and less have given him the revolt. 
Advantage or 'vantage, in the time of Shakspeare, signified 
opportunity. He shut up himself and his soldiers (says Malcolm) 
in the castle, because when there is an opportunity to be gone, they 
all desert him. 

More and less is the same with greater and less. So, in the 
interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter 
of India the More and the Less. JOHNSON. 

I would read, if any alteration were necessary : 

For inhere there is advantage to be got. 

But the words, as they stand in the text, will bear Dr. John- 
son's explanation, which is most certainly right. " For wherever 
an opportunity of flight is given them," &c. 

More and less, for greater and less, is likewise found in 
Chaucer : 

" From Boloigne is the erle of Pavie come, 
" Of which the fame yspronge to most and leste." 
Again, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song the 12th: 

" Of Britain's forests all from th' less unto the more." 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. V. c. viii : 

" all other weapons lesse or more, 

" Which warlike uses had devis'd of yore." STEEVENS. 

Where there is advantage to be given, I believe, means, where 
advantageous offers are made to allure the adherents of Macbeth 
to forsake him. HENLEY. 

I suspect that given was caught by the printer's eye glancing 
on the subsequent line, and strongly incline to Dr. Johnson's 
emendation -gone. MAI/ONE. 

Why is the repetition of the word given, less venial than the 
recurrence of the word stttjf'd, in a preceding page ? See Mr. 
Malone's objections to my remark on " Cleanse the stuff'd 
bosom of that perilous stiff." p. 271. STEEVENS. 

9 Let our just censures 
Attend the true event,] The arbitrary change made in the 

T 2 


Siw. The time approaches, 

That will with due decision make us know 
What we shall say we have, and what we o 
Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes^elate ; 
But certain issue strokes must arbitrate^/ 
Towards which, advance the war. 3 

[Exeunt L , marching. 

second folio (which some criticks have represented as an im- 
proved edition) is here worthy of notice : 

Let our best censures 

Before the true event, and put we on, &c. MALONE. 

Surely, a few errors in a few pages of a book, do not exclude 
all idea of improvement in other parts of it. I cherish this hope 
for my own sake, as well as for that of other commentators on 
Shakspeare. STEEVENS. 

1 What we shall say we have, and what we owe.] i. e. property 
and allegiance. WARBURTON. 

When we are governed by legal kings, we shall know the 
limits of their claim, i. e. shall know what we have of our own, 
and what they have a right to take from us. 

Mr. Henley explains the passage thus : " The issue of the 
contest will soon decide what we shall say we have, and what 
may be accounted our own." To owe here is to possess. 


Had these lines been put into the mouth of any of the Scottish 
Peers, they might possibly bear the meaning that Steevens con- 
tends for ; but as they are supposed to be spoken by Siward, 
who was not to be governed either by Malcolm or Macbeth, 
they can scarcely admit of that interpretation. Siward probably 
only means to say, in more pompous language, that the time ap- 
proached which was to decide their fate. M. MASON. 

Siward, having undertaken the cause of Scotland, speaks, as 
a Scotsman would have spoken ; and especially as he is now in 
the presence of Malcolm, Macduff, and others of the same 
country. STEEVENS. 

" arbitrate:"] i.e. determine. JOHNSON. 

So, in the 1 8th Odyssey, translated by Chapman r 

" straight 

" Can arbitrate a war of deadliest weight." STEEVENS. 

* Towards which, advance the war.} It has been understood 

so. v. MACBETH, 277 


Dunsinane. Within the Castle. 

Enter, with Drums and Colours, MACBETH, SEYTON, 
and Soldiers. 

MACS. Hang out our banners on the outward 
walls; > 

The cry is still, They come : Our castle's strength 
Will laugh a siege to scorn : here let them lie, 
Till famine, and the ague, eat them up : 
Were they not forc'd with those that should be ours, 
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard, 
And beat them backward home. What is that 
noise ? [A cry within, of Women. 

SEY. It is the cry of women, my good lord. 
MACS. I have almost forgot the taste of fears: 

that local rhymes were introduced in plays to afford an actor the 
advantage of a more pointed exit, or to close a scene with addi- 
tional force. Yet, whatever might be Shakspeare's motive for 
continuing such a practice, it may be observed that he often 
seems immediately to repent of it ; and, in the tragedy before 
us, has repeatedly counteracted it by hemistichs which destroy 
the effect, and consequently defeat the supposed purpose of the 
antecedent couplets. See the following instances, in addition to 
that which introduces the present note : 

Leave all the rest to me Act I. end of scene v. 

So pr'ythee go tuith me Act III. . scene ii. 

We are yet Out young in deed. . . Act III. . scene iv. 

But no more sights &c Act IV. . scene i. 

/ think, but dare not speak. ... Act V. . scene i. 

Make itie our march towards Birnam. Act V. . scene ii. 

In Hamlet, &c. we find such hemistichs after the rhymes at 
the end of Acts, as well as scenes. STEEVENS. 

278 MACBETH. ACT v. 

The time has been,^ mv senses would have cool'd 
To hear a night-shriek y) and my fell of hair 6 

4 The time has been, &c.] May has imitated this passage 
twice ; once in The Heir, and again in The Old Couple. See 
Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, Vol. VIII. p. 150. Vol. X. 
p. 473, edit. 1780. REED. 

* my senses 'would have cool'd 

To hear a night-shriek ;] The blood is sometimes said to be 
chilled ; but I do not recollect any other instance in which this 
phrase is applied to the senses. Perhaps our author wrote 
'coil'd. My senses would have shrunk back ; died within me. 
So, in the second scene of the present Act : 
" Who then shall blame 
" His pester'd senses to recoil and start?" MALONE. 

I retain the old reading. Perhaps, no word so forcible can be 
placed in its room. Thus, in the fifth JEneid: 

" Sanguis hebet, frigentque effcetae in corpore vires." 
The same expression occurs also in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor : My humour shall not cool" 
Again, in King Henry IV. P. II: 

" My lord Northumberland will soon be cool'd" 
Thus, also, in the tragedy now before us, p. 221 : 

** This deed I'll do, before this purpose cool." 
Again, in King John: 

" shall cool the hearts 

" Of all his people, ." 
Again, in Pope's version of the 18th Odyssey, 156 : 

" Cool'd every breast, and damp'd the rising joy." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the 22d Iliad: 

" his still desperate spirit is cool'd." 
But what example is there of the verb recoiled clipped into 
'coiled? Coiled can only afford the idea of wound in a ring, like 
a rope or a serpent. STEEVENS. 

* fell of hair ] My hairy part, my capillitium. Fell is 

skin. JOHNSON. 

So, in Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany, by George Chapman, 

" Where the lyon's hide is thin and scant, 

" I'll firmly patch it with the fan's fell." 
Again, in King Lear: 

" The goujeres shall devour them, flesh and fell." 
A dealer in hides is still called a ^//-monger. STEEVENS. 

sc. r. MACBETH. 279 

Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir 
As life were in't : I have supp'd full with horrorsV^> 
Direness, familiar to my slaught'rous thoughts, 
Cannot once start me. Wherefore was that cry ? 

SEY. The queen, my lord, is dead. 

MACS. She should have died hereafter ; 
There would have been a time for such a word 


-I have supp'd full with horrors;'] Statius has a similar 

thought in the second Book of his Thebais: 

" attollit membra, toroque 

" Erigitur, plenus monstris, vanumque cruorem 
" Excutiens." 
The conclusion of this passage may remind the reader of Lady 

Macbeth's behaviour in her sleep. STEEVENS. 

8 She should have died hereafter; 

There mould have been a time for such a word. &c.] This 
passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is 
not apparent for what word there would have been a time, and 
that there would or would not be a time for any wore?, seems not 
a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth 
into the following exclamation. I read therefore : 
She should have died hereafter, 

There would have been a time for such a world! 
To-morrow, &c. 

It is a broken speech, in which only part of the thought is 
expressed, and may be paraphrased thus : The queen is dead. 
Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more 
peaceful hour ; had she lived longer, there would at length have 
been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that re' 
sped which I owe her for herjidelity and love. Such is the world 
such is the condition of human life, that we always think to- 
morrow will be happier than to-day, but to-morrow and to-morrow 
steals over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in 
the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All 
these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of 
fools to the grave, who were engrossed by the same dream of future 
felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were, like me, 
reckoning on to-morrow. 

Such was once my conjecture, but I am now less confident. 
Macbeth might mean, that there would have been a more con- 
venient time for such a word, for such intelligence, and so fall 

280 MACBETH. ACT v. 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow?' 

Creeps in this petty pace from day to .(Jay, 

To the last syllable of recorded time-;, 1 ./ 

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 

The way to dusty death.t- Out, out, brief candle ! 

into the following reflection. We say we send word when we 
give intelligence. JOHNSON. 

By a word, Shakspeare certainly means more than a single 
one. Thus, in King Richard II: 

" The hopeless word of never to return 

" Breathe I against thee." 
Again, in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" A musquet, with this word upon the label 

" I have discharg'd the office of a soldier." STEEVENS, 

9 To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,~\ This repetition, 
as Dr. Farmer observed to me, occurs in Barclay's Ship ofFooles, 

" Cras, eras, eras, to-morrow we shall amende." 


1 To the last syllable of recorded time ;] Recorded time seems 
to signify the time fixed in the decrees of heaven for the period 
of life. The record ofjuturity is indeed no accurate expression ; 
but, as we only know transactions past or present, the language 
of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience in which 
future events may be supposed to be written. JOHNSON. 

So, in All's well that end's well : 

'* To the utmost syllable of your worthiness." 

Recorded is probably nere used for recording or recordable; 
one participle for the other, of which there are many instances, 
both in Shakspeare and other English writers. Virgil uses pene- 
trabile frigus for penetrans frigus, and penetrabile telumfor telum 
penetrans. STEEVENS. 

By recorded time, Shakspeare means not only the time that 
has been, but also that which shall be recorded. M. MASON. 

* The way to dusty death.] We should read dusky, as ap- 
pears from the figurative term lighted. WARBURTON. 

Dusty is a very natural epithet. The second folio has : 

The way to study death. 

which Mr. Upton prefers ; but it is only an error, by an acci- 
dental transposition of the types. JOHNSON. 

sc. v. MACBETH. 2S1 

Life's but a walking shadow ; a poor player, -y 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, 
And then is heard no more : it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing. 

Enter a Messenger. 

Thou com'st to use thy tongue ; thy story quickly. 

MESS. Gracious my lord, 
I shall report that which I say I saw, 
But know not how to do it. 

MACS. Well, say, sir. 

MESS. As I did stand my watch upon the hill, 
I look'd toward Birnam, and anon, methought, 
The wood began to move. 

The dust of death is an expression used in the 22d Psalm. 
Dusty death alludes to the expression of dust to dust in the burial 
service, and to the sentence pronounced against Adam: " Dust 
thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." In Troilus and Cressida 
also the same epithet occurs : 

" are grated 

" To dusty nothing ." 

Shakspeare, however, in the first Act of this play, speaks of 
the thane of Cawdor, as of one " who had been studied in his 
death." STEEVENS. 

Dr. Johnson justly observes that dusty is a very natural epithet. 

Our author again alludes to the dust of death in The Winter's 

Tale : 

" Some hangman must put on my shrowd, and lay me 
" Where no priest shovels-in dust" MALONE. 

In Sydney's Arcadia, 1598, p. 445, we have the following 
stanza of a Song on Death : 

" Our owly eyes, which dimm'd with passions be, 
" And scarce discerne the dawn of coming day ; 
" Let them be clearde, and now begin to see 
" Our life is but a step in dustie tcoy.'* REED. 


282 MACBETH. ACT r. 

MACS. Liar, and slave ! 

[Striking him. 

MESS. Let me endure your wrath, if't be not so : 
Within this three mile may you see it coming j 
I say, a moving grove. 

MAC$. If thou speak'st false, 

Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive, 
Till famine cling thee : 3 if thy speech be sooth, 

' Till famine ding thee ;] Clung, in the Northern counties, 
signifies any thing that is shrivelled or shrunk up. By famine, 
the intestines are, as it were, stuck together. In The Roman 
Actor, by Massinger, the same word, though differently spelt, 
appears to be used : 

" my entrails 

'* Are clammd with keeping a continual fast." 
Again, in Pierce's Supererogation, or a Neiv Praise of the 
Old Asse, &c. 1593 : " Who should have thought, or could 
have imagined, to have found the wit of Pierce so starved and 
dunged?" Again, in George Whetstone's Castle of Delight, 

" My wither' d corps with deadly cold is clung." 
Again, in Hey wood's Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637 : 

" His entrails with long fast and hunger clung ." 
Again, in Golding's version of Ovid's Metamorphosis, B. VII : 

" old facias also, cloong 

" With age." 

Thus also, in Philemon Holland's translation of the 8th Book 
of Pliny's Natural History, ch. xxxvi : " The first thing that 
they doe [i. e. the famished bears] is to devoure a certaine herb 
named Aron ; and that they doe to open their guts, which 
otherwise were dunged and growne together." 

To ding likewise signifies, to gripe, to compress, to embrace. 
So, in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1607 : 

" slide from the mother, 

" And cling the daughter." 
Again, in Ant onions Revenge, 1602: 

" And found even cling" d in sensuality." 
Again, in Northward Hoe, 1607 : 

" I will never see a white flea, before I will cling you." 
Ben Jonson uses the word clem in the Poetaster, Act I. sc. ii : 
" I cannot eat stones and turfs ; say, what will he clem me and 

so. v. MACBETH. 283 

I care not if thou dost for me as much. 

I pull in resolution ; and begin 

To doubt the equivocation of the fiend, 

That lies like truth : 4 Fear not, till Birnam wood 

my followers ? ask him an he will clem me." To be clemed is a 
Staffordshire expression, which means, to be starved : and there 
.is likewise a Cheshire proverb: " You been like Smithwick, 
either dented, or bursten." Again, in Antonio and Mellida: 

" Now lions' half-clem* d entrails roar for food.'* 
In the following instances, the exact meaning of this word is 
not very clear : 

" Andrea slain ! then weapon cling my breast." 

First Part of Jeronimo, 1605. 

" Although my conscience hath my courage cleng'd, 
" And knows what valour was employ'd in vain." 

Lord Sterline's Darius, 1603. 

Again, in The Sadler's Play, among the Chester Whitsun 
plays, MS. Harl. 1013, p. 154, where the burial of our Saviour 
is spoken of: 

" That now is clongen under clay." 

1 have given these varieties of the word, for the sake of any 
future lexicographer, or commentator on ancient authors. 

_Mr. Whalley, however, observes, that till famine cling thee, 
means till it dry thee up, or exhaust all thy moisture. Clung 
wood is wood of which the sap is entirely dried or spent. Clung 
and clem, says he, are terms of very different meaning. 

The same idea is well expressed by Pope, in his version of the 
19th Iliad, 166: 

" Shrunk tuith dry famine , and with toils declin'd ." 


4 / pull in resolution ; and begin 
To doubt the equivocation of the Jiend, 
That lies like truth .] Though this is the reading of all the 
editions, yet, as it is a phrase without either example, elegance, 
or propriety, it is surely better to read : 

/ pall in resolution, 

/ languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake me. 
It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be 
changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an 
unskilful printer. With this emendation Dr. Warburton and 
Mr. Heath concur. JOHNSON. 

There is surely no need of change ; for Shakspeare, who made 
Trinculo, in The Tempest, say 


Do come to Dunslnane; and now a wood 
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out ! 
If this, which he avouches, does appear, 
There is nor flying hence, nor tarrying here. 
I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun^ 
And wish the estate o'the world were now undone. 
Ring the alarum bell : Blow, wind ! come, wrack ! 
At least we'll die with harness on our back. 


" I will let loose my opinion," 
might have written 

/ pull in my resolution. 

He had permitted his courage (like a fiery horse) to carry him 
to the brink of a precipice, but, seeing his danger, resolves to 
check that confidence to which he had given the rein before. 


This reading is supported by a passage in Fletcher's Sea Voy- 
age, where Arainta says : 

" and all my spirits, 

" As if they heard my passing bell go for me, 

" Pull in their powers, and give me up to destiny." 

* / J gin to be a-weary of the sun, &c.] 

" Turn vero infelix fatis exterrita Dido 

" Mortem orat, taedet cteli convexa tueri." THEOBALD. 

8 harness ] An old word for armour. So, in The Cob- 

ler's Prophecy, 1594 : 

" His harness is converted to soft silke." HENDERSON. 

So, in the continuation of Hardyng's Chronicle, 1543 : " well 
perceyving that the intendours of such a purpose would rather 
have had their harnesse on their backs, than to have bound them 
up in barrelles." MALONE* 

sc. vn. MACBETH. 285 

The same. A Plain before the Castle. 

Enter, 'with Drums and Colours, MALCOLM, old 
Si WARD, MACDUFF, 8$c. and their Army, with 

MAL. Now near enough ; your leavy screens 

throw down, 

And show like those you are : You, worthy uncle, 
Shall, with my cousin, your right-noble son, 
Lead our first battle : worthy Macduff, and we, 
Shall take upon us what else remains to do, 
According to our order. 

Siw. Fare you well. 

Do we but find the tyrant's power to-night, 
Let us be beaten, if we cannot fight. 

MACD. Make all our trumpets speak ; give them 

all breath, 

Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death. 
\_Exeunt. Alarums continued. 


The same. Another Part of the Plain. 

MACS. They have tied me to a stake;, I cannot fly, 
But,bear-like,I must fight the course'*^- What's he, 

7 / must fight the course.] A phrase taken from bear- 
baiting. So, in The Antipodes, by Brome, 1638 : 

" Also you shall see two ten-dog courses at the great 
bear." STEEVENS. 


That was not born of woman ? Such a one 
Am I to fear, or none. 

Enter young SIWARD. 

Yo. Siw. What is thy name ? 

MACS. Thou'lt be afraid to hear it. 

Yo. Siw. No; though thou call'st thyself a hotter 

Than any is in hell. 

MACB. My name's Macbeth. 

Yo. Siw. The devil himself could not pronounce 

a title 
More hateful to mine ear. 

MACS. No, nor more fearful. 

Yo. Siw. Thou liest, abhorred tyrant ; with my 

I'll prove the lie thou speak'st. 

[ They Jight, and young Siward is slain. 

MACS. Thou wast born of woman. 

But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, 
Brandish'd by man that's or a woman born [Exit. 

Alarums. Enter MACDUFF. 

MACD. That way the noise is: Tyrant, show thy 


If thou be'st slain, and with no stroke of mine, 
My wife and children's ghosts will haunt me still. 

This short scene is injudiciously omitted on the stage. The 
poet designed Macbeth should appear invincible, till he en- 
countered the object destined for his destruction. STEEVENS. 

sc. ni. MACBETH. 287 

I cannot strike at wretched kernes, whose arras 

Are hir'd to bear their staves ; either thou, Macbeth, 

Or else my sword??with an unbatter'd edge, 

I sheathe again undeeded. There thou should'st be ; 

By this great clatter, one of greatest note 

Seems bruited?Let me find him, fortune! 

And more I beg no(?) [Exit. Alarum. 

9 either thou, Macbeth, 

Or else my siuord, &c.] I suspect an intermediate line has 
been lost ; perhaps of this import: 
either thou, Macbeth, 
Advance, and bravely meet an injur'd foe, 
Or else my sword, with an unbatter'd edge, 
I sheathe again undeeded. MALONE. 

Were any change in this line necessary, instead of either, we 
might read hither. " Hither, thou, Macbeth," would ellipti- 
cally mean " Come thou hither, Macbeth !" Lady Macbeth, 
apostrophising her absent husband, has used nearly the same 
phrase : 

" Hie thee hither, 

" That I may pour my spirits in thine ear." 
I cannot, however, persuade myself that any line is wanting 
to complete the sense of the passage. That abruptness which 
Mr. Malone regards as a blemish, (considering the present state 
of Macduff's mind,) should be received as a beauty. Shak- 
speare (as Prior says of the author of Hudibras) 

" sagacious master, knew 

" When to leave off, and when pursue." STEEVENS. 

My conjecture is, I believe, unfounded. In Cymbeline we 
have a similar phraseology : 

" Let's see't ; I will pursue her 

" Even to Augustus* throne: Or this, or perish." 


1 Seems bruited :] From bruit. Fr. To bruit is to report with 
clamour ; to noise. So, in King Henry IV. P. II : 
-his death 


Being bruited once," &c. 
n Timon of Athens : 

I am not 

One that rejoices in the common wreck, 
As common bruit doth put it." 

288 MACBETH. ACT v. 

Enter MALCOLM and old SIWARD. 

Siw. This way, my lord ; the castle's gently 

render'd : 

The tyrant's people on both sides do fight ; 
The noble thanes do bravely in the war ; 
The day almost itself professes yours, 
And little is to do. 

MAL. We have met with foes 

That strike beside us. 

Siw. Enter, sir, the castle. 

[Exeunt. Alarum. 

Re-enter MACBETH. 

MACS. Why should I play the Roman fool, and 

die -^ 

On mine own swords/whiles I see lives, the gashes 
Do better upon them. 

Again, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540: " Lais was one of the 
most bruited common women that clerkes do write of." 


* There thou should'st be; 
By this great clatter, one of greatest note 
Seems bruited. Let me fold him, fortune ! 
And more I beg not.} I suspect, from deficience of metre, 
that the latter part of this passage originally stood thus : 

Seems bruited there. Let me but Jind him) fortune ! 
And more &c. STEEVENS. 

3 Why should I play the Roman fool, and die 

On mine own sword?] Alluding, perhaps, to the suicide of 
Cato Uticensis, which our author must have read of in the old 
translation of Plutarch, as the same circumstance is mentioned 
again in Julius Ceesar : 

" 1 did blame Cato for the death 

" Which he did give himself." STEEVENS. 

. vii. MACBETH. 289 

Re-enter MACDUFF. 

MACD. Turn, hell-hound, turn. 

MACS. Of all men else I have avoided thee : 
But get thee back, my soul is too much charg'd 
With blood of thine already. 

MACD. I have no words, 

My voice is in my sword ^/thou bloodier villain 
Than terms can give thee out ! [They Jight. 

MACS. Thou losest labour : 

As easy may'st thou the intrenchant air 
With thy keen sword impress, as make me bleed sV 
Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests ; 
I bear a charmed life,' 5 which must not yield 
To one of woman born. 

* I have no "words, 

My voice is in my sivord ;] Thus Casca, in Julius Ccesar: 
" Speak hands for me." STEEVENS. 

* As easy may'st thou the intrenchant air 

With thy keen sword impress, as make me bleed:"] That is, air 
which cannot be cut. JOHNSON. 

Mr. M. Mason wishes to interpret the word intrenchant dif- 
ferently, and says that it may signify surrounding; but of a par- 
ticiple with such a meaning, I believe there is no example. 
Shakspeare's indiscriminate use of active and passive participles 
has been frequently noticed. In Timon he has trenchant in an 
active sense, and in the line before us intrenchant is employed 
as passive. 

Milton, in his Paradise Lost, B. VI. seems to have imitated, 
this passage : 

" Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound 

" Receive, no more than can the fluid air." STEEVENS. 

So, in Hamlet : 

" For it is as the air invulnerable" MA LONE. 

8 / bear a charmed life,] In the days of chivalry, the cham- 
pions' arms being ceremoniously blessed, each took an oath 
that he used no charmed weapons. Macbeth, according to the 

VOL, X. U 

290 MACBETH. ACT r. 

MACD. Despair thy charm ; 

And let the angel, whom thou still hast serv'd, 
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb 
Untimely ripp'd. 

MACS. Accursed be that tongue that tells me so, 
For it hath cow'd my better part of man ! 
And be these juggling fiends no more believ'd, 
That palter with us in a double sense ; 7 
That keep the word of promise to our ear, 
And break it to our hope. I'll not fight with thee. 

MACD. Then yield thee, coward, 
And live to be the show and gaze o'the time. 
We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are, 
Painted upon a pole ; 8 and underwrit, 
Here may you see the tyrant. 

law of arms, or perhaps only in allusion to this custom, tells 
Macduff of the security he had in the prediction of the spirit. 
To this likewise Posthumus alludes in Cymbeline, Act V : 

" I, in my own woe charm' d, 

" Could not find death." UPTON. 

So, in The Dumb Knight, 1633, by L. Machin : 

" Here you shall swear by hope, by heaven, by Jove, 
" And by the right you challenge in true fame, 
" That here you stand, not arm'd with any guile, 
" Of philters, charms, of night-spells, characters, 
" Or other black infernal vantages," &c. 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I. c. iv : 

" he bears a charmed shield, 

" And eke enchaunted arms that none can pierce." 


< * palter ivith us in a double sense;] That shuffle with am- 
biguous expressions. JOHNSON. 

So, in Marius and Sylla, 1594 : 

" Now fortune, frown and palter, if thou please." 
Again, in Julius Ccesar : 

" Romans, that have spoke the word, 

'* And will not palter." STEEVENS. 

We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are, 
Painted upon a pole ;] That is, on cloth suspended on a pole. 


x. viz. MACBETH. 291 

I'll not yield, 
/ToTuss the ground before young Malcolm's feet, 
( And to be baited with the rabble's curse. 
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane, 
And thou oppos'd, being of no woman born, 
Yet, I will try the last : Before my body 
I throw my warlike shield : lay on, Macduff ; 
And damn'd be him that first cries, Hold, enough. 


Retreat. Flourish. Re-enter, with Drum and 

MAL. I would, the friends we miss were safe 

Srw. Some must go off: -and yet, by these I see, 
So great a day as this is cheaply bought. 

MAL. Macduff is missing, and your noble son. 

ROSSE. Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's 

He only liv'd but till he was a man ; 

9 - Hold, enough.'] See Mr. Toilet's note on the 
words " To cry, hold, hold. 1 " p. 69, n. 5. Again, in Stowe's 
Chronicle, one of the combatants was an esquire, and knighted 
after the battle, which the king terminated by crying Hoo, i. e. 
hold. Thus also, in the ancient MS. Romance of The Sowdon 
^ Babyloyne, p. 33 : 

" His bare guttis men myght see, 

" The blode faste downe ranne : 

" Hoo, Olyuere I yelde me to the, 

*' And here I become thy man." STEEVENS. 

" To cry hold, is the word of yielding," says Carew's Survey 
of Cornwall, p. 74-, i. e. when one of the combatants cries so. 



292 MACBETH. ACT v. 

The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed 
In the unshrinking station where he fought, 
But like a man he died. 

Siw. Then he is dead ? 

ROSSE. Ay, and brought off the field: your 

cause of sorrow 

Must not be measur'd by his worth, for then 
It hath no end. 

Siw. Had he his hurts before ? 

ROSSE. Ay, on the front. 

Siw. Why then, God's soldier be he ! 

Had I as many sons as I have hairs, 
I would not wish them to a fairer death : 
And so his knell is knoll'd. 1 

MAL. He's worth more sorrow, 

And that I'll spend for him. 

Siw. He's worth no more ; 

They say, he parted well, and paid his score : 
So, God 2 be with him ! Here comes newer com- 

. ' Had I as many sons as I have hairs, 

I would not wish them to a fairer death : 

And so his knell is knoll'd.] This incident is thus related 
from Henry of Huntingdon, by Camden, in his Remains, from 
which our author probably copied it. 

When Siward, the martial earl of Northumberland, under- 
stood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the 
Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wounds were 
in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was an- 
swered, in the fore part, he replied, " I am right glad ; neither 
wish I any other death to me or mine." JOHNSON. 

Our author might have found the same incident recorded by 
Holinshed, in his Chronicle, Vol. I. p. 192. MALONE. 

* So, God &c."J The old copy redundantly reads And so, 
God &c. STEEVKNS. 

^ v ( 6 ^o L " U 

sc. ni. MACBETH. 293 

Re-enter MACDUFF, with M[ACBETH'S Head on a 

MACD. Hail, king! for so thou art: Behold, 

where stands 

The usurper's cursed head : the time is free : 
I see thee compass'd with thy kingdom's pearl, 4 

s on a Pole.] These words I have added to the stage- 
direction, from the Chronicle : " Then cutting his head from his 
shoulders, he set it upon a pole, and brought it unto Malcolm." 
This explains the word stands in Macduff *s speech. 

Many of the stage-directions appear to have been inserted by 
the players ; and they are often very injudicious. In this scene, 
(as Mr. Steevens has observed,) according to their direction, 
Macbeth is slain on the stage, and Macduff immediately after- 
wards enters with Macbeth's head. MA LONE. 

Our ancient players were not even skilful enough to prevent 
absurdity in those circumstances which fell immediately under 
their own management. No bad specimen of their want of 
common sense, on such occasions, may be found in Heywood's 
Golden Age, 1611 : " Enter Sybilla lying in childbed, with her 
child lying by her," &c. STEEVENS. 

4 thy kingdom's pearl,] This metaphorical expression was 

excluded by Mr. Rowe, after whom our modern editors were 
content to read peers. 

The following passage from Ben Jonson's Entertainment of the 
Queen and Prince at Althorpe, may, however, countenance the 
old reading, which I have inserted in the text : 
" Queen, prince, duke, and earls, 
" Countesies, ye courtly pearls," &c. 
Again, in Shirley's Gentlemen of Venice : 

" he is the very pearl 

" Of courtesy ." STEEVENS. 

Thy kingdom's pearl means thy kingdom's wealth, or rather 
ornament. So, J. Sylvester, England's Parnassus, 1600 : 

" Honour of cities, pearle of kingdoms all." 
Again, in Sir Philip Sydney's Ourania, by N. Breton, 1606 : 

" an earl, 

" And worthily then termed Albion's pearl." 
John Florio, in a Sonnet prefixed to his Italian Dictionary, 
1598, calls Lord Southampton " bright pearle of peers." 



That speak my salutation in their minds ; 
Whose voices I desire aloud with mine, 

Hail, king of Scotland ! 


ALL. King of Scotland, hail l^/ 


MAL. We shall not spend a large expence of 

Before we reckon with your several loves, 
And make us even with you. My thanes and kins- 

Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland 
In such an honour nam'4? What's more to do, 
Which would be planted newly with the time, 
As calling home our exil'd friends abroad, 
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny ; 
Producing forth the cruel ministers 

* King of Scotland, hail !] Old copy" Hail, king of Scot- 
land !" For the sake of metre, and in conformity to a practice 
of our author, I have transplanted the word hail, from the be- 
ginning to the end of this hemistich. Thus, in the third scene of 
the play, p. 41 : 

" So, all hail, Macbeth, and Banquo ! 

" Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail." STEEVENS. 

6 We shall not spend a large expence of time,~\ To spend an 
expence, is a phrase with which no reader will be satisfied. We 
certainly owe it to the mistake of a transcriber, or the negligence 
of a printer. Perhaps extent was the poet's word. Be it recol- 
lected, however, that at the end of the first scene of the third 
Act of The Comedy of Errors, Antipholus of Ephesus says 
" This jest shall cost me some expence." STEEVENS. 

7 the Jlrst that ever Scotland 

In such an honour nam'd.'] " Malcolm immediately after his 
coronation called a parlement at Forfair, in the which he re- 
warded them with lands and livings that had assisted him against 
Macbeth. Manie of them that were before thanes, were at this 
time made earles, as Fife, Menteth, Atholl, Levenox, Murrey, 
Cathness, Rosse, and Angus." Holinshed's History of Scot- 
.land, p. 176. MALOXE. 

sc. m. MACBETH. 295 

Of this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen ; 
Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands 
Took off her life ; This, and what needful else 
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace, 
We will perform in measure, time, and place : 
So thanks to all at once, and to each one, 
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone, 


8 This play is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its 
fictions, and solemnity, grandeur, and variety of its action; 
but it has no nice discriminations of character ; the events are 
too great to admit the influence of particular dispositions, and 
the course of the action necessarily determines the conduct of 
the agents. 

The danger of ambition is well described ; and I know not 
whether it may not be said, in defence of some parts which now 
.seem improbable, that, in Shakspeare's time, it was necessary to 
warn credulity against vain and illusive predictions. 

The passions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth 
is merely detested ; and though the courage of Macbeth pre- 
serves some esteem, yet every reader rejoices at his fall. 


How frequent the practice of enquiring into the events of 
futurity, similar to those of Macbeth, was in Shakspeare's time, 
may be seen in the following instances : *' The Marshall of Raiz 
wife hath bin heard to say, that Queen Katherine beeing desirous 
to know what should become of her children, and who should 
succeed them, the party which undertooke to assure her, let 
her see a glasse, representing a hall, in the which either of them 
made so many turns as he should raigne yeares ; and that King 
Henry the Third, making his, the Duke of Guise crost him like 
a flash of lightning ; after which, the Prince of Navarre pre- 
sented himselfe, and made 22 turnes, and then vanished." P. 
Mathieu's Heroyk Life and deplorable Death of Henry the 
Fourth, translated by Ed. Grimeston, 4to. 1612, p. 42. Again : 
' It is reported that a Duke of Bourgondy had like to have died 
for feare at the sight of the nine worthies which a magician 
shewed him." Ibid. p. 116. REED. 

Mr. Whitaker, in his judicious and spirited Vindication of 
Mary Queen of Scots, 8vo. p. 486, edit. 1790, has the follow- 
ing reference to the prophecies of one John Lenton : " All this 


serves to show the propriety of Shakspeare's scenes of the weird 
sisters, &c. as adapted to his own age. In the remote period of 
Macbeth, it might be well presumed, the popular faith mounted 
up into all the wildest extravagance described by him. In his 
own age it rose, as in Lady Shrewsbury here, and in Lady 
Derby, (Camden, Trans. 529, Orig. ii. 129,) into a belief in 
the verbal predictions of some reputed prophet then alive, or 
into a reliance upon the written predictions of some dead one. 
And Shakspeare might well endeavour to expose such a faith, 
when we see here, that though it could not lay hold of Queen 
Mary, yet it fastened firmly upon such a woman of the world as 
Lady Shrewsbury." 

It may be worth while to remark, that Milton, who left be- 
hind him a list of no less than CII. dramatic subjects, had fixed 
on the story of this play among the rest. His intention was 
to have begun with the arrival of Malcolm at MacdufF's castle. 
" The matter of Duncan (says he) may be expressed by the ap- 
pearing of his ghost". It should seem, from this last memo- 
randum, that Milton disliked the licence his predecessor had 
taken in comprehending a history of such length within the 
short compass of a play, and would have new-written the whole 
on the plan of the ancient drama. He could not surely have 
indulged so vain a hope, as that of excelling Shakspeare in the 
tragedy of Macbeth. 

The late Mr. Whately's Remarks on some of the Characters 
of Shakspeare, have shown, with the utmost clearness of dis- 
tinction and felicity of arrangement, that what in Richard III. 
is fortitude, in Macbeth is no more than resolution. But this 
judicious" critick having imputed the cause of Macbeth's in- 
feriority in courage to his natural disposition, induces me to dis- 
sent, in one particular, from an Essay, which otherwise is too 
comprehensive to need a supplement, and too rational to admit 
of confutation. 

Throughout such parts of this drama as afford opportunities 
for a display of personal bravery, Macbeth sometimes screws his 
courage to the sticking place, but never rises into constitutional 
heroism. Instead of meditating some decisive stroke on the 
enemy, his restless and self-accusing mind discharges itself in 
splenetic effusions and personal invectives on the attendants 
about his person. His genuine intrepidity had forsaken him 
when he ceased to be a virtuous character. He would now de- 
ceive himself into confidence, and depends on forced alacrity,, 
and artificial valour, to extricate him from his present difficul- 
ties. Despondency too deep to be rooted out, and fury too ir- 
regular to be successful, have, by turns, possession of his mind. 
Though he has been assured of what he certainly credited, that 


none of woman born shall hurt him, he has twice given us 
reason to suppose that he would have Jled, but that he cannot, 
being tied to the stake, and compelled to jight the course. Sui- 
cide also has once entered into his thoughts ; though this idea, 
in a paroxysm of noisy rage, is suppressed. Yet here it must 
be acknowledged that his apprehensions had betrayed him into a 
strange inconsistency of belief. As he persisted in supposing he 
could be destroyed by none of woman born, by what means did 
he think to destroy himself? lor he was produced in the common 
way of nature, and fell not within the description of the only 
object that could end the being of Macbeth. In short, his 
efforts are no longer those of courage, but of despair, excited 
by self-conviction, infuriated by the menaces of an injured 
father, and confirmed by a presentiment of inevitable defeat. 
Thus situated, Dum nee luce Jrui, nee mortem arcere licebit, 
he very naturally prefers a manly and violent, to a shameful and 
lingering termination of life. 

One of Shakspeare's favourite morals js that criminality re- 
duces the brave and pusillanimous to a level. Every puny 
whipster gets my sword, exclaims Othello, for why should 
honour outlive honesty? Where I could not be honest, says 
Albany, / was never valiant; lachimo imputes his want of 
manhood to the heaviness and guilt within his bosom ; Hamlet 
asserts that conscience does make cowards of us all; and Imogen 
tells Pisanio he may be valiant in a better cause, but now he seems 
a coward. The late Dr. Johnson, than whom no man was better 
acquainted with general nature, in his Irene, has also observed 
of a once faithful Bassa 

" How guilt, when harbour'd in the conscious breast, 
** Intimidates the brave, degrades the great ! 
" See Cali, dread of kings, and pride of armies, 
" By treason levell'd with the dregs of men ! 
. " Ere guilty fear depress'd the hoary chief, 
" An angry murmur, a rebellious frown, 
" Had stretch'd the fiery boaster in his grave." 
Who then can suppose that Shakspeare would have exhibited 
his Macbeth with encreasing guilt, but undiminished bravery? 
or wonder that our hero 

" Whose pester' d senses do recoil and start, 
" When all that is within him does condemn 
" Itself for being there," 

should have lost the magnanimity he displayed in a righteous 
cause, against Macdonwald and the thane of Cawdor ? Of this 
circumstance, indeed, the murderer of Duncan was soon aware, 
as appears from his asking himself the dreadful question 
- " How is't with me, when every noise appals me ?" 


Between the courage of Richard and Macbeth, however, INT 
comparison in favour of the latter can be supported. Richard 
was so thoroughly designed for a daring, impious, and obdurate 
character, that even his birth was attended by prodigies, and 
his person armed with ability to do the earliest mischief of which 
infancy is capable. Macbeth, on the contrary, till deceived by 
the illusions of witchcraft, and depraved by the suggestions of 
his wife, was a religious, temperate, and blameless character. 
The vices of the one were originally woven into his heart ; 
those of the other were only applied to the surface of his dis- 
position. They can scarce be said to have penetrated quite into 
its substance, for while there was shame, there might have been 

The precautions of Richard concerning the armour he was to 
wear in the next day's battle, his preparations for the onset, and 
his orders after it is begun, are equally characteristick of a calm 
and intrepid soldier, who possesses the 'wisdom that appeared so 
formidable to Macbeth, and guided Banquo's valour to act in 
safety. But Macbeth appears in confusion from the moment 
his castle is invested, -issues no distinct or material directions, 
prematurely calls for his armour, as irresolutely throws it off 
again, and is more intent on self-crimination, than the repulse 
of the besiegers, or the disposition of the troops who are to de- 
fend his fortress. But it is useless to dwell on particulars so 
much more exactly enumerated by Mr. Whately. 

The truth is, that the mind of Richard, unimpregnated by 
original morality, and uninfluenced by the laws of Heaven, is 
harrassed by no subsequent remorse. turpissimus. 
Even the depression he feels from preternatural objects, is 
speedily taken oft'. In spite of ominous visions he sallies forth, 
and seeks his competitor in the throat of death. Macbeth, 
though he had long abandoned the practice of goodness, had 
not so far forgot his accustomed influence, but that a virtuous 
adversary whom he had injured, is as painful to his sight as the 
spectre in a former scene, and equally blasts the resolution he 
was willing to think he had still possessed. His conscience (as 
Hamlet says of the poison) overcrows his spirit, and all his 
enterprizes are sicklied over by the pale cast of thought. The 
curse that attends on him is, virtutem videre, et intabescere 
relicta. Had Richard once been a feeling and conscientious 
character, when his end drew nigh, he might also have be- 
trayed evidences of timidity " there sadly summing what he 
late had lost;" and if Macbeth originally had been a hardened 
villain, no terrors might have obtruded themselves in his close 
of life. Qualis ab incepto processerat. In short, Macbeth is 
timid in spite of all his boasting, as long as he thinks timidity 


can afford resources ; nor does he exhibit a specimen of de- 
termined intrepidity, till the completion of the prophecy, and 
the challenge of Macduff, have taught him that life is no longer 
tenable. Five counterfeit Richmonds are slain by Richard, 
who, before his fall, has enacted wonders beyond the common 
ability of man. The prowess of Macbeth is confined to the 
single conquest of Siward, a novice in the art of war. Neither 
are the truly brave ever disgraced by unnecessary deeds of 
cruelty. The victims of Richard, therefore, are merely such as 
obstructed his progress to the crown, or betrayed the confidence 
he had reposed in their assurances of fidelity. Macbeth, with a 
savage wantonness that would have dishonoured a Scythian fe- 
male, cuts off a whole defenceless family, though the father of 
it was the only reasonable object of his fear. Can it be a 
question then which of these two personages would manifest 
the most determined valour in the field ? Shall we hesitate to 
bestow the palm of courage on the steady unrepenting Yorkist, 
in whose bosom ideas of hereditary greatness, and confidence 
resulting from success, had fed the flame of glory, and who 
dies in combat for a crown which had been the early object of 
his ambition ? and shall we allot the same wreath to the waver- 
ing self-convicted Thane, who, educated without hope of royalty, 
had been suggested into greatness, and yet, at last, would forego 
it all to secure himself by flight, but that flight is become an 
impossibility ? 

To conclude ; a picture of conscience encroaching on forti- 
tude, of magnanimity once animated by virtue, and afterwards 
extinguished by guilt, was what Shakspeare meant to display in 
the character and conduct of Macbeth. STEEVENS. 

Macbeth was certainly one of Shakspeare's latest productions, 
and it might possibly have been suggested to him by a little per- 
formance on the same subject at Oxford, before King James, 
1605. I will transcribe my notice of it from Wake's Rex Pla- 
tonicus : " Fabulae ansam dedit antiqua de regia prosapia his- 
toriola apud Scoto-Britannos celebrata, quae narrat tres olim 
Sibyllas occurrisse duobus Scotiae proceribus, Macbetho & Ban- 
choni, & ilium praedixisse regem futurum, sed regem nullum 
geniturum; hunc regem non futurum, sed reges geniturum 
multos. Vaticinii veritatem rerum eventus comprobavit. Ban- 
chonis enim e stirpe potentissimus Jacobus oriundus." p. 29. 

Since I made the observation here quoted, I have been re- 
peatedly told, that I unwittingly make Shakspeare learned, at 
least in Latin, as this must have been the language of the per- 
formance before King James. One might, perhaps, have 
plausibly said, that he probably picked up the story at second- 


hand ; but mere accident has thrown a pamphlet in my way, 
intitled The Oxford Triumph, by one Anthony Nixon, 1605, 
which explains the whole matter: " This performance, says 
Antony, was first in Latine to the king, then in English to the 
queene and young prince:" and, as he goes on to tell us, " the 
conceipt thereof the kinge did very much applaude." It is 
likely that the friendly letter, which we are informed King 
James once wrote to Shakspeare, was on this occasion. 


Dr. Johnson used often to mention an acquaintance of his, 
who was for ever boasting what great things he would do, could 
he but meet with Ascham's Toxophilus,* at a time when 
Ascham's pieces had not been collected, and were very rarely 
to be found. At length Toxophilus was procured, but nothing 
was done. The interlude performed at Oxford in 160.5, by the 
students of Saint John's college, was, for a while, so far my 
Toxophilus, as to excite my curiosity very strongly on the sub- 
ject. Whether Shakspeare, in the composition of this noble 
tragedy, was at all indebted to any preceding performance, 
through the medium of translation, or in any other way, ap- 
peared to me well worth ascertaining. The British Museum was 
examined in vain. Mr. Warton very obligingly made a strict 
search at St. John's college, but no traces of this literary per- 
formance could there be found. At length chance threw into 
my hands the very verses that were spoken in 1605, by three 
young gentlemen of that college ; and, being thus at last obtain- 
ed, " that no man" (to use the words of Dr. Johnson) " may 
ever want them more," I will here transcribe them. 

There is some difficulty in reconciling the different accounts 
of this entertainment. The author of Rex Platonicus says, 
" Tres adolescentes concinno Sibyllarum habitu induti, e collegio 

* Ascham's Toxophilus,] Mr. Malone is somewhat mistaken in his 

account of Dr. Johnson's pleasantry, which originated from an observation 
made by Mr. Theobald in 1733, and repeated by him in 1740. See his note 
on Much Ado about Nothing, in his 8vo. edition of Shakspeare, Vol. I. 
p. 410 ; and his duodecimo, Vol. II. p. 12 : " and had I the conveni- 
ence of consulting Ascham's Toxophilus, I might probably grow better ac- 
quainted with his history:" i. e. that of Adam Bell, the celebrated archer. 

Mr. Theobald was certainly no diligent inquirer after ancient books, or 
was much out of luck, if, in the course of ten years, he could not procure 
the treatise he wanted, which was always sufficiently common. I have abun- 
dant reason to remember the foregoing circumstance, having often stood the 
push of my late coadjutor's merriment, on the same score ; for he never 
heard me lament the scarcity of any old pamphlet, from which I expected 
to derive information, but he instantly roared out " Sir, remember Tib 
and his Toxophilus." STEEVENB. 


[Divi Johannis] prodeuntes, et carmina lepida alternatim 
canentes, regi se tres esse Sibyllas profitentur, quae Banchoni 
olim sobolis imperia praedixerant, &c. Deinde tribus principi- 
bus suaves felicitatum triplicitates triplicates carminum vicibus 
succinentes, principes ingeniosa fictiuncula delectatos dimit- 

But in a manuscript account of the king's visit to Oxford in 
1605, in the Museum, (MSS. Baker, 7044,) thi interlude is 
thus described : " This being done, he [the king] rode on un- 
till he came unto St. John's college, where coming against the 
gate, three young youths, in habit and attire like Nymphes, 
confronted him, representing England, Scotland, and Ireland ; 
and talking dialogue-wise each to other of their state, at last 
concluded, yielding up themselves to his gracious government.'* 
With this A. Nixon's account, in The Oxford Triumph, quarto, 
1605, in some measure agrees, though it differs in a very ma- 
terial point; for, if his relation is to be credited, these young 
men did not alternately recite verses, but pronounced three dis- 
tinct orations : " This finished, his Majestic passed along till hee 
came before Saint John's college, when three little boyes, com- 
ing foorth of a castle made all of ivie, drest like three nymphes, 
(the conceipt whereof the king did very much applaude,) de- 
livered three orations, first in Latine to the king, then in English 
to the queene and young prince; which being ended, his majestie 
proceeded towards the east gate of the citie, where the townes- 
men againe delivered to him another speech in English." 

From these discordant accounts one might be led to suppose, 
that there were six actors on this occasion, three of whom per- 
sonated the Sybills, or rather the Weird Sisters, and addressed 
the royal visitors in Latin, and that the other three represented 
England, Scotland, and Ireland, and spoke only in English. I 
believe, however, that there were but three young men em- 
ployed; and after reciting the following Latin lines, (which 
prove that the weird sisters and the representatives of England, 
Scotland, and Ireland, were the same persons,) they might, 
perhaps, have pronounced some English verses of a similar im- 
port, for the entertainment of the queen and the princes. 

To the Latin play of Vertumnus, written by Dr. Mathevr 
Gwynne, which was, acted before the king by some of the 
students of St. John's college on a subsequent day, we are in- 
debted for the long-sought-for interlude, performed at St. John's 
gate ; for Dr. Gwynne, who was the author of this interlude 
also, has annexed it to his Vcrtwnnus, printed in 4to. in 1607. 


" Ad regis introitum, e Joannensi Collegio extra portara urbis 
borealem sito, tres quasi Sibyllae, sic (ut e sylva) salutarunt. 

1 . Fatidicas olira fama est cecinisse sorores 
Imperium sine fine tuae, rex inclyte, stirpis. 
Banquonem agnovit generosa Loquabria Thanura ; 
Nee tibi, Banquo, tuis sed sceptra nepotibus illae 
Immortalibus immortalia vaticinatae : 

In saltum, ut lateas, dum Banquo recedis ab aula. 
Tres eadem pariter canimus tibi fata tuisque, 
Dum spectande tuis, e saltu accedis ad urbem; 
Teque salutamus : Salve, cui Scotia servit ; 

2. Anglia cui, salve. 3. Cui servit Hibernia, salve. 

1. Gallia cui titulos, terras dant caetera, salve. 

2. Quern divisa prius colit una Britannia, salve. 

3. Sumrae Monarcha Brittanice, Hibernice, Gallice, 

' 1. ANNA, parens regum, soror, uxor, filia, salve. 

2. Salve, HENRICE haeres, princeps pulclierrime, salve. 

3. Dux CAROLE, et perbelle Polonice regule, salve. 
1 . Nee metas fatis, nee tempora ponimus istis ; 
Quin orbis regno, famae sint terminus astra : 
CANUTUM referas regno quadruplice clarum ; 
Major avis, aequande tuis diademate solis. 

Nee serimus caedes, nee bella, nee anxia corda ; 

Nee furor in nobis ; sed agente calescimus illo 

Numine, quo Thomas Whitus per somnia motus, 

Londinenses eques, musis haec tecta dicavit. 

Musis ? imo Deo, tutelarique Joanni. 

Ille Deo charum et curam, prope praetereuntem 

Ire salutatum, Christi precursor, ad aedem 

Christi pergentem, jussit. Dicta ergo salute 

Perge, tuo aspectu sit laeta Academia, perge." MALONE. 


As that singular curiosity, The Witch, printed by Mr. Reed, 
and distributed only among his friends, cannot fall in the way of 
every curious and inquisitive reader of Shakspeare, I am induced 
to subjoin such portions of it (though some of them are already 
glanced at) as might have suggested the idea on which our, au- 
thor founded his unrivalled scene of enchantment, in the fourth 
Act of the present tragedy. 

Let it not be supposed, however, that such coincidences ought 
any way to diminish the fame of Shakspeare, whose additions 
and adaptations have, in every instance, manifested the richness 
of his own fancy, and the power of his own judgment. 

The lyrick part, indeed, of the second of these extracts, has 
already appeared in my note, under the article Macbeth, ia Mr. 
Malone's Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare' s Plays, 
Vol. II. and is repeated here only for the sake of juxtaposition, 
and because its adjuncts (to borrow a phrase from Lady Mac- 
beth) would have been " bare without it." The whole is given 
with its antiquated spelling, corrected from the original MS. 



Enter HECCAT ; and other Witches (with Properties, and 
Habitts jitting. ) 

Hec. Titty, and Tiffin, Suckin 

And Pidgen, Liard, and Robin ! 

White spiritts, black spiritts, gray spiritts, redd speritts; 
Devill-Toad, Devill-Ram, Devill-Catt, and Devill-Dam. 
Why Hoppo and Stadlin, Hellwin and Prickle ! 

Stad. Here, sweating at the vessel. 

Hec. Boyle it well. 

Hop. It gallops now. 

Hec. Are the flames blew enough ? 
Or shall I use a little seeten more ? 

Stad. The nipps of Fayries upon maides white hipps, 
Are not more perfect azure. 

Hec. Tend it carefully. 
Send Stadlin to me with a brazen dish, 
That I may fall to work upon theis serpents, 
And squeize 'em ready for the second howre. 
Why, when ? 
- Stad. Heere's Stadlin, and the dish. 

Hec. There take this un-baptized brat : 
Boile it well : preserve the fat : 


You know 'tis pretious to transfer 

Our 'noynted flesh into the aire, 

In moone-light nights, ore steeple-topps, 

Mountains, and pine-trees, that like pricks, or stopps, 

Seeme to our height : high towres, and roofes of princes, 

Like wrinckles in the earth : whole provinces 

Appeare to our sight then, ev'n leeke 

A russet-moale upon some ladies cheeke. 

When hundred leagues in aire we feast and sing, 

Daunce, kisse, and coll, use every thing : 

What yong-man can we wish to pleasure us 

But we enjoy him in an Incubus? 

Thou know'st it Stadlin ? 

Stad. Usually that's don. 

Hec. Last night thou got'st the Maior of Whelplies son, 
I knew him by his black cloake lyn'd with yallow; 
I thinck thou hast spoild the youth : hee's but seaventeene. 
I'll have him the next mounting : away, in. 
Goe feed the vessell for the second howre. 

Stad. Where be the magicall herbes > 

Hec. They're downe his throate. 

His mouth cramb'd full ; his eares, and nosthrills stufft. 
I thrust in Eleoselinum, lately 
Aconitum, frondes populeus, and soote, 
You may see that, he looks so black i'th* mouth : 
Then Sium, Acharum, Vulgaro too 
Dentaphillon, the blood of a flitter-mowse, 
Solanum somnificum et oleum. 

Stad. Then ther's all Heccat ? 

Hec. Is the hart of wax 
Stuck full of magique needles ? ; 

Stad. 'Tis don Heccat. 

Hec. And is the Farmer's picture, and his wives, 
Lay'd down to th* fire yet ? 

Stad. They are a roasting both too. 

Hec. Good; 

Then their marrowes are a melting subtelly, 
And three monethes sicknes sucks up life m 'em. 
They denide me often flowre, barme, and milke, 
Goose-greaze and tar, when I nere hurt their churnings, 
Their brew-locks nor their batches, nor fore-spoake 
Any of their breedings. Now I'll be-meete with 'em. 
Seaven of their yong piggs I have be-witch'd already 
Of the last litter, nine ducklyngs, thirteene goselings and a 

Fell lame last Sonday after even-song too. 


And mark how their sheepe prosper ; or what soupe 
Each milch-kine gives to th' paile : Til send these snakes 
Shall milke 'em all before hand : the dew'd-skirted dayrie 


Shall stroak dry duggs for this, and goe home curssing : 
I'll mar their sillabubs, and swathic feast ings 
Under cowes bellies, with the parish-youthes : 


Wher's Firestone? our son Firestone. 

Fire. Here am I mother. 

Hec. Take in this brazen dish full of deere ware, 
Thou shalt have all when 1 die, and that wil be 
Ev'n just at twelve a clock at night come three yeere. 

Fire. And may you not have one a-clock in to th' dozen 

Hec. Noh. 

Fire. Your spirits are then more unconscionable then bakers : 
You'll have liv'd then (Mother) six-score yeare to the hundred; 
and me-thincks after six-score yeares the devill might give you 
a cast ; for he's a fruiterer too, and has byn from the beginning : 
the first apple that ere was eaten, came through his fingers : The 
Costermongers then I hold to be the auncientest trade, though 
some would have the Tailor prick'd downe before him. 

Hec. Goe and take heed you shed not by the way : 
The howre must have her portion, 'tis deere sirrop. 
Each charmed drop is able to confound 
A famely consisting of nineteene, 
Or one and twentie feeders. 

Fire. Mary, heere's stuff indeed ! Deere surrup call you it ? 
a little thing would. make me give you a dram on't in a possett, 
and cutt you three yeares shorter. 

Hec. Thou'rt now about some villany. 

Fire. Not I (forsooth) Truly the devil's in her I thinck. 
How one villanie smells out an other straight: Ther's no knavery 
but is nosde like a dog, and can smell out a doggs meaning. 
( Mother) I pray give me leave to ramble a-broad to-night with 
the night-mare, for I have a great mind to over-lay a fat parson's 

Hec. And who shall lye with me then ? 

Fire. The great cat for one night ( Mother) . 'Tis but a night : 
make shift with him for once. 

Hec. You're a kind son : 
But 'tis the nature of you all, I see that : 

VOL. X. X 


You had rather hunt after strange women still, 
Then lye with your owne mother : Gett thee gon ; 
Sweatt thy six ounces out about the vessell, 
And thou shalt play at mid-night : the night-mare 
Shall call thee when it walkes. 
Fire. Thancks most sweet Mother. [Exit. 


Hec. Urchins, Elves, Haggs, Satires, Pans, Fawnes, silence. 
Kitt with the candlestick ; Tritons, Centaures, Dwarfes, Imps, 
the Spoone, the Mare, the Man i'th'oake ; the Hell-waine, the 
Fire-drake, the Puckle. A. Ab. Hur. Hus. 

Seb. Heaven knowes with what unwillingnes and hate 
I enter this dambd place : but such extreemes 
Of wrongs in love, fight 'gainst religion's knowledge, 
That were I ledd by this disease to deaths 
As numberles as creatures that must die, 
I could not shun the way : I know what 'tis 
To pitty mad-men now ; they're wretched things 
That ever were created, if they be 
Of woman's making, and her faithles vowes : 
I fear they're now a kissing: what's a clock ? 
'Tis now but supper-time : But night will come, 
And all new-married copples make short suppers. 
What ere thou art, I have no spare time to teare thee ; 
My horrors are so strong and great already, 
That thou seem'st nothing: Up and laze not: 
Hadst thou my busynes, thou couldst nere sit soe ; 
'Twould firck thee into ayre a thousand mile, 
Beyond thy oynetments: I would, I were read 
So much in thy black powre, as mine owne greifes ! 
Pme in great need of help : wil't give me any ? 

Hec. Thy boldnes takes me bravely: we are all sworne 
To sweatt for such a spirit : See ; I regard thee, 
I ri^-e, and bid thee welcome. What's thy wish now ? 

Seb. Oh my heart swells with't. I must take breath first. 

Hec. Is't to confound some enemie on the seas ? 
It may be don to night. Stadlin's within; 
She raises all your sodaine ruinous stormes 
That shipwrack barks, and teares up growing oakes, 
Fives over houses, and takes Anno Domini 
Out of a rich man's chimney (a sweet place for't) 
He would be hang'd ere he would set his owne yeares there, 
They must be chamber'd in a five-pound picture, 


A greene silk curtaine drawne before the eies on't, 

(His rotten disease! yeares)! Or dost thou envy 

The fat prosperitie of any neighbour ? 

I'll call forth Hoppo, and her incantation 

Can straight destroy the yong of all his cattell : 

Blast vine-yards, orchards, meadowes ; or in one night 

Transport his doong, hay, come, by reekes, whole stacks, 

Into thine owne ground. 

Seb. This would come most richely now 
To many a cuntry grazier : But my envy 
Lies not so lowe as cattell, corne, or vines : 
'Twill trouble your best powres to give me ease. 

Hec. Is yt to starve up generation ? 
To strike a barrennes in man or woman ? 

Seb. Hah! 

Hec. Hah ! did you feele me there ? I knew your griefe. 

Seb. Can there be such things don ? 

Hec. Are theis the skins 
Of serpents ? theis of snakes ? 

Seb. I see they are. 

Hec. So sure into what house theis are convay'd 
Knitt with theis charmes, and retentive knotts, 
Neither the man begetts, nor woman breeds ; 
No, nor performes the least desire of wedlock, 
Being then a mutuall dutie : I could give thee 
Chiroconita, Adincantida, 
Archimadon, Mannar it in, Calicia, 
Which I could sort to villanous barren ends, 
But this leades the same way : More I could instance : 
As the same needles thrust into their pillowes 
That soawes and socks up dead men in their sheets : 
A privy grizzel of a man that hangs 
After sun-sett: Good, excellent: yet all's there (Sir). 

Seb. You could not doe a man that speciail kindnes 
To part them utterly, now ? Could you doe that ? 

Hec. No : tune must do't : we cannot disioyne wedlock : 
'Tis of heaven's fastning : well may we raise jarrs, 
Jealouzies, strifFes, and hart-burning disagreements, 
Like a thick skurff ore life, as did our master 
Upon that patient miracle : but the work itself 
Our powre cannot dis-joynt. jty* 

Seb. I depart happy 

In what I have then, being constrain'd to this : 
And graunt you (greater powres) that dispose men, 
That I may never need this hag agen. [Exit. 



Hec. I know he loves me not, nor there's no hope on't ; 
'Tis for the love of mischief I doe this, 
And that we are sworne to the first oath we take. 

Fire. Oh mother, mother. 

Hec. What's the newes with thee now ? 

Fire. There's the bravest yong gentleman within, and the 
lineliest drunck : I thought he would have falne into the vessel : 
he stumbled at a pipkin of childes greaze ; reelde against Stad- 
lin, overthrew her, and in the tumbling cast, struck up old 
Puckles heels with her clothes over her eares. 

Hec. Hoy-day! 

Fire. I was fayne to throw the cat upon her to save her 
honestie ; and all litle enough : I cryde out still, I pray be 
coverd. See where he comes now (Mother). 


Aim. Call you theis witches ? 
They be tumblers me-thinckes, very flat tumblers. 

Hec. 'Tis Almachildes : fresh blood stirrs in me 
The man that I have lusted to enjoy: 
I have had him thrice in Incubus already. 

Al. Is your name gooddy Hag ? 

Hec. 'Tis any thing. 

Call me the horridst and unhallowed things 
That life and nature tremble at ; for thee 
I'll be the same. Thou com'st for a love-charme now ? 

Al. Why thou'rt a witch, I thinck. 

Hec. Thou shall have choice of twentie, wett, or drie. 

Al. Nay let's have drie ones. 

Hec. Yf thou wilt use't by way of cup and potion, 
I'll give thee a Remora shall be-witch her straight. 

Al. A Remora ? what's that ? 

Hec. A litle suck-stone, 
Some call it a stalamprey, a small fish. 

Al. And must "be butter'd ? 

Hec. The bones of a greene frog too : wondrous pretious, 
The flesh consumed by pize-mires. 

Al. Pize-mires ! give me a chamber-pot. 

Fire. You shall see him goe nigh to be so unmannerly, hee'll 
make water before my mother anon. 

Al. And now you talke of frogs, I have somewhat here : 
I come not emptie pocketted from a bancket. 
(I learn'd that of my haberdashers wife.) 
Looke, gooddy witch, there's a toad in marchpane for you. 


Hec. Oh sir, y'have fitted me. 

AL And here's a spawne or two 
Of the same paddock-brood too, for your son. 

Fire. I thanck your worship, sir : how comes your handker- 
cher so sweetely thus beray'd ? sure tis wet sucket, sir. 

Al. 'Tis nothing but the sirrup the toad spit, 
Take all I pree-thee. 

Hec. This was kindly don, sir, 
And you shall sup with me to-night for this. 

Al. How ? sup with thee ? dost thinck I'll eate fryde ratts, 
And pickled spiders ? 

Hec. No : I can command, Sir, 
The best meat i'th' whole province for my frends, 
And reverently servd in too. 

Al. How > 

Hec. In good fashion. 

AL Let me but see that, and I'll sup with you. 

She conjures; and enter a Catt (playing on ajidle} and Spiritts 
(with meate}. 

The Catt and Fidle's an excellent ordinarie : 
You had a devill once in a fox-skin. 

Hec. Oh, I have him still : come walke with me, Sir. [Exit. 

Fire. How apt and ready is a drunckard now to reele to the 
devill! Well I'll even in, and see how he eates, and I'll be 
hang'd if I be not the fatter of the twaine with laughing at him. 



Hec. The moone's a gallant ; see how brisk she rides. 

Stad. Heer's a rich evening, Heccat. 

Hec. I, is't not wenches, 
To take a jorney of five thousand mile ? 

Hop. Ours will be more to-night. 

Hec. Oh, 'twill be pretious : heard you the owle yet ? 

Stad. Breifely in the copps, 
As we came through now. 

Hec. 'Tis high time for us then. 

Stad. There was a bat hoong at my lips three times 
As we came through the woods, and drank her fill. 
Old Puckle saw her. 


Hec. You are fortunate still : 
The very schreich-owle lights upon your shoulder, 
And wooes you, like a pidgeon. Are you furnish'd ? 
Have you your oyntraents ? 

Stad. All. 

Hec. Prepare to flight then : 
I'll over-take you swiftly. 

Stad. Hye thee Heccat : 
We shal be up betimes. 

Hec. I'll reach you quickly. 

Fire, They are all going a birding to-night. They talk of 
fowles i'th'aire, that fly by day : I am sure they'll be a company 
of fowle slutts there to night. Yf we have not mortallitie 
affer'd, I'll be hang'd, for they are able to putryfie, to infect a 
whole region. She spies me now. 

Hec. What Fire-Stone, our sweet son ? 

Fire. A little sweeter then some of y6u ; or a doonghill were 
too good for me. 

Hec. How much hast here ? 

Fire. Nineteene, and all brave plump ones ; besides six lizards, 
and three serpentine eggs. 

Hec. Deere and sweet boy : what herbes hast thou ? 

Fire. I have some Mar-martin, and Man-dragon. 

Hec. Marmaritin, and Mandragora, thou wouldst say. 

Fire. Heer's Pannax too : I thanck thee, my pan akes I am 
sure with kneeling downe to cut 'em. 

Hec. And Selago, 

Hedge hisop too : how neere he goes my cuttings ? 
Were they all cropt by moone light ? 

Fire. Every blade of 'em, or I am a moone-calf (Mother). 

Hec. Hye thee home with 'em. 
Looke well to the house to night : I am for aloft. 

Fire.. Aloft (quoth you?) I would you would breake your 
neck once, that I might have all quickly. Hark, hark, mother ; 
they are above the steeple alredy, flying over your head with a 
noyse of musitians. 

Hec. They are they indeed. Help me, help me ; I'm too 
late els. 

SONG. Come away, come away; ) . ,7 

Heccat, Heccat, come away. ] m the aire ' 
Hec. I come, I come, I come, I come, 
With all the speed I may, 
With all the speed I may. 
Whet's Stadlin ? 

Heere > in the aire. 


Wher's Puckle ? 

Heere : } 

And Hoppo too, and Hellwaine too : f . ,, 
We lack but you ; we lack but you ; ( 
Come away, make up the count. ) 
Hec. I will but noynt, and then I mount. 

[A spirit like a Cat descendt. 
There's one comes downe to fetch his dues ; ^ 
A kisse, a coll, a sip of blood : V above. 

And why thou staist so long 3 

I muse, I muse, 

Since the air's so sweet and good. 
Hec. Oh, art thou come, 

What newes, what newes ? 
All goes still to our delight, 
Either come, or els 

Refuse, refuse. 

Hec. Now I am furnish'd for the flight. 
Fire. Hark, hark, the Catt sings a brave treble in her owne 

Hec. going up.~\ Now I goe, now I flie, 

Malkin my sweete spirit and I. 
Oh what a daintie pleasure tis 
To ride in the aire 
When the moone shines faire, 
And sing and daunce, and toy and kiss : 
Over woods, high rocks, and mountaines, 
Over seas, our mistris fountaines, 
Over steepe towres and turretts 
We fly by night, 'mongst troopes of spiritts. 
No ring of bells to our eares sounds, 
No howles of woolves, no yelpes of hounds ; 
No, not the noyse of water*s-breache, 
Or cannon's throat, our height can reache. 

No Ring of bells, &c. [ above. 

Fire. Well mother, I thanck your kindnes: You must be 
gambolling i'th'aire, and leave me to walk here like a foole and 
a mortal). [Exit. 




Hec. What death is't you desire for Almachildes ? 
Duck. A sodaine and a subtle. 
Hec. Then I have fitted you. 
Here lye .the guifts of both ; sodaine and subtle : 
His picture made in wax, and gently molten 
By a blew fire, kindled with dead mens' eyes, 
Will waste him by degrees. 

Duck. In what time, pree-thee ? 
Hec. Perhaps in a moone's progresse. 
Duch. What ? a moneth ? 
Out upon pictures ! if they be so tedious, 
Give me things with some life. 
Hec. Then seeke no farther. 

Duch. This must be don with speed, dispatch'd this night, 
If it may possible. 

Hec. 1 have it for you : 

Here's that will do't : stay but perfection's time, 
And that's not five howres hence. 
Duch. Canst thou do this ? 
Hec. Can I ? 

Duch. 1 meane, so closely. 
Hec. So closely doe you meane too ? 
Duck. So artfully, so cunningly. 
Hec. Worse & worse ; doubts and incredulities, 
They make me mad. Let scrupulous creatures know 
Cum volui, ripis ipsis mirantibus, amnes 
In fontes rediere suos ; concussaq. sisto, 
Stantia concutio cantu freta ; nubila pello, 
Nubilaq. induco : ventos abigoq. vocoq. 
Vipereas rumpo verbis et carmine fauces ; 
Et silvas moveo, jubeoq. tremiscere monies, 
Et mugire solum, manesq. exire sepulchris. 
Te quoque Luna traho. 
Can you doubt me then, daughter, 
That can make mountains tremble, miles of woods walk; 
Whole earth's foundation bellow, and the spiritts 
Of the entomb d to burst out from their marbles ; 
Nay, draw yond moone to my envolv'd designes ? 

Fire. I know as well as can be when my mother's mad and 
our great catt angrie ; for one spitts French then, and thother 
pitts Latten. 


Duck. I did not doubt you, Mother. 
Hec. No ? what did you, 
My powre's so firrae, it is not to be question'd. 

Duch. Forgive what's past : and now I know th' offensivenes 
That vexes art, I'll shun th' occasion ever. 

Hec. Leave all to me and my five sisters, daughter. 
It shall be convaid in at howlett-time. 
Take you no care. My spiritts know their moments : 
Raven, or screitch-owle never fly by th' dore 
But they call in (I thanck 'em) and they loose not by't. 
I give 'em barley soakd in infants' blood : ' 
They shall have semina cum sanguine, 
Their gorge cramd full if they come once to our house : 
We are no niggard. 

Fire. They fare but too well when they come heather : they 
eate up as much tother night as would have made me a good 
conscionable pudding. 

Hec. Give me some lizard's-braine : quickly Firestone. 
Wher's grannam Stadlin, and all the rest o'th' sisters ? 

Fire. All at hand forsooth. 

Hec. Give me Marmaritin ; some Beare-breech : when ? 

Fire. Heer's Beare-breech, and lizards-braine forsooth. 

Hec. In to the vessell ; 

And fetch three ounces of the red-hair'd girle 
I kill'd last midnight. 

Fire. Whereabouts, sweet Mother? 

Hec. Hip ; hip or flanck. Where is the Acopus ? 

Fire. You shall have Acopus, forsooth. 

Hec. Stir, stir about ; whilst I begin the charme. 

A charme Song, about a Vessell. 

Black spiritts, and white ; Red spiritts, and gray ; 
Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may. 

Titty, Tiffin, keepe it stiff in ; 

Fire-drake, Puckey, make it luckey ; 

Liard, Robin, you must bob in. 
Round, around, around, about, about; 
All ill come running in, all good keepe out ! 
1 Witch. Heer's the blood of a bat. 

Hec. Put in that ; oh put in that. 
2. Heer's libbard's-bane. 

Hec. Put in againe. 

1. The juice of toad ; the oile of adder. 

2. Those will make the yonker madder. 


Hec. Put in ; ther's all, and rid the stench. 
Fire. Nay heer's three ounces of the red-hair'd wench. 
All. Round, around, around, &c. 
Hec. So, soe, enough : into the vessell with it. 
There, 't hath the true perfection : I am so light 
At any mischief: ther's no villany 
But is a tune methinkes. 

Fire. A tune ! 'tis to the tune of dampnation then, I warrant 
you ; and that song hath a villanous burthen. 

Hec. Come my sweet sisters ; let the aire strike our tune, 
Whilst we show reverence to yond peeping moone. 

\Here they daunce. The Witches dance 8f Exeunt. 

* # * The following Songs are found in Sir William D'Ave- 
nant's alteration of this play, printed in 1674?. The first and 
second of them were, I believe, written by him, being introduced 
at the end of the second Act, in a scene of which he undoubt- 
edly was the author. Of the other song, which is sung in the 
third Act, the first words (Come atvay) are in the original copy 
of Macbeth, and the whole is found at length in Middleton's 
play, entitled The Witch, which has been lately printed from a 
manuscript in the collection of Major Pearson. Whether this 
song was written by Shakspeare, and omitted, like many others, 
in the printed copy, cannot now be ascertained. MALONE* 

, ACT II. 


1 Witch. Speak, sister, speak ; is the deed done ? 

2 Witch. Long ago, long ago : 
Above twelve glasses since have run. 

3 Witch. Ill deeds are seldom slow ; 

Nor single : following crimes on former wait : 
The worst of creatures fastest propagate. 
Many more murders must this one ensue, 
As if in death were propagation too. 

2 Witch. He will 
1 Witch. He shall 

3 Witch. He must spill much more blood; 
And become worse, to make his title good. 


1 Witch. Now let's dance. 

2 Witch. Agreed. 

3 Witch. Agreed. 
4- Witch. Agreed. 

Chor. We should rejoice when good kings bleed. 
When cattle die, about we go ; 
What then, when monarchs perish, should we do ? 


Let's have a dance upon the heath ; 

We gain more life by Duncan's death. 

Sometimes like brinded cats we shew, 

Having no musick but our mew : 

Sometimes we dance in some old mill, 

Upon the hopper, stones, and wheel, 

To some old saw, or bardish rhyme, 

Where still the mill-clack does keep time. 

Sometimes about an hollow tree, 

Around, around, around dance we : 

Thither the chirping cricket comes, 

And beetle, singing drowsy hums : 

Sometimes we dance o'er fens and furze, 

To howls of wolves, and barks of curs : 

And when with none of those we meet, 

We dance to the echoes of our feet. 

At the night-raven's dismal voice, 

Whilst others tremble, we rejoice ; 

And nimbly, nimbly dance we still, 

To the echoes from an hollow hill. [Exeunt. 

HECATE and the Three WITCHES. 


[Within."] Hecate, Hecate, Hecate! O come away! 

Hec. Hark, I am call'd, my little spirit, see, 
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me. 

[ Within.] Come away, Hecate, Hecate ! O come away ! 

Hec. I come, I come, with all the speed I may, 
With all the speed I may. 
Where's Stadling ? 

2. Here, [within.] 

Hec. Where's Puckle ? 

8. Here ; [within.] 


And Hopper too, and Helway too.* 
We want but you, we want but you : 
Come away, make up the count. 

Hec. I will but 'n,oint, and then I mount : 
I will but 'noint , &c. 

[Within.] Here comes down one to fetch his dues, 

[A Machine ivith Malkin in it descends, f 
A kiss, a coll, a sip of blood ; 
And why thou stay'st so long, I muse, 
Since the air's so sweet and good. 

Hec. O, art thou come ? What news ? 

[ Within.] All goes fair for our delight : 
Either come, or else refuse. 

Hec. Now I'm furnish'd for the flight ; 

[Hecate places herself in the Machine. 
Now I go, and now I fly, 
Malkin, my sweet spirit, and I. 
O, what a dainty pleasure's this, 
To sail i'the air, 
While the moon shines fair ; 
To sing, to toy, to dance, and kiss ! 

* And Hopper too, and Helway too.] In The Witch, these personages are 
called Hoppo and Hdhcayne. MALONE. 

Helway ] The name of this witch, perhaps, originates from the 

leader of a train of frolicksome apparitions supposed to exist in Normandy, 
ann. 1091. He is called by Ordericus Vitalis (L. VHI. p. 695,) Herlechin. 
In the continuation of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, (verse 8,) he is 
changed to Hurletaayne. In the French romance of Richard sant peur, he 
becomes Hellequin. Hence, I suppose, according to the chances of spelling, 
pronunciation, &c. are derived the Uelwin and Heltoayne of Middleton, and, 
eventually, the Htlvxty of Sir William D'Avenant. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's 
Chaucer, Vol. V. pp. 270, 271, in voc. MEINIE. 

It may also be observed, (trivial as the remark appears,) that here we have 
not only Herlechinuf, but the familia Herlechini, which, with sufficient singu- 
larity, still subsists on the Italian stage and our own. It is needless to 
mention, that the bills at our country fairs continue to promise entertain- 
ment from tha exertions of " Mr. Punch and his merry family" 

As the work of Ord, Vital, who died in 1143, is known to exhibit the 
name of Harlequin, it will not readily be allowed that his theatrical namesake 
was obliged, for the same title, to an invention of Francis I. in ridicule of 
his enemy, Charlei le Qurnt, who was born in 1500, and left the world in 
1558. See Johnson's Dictionary, in voc. HARLEQUIN. STEEVENS. 

f This stage-direction I have added. In The Witch there is here the fol- 
lowing marginal note : " A spirit like a cat descends." In Sir W. D'Avenant's 
alteration of Macbeth, printed in 1674, this song, as well as all the rest of 
the piece, is printed very incorrectly. I have endeavoured to distribute 
the different puts of the song before us, as, I imagine, the author intended. 



Over woods, high rocks, and mountains ; 

Over hills, and misty fountains ;* 

Over steeples, towers, and turrets, 

We fly by night 'mongst troops of spirits. 

No ring of bells to our ears sounds, 

No howls of wolves, nor yelps of hounds ; 

No, not the noise of water's breach, 

Nor fcannons' throat our height can reach. [Hecate ascends. 

1 Witch, Come, let's make haste ; she'll soon be back 


2 Witch. But whilst she moves through the foggy air, 
Let's to the cave, and our dire charms prepare. [Exeunt. 

* Over fulls, Sec.] In The Witch, instead of this line, we find : 
Over seat, our mistress' fountains. MAXONE. 

Notes omitted (on account of length) in their proper places. 
[See p. 89.] 

his two chamberlains 

Will I with wine and wassel so convince, &c. 

Will it not be received, 

When, we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two 
Of his own chamber, and u^d their very daggers, 
That they have don't?] In the original Scottish History, 
by Boethius, and in Holinshed's Chronicle, we are merely told 
that Macbeth slew Duncan at Inverness. No particulars what- 
soever are mentioned. The circumstance of making Duncan's 
chamberlains drunk, and laying the guilt of his murder upon 
them, as well as some other circumstances, our author has taken 
from the history of Duffe, king of Scotland, who was murdered 
by Donwald, Captain of the castle of Fores, about eighty years 
before Duncan ascended the throne. The fact is thus told by 
Holinshed, in p. 150 of his Scottish History, (the history of the 
reign of Duncan commences in p. 168 :) " Donwald, not for- 
getting the reproach which his linage had susteined by the exe- 
cution of those his kinsmen, whom the king for a spectacle to the 
people had caused to be hanged, could not but shew manifest 
tokens of great griefe at home amongst his familie : which his 
wife perceiving, ceased not to travell with him till she under- 
stood what the cause was of his displeasure. Which at length 
when she had learned by his owne relation, she, as one that bare 
no lesSe malice in hir heart, for the like cause on his behalfe, 


than hir husband did for his friends, counselled him (sith the 
king used oftentimes to lodge in his house without aijie gard 
about him other than the garrison of the castle, [of Fores,] 
which was wholie at his commandement) to make him awaie, 
and showed him the meanes whereby he might soonest accomplish 

" Donwald, thus being the more kindled in wrath by the 
words of his wife, determined to follow hir advice in the execu- 
tion of so heinous an act. Whereupon devising with himselfe 
for a while, which way hee might best accomplish his cursed 
intent, at length gat opportunitie, and sped his purpose as fol- 
loweth. It chanced that the king upon the dale before he pur- 
posed to depart foorth of the castell, was long in his oratorie 
at his praiers, and there continued till it was late in the night. 
At the last, comming foorth, he called such afore him as had 
faithfullie served him in pursute and apprehension of the rebels, 
and giving them heartie thanks he bestowed sundrie honourable 

fifts amongst tkem, of the which number Donwald was one, as 
e that had been ever accounted a most faithful servant to the 

" At length, having talked with them a long time he got him 
into his privie chamber, onlie with two of his chamberlains, 
who having brought him to bed, came foorth againe, and then 
fell to banketting with Donwald and his wife, who had pre- 
pared diverse delicate dishes, and sundrie sorts of drinks for 
their reare supper or collation, whereat they sate up so long, till 
they had charged their stomachs with such full gorges, that 
their heads were no sooner got to the pillow, but asleepe they 
were so fast, that a man might have removed the chamber over 
them, sooner than to have awaked them out of their drunken 

" Then Donwald, though he abhorred the act greatlie in 
heart, yet through instigation of his wife, he called foure of his 
servants unto him, (whom he had made privie to his wicked 
intent before, and framed to his purpose with large gifts,) and 
now declaring unto them, after what sort they should worke the 
feat, they gladlie obeyed his instructions, and speedilie going 
about the murther, they enter the chamber in which the king 
laie, a little before cocks crow, where they secretlie cut his 
throte as he lay sleeping, without anie buskling at all : and im- 
mediately by a posterne gate they carried foorth the dead bodie 
into the fields, and throwing it upon a liorse there provided for 
that purpose, they convey it unto a place about two miles dis- 
tant from the castell. 

" Donwald, about the time that the murther was in dooing, 
got him amongst them that kept the watch, and so continued to 


companie with them all the residue of the night. But in the 
morning when the noise was raised in the kings chamber, how 
the king was slaine, his body conveied awaie, and the bed all 
bewraied with bloud, he with the watch ran thither, as though 
he had known nothing of the matter; and breaking into the 
chamber, and finding cakes of bloud in the bed, and on the 
floore about the sides of it, he forthwith slew the chamberlains, 
as guiltie of that heinous murther, and then like a madman 
running to and fro, he ransacked everie corner within the 
castell, as though it had beene to have seene if he might have 
found either the bodie, or any of the murtherers hid in anie 
privie place : but at length comming to the posterne gate, and 
finding it open, he burdened the chamberleins, whom he had 
slaine, with all the fault, they having the keyes of the gates 
committed to their keeping all the night, and therefore it could 
not be otherwise (said he) but that they were of counsell in the 
committing of that most detestable murther. 

" Finallie, such was his over-earnest diligence in the severe 
inquisition and trial of the offenders heerein, that some of the 
lords began to mislike the matter, and to smell foorth shrewd 
tokens that he should not be altogether cleare himselfe. But 
for so much as they were in that countrie where he had the 
whole rule, what by reason of his friends and authoritie toge- 
ther, they doubted to utter what they thought, till time and 
place should better serve thereunto, and hereupon got them 
awaie everie man to his home.'* MALONE. 

Add, -at the conclusion of Mr. Malone's note, p. 104.] I 
believe, however, a line has been lost after the words " stealthy 

Our author did not, I imagine, mean to make the murderer 
a ravisher likewise. In the parallel passage in The Rape of 
Lucrece, they are distinct persons : 

" Whilst LUST and MURDER wake, to stain and kill" 
Perhaps the line which I suppose to have been lost was of this 
import : 

and withered MURDER, 

Alarum d by his sentinel, the wolf, 

Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace 

Enters the portal ; while night-waking LUST, 

With Tarquin's ravishing sides, towards his design 

Moves like a ghost. 


So, in The Spanish Tragedy : 

" At midnight 

" When man, and bird, and beast, are all at rest, 

" Save those that watch for rape and blodie murder" 
There is reason to believe that many of the difficulties in 
Shakspeare's plays arise from lines and half lines having been 
omitted, by the compositor's eye passing hastily over them. Of 
this kind of negligence theie is a remarkable instance in the 
present play, as printed in the folio, 1632, where the following 
passage is thus exhibited : 

tf that we but teach 

" Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return 

" To plague the ingredience of our poison* d chalice 

" To our own lips." 

If this mistake had happened in the first copy, and had been 
continued in the subsequent impressions, what diligence or sa- 
gacity could have restored the passage to sense ? 

In the folio, 1623, it is right, except that the word ingredi- 
ents is there also mis-spelt : 

" which, being taught, return 

* ; To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice 

" Commends the ingredience of our poison'd chalice 

" To our own lips." 
So, the following passage in Much Ado about Nothing : 

" And I will break with her and with her father, 

" And thou shalt have her. Was't not to this end," &c. 
is printed thus in the folio, [1623] by the compositor's eye 
glancing from one line to the other : 

" And I will break with her. Was't not to this end," &c. 
Again, we find in the play before us, edit. 1632 : 

" for their dear causes 

" Excite the mortified man." 
instead of 

" for their dear causes 

" Would to the bleeding and the grim alarm 

" Excite the mortified man." 
Again, in The Winter's Tale, 1632: 

" in himself too mighty, 

" Untill a time may serve." 
instead of 

" in himself too mighty, 

" And in his parties, his alliance. Let him bt, 

" Untill a time may serve." M ALONE. 


See p. 120, n. 2.] After the horrour and agitation of thii 
scene, the reader may, perhaps, not be displeased to pause for 
a few minutes. The consummate art which Shakspeare has 
displayed in the preparation for the murder of Duncan, and 
during the commission of the dreadful act, cannot but strike 
every intelligent reader. An ingenious writer, however, whose 
comparative view of Macbeth and Richard III. has just reached 
my hands, has developed some of the more minute traits of the 
character of Macbeth, particularly in the present and subse- 
quent scene, with such acuteness of observation, that I am 
tempted to transcribe such of his remarks as relate to the subject 
now before us, though I do not entirely agree with him. After 
having proved, by a deduction of many particulars, that the 
towering ambition of Richard is of a very different colour from 
that of Macbeth, whose weaker desires seem only to aim at 
pre-eminence of place, not of dominion, he adds : " Upon the 
same principle a distinction still stronger is made in the article 
of courage, though both are possessed of it even to an eminent 
degree ; but in Richard it is intrepidity, and in Macbeth no 
more than resolution!" tri'him it proceeds from exertion, not 
from nature ; in enterprize he betrays a degree of fear, though 
fie is able, when occasion requires, to stifle and subdue it. 
When he and his wife are concerting the murder, his doubt, 
if we should fail ?' is a difficulty raised by an apprehension, 
and as soon as that is removed by the contrivance of Lady Mac- 
beth, to make the officers drunk and lay the crime upon them, 
he runs with violence into the other extreme of confidence, and 
cries out, with a rapture unusual to him, 

Bring forth men children only, &c. 

Will it not be receiv'd 

When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two . 

Of his own chamber, and us'd their very daggers, 

That they have done it?' 
which question he puts to her who had the moment before sug- 
gested the thought of 

4 His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt 
' Of our great quell.' 

and his asking it again, proceeds from that extravagance with 
which a delivery from apprehension and doubt is always accom- 
panied. Then, summoning all his fortitude, he says, ' I am 
settled,' &c. and proceeds to the bloody business without any 
further recoil. But a certain degree of restlessness and anxiety 
still continues, such as is constantly felt by a man not naturally 
very bold, worked up to a momentous atchievement. His ima- 
gination dwells entirely on the circumstances of horrour which 

VOL'. X. Y 


surround him ; the vision of the dagger ; the darkness and the 
stillness of the night, and the terrors and the prayers of the 
chamberlains. Lady Macbeth, who is cool and undismayed, 
attends to the business only ; considers of the place where she 
had laid the daggers ready; the impossibility of his missing them ; 
and is afraid of nothing but a disappointment. She is earnest and 
eager ; he is uneasy and impatient ; and therefore wishes it over : 

* I go, and it is done ;' &c. 

" But a resolution thus forced cannot hold longer than the 
immediate occasion for it : the moment after that is accomplished 
for which it was necessary, his thoughts take the contrary turn, 
and he cries out, in agony and despair, 

* Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou 


" That courage which had supported him while he was settled 
and bent up, forsakes him so immediately after he has per- 
formed the terrible feat, for which it had been exerted, that he 
forgets the favourite circumstance of laying it en the officers of 
the bedchamber ; and, when reminded of it, he refuses to re- 
turn and complete his work, acknowledging 

* I am afraid to think what I have done ; 

* Look on't again I dare not.' 

" His disordered senses deceive him; and his debilitated spirits 
fail him ; he owns that ' every noise appals him ;' he listens 
when nothing stirs ; he mistakes the sounds he does hear ; he is 
so confused as not to know whence the knocking proceeds. She, 
who is more calm, knows that it is from the south entry ; she 
gives clear and direct answers to all the incoherent questions he 
asks her ; but he returns none to that which she puts to him ; 
and though after some time, and when necessity again urges him 
to recollect himself, he recovers so far as to conceal his distress, 
yet he still is not able to divert his thoughts from it: all his an- 
swers to the trivial questions of Lenox and Macduffare evidently 
given by a man thinking of something else ; and by taking a 
tincture from the subject of his attention, they become equivocal: 

Macd. Is the king stirring, worthy thane ? 

Macb. Not yet. 

Len. Goes the king hence to-day ? 

Macb. He did appoint so. 

Len. The night has been unruly ; where we lay 

Our chimneys were blown down ; &c. 

Macb. 'Twas a rough night.' 
" Not yet implies that he will by and by, and is a kind of guard 
against any suspicion of his knowing that the king would never 
stir more. He did appoint so t is the vei*y counterpart of that 


which he had said to Lady Macbeth, when on his first meeting 
her she asked him 

* Lady M. When goes he hence ? 
' Macb. To-morrow, as he purposes.' 

in both which answers he alludes to his disappointing the King's 
intention. And when forced to make some reply to the long de- 
scription given by Lenox, he puts off the subject which the other 
was so much inclined to dwell on, by a slight acquiescence in 
what had been said of the roughness of the night; but not like 
a man who had been attentive to the account, or was willing to 
keep up the conversation." Remarks on some of the Characters 
of Shakspeare, [by Mr. Whately,] 8vo. 1785. 

To these ingenious observations I entirely subscribe, except 
that I think the wavering irresolution and agitation of Macbeth 
after the murder ought not to be ascribed solely to a remission of 
courage, since much of it may be imputed to the remorse which 
would arise in a man who was of a good natural disposition, and 
is described as originally " full of the milk of human kindness; 
not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it." 


See Remarks on Mr. Whateley's Dissertation, p. 296 fy seq. 
They first appeared in The European Magazine, for April, 1787. 

I cannot, however, dismiss this subject without taking some 
notice of an observation that rather diminishes than encreases 
the reputation of the foregoing tragedy. 

It has been more than once observed by Mr. Boswell, and 
other collectors of Dr. Johnson's fugitive remarks, that he always 
described Macbeth as a drama that might be exhibited by 
puppets ; and that it was rather injured than improved by 
cenical accompaniments, et quicquid telorum habent armamen- 
taria theatri. 

I must confess, I know not on what circumstances in this 
tragedy such a decision could have been founded ; nor shall I 
feel myself disposed to admit the propriety of it, till the inimit- 
able performances of Mr. Garrick and Mrs. Pritchard have 
faded from my remembrance. Be it observed, however, that 
my great coadjutor had not advanced this position among his 
original or subsequent comments on Macbeth. It rather seems 
to have been an effusion provoked from him in the warmth of 
controversy, and not of such a nature as he himself would have 
trusted to the press. In Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, 3d 
edit. p. 386, the Doctor makes the following frank confession : 
" Nobody, at times, talks more laxly than I do." Yet, they 
are mistaken, who think he was sufficiently adventurous to 
print whatever his mind suggested. I know The Life of Milton 

Y 2 

324- MACBETH. 

to have been composed under the strongest restraint of public 

The reports of our metropolitan, as well as provincial thea- 
tres, will testify, that no dramatick piece is more lucrative in 
representation than Macbeth. It is equally a favourite with the 
highest and lowest ranks of society; those who delight in 
rational amusement, and those who seek their gratification in 
pageantry and show. Whence, then, such constant success and 
popularity as attends it, if stage exhibition, in this unfortunate 
instance, not only refuses to co-operate with the genius of 
Shakspeare, but obstinately proceeds to counteract the best and 
boldest of his designs ? 

Has the insufficiency of machinists hitherto disgraced the 
imagery of the poet ? or is it in itself too sublime for scenical 
contrivances to keep pace with ? or must we at last be com- 
pelled to own that our author's cave of incantation, &c. &c. are 
a mere abortive parade, that raises expectation only to disap- 
point it, and keeps, like his own Witches, 

" the word of promise to our ear, 

" And breaks it to our hope ?"* 

Let me subjoin, that I much question if Dr. Johnson ever 
saw the characters of Macbeth and his wife represented by those 
who have most excelled in them ; or, if he did, that in this, or 
any other tragedy, the blended excellence of a Garrick and a 
Pritchard, had sufficient power to fix his attention on the busi- 
ness of the stage. He most certainly had no partialities in its 
favour, and as small a turn for appropriate embellishments. 
Add to this, that his defective hearing, as well as eye-sight, 
must especially have disqualified him from being an adequate 
judge on the present occasion. When Mrs. Abington solicited 
his attendance at her benefit, he plainly told her, he " could 
not hear." " Baretti," said he, (looking toward the bar at 
which the prisoner stood,) " cannot see my face, nor can I see 
his." Much less distinguishable to the Doctor would have been 
the features of actors, because, in a play-house, their situation 
must have been yet remoter from his own. Without the ability 
of seeing, therefore, he had no means of deciding on the merit 
of dramatick spectacles ; and who will venture to assert that a 
legitimate impersonation of the guilty Thane does not more 
immediately depend on expression of countenance, than on the 
most vigorous exertions of gesticulation or voice ? 

Dr. Johnson's sentiments, on almost all subjects, may justly 
claim my undissembled homage; but I cannot acquiesce in the 
condemnation of such stage-exhibitions as his known prejudices, 
want of attention, eye-sight, and hearing, forbade him to enjoy. 


His decree, therefore, in the present instance, is, I hope, not 

" Quid valet, ad surdas si cantet Pheraius aures ? 

" Quid coscum Thamyran pictos tabellae juvat ?" 




Qwhen Makbeth-Fynlay rase 
And regnand in-til Scotland taas. 

IN f is tyme, as yhe herd me tell " JV 1^- 

Of Trewsone fat in Ingland fell, 

In Scotland nere f e lyk cs } 

Be Makbeth-Fynlayk practykyd was, 

Quhen he rawrthrysyde his awyne Erne, 5 

Be hope, fat he had in a dreme, 

Bat he sawe, quhen he wes yhyng 

In Hows duelland wyth Jje Kyng, 

Dat fayrly trettyd hym and welle 

In all, fat langyd hym ilke dele: 10 

For he wes hys Systyr Sons, 

Hys yharnyng all he gert be done. 

A' nycht he thowcht in hys dremyng, 
Dat syttand he wes besyde f e Kyng ! , 

At a Sete in hwntyng; swd 15 

In-til his Leisch had Grewhundys tw6. * ]>ff CT" 
He thowcht, quhile he wes sw^ syttand, 
He sawe thre Wemen by gangand ; 
And J:i Wemen fan thowcht he 
Thre Werd Systrys ma>t lyk to be. 20 

J)e fyrst he hard say gangand by, ** 
' Lo, yhondyr fe Thayne of Crwmbawchty.* 
De tofir Woman sayd agayne, 
* Of Morave yhondyre I se fe Thayne.' 
De thryd fan sayd, ' I se f e Kyng.' 25 

All f is he herd in hys dremyng. 

L. 26.} This is the original of the story of the Weird Sisters, whom 
Shakspeare has rendered so familiar to every reader : in its original state 
it is within the bounds of probability. D. MACFHKRSON. 


Sone eftyre fat in hys yhowthad 
Of thyr Thayndomys he Thayne wes made. 
Syne neyst he thowcht to be Kyng, 
Fra Dunkanys day is had tane endyng. 30 

De fantasy f us of hys Dreme 
Movyd hym mast to sla hys Erne ; 
As he dyd all furth in-dede, 
As before yhe herd me rede, 

And Dame Grwok, hys Emys Wyf, S5 

Tuk, and led wyth hyr hys lyf, 
And held hyr bathe hys Wyf, and Qweyne, 
As befor fan scho had beyne 
Til hys Erne Qwene, lyvand 

Quhen he wes Kyng wyth Crowne rygnand.: 40 

F 150 a For lytyl in honowre fan had he 
De greys of Affynyte. 

All f us quhen his Erne wes dede, 
He succedyt in his stede : 

And sevyntene wyntyr full rygnand 4-5 

As Kyng he wes fan in-til Scotland. 

All hys tyme was gret Plente 
Abowndand, bath on Land and Se. 
He wes in Justice rycht lawchful, 
And til hys Legis all awful. 50 

Quhen Leo f e tend wes Pape of Rome, 
As Pylgryne to fe Curt he come: 
And in hys Almus he sew Sylver 

Til all pure folk, fat had myster. 

And all tyme oysyd he to wyrk 55 

Profytably for Haly Kyrke. 
Bot, as we fynd be sum Storys, 

Gottyne he wes on ferly wys. 

Hys Modyr to Woddis mad oft repayre 

For f e delyte of halesum ayre, 60 

Swa, scho past a-pon a day 

Til a Wod, hyr for to play ; 

Scho met of cas wyth a fayr man 

(Nevyr nane s fayre, as scho thowcht fan, 

Before fan had scho sene wytht sycht) 65 

Of Bewte plesand, and of Hycht 

Proportyownd wele, in all mesoure 

Of Lym and Lyth a fayre fygowre. 

In swylk a qweyntans swa fai fell, 

Dat, Kchortly fare-of for to tell, 70 

Dar in far Gamyn and bar Play 

Dat Persown be that Woman lay, 


And on hyr fat tyrae to Sowne gat 

Dis M akbeth, fat eftyr fat 

Grew til J>ir St&tis, and f is hycht, 75 

To f is gret powere, and f is mycht, 

As befor yhe have herd sayd. 

Fr f is persowne wyth hyr had playd, 
And had f e Jowrne wyth hyr done, 
Dat he had gottyne on hyr a Sone, 90 

(And he fe Dewil wes, fat hym gat) 
And bad hyr noucht fleyd to be of fat ; 
Bot sayd, fat hyr Sone suld be 
A man of gret state, and bownte ; 
And n man suld be borne of wyf 85 

Of powere to re we hym hys lyf. 
And of fat Dede in taknyng 
He gave his Lemman fare a Ryng ; 
And bad hyr, fat scho suld kepe fat wele, 
And hald for hys luve fat Jwele. 90 

Eftyr fat oft oysyd he 
Til cum til hyr in prewatd ; 
And tauld hyr mony thyngis to fall ; 
F 150 b Set trowd f ai suld noucht hawe bene all. 

At hyr tyme scho wes lychtare, 95 

And fat Sowne, fat he gat, scho bare. 
Makbeth-Fynlake wes cald hys name, 
Dat grewe, as yhe herd, til gret fame. 
Dis was Makbethys Ofspryng, 

Dat hym eftyr mad oure Kyng, 100 

As of fat sum Story say is; 
Set of hys Get fell of ir wayis, 
And to be gottyn kyndly, 
As of ir men ar generaly. 

L. 104.] The tale of the supernatural descent of Macbeth, copied, per- 
haps, from that of Merlin, by Geoffry of Monmouth, puts him on a footing 
with the heroes and demigods of ancient fable. It was not, however, in- 
tended, by the inventors of it, to do honour to his memory, but to ingratiate 
themselves with the reigning family ; for they concluded, from wicked men 
being allegorically called Sons of Belial in the scripture, that to call a man 
the son of the devil was to call him every thing that was bad. How many 
ugly stories were, in a more enlightened age, reported of Richard III. of 
England, in order to flatter the family which rose on his fall ? Both these 
princes have had the additional misfortune to be gibbetted in Shakspeare's 
drama, as objects of detestation to all succeeding ages, as long as theatres 
shall be attended, and, perhaps, long after Shakspeare's own language shall 
have become unintelligible to the bulk of English readers. Wyntown, how- 
ever, gravely cautions us against believing this foolish story, by telling us 
immediately that bis " Get" was " kyndly" as other men's. 


And quhen fyrst he to rys began, 105 

Hys Emys Sownnys twa lauchful fan 
For dowt owt of f e Kynryk fled. 
Malcolme, noucht gottyn of lauchful bed, 
De thryd, past off f e Land alsua 
As banysyd wyth hys Bref yr twa, 110 

Til Saynt Edward in Ingland, 
Bat fat tyme fare wes Kyng ryngnand. 
He fayme ressawyd thankfully, 
And trettyd fame rycht curtasly. 

And in Scotland fan as Kyng 115 

Dis Makbeth mad gret steryng ; 
And set hym fan in hys powere 
A gret Hows for to mak of Were 
A-pon f e hycht of Dwnsynane : 
Tymbyr fare-til to drawe, and stane, 120 

Of Fyfe, and of Angws, he 
Gert mony oxin gadryd be. 
Sa, on day in fare trawaile 
A yhok of oxyn Makbeth saw fayle : 

The brief account of Macbeth's life raises his character above all the pre- 
ceding princes, at least in as far as their actions are known to us, The 

" gret plente 

" Abowndand, bath on land and se," 

and the riches of the country during his reign, which, together with the firm 
establishment of his government, enabled him to make a journey to Rome, 
and there to exercise a liberality of charity to the poor, remarkable even in 
that general resort of wealthypilgrims,exhibit undeniable prootVof a benefi- 
cent government, and a prudent attention to agriculture, and to the fishery, 
that inexhaustible fund of wealth, wherewith bountiful nature has sur- 
rounded 8< otland. Macbeth's journey to Rome is not a fable, as supposed 
by the learned and worthy author of The Annals of Scotland, [Vol. I. p. 3, 
note,] but rests on the evidence of Marianus Scotus, a respectable contem- 
porary historian, whose words, almost literally translated by Wyntown, 
are " A. D. ail. Rex Scotie M ache tad Rome argentum seminando pau- 
peribus distribuit." [See VI. xviii. 48, 53, 303, 108.] 

The only blot upon his memory is the murder of his predecessor, (if it 
was indeed a murder,) who, to make the crime the blacker, is called his 
uncle, though that point is extremely doubtful. Among the numerous kings 
who made their way to the throne by the same means, is Greg, who is held 
up as a mirror to princes. To this is added the crime of incest in taking 
his un.-le's widow to wife; but, admitting her former husband to have been 
his uncle, we must remember, that the rules concerning marriage in Scot- 
land appear to have been partly formed upon the Jewi>h model, before the 
ecclesiastical polity was re-formed, or romauized, by the influence of 
Queen Margaret. \Vita Margaret* up. BoUandi Act* Sanctorum Wmo. Jnnti, 
p. 331.] 

Thu much was due from justice to a eharacter calumniated in the beaten 
track of history. D. MACJ-HERSON. 


Dat speryt Makbeth, quha fat awcht 125 

De yhoke, fat faylyd in fat drawcht. 

Dai awnsweryd til Makbeth agayne, 

And sayd, MakdufF of Fyfe f e Thayne 

Dat ilk yhoke of oxyn awcht, 

Dat he saw fayle in-to Jje drawcht. 130 

Dan spak Makbeth dyspytusly, 

And to fe Thayne sayd angryly, 

Lyk all wrythyn in hys skyn, 

Hys awyn Nek he suld put in 

De yhoke, and ger hym drawchtis drawe, 135 

Noucht dowtand all hys Kynnys awe. 

Fra f e Thayne Makbeth herd speke, 
Dat he wald put in yhok hys Neke, 
Of all hys thowcht he mad na Sang ; 
Bot prewaly owt of fe thrang 140 

Wyth slycht he gat ; and f e Spensere 
A Lafe hym gawe til hys Supere. 
And als svvne as he mycht se 
Hys tyme and opportunyt, 

Owt of fe Curt he past, and ran, 145 

F 151 a And fat Lay f bare wyth hym fan 

To f e Wattyre of Eryne. Dat Brede 

He gawe f e Batwartis hym to lede, 

And on fe sowth half hym to sete, 

But delay, or ony lete. 150 

Dat passage cald wes eftyre fan 

Lang tyme Portnebar} r an ; 

De Hawyn of Brede fat suld be 

Callyd in-tyl propyrte. 

Owre fe Wattyre fan wes he sete, 155 

Bwt dawngere, or but ony lete. 

At Dwnsynane Makbeth fat nycht, 
As sone as hys Supere wes dycht, 
And hys Marchalle hym to f e Halle 
Fechyd, fan amang faim all 160 

L. 152.] In the infancy of navigation, when its efforts extended no further 
than crossing a river, ferrying places were the only harbours, and were called 
port in the Gaelic languages, and apparently in the most ancient Greek. 
Hence we have so many places on the banks of rivers and livhs in Scotland, 
called ports,, and hence the Greeks tailed their ferrj-boats porlhmia and 
porthmides [Dictionaries, and (nit, qnim npern, p. 307.] No ferry on the Earn 
is known by this name; perhaps it was originally the brdde (broad) ferry, 
which being confounded with Arena, has been gaetizcd port-ne-bara, the har- 
bour of bread, [a. Davie< Dirt. Brit. v. BARA.] The transcriber of the 
Cotton MS. has here interpolated a line with a French explanation of the 
name.- [v. V. R.] D. MAITUERSOX. 


Awaye J>e Thayne of Fyfe wes myst ; 

And na man, quhare he wes, fan wyst. 

Yhit a Knycht, at J>at Supere 

Dat til Makbeth wes syttand nere, 

Sayd til hym, it wes hys part 16 

For til wyt sowne, quhefirwart 

De Thayne of Fyfe J>at tyrae past : 

For he a wys man wes of cast, 

And in hys Deyd wes rycht wyly. 

Till Makbeth he sayd, for-f i 170 

For n cost fat he suld spare, 

Sowne to wyt quhare Makduffe ware. 

Dis heyly movyd Makbeth in-dede 

Agayne Makduffe fan to procede. 

Yhit Makduffnevyrfeles 175 

Dat set besowth J?e Wattyre wes 
Of Erne, fan past on in Fyfe 
Til Kennawchy, quhare fan hys Wyfe 
Dwelt in a Hows mad of defens : 
And bad hyr, wyth gret diligens 180 

Kepe fat Hows, and gyve f e Kyng 
Diddyr come, and mad bydyng 
Dare ony Felny for to do, 
He gave hyr byddyng fan, fat scho 
Suld hald Makbeth in fayre Trette, 18S 

A Bate quhill scho suld sayland se 

Fra north to f e sowth passand ; 

And fra scho sawe fat Bate sayland, 

Dan tell Makbeth, fe Thayne wes fare 

Of Fyfe, and til Dwnsynane fare 190 

To byde Makbeth ; for f e Thayne 

Of Fyfe thowcht, or he come agayne 

Til Kennawchy, fan for til bryng 

Hame wyth hym a lawchful Kyng. 

Til Kennawchy Makbeth come sone, 195 

And Felny gret fare wald have done : 
F 151 b Bot f is Lady wyth fayre Trette 

Hys purpos lettyde done to be. 

And sone, fri scho f e Sayle wp saw, 

Dan til Makbeth wyth lytil awe 200 

L. 179.] This " howR of detenu" was perhaps Maiden Castle, the ruins 
of which are on the south side of the present Kennoway. There are some 
remains of Roman antiquity in this neighbourhood, and it is very probable 
that MacdufTs castle stood on the site of a Roman CasleUum. 



Scho sayd, ' Makbeth, luke wp, and se 

* Wndyr yhon Sayle forsuth is he, 

* Be Thayne of Fyfe, bat bow has sowcht. 

* Trowe bo we welle, and dowt rycht nowcht, 

' Gyve evyr bow sail hym se agayne, 205 

* He sail j) e set in-tyl gret payne ; 

* Syne bow wald hawe put hys Neke 

* In-til bi yhoke. Now will I speke 

* Wyth be na mare : fare on bi waye, 

* Owbire welle, or ill, as happyne may.' 210 

Dat passage syne wes comownly 
In Scotland cald be Erlys-ferry. 

Of bat Ferry for to knaw 
B6th J>e Statute and be Lawe, 

A Bate suld be on ilke syde 215 

For to wayt, and tak be Tyde, 
Til mak bame frawcht, bat wald be 
Fra land to land be-yhond be Se. 
Fra bat be sowth Bate ware sene 
De landis wndyre sayle betwene 220 

Fra be sowth as ban passand 
Toward be north be trad haldand, 
De north Bate suld be redy made 
Towart be sowth to hald be trade: 
And bare suld nane pay mare 225 

Dan tbure pennys for fare fare, 
Quha-evyr for his frawcht wald be 
For caus frawchtyd owre bat Se. 

Dis Makduff ban als fast 

In Ingland a-pon Cowndyt past. 280 

Dare Dunkanys Sownnys thre he fand, 
Dat ware as banysyd off Scotland, 
Quhen Makbeth-Fynlake bare Fadyr slwe, 
And all be Kynryk til hym drwe. 

L. 226.] Four pennies, in Wyntown's time, weighed about one eightieth 
part of a pound of silver: how much they were in Macbeth 's time, I gup- 
pose, cannot be ascertained; but, in the reign of David 1st, they weighed 
one sixtieth of a pound. If we could trust to Kegiam Majestatem, four 
pennies, in David's time, were the value of one third of a boll of wheat, or 
two /agenrp of wine, or four legend- of ale, or half a sheep. [Tables of Money 
and Prices in Ruddiman's Introduction to And. Difilo. For the quantity of 
the lagen* compare VIII. xvii. 35, with Fordun, p. 990: Sr. Chr. \.U. 
p. 223, wherein lagenn is equivalent to galntcn in Wyntown.] It is reasonable 
to suppose, that the whole of the boat was hired for this sum. 

The landing place on the south side was most probably at North Berwick, 
which belonged to the family of Fife, who founded the nunnery there. 



Saynt Edward Kyng of Ingland )>an, 235 

Dat wes of lyf a haly man, 
Dat trettyd fir Barnys honestly, 
Ressayvyd MakdufF rych curtasly, 
Quhen he come til hys presens, 

And mad hym honowre and reverens, 24-0 

As afFeryd. Til J>e Kyng 
He tauld J>e caus ot hys cummyng. 
De Kyng Jjan herd hym movyrly, 
And answeryd hym all gudlykly, 
And sayd, hys wyll and hys delyte 245 

F 152 a Wes to se for J>e profyte 

Of fa Barnys ; and hys wille 

Wes fare honowre to fulltille. 

He cownsalyd f is Makduffe for-jji 

To trete fa Barnys curtasly. 250 

And quhilk of fame wald wyth hym ga, 

He suld in all fame sykkyre ma, 

As f ai wald fame redy mak 

For fare Fadyre dede to take 

Revengeans, or wald fare herytage, 255 

Dat to fame felle by rycht lynage, 

He wald fame helpe in all fare rycht 

With gret suppowale, fors, and mycht. 

Schortly to say, f e lawrhful twl 
Bref ire forsuke wyth hym to ga 260 

For dowt, he put f aim in fat peryle, 

Dat fare Fadyre sufferyd qwhyle. 
Malcolme f e thyrd, to say schortly, 

Makduff cownsalyd rycht thraly, 

Set he wes noucht of lauchfull bed, 265 

As in f is Buke yhe have herd rede : 

Makduff hym trettyd nevyr-fe-les 

To be of stark hart and stowtnes, 

And manlykly to tak on hand 

To bere f e Crowne fan of Scotland : 270 

And bade hym f are-of hawe na drede : 

For kyng he suld be made in-dede : 

And fat Traytoure he suld sla, 

Dat banysyd hym and hys Bredyr twa. 

L. 274.] The story of these two brothers of Malcolm, (sec also c. rvi. of 
this book) and their refusal of the kingdom, which he, a bastard, obtained, 
teems to be a mere fiction. Yet, why it should have been invented, I can 
see DO reason: surely not with intent to disgrace Malcolm, whose posterity 
never lost the crown, and were such eminent friends to the church. The 


Dan Malcolme sayd, he had a ferljr, 275 

Dat he hym fandyde sa thraly 
Of Scotland to tak J>e Crowne, 
Qwhill he kend hys condytyowne. 
Forsuth, he sayde, j>are wes nane fan 
Sw6 lycherows a ly vand man, 280 

As he wes; and for J>at thyng 
He dowtyde to be made a Kyng. 
A Kyngis lyf, he sayd, suld be 
Ay led in-til gret honeste : 

For-jji he cowth iwyl be a Kyng, 285 

He sayd, ]>at oysyd swylk lyvyng. 

Makdutf J>an sayd til hym agayne, 
Dat Jjat excusatyowne wes in wayne : 
For gyve he oysyd fat in-dede, 
Of Women he suld have na nede ; 290 

For of hys awyne Land suld he 
Fayre Wemen have in gret plentS. 
Gyve he had Conscyens of J>at plycht,. 
Mend to God, J>at has J>e mycht. 

Dan Malcolme sayd, ' Dare is mare, 295 

F 152 b ' Dat lettis me wyth J>e to fare : 
' Dat is, jjat I am su brynnand 
* In Cowatys, ]>at all Scotland 

transcriber of the Harleian MS. not liking this story, so derogatory to the 
royal family, omitted it in his transcript, and afterwards, changing his 
mind, added it at the end of his book. All the Scottish writers, who fol- 
lowed Wyntown, have carefully suppressed it. 

Of Malcolm's brothers only Donald, who reigned after him, is known to 
the Scottish historians: but another Mel mare is mentioned in Orkneyinga 
s '"- "i [p- 176,] whose son Maddad, Earl of Athol, is called son of a King 
Donald by the genealogists, because they knew of no other brother of Mal- 
colm. Perhaps Melmare is the same whom Kennedy calls Oberard, and 
says, that on the usurpation of Macbeth he fled to Norway, (more likely to 
his cousin the Earl of Orknay, which was a Norwegian country,) and was 
progenitor of an Italian family, called Cantelm. [Dissertation on the Family 
of Stuart, p. 193, where he refers to records examined reg. Car. II.] In 
Scala Chronica [ap. Lei. V. I. p. 529] there is a confused story of two brothers 
of Malcolm. These various notices seem sufficient to establish the exist- 
ence of two brothers of Malcolm ; but that either of them was preferable 
to him for age or legitimacy is extremely improbable. It is, however, pro- 
per to observe, that, in those days, bastardy was scarcely an impediment in 
the succession to the crown in the neighbouring kingdoms of Norway and 
Ireland; that Alexander, the sou of this Malcolm, took a bastard for his 
queen ; and that, in England, a victorious king, the cotemporary of Mal- 
colm, assumed bastard as a title in his charters. 

John Cumin, the competitor for the crown, \\ ho derived his right from 
Donald, the brother of Malcolm, knew nothing of this story, which, if 
true, would at least have furnished him an excellent argument. 



Owre lytil is to my persowne : 

I set nowcht J>are-by a bwttowne.' 300 

Makduffsayd, * Cum on wyth me : 
In Ryches f ow sail abowndand be. 
Trow wele f e Kynryk of Scotland 
Is in Ryches abowndand.' 

Yhit mare Malcolme sayd agayne 305 

Til Makduffof Fyfe J)e Thayne, 

* De thryd wyce yhit miis me Lete 

* My purpos on thys thyng to sete : 
' 1 am sa f'als, fat na man may 

' Trow 3 worde, fat evyre I say.' 310 

' Ha, ha ! Frend, I leve f e fare,' 
Makduff sayd, ' I will nd mare. 

* I will na langare karpe wyth fe, 
' N6 of f is matere have Trette ; 

* Syne J>ow can nof ire hald, n say 315 

* Dat stedfast Trowth wald, or gud Fay. 
He is na man, of swylk a Kynd 

* Cummyn, bot of fe Dewylis Strynd, 
4 Dat can nof yr do na say 

* Dan langis to Trowth, and gud Fay. 320 

* God of fe Dewyl sayd in a quhile, 

* As I hawe herd red f e Wangyle, 

* He is, he sayd, a Leare fals : 

' Swylk is of hym f e Fadyre als. 

* Here now my Leve I tak at f e, 325 
' And gyvys wp halyly all Trette. 

* I cownt noucht f e tof ir tw 

* VVycys fe walu of a Str6 : 

* Bot hys thryft he has said all owte, 

* Quham falshad haldis wndyrlowte.' 330 

Til Makduffof Fyf fe Thayne 
J)is Malcolme awnsweryde fan agayne, 

I will, I will,' he sayd, * wyth f e 

Pass, and prove how all will be. 

I sail be lele and stedfast ay, 335 

And hald till ilke man gud fay. 

And n3 les in f e I trowe. 

For-f i my purpos hale is nowe 

For my Fadrys Dede to t 

Revengeans, and fat Traytoure $la, 340 

Dat has my Fadyre befor slayne; 

Or I sail dey in-to f e payne,' 
To fe Kyng fan als fast 
To tak hys Leve fan Malcolme past, 


Makduffwyth hym hand in hand. 345 

Dis Kyng Edward of Ingland 
F 133 a Gawe hym hys Lewe, and hys gud wyll, 
And gret suppowale heycht fame tille, 
And helpe to wyn hys Herytage. 

On f is fat tuke fane f aire wayage. 350 

And f is Kyng fan of Ingland 
Bad f e Lord of Northwmbyrland, 
Schyr Sward, to rys wyth all hys mycht 
In Malcolmys helpe to wyn hys rycht. 

Dan wyth fame of Northumbyrland 355 

Dis Malcolme enteryd in Scotland, 
And past oure Forth, doun strawcht to Tay, 
Wp Jjat Wattyre f e hey way 
To J>e Brynnane to-gyddyr h:ile. 
Dare f ai bad, and tvk cownsale. 360 

Syne f ai herd, fat Makbeth aye 
In fantown Fretis had gret Fay, 
And trowth had in swylk Fantasy, 
Be J>at he trowyd stedfastly, 

Nevyre dyscumfyt for to be, 365 

Qwhill wyth hys Eyne he suld se 
De Wode browcht of Brynnane 
To f e hill of Dwnsynane. 

Of fat Wode [fare] ilka man 

In-til hys hand a busk tuk fan : 370 

Of all hys Ost wes na man tre, 
Dan in his hand a busk bare he : 
And til Dwnsynane alsa fast 
Agayne f is Makbeth f ai past, 

For f ai thowcht wytht swylk a wyle 375 

Dis Makbeth for til begyle. 

L. 357.] The word " doun," taken in here from the Cotton MS. instead 
f " syne" in the Royal, affords us a tolerable plan of the route of Malcolm 
and his Northumbrian allies; which, as far as Perth, seems to be the same 
that Agricola, and all the other invaders of Scotland after him, have pur- 
sued. After passing the Forth, probably at the first ford above Stirling, 
they marched down the coast of Fife, no doubt taking. Kennaurhy, the seat 
of Macduff, in their way, where they would be joined by the forces of Fife: 
thence they proceeded, gathering strength as they went, attended and sup- 
ported (like Agrico'la) by the shipping, which the Northumbrians of that age 
had in abundance, ["valida classe," says Sim. liun.col. 187, describing this 
expedition,] and turned west along the north coast of Fife, the shipping 
being then stationed in the river and firth of Tay. Macbeth appears to 
have retreated before them to the north part of the kingdom, where, pro- 
bably, hie interest was strongest. D. MACPHERSON. 


Swa for to cum in prewate 

On hym, or he suld wytryd be. 

De flyttand VVod f ai callyd ay 

Dat lang tyme eftyre-hend fat day. 380 

Of f is quhen he had sene fat sycht, 

He wes rycht wa, and tuk f e flycht : 

And owre f e Mownth f ai chast hym fan 

Til f e Wode of Lunfanan. 

Dis Makduff wes fare mast felle, 385 

And onjjat chas fan mast crwele. 

Bot a Knycht, fat in fat chas 

Til f is Makbeth fan nerest was, 

Makbeth turnyd hym agayne, 

And sayd, ' Lurdane, f ow prykys in wayne, 390 

* Tor f ow may noucht be he, I trowe, 

* Dat to dede sail sla me nowe. 

* Dat man is no\vcht borne of Wyf 
' Of powere to rewe me my lyfe.' 

De Knycht sayd, < I wes nevyr borne ; 395 

F 153 b ' Bot of my Modyre Wame wes schorne. 

* Now sail f i Tresowne here tak end ; 

* For to f i Fadyre I sail f e send.* 

Dus Makbeth slwe f ai fan 

In-to f e Wode of Lunfanan : 400 

And his Hewyd f ai strak off fare ; 
And fat wyth fame fra fine f ai bare 
Til Kynkardyn, quhare f e Kyng 
Tylle fare gayne-come made bydyng. 
Of fat slawchter ar fire wers 405 

In Latyne wryttyne to rehers ; 

Rex Macabeda decent Scotie septemquejit annis, 
In cujus regno fertile tempus erat : 
Hunc in Lunfanan truncavit morte crudeli 
Duncani natus, nomine Mulcolimus. 410 

L. 398.] This appears to be historic truth. But Boysp thought it did 
not make so good a story, as that Macbeth should be slain by Macduif, 
whom he therefore works up to a proper temper of revenge, by previously 
ending Macbeth to murder his wife and children. All this has a very fin* 
effect in romance, or upon the stage. I). MACFHBBSON. 


From the non-appearance of Banquo in this ancient and au- 
thentick Chronicle, it is evident that his character, and conse- 
quently that of Fleance, were the fictions of Hector Boece, who 
seems to have been more ambitious of furnishing picturesque 
incidents for the use of playwrights, than of exhibiting sober 
facts on which historians could rely. The phantoms of a dream,* 
in the present instance, he has embodied, and 

" gives to airy nothing 

" A local habitation and a name." 

Nor is he solicitous only to reinforce creation. In thinning 
the ranks of it he is equally expert ; for as often as lavish 
slaughters are necessary to his purpose, he has unscrupulously 
supplied them from his own imagination. " I laud him," how- 
ever, "I praise him," (as Falstaff says,) for the tragedy of 
Macbeth, perhaps, might not have been so successfully raised 
out of the less dramatick materials of his predecessor Wyntown. 
The want of such an essential agent as Banquo, indeed, could 
scarce have operated more disadvantageous^ in respect to Shak- 
speare, than it certainly has in regard to the royal object of his 
flattery; for, henceforward, what prop can be found for the 
pretended ancestry of James the First? or what plea for Isaac 
Wake's most courtly deduction from the supposed prophecy of 
the Weird Sisters? " Vaticinii veritatem rerum eventus com- 
probavit; Banquonis enim e stirpe potentissimus Jacobus oriun- 
dus." See Rex Platonicus, &c. 1605. STEEVENS. 

Lord Hailes, on the contrary, in a note on his -Annals of Scotland, 
Vol. 1. p. 3, charges Buchanan with having softened the afpearance of the 
Witches into a dream of the same tendency ; whereas he has only brought 
this story back to the probability of its original, as related by Wyntown. 


VOL. X. 


Z 2 

* KING JOHN.] The troublesome Reign of King John was 
written in two parts by W. Shakspeare and W. Rowley, and 
printed 1611. But the present play is entirely different, and 
infinitely superior to it. POPE. 

The edition of 1611 has no mention of Rowley, nor in the 
account of Rowley's works is any mention made of his conjunc- 
tion with Shakspeafe in any play. King John was reprinted, in 
two parts, in 1622. The first edition that I have found of this 
play, in its present form, is that of 1623, in folio. The edition 
of 1591 I have not seen. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Johnson mistakes, when he says there is no mention, in 
Rowley's works, of any conjunction with Shakspeare. The Birth 
of Merlin is ascribed to them jointly, though I cannot believe 
Shakspeare had any thing to do with it. Mr. Capell is equally 
mistaken, when he says (Pref. p. 15) that Rowley is called his 
partner in the title-page of The Merry Devil of Edmonton. 

There must have been some tradition, however erroneous, 
upon which Mr. Pope's account was founded. I make no doubt 
that Rowley wrote the first King John ; and, when Shakspeare's 
play was called for, and could not be procured from the players, 
a piratical bookseller reprinted the old one, with W. Sh. in the 
title-page. FARMER. 

The elder play of King John was first published in 1591. 
Shakspeare has preserved the greatest part of the conduct of it, 
as well as some of the lines. A few of those I have pointed out, 
and others I have omitted as undeserving notice. The number 
of quotations from Horace, and similar scraps of learning scat- 
tered over this motley piece, ascertain it to have been the work 
of a scholar. It contains likewise a quantity of rhyming Latin, 
and ballad-metre ; and in a scene where the Bastard is repre- 
sented as plundering a monastery, there are strokes of humour, 
which seem, from their particular turn, to have been most evi- 
dently produced by another hand than that of our author. 

Of this historical drama there is a subsequent edition in 1611, 
printed for John Helme, whose name appears before none of the 
genuine pieces of Shakspeare. I admitted this play some years 
ago as our author's own, among the twenty which I published 
from the old editions ; but a more careful perusal of it, and a 
further conviction of his custom of borrowing plots, sentiments, 
&c. disposes me to recede from that opinion. STEEVENS. 

A play entitled The troublesome RaigneofJohn King of Eng- 
land, in two parts, was printed in 1591, without the writer's 
name. It was written, I believe, either by Robert Greene, or 
George Peele ; and certainly preceded this of our author. Mr. 
Pope, who is very inaccurate in matters of this kind, says that 

the former was printed in 1611, as written by W. Shakspeare 
and W. Rowley. But this is not true. In the second edition of 
this old play, in 1611, the letters W. Sh. were put into the title- 
page to deceive tlie purchaser, and to lead him to suppose the 
piece was Shakspeare's play, which, at that time, was not pub- 
lished. See a more minute account of this fraud in An Attempt 
to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare* s Plays, Vol. II. Our author's 
King John was written, I imagine, in 1596. The reasons on 
which this opinion is founded may be found in that Essay. 


Though this play have the title of The Life and Death of 
King John, yet the action of it begins at the thirty-fourth year 
of his life, and takes in only some transactions of his reign to the 
time of his demise, being an interval of about seventeen years. 


Hall, Holinshed, Stowe, &c. are closely followed, not only in 
the conduct, but sometimes in the very expressions, throughout 
the following historical dramas; viz. Macbeth, this play, Richard 
If. Henry IV. two parts, Henry V. Henry VI. three parts, 
Richard III. and Henry VIII. 

" A booke called The Historic of Lord Faulconbridge, bastard 
Son 'to Richard Cordelion," was entered at Stationers' Hall, 
Nov. 29, 1614- ; but I have never met with it, and therefore 
knovtf.not whether it was the old black letter history, or a play 
upon the same subject. For the original King John, see Six old 
Plays on iv/iich Shakspeare founded, &c. published by S. Le"a- 
croft, Charing-cross. STEEVENS. 

The Historic of Lord Fatdconbridge, &c. is a prose narrative, 
in bit 1. The earliest edition that I have seen of it was printed 
in 1616. 

A book entitled Richard Cur de Lion was entered on the 
Stationers' Books in 1558. 

A play called The Funeral of Richard Cordelion, was written 
by Robert Wilson, Henry Chettle, Anthony Mundy, and Michael 
Dray ton, and first exhibited in the year 1598. See The His- 
torical Account of the English Stage, Vol. II. MALONE. 


King John : 

Prince Henry, his Son; afterwards King Henry III. 

Arthur, Duke oyfBretagne, Son of Geffrey, late Duke 

o/'Bretagne, the elder Brother of King John. 
William Mareshall, Earl of Pembroke. 
Geffrey Fitz-Peter, Earl of Essex, Chief Justiciary 

of England. 

William Longs word, Earl of Salisbury. 1 
Robert Bigot, Earl of Norfolk. 
Hubert de Burgh, Chamberlain to the King. 
Robert Faulconbridge, Son of Sir Robert Faulcon- 

bridge : 
Philip Faulconbridge, his Half-brother, bastard Son 

to King Richard the First. 
James Gurney, Servant to Lady Faulconbridge. 
Peter o/Tomfret, a Prophet. 

Philip, King of 'France. 

Lewis, the Dauphin. 

Arch-duke of Austria. 

Cardinal Pandulph, the Pope's Legate. 

Melun, a French Lord. 

Chatillon, Ambassador from France to King John. 

Elinor, the Widow of King Henry II. and Mother 

of King John. 

Constance, Mother to Arthur. 
Blanch, Daughter to Alphonso, King of Castile, 

and Niece to King John. 
Lady Faulconbridge, Mother to the Bastard, and 

Robert Faulconbridge. 

Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Anglers, Sheriff, Heralds, 
Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants. 

SCENE, sometimes in England, and sometimes in 

1 Salisbury."] Son to King Henry II. by Rosamond 

Clifford. STEEVENS. 

Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace. 


K.JOHN. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France 
with us ? 

CHAT. Thus, after greeting, speaks the king of 


In my behaviour, 1 to the majesty, 
The borrow'd majesty of England here. 

1 In my behaviour,'] The word behaviour seems here to have 
a signification that I have never found in any other author. The 
king of France, says the envoy, thus speaks in my behaviour to 
the majesty of England; that is, the King of France speaks in 
the character which I here assume. I once thought that these 
two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambas- 
sador, as part of his master's message, and that behaviour had 
meant the conduct of the King of France towards the King of 
England; but the ambassador's speech, as continued after the 
interruption, will not admit this meaning. JOHXSON. 

In my behaviour means, in the manner that / noio do. 


In my behaviour means, I think, in the words and action that 
I am now going to use. So, in the fifth Act of this play, the 
Bastard says to the French king 

, " Now hear our English king, 

*' For thus his royalty doth speak in me" MA LONE. 


ELI. A strange beginning ; borrow'd. majesty ! 

K. JOHN. Silence, good mother; hear the em- 

CHAT. Philip of France, in right and true behalf 
Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son, 
Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim 
To this fair island, and the territories ; 
To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine : 
Desiring thee to lay aside the sword, 
Which sways usurpingly these several titles ; 
And put the same into young Arthur's hand, 
Thy nephew, and right royal sovereign. 

K. JOHN. What follows, if we disallow of this ? 

CHAT. The proud control 2 of fierce and bloody 

To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld. 

K. JOHN. Here have we war for war, and blood 

for blood, 
Controlment for controlment : so answer France. 3 

s control ] Opposition, from controller. JOHNSON. 

I think it rather means constraint or compulsion. So, in the 
second Act of King Henry V. when Exeter demands of the 
King of France the surrender of his crown, and the King an- 
swers " Or else what follows?" Exeter replies: 

" Bloody constraint ; for if you hide the crown 
" Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it." 
The passages are exactly similar. M. MASON. 

' Here have we war for war, and blood for blood, 

Controlment for controlment ; &c.] King John's reception 
of Chatillon not a little resembles that which Andrea meets 
with from the King of Portugal, in the first part of Jeronimo, 
&c. 1605 : 

1 And. Thou shalt pay tribute, Portugal, with blood. 
" Bal. Tribute for tribute then; and foes for foes. 

" And. 1 bid you sudden wars." STEEVENS. 

Jeronimo was exhibited on the stage before the year 1590.' 


sc. i. KING JOHN. 54,7 

CHAT. Then take my king's defiance from my 

The furthest limit of my em'bassy. 

K. JOHN. Bear mine to him, and so depart in 

peace : 
Be thou as lightning 4 in the eyes of France ; 

From the following passage in Barnabie Googe's Cupido con- 
quered, (dedicated with his other poems, in May, 1562, and 
printed in 1563,) Jeronymo appears to have been written earlier 
than the earliest of these dates : 

" Mark hym that showes y 6 Tragedies, 

" Thyne owne famylyar frende, 
" By whom ye Spaniard's hatuty style 

" In Englysh verse is pende." 

B. Googe had already sounded the praises of Phaer and Gas- 
coigne, and is here descanting on the merits of Kyd. 

It is not impossible (though Ferrex and Porrex was acted in 
1561 ) that Hieronymo might have been the first regular tragedy 
that appeared in an English dress. 

It may also be remarked, that B. Googe, in the foregoing 
lines, seems to speak of a tragedy " in English verse" as a no- 
velty. STEEVENS. 

4 Be thou as lightning ] The simile does not suit well : 
the lightning, indeed, appears before the thunder is heard, but 
the lightning is destructive, and the thunder innocent. 


The allusion may, notwithstanding, be very proper, so far as 
Shakspeare had applied it, i. e. merely to the swiftness of the 
lightning, and its preceding and. foretelling the thunder. But 
there is some reason to believe that thunder was not thought to 
be innocent in our author's time, as we elsewhere learn from 
himself. See King Lear, Act III. sc. ii. Antony and Cleopatra, 
Act II. sc. v. Julius Caesar, Act I. sc. iii. and still more de- 
cisively in Measure for Measure, Act II. sc. ii. This old 
superstition is still prevalent in many parts of the country. 


King John does not allude to the destructive powers either of 
thunder or lightning ; he only means to say, that Chatillon shall 
appear to the eyes of the French like lightning, which shows 
that thunder is approaching : and the thunder he alludes to is 
that of his cannon. Johnson also forgets, that though, philoso- 
phically speaking, the destructive power is in the lightning, it 

346 KING JOHN. ACT i. 

For ere thou canst report I will be there, 
The thunder of my cannon shall be heard : 
So, hence ! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath, 
And sullen presage 5 of your own decay. 
An honourable conduct let him have : 
Pembroke, look to't : Farewell, Chatillon. 


ELI. What now, my son? have I not ever said, 
How that ambitious Constance would not cease, 
Till she had kindled France, and all the world, 
Upon the right and party of her son ? 
This might have been prevented, and made whole, 
With very easy arguments of love ; 
Which now the manage c of two kingdoms must 
With fearful bloody issue arbitrate. 

has generally, in poetry, been attributed to the thunder. So, 

Lear says : 

" You sulphurous and thought-executing fires, 
" Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts, 
" Singe my white head !" M. MASON. 

sullen presage ] By the epithet sullen, which cannot 

be applied to a trumpet, it is plain that our author's imagination 
had now suggested a new idea. It is as if he had said, be a 
trumpet to alarm with our invasion, be a bird of ill omen to croak 
out the prognostick of your own ruin. JOHNSON. 

I do not see why the epithet sullen may not be applied to a 
trumpet, with as much propriety as to a bell. In our author's 
King Henry IV. P. II. we find 

*' Sounds ever after as a sullen bell ." MALONE. 

That here are two ideas is evident ; but the second of them 
has not been luckily explained. The sullen presage of your own 
decay, means, the dismal passing bell, that announces your own 
approaching dissolution. STEEVENS. 

the manage ] i.e. conduct, administration. So, in 

King Richard II : 

" for the rebels 

" Expedient manage must be made, my liege." 


sc. i. KING JOHN. 347 

K. JOHN. Our strong possession, and our right, 
for us. 

ELI. Your strong possession, much more than 

your right ; 

Or else it must go wrong with you, and me : 
So much my conscience whispers in your ear ; 
Which none but heaven, and you, and I, shall hear. 

Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whis- 
pers ESSEX. 7 

ESSEX. My liege, here is the strangest contro- 

Come from the country to be judg'd by you, 
That e'er I heard : Shall I produce the men ? 

K. JOHN. Let them approach.- [Exit Sheriff. 
Our abbies, and our priories, shall pay 

Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and 
PHILIP, his bastard Brother. 6 

This expedition's charge. What men are you? 

7 Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, &c.~] This stage di- 
rection I have taken from the old quarto. STEEVENS. 

8 and Philip, his bastard Brother.'] Though Shakspeare 

adopted this character of Philip Faulconbridge from the old 
play, it is not improper to mention that it is compounded of two 
distinct personages. 

Matthew Paris says: " Sub illius temporis curriculo, Falcasius 
de Brente, Neusteriensis, et spurius ex parte matris, atque 
Bastardus, qui in vili jumento manticato ad Regis paulo ante 
clientelam descenderat," &c. 

Matthew Paris, in his History of the Monks of St. Allans, 
calls him Fake, but in his General History, Falcasius de Brente, 
as above. 

Holinshed says that " Richard I. had a natural son named 

348 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

BAST. Your faithful subject I, a gentleman, 
Born in Northamptonshire ; and eldest son, 
As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge; 
A soldier, by the honour-giving hand 
Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field. 

K.JOHN. What art thou? 

ROB. The son and heir to that same Faulcon- 

K . JOHN. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir ? 
You came not of one mother then, it seems. 

BAST. Most certain of one mother, mighty king, 
That is well known ; and, as I think, one father: 
But, for the certain knowledge of that truth, 
I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother ; 
Of that I doubt, as all men's children may. 9 

Philip, who, in the year following, killed the Viscount De Li- 
moges, to revenge the death of his father. STEEVENS. 

Perhaps the following passage in the continuation of Harding's 
Chronicle, 1543, fol. 24, b. ad ann. 1472, induced the author 
of the old play to affix the name of Faulconbridge to King 
Richard's natural son, who is only mentioned in our histories 
by the name of Philip : " one Faulconbridge, therle of Kent, 
his bastarde, a stoute-harted man." 

Who the mother of Philip was is not ascertained. It is said 
that she was a lady of Poictou, and that King Richard bestowed 
upon her son a lordship in that province. 

In expanding the character of the Bastard, Shakspeare seems 
to have proceeded on the following slight hint in the original 
play: ' 

" Next them, a bastard of the king's deceas'd, 
'* A hardie wild-head, rough, and venturous." 


9 But, for the certain knowledge of that truth, 
I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother ; 
Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.] The resem- 
blance between this sentiment, and that of Telemachus, in the 
first Book of the Odyssey, is apparent. The passage is thus 
translated by Chapman : 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 349 

ELI. Out on thee, rude man ! thou dost shame 

thy mother, 
And wound her honour with this diffidence. 

BAST. I, madam? no, I have no reason for it; 
That is my brother's plea, and none of mine; 
The which if he can prove, 'a pops me out 
At least from fair five hundred pound a year : 
Heaven guard my mother's honour, and my land! 

K. JOHN. A good blunt fellow : Why, being 

younger born, 
Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance ? 

BAST. I know not why, except to get the land. 
But once he slander'd me with bastardy: 
But whe'r 1 I be as true begot, or no, 
That still I lay upon my mother's head; 
But, that I am as well begot, my liege, 
(Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me !) 
Compare our faces, and be judge yourself. 
Jf old sir Robert did beget us both, 
And were our father, and this son like him; 

old sir Robert, father, on my knee 

1 give heaven thanks, I was not like to thee. 

K. JOHN. Why, what a madcap hath heaven 
lent us here ! 

" My mother, certaine, says I am his sonne; 
" I know not ; nor was ever simply knowne, 
" By any child, the sure truth of his sire." 
Mr. Pope has observed, that the like sentiment is found in 
Euripides, Menandcr, and Aristotle. Shakspeare expresses the 
same doubt in several of his other plays. STEEVENS. 

? But whe'r ] Whe'r for whether. So, in The Comedy of 
Errors : 

" Good sir, say whe'r you'll answer me, or no." 



ELI. He hath a trick of Cceur-de-lion's face, 2 
The accent of his tongue affecteth him : 
Do you not read some tokens of my son 
In the large composition of this man? 

X. JOHN. Mine eye hath well examined his parts, 

And finds them perfect Richard. Sirrah, speak, 

What doth move you to claim your brother's land ? 

BAST. Because he hath a half-face, like my father j 

* He hath a trick of Cceur-de-lion's face^\ The tricky or 
tricking, is the same as the tracing of a drawing, meaning that 
peculiarity of face which may be sufficiently shown by the 
slightest outline. This expression is used by Heywood and 
Rowley, in their comedy called Fortune by Land and Sea: 
" Her face, the trick of her eye t her leer." 

The following passage, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his 
Humour, proves the phrase to be borrowed from delineation : 

" You can blazon the rest, Signior ? 

" O ay, I have it in writing here o'purpose ; it cost me two 
shillings the tricking." 

So again, in Cynthia's Revels : 

" the parish-buckets with his name at length trick' d upon 

them." STEEVENS. 

By a trick, in this place, is meant some peculiarity of look or 
motion. So, Helen, in All's ivell that ends well, says, speak- 
ing of Bertram 

" 'Twas pretty, though a plague, 

" To see him every hour ; to sit and draw 
" His arched brows, &c. 
*' In our heart's table ; heart too capable 
" Of every line and trick of his sweet favour." / 
And Gloster, in Kins Lear t says 

" The trick of that voice I do well remember." 


Our author often uses this phrase, and generally in the sense 
of a peculiar air or cast of countenance or feature. So, in King 
Henry IV. P. I : " That thou art my son, I have partly thy 
mother's word, partly my own opinion ; but chiefly a villainous 
trick of thine eye, ." M ALONE. 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 351 

With that half-face 3 would he have all my land: 
A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year ! 

ROB. My gracious liege, when that my father 

Your brother did employ my father much ; 

BAST. Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land; 
Your tale must be, how he employed my mother. 

ROB. And once despatch'd him in an embassy 
To Germany, there, with the emperor, 
To treat of high affairs touching that time : 
The advantage of his absence took the king, 
And in the mean time sojourn'd at my father's; 

9 With that half-face ] The old copy with half that 
face. But why with half that face ? There is no question but 
the poet wrote, as I have restored the text : With that half- 
face . Mr. Pope, perhaps, will be angry with me for dis- 
covering an anachronism of our poet's in the next line, where 
he alludes to a coin not struck till the year 1 504, in the reign of 
King Henry VII. viz. a groat, which, as well as the half groat, 
bore but half faces impressed, Vide Stowe's Survey of London, 
p. 47, Holinshed, Camden's Remains, &c. The poet sneers at 
the meagre sharp visage of the elder brother, by comparing him 
to a silver groat, that bore the king's face in profile, so showed 
but half the face: the groats of all our Kings of England, and 
indeed all their other coins of silver, one or two only excepted, 
had a full face crowned ; till Henry VII. at the time above men- 
tioned, coined groats and half-groats, as also some shillings, 
with half faces, i. e. faces in profile, as all our coin has now. 
The first groats of King Henry VIII. were like those of his 
father ; though afterwards he returned to the broad faces again. 
These groats, with the impression in profile, are undoubtedly 
here alluded to : though, as I said, the poet is knowingly guilty 
of an anachronism in it : for, in the time of King John, there 
were no groats at all ; they being first, as far as appears, coined 
in the reign of King Edward III. THEOBALD. 

The same contemptuous allusion occurs in The Downfall of 
Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601: 

" You half-fac'd groat , you thick-cheek'd chitty-face." 
Again ? in Histriomastix, 1610: 

" Whilst I behold yon half-fac'd minion." STEEVENS. 


Where how he did prevail, I shame to speak : 
But truth is truth ; large lengths of seas and shores 
Between my father and my mother lay, 4 
(As I have heard my father speak himself,) 
When this same lusty gentleman was got. 
Upon his death-bed he by will bequeath'd 
His lands to me ; and took it, on his death, 5 
That this, my mother's son, was none of his; 
And, if he were, he came into the world 
Full fourteen weeks before the course of time. 
Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine, 
My father's land, as was my father's will. 

K. JOHN. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate ; 
Your father's wife did after wedlock bear him : 
And, if she did play false, the fault was hers; 
Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands 
That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother, 
Who, as you say, took pains to get this son, 
Had of your father claim'd this son for his ? 
In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept 
This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world;" 

4 large lengths of seas and shores 

Between my father and my mother lay,"] This is Homeric, 
and is thus rendered by Chapman, in the first Iliad: 

" hills enow, and farre-resounding seas 

" Powre out their shades and deepes between. " 
Again, in Ovid, De Tristibus, IV. vii. 21 : 

" Innumeri monies inter me teque, viaeque 

" Fluminaque et campi, nee freta pauca, jacent." 


4 took it, on his death,] i. e. entertained it as his fixed 

opinion, when he was dying. So, in Hamlet : 

" this, I take it, 

" Is the main motive of our preparation." STEEVENS. 

fi your father might have kept 

This calf, bred from his cow, from all the 'world;] The 
decision of King John coincides with that of Menie, the Indian 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 353 

In sooth, he might: then, if he were my brother's, 
My brother might not claim him ; nor your father, 
Being none of his, refuse him : This concludes, 7 
My mother's son did get your father's heir ; 
Your father's heir must have your father's land. 

ROB. Shall then my father's will be of no force, 
To dispossess that child which is not his ? 

BAST. Of no more force to dispossess me, sir, 
Than was his will to get me, as I think. 

ELI. Whether hadst thou rather, be a Faul con- 

And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land; 
Or the reputed son of Cceur-de-lion, 
Lord of thy presence, and no land beside? 8 

BAST. Madam, an if my brother had my shape, 
And I had his, sir Robert his, like him; 9 

lawgiver : " Should a bull beget a hundred calves on cows not 
owned by his master, those calves belong solely to the proprie- 
tors of the sous." See The Hindu Laws &c. translated by Sir 
W. Jones, London edit. p. 251. STEEVENS. 

7 This concludes,] This is a decisive argument. As your father* 
if he liked him, could not have been forced to resign him, so 
not liking him, he is not at liberty to reject him. JOHNSON. 

8 Lord of thy presence, and no land beside ?] Lord of thy 
presence can signify only master of thyself, and it is a strange ex- 
pression to signify even that. However, that he might be, 
without parting with his land. We should read Lord of the 
presence, i. e. prince of the blood. WARBURTON. 

Lord of thy presence, and no land beside?} Lord of thy 
presence means, master of that dignity and grandeur of appear- 
ance that may sufficiently distinguish thee from the vulgar, 
without the help of fortune. 

Lord of his presence apparently signifies, great in his otvn 
person, and is used in this sense by King John in one of the fol- 
lowing scenes. JOHNSON. 

9 And I had his, sir Robert his, like him;] This is obscure 
and ill expressed. The meaning is If I had his shape, sir 
Robert's as he has. 

VOL. X. A A 

354 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

And if my legs were two such riding-rods, 
My arms such eel-skins stufFd ; my face so thin, 
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose, 
Lest men should say, Look, where three-farthings 
goes ! l 

Sir Robert his, for Sir Robert's, is agreeable to the practice 
of that time, when the 's added to the nominative was believed, 
I think erroneously, to be a contraction of his. So, Donne: 

" Who now lives to age, 

" Fit to be call'd Methusalem his page ?" JOHNSON. 

This ought to be printed : 

sir Robert his, like him. 

His, according to a mistaken notion formerly received, being 
the sign of the genitive case. As the text before stood there 
was a double genitive. MALONE. 

1 my face so thin, 

That in mine ear / durst not stick a rose, 
Lest men should say, Look, -where threefar-things goesf] 
In this very obscure passage our poet is anticipating the date of 
another coin ; humorously to rally a thin face, eclipsed, as it 
were, by a full blown rose. We must observe, to explain this 
allusion, that Queen Elizabeth was the first, and indeed the only 
prince, who coined in England three-half-pence, and three-far- 
thing pieces. She coined shillings, six-pences, groats, three- 
pences, two-pences, three-half-pence, pence, three- farthings, and 
half-pence ; and these pieces all had her head, and were alter- 
nately with the rose behind, and without the rose. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Theobald has not mentioned a material circumstance rela- 
tive to these three-farthing pieces, on which the propriety of the 
allusion in some measure depends ; viz. that they were made of 
silver, and consequently extremely thin. From their thinness 
they were very liable to be cracked. Hence Ben Jonson, inhis 
Every Man in his Humour, says, " He values me at a cracked 
three-farthings." MALONE. 

So, in The Shoemaker's Holiday, &c. 1610 r 

" Here's a three-penny piece for thy tidings." 

" Firk. 'Tis but three-half-pence I think: yes, 'tis three- 
pence ; I smell the rose." STEEVENS. 

The sticking roses about them was then all the court-fashion, 
as appears from this passage of the Confession Catholiquc du S. 
de Sancy, L. II. c. i : " Je luy ay appris a mettre des roses par 
tous les coins." i. e. in every place about him, says the speaker, 
of one to whom he had taught all the court-fashions. 


ac. i. KING JOHN. 3.55 

And, to his shape, were heir to all this land, 2 

The roses stuck in the ear were, I believe, only roses composed 
of ribbands. In Marston's What you will is the following 
passage : " Dupatzo the elder brother, the fool, he that bought 
the half-penny ribband, wearing it in his ear," &c. Again, in 
Every Man out of his Humour; " This ribband in my ear, 
or so." Again, in Love and Honour, by Sir W. D'Avenant, 

** A lock on the left side, so rarely hung 

" With ribbanding," &c. 

I think I remember, among Vandyck's pictures in the Duke 
of Queensbury's collection at Ambrosbury, to have seen one, 
with the lock nearest the ear ornamented with ribbands which 
terminate in roses ; and Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, 
says, " that it was once the fashion to stick real jlowers in the 

At Kirtling, (vulgarly pronounced Catlage,} in Cambridge- 
shire, the magnificent residence of the first Lord North, there is 
a juvenile portrait, (supposed to be of Queen Elizabeth,) with a 
red rose sticking in her ear." STEEVENS. 

Marston, in his Satires, 1598, alludes to this fashion as fan- 
tastical : 

" Ribbanded eares, Grenada nether-stocks." 
And from the epigrams of Sir John Davies, printed at Middle- 
burgh, about 1598, it appears that some men of gallantry, in 
our author's time, suffered their ears to be bored, and wore their 
mistress's silken shoe-strings in them. MALONE. 

* And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,"] There is 
no noun to which were can belong, unless the personal pronoun 
in the last line but one be understood here. I suspect that our 
author wrote 

And though his shape were heir to all this land, 
Thus the sentence proceeds in one uniform tenour; Madam, an 
if my brother had my shape, and I had his and if my lees 
were, &c. and though his shape were heir, &c. / woitld 
give. MA LONE. 

The old reading is the true one. " To his shape" means, in 
addition to it. So, in Troilus and Cressida : 

" The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength, 
" Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant." 
Mr. M. Mason, however, would transpose the words his and 

And to this shape were heir to all his land. 

AA 2 

356 KING JOHN. ACT /. 

'Would I might never stir from off this place, 
I'd give it every foot to have this face ; 
I would not be sir Nob in any case. 3 

ELI. I like thee well ; Wilt thou forsake thy for- 

Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me ? 
I am a soldier, and now bound to France. 

BAST. Brother, take you my land, I'll take my 

chance : 

Your face hath got five hundred pounds a year; 
Yet sell your face for five pence, and 'tis dear. 
Madam, I'll follow you unto the death. 4 

ELI. Nay, I would have you go before me thither. 
BAST. Our country manners give our betters way. 
K. JOHN. What is thy name ? 

BAST. Philip, my liege ; so is my name begun ; 
Philip, good old Sir Robert's wife's eldest son. 

K. JOHN. From henceforth bear his name whose 

form thou bear'st : 

Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great ; 5 
Arise sir Richard, and Plantagenet. 6 

By this shape, says he, Faulconbridge means, the shape he 
had been just describing. STEEVENS. 

* I would not be sir Nob ] Sir Nob is used contemptuously 
for Sir Robert. The old copy reads It would not be . The 
correction was made by the editor of the second folio. I am not 
sure that it is necessary. MALONE. 

4 unto the death.] This expression (a Gallicism, a la 

mort) is common among our ancient writers. STEEVENS. 

* but arise more great;"] The old copy reads only 

rise. Mr. Malone conceives this to be the true reading, and 
that " more is here used as a dissyllable." I do not suppress 
this opinion, though I cannot concur in it. STEEVEN.S. 

Arise sir Richard, and Plantagenet.] It is a common 
opinion, that Plantagenet was the surname of the royal house of 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 357 

BAST Brother, by the mother's side, give me 

your hand ; 

My father gave me honour, yours gave land : 
Now blessed be the hour, by night or day, 
When I was got, sir Robert was away. 

ELI. The very spirit of Plantagenet ! 
I am thy grandame, Richard ; call me so. 

BAST. Madam, by chance, but not by truth : 

What though ? 7 
Something about, a little from the right, 8 

In at the window, or else o'er the hatch: 9 
Who dares not stir by day, must walk by night ; 

And have is have, however men do catch : 

England, from the time of King Henry II. but it is, as Camden 
observes, in his Remaines, 1614, a popular mistake. Plan- 
tagenet was not a family name, but a nick-name, by which a 
grandson of Geffrey, the first Earl of Anjou, was distinguished, 
from his wearing a broom-stalk in his bonnet. But this name 
was never borne either by the first Earl of Anjou, or by King 
Henry II. the son of that Earl, by the Empress Maude ; he being 
always called Henry Fitz-Empress ; his son, Richard Cceur-de- 
lion ; and the prince who is exhibited in the play before us,, 
John sans-terre, or lack-land. MALONE. 

7 Madam, by chance, but not by truth: what though?] I 
am your grandson, madam, by chance, but not by honesty; 
vrhatthen? JOHNSON. 

8 Something about, a little from the right, &c.] This 
speech, composed of allusive and proverbial sentences, is ob- 
scure. / am, says the sprightly knight, your grandson, a little 
irregularly, but every man cannot get what he wishes the legal 
way. He that dares not go about his designs by day, must make 
his motions in the night ; he, to whom the door is shut, must 
climb the window, or leap the hatch. This, however, shall 
not depress me ; for the world never enquires how any man got 
what he is known to possess, but allows that to have is to have, 
however it was caught, and that he who wins, shot well, what- 
ever was his skill, whether the arrow fell near the mark, or far 
off it. JOHNSON. 

9 In at the "window, &c.] These expressions mean, to be 


Near or far off, well won is still well shot , 
And I am I, howe'er I was begot. 

K. JOHN. Go, Faulconbridge; now hast thou thy 


A landless knight makes thee a landed 'squire. 
Come, madam, and come, Richard ; we must speed 
For France, for France ; for it is more than need. 

BAST. Brother, adieu; Good fortune come to 

For thou wast got i'the way of honesty. 

[Exeunt all but the Bastard, 
A foot of honour 1 better than I was ; 
But many a many foot of land the worse. 

Well, now can I make any Joan a lady: 

Good den* sir Richard, God-a-mercy, 3 fellow; 

born out of "wedlock. So, in The Family of Love, 1608 : 
" Woe worth the time that ever I gave suck to a child that 
came in at the window!" So, in Northward Hoe, by Decker 
and Webster, 1607 : " kindred that comes in o'er the hatch, 
and sailing to Westminster," &c. Such another phrase occurs 
in Any Thing for a quiet Life: " then j r ou keep children in 
the name of your own, which she suspects came not in at the 
right door."" Again, in The Witches of Lancashire, by Hey- 
wood and Broome, 1634: " It appears then by your dis- 
course that you came in at the window." " I would not have 
you think I scorn my grannam's cat to leap over the hatch." 
Again : " -to escape the dogs hath leaped in at a window." 
" "Tis thought you came into the world that way, because you 
are a bastard." STEEVENS. 

1 A foot of honour ] A step, un pas. JOHNSON. 

* Good den,] i. e. a good evening. So, in Romeo and 

" God ye good den, fair gentlewoman." STEEVENS. 

* sir Richard,'] Thus the old copy, and rightly. In 

Act IV. Salisbury calls him Sir Richard, and the King has just 
knighted him by that name. The modern editors arbitrarily 
read, Sir Robert. Faulconbridge is now entertaining himself 
with ideas of greatness, suggested by his recent knighthood. 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 359 

And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter : 
For new-made honour doth forget men's names ; 
'Tis too respective, and too sociable, 
For your conversion. 4 Now your traveller, 5 

Good den, sir Richard, he supposes to be the salutation of a 
vassal, God-a-mercy, fellow, his own supercilious reply to it. 


* 'Tis too respective, and too sociable 

For your conversion.] Respective is respectful, formal' 
So, in The Case is altered, by Ben Jonson, 1609 : " I pray you, 
sir; you are too respective in good faith." Again, in the old 
comedy called Michaelmas Term, 1607 : " Seem respective, to 
make his pride swell like a toad with dew." Again, in The 
Merchant of Venice, Act V : 

" You should have been respective," &c. 
Again, in Chapman's version of the eleventh Iliad: 
*' hie honourable blood 
" Was struck with a respective shame ; " 
For your conversion is the reading of the old copy, and may 
be right. It seems to mean, his late change of condition from 
a private gentleman to a knight. STEEVENS. 

Mr. Pope, without necessity, reads for your conversing. Our 
author has here, I think, used a licence of phraseology that he 
often takes. The Bastard has just said, that " new-made honour 
doth forget men's names," and he proceeds as if he had said, 
_does not remember men's names." To remember the name 
of an inferior, he adds, has too much of the respect which is 
paid to superiors, and of the social and friendly familiarity of 
equals, for your conversion, for your present condition, now 
converted from the situation of a common man to the rank of a 
knight. MA LONE. 

* Now your traveller,] It is said, in All's well that 

ends well, that " a traveller is a good thing after dinner." In 
that age of newly excited curiosity, one of the entertainments 
at great tables seems to have been the discourse of a traveller. 


So, in The partyng of Frendes, a Copy of Verses subjoined to 
Tho. Churchyard's Praise and Reporte (if Maister Martyne For- 
hoisher's Voyageto Meta Incognita, &c. 1578: 

" and all the parish throw 

" At church or market, in some sort, will talke of 
trav'lar now." STEEVENS. 

360 KING JOHN. ACT i. 

He and his tooth-pick 6 at my worship's mess ; 7 
And when my knightly stomach is suffic'd, 
Why then I suck my teeth, and catechise 
My picked man of countries : 8 My dear sir, 

6 He and his tooth-pick ] It has been already remarked, 
that to pick the tooth, and wear a piqued beard, were, in that 
time, marks of a man's affecting foreign fashions. JOHNSON. 

Among Gascoigne's poems I find one entitled, Councell given 
to Maister Bartholomew Withipoll a little before his latter 
Journey to Geane, 1572. The following lines may, perhaps, 
be acceptable to the reader who is curious enough to enquire 
about the fashionable follies imported in that age : 

" Now, sir, if I shall see your mastership 

* Come home disguis'd, and clad in quaint array ; 

" As with a pike-tooth by ting on your lippe ; 

" Your brave mustachios turn'd the Turkic way ; 

" A coptankt hat made on a Flemish blocke ; 

" A night-gowne cloake down trayling to your toes ; 

" A slender slop close couched to your dock ; 

" A curtolde slipper, and a short silk hose," &c. 
Again, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson, 1601: "A 
traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds of forms, 
that himself is truly deformed. He walks most commonly with 
a clove or pick-tooth in his mouth." So also, Fletcher : 

" You that trust in travel ; 

" You that enhance the daily price of tooth-picks" 
Again, in Shirley's Grateful Servant, 1630: " I will continue 
my state-posture, use my tooth-pick with discretion," &c. 


So, in Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1616, [Article, an 
Affected Traveller :] " He censures all things by countenances 
and shrugs, and speaks his own language with shame and lisp- 
ing ; he will choke rather than confess beere good drink ; and 
his tooth-pick is a main part of his behaviour." MALONE. 

7 at my worship's mess ;"J means, at that part of the 

table where I, as a knight, shall be placed. See The Winter's 
Tale, Vol. IX. p. 236, n. 1. 

Your worship was the regular address to a knight or esquire, 
in our author's time, as your honour was to a lord. MALONE. 

* My picked man of countries :] The word picked may not 
refer to the beard, but to the shoes, which were once worn of 

sc. i. KING JOHN. SGI 

(Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin,) 
/ shall beseech you That is question now ; 
And then comes answer like an ABC-book : 

tin immoderate length. To this fashion our author has alluded 
in King Lear, where the reader will find a more ample expla- 
nation. Picked, may, however, mean only spruce in dress. 

Chaucer says, in one of his prologues : " Fresh and new her 
geare ypiked was." And in The Merchant's Tale: " He 
kempeth him, and proineth him, and piketh." In Hyrd's 
translation of Vives's Instruction of a Christian Woman, printed 
in 1591, we meet with "picked and apparelled goodly goodly 
and pickedly arrayed. Licurgus, when he would have women 
of his country to be regarded by their virtue, and not their 
ornaments, banished out of the country, by the law, all paint- 
ing, and commanded out of the town all crafty men of picking 
and apparelling." Again, in a comedy called All Fools, by 
Chapman, 1602: 

" 'Tis such a picked fellow, not a haire 

" About his whole bulk, but it stands in print." 

Again, in Love's Labour's Lost: " He is too picked, too 
spruce," &c. Again, in Greene's Defence of Coney-catching, 
1592, in the description of a pretended traveller: " There be 
in England, especially about London, certain quaint pickt, and 
neat companions, attired, &c. alamode de France," &c. 

If a comma be placed after the word man, " I catechise my 
picked man, of countries :" the passage will seem to mean, " I 
catechise my selected man, about the countries through which 
he travelled." STEEVENS. 

The last interpretation of picked, offered by Mr. Steevens, is 
undoubtedly the true one. So, in Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique, 
1553: " such riot, dicyng, cardyng, pyking," &c. Piked 
or picked, (for the word is variously spelt,) in the writings of 
our author and his contemporaries, generally means, spruce, 
affected, effeminate. 

See also Minsheu's Diet. 1617: " Topicke or trimme. Vid. 
Trimme." MALONE. 

My picked man of countries is my travelled fop. 


like an ABC-book:] An ABC-book, or, as they 

spoke and wrote it, an absey-book, is a catechism. JOHNSON. 
So, in the ancient Interlude of Youth, bl. 1. no date: 
" In the A. B. C. of bokes the least, 
" Ytis written, deus charitas est." 

362 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

O sir, says answer, at your best command; 

At your employment; at your service, sir: 

No, sir, says question,"/, sweet sir, at yours: 

And so, ere answer knows what question would, 

(Saving in dialogue of compliment; 1 

And talking of the Alps, and Apennines, 

The Pyrenean, and the river Po,) 

It draws toward supper in conclusion so. 

But this is worshipful society, 

And fits the mounting spirit, like myself: 

For he is but a bastard to the time, 2 

That doth not smack of observation ; 

(And so am I, whether I smack, or no ;) 

And not alone in habit and device, 

Exterior form, outward accoutrement; 

But from the inward motion to deliver 

Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth : 

Again, in Tho. Nash's dedication to Greene's Arcadia, 1616: 
" make a patrimony of In speech, and more than a younger 
brother's inheritance of their Abcie." STEEVENS. 

1 And so, ere answer knows what question would, 

( Saving in dialogue of compliment ;] Sir W. Cornwallis's 
28th Essay thus ridicules the extravagance of compliment in our 
poet's days, 1601 : " We spend even at his (i. e. a friend's or a 
stranger's) entrance, a whole volume of words. What a deal 
of synamon and ginger is sacrificed to dissimulation ! O, how 
blessed do I take mine eyes for presenting me with this sight ! 
O Signior, the star that governs my life in contentment, give 
me leave to interre myself in your arms! Not so, sir, it is too 
unworthy an inclosure to contain such preciousness, &c. &c. 
This, and a cup of drink, makes the time as fit for a departure 
as can be." TOLLET. 

* For he is but a bastard to the time, &c.] He is accounted 
but a mean man, in the present age, who does not shew, by 
his dress, his deportment, and his talk, that he has travelled, 
and made observations in foreign countries. The old copy, in 
the next line, reads smoak. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. 


sc. I. KING JOHN. 363 

Which, though 3 I will not practise to deceive, 
Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn ; 
For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising. 
But who comes 4 in such haste, in riding robes ? 
What woman-post is this ? hath she no husband, 
That will take pains to blow a horn 5 before her ? 



O me ! it is my mother : How now, good lady ? 
What brings you here to court so hastily ? 

LADY F. Where is that slave, thy brother? where 

is he ? 
That holds in chase mine honour up and down ? 

BAST. My brother Robert? old sir Robert's son ? 
Colbrand 7 the giant, that same mighty man ? 
Is it sir Robert's son, that you seek so? 

* Which, though ] The construction will be mended, if, 
instead of which though, we read this though. JOHNSON. 

* But who comes ] Milton, in his tragedy, introduces 
Dalilah with such an interrogatory exclamation. JOHNSON. 

5 to blow a horn ] He means, that a woman who 

travelled about like a post, was likely to horn her husband. 


* James Gurney."] Our author found this name in 
perusing the history of King John, who, not long before his 
victory at Mirabeau, over the French, headed by young Arthur, 
seized the lands and castle of Hugh Gorney, near Butevant, in 
Normandy. MALONE. 

7 Colbrand ] Colbrand was a Danish giant, whom Guy of 
Warwick discomfited in the presence of King Athelstan. The 
combat is very pompously described by Drayton, in his Poly- 
vlbion... JOHNSON. 

Colbrond is also mentioned in the old romance of The Squyr 
of Lowe Degre, sig. a. iii : 

" Or els so doughty of my honde 
- " As was the gyaunte syr Colbronde" STEEVEXS. 

364 KING JOHN. ACT i. 

LADYF. Sir Robert's son ! Ay, thou unreverend 


Sir Robert's son : Why scorn'st thou at sir Robert ? 
He is sir Robert's son ; and so art thou. 

BAST. James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave a 
while ? 

GUR. Good leave, 8 good Philip. 

BAST. Philip ? sparrow ! a James, 

* Good leave, &c.] Good leave, means a ready assent. So, 
in King Henry VI. Part III. Act III. sc. ii : 

" K. Edw. Lords, give us leave : I'll try this widow's 


" Glo. Ay, good leave have you, for you will have 
leave." STEEVENS. 

' Philip? sparrow!] Dr. Grey observes, that Skelton has 
a poem to the memory of Philip Sparrow ; and Mr. Pope, in a 
short note, remarks that a sparrow is called Philip. JOHNSOX. 

Gascoigne has likewise a poem entitled, The Praise of Phil 
Sparrow; and in Jack Drum's Entertainment, 1601, is the 
following passage : 

" The birds sit chirping, chirping, &c. 
, " Philip is treading, treading," &c. 
Again, in The Northern Lass, 1633 : 

" A bird whose pastime made me glad, 
" And Philip 'twas my sparrow.''* 

Again, in Magnificence, an ancient interlude, by Skelton, 
published by Rastell : 

" With me in kepynge such a Phylyp Sparowe." 


The Bastard means : Philip! Do you take me for a sparrow ? 


The sparrow is called Philip from its note : 

*' cry 

'* Phip phip the sparrowes as they fly." 

Lyly's Mother Bombie. 

From the sound of the sparrow's chirping, Catullus, in his 
Elegy on Lesbia's sparrow, has formed a verb : 

" Sed circumsiliens modo hue, modo illuc, 

" Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat.' 1 HOLT WHITE. 

sc. I. KING JOHN. 365 

There's toys abroad j 1 anon I'll tell thee more. 

[Exit GURNEY. 

Madam, I was not old sir Robert's son ; 
Sir Robert might have eat his part in me 
Upon Good-friday, and ne'er broke his fast:* 
Sir Robert could do well ; Marry (to confess !) 3 
Could he get me? N Sir Robert could not do it ; 
We know his handy-work : Therefore, good mo- 

To whom am I beholden for these limbs ? 
Sir Robert never holp to make this leg. 

LADY F. Hast thou conspired with thy brother 

That for thine own gain should' st defend mine ho- 

What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave ? 

1 There's toys abroad; &c.] i. e. rumours, idle reports. So, 
in Ben Jonson's Sejanus: 

" Toys, mere toys, . 

" What wisdom's in the streets." 

Again, in a postscript of a letter from the Countess of Essex 
to Dr. Forman, in relation to the trial of Anne Turner, for the 
murder of Sir Tho. Overbury : " they may tell my father 
and mother, and fill their ears full of toys." State Trials, 
Vol. I. p. 322. STEEVENS. 

* might have eat his part in me 

Upon Good-friday, and ne'er broke his fast :~\ This thought 
occurs in Hey wood's Dialogues upon Proverbs, 1562: 

" he may his parte on good Fridaie eate, 

" And fast never the wurs, for ought he shall geate." 


(to confess!}] Mr. M. Mason regards the adverb to 

as an error of the press : but I rather think, to confess, means 
to come to confession. " But, to come to a fair confession now, 
(says the Bastard,) could he have been the instrument of my 
production?" STEEVENS. 

366 KING JOHN. ACT i. 

BAST. Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco- 

like: 4 

What ! I am dubb'd ; I have it on my shoulder. 
But, mother, I am not sir Robert's son ; 
I have disclaimed sir Robert, and my land ; 
Legitimation, name, and all is gone : 
Then, good my mother, let me know my father ; 
Some proper man, I hope ; Who was it, mother ? 

LADY F. Hast thou denied thyself a Faulcon- 
bridge ? 

BAST. As faithfully as I deny the devil. 

4 Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like :] Thus must 
this passage be pointed ; and, to come at the humour of it, I 
must clear up an old circumstance of stage-history.. Faulcon- 
bridge's words here carry a concealed piece of satire on a stupid 
drama of that age, printed in 1599, and called Soliman and 
Perseda. In this piece there is a character of a bragging cow- 
ardly knight, called Basilisco. His pretension to valour is so 
blown, und seen through, that Piston, a buffoon-servant in the 
play, jumps upon his back, and will not disengage him, till he 
makes Basilisco swear upon his dudgeon dagger to the contents, 
and in the term he dictates -to him ; as, for instance : 

" Bas. O, I swear, I swear. 

" Pist. By the contents of this blade, 

*' Bas. By the contents of this blade, 

" Pist. I, the aforesaid Basilisco, 

" Bas. I, the aforesaid Basilisco, knight, good fellow, knight. 

" Pist. Knave, good fellow, knave, knave." 

So that, it is clear, our poet is sneering at this play ; and 
makes Philip, when his mother calls him knave, throw off that 
reproach by humorously laying claim to his new dignity of 
knighthood ; as Basilisco arrogantly insists on his title of knight, 
in the passage above quoted. The old play is an execrable bad 
one; and, 1 suppose, was sufficiently exploded in the repre- 
sentation : which might make this circumstance so well known, 
as to become the butt for a stage-sarcasm. THEOBALD. 

The character of Basilisco is mentioned in Nash's Have trith 
you to Saffron Walden, &c. printed in the year 1596. 


sc. r. KING JOHN. 367 

LADY F. King Richard Coeur-de-lion was thy 

father ; 
By long and vehement suit I was seduc'd 

To make room for him in my husband's bed : 

Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge! 
Thou art 5 the issue of my dear offence, 
Which was so strongly urg'd, past my defence. 

BAST. Now, by this light, were I to get again, 
Madam, I would not wish a better father. 
Some sins 6 do bear their privilege on earth, 
And so doth yours ; your faultwas not your folly : 
Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose, 
Subjected tribute to commanding love, 
Against whose fury and unmatched force 
The awless lion could not wage the fight, 7 
Nor keep his princely heart from Richard's hand. 
He, that perforce robs lions of their hearts, 
May easily win a woman's. Ay, my mother, 
With all my heart I thank thee for my father ! 
Who lives and dares but say, thou didst not well 
When I was got, I'll send his soul to hell. 

*Thou art ] Old copy That art. Corrected by Mr. 
Rowe. MALONE. 

Some sins ] There are sins, that whatever be determined 
of them above, are not much censured on earth. JOHNSON. 

7 Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose, 

Against "whose fury and unmatched force 

The awless lion could not tvage the Jlght, &c.] Shakspeare 
here alludes to the old metrical romance of Richard Cceur-de- 
lion, wherein this once celebrated monarch is related to have 
acquired his distinguishing appellation, by having plucked out a 
lion's heart, to whose fury he was exposed by the Duke of 
Austria, for having slain his son with a blow of his fist. From 
this ancient romance the story has crept into some of our old 
chronicles : but the original passage may be seen at large in the 
introduction to the third volume of Reliques of ancient English 
Poetry. PERCY. 


Come, lady, I will shew thee to my kin ; 

And they shall say, when Richard me begot, 
If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin : 
Who says it was, he lies ; I say, 'twas not. 



France. Before the Walls of Angiers. 

Enter, on one side, the Archduke of Austria, and 
Forces; on the other, PHILIP, King of France, 
and Forces; LEWIS, CONSTANCE, ARTHUR, and 

LEW. Before Angiers well met, brave Austria.- 
Arthur, that great fore-runner of thy blood, 
Richard, that robb'd the lion of his heart, 8 

Richard, that robb'd &c.] So, Rastal, in his Chronicle: 
" It is sayd that a lyon was put to kynge Richard, beynge in 
prison, to have devoured him, and when the lyon was gapynge 
he put his arme in his mouth, and pulled the lyon by the harte 
so hard that he slewe the lyon, and therefore some say he is 
called Rycharde Cure de Lyon ; but some say he is called Cure 
de Lyon, because of his boldness and hardy stomake." GREY. 

I have an old black-lettered History of Lord Faulconbridge, 
whence Shakspeare might pick up this circumstance. FARMER. 

In Hey wood's Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601, 
there is a long description of this fabulous atchievement. 

The same story is told by Knighton, inter Decem Scriptores, 
and by Fabian, who calls it a fable. It probably took its rise 
from Hugh de Neville, one of Richard's followers, having killed 
a lion, when they were in the Holy Land : a circumstance re- 
corded by Matthew Paris. MALONJE. 

ac. /. KING JOHN. 369 

And fought the holy wars in Palestine, 

By this brave duke came early to his grave :' 

And, for amends to his posterity, 

At our importance 1 hither is he come, 

To spread his colours, boy, in thy behalf; 

And to rebuke the usurpation 

Of thy unnatural uncle, English John : 

Embrace him, love him, give him welcome hither. 

9 By this brave duke came early to his grave .-] The old play 
led Shakspeare into this error of ascribing to the Duke of Austria 
the death of Richard, who lost his life at the siege of Chaluz, 
long after he had been ransomed out of Austria's power. 


The producing Austria on the scene is also contrary to the 
truth of history, into which anachronism our author was led by 
the old play. Leopold, Duke of Austria, by whom Richard I. 
had been thrown into prison in 1193, died, in consequence of a 
fall from his horse, in 1195, some years before the commence- 
ment of the present play. 

The original cause of the enmity between Richard the First 
and the Duke of Austria, was, according to Fabian, that Richard 
" tooke from a knighte of the Duke of Ostriche the said Duke's 
banner, and in despite of the said duke, trade it under foote, 
and did unto it all the spite he might." Harding says, in his 
Chronicle, that the cause of quarrel was Richard's taking down 
the Duke of Austria's arms and banner, which he had set up 
above those of the King of France and the King of Jerusalem. 
The affront was given, when they lay before Acre in Palestine. 
This circumstance is alluded to in the old King John, where the 
Bastard, after killing Austria, says 

" And as my father triumph'd in thy spoils, 
*' And trod thine ensigns underneath his feet," &c. 
Other historians say, that the Duke suspected Richard to have 
been concerned in the assassination of his kinsman, the Marquis 
of Montferrat, who was stabbed in Tyre, soon after he had been 
elected King of Jerusalem ; but this was a calumny, propagated 
by Richard's enemies, for political purposes. MA LONE. 

1 At our importance "\ At our importunity. JOHNSON. 

So, in Twelfth-Night : 

" Maria writ 

>4 The letter at Sir Toby's great importance" STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. B B 

370 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

ARTH. God shall forgive you Cceur-de-lion's 


The rather, that you give his offspring life, 
Shadowing their right under your wings of war : 
I give you welcome with a powerless hand, 
But with a heart full of unstained love : 
Welcome before the gates of Angiers, duke. 

LEW. A noble boy ! Who would not do thee 

right ? 

AUST. Upon thy cheek lay I this zealous kiss, 
As seal to this indenture of my love ; 
That to my home I will no more return, 
Till Angiers, and the right thou hast in France, 
Together with that pale, that white-fac'd shore, 2 
Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides, 
And coops from other lands her islanders, 
Even till that England, hedg'd in with the main, 
That water-walled bulwark, still secure 
And confident from foreign purposes, 
Even till that utmost corner of the west 
Salute thee for her king: till then, fair boy, 
Will I not think of home, but follow arms. 

CONST. O, take his mother's thanks, a widow's 


Till your strong hand shah 1 help to givehim strength, 
To make a more requital to your love. 3 

AUST. The peace of heaven is theirs, that lift 

their swords 
In such a just and charitable war. 

* that pale, that white^fac 'd shore,] England is supposed 

to be called Albion from the white rocks facing France. 


' To make a more requital, &c.] I believe it has been already 
observed, that more signified, in our author's time, greater. 


sc. i. KING JOHN. 571 

K. PHI. Well then, to work ; our cannon shall 
be bent 

Against the brows of this resisting town. 

Call for our chiefest men of discipline, 
To cull the plots of best advantages : 4 
We'll lay before this town our royal bones, 
Wade to the market-place in Frenchmen's blood, 
But we will make it subject to this boy. 

CONST. Stay for an answer to your embassy, 
Lest unadvis'd you stain your swords with blood: 
My lord Chatillon may from England bring 
That right in peace, which here we urge in war ; 
And then we shall repent each drop of blood, 
That hot rash haste so indirectly shed. 


K. PHI. A wonder, lady ! 5 lo, upon thy wish, 
Our messenger Chatillon is arriv'd. 
What England says, say briefly, gentle lord, 
We coldly pause for thee ; Chatillon, speak. 

CHAT. Then turn your forces from this paltry 


And stir them up against a mightier task. 
England, impatient of your just demands, 
Hath put himself in arms ; the adverse winds, 
Whose leisure I have staid, have given him time 

4 To cull the plots of best advantages:] i. e. to mark such sta- 
tions as might most over-awe the town. HENLEY. 

* A wonder, lady /] The wonder is only that Chatillon hap- 
pened to arrive at the moment when Constance mentioned him ; 
which the French king, according to a superstition which pre- 
vails, more or less, in every mind agitated by great affairs, turns 
into a miraculous interposition, or omen of good. JOHNSON. 

B B 2 

372 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

To land his legions all as soon as I : 

His marches are expedient 6 to this town, 

His forces strong, his soldiers confident. 

With him along is come the mother-queen, 

An Ate, stirring him to blood and strife ; 7 

With her her niece, the lady Blanch of Spain ; 

With them a bastard of the king deceased : 8 

And all the unsettled humours of the land, 

Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries, 

With ladies' faces, and fierce dragons' spleens, 

Have sold their fortunes at their native homes, 

Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,* 

To make a hazard of new fortunes here. 

6 expedient ] Immediate, expeditious. JOHNSON. 

So, in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" A breach, that craves a quick, expedient stop." 


7 An Ate", stirring him &c.] Ate was the Goddess of Revenge. 
The player-editors read an Ace. STEEVENS. 

Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALONE. 

This image might have been borrowed from the celebrated 
libel, called Leicester's Commonwealth, originally published 
about the year 1584: " She standeth like a fiend or jury, at 
the elbow of her Amadis, to stirre him forward when occasion 
shall serve." STEEVEN.S. 

* With them a bastard of the king deceased."] The old copy er- 
roneously reads king's. STEEVENS. 

This line, except the word tvith, is borrowed from the old play 
of King John, already mentioned. Our author should have 
written king, and so the modern editors read. But there is 
certainly no corruption, for we have the same phraseology else- 
where. MALONB. 

It may as justly be said, that the same error has been elsewhere 
repeated by the same illiterate compositors. STEEVBNS. 

Bearing their birthrights &c.] So, in King Henry VIII; 

" O, many 

*' Have broke their backs with laying manors on them." 


ac. /. KING JOHN. 375 

In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits, 
Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er, 1 
Did never float upon the swelling tide, 
To do offence and scath 2 in Christendom. 
The interruption of their churlish drums 

[Drums beat. 

Cuts off more circumstance : they are at hand, 
To parley, or to fight ; therefore, prepare. 

K. Pm. How much unlook'd for is this expedi- 
tion 1 

AUST. By how much unexpected, by so much 
We must awake endeavour for defence ; 
For courage mounteth with occasion : 
Let them be welcome then, we are prepared. 

Enter King JOHN, ELINOR, BLANCH, the Bastard, 
PEMBROKE, and Forces. 

K. JOHN. Peace be to France; if France in 

peace permit 

Our just and lineal entrance to our own! 
If not ; bleed France, and peace ascend to heaven ! 
Whiles we, God's wrathful agent, do correct 
Their proud contempt that beat his peace to heaven. 

1 Than noiu the English bottoms have waft o'er.] Waft for 
U'O/ied. So again in this play : 

" The iron of itself, though heat red hot ." 
i. e. heated. STEEVENS. 

* scat h ] Destruction, harm. JOHNSOH. 

So, in Hoia to chuse a good Wife from a bad, 1602: 

" For these accounts, 'faith it shall scath thee something." 
Again : 

" And it shall scath him somewhat of my purse." 


374 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

K. PHI. Peace be to England ; if that war return 
From France to England, there to live in peace ! 
England we love ; and, for that England's sake, 
With burden of our armour here we sweat : 
This toil of ours should be a work of thine ; 
But thou from loving England art so far, 
That thou hast under- wrought 3 his lawful king, 
Cut off the sequence of posterity, 
Outfaced infant state, and done a rape 
Upon the maiden virtue of the crown. 
Look here upon thy brother Geffrey's face ; 
These eyes, these brows, were moulded out of his : 
This little abstract doth contain that large, 
Which died in Geffrey ; and the hand of time 
Shall draw this brief 4 into as huge a volume. 
That Geffrey was thy elder brother born, 
And this his son ; England was Geffrey's right, 
And this is Geffrey's : 5 In the name of God^ 
How comes it then, that thou art call'd a king, 
When living blood doth in these temples beat, 
Which owe the crown that thou o'ermasterest ? 

K. JOHN. From whom hast thou this great com- 
mission, France, 
To draw my answer from thy articles ? 

K. PHI. From that supernal judge, that stirs 
good thoughts 

* - under-wrought ] i. e. underworked, undermined. 


4 this brief ] A brief is a short writing, abstract, or 

description. So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream : 
" Here is a brief how many sports are ripe." 


* England ivas Geffrey's right, 

And this is Geffrey's :] I have no doubt but we should 
read " and his is Geffrey's.' 1 The meaning is, England was 
Geffrey's right, and whatever was Geffrey's, is now his," point- 
ing to Arthur. M. MASON. 

sc. r. KING JOHN. 37.5 

In any breast of strong authority, 
To look into the blots and stains of right. 6 
That judge hath made me guardian to this boy : 
Under whose warrant, I impeach thy wrong ; 
And, by whose help, I mean to chastise it. 

K. JOHN. Alack, thou dost usurp authority. 
K. Pm. Excuse ; it is to beat usurping down. 
ELI. Who is it, thou dost call usurper, France ? 
CONST. Let me make answer ; thy usurping son. 

ELI. Out, insolent ! thy bastard shall be king ; 
That thou may* st be a queen, and check the world! 7 

6 To look into the blots and stains of right."] Mr. Theobald 
reads, with the first folio, blots, which being so early authorized, 
and so much better understood, needed not to have been changed 
by Dr. Warburton to bolts, though bolts might be used in that 
time for spots : so Shakspeare calls Banquo ** spotted ivith blood, 
the blood-bolter' d Banquo." The verb to bolt is used figura- 
tively for to disgrace, a few lines lower. And, perhaps, after 
all, bolts was only a typographical mistake. JOHNSON. 

Blots is certainly right. The illegitimate branch of a family 
always carried the arms of it with what, in ancient heraldry, was 
called a blot or difference. So, in Drayton's Epistle from Queen 
Isabel to King Richard II: 

" No bastard's mark doth blot his conquering shield." 

Blots and stains occur again together in the first scene of the 
third Act. STEEVENS. 

Blot had certainly the heraldical sense mentioned by Mr. 
Steevens. But it here, I think, means only blemishes. So again, 
in Act III. MALONE. 

7 That thou mayst be a queen, and check the world?] " Surely 
(says Holinshed) Queen Eleanor, the kyngs mother, was sore 
against her nephew Arthur, rather moved thereto by envye con- 
ceyved against his mother, than upon any just occasion, given in 
the behalfe of the childe ; for that she saw, if he were king, how 
his mother Constance would looke to beare the most rule within 
the realme of Englande, till her sonne should come to a lawfull 
age to governe of himselfe. So hard a thing it is, to bring 
women to agree in one minde, their natures commonly being so 
contrary," MALONE. 

376 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

CONST. My bed was ever to thy son as true, 
As thine was to thy husband : and this boy 
Liker in feature to his father Geffrey, 
Than thou and John in manners ; being as like, 
As rain to water, or devil to his dam. 
My boy a bastard ! By my soul, I think, 
His father never was so true begot ; 
It cannot be, an if thou wert his mother. 8 

ELT. There's a good mother, boy, that blots thy 

CONST. There's a good grandam, boy, that would 
blot thee. 

AUST. Peace! 

BAST. Hear the crier. 9 

AUST. What the devil art thou ? 

BAST. One that will play the devil, sir, with you, 
An 'a may catch your hide and you alone. 1 

* an if thou tvcrt his mother;] Constance alludes to 

Elinor's infidelity to her husband, Lewis the Seventh, when they 
were in the Holy Land ; on account of which he was divorced 
from her. She afterwards (1151) married our King Henry II. 


9 Hear the crier.] Alluding to the usual proclamation for 
silence, made by criers in courts of justice, beginning Oyez, 
corruptly pronounced 0-Yes. Austria has just said Peace! 


1 One that -will play the devil, sir, -with you, 

An 'a may catch your hide and you alone.'] The ground of 
the quarrel of the Bastard to Austria is no where specified in the 
present play. But the story is, that Austria, who killed King 
Richard Cceur-de-lion, wore, as the spoil of that prince, a lion's 
hide, which had belonged to him. This circumstance renders 
the anger of the Bastard very natural, and ought not to have 
been omitted. POPE. 

See p. 367, n. 7, and p. 368, n. 8. MALONE. 

The omission of this incident was natural. Shakspeare having 
familiarized the story to his own imagination, forgot that it was 

ac. i. KING JOHN. 377 

You are the hare 2 of whom the proverb goes, 
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard ; 
I'll smoke your skin-coat, an I catch you right ; 
Sirrah, look to't; i'faith, I will, i'faith. 

BLANCH. O, well did he become that lion's robe, 
That did disrobe the lion of that robe ! 

BAST. It lies as sightly on the back of him, 
As great Alcides' shoes upon an ass: 3 

obscure to his audience ; or, what is equally probable, the story 
was then so popular, that a hint was sufficient, at that time, to 
bring it to mind; and these plays were written with very little 
care for the approbation of posterity. JOHNSON. 

* You are the hare] So, in The Spanish Tragedy: 
" He hunted well that was a lion's death ; 
" Not he that in a garment wore his skin : 
" So hares may pull dead lions by the beard." 
See p. 344, n. 3. STEEVENS. 

The proverb alluded to is, "Mortuo leoni et lepores insultant." 

3 It lies as sightly on the back of him, 

As great Alcides' shoes upon an ass .-] But why his shoes, 
in the name of propriety ? For let Hercules and his shoes have 
been' really as big as they were ever supposed to be, yet they 
(I mean the shoes) would not have been an overload for an ass. 
I" am persuaded I have retrieved the true reading ; and let us 
observe the justness of the comparison now. Faulconbridge, in 
his resentment, would say this to Austria : " That lion's skin, 
which my great father King Richard once wore, looks as un- 
couthly on thy back, as that other noble hide, which was borne 
by Hercules, would look on the back of an ass." A double al- 
lusion was intended ; first, to the fable of the ass in the lion's 
skin; then Richard I. is finely set in competition with Alcides, 
as Austria is satirically coupled with the ass. THEOBALD. 

The shoes of Hercules are more than once introduced in the 
old comedies, on much the same occasions. So, in The Isle of 
Gulls, by J. Day, 1606: " are as fit, as Hercules's shoe for 
the foot of a pigmy." Again, in Greene's Epistle Dedicatory 
to Perimedes the Blacksmith, 1588: " and so, lest I should 
shape Hercules' shoe for a child's foot, I commend your worship 
to the Almighty." Again, in Greene's Penelope's Web, 1601 : 


But, ass, I'll take that burden from your back ; 
Or lay on that, shall make your shoulders crack. 
AUST. What cracker is this same, that deafs our 

With this abundance of superfluous breath ? 

K. PHI. Lewis, determine 4 what we shall do 

" I will not make a long harvest for a small crop, nor go about 
to pull a Hercules' shoe on Achilles foot." Again, ibid: " Her- 
cules' shoe will never serve a child's Jbot" Again, in Stephen 
Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579 : " to draw the lion's skin 
upon ^Esop's asse, or Hercules' shoes on a chilcles feete." 
Again, in the second of William Rankins's Seven Satyres, &c. 

" Yet in Alcides' buskins will he stalke." STEEVENS. 

upon an ass :~] i. e. upon the hoofs of an ass. Mr. 
Theobald thought the shoes must be placed on the back of the 
ass; and, therefore, to avoid this incongruity, reads Alcides' 
shows. MALONE. 

4 K. Phi. Lewis, determine &c.] Thus Mr. Malone, and per- 
haps rightly; for the next speech is given, in the old copy, (as 
it stands in the present text, ) to Lewis the dauphin, who was 
afterwards Lewis VIII. The speech itself, however, seems suf- 
ficiently appropriated to the King; and nothing can be inferred 
from the folio, with any certainty, but that the editors of it were 
careless and ignorant. STEEVENS. 

In the old copy this line stands thus : 

King Lewis, determine what we shall do straight. 

To the first three speeches spoken in this scene by King Philip, 
the word King only is prefixed. I have therefore given this line 
to him. The transcriber or compositor having, I imagine, for- 
gotten to distinguish the word King by Italicks, and to put a 
full point after it, these words having been printed as part of 
Austria's speech : " King Lewis," &c. but such an arrangement 
must be erroneous, for Lewis was not king. Some of our au- 
thor's editors have left Austria in possession of the line, and cor- 
rected the error by reading here : " King Philip, determine," 
&c. and giving the next speech to him, instead of Lewis. 

I once thought that the line before us might stand as part of 
Austria's speech, and that he might have addressed Philip and 
the Dauphin by the words, King, Lewis, &c. but the address- 

sc. I. KING JOHN. 379 

LEW. Women and fools, break off your con- 

King John, this is the very sum of all, 
England, and Ireland, Anjou, 5 Touraine, Maine, 
In right of Arthur do I claim of thee : 
Wilt thou resign them, and lay down thy arms ? 

K.JOHN. My life as soon: I do defy thee, France. 
Arthur of Bretagne, yield thee to my hand ; 
And, out of my dear love, I'll give thee more 
Than e'er the coward hand of France can win : 
Submit thee, boy. 

ELI. Come to thy grandam, child. 

CONST. Do, child, go to it' grandam, child ; 
Give grandam kingdom, and it' grandam will 
Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig : 
There's a good grandam. 

ARTH. Good my mother, peace ! 

I would, that I were low laid in my grave ; 
I am not worth this coil that's made for me. 

ELI. His mother shames him so, poor boy, he 

CONST. Now shame upon you, whe'r she does, 
or no ! 6 

ing Philip by the title of King, without any addition, seems too 
familiar, and I therefore think it more probable that the error 
happened in the way above stated. MALONE. 

* Anjou,'} Old copy Anglers. Corrected by Mr. Theo- 
bald. MALONE. 

6 Now shame upon you, whe'r she does, or nof] Whe'r for 
whether. So, in an Epigram, by Ben Jonson : 

" Who shall doubt, Donne, whe'r I a poet be, 
" When I dare send my epigrams to, thee ?" 
Again, in Gower's De Confessione Amantis, 1532: 

" That maugre where she wolde or not ." MALONE. 

Read : whe'r he does, or no .' i. e. whether he weeps, or 

not. , Constance, so far from admitting, expressly denies that 
she shames him. RITSON. 


His grandam's wrongs, and not his mother's shames, 
Drawthose heaven-moving pearls from his poor eyes, 
Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee ; 
Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be brib'd 
To do him justice, and revenge on you. 

ELI. Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and 
earth ! 

CONST. Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and 

earth ! 

Call not me slanderer ; thou, and thine, usurp 
The dominations, royalties, and rights, 
Of this oppressed boy: This is thy eldest son's son, 7 
Infortunate in nothing but in thee ; 
Thy sins are visited in this poor child ; 
The cannon of the law is laid on him, 
Being but the second generation 
Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb. 

K. JOHN. Bedlam, have done. 

CONST. I have but this to say, 

That he's not only plagued for her sin, 
But God hath made her sin and her the plague 8 

7 Of this oppressed boy: This is thy eldest son's son,] Mr. Rit- 
son would omit the redundant words This is, and read: 

Of this oppressed boy: thy eldest son's son. STEEVENS. 

* / have but this to say, 
That he's not only plagued for her sin, 
But God hath made her sin and her the plague &c.] This 
passage appears to me very obscure. The chief difficulty arises 
from this, that Constance having told Elinor of her sin-conceiv- 
ing -womb, pursues the thought, and uses sin through the next 
lines in an ambiguous sense, sometimes for crime, and sometimes 
for offspring. 

He's not only plagued for her sin, &c. He is not only made 
miserable by vengeance for her sin or crime ; but her sin, her 
offspring, and she, are made the instruments of that vengeance, 
on this descendant ; who, though of the second generation, is 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 381 

On this removed issue, plagu'd for her, 
And with her plague, her sin ; his injury 

for her and "with her; to whom she is not only the cause 
ljut the instrument of evil. 

The next clause is more perplexed. All the editions read : 

plagu'dfor her, 

And faith her plague her sin ; his injury 

Her injury, the beadle to her sin, 

All punish d in the person of this child. 
I point thus : 

plagu'dfor her 

And with her. Plague her son ! his injury 

Her injury, the beadle to her sin. 

That is ; instead of inflicting vengeance on this innocent and 
remote descendant, punish her son, her immediate offspring: 
then the affliction will fall where it is deserved ; his injury will 
be her injury, and the misery of her sin ; her son will be a beadle, 
or chastiser, of her crimes, which are now all punisk'din the per- 
son of this child. JOHNSOX. 

Mr. Roderick reads : 

plagu'd for her, 

And with her plagu'd ; her sin, his injury. 
We may read : 

But God hath made her sin and her the plague 

On this removed issue, plagu'd for her; 

And, with her sin, her plague, his injury 

Her injury, the beadle to her sin. 

5. e. God hath made her and her sin together, the plague of her 
most remote descendants, who are plagued for her ; the same 
power hath likewise made her sin her own plague, and the injury 
she has done to him her own injury, as a beadle to lash that sin. 
i. e. Providence has so ordered it, that she who is made the 
instrument of punishment to another, has, in the end, convert- 
ed that other into an instrument of punishment for herself. 


Constance observes that he (iste, pointing to King John, 
" whom from the flow of gall she names not,") is not only 
plagued [with the present war] for his mother's sin, but God 
hath made her sin and her the plague also on this removed issue, 
[Arthur,] plagued on her account, and by the means of her 
sinful offspring, whose injury [the usurpation of Arthur's 
rights] may be considered as her injury, or the injury of her 
sin-cdnceiving womb ; and John's injury may also be considered 


Her injury, the beadle to her sin ; 

as the beadle or officer of correction employed by her crimes to 
inflict all these punishments on the person of this child. 


Plagued, in these plays, generally means punished. So, in 
King Richard III : 

" And God, not we, hath plagu'd thy bloody deed." 
So, Holinshed: " they for very remorse and dread of the 
divine plague, will either shamefully flie," &c. 

Not being satisfied with any of the emendations proposed, I 
have adhered to the original copy I suspect that two half lines 
have been lost after the words And with her . If the text 
be right, with, I think, means by, (as in many other passages,) 
and Mr. Toilet's interpretation the true one. Removed, I 
believe, here signifies remote. So, in A Midsummer- Night's 
Dream : 

" From Athens is her house removed seven leagues." 


Much as the text of this note has been belaboured, the original 
reading needs no alteration. 

/ have but this to say, 

That he's not only plagued for her sin, 

But God hath made her sin and her the plague 

On this removed issue, plagued for her, 

And with her plague, her sin ; his injury, 

Her injury, the beadle to her sin, 

All punish' 'd in the person of this child. 

The key to these words is contained in the last speech of 
Constance, where she alludes to the denunciation of the second 
commandment, of " visiting the iniquities of the parents upon the 
children, unto the THIRD and FOURTH generation," &c. 

" Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and earth ! 


This is thy eldest son's son, 

'* Thy sins are visited in this poor child; 
" The cannon of the law is laid on him, 
" Being but the second generation 
" Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb." 
Young Arthur is here represented as not only suffering from 
the guilt of his grandmother ; but, also, by her, in person, she 
being made the very instrument of his sufferings. As he was 
not her immediate, but REMOVED issue the second generation 
from her sin-conceiving womb it might have been expected, 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 383 

All punish'd in the person of this child, 
And all for her ; A plague upon her ! 

ELI. Thou unadvised scold, I can produce 
A will that bars the title of thy son. 

CONST. Ay, who doubts that ? a will ! a wicked 

A woman's will ; a canker'd grandam's will ! 

K. PHI, Peace, lady ; pause, or be more tem- 
perate : 

It ill beseems this presence, to cry aim 
To these ill-tuned repetitions. 9 

that the evils to which, upon her account, he was obnoxious, 
would have incidentally befallen him; instead of his being 
punished for them all, by her immediate infliction. He is not 
only plagued on account of her sin, according to the threatening 
of the commandment, but she is preserved alive to her second 
generation, to be the instrument of inflicting on her grandchild 
the penalty annexed to her sin ; so that he is plagued on her ac- 
count, and with her plague, which is, her sin, that is [taking, by 
a common figure, the cause for the consequence] the penalty 
entailed upon it. His injury, or, the evil he suffers, her sin 
brings upon him, and HER injury, or, the evil she inflicts, he 
suffers from her, as the beadle to her sin^ or executioner of the 
punishment annexed to it. HENLEY. 

9 It ill beseems his presence, to cry aim 

To these ill-tuned repetitions.] Dr. Warburton has well 
observed, on one of the former plays, that to cry aim is to en- 
courage. I once thought it was borrowed from archery ; and 
that aim ! having been the word of command, as we now say 
present ! to cry aim had been to incite notice, or raise attention. 
But I rather think that the old word of applause was JTaime, I 
love it, and that to applaud was to cry J'aime, which the 
English, not easily pronouncing Je, sunk into aime, or aim. 
Our exclamations of applause are still borrowed, as bravo and 
encore. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Johnson's first thought, I believe, is best. So, in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher's Love's Cure, or The martial Maid: 

" Can I cry aim 

" To this against myself?" 


Some trumpet summon hither to the walls 
These men of Anglers ; let us hear them speak, 
Whose title they admit, Arthur's or John's. 

Trumpets sound. Enter Citizens upon the walls. 

1 CIT. Who is it, that hath warn'd us to the walls? 
K. PHI. 'Tis France, for England. 

K. JOHN. England, for itself: 

You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects, 

K. PHI. You loving men of Angiers, Arthur's 

Our trumpet call'd you to this gentle parle. 

K. JOHN. For our advantage j Therefore, hear 

us first. 1 

These flags of France, that are advanced here 
Before the eye and prospect of your town, 
Have hither march'd to our endamagement : 
The cannons have their bowels full of wrath ; 
And ready mounted are they, to spit forth 
Their iron indignation 'gainst your walls : 

Again, in Tarlton's Jests, 1611 : " The people had much ado 
to keep peace: but Bankes and Tarleton had like to have 
squared, and the horse by, to give aime." Again, in Church- 
yard's Charge, 1580, p. 8, b: 

" Yet he that stands, and giveth aime, 
" Maie judge what shott doeth lose the game; 
" What shooter beats the marke in vaine, 
" Who shooteth faire, who shooteth plaine." 
Again, in our author's Merry Wives of Windsor, Vol. V. 
p. 120, where Ford says: " and to these violent proceedings 
all my neighbours shall cry aim." See the note on that passage. 


1 For our advantage; Therefore, hear us Jirst.] If we read 
For your advantage, it will be a more specious reason for in- 
terrupting Philip. TYRWHITT. 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 385 

All preparation for a bloody siege, 
And merciless proceeding by these French, 
Confront your city's eyes, 2 your winking gates; 3 
And, but for our approach, those sleeping stones, 
That as a waist do girdle you about, 
By the compulsion of their ordnance 
By this time from their fixed beds of lime 
Had been dishabited, 4 and wide havock made 
For bloody power to rush upon your peace. 
But, on the sight of us, your lawful king, p 
Who painfully, with much expedient march, 
Have brought a countercheck 5 before your gates, 
To save unscratch'dy our city'sthreaten'd cheeks, 
Behold, the French, amaz'd, vouchsafe a parle : 
And now, instead of bullets wrapp'd in fire, 
To make a shaking fever in your walls, 
They shoot but calm words, folded up in smoke,' 
To make a faithless error in your ears : 
Which trust accordingly, kind citizens, 

* Confront your city's eyes,"] The old copy reads Comfort, 
&c. Mr. Rowe made this necessary change. STEEVENS. 

3 your winking gates;'] i. e. gates hastily closed from an 

apprehension of danger. So, in King Henry IV. P. II: 

" And winking leap'd into destruction." MALONE. 

So, in Old Fortunatus, 1600: "Whether it were lead or 
latten that hasp'd those urinking casements, I know not." 
.^i ; . STEEVENS. 

4 dishabited,] i. e. dislodged, violently removed from 

their places : a word, I believe, of our author's coinage. 


* a countercheck ] This, I believe, is one of the 

ancient terms used in the game of chess. So, in Mucedorus, 

" Post hence thyself, thou countejchecking trull." 


* They shoot but calm words, folded up in smoke,] So, in our 
author's Rape ofLucrece: 

." This helpless smoke of words, doth me no right." 


VOL. X. C C 

386 KING JOHN. ACT ir. 

And let us in, your king ; whose labour'd spirits, 
Forwearied 7 in this action of swift speed, 
Crave harbourage within your city walls. 

K. PHI. When I have said, make answer to us 


Lo, in this right hand, whose protection 
Is most divinely vow'd upon the right 
Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet ; 
Son to the elder brother of this man, 
And king o'er him, and all that he enjoys : 
For this down-trodden equity, we tread 
In warlike march these greens before your town ; 
Being no further enemy to you, 
Than the constraint of hospitable zeal, 
In the relief of this oppressed child, 
Religiously provokes. Be pleased then 
To pay that duty, which you truly owe, 
To him that owes it; 8 namely, this young prince: 
And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear, 
Save in aspect, have all offence seal'd up ; 
Our cannons' malice vainly shall be spent 
Against the invulnerable clouds of heaven;' 
And, with a blessed and unvex'd retire, 
With unhack'd swords, and helmets all unbruis'd, 
We will bear home that lusty blood again, 
Which here we came to spout against your town, 
And leave your children, wives, and you, in peace. 
But if you 'fondly pass our proffer'd offer, 

7 Tor-wearied ] i. e. worn out, Sax. So, Chaucer, in his 
Romaunt of the Rose, speaking of the mantle of Avarice: 
'* And if it were fonverid, she 
" Would having &c. STEEVENS. 

To him that owes it ;] i. e. owns it. See our author and his 
contemporaries, passim. So, in Othello : 

" that sweet sleep 

That thou ovidst yesterday." STEEVENS. 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 887 

'Tis not the roundure 9 of your old-fac'd walls 
Can hide you from our messengers of war ; 
Though all these English, and their discipline, 
Were harbour'd in their rude circumference. 
Then, tell us, shall your city call us lord, 
In that behalf which we have challeng'd it ? 
Or shall we give the signal to our rage, 
And stalk in blood to our possession ? 

1 CIT. In brief, we are the king of England's 

subjects ; 
For him, and in his right, we hold this town. 

K. JOHN. Acknowledge, then the king, and let 
me in. 

1 CIT. That can we not : but he that proves the 


To him will we prove loyal ; till that time, 
Have we ramm'd up our gates against the world. 

K. JOHN. Doth not the crown of England prove 

the king ? 

And, if not that, I bring you witnesses, 
Twicefifteen thousand heartsof England's breed, 

BAST. Bastards, and else. 

K. JOHN. To verify our title with their lives. 

K. Pm. As many, and as well-born bloods as 


BAST. Some bastards too. 

9 'Tis not the roundure fyc.~\ Roundure means the same as the 
French rondeur, i. e. the circle. 
So, in All's lost by Lust, a tragedy, by Rowley, 1633 : 

" will she meet our arms 

" With an alternate roundure?" 
Again, in Shakspeare's 21st Sonnet: 

" all things rare, 

" That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems." 


cc 2 

588 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

K.Pm. Stand in his face, to contradict his claim. 

1 CIT. Till you compound whose right is worthiest, 
We, for the worthiest, hold the right from both. 

K. JOHN. Then God forgive the sin of all those 


That to their everlasting residence, 
Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet, 
In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king 1 

K. PHI. Amen, Amen ! Mount, chevaliers ! to 

BAST. St. George, that swing'd the dragon, and 

e'er since, 

Sits on his horseback at mine hostess* door, 
Teach us some fence ! Sirrah, were I at home, 
At your den, sirrah, [To AUSTRIA] with your lioness, 
I'd set an ox-head to your lion's hide, 1 
And make a monster of you. 

AUST. Peace ; no more. 

BAST. O, tremble ; for you hear the lion roar. 

K. JOHN. Up higher to the plain ; where we'll 

set forth, 
In best appointment, all our regiments. 

BAST. Speed then, to take advantage of the field. 

K. PHI. It shall be so ; [To LEWIS] and at the 

other hill 

Command the rest to stand. God, and our right ! 


1 Fd set an ox-head to your lion's hide,] So, in the old spuri- 
ous play of King John : 

" But let the frolick Frenchman take no scorn, 

" If Philip front him with an English horn." STEEVENS. 

//. KING JOHN. 389 


The same. 

Alarums and Excursions; then a Retreat. Enter a 
French Herald, with trumpets, to the gates. 

F. HER. You men of Anglers, open wide your 

gates, 2 

And let young Arthur, duke of Bretagne, in ; 
Who, by the hand of France, this day hath made 
Much work for tears in many an English mother, 
Whose sons lye scattered on the bleeding ground : 
Many a widow's husband groveling lies, 
Coldly embracing the discoloured earth ; 
And victory, with little loss, doth play 
Upon the dancing banners of the French ; 
Who are at hand, triumphantly display'd, 
To enter conquerors, and to proclaim 
Arthur of Bretagne, England's king, and yours. 

i* 1 ? ' t\ : "' " A 

Enter an English Herald, with trumpets. 

E. HER. Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your 
bells j 3 

* You men of Angiers, &c.] This speech is very poetical and 
smooth, and except the conceit of the widow's husband embrac- 
ing the earth, is just and beautiful. JOHNSON. 

3 Rejoice, you men of Angiers, &c.] The English Herald falls 
somewhat below his antagonist. Silver armour gilt with blood is 
a poor image. Yet our author has it again in Macbeth .* 

Here lay Duncan, 

" His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood." 


390 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

King John, your king and England's, doth approach, 
Commander of this hot malicious day ! 
Their armours, that march* d hence so silver-bright, 
Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen's blood ; 4 
There stuck no plume in any English crest, 
That is removed by a staff of France ; 
Our colours do return in those same hands 
That did display them when we first march'd forth j 
And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, 5 come 
Our lusty English, all with purpled hands, 
Died in the dying slaughter of their foes : 
Open your gates, and give the victors way. 

CIT. 6 Heralds, from off our towers we might 


From first to last, the onset and retire 
Of both your armies ; whose equality 
By our best eyes cannot be censured : 7 

4 all gilt tuith Frenchmen's blood ;] This phrase, which 

has already been exemplified in Macbeth, Vol. X. p. 115, n. 5, 
occurs also in Chapman's version of the sixteenth Iliad: 

" The curets from great Hector's breast, all gilded with 

his gore." 

Again, in the same translator's version of the 19th Odyssey ? 
" And shew'd his point gilt with the gushing gore. 11 


* And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, &c.] It was, I think, one 
of the savage practices of the chaste, for all to stain their hands 
in the blood of the deer, as a trophy. JOHNSON. 

Shakspeare alludes to the same practice in Julius Caesar: 

" Here thy hunters stand, 

" Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson' d in thy lethe." 


Heralds, from off &c.] These three speeches seem to have 
been laboured. The Citizen's is the best ; yet both alike we like 
is a poor gingle. JOHNSON. 

7 cannot be censured :] i.e. cannot be estimated. Our 

author ought rather to have written whose superiority, or whose 
inequality, cannot be censured. MALONE. 

so. ii. KING JOHN. 891 

Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answer'd 
blows ; 

Strength match'd with strength, and power con- 
fronted power : 

Both are alike ; and both alike we like. 

One must prove greatest: while they weigh so even, 

We hold our town for neither ; yet for both. 

Enter, at one side, King JOHN, with his power; 
ELINOR, BLANCH, and the Bastard ; at the other, 
King PHILIP, LEWIS, AUSTRIA, and Forces. 

K. JOHN. France, hast thou yet more blood to 

cast away ? 

Say, shall the current of our right run on ? 8 
Whose passage, vex'd with thy impediment, 
Shall leave his native channel, and o'er-swell 
With course disturbed even thy confining shores ; 
Unless thou let his silver water keep 
A peaceful progress to the ocean. 

K. Pm. England, thou hast not sav'd one drop 
of blood, 

So, in King Henry VI. Part I: 

" If you do censure me by what you were, 
" Not what you are." STEEVENS. 

* Say, shall the current of our right run ow?] The old copy 
roam on. STEEVENS. 

The editor of the second folio substituted run, which has been 
adopted in the subsequent editions. I do not perceive any need 
of change. In The Tempest we have " the wandering brooks." 


I prefer the reading of the second folio. So, in K. Henry V : 
" As many streams run into one self sea.*' 

The King would rather describe his right as running on in a 
direct than in an irregular course, such as would be implied by 
the word roam. STEEVENS. 

392 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

In this hot trial, more than we of France ; 
Rather, lost more : And by this hand I swear, 
That sways the earth this climate overlooks, 
Before we will lay down our just-borne arms, 
We'll put thee down, 'gainst whom these arms we 


Or add a royal number to the dead ; 
Gracing the scroll, that tells of this war's loss, 
With slaughter coupled to the name of kings. 

BAST. Ha, majesty ! how high thy glory towers, 
When the rich blood of kings is set on fire ! 
O, now doth death line his dead chaps with steel ; 
The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs; 
And now he feasts, mouthing the flesh of men, 9 
In undetermined differences of kings. 
Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus ? 
Cry, havock, kings ! ' back to the stained field, 

J novo r; 

9 mouthing the flesh of men,] The old copy reads mous- 
ing. STEEVENS. ^, 

Mousing, like many other ancient and now uncouth expres- 
sions, was expelled from our author's text by Mr. Pope ; and 
mouthing, which he substituted in its room, has been adopted 
in the subsequent editions, without any sufficient reasons, in my 
apprehension. Mousing is, I suppose, mamocking, and devouring 
eagerly, as a cat devours a mouse. So, in A Midsummer-Night's 
Dream: " Well moused, Lion !'' Again, in The Wonderful Year, 
by Thomas Decker, 1603 : " Whilst Troy was swilling sack and 
sugar, and mousing fat venison, the mad Greekes made bonfires 
of their houses." MALONE. 

I retain Mr. Pope's emendation, which is supported by the 
following passage in Hamlet: " first mouthed to be last swal- 
lowed." Shakspeare designed no ridicule in this speech ; and 
therefore did not write, (as when he was writing the burlesque 
interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe,) morning. STEEVENS. 

1 Cry, havock, kings /] That is, command slaughter to proceed. 
So, in Julius Ccesar: 

" Cry, havock, and let slip the dogs of war." 


ac. n. KING JOHN. 393 

You equal potents, 2 fiery-kindled spirits! 
Then let confusion of one part confirm 
The other's peace ; till then, blows, blood, and 
death ! 

K. JOHN. Whose party do the townsmen yet 
admit ? 

K. Pm. Speak, citizens, for England; who's 
your king ? 

1 CIT. The king of England, when we know 
the king. 

K. PHI. Know him in us, that here hold up his 

K. JOHN. In us, that are our own great deputy, 
And bear possession of our person here ; 
Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you. 

1 CIT. A greater power than we, denies all this; 
And, till it be undoubted, we do lock 
Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates : 
King'd of our fears ; 3 until our fears, resolv'd, 
Be by some certain king purg'd and depos'd. 

* You equal potents,] Potents for potentates. So, in Ane verie 
excellent and delectabill Treatise intitulit PHILOTUS, &c. 1603: 
" Ane of the potentes of the town, ." STEEVENS. 

3 A greater potner than we, denies all this; 

King'd. of our fears ;] The old copy reads 
Kings ofourjeare &c. STEEVENS. 

A greater power than we, may mean, the Lord of hosts, who 
has not yet decided the superiority of either army ; and till it be 
undoubted, the people of Angiers will not open their gates. 
Secure and confident as lions, they are not at all afraid, but are 
kings, i. e. masters and commanders, of their fears, until their 
fears or doubts about the rightful King of England are removed. 


We should read, than ye. What power was this ? then fears. 
It is plain, therefore, we should read : 

394 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

BAST. By heaven, these scroyles of Anglers 4 
flout you, kings ; 

Kings are our fears ; 

i. e. our fears are the kings which at present rule us. 


Dr. Warburton saw what was requisite to make this passage 
sense ; and Dr. Johnson, rather too hastily, I think, has received 
his emendation into the text. He reads: 

Kings are our fears ; 

which he explains to mean, " our fears are the kings which at 
present rule us.'' 

As the same sense maybe obtained by a much slighter altera- 
tion, I am more inclined to read: 
King'd of ourjears ; 

King'd is used as a participle passive by Shakspeare more 
than once, I believe. I remember one instance in Henry the 
Fifth, Act II. sc. v. The Dauphin says of England : 
" she is so idly king'd." 

It is scarce necessary to add, that, of, here (as in numberless 
other places) has the signification of, by. TYRWHITT. 

King'd of our fears ;] i. e. our fears being our kings, or 
rulers. King'd is again used in King Richard II: 

" Then I am king'd again." 

It is manifest that the passage in the old copy is corrupt, and 
that it must have been so worded, that their fears should be 
styled their kings or masters, and not they, kings or masters of 
their fears ; because in the next line mention is made of these 
fears being deposed. Mr. Tyrwhitt's emendation produces this 
meaning by a very slight alteration, and is, therefore, I think, 
entitled to a place in the text. 

The following passage in our author's Rape of Lucrece, 
strongly, in my opinion, confirms his conjecture : 

" So snail these slaves [Tarquin's unruly passions'] be 

kings, and thou their slave." 
Again, in King Lear: 

" It seems, she was a queen 

" Over her passion, who, most rebel-like, 
" Sought to be king o'er her," 

This passage in the folio is given to King Philip, and in a sub- 
sequent part of this scene, all the speeches of the citizens are 
given to Hubert ; which I mention, because these, and innu- 
merable other instances, where the same error has been com- 
mitted in that edition, justify some licence in transferring 
speeches from one person to another. MA LONE. 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 39.5 

And stand securely on their battlements, 
As in a theatre, whence they gape and point 
At your industrious scenes * and acts of death. 
Your royal presences be ruPd by me ; 
Do like the mutines of Jerusalem, 8 

i ' 

4 these scroyles of Anglers ] Escroulles, Fr. i. e. 

scabby, scrophulous fellows. 

Ben Jonson uses the word in Every Man in his Humour ; 
" hang them scroyles!" STEEVENS. 

* At your industrious scenes r] I once wished to read 
illustrious; but now I believe the text to be right. MALONE. 

The old reading is undoubtedly the true one. Your in- 
dustrious scenes and acts of death, is the same as if the speaker 
had said your laborious industry of war. So, in Macbeth .- 

" and put we on 

" Industrious soldiership.'* STEEVENS. 

6 Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,] The mutines are the 
mutineers, the seditious. So again, hi Hamlet: 

" and lay 

" Worse than the mutines in the bilboes." 

Our author had probably read the following passages in 
A compendious and most marvellous History of the fatter Times 
of the Jetves Common- Weale, &c. Written in Hebrew, by 
Joseph Ben Gorion, translated into English, by Peter Morwyn: 
" The same yeere the civil warres grew and increased in Jeru- 
salem; for the citizens slew one another without any truce, 
rest, or quietnesse. The people were divided into three parties ; 
whereof the first and best followed Anani, the high-priest; 
another part followed seditious Jehochanan; the third most 
cruel Schimeon. Anani, being a perfect godly man, and seeing 
the common-weale of Jerusalem governed by the seditious, gave 
over his third part, that stacke to him, to Eliasar, his sonne. 
Eliasar with his companie took the Temple, and the courts about 
it ; appointing of his men, some to bee spyes, some to keepe 
watche and warde. But Jehochanan tooke the market-place 
and streetes, the lower part of the citie. Then Schimeon, the 
Jerosolimite, tooke the highest part of the towne, wherefore his 
men annoyed Jehochanan 's parte sore with slings and crosse- 
bowes. Betweene these three there was also most cruel battailes 
in Jerusalem for the space of four daies. 

" Titus' campe was about sixe furlongs from the towne. The 
next morrow they of the towne seeing Titus to be encamped 


Be friends a while, 7 and both conjointly bend 

Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town : 

By ast and west let France and England mount 

Their battering cannon, charged to the mouths; 

Till their soul-fearing clamours 8 have brawl'd down 

The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city: 

I'd play incessantly upon these jades, 

Even till unfenced desolation 

Leave them as naked as the vulgar air. 

That done, dissever your united strengths, 

And part your mingled colours once again ; 

Turn face to face, and bloody point to point : 

Then, in a moment, fortune shall cull forth 

Out of one side her happy minion ; 

To whom in favour she shall give the day, 

upon the mount Olivet, the captalnes of the seditious assembled 
together, and fell at argument, every man with another, intend- 
ing to turne their cruelty upon the Romaines, confirming and 
ratifying the same atonement and purpose, by swearing one to 
another; and so became peace amongst them. Wherefore 
joyning together, that before were three sever all parts, they set 
open the gates, and all the best of them issued out with an hor- 
rible noyse and shoute, that they made the Romaines afraide 
withall, in such wise that they fled before the seditious, which 
sodainly did set uppon them unawares." 

The book from which I have transcribed these passages, was 
printed in 1602, but there was a former edition, as that before 
roe is said to be " newly corrected and amended by the trans- 
latour." From the spelling and the style, I imagine the first 
edition of this book had appeared before 1580. This allusion is 
not found in the old play. 

Since this note was written, I have met with an edition of 
the book which Shakspeare had here in his thoughts, printed in 
1575. MALONE. 

7 Be friends a 'while, &c.] This advice is given by the 
Bastard in the old copy of the play, though comprized in fewer 
and less spirited lines. STEEVENS. 

Till their soul-fearing clamours ] i. e. soul-appalling. 
See Vol. VII. p. 261, n. 2. MALONE. a r+*n 

x. ii. KING JOHN. 397 

And kiss him with a glorious victory. 

How like you this wild counsel, mighty states ? 

Smacks it not something of the policy ? 

K. JOHN. Now, by the sky that hangs above our 


I like it well ; France, shall we knit our powers, 
And lay this Angiers even with the ground ; 
Then, after, fight who shall be king of it ? 

BAST. An if thou hast the mettle of a king, 
Being wrong'd, as we are, by this peevish town, 
Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery, 
As we will ours, against these saucy walls : 
And when that we have dash'd them to the ground, 
Why, then defy each other ; and, pell-mell, 
Make work upon ourselves, for heaven, or hell. 

K. PHI. Let it be so : Say, where will you 

assault ? 

K. JOHN. We from the west will send destruc- 

Into this city's bosom. 
AUST. I from the north. 

K. PHI. Our thunder from the south, 

Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town. 
BAST. O prudent discipline ! From north to 

south ; 

Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth : 

I'll stir them to it : Come, away, away ! 

1 CIT. Hear us, great kings: vouchsafe a while 

to stay, 

And I shall show you peace, and fair-faced league ; 
Win you this city without stroke, or wound j 
Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds, 
That here come sacrifices for the field : 
"Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings. 


K. JOHN. Speak on, with favour ; we are bent 
to hear. 

1 CIT. That daughter there of Spain, the lady 

Blanch, 9 

Is near to England ; Look upon the years 
Of Lewis the Dauphin, and that lovely maid: 
If lusty love should go in quest of beauty, 
Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch ? 
If zealous love should go in search of virtue, 1 
Where should he find it purer than in Blanch ? 
If love ambitious sought a match of birth, 
Whose veins bound richer blood than lady Blanch? 
Suoh as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth, 
Is the young Dauphin every way complete : 
If not complete, O say, 2 he is not she ; 
And she again wants nothing, to name want, 
If want it be not, that she is not he : 
He is the half part of a blessed man, 
Left to be finisned by such a she ; 3 
And she a fair divided excellence, 
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him. 
O, two such silver currents, when they join, 
Do glorify the banks that bound them in : 
And two such shores to two such streams made one, 
Two such controlling bounds shall you be, kings, 
To these two princes, if you marry them. 

9 the lady Blanch,] The lady Blanch was daughter to 

Alphonso the Ninth, King of Castile, and was niece to King 
John by his sister Elianor. STEEVENS. 

1 If zealous love &c.] Zealous seems here to signify pious, 
Or influenced by motives of religion. JOHNSON. 

* If not complete, O say,] The old copy reads If not com- 
plete of, say, &c. Corrected by Sir T. Hanmer. MALONE. 

* such a she;] The old copy as she. STEEVENS. 

Dr. Thirlby prescribed that reading, which I have here re- 
stored to the text. THEOBALD. 

9C. n. KING JOHN. 399 

This union shall do more than battery can, 
To our fast-closed gates ; for, at this match, 
With swifter spleen 4 than powder can enforce, 
The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope, 
And give you entrance ; but, without this match, 
The sea enraged is not half so deaf, 
Lions more confident, mountains and rocks 
More free from motion ; no, not death himself 
In mortal fury half so peremptory, 
As we to keep this city. 

BAST. Here's a stay, 

That shakes the rotten carcase of old death 
Out of his rags! 5 Here's a large mouth, indeed, 

4 at this match, 

With siKifter spleen 4~c.] Our author uses spleen for any 
violent hiirry, or tumultuous speed. So, in A Midsummer' 
Night's Dream, he applies spleen to the lightning. I am loath 
to think that Shakspeare meant to play with the double of 
match for nuptial, and the match of & gun. JOHNSON. 
* Here's a stay, 

That shakes the rotten carcase of old death 
Out of his rags /] I cannot but think that every reader 
wishes for some other word in the place of stay, which though 
it may signify an hindrance, or man that hinders, is yet very 
improper to introduce the next line. I read : 
Here's a flaw, 

That shakes the rotten carcase of old death. 
That is, here is a gust of bravery, a blast of menace. This 
auits well with the spirit of the speech. Stay andj&zto, in a 
careless hand, are not easily distinguished ; and if the writing 
was obscure,Jlau} being a word less usual, was easily missed. 


Shakspeare seems to have taken the hint of this speech from 
the following in The Famous History of Tho. Stukely, 1605, bl. 1 : 
" Why here's a gallant, here's a king indeed ! 
" He speaks all Mars : tut, let me follow such 
" A lad as this: This is pure fire: 
" Ev'ry look he casts, flasheth like lightning ; 
" There's mettle in this boy. 

. ,* *' He brings a breath that sets our sails on fire: 
" Why now I see we shall have cuffs indeed." 


That spits forth death, and mountains, rocks, and 

Perhaps the force of the word stay, is not exactly known. I 
meet with it in Damon and Pythias, 1582: 

" Not to prolong my life thereby, for which I reckon 

not this, 

" But to set my things in a stay" 

Perhaps by a stay, the Bastard means " a steady, resolute 

fellow, who shakes,'' &c. So, in Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 

*bl. 1. 4-to. 1567: " more apt to follow th' inclination of vaine 

and lascivious desyer, than disposed to make a staye of herselfe 

in the trade of honest vertue." 

Again, in Chapman's translation of the 22d Iliad : 
" Trie we then if now their hearts will leave 
" Their citie cleare, her cleare stay [i. e. Hector] slaine." 
A stay, however, seems to have been meant for something 
active, in the following passage in the 6th canto of Dray ton's 
Barons' Wars: 

" Oh could ambition apprehend a stay, 
" The giddy course it wandereth in, to guide" 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II. c. x : 

" Till riper yeares he raught, and stronger stay." 
Shakspeare, therefore, who uses inirongs for wrongers, &c. 
&c. might have used a stay for a stayer. Churchyard, in his 
Siege of Lecth, 1575, having occasion to speak of a trumpet 
that sounded to proclaim a truce, says 

" This staye of warre made many men to muse." 
I am therefore convinced that the first line of Faulconbridge's 
speech needs no emendation. S TEE VEX s. 

Stay, I apprehend, here signifies a supporter of a cause. 
Here's an extraordinary partizan, that shakes, &c. So, in the 
last Act of this play : 

" What surety in the world, what hopes, what stay, 

".When this was now a king, and now is clay?" 
Again, in King Henry VI. Part III: 

" Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay." 
Again, in King Richard III : 

" What stay had I, but Edward, and he's gone. 
Again, in Davies's Scourge of Folly, printed about the year 

" England's fast friend, and Ireland's constant sffty.'' 
It is observable, that partizan, in like manner, though now 
generally used to signify an adherent to a party, originally meant 
a pike or halberd. . -.. I 

x. IT. KING JOHN. 401 

Talks as familiarly of roaring lions, 

As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs ! 

What cannoneer begot this lusty blood ? 

He speaks plain cannon,fire,andsmoke,andbounce; 

He gives the bastinado with his tongue ; 

Our ears are cudgePd j not a word of his, 

But buffets better than a fist of France : 

Zounds ! I was never so bethump'd with words, 

Since I first calPd my brother's father, dad. 

ELI. Son, list to this conjunction, make this 

match ; 

Give with our niece a dowry large enough : 
For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie 
Thy now unsur'd assurance to the crown, 
That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe 
The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit. 
I see a yielding in the looks of France ; 
Mark, how they whisper : urge them, while their 


Are capable of this ambition : 
Lest zeal, now melted, by the windy breath 
Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse, 
Cool and congeal again to what it was. 6 

Perhaps, however, our author meant by the words, Here's a 
stay, " Here's a fellow, who whilst he makes a proposition as a 
stay or obstacle, to prevent the effusion of blood, shakes," &c. 
The Citizen has just said : 

" Hear us, great kings, vouchsafe a while to stay, 
" And I shall show you peace," &c. 

It is, I conceive, no objection to this interpretation, that an 
impediment or obstacle could not shake death, &c. though the 
person who endeavoured to stay or prevent the attack of the 
two kings, might. Shakspeare seldom attends to such minutiae. 
But the first explanation appears to me more probable. 


6 Lest zeal, nou melted, &c.] We have here a very unusual, 
and, I think, not very just image of zeal, which, in its highest 

VOL. X. D D 


1 CIT. Why answer not the double majesties 
This friendly treaty of our threatened town ? 

degree, is represented by others as a flame, but by Shakspeare, 
as a frost. To repress zeal, in the language of others, is to coo/, 
in Shakspeare's to melt Jt; when it exerts its utmost power it is 
commonly said tojlame, but by Shakspeare to be congealed. 


Sure the poet means to compare zeal to metal in a state of 
fusion, and not to dissolving ice. STEEVEXS. 

The allusion, I apprehend, is to dissolving ice ; and if this 
passage be compared with others in our author's plays, it will 
not, I think, appear liable to Dr. Johnson's objection. The 
sense, I conceive, is, Lest the now zealous and to you well- 
affected heart of Philip, which but lately was cold and hard 
as ice, and has newly been melted and softened, should by the 
soft petitions of Constance, and pity for Arthur, again become 
congealed and frozen. I once thought that " the windy 
breath of soft petitions," &c. should be coupled with the pre- 
ceding words, and related to the proposal made by the citizen of 
Angiers ; but now I believe that they were intended to be con- 
nected, in construction, with the following line. In a subse- 
quent scene we find a similar thought couched in nearly the same 
expressions : 

" This act, so evilly born, shall cool the hearts 
" Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal." 

Here Shakspeare does not say that zeal, when " congealed, 
exerts its utmost power," but, on the contrary, that when it is 
congealed or frozen, it ceases to exert itself at all ; it is no 
longer zeal. . , 

We again meet with the same allusion in King Henry VIII : 

" This makes bold mouths; 

" Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze 
" Allegiance in them." 

Both zeal and allegiance therefore, we see, in the language of 
Shakspeare, are in their highest state of exertion, when melted; 
and repressed or diminished, whenfrozen. The word freeze, in 
the passages just quoted, shews that the allusion is not, as has 
been suggested, to metals, but to ice. 

The obscurity of the prsent passage arises from our author's 
use of the word zeal, which is, as it were, personified. Zeal, 
if it be understood strictly, cannot " cool and congeal again to 
what it was," (lor when it cools, it ceases to be zeal,] though 
a person who is become warm and zealous in a cause, may after- 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 403 

K. Pm. Speak England first, that hath been for- 
ward first 
To speak unto this city : What say you ? 

K. JOHN. If that the Dauphin there, thy princely 


Can in this book of beauty read, 7 1 love, 
Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen : 
For Anjou, 8 and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers, 
And all that we upon this side the sea 
(Except this city now by us besieg'd,) 
Find liable to our crown and dignity, 

wards become cool and indifferent, as he "was, before he was 
warmed. " To what it was,'' however, in our author's licentious 
language, may mean, " to what it was, before it "was zeal" 


The wndy breath that will cool metals in a state of fusion, 
produces not the effects of frost. I am, therefore, yet to learn, 
how " the soft petitions of Constance, and pity for Arthur," 
(two gentle agents) were competent to the act of freezing. 
There is surely somewhat of impropriety in employing Favonius 
to do the work of Boreas. STEEVENS. 

7 Can in this book of beatify read,] So, in Pericles, 1609: 

" Her face, the book of praises,'' &c. 
Again, in Macbeth : 

" Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men 
" May read strange matters." MALONE. 

For Anjou,] In old editions : 

For Angiers, and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers, 
And all that tve upon this side the sea, 
(Except this city noiu by its besieg'd,) 
Find liable 8$c. 

What was the city besieged, but Angiers ? King John agrees 
to give up all he held in France, except the city of Angiers, 
which he now besieged and laid claim to. But could he give up 
all except Angiers, and give up that too ? Anjou was one of the 
provinces which the English held in France. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Theobald found, or might have found, the reading which 
he would introduce as an emendation of his own, in the elder 
play of King John, 4-to. 1591 . STEEVENS. 

See fllso p. 379, n. 5. MALONE. 

D D2 

to* KING JOHN. ACT n. 

Shall gild her bridal bed ; and make her rich 
In titles, honours, and promotions, 
As she in beauty, education, blood, 
Holds hand with any princess of the world. 

K. PHI. What say'st thou, boy ? look in the 
lady's face. 

LEW. I do, my lord, and in her eye I find 
A wonder, or a wondrous miracle, 
The shadow of myself form'd in her eye ; 
Which, being but the shadow of your son, 
Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow : 
I do protest, I never lov'd myself, 
Till now infixed I beheld myself, 
Drawn in the flattering table of her eye. 9 

[ Whispers with BLANCH. 

BAST. Drawn in the flattering table of her eye! 
Hang'd in the frowning wrinkle of her brow! 
And quarter'd in her heart ! he doth espy 

Himself love's traitor: This is pity now, 
That hang'd, and drawn, and quarter'd, there 

should be, 
In such a love, so vile a lout as he. 

BLANCH. My uncle's will, in this respect, is 


If he see aught in you, that makes him like, 
That any thing he sees, which moves his liking, 
I can with ease translate it to my will ; 
Or, if you will, (to speak more properly,) 

Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.'] So, in All's well 
that ends well: 

" - to sit and draw 

" His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls, 
" In our heart's table" 

Table is picture, or, rather, the board or canvas on which any 
bject is painted. Tableau, Fr. STEEVEKS. 

sc. u. KING JOHN. 405 

I will enforce it easily to my love. 
Further I will not flatter you, my lord, 
That all I see in you is worthy love, 
Than this, that nothing do I see in you, 
(Though churlish thoughts themselves should be 

your judge,) 
That I can find should merit any hate. 

K. JOHN. What say these young ones? What 
say you, my niece ? 

BLANCH. That she is bound in honour still to do 
What you in wisdom shall vouchsafe to say. 

K. JOHN. Speak then, prince Dauphin ; can you 
love this lady ? 

LEW. Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love ; 
For I do love her most unfeignedly. 

K. JOHN. Then do I give Volquessen, 1 Touraine, 


Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces, 
With her to thee ; and this addition more, 
Full thirty thousand marks of English coin. 
Philip of France, if thou be pleas'd withal, 
Command thy son and daughter to join hands. 

K. PHI. It likes us well ; Young princes, close 
your hands. 2 

AUST. And your lips too ; for, I am well assur'd, 
That I did so, when I was first assur'd. 3 

1 Volquessen^ This is the ancient name for the country 

now called the Vexin; in Latin, Pagus Velocassinus . That part 
of it called the Norman Vexin, was in dispute between Philip and 

This and the subsequent line (except the words, "do I give,") 
are taken from the old play. MALONE. 

* Young princes, close your hands."] See The Winter's 
Tale, Vol. IX. p. 223, n. 8. MALONE. 

406 KING JOHN. ACT n. 

K. PHI. Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates, 
Let in that amity which you have made ; 
For at saint Mary's chapel, presently, 
The rites of marriage shall be solemnized. 
Is not the lady Constance in this troop ? 
I know, she is not ; for this match, made up, 
Her presence would have interrupted much : 
Where is she and her son ? tell me, who knows. 

LEW. She is sad and passionate at your highness* 
tent. 4 

K. PHI. And, by my faith, this league, that we 

have made, 

Will give her sadness very little cure. 
Brother of England, how may we content 
This widow lady ? In her right we came ; 
Which we, God knows, have turn'd another way, 
To our own vantage. 

K. JOHN. We will heal up all : 

For we'll create young Arthur duke of Bretagne, 
And earl of Richmond ; and this rich fair town 
We make him lord of. Call the lady Constance ; 

* / am txell assur'd, 

That I did so, when I ivasjirst assur'd.] Assured is here used 
both in its common sense, and in an uncommon one, where it 
signifies affianced, contracted. So, in The Comedy of Errors : 

" called me Dromio, swore I was assured to her." 


4 She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent.] Passionate, 
in this instance, does not signify disposed to anger, but a prey 
to mournful sensations. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's fVit 
without Money : 

" Thou art passionate, 

" Hast been brought up with girls." STEEVENS. 

Again, in the old play entitled The true Tragedie of Richard 
DukeofYorke, 1600: 

" Tell me, good madam, 

" Why is your grace so passionate of late ?" MALONE. 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 407 

Some speedy messenger bid her repair 
To our solemnity : I trust we shall, 
If not fill up the measure of her will, 
Yet in some measure satisfy her so, 
That we shall stop her exclamation. 
Go we, as well as haste will suffer us, 
To this unlook'd for unprepared pomp. 

[Exeunt all but the Bastard. The Citizens 
retire from tlie walk. 

BAST. Mad world ! mad kings ! mad composition ! 
John, to stop Arthur's title in the whole, 
Hath willingly departed with a part : 5 
And France, (whose armour conscience buckled on j 
Whom zeal and charity brought to the field, 
As God's own soldier,) rounded in the ear 6 
With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil ; 
That broker, that still breaks the pate of faith j 
That daily break- vow ; he that wins of all, 
Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, 

maids ; 

Who having no external thing to lose 
But the word maid, cheats the poor maid of that; 7 

* departed tuith a part:] To part and to depart were 

formerly synonymous. So, in Every Man in his Humour: 
" Faith, sir, I can hardly depart with ready money." Again, 
in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609: *' She'll serve under 
him till death us depart" STEEVENS. 

8 rounded in the ear ] i. e. whispered in the ear. This 

phrase is frequently used by Chaucer, as well as later writers. 
So, in Lingua, or A Combat of the Tongue, &c. 1607 : " I help'd 
Herodotus to pen some part of his Muses, lent Pliny ink to write 
his History, and rounded Rabelais in the ear when he historified 

Pantagruel." Again, in The Spanish Tragedy: 

" Forthwith Revenge she rounded me ' th* ear. 


7 Who having no external thing to lose 

But the "word maid, cheats the poor maid of that;} The 
construction here appears extremely harsh to our ears, yet I do 

408 KING JOHN. ACT u. 

That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling commo- 

Commodity, the bias of the world ; 8 
The world, who of itself is peised well, 
Made to run even, upon even ground ; 
Till this advantage, this vile drawing bias, 
This sway of motion, this commodity, 
Makes it take head from all indifferency, 
From all direction, purpose, course, intent : 
And this same bias, this commodity, 
This bawd, this broker, 9 this all-changing word, 

not believe there is any corruption ; for I have observed a similar 
phraseology in other places in these plays. The construction is 
Commodity, he that wins of all, he that cheats the poor maid 
of that only external thing she has to lose, namely, the word 
maid, i. e. her chastity. Who having is used as the absolute 
case, in the sense of " they having ;" and the words " who 
having no external thing to lose but the word maid," are in 
some measure parenthetical ; yet they cannot with propriety be 
included in a parenthesis, because then there would remain 
nothing to which the relative that at the end of the line could 
be referred. In The Winter's Tale, are the following lines, in 
which we find a similar phraseology : 

" This your son-in-law, 

" And son unto the king, (ivhom heavens directing,) 

" Is troth-plight to your daughter." 

Here the pronoun whom is used for him, as who, in the pas- 
sage before us; is used for they. MALONB. 

' Commodity, the bias of the ivorld;] Commodity is interest. 
So, in Damon and Pythias, 1582: 

" for vertue's sake only, 

" They would honour friendship, and not for commodities' 
Again : 

" I will use his friendship to mine own commodities 


So, in Cupid's Whirligig, 1607 : 

" O the world is like aoyas bowle, and it runs all on the rich 
mens sides." HENDERSON. 

' this broker,] A broker in old language meant a pimp 

cr procuress. See a note on Hamlet, Act II : 

" Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers," &c. 


sc. ii. KING JOHN. 

Clapp'd on the outward eye of fickle France, 

Hath drawn him from his own determined aid, 1 

From a resolv'd and honourable war, 

To a most base and vile-concluded peace. 

And why rail I on this commodity ? 

But for because he hath not woo'd me yet : 

Not that I have the power to clutch my hand,* 

When his fair angels would salute my palm : 

But for my hand, 3 as unattempted yet, 

Like a poor beggar, raileth on the rich. 

Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail, 

And say, there is no sin, but to be rich ; 

And being rich, my virtue then shall be, 

To say, there is no vice, but beggary : 

Since kings break faith upon commodity, 

Gain, be my lord ! for I will worship thee ! \JE,xit* 

-from his own determined aid,] The word eye, in the 

line preceding, and the word own, which can ill agree with aid, 
induces me to think that we ought to read " his own deter- 
mined aim," instead of aid* His own aid is little better than 
nonsense. M. MASON. 

* clutch my hand,] To clutch my hand, is to clasp it 

close. So, in Measure for Measure: " putting the hand into 
the pocket, and extracting it clutched." Again, in Antonio's 
Revenge, 1602 : 

" The fist of strenuous vengeance is clutch'd" 
See also note on Macbeth, Act II. sc. i. STEEVENS. 

3 But for #c.] L e. because. So, in The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona : 

" I curse myself, for they are sent by me." REED. 

Again, in Othello : 

" or for I am declin'd 

" Into the vale of years." MALONE. 

4 In the old copy the second Act extends to the end of the 
speech of Lady Constance, in the next scene, at the conclusion 
of which she throws herself on the ground. The present divi- 
sion, which was made by Mr. Theobald, and has been adopted 
by the subsequent editors, is certainly right. MALONE. 

See Mr. Theobald's note, p. 416. STEBVBNS. 

410 KING JOHN. ACT m. 


The same. The French King's Tent. 


CONST. Gone to be married ! gone to swear a 

peace ! 
False blood to false blood join'd ! Gone to be 

friends ! 

Shall Lewis have Blanch ? and Blanch those pro- 
vinces ? 

It is not so ; thou hast misspoke, misheard} 
Be well advis'd, tell o'er thy tale again : 
It cannot be ; thou dost but say, 'tis so : 
I trust, I may not trust thee ; for thy word 
Is but the vain breath of a common man : 
Believe me, I do not believe thee, man ; 
I have a king's oath to the contrary. 
Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me, 
For I am sick, and capable of fears ; 5 
Oppress'd with wrongs, and therefore full of fears ; 
A widow, 6 husbandless, subject to fears ; 
A woman, naturally born to fears ; 
And though thou now confess, thou didst but jest, 

* For I am sick, and capable of fears ;] i. e. I have a strong 
sensibility; I am tremblingly alive to apprehension. So, in 
Hamlet : 

" His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones, 
" Would make them capable." MALONE. 

* A widow,'] This was not the fact. Constance was at this 
time married to a third husband, Guido, brother to the Viscount 
of Touars. She had been divorced from her second husband, 
Ranulph, Earl of Chester. MALONE. 

se.i. KING JOHN. 411 

With my vex'd spirits I cannot take a truce, 
But they will quake and tremble all this day. 
What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head ? 
Why dost thou look so sadly on my son ? 
What means that hand upon that breast of thine ? 
Why holds thine eye that lamentable rheum, 
Like a proud river peering o'er his bounds? 7 
Be these sad signs 8 confirmers of thy words ? 
Then speak again ; not all thy former tale, 
But this one word, whether thy tale be true. 

SAL. As true, as, I believe, you think them false, 
That give you cause to prove my saying true. 

CONST. O, if thou teach me to believe this sorrow, 
Teach thou this sorrow how to make me die ; 
And let belief and life encounter so, 
As doth the fury of two desperate men, 
Which, in the very meeting, fall, and die. 
Lewis marry Blanch ! O, boy, then where art thou ? 
France friend with England! what becomes of 


Fellow, be gone ; I cannot brook thy sight ; 
This news hath made thee a most ugly man. 

SAL. What other harm have I, good lady, done, 
But spoke the harm that is by others done ? 

7 Like a proud river peering o'er his bounds ?] This seems 
to have been imitated by Marston, in his Insatiate Countess, 

" Then how much more in me, whose youthful veins, 

" Like a proud river, overflow their bounds .*' 


Be these sad signs ] The sad signs are, the shaking of his 
head, the laying his hand on his breast, &c. We have again th 
same words in our author's Venus and Adonis : 

" So she, at these sad signs exclaims on death.'* 
Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read Be these sad 
sighs &c. MALONE. 

412 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

. Which harm within itself so heinous is, 
As it makes harmful all that speak of it. 

ARTH. I do beseech you, madam, be content. 

CONST. Ifthou, 9 that bid'st me be content, wert 


Ugly, and sland'rous to thy mother's womb, 
Full of unpleasing blots, 1 and sightless * stains, 
Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, 3 prodigious, 4 

Ifthou, &c.] Massinger appears to have copied this passage 
in The Unnatural Combat : 

" - Ifthou hadst been born 

" Deform'd and crooked in the features of 

" Thy body, as the manners of thy mind ; 

" Moor-lip'd, flat-nos'd, &c. &c. 

" I had been blest." STEEVENS. 

1 Ugly, and slanderous to thy mother's womb, 

Full of unpleasing blots,] So, in our author's Rape of 
Lucrece, 1594 : 

" The blemish that will never be forgot, 

" Worse than a slavish wipe, or birth-hour's blot." 


* - sightless ] The poet uses sightless for that which we 
now express by unsightly, disagreeable to the eyes. JOHNSON. 

' - stuart,] Stuart is brown, inclining to black. So, in 
King Henry VI. Part I. Act I. sc. ii : 

" And whereas I was black and swart before." 
Again, in The Comedy of Errors, Act III. sc. ii: 

" Stuart like my shoe, but her face nothing so clean 
kept." STEEVENS. 

4 - prodigious,'] That is, portentous, so deformed as to be 
taken for a foretoken of evil. JOHNSON. 

In this sense it is used by Decker, in the first part of The 
Honest Whore, 1604: 

" yon comet shews his head again ; 

" Twice hath he thus at cross-turns thrown on us 

" Prodigious looks." 
Again, in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1607 : 

" Over whose roof hangs this prodigious comet." 
Again, in The English Arcadia, by Jarvis Markham, 1607 : 
" O, yes, I was prodigious to thy birth-right, and as a blazing 
tar at thine unlook'd for funeral." STBBVENS. 

?. /. KING JOHN. 413 

Patched with foul moles, and eye-offending marks, 
I would not care, I then would be content; 
For then I should not love thee ; no, nor thou 
Become thy great birth, nor deserve a crown. 
But thou art fair ; and at thy birth, dear boy ! 
Nature and fortune join'd to make thee great : 
Of nature's gifts thou may'st with lilies boast, 
And with the half-blown rose : but fortune, O ! 
She is corrupted, chang'd, and won from thee ; 
She adulterates hourly with thine uncle John ; 
And with her golden hand hath pluck* d on France 
To tread down fair respect of sovereignty, 
And made his majesty the bawd to theirs. 
France is a bawd to fortune, and king John ; 
That strumpet fortune, that usurping John : 
Tell me, thou fellow, is not France forsworn ? 
Envenom him with words ; or get thee gone, 
And leave those woes alone, which I alone, 
Am bound to under-bear. 

SAL. Pardon me, madam, 

I may not go without you to the kings. 

CONST. Thou may'st, thou shalt, I will not go 

with thee : 

I will instruct my sorrows to be proud ; 
For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout. 5 

makes his ovmer stout.] The old editions have makes 

its owner stoop. The emendation is Sir T. Hanmer's. 

So, in Daniel's Civil Wars, B. VI : 

" Full with stout grief and with disdainful woe." 


Our author has rendered this passage obscure, by indulging 
himself in one of these conceits in which he too much delights, 
and by bounding rapidly, with his usual licence, from one idea 
to another. This obscurity induced Sir T. Hanmer, for stoop, 
to substitute stout; a reading that appears to me to have been 
too hastily Adopted in the subsequent editions. 


To me, and to the state of my great grief, 
Let kings assemble j 6 for my griefs so great, 

The confusion arises from the poet's having personified grief 
in the first part of the passage, and supposing the afflicted person 
to be bowed to the earth by that pride or haughtiness which 
Grief is said to possess ; and by making the afflicted person, in 
the latter part of the passage, actuated by this very pride, and 
exacting the same kind of obeisance from others, that Grief has 
exacted from her. " I will not go (says Constance) to these 
kings ; I will teach my sorrows to be proud : for Grief is proud, 
and makes the afflicted stoop; therefore here I throw myself, 
and let them come to me." Here, had she stopped, and thrown 
herself on the ground, and had nothing more been added, how- 
ever we might have disapproved of the conceit, we should have 
had no temptation to disturb the text. But the idea of throwing 
herself on the ground suggests a new image ; and because her 
stately grief is so great that nothing but the huge earth can 
support it, she considers the ground as her throne; and having 
thus invested herself with regal dignity, she, as queen in misery, 
as possessing (like Imogen) " the supreme crown of grief,'' calls 
on the princes of the world to bow down before her, as she has 
herself been bowed down by affliction. 

Such, I think, was the process that passed in the poet's mind ; 
which appears to me so clearly to explain the text, that I see no 
reason for departing from it. MALONE. 

I am really surprised that Mr. Malone should endeavour, by 
one elaborate argument, to support the old debasing reading. 
A pride which makes the owners stoop is a kind of pride I have 
never heard of; and though grief, in a weaker degree, and 
working in weaker minds, may depress the spirits, despair, such 
as the haughty Constance felt at this time, must naturally rouse 
them. This distinction is accurately pointed out by Johnson, in 
his observations on this passage. M. MASON. 

8 To me, and to the state of my great grief, 

Let kings assemble;] In Much Ado about Nothing, the 
father of Hero, depressed by her disgrace, declares himself so 
subdued by grief, that a thread may lead him. How is it that 
grief, in Leonato and Lady Constance, produces effects directly 
opposite, and yet both agreeable to nature ? Sorrow softens the 
mind while it is yet warmed by hope, but hardens it when it is 
congealed by despair. Distress, while there remains any prospect 
of relief, is weak and flexible, but when no succour remains, is 
fearless and stubborn ; angry alike at those that injure, and at 

se. i. KING JOHN. 41.5 

That no supporter but the huge firm earth 
Can hold it up : here I and sorrow sit ; 7 
Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it. 8 

[She throws herself on the ground. 

those that do not help; careless to please where nothing can be 
gained, and fearless to offend when there is nothing further to 
be dreaded. Such was this writer's knowledge of the passions. 


7 here I and sorrow sit;"] The old copy has sorrows. 

So, in thejirst edition of Pope's version of the 15th Book of the 

" My secret soul in all thy sorrow shares." 

The next edition erroneously reads sorrows, which number, 
as Mr. Wakefield observes, no man of any ear could in that place 
have written. STEEVENS. 

A slight corruption has here destroyed a beautiful image. 
There is no poetical reader that will not join with me in reading 
" here I and Sorrow sit." M. MASON. 

Perhaps we should read Here land sorrow sit. Our author 
might have intended to personify sorrow, as Marlowe had done 
before him, in his King Edward II: 

** While I am lodg'd within this cave of care, 

" Where Sorrow at my elbow still attends." 
The transcriber's ear might easily have deceived him, the two 
readings, when spoken, sounding exactly alike. So, we find, in 
the quarto copy of King Henry IV. P. I : 

" The mailed Mars shall on his altars sit, ." 
instead of shall on his altar sit. Again, in the quarto copy of 
the same play we have monstrous scantle, instead of monstrous 

In this conjecture I had once great confidence; but, a pre- 
ceding line 

" I will instruct my sorrows to be proud," 
now appears to me to render it somewhat disputable. 

Perhaps our author here remembered the description of Eliza- 
beth, the widow of King Edward IV. given in an old book, that, 
I believe, he had read " The Queen sat alone below on the 
rushes, al desolate and dismaide; whom the Archbishop com- 
forted in the best manner that he coulde." Continuation of 
Harding's Chronicle, 1543. So also, in a book already quoted, 
that Shakspeare appears to have read, A compendious and most 
marvelous History of the latter Times of the Jewes Commonweals: 

416 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

ELINOR, Bastard, AUSTRIA, and Attendants. 

K.PHI. 'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed 

Ever in France shall be kept festival : 

" All those things when I Joseph heard tydings of, I tare my 
head with my hand, and cast ashes upon my beard, sitting in 
great sorrow upon the ground." MALONE. 

8 bid kings come boto to it."] I must here account for 

the liberty I have taken to make a change in the division of the 
second and third Acts. In the old editions, the second Act was 
made to end here ; though it is evident Lady Constance here, in 
her despair, seats herself on the floor: and she must be supposed, 
as I formerly observed, immediately to rise again, only to go off 
and end the Act decently ; or the Jlat scene must shut her in 
from the sight of the audience, an absurdity I cannot wish to 
accuse Shakspeare of. Mr. Gildon, and some other criticks, 
fancied, that a considerable part of the second Act was lost, and 
that the chasm began here. I had joined in this suspicion of a 
scene or two being lost, and unwittingly drew Mr. Pope into 
this error. "It seems to be so, (says he,) and it were to be 
wish'd the restorer (meaning me] could supply it." To deserve 
this great man's thanks, I will venture at the task ; and hope to 
convince my readers, that nothing is lost ; but that I have sup- 
plied the suspected chasm, only by rectifying the division of the 
Acts. Upon looking a little more narrowly into the constitution 
of the play, I am satisfied that the third Act ought to begin 
with that scene which has hitherto been accounted the last of 
the second Act : and my reasons for it are these. The match 
being concluded, in the scene before that, betwixt the Dauphin 
and Blanch, a messenger is sent for Lady Constance to King 
Philip's tent, for her to come to Saint Mary's church to the 
solemnity. The princes all go out, as to the marriage ; and the 
Bastard staying a little behind, to descant on interest and com- 
modity, very properly ends the Act. The next scene then, in 
the French king's tent, brings us Salisbury delivering his message 
to Constance, who, refusing to go to the solemnity, sets herself 
down on the floor. The whole train returning from the church 
to the French king's pavilion, Philip expresses such satisfaction 

sc.r. KING JOHN. 417 

To solemnize this day, 9 the glorious sun 
Stays in his course, and plays the alchemist ; * 
Turning, with splendor of his precious eye, 
The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold : 

on occasion of the happy solemnity of that day, that Constance 
rises from the floor, and joins in the scene by entering her pro- 
test against their joy, and cursing the business of the day. Thus, 
I conceive, the scenes are fairly continued, and there is no chasm 
in the action, but a proper interval made both for Salisbury's 
coming to Lady Constance, and for the solemnization of the 
marriage. Besides, as Faulconbridge is evidently the poet's 
favourite character, it was very well judged to close the Act 
with his soliloquy. THEOBALD. 

This whole note seems judicious enough ; but Mr. Theobald 
forgets there were, in Shakspeare's time, no moveable scenes in 
common playhouses. JOHNSON. 

It appears, from many passages, that the ancient theatres had 
the advantages of machinery as well as the more modern stages. 
See a note on the fourth scene of the fifth Act of Cymbeline. 

How happened it that Shakspeare himself should have men- 
tioned the act of shifting scenes, if in his time there were no 
scenes capable of being shifted ? Thus, in the chorus to King 
Henry V : 

" Unto Southampton do we shift our scene" 

This phrase was hardly more ancient than the custom which 
it describes. STEEVENS. 

9 . To solemnize this day, &c.] From this passage Rowe seems 
to have borrowed the first lines of his Fair Penitent. JOHNSON. 

The first lines of Rowe's tragedy 

" Let this auspicious day be ever sacred," &c. 
are apparently taken from Dryden's version of the second Satire 
of Persius : 

" Let this auspicious morning be exprest," &c. 


1 and plays the alchemist;] Milton has borrowed this 

thought : 

" when with one virtuous touch 

" Th' arch-chemic sun," &c. Paradise Lost, B. III. 


So, in our author's 33d Sonnet : 

" Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchymy." 


VOL. X. E E 


The yearly course, that brings this day about, 
Shall never see it but a holyday. 2 

CONST. A wicked day, 3 and not a holyday ! 


What hath this day deserv'd ? what hath it done j 
That it in golden letters should be set, 
Among the high tides, 4 in the kalendar ? 
Nay, rather, turn this day out of the week; 5 
This day of shame, oppression, perjury : 
Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child 
Pray, that their burdens may not fall this day, 

* Shall never see it but a holyday.~\ So, in The Famous 
Historic of George Lord Fauconbridge, 1616 : " This joyful day 
of their arrival [that of Richard I. and his mistress, Clarabel,] 
was by the king and his counsell canonized for a holy-day" 


* A "wicked day, &c.] There is a passage in The Honest 
Whore, by Decker, 1601, so much resembling the present, that 

1 cannot forbear quoting it : 

" Curst be that day for ever, that robb'd her 

" Of breath, and me of bliss! henceforth let it stand 
' Within the wizzard's book (the kalendar) 
' Mark'd with a marginal finger, to be chosen 
' By thieves, by villains, and black murderers, 
' As the best day for them to labour in. 
* If henceforth this adulterous bawdy world 
' Be got with child with treason, sacrilege, 
' Atheism, rapes, treacherous friendship, perjury, 
' Slander, (the beggars sin,) lies, (the sin of fools,) 

" Or any other damn'd impieties, 

" On Monday let them be delivered," &c. HENDERSON. 

* high tides,~\ i. e. solemn seasons, times to be observed 

above others. STEEVENS. 

* Nay, rather, turn this day out of the tveek ;] In allusion 
(as Mr. Upton has observed) to Job, iii. 3: " Let the day perish," 
&c. and v. 6: " Let it not be joined to the days of the year, 
let it not come into the number of the months." MALONE. 

In The Fair Penitent, the imprecation of Calista on the night 
that betrayed her to Lothario, is chiefly borrowed from this and 
subseouent verses in the same chapter of Job. STEEVENS. 

ac. i. KING JOHN. 419 

Lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross'd: 8 
But on this day, let seamen fear no wreck ; 
No bargains break, that are not this day made : T 
This day, all things begun come to ill end ; 
Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change ! 

K. PHI. By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause 
To curse the fair proceedings of this day : 
Have I not pawn'd to you my majesty ? 

CONST. You have beguil'd me with a counterfeit, 
Resembling majesty; 8 which, being touch'd, and 
tried, 9 

prodigiously be cross'd:'] i. e. be disappointed by the 

r* i f* * * * -w 

production of a. prodigy, a monster. So, in A Midsummer- 
Night's Dream : 

** Nor mark prodigious, such as are 

" Despised in nativity." STEEVENS. 

7 But on this day, &c.] That is, except on this day. 


In the ancient almanacks, (several of which I have in my 
possession,) the days supposed to be favourable or unfavourable 
to bargains, are distinguished among a number of other particu- 
lars of the like importance. This circumstance is alluded to in 
Webster's Duchess ofMalfy, 1623: 

" By the almanack, I think 

" To choose good days and shun the critical." 
Again, in The Elder Brother of Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" an almanack 

" Which thou art daily poring in, to pick out 

" Days of iniquity to cozen fools in." STEEVENS. 

See Macbeth, Act IV. sc. i. M ALONE. 

You have beguil'd me with a counterfeit, 

Resembling majesty ;] i. e. a false coin. A counterfeit for- 
merly signified also a portrait. A representation of the king 
being usually impressed on his coin, the word seems to be here 
used equivocally. MALONE. 

9 Resembling majesty; -which, being touch'd, and tried,] 
Being touch'd signifies, having the touchstone applied to it. 
The two last words and tried, which create a redundancy of 
measure, should, as Mr. Ritson observes, be omitted. 


E E 2 

420 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

Proves valueless : You are forsworn, forsworn ; 
You came in arms to spill mine enemies' blood, 
But now in arms you strengthen it with yours : l 
The grappling vigour and rough frown of war, 
Is cold in amity and painted peace, 
And our oppression hath made up this league : 
Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjur'd 

kings ! 

A widow cries; be husband to me, heavens ! 
Let not the hours of this ungodly day 
Wear out the day 2 in peace ; but, ere sunset, 
Set armed discord 3 'twixt these perjur'd kings ! 
Hear me, O, hear me! 

AUST. Lady Constance, peace. 

CONST. War! war! no peace! peace is to me a 

O Lymoges ! O Austria ! 4 thou dost shame 

1 You came in arms to spill mine enemies' bloody 

But now in arms you strengthen it with yours .] I am 
afraid here is a clinch intended. You came in war to destroy my 
enemies, but now you strengthen them in embraces. JOHNSON. 

* Wear out the day] Old copy days. Corrected by Mr. 
Theobald. MALONE. 

3 Set armed discord &c.] Shakspeare makes this bitter curse 
effectual. JOHNSON. 

* O Lymoges ! O Austria !] The propriety or impropriety of 
these titles, which every editor has suffered to pass unnoted, de- 
serves a little consideration. Shakspeare has, on this occasion, 
followed the old play, which at once furnished him with the 
character of Faulconbridge, and ascribed the death of Richard I. 
to the duke of Austria. In the person of Austria, he has con- 
joined the two well-known enemies of Coeur-de-lion. Leopold, 
duke of Austria, threw him into prison, in a former expedition; 
[in 119"] but the castle of Chaluz, before which he fell [in 
1199] belonged to Vidomar, viscount of Limoges; and the 
archer who pierced his shoulder with an arrow (of which wound 
he died) was Bertrand de Gourdon. The editors seem hitherto 
to have understood Lymoges as being an appendage to the title 
of Austria, and therefore enquired no further about it. 

ac. i. KING JOHN. 421 

That bloody spoil : Thou slave, thou wretch, thou 


Thou little valiant, great in villainy ! 
Thou ever strong upon the stronger side ! 
Thou fortune's champion, that dost never fight 
But when her humorous ladyship is by 
To teach thee safety! thou art perjur'd too, 
And sooth'st up greatness. What a fool art thou, 
A ramping fool ; to brag, and stamp, and swear, 
Upon my party ! Thou cold-blooded slave, 
Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side? 
Been sworn my soldier ? bidding me depend 
Upon thy stars, thy fortune, and thy strength? 
And dost thou now fall over to my foes ? 
Thou wear a lion's hide ! doff it for shame,* 
And hang a calfs-skin on those recreant limbs.* 

Holinshed says on this occasion : " The same yere, Philip, 
bastard sonne to King Richard, to whom his father had given 
the castell and honor of Coinacke, killed the viscount of Li- 
moges, in revenge of his father's death," &c. Austria, in the 
old play, [printed in 1591] is called Lymoges, the Austrich 

With this note I was favoured by a gentleman to whom I 
have 3'et more considerable obligations in regard to Shakspeare. 
His extensive knowledge of history and manners has frequently 
supplied me with apt and necessary illustrations, at the same 
time that his judgment has corrected my errors ; yet such has 
been his constant solicitude to remain concealed, that I know 
not but I may give offence while I indulge my own vanity in 
affixing to this note the name of my friend, HENKY BLAKE, Esq. 


* doff it for shame,] To doff is to do off, to put of. 

So, in Fuimus Troes, 1633 : 

" Sorrow must dofher sable weeds." STEEVEXS. 

' And hang a calPs-skin on those recreant limbs.] When fools 
were kept for diversion in great families, they were distinguished 
by a cajf's-skin coat, which had the buttons down the back ; 
and this they wore that they might be known for fools, and 
escape the resentment of those whom they provoked with their 

422 KING JOHN. Acrm. 

AUST. O, that a man should speak those words 
to me! 

BAST, And hang a calf 's-skin on those recreant 

AUST. Thou dar'st not say so, villain, for thy life. 

BAST. And hang a calPs-skin on those recreant 
limbs. 7 

In a little penny book, intitled The Birth, Life, and Death, 
of John Franks, with the Pranks he played though a meer Fool, 
mention is made in several places of a calfs-skin. In chap. x. 
of this book, Jack is said to have made his appearance at his 
lord's table, having then a new calf-skin, red and white spotted. 
This fact will explain the sarcasm of Constance and Faulcon- 
bridge, who mean to call Austria a. fool. SIR J. HAWKINS. 

I may add, that the custom is still preserved in Ireland ; and 
the fool, in any of the legends which the mummers act at 
Christmas, always appears in a calf's or cow's skin. In the 
prologue to Wily Beguiled, are the two following passages : 

" I'll make him do penance upon the stage in a calfs- 


" His calfs-skin jests from hence are clean exil'd." 
Again, in the play : 

" I'll come wrapp'd in a calfs-skin, and cry bo, bo." 
Again : " I'll wrap me in a rousing calf-skin suit, and come like 

some Hobgoblin." " I mean my Christmas calfs-skin suit." 


It does not appear that Constance means to call Austria a. fool, 
as Sir John Hawkins would have it ; but she certainly means to 
call him coward, and to tell him that a calfs-skin would suit his 
recreant limbs better than a lion's. They still say of a dastardly 
person that he is a calf-hearted fellow ; and a run-away school- 
boy is usually called a great calf. RITSON. 

The speaker in the play [Wily Beguiled] is Robin Good- 
fellow. Perhaps, as has been suggested, Constance, by cloath- 
ing Austria in a calfs-skin, means only to insinuate that he is a 
coward. The word recreant seems to favour such a supposition. 


T Here Mr. Pope inserts the following speeches from the old 
play of King John, printed in 1591, before Shakspeare appears 
to have commenced a writer ; 

K. /. KING JOHN. 423 

X. JOHN. We like not this ; thou dost forget 


K. Pm. Here comes the holy legate of the pope. 

PAND. Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven ! 
To thee, king John, my holy errand is. 
I Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal, 
And from pope Innocent the legate here, 
Do, in his name, religiously demand, 
Why thou against the church, our holy mother, 
So wilfully dost spurn ; and, force perforce, 
Keep Stephen Langton, chosen archbishop 

" Aust. Methinks, that Richard's pride, and Richard's 

" Should be a precedent to fright you all. 

" Faulc. What words are these ? how do my sinews 
shake ! 

" My father's foe clad in my father's spoil ! 

'* How doth Alecto whisper in my ears, 
Delay not, Richard, kill the villain straight ; 
Disrobe him of the matchless monument, 

Thy father* s triumph o'er the savages! 

Now by his soul I swear, my father's soul, 
Twice will I not review the morning's rise, 
Till I have torn that trophy from thy back, 
And split thy heart for wearing it so long." 


I cannot, by any means, approve of the insertion of these lines 
from the other play. If they were necessary to explain the 
ground of the bastard's quarrel to Austria, as Mr. Pope supposes, 
they should rather be inserted in the first scene of the second 
Act, at the time of the first altercation between the Bastard and 
Austria. But indeed the ground of their quarrel seems to be as 
clearly expressed in the first scene as in these lines ; so that they 
are unnecessary in either place ; and therefore, I think, should 
be thrown out of the text, as well as the three other lines, which 
have been inserted, with as little reason, in Act III. sc. ii: Thus 
hath -King Richard's, &c. TYRWHITT. 

424- KING JOHN. ACT in* 

Of Canterbury, from that holy see ? 
This, in our Aforesaid holy father's name, 
Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee. 

K. JOHN. What earthly name to interrogatories, 8 
Can task the free breath of a sacred king ? 
Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name 
So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous, 

What earthly &c.] This must have been, at the time when 
it was written, in our struggles with popery, a very captivating 

So many passages remain in which Shakspeare evidently takes 
his advantage of the facts then recent, and of the passions then 
in motion, that I cannot but suspect that time has obscured 
much of his art, and that many allusions yet remain undisco- 
vered, which perhaps may be gradually retrieved by succeeding 
commentators. JOHNSON. 

The speech stands thus in the old spurious play : " And what 
hast thou, or the pope thy master, to do, to demand of me how 
I employ mine own ? Know, sir priest, as I honour the church 
and holy churchmen, so I scorne to be subject to the greatest 
prelate in the world. Tell thy master so from me ; and say, 
John of England said it, that never an Italian priest of them all, 
shall either have tythe, toll, or polling penny out of England ; 
but as 1 am king, so will I reign next under God, supreme head 
both over spiritual and temporal : and he that contradicts me in 
this, I'll malce him hop headless." STEEVENS. 

What earthly name to interrogatories, 

Can task the free breath fyc.] i. e. What earthly name, sub- 
joined to interrogatories, can force a king to speak and answer 
them ? The old copy reads earthy. The emendation was made 
by Mr. Pope. It has also tast instead of task, which was substi- 
tuted by Mr. Theobald. Breath for speech is common with our 
author, So, in a subsequent part of this scene : 

" The latest breath that gave the sound of words." 

Again, in The Merchant of Venice : " breathing courtesy," 
for verbal courtesy. MALONE. 

The emendation [task] may be justified by the following pas^ 
age in King Henry I V.P.I: 

" How show'd his tasking? seem'd it in contempt?" 
Again, in King Henry V : 

" That task our thoughts concerning us and France." 


so. i. KING JOHN. 425 

To charge me to an answer, as the pope. 
Tell him this tale ; and from the mouth of Eng- 

Add thus much more, That no Italian priest 
Shall tithe or toll in our dominions ; 
But as we under heaven are supreme head, 
So, under him, that great supremacy, 
Where we do reign, we will alone uphold, 
Without the assistance of a mortal hand : 
So tell the pope ; all reverence set apart, 
To him, and his usurp'd authority. 

K. PHI. Brother of England, you blaspheme in 

K. JOHN. Though you, and all the kings of 


Are led so grossly by this meddling priest, 
Dreading the curse that money may buy out ; 
And, by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust, 
Purchase corrupted pardon of a man, 
Who, in that sale, sells pardon from himself: 
Though you, and all the rest, so grossly led, 
This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish ; 
Yet I, alone, alone do me oppose 
Against the pope, and count his friends my foes. 

PAND. Then, by the lawful power that I have, 
Thou shalt stand curs'd, and excommunicate : 
And blessed shall he be, that doth revolt 
From his allegiance to an heretick ; 
And meritorious shall that hand be call'd, 
Canonized, and worship'd as a saint, 
That takes away by any secret course 
Thy hateful life. 9 " 

9 That takes away by any secret course 

Thy hateful life.'] Tnis may allude to the bull published 
against Queen Elizabeth. Or we may suppose, since we have 

426 KING JOHN. ACT in. 

CONST. O, lawful let it be, 

That I have room with Rome to curse a while ! 
Good father cardinal, cry thou, amen, 
To my keen curses ; for, without my wrong, 
There is no tongue hath power to curse him right. 

PAND. There's lawandwarrant,lady,formy curse. 

CONST. And for mine too ; when law can do no 


Let it be lawful, that law bar no wrong : 
Law cannot give my child his kingdom here ; 
For he, that holds his kingdom, holds the law : 
Therefore, since law itself is perfect wrong, 
How can the law forbid my tongue to curse ? 

PAND. Philip of France, on peril of a curse, 
Let go the hand of that arch-heretick ; 
And raise the power of France upon his head, 
Unless he do submit himself to Rome. 

ELI. Look'st thou pale, France ? do not let go 
thy hand. 

CONST. Look to that, devil ! lest that France re- 
And, by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul. 

no proof that this play appeared in its present state before the 
reign of King James, that it was exhibited soon after the popish 
plot. I have seen a Spanish book in which Garnet, Faux, and 
their accomplices, are registered as saints. JOHNSON. 

If any allusion to his own times was intended by the author 
of the old play, (for this speech is formed on one in King John, 
1591,) it must have been to the bull of Pope Pius the Fifth, 
1569 : " Then I Pandulph of Padua, legate from the Apostolike 
sea, doe in the name of Saint Peter, and his successor, our holy 
father Pope Innocent, pronounce thee accursed, discharging every 
of thy subjects of all dutie and fealtie that they do owe to thee, 
and pardon and forgivenesse of sinne to those or them whatsoever 
which shall carrie armes against thee or murder thee. This I 
pronounce, and charge all good men to abhorre thee as an ex- 
communicate person." MALONE. 

*c. l. KING JOHN. 427 

AUST. King Philip, listen to the cardinal. 

BAST. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant 

AUST. Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these 


BAST. Your breeches best may carry them. 1 
K.JOHN. Philip, what say'stthou to the cardinal? 
CONST. What should he say, but as the cardinal ? 

LEW. Bethink you, father; for the difference 
Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome, 2 
Or the light loss of England for a friend : 
Forgo the easier. 

BLANCH. That's the curse of Rome. 

CONST. O Lewis, stand fast ; the devil tempts 

thee here, 
In likeness of a new untrimmed bride. 3 

1 Your breeches best may carry them.'] Perhaps there is 
somewhat proverbial in this sarcasm. So, in the old play of 
King Leir, 1605 : 

" Mum. Well I have a payre of slops for the nonce, 
" Will hold all your mocks." STEEVENS. 

* /*, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,] It is a political 
maxim, that kingdoms are never married. Lewis, upon the wed- 
ding, is for making war upon his new relations. JOHNSON. 

3 the devil tempts thee here, 

In likeness of a new untrimmed bride."] Though all the copies 
concur in this reading, yet as untrimmed cannot bear any signifi- 
cation to square with the sense required, I cannot help thinking 
it a corrupted reading. I have ventured to throw out the nega- 
tive, and read : 

In likeness of a new and trimmed bride. 

i. e. of a new bride, and one decked and adorned as well by art 
as nature. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Theobald says, " that as untrimmed cannot bear any 
signification to square with the sense required," it must be cor- 


BLANCH. The lady Constance speaks not from 

her faith, 
But from her need. 

rupt ; therefore he will cashier it, and read and trimmed; in 
which he is followed by the Oxford editor : but they are both 
too hasty. It squares very well with the sense, and signifies un- 
steady. The terra is taken from navigation. We say too, in a 
similar way of speaking, not "well manned. WARBURTON. 

I think Mr. Theobald's correction more plausible than Dr. 
Warburton's explanation. A commentator should be grave, and 
therefore I can read these notes with proper severity of atten- 
tion; but the idea of trimming a lady to keep her steady, would 
be too risible for any common power of face. JOHNSON. 

Trim is dress. An untrimmed bride is a bride \undrest. 
Could the tempter of mankind assume a semblance in which 
he was more likely to be successful? But notwithstanding 
what Aristaenetus assures us concerning Lais " ev$e$up,svi) ply, 
ewifgoirwffolciry $' IxJotra $ oAij irpdffwTfQv pamra*." that drest 
she was beautiful, undrest she was all beauty by Shakspeare's 
epithet untrimmed, I do not mean absolutely naked, but 

" Nuda pedem, discincta sinum, spoliata lacertos;" 
in short, whatever is comprized in Lothario's idea of unattired. 
" Non mihi ancta Diana placet, nee nuda Cythere ; 
" Ilia voluptatis nil habet, haec nimium." 

The devil (says Constance) raises to your imagination your 
bride disencumbered of the forbidding forms of dress, and the 
memory of my wrongs is lost in the anticipation of future en- 

Ben Jonson, in his New Inn, says : 

" Bur. Here's a lady gay. 

" Tip. A ivell-trimm'd lady !" 
Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : 

" And I was trimm'd in madam Julia's gown." 
Again, in King Henry VI. P. III. Act II : 

" Trimni'd like a younker prancing to his love." 
Again, in Reginald Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft, 1514-: 

" a good huswife, and also well trimmed up in apparel." 

Mr. Collins inclines to a colder interpretation, and is willing to 
suppose that by an untrimmed bride is meant a bride unadorned 
'with the usual pomp and formality of a nuptial habit. The 
propriety of this epithet he infers from the naste in which the 
match was made, and further justifies it from King John's pre- 
ceding words : 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 429 

CONST. O, if thou grant my need, 

Which only lives but by the death of faith, 

That need must needs infer this principle, 

That faith would live again by death of need ; 

" Go we, as well as haste toill suffer us, 
" To this unlook'd for, unprepared pomp." 
Mr. Toilet is of the same opinion, and offers two instances in 
which untrimmed indicates a deshabille or a frugal vesture. In 
Minsheu's Dictionary, it signifies one not finely dressed or attifed. 
Again, in Vives's Instruction of a Christian Woman, 1592, p. 98 
and 99 : " Let her [the mistress of the house] bee content with 
a maide not faire and wanton, that can sing a ballad with a ctere 
voice, but sad, pale, and untrimmed." STEEVENS. 

I incline to think that the transcriber's ear deceived him, and 
that we should read, as Mr. Theobald has proposed 

a new and trimmed bride. 

The following passage in King Henry IV. P. I. appears to me 
strongly to support his conjecture : 

" When I was dry with rage, and extreme toil, 

" Came there a certain lord, neat, trimly dress'd, 

" Fresh as a bridegroom ." 

Again, more appositely, in Romeo and Juliet : 

" Go, waken Juliet ; go, and trim her up ; 

" Make haste ; the bridegroom he is come already." 
Again, in Cymbeline: 

" and forget 

" Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein 

" You made great Juno angry." 
Again, in our author's Venus and Adonis: 

" The flowers are sweet, their colours fresh and trim ." 
The freshness which our author has connected with the word 
trim, in the first and last of these passages, and the " laboursome 
and dainty trims that made great Juno angry," which surely a 
bride may be supposed most likely to indulge in, (however scan- 
tily Blanch's toilet may have been furnished in a camp, ) prove, 
either that this emendation is right, or that Mr. Collins's inter- 
pretation of the word untrimmed is the true one. Minsheu's 
definition of untrimmed, " qui n'est point orne, inornahts, 
incultus," as well as his explanation of the verb " to trim," 
which, according to him, means the same as " to prank up," 
may also be adduced to the same point. See his Dictionary, 
1617. Mr. M. Mason justly observes, that " to trim means to 
dress out, but not to clothe; and, consequently, though it might 
mean unadorned, it cannot mean unclad, or naked." MALOXE. 


O, then, tread down my need, and faith mounts up ; 
Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down. 
K. JOHN. The king is mov'd, and answers not to 

CONST. O, be remov'd from him, and answer well. 

AUST. Do so, king Philip ; hang no more in 

BAST. Hang nothing but a calf 's-skin, most sweet 

K. PHI. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say. 
PAND. What can'st thou say, but will perplex 

thee more, 
If thou stand excommunicate, and curs'd ? 

K. PHI. Good reverend father, make my person 


And tell me, how you would bestow yourself. 
This royal hand and mine are newly knit ; 
And the conjunction of our inward souls 
Married in league, coupled and link'd together 
With all religious strength of sacred vows ; 
The latest breath that gave the sound of words, 
Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love, 
Between our kingdoms, and our royal selves ; 
And even before this truce, but new before, 
No longer than we well could wash our hands, 

To clap this royal bargain up of peace, 

Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and overstain'd 
With slaughter's pencil ; where revenge did paint 
The fearful difference of incensed kings : 
And shall these hands, so lately purg'd of blood, 
So newly join'd in love, so strong in both, 4 

* ' so strong in both,'] I beliere the meaning is, love so 
strong in both parties. JOHNSON. 

Rather, in hatred and in love; in deeds of amity or blood. 


.ac. i- KING JOHN. 431 

Unyoke this seizure, and this kind regreet ? * 
Play fast and loose with faith ? so jest with heaven, 
Make such unconstant children of ourselves, 
As now a^ain to snatch our palm from palm ; 
Unswear faith sworn ; and on the marriage bed 
Of smiling peace to march a bloody host, 
And make a riot on the gentle brow 
Of true sincerity ? O holy sir, 
My reverend father, let it not be so : 
Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose 
Some gentle order ; and then we shall be bless* d 
To do your pleasure, and continue friends. 

, PAND. All form is formless, order orderless, 

Save what is opposite to England's love. 

Therefore, to arms ! be champion of our church f 

Or let the church, our mother, breathe her curse, 

A mother's curse, on her revolting son. 

France, thou may'st hold a serpent by the tongue, 

A cased lion by the mortal paw, 

A fasting tiger safer by the tooth, 

Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold. 

K. PHI. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith. 

5 this kind regreet ?] A regreet is an exchange of saluta- 
tion. So, in Hey wood's Iron Age, 1632 : 

" So bear our kind regreets to Hecuba." STEEVENS. 

6 A cased lion ] The modern editors read a chafed lion. 
I see little reason for change. A cased lion is a lion irritated by 
confinement. So, in King Henry VI. P. III. Act I. sc. iii : 
" So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch 
" That trembles under his devouring paws," &c. 


Again, in Rowley's When you see me you knovo me, 1621 : 
" The lyon in his cage is not so sterne 
" As royal Henry in his wrathful spleene." 
Our author was probably thinking on the lions, which in his 
time, as at present, were kept in the Tower, in dens so small as 
fully to justify the epithet he has used. MALONB. 

432 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

PAND. So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith ; 
And, like a civil war, set'st oath to oath, 
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow 
First made to heaven, first be to heaven perform'd j 
That is, to be the champion of our church ! 
What since thou swor'st, is sworn against thyself, 
And may not be performed by thyself: 
For that, which thou hast sworn to do amiss, 
Is not amiss when it is truly done ; 7 

7 Is not amiss, taken it is truly done ;] This is a conclusion de 
trovers. We should read : 
Is yet amiss, 

The Oxford editor, according to his usual custom, will improve 
it further, and reads most amiss. WARBURTON. 

I rather read : 

Is't not amiss, ivhen it is truly done ? 

as the alteration is less, and the sense which Dr. Warburton first 
discovered is preserved. JOHNSON. 

The old copies read : 

Is not amiss, when it is truly done. 

Pandulph, having conjured the King to perform his first vow 
to heaven, to be champion of the church, tells him, that what 
he has since sworn is sworn against himself, and therefore may 
not be performed by him: for that, says he, which you have 
sworn to do amiss, is not amiss, (i. e. becomes right! when it is 
done truly ( that is, as he explains it, not done at all ; ) and being 
not done, where it would be a sin to do it, the truth is most done 
when you do it not. So, in Love's Labour's Lost: 

" It is religion to be thus forsworn." RITSON. 

Again, in Cymbeline: 

" she is fool'd 

" With a most false effect, and I the truer 

" So to be false tvith her." 

By placing the second couplet of this sentence before the first, 
the passage will appear perfectly clear. Where doing tends to 
ill, where an intended act is criminal, the truth is most done, by 
not doing the act. The criminal act therefore which thou hast 
sworn to do, is not amiss, will not be imputed to you as a crime, 
if it be done truly, in the sense I have now affixed to truth ; that 
is, if you do not do it. MA LONE. 

x. r. KING JOHN. 433 

And being not done, where doing tends to ill, 
The truth is then most done not doing it : 
The better act of purposes mistook 
Is, to mistake again ; though indirect, 
Yet indirection thereby grows direct, 
And falsehood falsehood cures ; as fire cools fire, 
Within the scorched veins of one new burn'd. 
It is religion, that doth make vows kept j 
But thou hast sworn against religion; 8 

* But thou hast sworn against religion ; &c."j The proposi- 
tions, that the voice of the church is the voice of heaven, and that 
the Pope utters the voice of the church, neither of which Pan- 
dulph's auditors would deny, being once granted, the argument 
here used is irresistible; nor is it easy, notwithstanding the 
gingle, to enforce it with greater brevity or propriety : 
But thou hast sworn against religion: 
By what thou twear'st against the thing thou swear'st : 
And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth, 
Against an oath the truth thou art unsure 
To swear, swear only not to be forsworn. 
By what. Sir T. Hanraer readsr By that. I think it should 
be rather by which. That is, thou swear'st against the thing, by 
which thou swear'st ; that is, against religion. 
The most formidable difficulty is in these lines : 
And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth f 
Against an oath the truth thou art unsure 
To swear, c. 
This Sir T. Hanmer reforms thus : 

And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth, 
Against an oath ; this truth thou art unsure 
To swear, &c. 
Dr. Warburton writes it thus : 

Against an oath the truth thou art unsure 
which leaves the passage to me as obscure as before. 

I know not whether there is any corruption beyond the omis- 
sion of a point. The sense, after I had considered it, appeared 
to me only this : In swearing by religion against religion, to 
which thou hast already sworn, thou makest an oath the security 
for thy faith against an oath already taken. I will give, says he, 
a rule for conscience in these cases. Thou may'st be in doubt 
about the matter of an oath ; when thou swearest, thou may'st 
not be always sure to swear rightly; but let this be thy settled 

VOL. X. F F 

434 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

By what thou swear'st, against the thing thou 

swear'st ; 

And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth 
Against an oath : The truth thou art unsure 
To swear, swear only not to be forsworn; 9 
Else, what a mockery should it be to swear ? 
But thou dost swear only to be forsworn ; 
And most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear. 
Therefore, thy latter vows, against thy first, 

principle, siaear only not to beforsiuorn ; let not the latter oaths 
be at variance with the former. 

Truth, through this whole speech, means rectitude of conduct. 


I believe the old reading is right ; and that the line " By 
vohat" &c. is put in apposition with that which precedes it: 
" But thou hast sworn against religion ; thou hast sworn, by 
tvhat tkou swearest, i. e. in that which thou hast sworn, against 
the thing thou swearest by ; i. e. religion. Our author has many 
such elliptical expressions. So, in King Henry VIII: 

" Whoever the king favours, 

" The cardinal will quickly find employment [./or], 

' And far enough from court too." 
Again, ibidem : 

" This is about that which the bishop spake" [of]. 
Again, in King Richard III: 

" True ornaments to know a holy man" [by]* 
Again, in The Winter's Tale: 

" A bed-swerver, even as bad as those 

" That vulgars give bold'st titles" [to]. 
Again, ibidem: 

" the queen is spotless 

" In this that you accuse her" [of], M ALONE. 

swear only not to be forsworn ;] The old copy reads 

swears, which, in my apprehension, shews that two half lines 
have been lost, in which the person supposed to swear was men- 
tioned. When the same word is repeated in two succeeding 
lines, the eye of the compositor often glances from the first to 
the second, and in consequence the intermediate words are 
omitted. For what has been lost, it is now in vain to seek ; 
I have therefore adopted the emendation made by Mr. Pope, 
which makes some kind of sense. M ALONE. 

sc. i. KING JOHN. 435 

Is in thyself rebellion to thyself: 

And better conquest never canst thou make, 

Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts 

Against those giddy loose suggestions : 

Upon which better part our prayers come in, 

If thou vouchsafe them : but, if not, then know, 

The peril of our curses light on thee ; 

So heavy, as thou shalt not shake them off, 

But, in despair, die under their black weight. 

AUST. Rebellion, flat rebellion! 

BAST. Will't not be ? 

Will not a calf 's-skin stop that mouth of thine ? 

LEW. Father, to arms ! 

BLANCH. Upon thy wedding day ? 

Against the blood that thou hast married ? 
What,shall our feast be kept with slaughter'd men? 
Shall braying trumpets, 1 and loud churlish drums, 

1 ' braying trumpets,] Bray appears to have been par- 
ticularly applied to express the harsh grating sound of the trum- 
pet. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. xii. st. 6 : 

" And when it ceast shrill trompets loud did bray." 
Again, B. IV. c. iv. st. 48 : 

" Then shrilling trompets loudly 'gan to bray" 
And elsewhere in the play before us : 

" Hard-resounding trumpets' dreadful bray." 
Again, in Hamlet : 

" The trumpet shall bray out ." 

Gawin Douglas, in his translation of the JEneid, renders " sub 

axe tonanti " (Lib. V. v. 820:) 

" Under the brayand quhelis and assiltre." 
Blackmore is ridiculed in the Dunciad, (B. II.) for endeavour- 
ing to ennoble this word by applying it to the sound qfarmour t 
u-fl/-, &c. He might have pleaded these authorities, and that of 
Milton : 

" Arms on armour clashing bray'd 
" Horrible discood." Paradise Lost, B. VI. v. 209. 
Nor did Gray, scrupulous as he was in language, reject it in 
The Bard: 

, " Heard ye the din of battle bray?" HOLT WHITE. 

FF 2 

436 KING JOHN. ACT m. 

Clamours of hell, be measures 2 to our pomp ? 

O husband, hear me ! ah, alack, how new 

Is husband in my mouth ! even for that name, 

Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pronounce, 

Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms 

Against mine uncle. 

CONST. O, upon my knee, 

Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee, 
Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom 
Fore- thought by heaven. 

BLANCH. Now shall I see thy love ; What motive 

may , 
Be stronger with thee than the name of wife ? 

CONST. That which upholdeth him that thee 

His honour: O, thine honour, Lewis, thine honour! 

LEW. I muse, 3 your majesty doth seem so cold, 
When such profound respects do pull you on. 

PAND. I will denounce a curse upon his head. 

K. PHI. Thou shalt not need : England, I'll 
fall from thee. 

CONST. O fair return of banish'd majesty! 
ELI. O foul revolt of French inconstancy ! 

* be measures ] The measures, it has already been 

more than once observed, were a species of solemn dance in our 
author's time. 

This speech is formed on the following lines in the old play : 
*' Blanch. And will your grace upon your wedding-day 
" Forsake your bride, and follow dreadful drums ? 
" Phil. Drums shall be musick to this wedding-day." 


* / muse,] i. e. I wonder. REED. 

So, in Middleton's Tragi-Coomodie, called The Witch:" 
" And why thou staist so long, I muse, 
" Since the air's so sweet and good." STEEVENS. 

sc. /. KING JOHN. 437 

K. JOHN. France, thou shalt rue this hour within 
this hour. 

BAST. Old time the clock-setter, that bald sexton 

Is it as he will ? well then, France shall rue. 

BLANCH. The sun's o'ercast with blood : Fair 

day, adieu ! 

Which is the side that I must go withal ? 
I am with both : each army hath a hand ; 
And, in their rage, I having hold of both, 
They whirl asunder, and dismember me. 4 
Husband, I cannot pray that thou may'st win ; 
Uncle, I needs must pray that thou may'st lose j 
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine j 
Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive : 
Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose ; 
Assured loss, before the match be play'd. 

LEW. Lady, with me ; with me thy fortune lies 

BLANCH. There where my fortune lives, there 
my life dies. 

K. JOHN. Cousin, go draw our puissance toge- 
ther. [Exit Bastard. 
France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath ; 
A rage, whose heat hath this condition, 
Than nothing can allay, nothing but blood, 
The blood, and dearest-valu'd blood, of France. 

K. PHI. Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou 
shalt turn 

4 They 'whirl asunder, and dismember me."] Alluding to a well- 
known Roman punishment : 

" Metium in diversa quadrigae 

" Distulerant." JEneid, VIII. 642. STEEVENS. 


To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire : 
Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy. 

K. JOHN. No more than he that threats. To 
arms let's hie ! [Exeunt. 


The same. Plains near Angiers. 

Alarums^ Excursions. Enter the Bastard, with 

BAST. Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous 

Some airy devil 5 hovers in the sky, 

* Some airy devil ] Shakspeare here probably alludes to the 
distinctions and divisions of some of the demonologists, so much 
regarded in his time. They distributed the devils into different 
tribes and classes, each of which had its peculiar qualities, attri- 
butes, &c. 

These are described at length in Burton's Anatomic of Melan- 
choly ', Part I. sect. ii. p. 45, 1632 : 

" Of these sublunary devils Psellus makes six kinds ; fiery, 
aeriall, terrestriall, watery, and subterranean devils, besides 
those faieries, satyres, nymphes," &c. 

" Fiery spirits or divells are such as commonly worke by 
blazing starres, fire-drakes, and counterfeit sunnes and moones, 
and sit on ships' masts," &c. &c. 

" Aeriall spirits or divells are such as keep quarter most part 
in the aire, cause many tempests, thunder and lightnings, teare 
oakes, fire steeples, houses, strike men and beasts, make it raine 
stones,'' &c. PERCY. 

There is a minute description of different devils or spirits, and 
their different functions, in Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication, 
1592 : With respect to the passage in question, take the follow- 
ing: " the spirits of the aire will mixe themselves with 
thunder and lightning, and so infect the clyme where they raise 
any tempest, that sodainely great mortalitie shall ensue to the 
inhabitants. The spirits ofjire have their mansions under the 
regions of the moone." HENDERSON. 

sc. n. KING JOHN. 439 

And pours down mischief. Austria's head lie 

there ; 
While Philip breathes. 6 

Enter King JOHN, ARTHUR, and HUBERT. 

K. JOHN. Hubert, keep this boy : 7 Philip, 8 make 


My mother is assailed in our tent, 9 
And ta'en, I fear. 

BAST. My lord, I rescu'd her ; 

Her highness is in safety, fear you not : 
But on, my liege ; for very little pains 
Will bring this labour to an happy end. [Exeunt. 

* Here Mr. Pope, without authority, adds from the old play 
already mentioned : 

" Thus hath king Richard's son perfonn'd his vow, 

" And ofFer'd Austria's blood for sacrifice 

" Unto his father's ever-living soul." STEEVENS. 

7 Hubert, keep this boy .-] Thus the old copies. Mr. Tynvhitt 
would read : 

Hubert, keep thou this boy : . STEEVENS. 

8 Philip,"] Here the King, who had knighted him by 

the name of Sir Richard, calls him by his former name. 


9 My mother is assailed in our tent,"] The author has not at- 
tended closely to the history. The Queen-mother, whom King 
John had made Regent in Anjou, was in possession of the town 
of Mirabeau, in that province. On the approach of the French 
army with Arthur at their head, she sent letters to King John to 
come to her relief; which he did immediately. As he advanced 
to the town he encountered the army that lay before it, routed 
them, and took Arthur prisoner. The Queen in the mean while 
remained in perfect security in the castle of Mirabeau. 

Such is the best authenticated account. Other historians how- 
ever say that Arthur took Elinor prisoner. The author of the 
old play has followed them. In that piece Elinor is taken by 
Arthur, and rescued by her son. MALONE. 

440 KING JOHN. ACT m. 


The same. 

Alarums; Excursions; Retreat. Enter King JOHN, 
ELINOR, AETHUR, the Bastard, HUBERT, and 

K. JOHN. So shall it be ; your grace shall stay 
behind, [To ELINOR. 

So strongly guarded. Cousin, look not sad : 


Thy grandam loves thee ; and thy uncle will 
As dear be to thee as thy father was. 

ARTH. O, this will make my mother die with 


K. JOHN. Cousin, [To the Bastard.] away for 

England ; haste before : 

And, ere our coming, see thou shake the bags 
Of hoarding abbots ; angels imprisoned 
Set thou at liberty i 1 the fat ribs of peace 
Must by the hungry now be fed upon : 2 
Use our commission in his utmost force. 

1 Set thou at liberty:] The word thou (which is wanting in 
the old copy) was judiciously added, for the sake of metre, by 
Sir T. Hanmer. STEEVENS. 

* the fat ribs of peace 

Must by the hungry now be Jed upon:] This word noto 
seems a very idle term here, and conveys no satisfactory idea. 
An antithesis, and opposition of terms, so perpetual with our 
author, requires : 

Must by the hungry war be fed upon. 

War, demanding a large expence, is very poetically said to be 
hungry, and to prey on the wealth said fat of peace. 


. "/ KING JOHN. 441 

BAST. Bell, book, and candle 3 shall not drive 
me back, 

This emendation is better than the former word, but yet not 
necessary. Sir T. Hanmer reads hungry maw, with less de- 
viation from the common reading, but not with so much force 
or elegance as war. JOHNSON. 

Either emendation may be unnecessary. Perhaps, the hungry 
now is this hungry instant. Shakspeare uses the word now as a 
substantive, in Measure for Measure: 

" till this very wow, 

" When men were fond, I smil'd and wonder'd how." 


The meaning, I think, is, " the fat ribs of peace must now 
be fed upon by the hungry troops," to whom some share of 
this ecclesiastical spoil would naturally fall. The expression, like 
many other of our author's, is taken from the sacred writings : 
" And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may pre- 
pare a city for habitation.'* 107th Psalm. Again : " He hath 
filled the hungry with good things," &c. St. Luke, i. 53. 

This interpretation is supported by the passage in the old play, 
which is here imitated : 

" Philip, I make thee chief in this affair ; 
" Ransack their abbeys, cloysters, priories, 
" Convert their coin unto my soldiers 1 use." 
When I read this passage in the old play, the first idea that 
suggested itself was, that a word had dropped out at the press, 
in the line before us, and that our author wrote : 

Must by the hungry soldiers now be fed on. 
But the interpretation above given renders any alteration un- 
necessary. MALONE. 

3 Bell, book, and candle ] In an account of the Romish 
curse given by Dr. Grey, it appears that three candles were 
extinguished, one by one, in different parts of the execration. 


I meet with the same expression in Ram-Alley, or Merry 
Tricks, 161 1 : 

" I'll have a priest shall mumble up a marriage 
Without bell, book, or candle." STEEYBNS. 
In Archbishop Winchelsea's Sentences of Excommunication, 
anno 1298, (see Johnson's Ecclesiastical Lams, Vol. II.) it is 
directed that the sentence against infringers of certain articles 
should be " throughout explained in order in English, with 
bells tolling, and candles lighted, that it may cause the greater 


When gold and silver becks me to come on. 
I leave your highness : Gran dam, I will pray 
(If ever I remember to be holy,) 
For your fair safety ; so I kiss your hand. 

ELI. Farewell, my gentle cousin. 

K. JOHN. Coz, farewell. 

[Exit Bastard. 

ELI. Come hither, little kinsman ; hark, a word. 

[She takes ARTHUR aside. 

K. JOHN. Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle 


We owe thee much ; within this wall of flesh 
There is a soul, counts thee her creditor, 
And with advantage means to pay thy love : 
And my good friend, thy voluntary oath 
Lives in this bosom, dearly cherished. 
Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say, 
But I will fit it with some better time. 4 
By heaven, Hubert, I am almost asham'd 
To say what good respect I have of thee. 

HUB. I am much bounden to your majesty. 

K. JOHN. Good friend, thou hast no cause to say 

so yet : 
But thou shalt have ; and creep time ne'er so slow, 

dread ; for laymen have greater regard to this solemnity, than to 
the effect of such sentences." See Dodsley's Old Plays, Vol. XII. 
p. 397, edit. 1780. REED. 

4 "with some better time.] The old copy reads tune. 

Corrected by Mr. Pope. The same mistake has happened in 
Twelfth Night. See that play, Vol. V. p. 300, n. 3. In Mac- 
beth, Act IV. sc. ult. we have " This time goes manly," in- 
stead of " This tune goes manly." MALONE. 

In the hand-writing of Shakspeare's age, the words time and 
tune are scarcely to be distinguished from each other. 


sc. in. KING JOHN. 443 

Yet it shall come, for me to do thee good. 
I had a thing to say, But let it go : 
The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day, 
Attended with the pleasures of the world, 
Is all too wanton, and too full of gawds,* 
To give me audience : If the midnight bell 
Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth, 
Sound one unto the drowsy race of night j e 

* full o/"gawds,] Gawds are any showy ornaments. So, 

in The Dumb Knight, 1633: 

" To caper in his grave, and with vain gauds 
" Trick up his coffin." 
See A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Vol. IV. p. 320, n. 8. 


* Sound one unto the drowsy race of night;"] Old copy 
Sound on ." STEEVENS. 

We should read Sound one. WARBURTON. 

I should suppose the meaning of Sound on, to be this : If 
the midnight bell, by repeated strokes, was to hasten away the 
race of beings who are busy at that hour, or quicken night itself 
in its progress ; the morning bell (that is, the bell that strikes 
one,) could not, with strict propriety, be made the agent; for 
the bell has ceased to be in the service of night, when it pro- 
claims the arrival of day. Sound on may also have a peculiar 
propriety, because, by the repetition of the strokes at twelve, 
it gives a much more forcible warning than when it only strikes 

Such was once my opinion concerning the old reading ; but, 
on re-consideration, its propriety cannot appear more doubtful 
to any one than to myself. 

It is too late to talk of hastening the night, when the arrival 
of the morning is announced : and I am afraid that the repeated 
strokes have less of solemnity than the single notice, as they take 
from the horror and awful silence here described as so propitious 
to the dreadful purposes of the king. Though the hour of one 
be not the natural midnight, it is yet the most solemn moment 
of the poetical one ; and Shakspeare himself has chosen, to in- 
troduce his Ghost in Hamlet, 

" The bell then beating one." STEEVENS. 

The word one is here, as in many other passages in these 
plays, written on in the old copy. Mr. Theobald made the cor- 

444 KING JOHN. ACTlll. 

If this same were a church-yard where we stand, 
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs ; 

rection. He likewise substituted unto for into, the reading of 
the original copy; a change that requires no support. In 
Chaucer, and other old writers, one is usually written on. See 
Mr. Tyrwhitt's Glossary to The Canterbury Tales. So once 
was anciently written ons. And it should seem, from a quib- 
bling passage in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, that one, in 
some counties at least, was pronounced, in our author's time, 
as if written on. Hence the transcriber's ear might easily have 
deceived him. One of the persons whom I employed to read 
aloud to me each sheet of the present work [Mr. Malone's 
edition of our author] before it was printed off, constantly 
sounded the word one in this manner. He was a native of 

The instances that are found in the original editions of our 
author's plays, in which on is printed instead of one, are so nu- 
merous, that there cannot, in my apprehension, be the smallest 
doubt that one is the true reading in the line before us. Thus, 
in Coriolanus, edit. 1623, p. 15: 

" This double worship, 

" Where on part does disdain with cause, the other 
" Insult without all reason." 
Again, in Cymbeline, 1623, p. 380: 

" perchance he spoke not ; but 

" Like a full-acorn'd boar, a Jarmen on," &c. 
Again, in Romeo and Juliet, 1623, p. 66: 

" And thou, and Romeo, press on heavie bier." 
Again, in The Comedy of Errors, 1623, p. 94 : 

" On, whose hard heart is button'd up with steel." 
Again, in All's -well that ends -well, 1623, p. 24O : " A good 
traveller is something at the latter end of a dinner, but on that 
lies thtee thirds," &c. 

Again, in Love's Labour's Lost, quarto, 1598: 

" On, whom the musick of his own vain tongue ." 
Again, ibid, edit. 1623, p. 133: 

" On, her hairs were gold, crystal the other's eyes." 
The same spelling is found in many other books. So, in Hol- 
land's Suetonius, 1606, p. 14: " he caught from on of them 
a trumpet," &c. 

I should not have produced so many passages to prove a fact 
of which no one can be ignorant, who has the slightest knoiu- 
ledge of the early editions of these plays, or of our old writers, 
had not the author of Remarks, &c. on the last Edition of 

K. in. KING JOHN, 445 


Or if that surly spirit, melancholy, 

Had bak'd thy blood, and made it heavy, thick ; 

(Which, else, runs tickling up and down the veins, 

Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes, 

And strain their cheeks to idle merriment, 

A passion hateful to my purposes ;) 

Or if that thou could'st see me without eyes, 

Hear me without thine ears, and make reply 

Shakspeare, asserted, with that modesty and accuracy by which 
his pamphlet is distinguished, that the observation contained in 
the former part of this note was made by one totally unac- 
quainted with the old copies, and that " it would be difficult to 
find a single instance" in which on and one are confounded in 
those copies. 

I suspect that we have too hastily, in this line, substituted 
unto for into ; for into seems to have been frequently used for 
unto in Shakspeare's time. So, in Harsnet's Declaration, &c. 
1603 : " when the nimble vice would skip up nimbly into the 
devil's neck." 

Again, in Daniel's Civil Wars, Book IV. folio, 1602: 
" She doth conspire to have him made away, 
" Thrust thereinto not only with her pride, 
" But by her father's counsel and consent." 
Again, in our poet's King Henry V : 

" Which to reduce into our former favour .'* 
Again, in his Will: " I commend my soul into the hands of 
God, my creator." 

Again, in King Henry VIII: 

" Yes, that goodness 

" Of gleaning all the land's wealth into one." 
i. e. into one man. Here we should now certainly write " unto 

Independently, indeed, of what has been now stated, into 
ought to be restored. So, Marlowe, in his King Edward II. 

" I'll thunder such a peal into his ears," &c. MALONE. 

Shakspeare may be restored into obscurity. I retain Mr. 
Theobald's correction ; for though " thundering a peal into a 
man's ears" is good English, I do not perceive that such an ex- 
pression as " sounding one into a drowsy race," is countenanced 
by any example hitherto produced. STEEVENS. 

446 KING JOHN. ACT in. 

Without a tongue, using conceit alone, 7 
Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words ; 
Then, in despite of brooded 8 watchful day, 
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts : 
But ah, I will not : Yet I love thee well ; 
And, by my troth, I think, thou lov'st me well. 

HUB. So well, that what you bid me undertake, 
Though that my death were adjunct to my act, 
By heaven, I'd do't. 

K. JOHN. Do not I know, thou would* st ? 

Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye 

7 . using conceit alone,} Conceit here, as in many other 
places, signifies conception, thought. So, in King Richard III : 
" There's some conceit or other likes him well, 
" When that he bids good-morrow with such spirit." 


brooded ] So the old copy. Mr. Pope reads 

broad-ey'd, which alteration, however elegant, may be unneces- 
sary. All animals while brooded, i. e. with a brood of young 
ones under their protection, are remarkably vigilant. The King 
says of Hamlet : 

" something's in his soul 

" O'er which his melancholy sits at brood." 
In P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, a 
broodie hen is the term for a hen that sits on eggs. See p. 301, 
edit. 1601 : 

Milton also, in L 1 Allegro, desires Melancholy to 

'* Find out some uncouth cell 

" Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous wings:" 
plainly alluding to the watchfulness of fowls while they are sit- 
ting. Broad-eyed, however, is a compound epithet to be found 
in Chapman's version of the eighth Iliad. r 

" And hinder broad-ey'd Jove's proud will ." 


Brooded, I apprehend, is here used, with our author's usual 
licence, for brooding ; i. e. day, who is as vigilant, as ready with 
open eye to mark what is done in his presence, as an animal at 
brood. MAJLUKE. 

I am not thoroughly reconciled to this reading ; but it would 
be somewhat improved by joining the words brooded and "watch - 
ful by a hyphen broodea-watchjul. M. MASON. 

so. m. KING JOHN. 447 

On yon young boy : I'll tell thee what, my friend, 
He is a very serpent in my way ; 
And wheresoever this foot of mine doth tread, 
He lies before me : Dost thou understand me ? 
Thou art his keeper. 

HUB. And I will keep him so, 

That he shall not offend your majesty. 

K. JOHN. Death. 

HUB. My lord ? 

K.JOHN. A grave. 

HUB. He shall not live. 

K. JOHN. Enough. 

I could be merry now : Hubert, I love thee ; 
Well, I'll not say what I intend for thee : 

Remember. 9 Madam, fare you well : 

I'll send those powers o'er to your majesty. 

ELI. My blessing go with thee ! 

K. JOHN, For England, cousin : l 

Hubert shall be your man, attend on you 
With all true duty. On toward Calais, ho ! 


Remember.'] This is one of the scenes to which may be pro- 
mised a lasting commendation. Art could add little to its per- 
fection; no change in dramatick taste can injure it; and time 
itself can subtract nothing from its beauties. STEEVENS. 

1 For England, cousin .] The old copy 

For England, cousin, go : 

I have omitted the last useless and redundant word, which the 
eye of the compositor seems to have caught from the preceding 
hemistich. STEEVENS. 

King John, after he had taken Arthur prisoner, sent him to 
the town of Falaise, in Normandy, under the carp of Hubert, 
his Chamberlain ; from whence he was afterwards removed to 
Rouen, and delivered to the custody of Robert de Veypont. 
Here he was secretly put to death. MALONE. 

448 KING JOHN. ACT m. 


The same. The French King's Tent. 


K. PHI. So, by a roaring tempest on the flood, 
A whole armado* of convicted sail 3 
Is scattered and disjoin'd from fellowship. 

* A whole armado ] This similitude, as little as it make* 
for the purpose in hand, was, I do not question, a very taking 
one when the play was first represented ; which was a winter or 
two at most after the Spanish invasion in 1588. It was in refer- 
ence likewise to that glorious period that Shakspeare concludes 
his play in that triumphant manner : 

" This England never did, nor never shall, 
" Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror," &c. 
But the whole play abounds with touches relative to the then 
posture of affairs. WARBURTON. 

This play, so far as I can discover, was not played till a long 
time after the defeat of the armado. The old play, I think, 
wants this simile. The commentator should not have affirmed 
what he can only guess. JOHNSON. 

Armado is a Spanish word signifying a Jleet of tvar. The 
armado in 1588 was called so by way of distinction. STEEVENS. 

* o/convicted sail ] Overpowered, baffled, destroyed. 

To convict and to convince were in our author's time synonymous. 
See Minsheu's Dictionary, 1617 : " To convict, or convince, a 
Lat. convictus, overcome." So, in Macbeth : 

" their malady convinces 

" The great essay of art." 

Mr. Pope, who ejected from the text almost evpry word that 
he did not understand, reads collected sail ; and the change wa* 
too hastily adopted by the subsequent editors. 

See also Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: " Convitto. Van- 
quished, convicted, convinced." MALONE. 

se. iv. KING JOHN. 4*9 

PAND. Courage and comfort! all shall yet go 

K. PHI. What can go well, when we have run 

so ill ? 

Are we not beaten ? Is not Anglers lost ? 
Arthur ta'en prisoner? divers dear friends slain? 
And bloody England into England gone, 
O'erbearing interruption, spite of France ? 
^ LEW. What he hath won, that hath he fortified : 
So hot a speed with such advice disposed, 
Such temperate order in so fierce a cause, 4 
Doth want example : Who hath read, or heard, 
Of any kindred action like to this ? 

K. Pm. Well could I bear that England had 

this praise, 
So we could find some pattern of our shame. 


Look, who comes here ! a grave unto a soul ; 
Holding the eternal spirit, against her will, 
In the vile prison of afflicted breath : 5 
I pr'ythee, lady, go away with me. 

* in so Jterce a cause,] We should read course, L e. 

march. The Oxford editor condescends to this emendation. 


Change is needless. A farce cause is a cause conducted with 
precipitation. " Fierce wretchedness," in Timon, is, hasty, 
sudden misery. STEEVENS. 

a grave unto a soul ; 

Holding the eternal spirit, against her will, 

In the vile prison of afflicted hreath :] I think we should 
read earth. The passage seems to have been copied from Sir 
Thomas More: " If the '>ody be to the soule a prison, how 
strait a prison maketh he the body, that stufieth it with riff-raff, 

VOC. X. G G 

450 KING JOHN. ACT in. 

CONST. Lo, now! now see the issue of your 
peace ! 

K. PHI. Patience, good lady! comfort, gentle 
Constance ! 

that the soule can have no room to stirre itself but is, as it 
were, enclosed not in a prison, but in a grave" FARMER. 

Perhaps the old reading is justifiable. So, in Measure for 
Measure : 

" To be imprison'd in the viewless winds.* 1 STEEVENS. 

It appears, from the amendment proposed by Farmer, and by 
the quotation adduced by Steevens in support of the old read- 
ing, that they both consider this passage in the same light, and 
suppose that King Philip intended to say, " that the breath was 
the prison of the soul ;" but I think they have mistaken the 
sense of it ; and that by " the vile prison of afflicted breath,'* 
he means the same vile prison in which the breath is confined ; 
that is, the body. 

In the second scene of the fourth Act, King John says to 
Hubert, speaking of what passed in his own mind : 
" Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, 
" This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath, 
" Hostility and civil tumult reign." 
And Hubert says, in the following scene : 

" If I, in act, consent, or sin of thought, 
" Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath 
" Which was embounded in this beauteous clay, 
" May hell want pains enough to torture me !" 
It is evident that, in this last passage, the breath is considered 
as embounded in the body ; but I will not venture to assert that 
the same inference may with equal certainty be drawn from the 
former. M. MASON. 

There is surely no need of change. " The vile prison of 
afflicted breath," is the body, the prison in which the distressed 
soul is confined. 

We have the same image in King Henry VI. Part III : 

" Now my soul's palace is become her prison.'* 
Again, more appositely, in his Rape of Lucrece : 

" Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast 

" A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheath'd ; 

" That blow did bail it from the deep unrest 

" Of that polluted prison where it breath'd." MALONE. 

x. iv. KING JOHN. 451 

CONST. No, I defy all counsel, all redress, 
But that which ends ail counsel, true redress, 
Death, death : O amiable lovely death ! 
Thou odoriferous stench ! sound rottenness ! 
Arise forth from the couch of lasting night, 
Thou hate and terror to prosperity, 
And I will kiss thy detestable bones ; 
And put my eye-balls in thy vaulty brows ; 
And ring these fingers with thy household worms; 
And stop this gap of breath 7 with fulsome dust, 
And be a carrion monster like thyself: 
Come, grin on me ; and I will think thou srmTst, 
And buss thee as thy wife ! 8 Misery's love," 

O, come to me! 

bluo/ia bnT>. :ni-v Jwuao I fr ,<J 

K. Psa. O fair affliction, peace. 

CONST. No, no, I will not, having breath to 


' No, / defy #c.l To defy anciently signified to refuse. 
So, in Romeo and Juliet ; 

" I do defy thy commiseration." STEEVENS. 

7 And stop this gap of breath ] The gap of breath is the 
mouth ; the outlet from whence the breath issues. MALONK. 

* And buss thee as thy wifef] Thus the old copy. The 
word buss, however, being now only used in vulgar language, 
our modern editors have exchanged it for kiss. The former is 
used by Drayton, in the third canto of his Barons' Wars, where 
Queen Isabel says: 

" And we by signs sent many a secret buss." 
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. III. c. x: 

" But every satyre first did give a busse 

" To Hellenore ; so busses did abound." 
Again, Stanyhurst, the translator of Virgil, 1582, renders 

" oscuia libavit natae 

" Bust his prittye parrat prating," &c. STEEVENS. 

9 Misery's love, fyc.~\ Thou, death, who art courted by 
Misery to come to his relief, O come to me. So before : 
" Thou hate and terror to prosperity." MALONE. 

G G 2 


O, that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth ! 
Then with a passion would I shake the world j 
And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy, 
Which cannot hear a lady's feeble voice, 
Which scorns a modern invocation. 1 

PAND. Lady, you utter madness, and not sor- 

CONST. Thou art not holy 2 to belie me so ; 
I am not mad : this hair I tear, is mine ; 
My name is Constance ; I was Geffrey's wife ; 
Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost : 
I am not mad ; I would to heaven, I were ! 
For then, 'tis like I should forget myself: 
O, if I could, what grief should I forget ! 
Preach some philosophy to make me mad, 
And thou shalt be canoniz'd, cardinal ; 
For, being not mad, but sensible of grief, 
My reasonable part produces reason 
How I may be deliver'd of these woes, 
And teaches me to kill or hang myself: 
If I were mad, I should forget my son ; 
Or madly think, a babe of clouts were he : 

1 modern invocation."] It is hard to say what Shakspeare 

means by modern : it is not opposed to ancient. In All's "well 
that ends tvell, speaking of a girl in contempt, he uses this 
word: "her modern grace." It apparently means something 
slight and inconsiderable. JOHNSON. 

Modern, is trite, ordinary, common. 
So, in As you like it : 

" Full of wise saws, and modern instances." 
Again, in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" As we greet modern friends withal." STEEVENS. 

* Thou art not holy ] The word not, which is not in the 
old copy, (evidently omitted by the carelessness of the transcriber 
or compositor,) was inserted in the fourth folio. MALONE. 

Perhaps our author wrote 

Thou art unholy &c. STEEVENS. 

ac.iv. KING JOHN. 453 

I am not mad ; too well, too well I feel 
The different plague of each calamity. 

K. PHI. Bind up those tresses : 3 O, what love I 


In the fair multitude of those her hairs! 
Where but by chance a silver drop hath fallen, 
Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends 4 
Do glew themselves in sociable grief; 
Like true, inseparable, faithful loves, 
Sticking together in calamity. 

CONST. To England, if you will. 5 

3 Bind up those tresses :] It was necessary that Constance 
should be interrupted, because a passion so violent cannot be 
borne long. I wish the following speeches had been equally 
happy ; but they only serve to show how difficult it is to main- 
tain the pathetick long. JOHNSON. 

4 ixiry friends ] The old copy reads wiry fiends. 

Wiry is an adjective used by Heywood, in his Silver Age, 1613: 

" My vassal furies, with their iniery strings, 
" Shall lash thee hence." STEEVENS. 

Mr. Pope made the emendation. MALONE. 

Fiends is obviously a typographical error. As the epithet 
wiry is here attributed to hair ; BO, in another description, the 
hair of Apollo supplies the office of wire. In The Instructions 
to the Commissioners for the Choice of a Wife for Prince Arthur, 
it is directed " to note the eye-browes" of the young Queen of 
Naples, (who, after the death of Arthur, was married to Henry 
VIII. and divorced by him for the sake of Anna Bulloygn). 
They answer, " Her browes are of a browne heare, very small, 
like a wyre of heare." Thus also, Gascoigne : 

" First for her head, her hairs were not of gold, 

" But of some other mettall farre more fine, 

" Wherof each crinet seemed to behold, 

" Like glist'ring wyars against the sunne that shine." 


* To England, if you will.] Neither the French king nor 
Pandulph has said a word of England since the entry of Con- 
stance. Perhaps, therefore, in despair, she means to address 

454 KING JOHN. ACT 111. 

K. PHI. Bind up your hairs. 

CONST. Yes, that I will ; And wherefore will I 


I tore them from their bonds ; and cried aloud, 
O that these hands could so redeem my son, 
As they have given these hairs their liberty! 
But now I envy at their liberty, 
And will again commit them to their bonds, 

Because my poor child is a prisoner. 

And, father cardinal, I have heard you say, 

That we shall see and know our friends in heaven : 

If that be true, I shall see my boy again ; 

For, since the birth of Cain, the first male child, 

To him that did but yesterday suspire, 6 

There was not such a gracious creature born. 7 

the absent King John : " Take my son to England, if you will ;" 
now that he is in your power, I have no prospect of seeing him 
again. It is, therefore, of no consequence to me where he is. 


* but yesterday suspire,] To suspire, in Shakspeare, I 

believe, only means to breathe. So, in King Henry IV. P. II: 
" Did he suspire, that light and weightless down 
" Perforce must move." 

Again, in a Copy of Verses prefixed to Thomas Powell's 
Passionate Poet, 1601 : 

" Beleeve it, I suspire no fresher aire, 

" Than are my hopes of thee, and they stand faire." 


7 a gracious creature born."] Gracious, i. e. graceful. 

So, in Albion's Triumph, a Masque, 1631 : " on the which 
(the freeze} were festoons of several fruits in their natural co- 
lours, on which, in gracious postures, lay children sleeping." 

Again, in the same piece : " they stood about him, not in 
set ranks, but in several gracious postures." 

Again, in Chapman's version of the eighteenth Iliad : 

" then tumbled round, and tore, 

" His gracious curies." STEEVENS. 

A passage quoted by Mr. Steevens, from Marston's Mal- 
content, 1604-, induces me to think that gracious likewise, in 

sc. iv. KING JOHN. 45$ 

But now will canker sorrow eat my bud, 
And chase the native beauty from his cheek, 
And he will look as hollow as a ghost ; 
As dim and meagre as an ague's fit ; 
And so he'll die ; and, rising so again, 
When I shall meet him in the court of heaven 
I shall not know him : therefore never, never 
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more. 

PAND. You hold too heinous a respect of grief. 

CONST. He talks to me, that never had a son. 8 

K. PHI. You are as fond of grief, as of your 

CONST. Grief fills the room up of my absent 

child, 9 

Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me j 
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, 
Remembers me of all his gracious parts, 
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form ; 
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief. 

our author's time, included the idea of beauty: " he is the 
most exquisite in forging of veins, spright'ning of eyes, sleek- 
ing of skinnes, blushing of cheeks, blanching and bleaching 
of teeth, that ever made an ould lady gracious by torch-light." 


He talks to me, that never had a son."] To the same pur- 
pose Macduff observes 

" He has no children." 
This thought occurs also in King Henry VI. Part III. 


9 Grief Jills the room up of my absent child,] 

" Perfruitur lachrymis, et amat pro conjuge luctum" 

Lucan, Lib. IX. 

Maynard, a French poet, has the same thought : 
" Qui me console, excite ma colere, 

" Et le repos est un bien que je crains : 
" Mon deuil me plait, et me doit toujours plaire, 
" II me tient lieu de celle queje plains." MALONE. 


Fare you well : had you such a loss as I, 
I could give better comfort l than you do. 
I will not keep this form upon my head, 

[Tearing off her head-dress. 
When there is such disorder in my wit. 
O lord ! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son ! 
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world ! 
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure ! [Exit. 

K. PHI. I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her. 


LEW. There's nothing in this world, can make 

me joy: 2 

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, 3 
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man ; 
And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet world's 

taste, 4 
That it yields naught, but shame, and bitterness. 

1 had you such a loss as /, 

, / could give better comfort ] This is a sentiment which 
great sorrow always dictates. Whoever cannot help himself 
casts his eyes on others for assistance, and often mistakes their 
inability for coldness. JOHNSON. 

* There's nothing in this &c.] The young prince feels his 
defeat with more sensibility than his father. Shame operates 
most strongly in the earlier years ; and when can disgrace be less 
welcome than when a man is going to his bride? JOHNSON. 

' Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,"] Our author here, 
and in another play, seems to have had the 90th Psalm in his 
thoughts. " For when thou art angry, all our days are gone, 
we bring our years to an end % as it were a told that is told." 
So again, in Macbeth : 

" Life's but a walking shadow ; 

it is a tale 

" Told by an ideot, full of sound and fury, 

" Signifying nothing." MA LONE. 

* the sweet world's taste,] The old copy sweet word. 


sc. iv. KING JOHN. 457 

PAND. Before the curing of a strong disease, 
Even in the instant of repair and health, 
The fit is strongest; evils, that take leave, 
On their departure most of all show evil : 
What have you lost by losing of this day ? 

LEW. All days of glory, joy, and happiness. 

PAND. If you have won it, certainly, you had. 
No, no : when fortune means to men most good, 
She looks upon them with a threatening eye. 
'Tis strange, to think how much king John hath lost 
In this which he accounts so clearly won : 
Are not you griev'd, that Arthur is his prisoner ? 

LEW. As heartily, as he is glad he hath him. 

PAND. Your mind is ah 1 as youthful as your 


Now hear me speak, with a prophetick spirit ; 
For even the breath of what I mean to speak 
Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub, 
Out of the path which shall directly lead 
Thy foot to England's throne; and, therefore, mark. 
John hath seiz'd Arthur ; and it cannot be, 
That, whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins, 
The misplac'd John should entertain an hour, 
One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest : 

The sweet word is life ; which, says the speaker, is no longer 
sweet, yielding now nothing but shame and bitterness. Mr. 
Pope, with some plausibility, but certainly without necessity, 
reads the sweet world's taste. MALONE. 

I prefer Mr. Pope's reading, which is sufficiently justified by 
the following passage in Hamlet : 

" How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable 
" Seem to me all the uses of this world!" 
Our present rage for restoration from ancient copies may in- 
duce some of our readers to exclaim, with Virgil's Shepherd : 
*' Claudite jam rivos, pueri, sat prata biberunt." 



A scepter, snatch'd with an unruly hand, 
Must be as boisterously maintained as gain'd : 
And he, that stands upon a slippery place, 
Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up : 
That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall ; 
So be it, for it cannot be but so. 

LEW. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's 
fall ? 

PAND. You, in the right of lady Blanch your 

May then make all the claim that Arthur did. 

LEW. And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did. 

PAND. How green are you, and fresh in this old 

world! 5 

John lays you plots ; 6 the times conspire with you : 
For he, that steeps his safety in true blood, 7 
Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue. 
This act, so evilly born, shall cool the hearts 
Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal ; 
That none so small advantage shall step forth, 
To check his reign, but they will cherish it : 

* How green &c.] Hall, in his Chronicle of Richard III. says, 
" what neede in that grene tuorlde the protector had," &c. 


6 John lays you plots ;"j That is> lays plots, which must be 
serviceable to you. Perhaps our author wrote your plots. 
John is doing your business. MALONE. 

The old reading is undoubtedly the true one. A similar 
phrase occurs in The First Part of King Henry VI : 
" He writes me here, that," &c. 

Again, in the Second Part of the same play : " He would 
have carried you a fore-hand shaft," &c. STEEVENS. 

7 true blood,] The blood of him that has the just claim. 


The expression seems to mean no more than innocent blood in 
general. RITSON. KING JOHN. 459 

No natural exhalation in the sky, 
No scape of nature, 8 no distemper'd day, 
No common wind, no customed event, 
But they will pluck away his natural cause, 
And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs, 
Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven, 
Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John. 

LEW. May be, he will not touch young Arthur's 

But hold himself safe in his prisonment. 

PAND. O, sir, when he shall hear of your ap- 

If that young Arthur be not gone already, 
Even at that news he dies : and then the hearts 
Of all his people shall revolt from him, 
And kiss the lips of unacquainted change ; 
And pick strong matter of revolt, and wrath, 
Out of the bloody fingers' ends of John. 
Methinks, I see this hurly all on foot ; 
And, O, what better matter breeds for you, 
Than I have nam'd ! 9 The bastard Faulconbridge 
Is now in England, ransacking the church, 
Offending charity : If but a dozen French 

No scape of 'nature ,] The old copy reads No scope, Sec. 


It was corrected by Mr. Pope. The word abortives, in the 
latter part of this speech, referring apparently to these scapes 
of nature, confirms the emendation that has been made. 


The author very finely calls a monstrous birth, an escape of 
nature, as if it were produced while she was busy elsewhere, or 
intent upon some other thing. WARBURTON. 

9 And, O, tvhat better matter breeds for you. 

Than I have nam'd /] I believe we should read lo ! instead 
of 0. M. MASON. 

460 KING JOHN. ACT in. 

Were there in arms, they would be as a call l 
To train ten thousand English to their side ; 
Or, as a little snow, 2 tumbled about, 
Anon becomes a mountain. O noble Dauphin, 
Go with me to the king : J Tis wonderful, 
What may be wrought out of their discontent : 
Now that their souls are topfull of offence, 
For England go ; I will whet on the king. 

LEW. Strong reasons make strong actions: 3 Let 

us go; 
If you say, ay, the king will not say, no. [Exeunt. 

1 they -would be as a call ] The image is taken from the 

manner in which birds are sometimes caught ; one being placed 
for the purpose of drawing others to the net, by his note or call. 


* Or, as a little snow,'] Bacon, in his History of Henry VII. 
speaking of Simnel's march, observes, that " their snow-ball did 
not gather as it went." JOHNSON. 

8 strong actions : J The oldest copy reads strange ac- 
tions : the folio 1632 strong. STEEVENS. 

The editor of the second folio, for strange, substituted strong ; 
and the two words so nearly resemble each other that they might 
certainly have been easily confounded. But, in the present in- 
stance, I see no reason for departing from the reading of the 
original copy, which is perfectly intelligible. MALONE. 

The repetition, in the second folio, is perfectly in our author's 
manner, and is countenanced by the following passage in King 
Henry V : 

" Think we King Harry strong, 

" And, princes, look, you strongly arm to meet him." 


Acrir. KING JOHN. 461 


Northampton. 4 A Room in the Castle. 
Enter HUBERT and Two Attendants. 

Hus. Heat me these irons hot ; and, look thou 


Within the arras : when I strike my foot 
Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth : 
And bind the boy, which you shall find with me, 
Fast to the chair : be heedful : hence, and watch. 

1 ATTEND. I hope, your warrant will bear out 
the deed. 

HUB. Uncleanly scruples ! Fear not you : look 
to't. [Exeunt Attendants. 

Young lad, come forth ; I have to say with you. 

Enter ARTHUR. 

ARTH. Good morrow, Hubert. 

HUB. Good morrow, little prince. 

4 Northampton.] The fact is, as has been already stated, that 
Arthur was first confined at Falaise, and afterwards at Rouen, 
in Normandy, where he was put to death. Our author has de- 
viated, in this particular, from the history, and brought King 
John's nephew to England ; but there is no circumstance, either 
in the original play, or in this of Shakspeare, to point out the 
particular castle in which he is supposed to be confined. The 
castle of Northampton has been mentioned, in some modern edi- 
tions, as the place, merely because, in the first Act, King John 
seems to have been in that town. In the old copy there is no 
where any notice of place. MALONE. 


ARTH. As little prince (having so great a title 
To be more prince,) as may be. You are sad. 

HUB. Indeed, I have been merrier. 

ARTH. Mercy on me ! 

Methinks, no body should be sad but I : 
Yet, I remember, when I was in France, 
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night, 
Only for wantonness. 5 By my Christendom, 6 

* Young gentlemen &c.] It should seem that this affectation 
had found its way into England, as it is ridiculed by Ben Jonson, 
in the character of Master Stephen, in Every Man in his Hu- 
mour, 1601. Again, in Questions concernyng Conie-hood, and 
the Nature of the Conie, &c. 1595 : " That conie-hood which 
proceeds of melancholy, is, when in feastings appointed for mer- 
riment, this kind of conie-man sits like Mopsus or Corydon, 
blockish, never laughing, never speaking, but so bearishlie as if 
he would devour all the companie ; which he doth to this end, 
that the guests might mutter how this his deep melancholy argueth 
great learning in him, and an intendment to most weighty af- 
faires and heavenlie speculations." 

Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Queen of Corinth, Onos 

" Come let's be melancholy." 

Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592 : " Melancholy! is melancholy a 
word for a barber's mouth ? Thou should' st say, heavy, dull, 
and doltish : melancholy is the crest of courtiers, and now every 
base companion, &c. says he is melancholy." 

Again, in The Life and Death of the Lord Cromwell, 1613 : 

" My nobility is wonderful melancholy. 

" Is it not most gentleman-like to be melancholy?" 


Lyly, in his Midas, ridicules the affectation of melancholy : 
" Now every base companion, being in his muble fables, says, 
be is melancholy. Thou should'st say thou art lumpish. If thou 
encroach on our courtly terms, weele trounce thee." FARMER. 

I doubt whether our author had any authority for attributing 
this species of affectation to the French. He generally ascribes 
the manners of England to all other countries. MALONE. 

6 By my Christendom,] This word is used, both here 

and in AlPs -well that ends well, for baptism, or rather the 

sc. r. KING JOHN. 463 

So I were out of prison, and kept sheep, 

I should be as merry as the day is long ; 

And so I would be here, but that I doubt 

My uncle practises more harm to me : 

He is afraid of me, and I of him : 

Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son ? 

No, indeed, is't not ; And I would to heaven, 

I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert. 

HUB. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate 
He will awake my mercy, which lies dead : 
Therefore I will be sudden, and despatch. [Aside. 

ARTH. Are you sick, Hubert ? you look pale to- 

In sooth, I would you were a little sick ; 
That I might sit all night, and watch with you : 
I warrant, I love you more than you do me. 

HUB. His words do take possession of my bosom. 
Read here, young Arthur. [Showing a paper.~\ 
How now, foolish rheum ! [Aside. 
Turning dispiteous torture out of door ! 
I must be brief; lest resolution drop 
Out at mine eyes, in tender womanish tears. 
Can you not read it ? is it not fair writ ? 

ARTH. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect : 
Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes ? 

HUB. Young boy, I must. 

ARTH. And will you ? 

HUB. And I will. 

baptismal name : nor is this use of the word peculiar to our 
author. Lyly, his predecessor, has employed the word in the 
same way : " Concerning the body, as there is no gentlewoman 
go curious to have him in print, so there is no one so careless to 
have him a wretch, only his right shape to show him a man, 
his christendome to prove his faith." Euphues and his England, 
1581. See also Vol. VIII. p. 220, n. 7. MALONE. 


ARTH. Have you the heart ? When your head 

did but ake, 

I knit my handkerchief about your brows, 
(The best I had, a princess wrought it me,) 
And I did never ask it you again : 
And with my hand at midnight held your head ; 
And, like the watchful minutes to the hour, 
Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time ; 
Saying, What lack you? and, Where lies your grief? 
Or, What good love may I perform for you ? 
Many a poor man's son would have lain still, 
And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you ; 
But you at your sick service had a prince. 
Nay, you may think, my love was crafty love, 
And call it, cunning; Do, an if you will : 
If heaven be pleas'd that you must use me ill, 
Why, then you must. Will you put out mine eyes? 
These eyes, that never did, nor never shall, 
So much as frown on you ? 

HUB. I have sworn to do it; 

And with hot irons must I burn them out. 

ARTH. Ah, none, but in this iron age, would do 

The iron of itself, though heat red-hot, 7 

7 though heat red-hot,] The participle heat, though now 

obsolete, was in use in our author's time. See Twelfth- Night, 
Vol. V. p. 240, n. 8. 

So, in the sacred writings : " He commanded that they should 
heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be 
heat" Dan. iii. 19. MALONE. 

Again, in Chapman's version of the 20th Iliad: 

" but when blowes, sent from his fiery hand 

" (Thrice heat by slaughter of his friend) ." 
Again, in the same translator's version of the 19th Book of the 
Odyssey : 

" And therein bath'd, being temperately heat y 
" Her sovereign's feet." STEEVENS. 

M> /, KING JOHN. 465 

Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears, 
And quench his fiery indignation, 8 
Even in the matter of mine innocence : 
Nay, after that, consume away in rust, 
But for containing fire to harm mine eye. 
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer' d iron ? 
An if an angel should have come to me, 
And told me, Hubert should put out mine eyes, 
I would not have believ'd no tongue, but Hubert's. 9 
HUB. Come forth. [Stamps. 

Re-enter Attendants, with Cord, Irons, &c. 

Do as I bid you do. 

ABTH. O, save me, Hubert, save me ! my eyes 

are out, 
Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men. 

9 And quench his fiery indignation,] The old copy this fiery 
indignation. This phrase is from The New Testament, Heb. x. 
27 : " a certain fearful looking-for of judgment, andjiery in- 
dignation,'-'" STEEVENS. 

We should read either " its fiery," or " his fiery indignation." 
The late reading was probably an error of the press. His is 
most in Shakspeare's style. M. MASON. 

By this fiery indignation, however, he might mean, the in- 
dignation thus produced by the iron being made red-hot for such 
an inhuman purpose. MALONE. 

9 I would not have believ'd no tongue, but Hubert's.] The old 
copy, and some of our modern editors, read : 

/ would not have believ'd him ; no tongue but Hubert's. 
The truth is, that the transcriber, not understanding the power 
of the two negatives not and no, (which are usually employed, 
not to affirm, but to deny more forcibly,) intruded the redundant 
pronoun him. As you like it, affords an instance of the phrase- 
ology I have defended : 

" Nor, I am sure, there is no force in eyes 

" That can do hurt." STEEVENS. 

VOL. X. H H 

466 KING JOHN. Acrir. 

HITS. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here. 

ARTH. Alas, what need you be so boist'rous- 

rough ? 

I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still. 
For heaven's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound ! 
Nay, hear me, Hubert! drive these men away, 
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb ; 
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word, 
Nor look upon the iron angerly : 
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you, 
Whatever torment you do put me to. 

HUB. Go, stand within ; let me alone with him. 

1 ATTEND. I am best pleas'd to be from such a 
deed. [Exeunt Attendants. 

ARTH. Alas ! I then have chid away my friend j 
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart : 
Let him come back, that his compassion may 
Give life to yours. 

HUB. Come, boy, prepare yourself. 

ARTH. Is there no remedy ? 

HUB. None, but to lose your eyes. 

ARTH. O heaven ! that there were but a mote 
in yours, 1 

a mote in yours,] Old copy a moth. STEEVEKS. 

Surely we should read a mote. Our author, who has bor- 
rowed so much from the sacred writings, without doubt remem- 
bered, " And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy bro- 
ther's eye]* &c. Matth. vii. 3. So, in Hamlet : 
" A mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye." 

A mot e is a small particle of straw or chaff. It is likewise used 
by old writers for an atom. 

I have since found my conjecture confirmed. Moth was 
merely the old spelling of mote. In the passage quoted from 
Hamlet, the word is spelt moth in the original copy, as it is 
here. So also, in the preface to Lodge's Incarnate Devils of the 
Age, 4to. 1596: " they are in the aire, like atomi in sole, 

8C. /. KING JOHN. 467 

A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wand'ring hair, 
Any annoyance in that precious sense ! 
Then, feeling what small things are boist'rous there, 
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible. 

HUB. Is this your promise? go to, hold your 

ARTH. Hubert,the utterance of a brace of tongues 
Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes : 
Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert ! 
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue, 2 
So I may keep mine eyes ; O, spare mine eyes ; 
Though to no use, but still to look on you ! 
Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold, 
And would not harm me. 

HUB* I can heat it, boy. 

ARTH. No, in good sooth ; the fire is dead with 

grief, 3 

Being create for comfort, to be us'd 
In undeserved extremes : See else yourself; 
There is no malice in this burning coal; 4 

MOTHES in the sonne." See also Florio's Italian Diet. 1598 : 
" Festucco. A moth, a little beam." MALONE, 

* Or, Hubert, if you ivill, cut out my tongue,"] This is accord- 
ing to nature. We imagine no evil so great as that which is 
near us. JOHNSON. 

3 the Jlre is dead with grief, tyc.] The sense is : the fire ^ 

being created not to hurt, but to comfort, is dead with grief for 
finding itself used in acts of cruelty, which, being innocent, I 
have not deserved. JOHNSON. 

4 There is no malice in this burning coal;] Dr. Grey says, 
" that no malice in a burning coal is certainly absurd, and that 
we should read : 

There is no malice burning in this coal." STEEVENS. 

Dr. Grey's remark on this passage is an hypercriticism. The 
coal was still burning, for Hubert says, " He could revive it 
with his breath:" but it had lost, for a time, its power of injur- 
ing, by the abatement of its heat. M. MASON. 

II H 2 


The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out, 
And strew'd repentant ashes on his head. 

HUB. But with my breath I can revive it, boy. 

ARTH. And if you do, you will but make it blush, 
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert: 
Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle in your eyes j 
And, like a dog that is compell'd to fight, 
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on. 5 
All things, that you should use to do me wrong, 
Deny their office : only you do lack 
That mercy, which fierce fire, and iron, extends, 
Creatures of note, for mercy-lacking uses. 

HUB. Well, see to live ; 6 I will not touch thine 


For all the treasure that thine uncle owes : 
Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy, 
With this same very iron to burn them out. 

ARTH. O, now you look like Hubert ! all this 

You were disguised. 

HUB. Peace : no more. Adieu ; 

Your uncle must not know but you are dead : 

- tarre him on.] i. e. stimulate, set him on. Supposed 
to be derived from rapdrlu), excito. The word occurs again in 
Hamlet : " and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them on to 
controversy.'* Again, in Troilus and Cressida : 

" Pride alone must tarre the mastiffs on." STEEVENS. 

* see to live ;] The meaning is not, I believe, keep your 

eye-sight, that you may live (for he might have lived, though 
blind.) The words, agreeably to a common idiom of our lan- 
guage, mean, I conceive, no more thaa live. MALONE. 

See to live means only Continue to enjoy the means of life. 


On further consideration of these words, I believe the author 
meant Well, live, and live with the means of seeing ; that is, 
with your eyes uninjured. MALONE. 

#r. //. KING JOHN. 46* 

I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports. 
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless, and secure, 
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world, 
Will not offend thee. 

ARTH. O heaven ! I thank you, Hubert. 

HUB. Silence; no more: Go closely in with me; T 

Much danger do I undergo for thee. [Exeunt. 


The same. A Room of State in the Palace. 

Enter King JOHN, crowned; PEMBROKE, SALIS- 
BURY, and other Lords. The King takes his 

K. JOHN. Here once again we sit, once again 

crown'd, 8 
And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes. 

PEM. This once again, but that your highness 

Was once superfluous: 9 you were crown'd before, 

i Go closely in luifh me;] i. e. secretly, privately. So, 

in Albumazar, 1610, Act III. sc. i : 

" I'll entertain him here, mean while, steal you 
" Closely into the room," &c. 
Again, in The Atheist's Tragedy, 1612, Act IV. sc. i: 

" Enter Frisco closely." 

Again, in Sir Henry Wotton's Parallel : " That when he was 
free from restraint, he should closely take an out lodging at 
Greenwich." REED. 

once again croian'd,] Old copy against. Corrected 

in the fourth folio. MALONE. 

9 This once again, 

Was once superfluous :] This one time more was one time 
more than enough. JOHNSON. 


And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off; 
The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt ; 
Fresh expectation troubled not the land, 
With any long'd-for change, or better state. 

SAL. Therefore, to be possess'd with double 


To guard a title that was rich before, 1 
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, 
To throw a perfume on the violet, 
To smooth the ice, or add another hue 
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light 
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, 
Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess. 

PEM . But that your royal pleasure must be done, 
This act is as an ancient tale new told ; a 
And, in the last repeating, troublesome, 
Being urged at a time unseasonable. 

It should be remembered, that King John was at present 
crowned for the fourth time. STEEVENS. 

John's second coronation was at Canterbury, in the year 1201. 
He was crowned a third time, at the same place, after the mur- 
der of his nephew, in April, 1202 ; probably with a view of 
confirming his title to the throne, his competitor no longer 
standing in his way. MALONE. 

1 To guard a title that -was rich before,] To guard, is to fringe. 


Rather, to lace. So, in The Merchant of Venice: 

" give him a livery 

" More guarded than his fellows." STEEVENS. 

See Measure for Measure, Vol. VI. p. 300, n. 6. MALONE. 

* as an ancient tale new told;"] Had Shakspeare been a 

diligent examiner of his own compositions, he would not so soon 
have repeated an idea which he had first put into the mouth of 
the Dauphin : 

" Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, 

" Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man." 
Mr. Malone has a remark to the same tendency. STEEVENS. 

#7. //. KING JOHN. 471 

SAL. In this, the antique and well-noted face 
Of plain old form is much disfigured : 
And, like a shifted wind unto a sail, 
It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about ; 
Startles and frights consideration ; 
Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected, 
For putting on so new a fashion'd robe. 

PEM. When workmen strive to do better than 


They do confound their skill in covetousness: 3 
And, oftentimes, excusing of a fault, 
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse ; 
As patches, set upon a little breach, 
Discredit more in hiding of the fault, 4 
Than did the fault before it was so patch'd. 

SAL.To this effect,before you were new-crown'd, 
We breath'd our counsel : but it pleas'd your high- 

To overbear it ; and we are all well pleas'd ; 
Since all and every part of what we would, 5 
Doth make a stand at what your highness will. 

' They do confound their skill in covetousness:] i. e. not by 
their avarice, but in an eager emulation, an intense desire of ex- 
celling, as in Henry V : 

" But if it be a sin to covet honour, 

" I am the most offending soul alive." THEOBALD. 

So, in our author's 103d Sonnet r 

" Were it not sinful then, striving to mend, 
" To mar the subject that before was well ?" 
Again, in Kins Lear: 

" Striving to better, oft we mar what's well. 


* in hiding of the fault,] Fault means blemish. 


* Since all and every part qfiuhat we 'would,'} Since the whole 
nd each particular part of our wishes, &c. M ALONE. 


K. JOHN. Some reasons of this double coronation 
I have possessed you with, and think them strong ; 
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,) 
I shall indue you with: 6 Meantime, but ask 
What you would have reform'd, that is not well ; 
And well shall you perceive, how willingly 
I will both hear and grant you your requests. 

PEM. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of 


To sound the purposes 7 of all their hearts,) 
Both for myself and them, (but, chief of all, 
Your safety, for the which myself and them 
Bend their best studies,) heartily request 
The enfranchisement of Arthur ; whose restraint 
Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent 
To break into this dangerous argument, 
If, what in rest you have, in right you hold, 
Why then your fears, (which, as they say, attend 
The steps of wrong,) should move you to mew up 

* Some reasons of this double coronation 
I have possessed you with, and think them strong ; 
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear ,) 
/ shall indue you iuith:~\ Mr. Theobald reads (the lesser is 

my fear} which, in the following note, Dr. Johnson has attempted 

to explain. STEEVENS. 

I have told you some reasons, in my opinion strong, and shall 
tell more, yet stronger; for the stronger my reasons are, the 
less is my fear of your disapprobation. This seems to be the 
meaning. JOHNSON. 

And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear ,) 
/ shall indue you with .] The first folio reads: 

(then lesser is my fear). 
The true reading is obvious enough : 

(when lesser is my fear). TYRWHITT. 

I have done this emendation the justice to place it in the text. 


7 To sound the purposes ] To declare, to publish the desires 
of all those. JOHNSON. 

so. IT. KING JOHN. 473 

Your tender kinsman, 8 and to choke his days 
With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth 
The rich advantage of good exercise? 9 
That the time's enemies may not have this 
To grace occasions, let it be our suit, 
That you have bid us ask his liberty ; 
Which for our goods we do no further ask, 
Than whereupon our weal, on you depending, 
Counts it your weal, he have his liberty. 

* If, what in rest you have, in right you hold, 
Why then your fears, (which, as they say, attend 
The steps of wrong, ) should move you to mew up 
Your tender kinsman, &c.] Perhaps we should read : 

If, what in wrest you have, in right you hold,~ 
i. e. if what you possess by an act of seizure or violence, &c. 
So again, in this play : 

" The imminent decay of wrested pomp." 
Wrest is a substantive used by Spenser, and by our author, in 
Troilus and Cressida. STBEVENS. 

The emendation proposed by Mr. Steevens is its own voucher. 
If then and should change places, and a mark of interrogation 
be placed after exercise, the full sense of the passage will be 
restored. HENLEY. 

Mr. Steevens's reading of wrest is better than his explanation. 
If adopted, the meaning must be If what you possess, or have 
in your hand, or grasp. RITSON. 

It is evident that the words should and then have changed 
their places. M. MASON. 

The construction is If you have a good title to what you now 
quietly possess, why then should your fears move you, &c. 


Perhaps this question is elliptically expressed, and means 
Why then is it that your fears should move you, &c. 


9 good exercise?'] In the middle ages, the whole edu- 
cation of princes and noble youths consisted in martial exercises, 
&c. These could not be easily had in a prison, where mental 
improvements might have been afforded as well as any where 
else; but this sort of education never entered into the thought* 
of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility. PERCY. 

474. KING JOHN. ACT jr. 

K. JOHN. Let it be so ; I do commit his youth 

Enter HUBERT. 

To your direction. Hubert, what news with you? 

PEM. This is the man should do the bloody 


He show'd his warrant to a friend of mine : 
The image of a wicked heinous fault 
Lives in his eye ; that close aspect of his 
Does show the mood of a much-troubled breast j 
And I do fearfully believe, 'tis done, 
What we sofear'dhe had a charge to do. 

SAL. The colour of the king doth come and go, 
Between his purpose and his conscience, 1 

1 Between his purpose and his conscience,] Between his 
consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair pro- 
fessions. JOHNSON. 

The purpose of the King, which Salisbury alludes to, is that 
of putting Arthur to death, which he considers as not yet ac- 
complished, and therefore supposes that there might still be a 
conflict, in the King's mind 

Between his purpose and his conscience. 
So, when Salisbury sees the dead body of Arthur, he says 
" It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand; 
" The practice and the purpose of the king.'* 


Rather, between the criminal act that he planned and com- 
manded to be executed, and the reproaches of his conscience 
consequent on the execution of it. So, in Coriolanus : 

" It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot." 
We have nearly the same expressions afterwards: 

Nay, in the body of this fleshy land, [in John's own 


" Hostility, and civil tumult, reigns 
" Between my conscience and my cousin's death" 


sc. ir. KING JOHN. 475 

Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set : a 
His passion is so ripe, it needs must break. 

PEM. And, when it breaks, 3 I fear, will issue 

The foul corruption of a sweet child's death. 

K. JOHN. We cannot hold mortality's strong 

hand : 

Good lords, although my will to give is living, 
The suit which you demand is gone and dead : 
He tells us, Arthur is deceased to-night. 

SAL. Indeed, we fear'd, his sickness was past 

PEM. Indeed, we heard how near his death he 


Before the child himself felt he was sick: 
This must be answer'd, either here, or hence. 

K. JOHN. Why do you bend such solemn brows 

on me ? 

Think you, I bear the shears of destiny ? 
Have I commandment on the pulse or life ? 

SAL. It is apparent foul-play ; and 'tis shame, 
That greatness should so grossly offer it : 
So thrive it in your game ! and so farewell. 

PEM. Stay yet, lord Salisbury ; I'll go with thee, 
And find the inheritance of this poor child, 
His little kingdom of a forced grave. 

* Like heralds 'ttvixt two dreadful battles set :] But heralds 
are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of 
battle ; though they, and trumpets, are often sent over from 
party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have 
therefore ventured to read sent. THEOBALD. 

Set is notfaed, but only placed; heralds must be set between 
battles, in order to be sent between them. JOHNSON. 

3 And t 'when it breaks,] This is but an indelicate metaphor, 
taken from an imposthumated tumour. JOHNSON. 


That blood, which ow'd the breath of all this isle, 
Three foot of it doth hold j Bad world the while ! 
This must not be thus borne : this will break out 
To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt. 

[Exeunt Lords. 

K. JOHN. They burn in indignation ; I repent ; 
There is no sure foundation set on blood ; 
No certain life achieved by others* death. 

Enter a Messenger. 

A fearful eye thou hast ; Where is that blood, 

That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks ? 

So foul a sky clears not without a storm : 

Pour down thy weather : How goes all in France? 

MESS. From France to England. 4 Never such 

a power 

For any foreign preparation, 
Was levied in the body of a land ! 
The copy of your speed is learn'd by them ; 
For, when you should be told they do prepare, 
The tidings come, that they are all arriv'd. 

K. JOHN. O, where hath our intelligence been 

drunk? : .- 
Where hath it slept? 5 Where is my mother's 

care ? 

That such an army could be drawn in France, 
And she not hear of it ? 

* From France to England.] The king asks hoiu all goes in 
France, the Messenger catches the word goes, and answers, that 
whatever is in France goes now into England. JOHNSON. 

* O, -where hath our intelligence been drunk ? 
Where hath it slept?] So, in Macbeth: 

" Was the hope drunk 

" Wherein you drest yourself? hath it slept since?" 


sc. II. KING JOHN. 477 

MESS. My liege, her ear 

Is stopp'd with dust; the first of April, died 
Your noble mother : And, as I hear, my lord, 
The lady Constance in a frenzy died 
Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue 
I idly heard ; if true, or false, I know not. 

K. JOHN. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion! 
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd 
My discontented peers! What! mother dead? 
How wildly then walks my estate in France! 6 
Under whose conduct came those powers of France, 
That thou for truth giv'st out, are landed here ? 

MESS. Under the Dauphin. 

Enter the Bastard and PETER O/TOMFRET. 

K. JOHN. Thou hast made me giddy 

With these ill tidings. Now, what says the world 
To your proceedings ? do not seek to stuff 
My head with more ill news, for it is full. 

BAST. But, if you be afeard to hear the worst, 
Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head. 

K.JOHN. Bear with me, cousin j for I was amaz'd 7 

' How wildly then walks my estate in France!] So, in one 
of the Paston Letters, Vol. III. p. 99: " The country of Nor- 
folk and Suffolk stand right luUcHy." STEEVENS. 

i. e. How ill my affairs go in France ! The verb, to -walk, is 
used with great license by old writers. It often means, to go ; 
to move. So, in the Continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 154?3: 
" Evil words ivalke far." Again, in Fenner's Comptcr's Com- 
morfivealth, 1618 : " The keeper, admiring he could not hear 
his prisoner's tongue ivalk all this while," &c. MALONE. 

7 / ivas amaz'd ] *i. e. stunned, confounded. So, in 

Cymbeline: " I am amaz'd with matter." Again, in The 
Merry Wives of Windsor, Vol. V. p. 219, n. 3: 

" You do amaze her : hear the truth of it." STEEVENS. 

478 KING JOHN. ACT ir. 

Under the tide : but now I breathe again 
Aloft the flood ; and can give audience 
To any tongue, speak it of what it will. 

BAST. How I have sped among the clergymen, 
The sums I have collected shall express. 
But, as I travelled hither through the land, 
I find the people strangely fantasied ; 
Possessed with rumours, full of idle dreams ; 
Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear : 
And here's a prophet, 8 that I brought with me 
From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found 
With many hundreds treading on his heels ; 
To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhymes, 
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, 
Your highness should deliver up your crown. 

K. JOHN. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst 
thou so ? 

PETER. Foreknowing that the truth will fall 
out so. 

K. JOHN. Hubert, away with him j imprison him ; 
And on that day at noon, whereon, he says, 
I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd : 
Deliver him to safety, 9 and return, 

And here's a prophet,'] This man was a hermit in great 
repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is 
said to have fallen out as he had prophesied, the poor fellow 
was inhumanly dragged at horses' tails through the streets of 
Warham, and, together with his son, who appears to have been 
even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a 
gibbet. See Holinshed's Chronicle, under the year 1213. 


See A. of Wyntown's Cronykil, B. VII. ch. viii. v. 801, &c. 


Deliver him to safety,'] That is, Give him into safe custody. 


sc. IT. KING JOHN. 479 

For I must use thee. O my gentle cousin, 

\_Exit HUBERT, with PETER. 
Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd ? 

BAST. The French, my lord j men's mouths are 

full of it: 

Besides, I met lord Bigot, and lord Salisbury, 
(With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,) 
And others more, going to seek the grave 
Of Arthur, who, they say, 1 is kill'd to-night 
On your suggestion. 

K. JOHN. Gentle kinsman, go, 

And thrust thyself into their companies: 
I have a way to win their loves again ; . 
Bring them before me. 

BAST. I will seek them out. 

K. JOHN. Nay, but make haste ; the better foot 


O, let me have no subject enemies, 
When adverse foreigners affright my towns 
With dreadful pomp of stout invasion ! 
Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels ; 
And fly, like thought, from them to me again. 
BAST. The spirit of the time shall teach me 
speed. [Exit. 

K. JOHN. Spoke like a spriteful noble gentle- 

Go after him ; for he, perhaps, shall need 
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers ; 
And be thou he. 

MESS. With all my heart, my liege. 


K. JOHN. My mother dead ! 

1 who, they say,] Old copy whom. Corrected by 

Mr. Pope. MA LONE. 

480 KING JOHN. Act ir. 

Re-enter HUBERT. 

HUB. My lord, they say, five moons were seen 

to-night : 2 

Four fixed ; and the fifth did whirl about 
The other four, in wond'rous motion. 

K. JOHN. Five moons ? 

HUE. Old men, and beldams, 

in the streets 

Do prophecy upon it dangerously : 
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths : 
And when they talk of him, they shake their heads, 
And whisper one another in the ear ; 
And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist ; 
Whilst he, that hears, makes fearful action, 
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes. 
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus, 
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, 
With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news ; 
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand, 
Standing on slippers, (which his nimble haste 
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,) 3 

* -Jive moons tvere seen tonight : &c.] This incident is 

mentioned by few of our historians. I have met with it no 
where but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, 
with a small alteration. These kind of appearances were more 
common about that time than either before or since. GREY. 

This incident is likewise mentioned in the old King John. 


slippers, (which his nimble haste 

Had falsely thrust upon contrary foet^)~\ I know not how 
the commentators understand this important passage, which, in 
Dr. Warburton's edition, is marked as eminently beautiful, and, 
on the whole, not without justice. But Shakspeare seems to 
have confounded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is 
frighted or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 481 

Told of a many thousand warlike French, 
That were embatteled and rank'd in Kent : 

either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems to 
be disturbed by the disorder which he describes. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Johnson forgets that ancient slippers might possibly be 
very different from modern ones. Scott, in his Discoverie of 
Witchcraft, tells us: " He that receiveth a mischance, will 
consider, whether he put not on his shirt wrong side outwards, 
or his left shoe on his right foot ." One of the jests of Scogan, 
by Andrew Borde, is how he defrauded two shoemakers, one of 
a right foot boot, and the other of a. left foot one. And Davies, 
in one of his Epigrams, compares a man to " a soft-knit hose, 
that serves each leg." FARMER. 

In The Fleire, 1615, is the following passage : " This fel- 
low is like your upright shoe, he will serve either foot." From 
this we may infer, that some shoes could only be worn on the 
foot for which they were made. And Barrett, in his Alvearit, 
1580, as an instance of the word wrong, says: " to put on 
his shooes "wrong." Again, in A merye Jest of a Man that was 
called Hoivleglas, bl. 1. no date : " Howleglas had cut all the 
lether for the lefte foote. Then when his master sawe all his 
lether cut for the lefte foote, then asked he Howleglas if there 
belonged not to the lefte foote a right foote. Then sayd Howle- 
glas to his maister, If that he had tolde that to me before, I 
would have cut them ; but an it please you I shall cut as mani 
right shoone unto them." Again, in Frobisher's Second Voyage 
for the Discoverie of Cataia, 4-to. bl. 1. 1578: " They also be- 
held (to their great maruaille) a dublet of canuas made after 
the Englishe fashion, a shirt, a girdle, three shoes for con- 
trarie feet" &c. p. 21. See also the Gentleman's Magazine, for 
April, 1797, p. 280, and the plate annexed, figure 3. 


See Martin's Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, 
1703, p. 207 : " The generality now only wear shoes having 
one thin sole only, and shaped after the right and left foot, so 
that what is for one foot will not serve the other." The mean- 
ing seems to be, that the extremities of the shoes were not 
round or square, but were cut in an oblique angle, or aslant 
from the great toe to the little one. See likewise The Philoso- 
phical Transactions abridged, Vol. III. p. 4-32, and Vol. VII. 
p. 23, where are exhibited shoes and sandals shaped to the feet, 
spreading more to the outside than the inside. TOLLET. 



Another lean unwash'd artificer 
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death. 
K. JOHN. Why seek'st thou to possess me with 

these fears ? 

Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death ? 
Thy hand hath murder'd him : I had mighty cause 4 
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him. 

Hus. Had none, my lord ! 5 why, did you not 
provoke me ? 

K. JbHN. It is the curse of kings, 6 to be attended 
By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant 
To break within the bloody house of life : 

And, on the winking of authority, 


So, in Holland's translation of Suetonius, 1606 : " if in a 
morning his shoes were put one [r. on] wrong, and namely the 
left for the right, he held it unlucky." Our author himself 
also furnishes an authority to the same point. Speed, in The 
Two Gentlemen of Verona, speaks of a left shoe. It should be 
remembered that tailors generally work barefooted : a circum- 
stance which Shakspeare probably had in his thoughts when he 
wrote this passage. I believe the word contrary, in his time, 
was frequently accented on the second syllable, and that it 
was intended to be so accented here. So Spenser, in his Fairy 
Queen : 

" That with the wind contrary courses sew." MALONE. 

4 I had mighty cause ] The old copy, more redundantly 

/ had a mighty cause. STEEVENS. 

J Had none, my lordf] Old copy No had. Corrected by 
Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

8 It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davi- 
son's case, in the affair of Mary Queen of Scots, and so must 
have been inserted long after the first representation. 


It is extremely probable that our author meant to pay his 
court to Elizabeth by this covert apology for her conduct to 
Mary. The Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587, some years, 
I believe, before he had produced any play on die stage. 


ac. if. KING JOHN. 483 

To understand a law ; to know the meaning 

Of dangerous majesty, when, perchance, it frowns 

More upon humour than advis'd respect. 7 

HUB. Here is your hand and seal for what I did. 

K. JOHN. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven 

and earth 

Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal 
Witness against us to damnation ! 
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds, 
Makes deeds ill done ! Hadest not thou been by, 
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd, 
Quoted, 8 and sign'd, to do a deed of shame, 
This murder had not come into my mind : 
But, taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect, 
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy, 
Apt, liable, to be employed in danger, 
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death ; 
And thou, to be endeared to a king, 
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince. 

HUB. My lord, 

K. JOHN. Hadst thou but shook thy head, 9 or 
made a pause, 

7 advised respect.] i.e. deliberate consideration, reflec- 
tion. So, in Hamlet: 

" There's the respect 

" That makes calamity of so long life." STEEVENS. 

* Quoted,] i. e. observed, distinguished. So, in Hamlet : 
" I am sorry, that with better heed and judgment 
" I had not quoted him." STEEVENS. 

See Vol. VII. p. 107, n. 8. MALONE. ' 

9 Hadst thou but shook thy head, &c.] There are many 
touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A 
man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, 
and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches, 
vented against Hubert, are not the words of art or policy, but 

II 2 


When I spake darkly what I purposed ; 
Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face, 1 
As bid 2 me tell my tale in express words ; 
Deep shamehadstruck me dumb,mademe breakoff, 
And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me : 
But thou didst understand me by my signs, 
And didst in signs again parley with sin ; 
Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent, 
And, consequently, thy rude hand to act 

the eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of a crime, 
.and desirous of discharging its misery on another. 

This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis re- 
cessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, par- 
ticularly that line in which he says, that to have bid him tell his 
tale in express words, would have struck him dumb : nothing i> 
more certain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon 
themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle 
terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambi- 
guities and subterfuges. JOHNSON. 

1 Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face ; 

As bid me tell my tale in express words ;] That is, such an 
eye of doubt as bid me tell my tale in express words. 


* As bid ] Thus the old copy. Mr. Malone reads And. 


Mr. Pope reads Or bid me &c. but As is very unlikely to 
have been printed for Or. 

As we have here As printed instead of And, so, vice versa, in 
King Henry V. 4to. 1600, we find And misprinted for As: 
" And in this glorious and well foughten field 
" We kept together in our chivalry." MALONE. 

As, in ancient language, has sometimes the power of as for 
instance. So, in Hamlet: 

" As, stars with trains of fire," &c. 

In the present instance it seems to mean, as if. " Had you, 
(says the King, speaking elliptically,) turned an eye of doubt 
on my face, a* if to bid me tell my tale in express words," &c. 
So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen : 

" That with the noise it shook as it would fall ;" 
i. e. as if. I have not therefore disturbed the old reading. 


sc. //. KING JOHN. 485 

The deed, which both our tongues held vile to 


Out of my sight, and never see me more ! 
My nobles leave me ; and my state is brav'd, 
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers : 
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, 
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath, 
Hostility and civil tumult reigns 
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death. 

HUB. Arm you against your other enemies, 
I'll make a peace between your soul and you. 
Young Arthur is alive : This hand of mine 
Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand, 
Not painted with the crimson spots of blood. 
Within this bosom never enter'd yet 
The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought, 3 
And you have slander'd nature in my fonnj 
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly, 
Is yet the cover of a fairer mind 
Than to be butcher of an innocent child. 

K. JOHN. Doth Arthur live ? O, haste thee to the 


Throw this report on their incensed rage, 
And make them tame to their obedience ! 
Forgive the comment that my passion made 
Upon thy feature ; for my rage was blind, 
Arid foul imaginary eyes of blood 
Presented thee more hideous than thou art. 
O, answer not ; but to my closet bring 

* The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,] Nothing can 
be falser than what Hubert here says in his own vindication ; 
for we find, from a preceding scene, the motion of a murd'rous 
thought had entered into him, and that very deeply : and it was 
with difficulty that the tears, the intreaties, and the innocence 
of Arthur had diverted and suppressed it. WARBURTON. 

486 KING JOHN. ACT iv. 

The angry lords, with all expedient haste : 

I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast. 4 [Exeunt. 


The same. Before the Castle. 

Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls. 

ARTH. The wall is high; and yet will I leap 

down : 5 

Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not ! 
There's few, or none, do know me ; if they did, 
This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite. 
I am afraid ; and yet I'll venture it. 
If I get down, and do not break my limbs, 

4 The old play is divided into two parts, the first of which 
concludes with the King's despatch of Hubert on this message ; 
the second begins with " Enter Arthur," &c. as in the follow- 
ing scene. STEEVENS. 

* The wall is high ; and yet "will I leap dotvn .-] Our author has 
here followed the old play. In what manner Arthur was de- 
prived of his life is not ascertained. Matthew Paris, relating 
the event, uses the word evannit ; and, indeed, as King Philip 
afterwards publickly accused King John of putting his nephew 
to death, without either mentioning the manner of it, or his ac- 
complices, we may conclude that it was conducted with impene- 
trable secrecy. The French historians, however, say, that John 
coming in a boat, during the night-time, to the castle of Rouen, 
where the young prince was confined, ordered him to be brought 
forth, and having stabbed him, while supplicating for mercy, the 
King fastened a stone to the dead body, and threw it into the 
Seine, in order to give some colour to a report, which he after- 
wards caused to be spread, that the prince attempting to escape 
out of a window of the tower of the castle, fell into the river, 
and was drowned. MALONE. 

ac. in. KING JOHN. 487 

I'll find a thousand shifts to get away : 
As good to die, and go, as die, and stay. 

{Leaps down. 

) me ! my uncle's spirit is in these stones : 
Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones ! 



SAL. Lords, I will meet him at saint Edmund's- 


It is our safety, and we must embrace 
This gentle o&er o'f the perilous time. 

PEM. Who brought that letter from the cardi- 

SAL. The count Melun, a noble lord of France ; 
Whose private with me, 6 of the Dauphin's love, 
Is much more general than these lines import. 

BIG. To-morrow morning let us meet him then. 

SAL. Or, rather then set forward : for 'twill be 
Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet. 7 

6 Whose private &c.] i. e. whose private account of the 
Dauphin's affection to our cause is much more ample than the 
letters. POPE. 

7 or e'er tve meet.] This phrase, so frequent in our old 

writers, is not well understood. Or is here the same as ere, i. e. 
before, and should be written (as it is still pronounced in Shrop- 
shire) ore. There the common people use it often. Thus, they 
say, Ore to-morrow, for ere or before to-morroio. The addition 
of ever, or e'er, is merely augmentative. . 

That or has the full sense of before, and that eVr, when 
joined with it, is merely augmentative, is proved from innu- 
merable passages in our ancient writers, wherein or occurs 
simply without e'er, and must bear that signification. Thus, in 
'the old tragedy of Master Arden of Feversham, 1599, quarto, 
(attributed by some, though falsely, to Shakspeare,) the wife 

" He shall be murdered or the guests come in." 

Sig. H. III. b. PERCV. 

488 KING JOHN. ACT iv. 

Enter the Bastard. 

BAST. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd 8 

lords ! 
The king, by me, requests your presence straight. 

SAL. The king hath dispossessed himself of us ; 
We will not line his thin bestained cloak 
With our pure honours, nor attend the foot 
That leaves the print of blood where-e'er it walks : 
Return, and tell him so ; we know the worst. 

BAST. Whatever you think, good words, I think, 
were best. 

SAL. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason 
now. 9 

BAST. But there is little reason in your grief; 
Therefore, 'twere reason, you had manners now. 

So, in All for Money, an old Morality, 1574: 

" I could sit in the cold a good while I swear, 
" Or I would be weary such suitors to hear.'* 

Again, in Every Man, another Morality, no date : 
" As, or we departe, thou shalt know." 

Again, in the interlude of The Disobedient Child, bl. 1. no 


" To send for victuals or I came away." 
That or should be written ore I am by no means convinced. 

The vulgar pronunciation of a particular county ought not to be 

received as a general guide. Ere is nearer the Saxon primitive 


f distemper'd ] i.e. ruffled, out of humour. So, in 

Hamlet .- 

'* in his retirement marvellous distemper'd" 


reason now.] To reason, in Shakspeare, is not so ofteu 

to argue, as to talk. JOHNSON. 

So, in Cariolanust 

" reason with the fellow 

" Before you punish him." STEEVBNS. 

so. in. KING JOHN. 489 

PEM. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege. 
BAST. 5 Tis true; to hurt his master, no man else. 1 

SAL. This is the prison: What is he lies here? 

[Seeing ARTHUR. 

PEM. O death, made proud with pure and 

princely beauty ! 
The earth had not a hole to hide this deed. 

SAL. Murder, as hating what himself hath done, 
Doth lay it open, to urge on revenge. 

BIG. Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, 
Found it too precious-princely for a grave. 

SAL. Sir Richard, what think you ? Have you 

beheld, 2 

Or have you read, or heard? or could you think ? 3 
Or do you almost think, although you see, 
That you do see ? could thought, without this ob- 

Form such another ? This is the very top, 
The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, 
Of murder's arms : this is the bloodiest shame, 
The wildest savag'ry, the vilest stroke, 
That ever wall-ey'd wrath, 4 or staring rage, 
Presented to the tears of soft remorse. 

no man else.] Old copy no man's. Corrected bj 

the editor of the second folio. MALONE. 

* Have you beheld,'] Old copy You have &c. Corrected 
by the editor of the third folio. MALONE. 

3 Or have you read, or heard? &c.] Similar interrogatories 
have been already urged by the Dauphin, Act III. sc. iv : 

" Who hath read, or heard, 

" Of any kindred action like to this?'* STEEVENS. 

wall-ey'd wrath,] So, in Titus Androniftts, Lucius, 

addressing himself to Aaron the Moor : 

" Say, toatt-ey'd slave," STEEVENS. 


PEMB. All murders past do stand excus'd in 


And this, so sole, and so unmatchable, 
Shall give a holiness, a purity, 
To the yet-unbegotten sin of time ; 5 
And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, 
Exampled by this heinous spectacle. 

BAST. It is a damned and a bloody work ; 
The graceless action of a heavy hand, 
If that it be the work of any hand. 

SAL. If that it be the work of any hand ? 
We had a kind of light, what would ensue : 
It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand ; 
The practice, and the purpose, pf the king : 
From whose obedience I forbid my soul, 
Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life, 
And breathing to his breathless excellence 
The incense of a vow, a holy vow ; 
'Never to taste the pleasures of the world, 6 
Never to be infected with delight, 

* sin of time ;] The old copy of times. I follow 

Mr. Pope, whese reading is justified by a line in the celebrated 
soliloquy of Hamlet : 

" For who would bear the whips and scorns of time?" 
Again, by another in this play of King John, p. 503 : 

" I am not glad that such a sore of time ." STEBVENS. 

of times;] That is, of all future times. So, in King 

Henry V: 

" By custom and the ordinance of times." 
Again, in The Rape ofLucrece: 

" For now against himself he sounds his doom, 
" That through the length of times he stands disgrac'd." 
Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors more elegantly read 
sins of time ; but the peculiarities of Shakspeare's diction ought, 
in my apprehension, to be faithfully preserved. MA LONE. 

* a holy vow ; 

Never to taste the pleasures of the world,"] This is a copy 
of the vows made in the ages of superstition and chivalry. 


sc. in. KING JOHN. 491 

Nor conversant with ease and idleness, 
Till I have set a glory to this hand, 
By giving it the worship of revenge. 7 

7 Till I have set a glory to this hand, 

JBu giving it the worship of revenge.'] The worship is the 
dignity, the honour. We still say worshipful of magistrates. 


I think it should be a glory to this head; pointing to the 
dead prince, and using the word worship in its common accep- 
tation. A glory is a frequent term : 

" Round a quaker's beaver cast a glory," 

says Mr. Pope: the solemn confirmation of the other lords 
seems to require this sense. The late Mr. Gray was much 
pleased with this correction. FARMER. 

The old reading seems right to me, and means, till I have 
famed and renowned my own hand by giving it the honour of 
revenge for so foul a deed. Glory means splendor and magni- 
ficence in St. Matthew, vi. 29. So, in Markham's Husbandry, 
1631, p. 353: " But if it be where the tide is scant, and doth 
no more but bring the river to a glory," i. e. fills the banks 
without overflowing. So, in Act II. sc. ii. of this play: 
*' O, two such silver currents, when they join, 
" Do glorify the banks that bound them in." 
A thought almost similar to the present, occurs in Ben Jonson's 
Catiline, who, Act IV. sc. iv. says to Cethegus : " When we 
meet again we'll sacrifice to liberty. Get. And revenge. That 
we may praise our hands once!" i. e. O! that we may set a 
glory, or procure honour and praise, to our hands, which are 
the instruments of action. TOLLET. 

I believe, at repeating these lines, Salisbury should take hold 
of the hand of Arthur, to which he promises to pay the worship 
of revenge. M. MASON. 

I think the old reading the true one. In the next Act we 
have the following lines: 

" 1 will not return, 

" Till my attempt so much be glorified 
" As to my ample hope was promised." 
The following passage in Troilus and Cressida is decisive in 
support of the old reading : 

" Jove, let tineas live, 

" If to my sword his fate be not the glory, 

" A thousand c6mplete courses of the sun." MALOXE. 

492 KING JOHN. ACT iv. 

PEM. BIG. Our souls religiously confirm thy 

Enter HUBERT. 

Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking 

Arthur doth live ; the king hath sent for you. 

SAL. O, he is bold, and blushes not at death: 
Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone ! 

HUB. I am no villain. 

SAL. Must I rob the law ? 

\JDrawing his sword. 

BAST. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again. 8 
SAL. Not till I sheath it in a murderer's skin. 

HUB. Stand back, lord Salisbury, stand back, I 


By heaven, I think, my sword's as sharp as yours : 
I would not have you, lord, forget yourself, 
Nor tempt the danger of my true defence ; ' 
Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget 
Your worth, your greatness, and nobility. 

BIG. Out, dunghill ! dar'st thou brave a noble- 
man ? 

HUB. Not for my life : but yet I dare defend 
My innocent life against an emperor. 

SAL. Thou art a murderer. 

* Your sivord is bright, sir ; put it up again.] i. e. lest it lose 
its brightness. So, in Othello : 

" Keep up your bright swords; for the dew will rust 
them." MALONE. 

true defence;] Honest defence; defence in a good 

cause. JOHNSON. 

se. m. KING JOHN. 493 

HUB. Do not prove me so ; 

Yet, I am none: 1 Whose tongue soe'er speaks 

Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies. 

PEMB. Cut him to pieces. 

BAST. Keep the peace, I say. 

SAL. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulcon- 

BAST. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury: 
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot, 
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame, 
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime; 
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron, 2 
That you shall think the devil is come from hell. 3 

BIG. What wilt thou do, renowned Faulcon- 

bridge ? 
Second a villain, and a murderer ? 

HUB. Lord Bigot, I am none. 

BIG. Who kill'd this prince ! 

HUB. 'Tis not an hour since I left him well : 

1 Do not prove me so ; 

Yet, / am none :] Do not make me a murderer, by com- 
pelling me to kill you ; I am hitherto not a murderer. 


* your toasting-iron,] The same thought is found in 

King Henri/ V : " I dare not fight, but I will wink and hold 
out mine iron. It is a simple one, but what though? it will 
toast cheese" 

Again, in Fletcher's Woman** Prize t or the Tamer tamed: 

" dart ladles, toasting irons, 

And tongs, like thunder-bolts." STEEVENS. 

3 That you shall think the devil is come from hell.] So, in 
the ancient MS. romance of The Soivdon of Babyluyne : 
" And saide thai wer no men 
" But develis abroken otite ofhelle?' STEEVENS. 

494 KING JOHN. ACT iv. 

I honoured him, I lov'd him ; and will weep 
My date of life out, for his sweet life's loss. 

SAL. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes, 
For villainy is not without such rheum ; 
And he, long traded in it, makes it seem 
Like rivers of remorse 4 and innocency. 
Away, with me, all you whose souls abhor 
The uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house ; 
For I am stifled with this smell of sin. 

BIG. Away, toward Bury, to the Dauphin there ! 

PEM. There, tell the king, he may inquire us 
out. [Exeunt Lords. 

BAST. Here's a good world ! Knew you of this 

fair work ? 

Beyond the infinite and boundless reach 
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death, 
Art thou damn'd, Hubert. 

HUB. Do but hear me, sir. 

BAST. Ha ! I'll tell thee what ; 
Thou art damn'd as black nay, nothing is so 

black ; 

Thou art more deep damn'd than prince Lucifer: 5 
There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell 
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child. 6 

4 Like rivers of remorse ] Remorse here, as almost every 
where in these plays, and the contemporary books, signifies 
pity. MALONE. 

* Thou art more deep damn'd than prince Lucifer :] So, in 
the old play : 

" Hell, Hubert, trust me, all the plagues of hell 
" Hangs on performance of this damned deed ; 
" This seal, the warrant of the body's bliss, 
' Ensureth Satan chieftain of thy soul." MAJLONE. 

8 There is not yet &c.] I remember once to have met with 
a book, printed in the time of Henry VIII. (which Shakspeare 
possibly might have seen,) where we are told that the deformity 

sc. m. KING JOHN. 495 

HUB. Upon my soul, 

BAST. If thou didst but consent 

To this most cruel act, do but despair, 
And, if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread 
That ever spider twisted from her womb 
Will serve to strangle thee ; a rush will be 
A beam to hang thee on ; or would'st thou drown 

thyself, 7 

Put but a little water in a spoon, 
And it shall be as all the ocean, 

Enough to stifle such a villain up. 

I do suspect thee very grievously. 

HUB. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought 
Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath 
Which was embounded in this beauteous clay, 
Let hell want pains enough to torture me ! 
I left him well. 

BAST. Go, bear him in thine arms. 

I am amaz'd, 8 methinks ; and lose my way 
Among the thorns and dangers of this world. 
How easy dost thou take all England up ! 
From forth this morsel of dead royalty, 
The life, the right, and truth of all this realm 
Is fled to heaven; and England now is left 

of the condemned in the other world, is exactly proportioned to 
the degrees of their guilt. The author of it observes how dif- 
ficult it would be, on this account, to distinguish between Bel- 
zebub and Judas Iscariot. STEEVENS. 

7 drown thyself.] Perhaps thyself is an interpolation. 

It certainly spoils the measure ; and drown is elsewhere used by 
our author as a verb neuter. Thus, in King Richard III : 

" Good lord, me thought, what pain it was to rfrow/i." 


8 / am amaz'd,] i. e. confounded. So, King John, p. 477, 

1 was amaz'd 

" Under the tide." STEEVENS. 


To tug and scamble, 9 and to part by the teeth 
The unowed interest l of proud-swelling state. 
Now, for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty, 
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest, 
And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace : 
Now powers from home, and discontents at home, 
Meet in one line ; and vast confusion waits 
(As doth a raven on a sick-fallen beast,) 
The imminent decay of wrested pomp. 2 
Now happy he, whose cloak and cincture 3 can 
Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child, 
And follow me with speed; I'll to the king : 
A thousand businesses are brief in hand, 
And heaven itself doth frown upon the land. 


* To tug and scamble,] So, in K. Henry V. sc. i : 

" But that the scambling and unquiet time." 
Scamble and scramble have the same meaning. See note on the 
passage quoted. STEEVENS. 

1 The uuowed interest ] i. e. the interest which has no 
proper owner to claim it. STEEVENS. 

That is, the interest which is not at this moment legally 
possessed by any one, however rightfully entitled to it. On the 
death of Arthur, the right to the English crown devolved to his 
sister, Eleanor. MA LONE. 

* The imminent decay of wrested pomp.] Wrested pomp is 
greatness obtained by violence. JOHNSON. 

Rather, greatness wrested from its possessor. MALONE. 

* and cincture ] The old copy reads center, pro- 
bably for ceinture, Fr. STEEVENS. 

The emendation was made by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 



The same. A Room in the Palace. 

Enter King JOHN, PANDULPH with the Crown, and 

K. JOHN. Thus have I yielded up into your hand 
The circle of my glory. 

PAND. Take again 

[Giving JOHN the Crown. 
From this my hand, as holding of the pope, 
Your sovereign greatness and authority. 

K. JOHN. Now keep your holy word : go meet 

the French ; 

And from his holiness use all your power 
To stop their marches, 'fore we are inflam'd. 4 
Our discontented counties 5 do revolt ; 
Our people quarrel with obedience ; 
Swearing allegiance, and the love of soul, 
To stranger blood, to foreign royalty. 
This inundation of mistemper'd humour 
Rests by you only to be qualified. 

use all your power 

To stop their marches, 'fore we are inflam'd.] This cannot 
be right, for the nation was already as much inflamed as it could 
be, and so the King himself declares. We should read t /or, in- 
stead of yore, and then the passage will run thus : 

use all your power 

To stop their marches, for we are in/lam'd; 

Our discontented counties do revolt, &c. M. MASON. 

4 counties ] Perhaps counties, in the present instance, 

do not mean the divisions of a kingdom, but fords, nobility, as 
in Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, &c. STEEVEXS. 

VOL. X. K K 

498 KING JOHN. ACT v. 

Then pause not ; for the present time's so sick, 
That present medicine must be minister* d, 
Or overthrow incurable ensues. 

PAND. It was my breath that blew this tempest up, 
Upon your stubborn usage of the pope : 
But, since you are a gentle convertite, 6 

8 a gentle convertite,] A convertite is a convert. So, in 
Marlow's Jew of Malta, 1633 : 

" Gov. Why, Barabas, wilt thou be christened ? 

" Bar. No, governour ; I'll be no convertite." STEEVENS. 

The same expression occurs in As you like it, where Jaques, 
speaking of the young Duke, says : 

" There is much matter in these convertites." 

In both these places the word convertite means a repenting 
sinner ; not, as Steevens says, a convert, by which, in the lan- 
guage of the present time, is meant a person who changes from 
one religion to another ; in which sense the word can neither 
apply to King John, or to Duke Frederick : In the sense I have 
given it, it wUl apply to both. M. MASON. 

A convertite (a word often used by our old writers, where we 
should now use convert) signified either one converted to the 
faith, or one reclaimed from worldly pursuits, and devoted to 
penitence and religion. 

Mr. M. Mason says, a convertite cannot mean a convert, be- 
cause the latter word, " in the language of the present time, 
means a person that changes from one religion to another." But 
the question is, not what is the language of the present time, 
but what was the language of Shakspeare's age. Mario w uses 
the word convertite exactly in the sense now affixed to convert. 
John, who had in the former part of this play asserted, in very 
strong terms, the supremacy of the king of England in all eccle- 
siastical matters, and told Pandulph that he had no reverence 
for " the Pope, or his usurped authority," having now made his 
peace with the " holy church," and resigned his crown to the 
Pope's representative, is considered by the legate as one newly 
converted to the true faith, and very properly styled by him a 
convertite. The same term in the second sense above-mentioned, 
is applied to the usurper, Duke Frederick, in As you like it, on 
his having " put on a religious life, and thrown into neglect the 
pompous court :" 

" out of these convertites 

" There is much matter to be heard and learn'd." 


sc. /. KING JOHN. 499 

My tongue shall hush again this storm of war, 
And make fair weather in your blustering land. 
On this Ascension-day, remember well, 
Upon your oath of service to the pope, 
Go I to make the French lay down their arms. 


K. JOHN. Is this Ascension-day ? Did not the 


Say, that, before Ascension-day at noon, 
My crown I should give off? Even so I have : 
I did suppose, it should be on constraint ; 
But, heaven be thank'd, it is but voluntary.. 

Enter the Bastard. 

BAST. All Kent hath yielded; nothing there 

holds out, 

But Dover castle : London hath receiv'd, 
Like a kind host, the Dauphin and his powers : 
Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone 
To offer service to your enemy j 
And wild amazement hurries up and down 
The little number of your doubtful friends. 

K.JOHN. Would not my lords return to me again, 
After they heard young Arthur was alive ? 

BAST. They found him dead, and cast into the 

streets ; 

An empty casket, where the jewel of life 7 
By some damn'd hand was robb'd and ta'en away. 

7 An empty casket, where the jewel of life ] Dryden has 
transferred this image to a speech of Antony, in All for Loves 
" An empty circle, since the jewel's gone .' 


The same kind of imagery is employed in King Richard II: 
" A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest 
" Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast." 31 ALONE. 

K K 2 


K.JOHN. That villain Hubert told me, he did live. 

BAST. So, on my soul, he did, for aught he knew. 
But wherefore do you droop ? why look you sad ? 
Be great in act, as you have been in thought ; 
Let not the world see fear, and sad distrust, 
Govern the motion of a kingly eye : 
Be stirring as the time ; be fire with fire ; 
Threaten the threat'ner, and outface the brow 
Of bragging horror : so shall inferior eyes, 
That borrow their behaviours from the great, 
Grow great by your example, and put on 
The dauntless spirit of resolution. 8 
Away ; and glister like the god of war, 
When he intendeth to become the field : 9 
Show boldness, and aspiring confidence. 
What, shall they seek the lion in his den, 
And fright him there? and make him tremble there? 
O, let it not be said ! Forage, and run l 
To meet displeasure further from the doors ; 
And grapple with him, ere he come so nigh. 

K. JOHN. The legate of the pope hath been with 


And I have made a happy peace with him ; 
And he hath promis'd to dismiss the powers 
Led by the Dauphin. 

BAST. O inglorious league ! 

Shall we, upon the footing of our land, 

and put on 

The dauntless spirit of resolution.] So, in Macbeth : 
" Let's briefly put on manly readiness, 
" And meet i'tne hall together." MALONE. 

' to become the Afield.-] So, in Hamlet : 

'* such a sight as this 

" Becomes thejield" STEEVENS. 

1 Forage, and run ] To forage is here used in its ori- 
ginal sense, for to range abroad, JOHNSON. 

K. /. KING JOHN. 50i 

Send fair-play orders, and make compromise, 
Insinuation, parley, and base truce, 
To arms invasive ? shall a beardless boy, 
A cocker'd silken wanton brave our fields, 
And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil, 
Mocking the air with colours idly spread, 2 
And find no check ? Let us, my liege, to arms : 
Perchance, the cardinal cannot make your peace; 
Or if he do, let it at least be said, 
They saw we had a purpose of defence. 

K. JOHN. Have thou the ordering of this present 

BAST. Away then, with good courage ; yet, I 

Our party may well meet a prouder foe. 3 [Exeunt. 

* Mocking the air with colours idly spread,] He has the same 
image in Macbeth; 

" Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky, 
" And fan our people cold." JOHNSON. 

From these two passages Mr. Gray seems to have formed the 
first stanza of his celebrated Ode : 

" Ruin seize thee, ruthless king ! 

" Confusion on thy banners wait ! 

" Though^/awn'rf by conquest's crimson wing 

" They mock the air with idle state." MALONE. 

* Away then, with good courage; yet, I know, 

Our party may well meet a prouder foe^\ Let us then away 
with courage ; yet I so well know the famtness of our party, that 
I think it may easily happen that they shall encounter enemies who 

7 . ** f* , ' 

have more spirit than themselves. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Johnson is, I believe, mistaken. Faulconbridge means 
for all their boasting, I know very well that our party is able to 
cope with one yet prouder and more confident of its strength 
than theirs. Faulconbridge would otherwise dispirit the King, 
whom he means to animate. STEKVENS. 

502 KING JOHN. ACT r. 


A Plain, near St. Edmund's-Bury. 4 

Enter, in arms, LEWIS, SALISBURY, MELUN, PEM- 
BROKE, BIGOT, and Soldiers. 

LEW. My lord Melun, let this be copied out, 
And keep it safe for our remembrance : 
Return the precedent 5 to these lords again ; 
That, having our fair order written down, 
Both they, and we, perusing o'er these notes, 
May know wherefore we took the sacrament, 
And keep our faiths firm and inviolable. 

SAL. Upon our sides it never shall be broken. 
And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear 
A voluntary zeal, and unurg'd faith, 

4 near St. Edmund's-Bury.] I have ventured to fix the 

place of the scene here, which is specified by none of the edi- 
tors, on the following authorities. In the preceding Act, where 
Salisbury has fixed to go over to the Dauphin, he says : 

" Lords, I will meet him at St. Edmund's-Bury." 
.And Count Melun, in this last Act, says: 

' and many more with me, 

" Upon the altar at St. Edmund's-Bury; 

" Even on that altar, where we swore to you 

" Dear amity, and everlasting love." 

And it appears likewise, from The troublesome Reign of King 
John, in tioo Parts, (the first rough model of this play,) that 
the interchange of vows betwixt the Dauphin and the English 
barons was at St. Edmund's-Bury. THEOBALD. 

* the precedent fyc.~\ i. e. the rough draught of the 

original treaty between the Dauphin and the English lords. Thus 
(adds Mr. M. Mason) in King Richard III. the scrivener em- 
ployed to engross the indictment of Lord Hastings, says, " that 
it took him eleven hours to write it, and that the precedent was 
full as long a doing." STEEVEXS. 

so. it. KING JOHN. ,503 

To your proceedings ; yet, believe me, prince, 

I am not glad that such a sore of time 

Should seek a plaster by contemn'd revolt, 

And heal the inveterate canker of one wound, 

By making many : O, it grieves my soul, 

That I must draw this metal from my side 

To be a widow-maker ; O, and there, 

Where honourable rescue, and defence, 

Cries out upon the name of Salisbury : 

But such is the infection of the time, 

That, for the health and physick of our right, 

We cannot deal but with the very hand 

Of stern injustice and confused wrong. 

And is't not pity, O my grieved friends ! 

That we, the sons and children of this isle, 

Were born to see so sad an hour as this ; 

Wherein we step after a stranger march 6 

Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up 

Her enemies' ranks, (I must withdraw and weep 

Upon the spot of this enforced cause,) r 

To grace the gentry of a land remote, 

And follow unacquainted colours here ? 

What, here? O nation, that thou could'st remove! 

That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about, 8 

Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself, 

6 after a stranger march ] Our author often uses 
stranger as an adjective. See the last scene. MALONB. 

7 the spot of this enforced cause,] Spot probably means, 

stain or disgrace. M. MASON. 

So> in a former passage : 

" To look into the spots and stains of right," MALONE. 

8 clippeth thee about,] i. e. embraceth. So, in Antony 

and Cleopatra : 

" Enter the city ; clip your wives." STEEVKNS. 

504 KING JOHN. 4CT r, 

And grapple thee 9 unto a pagan shore ; * 
Where these two Christian armies might combine 
The blood of malice in a vein of league, 
And not to-spend it so unneighbourly 1 2 

LEW. A noble temper dost thou show in this ; 
And great affections, wrestling in thy bosom, 
Do make an earthquake of nobility. 
O, what a noble combat hast thou fought, 8 

9 And grapple thee ] The old copy reads And cripple thee 
. &c. Perhaps our author wrote gripple, a word used by Drayton, 
in his Polyolbion, Song 1 : 

" That thrusts his gripple hand into her golden maw." 
Our author, however, in Macbeth, has the verb grapple: 
" Grapples thee to the heart and love of us ." The emenda- 
tion (as Mr. M alone observes) was made by Mr. Pope. 


1 unto a pagan shore ;~\ Our author seems to have been 

thinking on the wars carried on by Christian princes in the holy 
land against the Saracens, where the united armies of France 
and England might have laid their mutual animosities aside, 
and fought in the cause of Christ, instead of fighting against 
brethren and countrymen, as Salisbury and the other English 
noblemen who had joined the Dauphin were about to do. 


1 And not to-spend it so unneigkbourly .'] This is one of many 
passages in which Shakspeare concludes a sentence without at- 
tending to the manner in which the former part of it is con- 
structed. MALONE. 

Shakspeare only employs, in the present instance, a phraseo- 
logy which he had used before in The Merry Wives of Windsor: 
" And, fairy-like, to-pinch the unclean-knight." 

To, in composition with verbs, is common enough in ancient 
language. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's observations on this last passage, 
and many instances in support of his position, Vol. V. p. 178, 
n. 9. STEEVENS. 

' hast thou f vug Jit ,~] Thou, which appears to have been 

accidentally omitted by the transcriber or compositor, was in- 
serted by the editor of the fourth folio. MALONE. 

& if. KING JOHN. 505 

Between compulsion and a brave respect!* 

Let me wipe off this honourable dew, 

That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks : 

My heart hath melted at a lady's tears, 

Being an ordinary inundation ; 

But this effusion of such manly drops, 

This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul, 5 

Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amaz'd 

Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven 

Figur'd quite o'er with burning meteors. 

Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury, 

And with a great heart heave away this storm : 

Commend these waters to those baby eyes, 

That never saw the giant world enrag'dj 

Nor met with fortune other than at feasts, 

Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping. 

Come, come ; for thou shalt thrust thy hand at 


Into the purse of rich prosperity, 
As Lewis himself: so, nobles, shall you all, 
That knit your sinews to the strength of mine. 

Enter PANDULPH, attended. 
And even there, methinks, an angel spake : 6 

4 Between compulsion, and a brave respect. f] This cow- 
pulsion was the necessity of a reformation in the state ; which, 
according to Salisbury's opinion, (who, in his speech preceding, 
calls it an enforced cause,) could only be procured by foreign 
arms: and the brave respect was the love of his country. 


* This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,} So, in 
our author's Rape of Lucrece : 

This windy tempest, till it blow up rain, 
" Held back his sorrow's tide ." MALOKE. 

6 an angel spake:] Sir T. Hanraer, and, after him, 

Dr. Warburton, read here an angel speeds, I think unne- 
cessarily. The Dauphin does not yet hear the legate indeed, 

506 KING JOHN. ACT v. 

Look, where the holy legate comes apace, 
To give us warrant from the hand of heaven; 
And on our actions set the name of right, 
With holy breath. 

PAND. Hail, noble prince of France! 

The next is this, king John hath reconciled 
Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in, 
That so stood out against the holy church, 
The great metropolis and see of Rome : 
Therefore thy threat'ning colours now wind up, 
And tame the savage spirit of wild war ; 
That, like a lion foster* d up at hand, 
It may lie gently at the foot of peace, 
And be no further harmful than in show. 

LEW. Your grace shall pardon me, I will not 


I am too high-born to be propertied, 
To be a secondary at control, 
Or useful serving-man, and instrument, 
To any sovereign state throughout the world. 
Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars 
Between this chastis'd kingdom and myself, 
And brought in matter that should feed this fire ; 
And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out 
With that same weak wind which enkindled it. 

nor pretend to hear him ; but seeing him advance, and con- 
cluding that he comes to animate and authorize him with the 
power of the church, he cries out, at the sight of this holy man, 
I am encouraged as by the voice of an angel. JOHNSON. 

Rather, In what I have notu said, an angel spake ; for see, 
the holy legate approaches, to give a warrant from heaven, and 
the name of right to our cause. MALONE. 

This thought is far from a new one. Thus, in Gower, De 
Conjcssione Amantis ; 

" Hem thought it sowned in her ere, 

" As though that it an angcll tvere." STE EVENS. 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 507 

You taught me how to know the face of right, 
Acquainted me with interest to this land, 7 
Yea, thrust this enterprize into my heart ; 
And come you now to tell me, John hath made 
His peace with Rome ? What is that peace to me ? 
I, by the honour of my marriage-bed, 
After young Arthur, claim this land for mine; 
And, now it is half-conquer'd, must I back, 
Because that John hath made his peace with Rome? 
Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome 


What men provided, what munition sent, 
To underprop this action ? is't not I, 
That undergo this charge ? who else but I, 
And such as to my claim are liable, 
Sweat in this business, and maintain this war ? 
Have I not heard these islanders shout out, 
Vive le roy! as I have bank'd their towns? 8 

7 You taught me hoiu to know the face of right, 
Acquainted me icith interest to this land,"] This was the 

phraseology of Shakspeare's time. So again, in King Henry IV. 
Part II : 

" He hath more worthy interest to the state, 

" Than thou the shadow of succession." 

Again, in Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, Vol. II. 
p. 927 : " in 4. R. 2. he had a release from Rose the daugh- 
ter and heir of Sir John de Arden before speci6ed, of all her 
interest to the manor of Pedimore." MA LONE. 

8 . as I have bank'd their towns ?] Bank'd their towns 
may mean, throw up entrenchments before them. 

The old play of King John, however, leaves this interpreta- 
tion extremely disputable. It appears from thence that these 
salutations were given to the Dauphin as he sailed along the 
banks of the river. This, I suppose, Shakspeare calls banking 
the towns. 

from the hollow holes of Thamesis 

" Echo apace replied, Vive le roi! 

" From thence along the wanton rolling glade, 

" To Troynovant, your fair metropolis." 

508 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

Have I not here the best cards for the game, 
To win this easy match play'd for a crown ? 
And shall I now give o'er the yielded set ? 
No, on my soul, 9 it never shall be said. 

PAND. You look but on the outside of this work. 

LEW. Outside or inside, I will not return 
Till my attempt so much be glorified 
As to my ample hope was promised 
Before I drew this gallant head of war, 1 
And cull'd these fiery spirits from the world, 
To outlook 2 conquest, and to win renown 
Even in the jaws of danger and of death. 

[Trumpet sounds. 
What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us? 

Enter the Bastard, attended. 

BAST. According to the fair play of the world, 

Let me have audience; I am sent to speak: 

My holy lord of Milan, from the king 
I come, to learn how you have dealt for him ; 
And, as you answer, I do know the scope 
And warrant limited unto my tongue. 

We still say to coast and tojlanJc; and to lank has no less of 
propriety, though it is not reconciled to us by modem usage. 


9 No, on my soul,'] In the old copy, no, injuriously to the 
measure, is repeated. STEEVENS. 

1 drew this gallant head of mar,'] i. e. assembled it, 

drew it out into the held. So, in King Henry IV. P. I: 
" And that his friends by deputation could not 
" So soon be drawn." STEEVENS. 

* outlook ] i. e. face down, bear down by a show of 

magnanimity. In a former scene of this play we have : 

" outface the brow 

" Of bragging horror." STEEVENS. 

sc. ii. KING JOHN. 509 

The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite, 
And will not temporize with my entreaties ; 
He flatly says, he'll not lay down his arms. 

BAST. By all the blood that ever fury breath'd, 
The youth says well : Now hear our English king; 
For thus his royalty doth speak in me. 
He is prepar'd ; and reason too, 3 he should : 
This apish and unmannerly approach, 
This harness'd masque, and unadvised revel, 
This unhair'd sauciness, and boyish troops, 4 
The king doth smile at ; and is well prepar'd 
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms, 
From out the circle of his territories. 

and reason too,] Old copy to. Corrected by the 

editor of the second folio. MALONE. 

4 This unhair'd sauciness, and boyish troops,] The printed 
copies unheard; but unheard is an epithet of very little force 
or meaning here ; besides, let us observe how it is coupled, 
Faulconbridge is sneering at the Dauphin's invasion, as an un- 
advised enterprize, savouring of youth and indiscretion ; the 
result of childishness, and unthinking rashness ; and he seems 
altogether to dwell on this character of it, by calling his pre- 
paration boyish troops, dwarfish tear, pigmy arms, &c. which, 
according to my emendation, sort very well with unhair'd, i. e. 
unbearded sauciness. THEOBALD. 

Hair was formerly written hear. Hence the mistake might 
easily happen. Faulconbridge has already, in this Act, ex- 
claimed : 

" Shall a beardless boy, 

" A cocker'd silken wanton, brave our fields ?" 
So, in the fifth Act of Macbeth, Lenox tells Cathness that the 
English army is near, in which, he says, there are 

many unrough youths, that even now 

<* Protest their first of manhood." 
Again, in King Henry V: 

" For who is he, whose chin is but enrich d 

" With one appearing hair, that will not follow 

' These cull'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?" 

510 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

That hand, which had the strength, even at your 


To cudgel you, and make you take the hatch ; 5 
To dive, like buckets, in concealed wells ; G 
To crouch in litter of your stable planks ; 
To lie, like pawns, lock'd up in chests and trunks; 
To hug with swine; to seek sweet safety out 
In vaults and prisons ; and to thrill, and shake,- 
Even at the crying of your nation's crow, 7 
Thinking his voice an armed Englishman; 
Shall that victorious hand be feebled here, 
That in your chambers gave you chastisement ? 
No : Know, the gallant monarch is in arms ; 

* take the hatch;] To take the hatch, is to leap the 

hatch. To take a hedge or a ditch is the hunter's phrase. 
Chapman has more than once employed it in his version of 
Homer. Thus, in the 22d Iliad: 

" take the town ; retire, dear son," &c. 

Again, ibid: 

" and take the town, not tempting the rude field.*' 

" eiffepxso rsixpSi Te/p^eoj EYTOS Jw'v." 


So, in Massinger's Fatal Dowry, 1632: 

*' I look about and neigh, take hedge and ditch, 
" Feed in my neighbour's pastures." MALONE. 

6 in concealed ivells ;] I believe our author, with his 

accustomed licence, used concealed for concealing; wells that 
afforded concealment and protection to those who took refuge 
there. MALONE. 

Concealed^ wells are wells in concealed or obscure situations ; 
viz. in places secured from public notice. STEEVENS. 

7 of your nation's crow,"] Mr. Pope, and some of the 

subsequent editors, read our nation's crow; not observing 
that the Bastard is speaking of John's achievements in France. 
He likewise reads, in the next line his voice; but this voice, 
the voice or caw of the French crow, is sufficiently clear. 


your nation's crow,"] i.e. at the crowing of a cock; 

gallus meaning both a cock and a Frenchman. DOUCE. 

sc.ii. KING JOHN. 51 i 

And like an eagle o'er his aiery towers,* 
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest. 
And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts, 
You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb 
Of your dear mother England, blush for shame: 
For your own ladies, and pale-visagM maids, 
Like Amazons, come tripping after drums ; 
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change, 
Their neelds to lances, 9 and their gentle hearts 
To fierce and bloody inclination. 

LEW. There end thy brave, and turn thy face 

in peace ; 

We grant, thou canst outscold us : fare thee well: 
We hold our time too precious to be spent 
With such a brabbler. 

. PAND. Give me leave to speak. 

BAST. No, I will speak. 

LEW. We will attend to neither : 

Strike up the drums ; and let the tongue of war 
Plead for our interest, and our being here. 

BAST. Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will 
cry out j 


like an eagle o'er his aiery tmvtrt,] An aicry is the 

nest of an eagle. So, in King Richard III: 

" Our aiery buildeth in the cedar's top." STEEVEKS. 

9 Their neelds to lances,] So, in A Midsummer- Night's 

" Have with our neelds created both one flower." 
Fairfax has the same contraction of the word needle. 


In the old copy the word is contractedly written needl's, but 
it was certainly intended to be pronounced neelds, as it is fre- 
quently written in old English books. Many dissyllables are 
used by Shakspeare and other writers as monosyllables, as 
whether, spirit, &c. though they generally appear at length in 
the original editions of these plays. MALONE. 


And so shall you, being beaten : Do but start 
An echo with the clamour of thy drum, 
And even at hand a drum is ready brac'd, 
That shall reverberate all as loud as thine ; 
Sound but another, and another shall, 
As loud as thine, rattle the welkin's ear, 
And mock the deep-mouth'd thunder: for at hand 
(Not trusting to this halting legate here, 
Whom he hath us'd rather for sport than need,) 
Is warlike John ; and in his forehead sits 
A bare-ribb'd death, 1 whose office is this day 
To feast upon whole thousands of the French. 

LEW. Strike up our drums, to find this danger 

BAST. And thou shalt find it, Dauphin, do not 
doubt. [Exeunt. 


The same. A Field of Battle. 
Alarums. Enter King JOHN and HUBERT. 

K. JOHN. How goes the day with us ? O, tell 
me, Hubert. 

HUB. Badly, I fear : How fares your majesty ? 

K. JOHN. This fever, that hath troubled me so 

Lies heavy on me ; O, my heart is sick ! 

A bare-ribb'd death,'] So, in our author's Rape ofLucrece: 
44 Shows me a bare-borCd death by time outworn." 


Enter a Messenger. 

MESS. My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulcon 


Desires your majesty to leave the field ; 
And send him word by me, which way you go. 

K. JOHN. Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the 
abbey there. 

MESS. Be of good comfort; for the great supply, 
That was expected by the Dauphin here, 
Are wreck'd* three nights ago on Goodwin sands. 
This news was brought to Richard 3 but even now: 
The French fight coldly, and retire themselves. 

K. JOHN. Ah me ! this tyrant fever burns me up, 

And will not let me welcome this good news. 

Set on toward Swinstead : 4 to my litter straight ; 
Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint. [Exeunt. 

9 -for the great supply, 

Are wreck' d ] Supply is here, and in a subsequent pas- 
age in scene v. used as a noun of multitude. MALONE. 

3 Richard ] Sir Richard Fatdconbridge ; and yet 
the King, a little before, (Act III. sc. ii.) calls him by his ori- 
ginal name of Philip. STEEVENS. 

4 Swinstead ;] i. e. Sivineshead, as I am informed by 

Mr. Dodd, the present vicar of that place. REED. 

VOL. X. 




The same. Another Part of the same. 


SAL. I did not think the king so stor'd with 


PEM. Up once again ; put spirit in the French; 
If they miscarry, we miscarry too. 

SAL. That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge, 
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day. 

PEM. They say, king John, sore sick, hath left 
the field. 

Enter MELUN wounded, and led by Soldiers. / 

MEL. Lead me to the revolts of England here. 
SAL. When we were happy, we had other names* 
PEM. It is the count Melun. 
SAL. Wounded to death. 

MEL. Fly, noble English, you are bought and 

sold ; 4 
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion, 5 

4 bought and sold ;] The same proverbial phrase, in- 
timating treachery, is used in King Richard III. Act V. sc. iii. 
in King Henry VI. P. I. Act IV. sc. iv. and in The Comedy of 
Errors, Act III. sc. i. STEEVENS. , 

Unthread the rude eye of rebellion,] Though all the copies 
concur in this reading, how poor is the metaphor of unthreading 
the eye of a needle ? And besides, as there is no mention made 
of a needle, how remote and obscure is the allusion without it ? 

sc. iv. KING JOHN. 515 

And welcome home again discarded faith. 
Seek out king John, and fall before his feet j 
For, if the French be lords of this loud day, 
He means 6 to recompense the pains you take, 
By cutting off your heads: Thus hath he sworn, 
And I with him, and many more with me, 
Upon the altar at Saint Edmund's-Bury; 
Even on that altar, where we swore to you 
Dear amity and everlasting love. 

SAL. May this be possible ? may this be true ? 

MEL. Have I not hideous death within my view, 
Retaining but a quantity of life ; 
Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax 
Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire ? 7 

The text, as I have restored it, is easy and natural ; and it is the 
mode of expression which our author is every where fond of, to 
tread and untread, the way, path, steps, &c. THEOBALD. 

The metaphor is certainly harsh, but I do not think the pas- 
sage corrupted. JOHNSON. 

Mr. Theobald reads untread ; but Shakspeare, in King Lear, 
uses the expression, threading dark ey'd night ; and Coriolanus 
says : 

" Even when the navel of the state was touch'd, 
" They would not thread the gates." 

This quotation, in support of the old reading, has also been 
adduced by Mr. M. Mason. STEEVENS. 

Our author is not always careful that the epithet which he 
applies to a figurative term should answer on both sides. Rude 
is applicable to rebellion, but not to eye. He means, ia fact, 
the eye of rude rebellion. MALONE. 

6 He means ] The Frenchman, i. e. Lewis, means, &c. 
See Melun's next speech: " If Lewis do win the day ." 


7 even as a form of wax 

Resolveth #c.] This is said in allusion to the images 
made by witches. Holinshed observes, that it was alleged 
against dame Eleanor Cobham and her confederates, " that they 
had devised an image of tvox, representing the king, which, 

I. L2 


What in the world should make me now deceive, 
Since I must lose the use of all deceit ? 
Why should I then be false ; since it is true 
That I must die here, and live hence by truth ? 
I say again, if Lewis do win the day, 
He is forsworn, if e'er those eyes of yours 
Behold another day break in the east : 
But even this night, whose black contagious 


Already smokes about the burning crest 
Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun, 
Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire j 
Paying the fine of rated treachery, 8 
Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives, 
If Lewis by your assistance win the day. 
Commend me to one Hubert, with your king ; 
The love of him, and this respect besides, 
For that my grandsire was an Englishman, 9 
Aw r akes my conscience to confess all this. 
In lieu whereof, I pray you, bear me hence 5 

From forth the noise and rumour of the field ; 
Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts 
In peace, and part this body and my soul 
With contemplation and devout desires. 

by their sorcerie, by little and little consumed, intending thereby, 
in conclusion, to waste and destroy the king's person." 

Resolve and dissolve had anciently the same meaning. So, in 
Hamlet : 

" O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, 

'* Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew !" STEEVENS. 

' rated treachery,] It were easy to change rated to 

hated, for an easier meaning, but rated suits better wlthjine. 
The Dauphin has rated your treachery, and set upon it &Jine t 
which your lives -must pay. JOHNSON. 

9 For that my grandsire ivas an Englishman,"] This line is 
taken from the old play, printed in quarto, in 1591. MALONE. 

. ir. KING JOHN. 517 

SAL. We do believe thee, And beshrew my 


But I do love the favour and the form 
Of this most fair occasion, by the which 
We will untread the steps of damned flight ; 
And, like a bated and retired flood, 
Leaving our rankness and irregular course, 1 
Stoop low within those bounds we have o'erlook'd, 
And calmly run on in obedience, 
Even to our ocean, to our great king John. - 
My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence; 
For I do see the cruel pangs of death 
Right in thine eye. 2 Away, my friends! New 

flight ; 

And happy newness, 3 that intends old right. 

t^ leading o 

1 Leaving our rankness and irregular course,"] Rank, as ap- 
plied to water, here signifies exuberant, ready to overflow: as 
applied to the actions of the speaker and his party, it signifies 
inordinate. So, in our author's Venus and Adonis: 

" Rain added to a river that is rank, 

" Perforce will force it overflow the bank." MALONE. 

* Right in thine eyeJ\ This is the old reading. Right signi- 
fies immediate. It is now obsolete. Some commentators would 
read pight, i. e. pitched as a tent is ; others, Jight in thine eye. 


3 -- happy newness, #c.] Happy innovation, that pur- 
posed the restoration of the ancient rightful government. 


518 KING JOHN. ACT r- 


The same. The French Camp. 
Enter LEWIS and his Train. 

LEW. The sun of heaven, methought, was loath 

to set ; 

But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush, 
When the English measured 4 backward their own 


In faint retire : O, bravely came we off, 
When with a volley of our needless shot, 
After such bloody toil, we bid good night ; 
And wound our tatter'd 5 colours clearly up, 
Last in the field, and almost lords of it ! 

4 When the English measur'd ] Old copy When English 
measure 8$c. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

tatter 1 d ] For tatter'd, the folio reads, tottering. 


It is remarkable through such old copies of our author as I 
have hitherto seen, that wherever the modern editors read 
iatter'd, the old editions give us totter' d in its room. Perhaps 
the present broad pronunciation, almost peculiar to the Scots, 
was at that time common to both nations. 
So, in Marlowe's King Edward II. 1598: 

" This tottered ensign of my ancestors." 

" As doth this water from my totter'd robes." 
Again, in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601 : 

" I will not bid my ensign-bearer wave 

" My totter'd colours in this worthless air." STEEVENS. 

Tattering, which, in the spelling of our author's time, was 
tottering, is used for tatter'd. The active and passive parti- 
ciples are employed by him very indiscriminately. MALONE. 

I read tatter'd, an epithet which occurs again in King Lear 
and Romeo and Juliet. Of tattering (which would obviously 
mean tearing to tatters) our author's works afford no parallel. 


sc. v. KING JOHN. si 9 

Enter a Messenger. 

MESS. Where is my prince, the Dauphin ? 
LEW. Here : -What news? 

MESS. The count Melun is slain j the English 


By his persuasion, are again fallen off: 
And your supply, which you have wish'd so long, 
Are cast away, and sunk, on Goodwin sands. 

LEW. Ah, foul shrewd news ! Beshrew thy 

very heart! 

I did not think to be so sad to-night, 
As this hath made me. Who was he, that said, 
King John did fly, an hour or two before 
The stumbling night did part our weary powers? 

MESS. Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord. 

LEW. Well ; keep good quarter, 6 and good care 

to-night ; 

The day shall not be up so soon as I, 
To try the fair adventure of to-morrow. [Exeunt. 

6 keep good quarter,] i. e. keep in your allotted posts or 

stations. So, in Timon of Athens: 
" not a man 

" Shall pass his quarter." STBEVENS. 

520 .KING JOHN. 


An open Place in the Neighbourhood ofS win stead- 

Enter the Bastard and HUBERT, meeting. 

HUB. Who's there ? speak, ho ! speak quickly, 
or I shoot. 

BAST. A friend : What art thou ? 

HUB. Of the part of England. 

BAST. Whither dost thou go ? 

HUB. What's that to thee ? Why may not I de- 
Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine? 

BAST. Hubert, I .think. 

HUB. Thou hast a perfect thought : ' 

I will, upon all hazards, well believe 
Thou art my friend, that know'st my tongue so 

Who art thou ? 

BAST. Who thou wilt : an if thou please, 

Thou may'st befriend me so much, as to think 
I come one way of the Plantagenets. 

HUB. Unkind remembrance ! thou, and eyeless 
night, 8 

7 perfect thought ] i. e. a well-informed one. So, in 

Cymbeline : 

" I am perfect; 

" That the Pannonians," &c. STEEVENS. 

* thou, and eyeless night,"] The old copy reads end- 
less. STEEVENS. 

We should read eyeless. So, Pindar calls the moon, the eye 
of night. WARBURTON. 

sc. vi. KING JOHN. 

Have done me shame : Brave soldier, pardon 


That any accent, breaking from thy tongue, 
Should 'scape the true acquaintance of mine ear. 

EAST. Come, come; sans compliment, what news 
abroad ? 

HUB. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of 

T fi A ^^ 

1 o find you out. 
BAST. Brief, then ; and what's the news ? 

HUB. O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night, 
Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible. 

BAST. Show me the very wound of this ill news; 
I am no woman, I'll not swoon at it. 

This epithet I find in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 

" O eyeless night, the portraiture of death ! 
Again, in Gower, De Coiifessione Amantis, Lib. V. fol. 102. b: 

" The daie made ende, and loste his sight, 

" And comen was the darke night, 

" The vvhiche all the daies eie olent." STEEVENS. 

The emendation was made by Mr. Theobald. With Pindar 
our author had certainly no acquaintance ; but, I believe, the 
correction is right. Shakspeare has, however, twice applied the 
epithet endless to night, in King Richard II: 

*' Then thus I turn me from my country's light, 

" To dwell in solemn shades of endless night." 
Again : 

" My oil-dry'd lamp 

" Shall be extinct with age and endless night." 
But in the latter of these passages a natural, and in the 
former, a kind of civil, death, is alluded to. In the present 
passage the epithet endless is inadmissable, because, if understood 
literally, it is false. On the other hand, eyeless is peculiarly ap- 
plicable. The emendation is also supported by our author's 
Rape of Lucrece : 

" Poor grooms are sightless night ; kings, glorious day." 


522 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

HUB. The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk:" 
I left him almost speechless, and broke out 
To acquaint you with this evil ; that you might 
The better arm you to the sudden time, 
Than if you had at leisure known of this. 1 

BAST. How did he take it ? who did taste to him ? 

HUB. A monk, I tell you ; a resolved villain, 
Whose bowels suddenly burst out : the king 
Yet speaks, and, peradventure, may recover. 

BAST. Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty? 

HUB. Why, know you not? the lords are all 

come back, 
And brought Prince Henry in their company j 2 

9 The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk .] Not one of the 
historians who wrote within sixty years after the death of King 
John, mentions this very improbable story. The tale is, that a 
monk, to revenge himself on the king for a saying at which he 
took offence, poisoned a cup of ale, and having brought it to his 
majesty, drank some of it himself, to induce the king to taste it, 
and soon afterwards expired. Thomas Wykes is the first, who 
relates it in his Chronicle, as a report. According to the best 
accounts, John died at Newark, of a fever. MALONE. 

* that you might 

The better arm you to the sudden time. 
Than if you had at leisure known of this."] That you might 
be able to prepare instantly for the sudden revolution in affairs 
which the king's death will occasion, in a better manner than 
you could have done, if you had not known of it till the event 
had actually happened, and the kingdom was reduced to a state 
of composure and quiet. MALONE. 

It appears to me, that at leisure means less speedily, after some 

I do not clearly comprehend Mr. Malone's explanation. The 
death of the king was not likely to produce a state of composure 
and quiet, while there was a hostile army in the heart of the 
kingdom. M. MASON. 

' WTiy, know you not? the lords &c.] Perhaps we ought to 
point thus : 

Why know you not, the lords are all come back, 

And brought prince Henry in their company ? MALOXC. 

8D. VII. KING JOHN. 523 

At whose request the king hath pardon'd them, 

nd they are all about his majesty. 

BAST. Withhold thine indignation, mighty 


And tempt us not to bear above our power I- 
I'll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night, 
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide, 
These Lincoln washes have devoured them ; 
Myself, well-mounted, hardly have escap'd. 
Away, before ! conduct me to the king j 
I doubt, he will be dead, or ere I come. [Exeunt. 


The Orchard of Swinstead- Abbey. 
Enter Prince HENRY,' SALISBURY, and BIGOT. 

P. HEN. It is too late ; the life of all his blood 
Is touch'd corruptibly ; 4 and his pure brain 
(Which some suppose the soul's frad dwell 


Doth, by the idle comments that it makes, 
Foretell the ending of mortality. 


PEM. His highness yet doth speak; and holds 

That, being brought into the open air, 

, _ Prince Henry J This prince was only nine years old 
when his father died. STEEVENS. 

Is tnch'd corruptibly ;] i. e. ""**& ** 
phraseology of Shakspearrt age. So, in his Rape of Lucre*. 

The Romans plausibly did give consent-. 
i. e. with acclamations/ Here we should now ^Ar 


It would allay the burning quality 
Of that fell poison which assaileth him. 

P. HEN. Let him be brought into the orchard 

Doth he still rage ? [Exit BIGOT. 

PEM. He is more patient 

Than when you left him ; even now he sung. 

P. HEN. O vanity of sickness ! fierce extremes, 
In their continuance, 5 will not feel themselves. 
Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts, 
Leaves them insensible ; and his siege is now 
Against the mind, 6 the which he pricks and wounds 

* In their continuance."] I suspect our author wrote In thy 
continuance. In his Sonnets the two words are frequently con- 
founded. If the text be right, continuance means continuity. 
Bacon uses the word in that sense. MALONE. 

. 6 Leaves them insensible ; and his siege is noiu 

Against the mind,"} The old copy reads invisible. 


As the word invisible has no sense in this passage, I have no 
doubt but the modern editors are right in reading insensible^ 
which agrees with the two preceding lines : 

fierce extremes, 

In their continuance, will not feel themselves.' 

Death, having prey'd upon the outivard parts, 

Leaves them insensible : his siege is now 

Against the mind, &c. 

The last lines are evidently intended as a paraphrase, and con- 
firmation of the two first. M. MASON. 

Invisible is here used adverbially. Death, having glutted 
himself with the ravage of the almost wasted body, and know- 
ing that the disease with which he has assailed it is mortal, be- 
fore its dissolution, proceeds, from mere satiety, to attack the 
mind, leaving the body invisibly; that is, in such a secret 
manner that the eye cannot precisely mark his progress, or see 
when his attack on the vital powers has ended, and that on the 
mind begins ; or, in other words, at what particular moment 
reason ceases to perform its function, and the understanding, in 
fonsequence of a corroding and mortal malady, begins to be 

sc. vii. KING JOHN. 525 

With many legions of strange fantasies ; 

Which, in their throng and press to that last hold, 

disturbed. Our poet, in his Venus and Adonis, calls Death, 
*' invisible commander." 

Henry is here only pursuing the same train of thought which 
we find in his first speech in the present scene. 

Part I: " ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old 
faced ancient." See Vol. VIII. p. 348, n. 7, and King Henry IV, 
Act. IV. sc. ii. 

Mr. Rowe reads her siege , an e^br derived from the cor- 
ruption of the second folio. I suspect, that this strange mistake 
was Mr. Gray's authority for making Death a female; in 
which, I believe, he has neither been preceded, or followed by 
any poet : 

" The painful family of Death, 

" More hideous than their queen." 

The old copy, in the passage before us, reads Against the 
ixiind ; an evident error of the press, which was corrected by 
Mr. Pope, and which I should scarcely have mentioned, but 
that it justifies an emendation made in Measure for Measure, 
[Vol. VI. p. 262, n. 2,] where, by a similar mistake, the word 
flaiaes appears in the old copy instead ofjlames. MA LONE. 

Mr. Malone reads : 

Death, having prey* d upon the outward parts, 
Leaves them invisible ; fyc. 

As often as I am induced to differ from the opinions of a 
gentleman whose laborious diligence in the cause of Shakspeare 
is without example, I subject myself to the most unwelcome part 
of editorial duty. Success, however, is not, in every instance, 
proportionable to zeal and effort ; and he who shrinks from con- 
troversy, should also have avoided the vestibulum ipsum, pri- 
masque fauces of the school of Shakspeare. 

Sir Thomas Hanmer gives us insensible, which affords a 
meaning sufficiently commodious. But, as invisible and in- 
tensible are not words of exactest consonance, the legitimacy of 
this emendation has been disputed. It yet remains in the text, 
for the sake of those who discover no light through the ancient 

Perhaps (I speak without confidence) our author wrote in- 
vincible, which, in sound, so nearly resembles invisible, that an 

526 KING JOHN. ACT v. 

Confound themselves. 7 'Tis strange, that death 
should sing. 

inattentive compositor might have substituted the one for the 
other. All our modern editors (Mr. Malone excepted) agree 
that invincible, in King Henry IF. P. II. Act IIL sc. ii. was a 
misprint for invisible; and so (vice versa] invisible may here 
have usurped the place of invincible. 

If my supposition be admitted, the Prince must design to say, 
that Death had battered the royal outworks, but, seeing they 
were invincible, quitted them, and directed his force against the 
mind. In the present instance, the King of Terrors is described 
as a besieger, who, failing in his attempt to storm the bulwark, 
proceeded to undermine the citadel. Why else did he change 
his mode and object of attack ? The Spanish ordnance suffi- 
ciently preyed on the ramparts of Gibraltar, but still left them 
impregnable. The same metaphor, though not continued so far, 
occurs again in Timon of Athens : 

" Nature, 

" To whom all sores lay siege." 
Again, in All's loell that ends well : 

" . and yet my heart 

" Will not confess he owes the malady 

" That does my life besieged 

Mr. Malone, however, gives a different turn to the passage 
before us ; and leaving the word siege out of his account, ap- 
pears to represent Death as a gourmand, who had satiated him- 
self with the King's body, and took his intellectual part by way 
of change of provision. 

Neither can a complete acquiescence in the same gentleman's 
examples of adjectives used adverbially, be well expected ; as 
they chiefly occur in light and familiar dialogue, or where the 
regular full-grown adverb was unfavourable to rhyme or metre. 
Nor indeed are these docked adverbs ( which perform their office, 
like the witch's rat, " without a tail," ) discoverable in any solemn 
narrative like that before us. A portion of them also might be 
no other than typographical imperfections; for this part of speech, 
shorn of its termination, will necessarily take the form of an ad- 
jective. 1 may subjoin, that in the beginning of the present 

scene, the adjective corruptible is riot offered as a locum tenens 
for the adverb corruptibly, though they were alike adapted to our 
author's measure. 

It must, notwithstanding, be allowed, that adjectives employed 
adverbially are sometimes met with in the language of Shakspeare. 
Yet, surely, we ought not (as Polonius says) tp " crack the wind 

sc. vn. KING JOHN. $27 

I am the cygnet s to this pale faint swan, 
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death; 

of the poor phrase," by supposing its existence where it must 
operate equivocally, and provoke a smile, as on the present 

That Death, therefore, " left the outward parts of the King 
invisible" could not, in my judgment, have been an expression 
hazarded by our poet in his most careless moment of composition. 
It conveys an idea too like the helmet of Orcus, in the fifth 
Iliad,* Gadshill's " receipt of fern-seed," Colonel Feignwell'g 
moros musphonon, or the consequences of being bit by a Seps, 
as was a Roman Soldier, of whom says our excellent translator 
of Lucan, 

" none was left, no least remains were seen, 

" No marks to show that once a man had been."f 
Besides, if the outward part (i. e. the body) of the expiring mo- 
narch was, in plain, familiar, and unqualified terms, pronounced 
to be invisible, how could those who pretended to have just seen 
it, expect to be believed ? and would not an audience, uninitiated 
in the mystery of adverbial adjectives, on hearing such an account 
of the royal carcase, have exclaimed, like the Governor of Til- 
bury Fort, in The Critic : 

" thou canst not see it, 

*' Because 'tis not in sight. 1 ' 

But I ought not to dismiss the present subject, without a few 
words in defence of Mr. Gray, who had authority somewhat 
more decisive than that of the persecuted second folio of Shak- 
speare, for representing Death as a Woman. The writer of the 
Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College, was sufficiently inti- 
mate with Lucretius, Horace, Ovid, Phaedrus, Statius, Petronius, 
Seneca the dramatist, &c. to know that they all concurred in 
exhibiting Mors as a Goddess. Thus Lucan, Lib. VI. 600 : 
" Elysias resera sedes, ipsamque vocatam, 
" Quos petal e nobis, Mortem tibi coge fateri." 
Mr. Spence, in his Poly met is, p. 261, (I refer to a book of 
easy access,) has produced abundant examples in proof of my 
assertion, and others may be readily supplied. One comprehen- 
sive instance, indeed, will answer my present purpose. Statius, 
in his eighth Thebaid, describing a troop of ghastly females who 
surrounded the throne of Pluto, has the following lines : 

* ASV "Aio; xuvfTjy, MH MIN IAOI o 
f Rowe, Buck IX. 1. 1334. 

528 KING JOHN. ACT r. 

And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings 
His soul and body to their lasting rest. 

< Stant Furiae circum, ittm'^que ex ordine Mortes, 

** Saevaque multisonas exercet Pcena catenas." 
From this group of personification, &c. it is evident, that not 
merely Death, as the source or principle of mortality, but each 
particular kind of Death was represented under a feminine shape. 
For want, therefore, of a corresponding masculine term, Dobson, 
in his Latin version of the second Paradise Lost, was obliged to 
render the terrific offspring of Satan, by the name of Hades ; a 
luckless necessity, because Hades, in the 964th line of the same 
book, exhibits a character completely discriminated from that of 

For the satisfaction of English antiquaries, let me add, that in 
an ancient poem (which in point of versification resembles the 
pieces of Longland) there is a contest for superiority between 
our Lady Dame Life, and the ugly jtend DAME DEATH. 

Milton himself, however, in his second Elegy, has exhibited 
Death not only as a female, but as a queen : 

" Magna sepulchrorum regina, satelles Averni, 

" Saeva nimis Musis, Palladi saeva nimis." 
See Mr. Warton's note on this passage. Consult also Milton's 
third Elegy, v. 16 : 

" Morsfera, Tartareo diva secunda Jovi." 
Again, In obitum Prtzsulis Eliensis: 

" Mors atra noctis Jilia." 

Dryden, likewise, in his Indian Queen, Act II. sc. i. has at- 
tributed the same sex to Death : 

The gods can but destroy? 

" The noblest way to fly, is that Death shows ; 

" I'll court her now, since victory's grown coy." 
Were I inclined to be sportive, (a disposition which commen- 
tators should studiously repress,) might I not maintain, on the 
strength of the foregoing circumstances, that the editor of the 
folio 1632, (far from being an ignorant blunderer,) was well 
Instructed in the niceties of Roman mythology ? and might not 
my ingenious fellow-labourer, on the score of his meditated 
triumph over Mr. Gray, be saluted with such a remark as reach- 
ed the ear of Cadmus ? 

" Quid, Agenore nate, peremptum 

" Serpentem spectas ? et tu spectabere serpens." 
Fashionable as it is to cavil at the productions of our Cambridge 
poet, it has not yet been discovered that throughout the fields of 
classick literature, even in a single instance, he had mistook his 

sc. vii. KING JOHN. 52<> 

SAL. Be of good comfort, prince ; for you are 


To set a form upon that indigest 
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude. 9 

Re-enter BIGOT and Attendants, who bring in King 
JOHN in a Chair. 

K. JOHN. Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow- 
room ; 

It would not out at windows, nor at doors. 
There is so hot a summer in my bosom, 
That all my bowels crumble up to dust : 
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen 

7 With many legions of strange fantasies ; 
Which, in their throng and press to that last hold, 
Confound themselves.] So, in our author's Rape ofLucrece : 
" Much like a press of people at a door, 
" Throng his inventions, which shall go before." 
Again, in King Henry VIII : 

" which forc'd such way, 

" That many maz'd considerings did throng, 
" And press in, with this cautin." MALONE. 

in their throng and press to that last hold,] In their 

tumult and hurry of resorting to the last tenable part. 


9 1 am the cygnet ] Old copy Symet. Corrected by Mr. 
Pope. MALONE. 

9 you are born 

To set a form upon that indigest 

Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude."] A description 
of the Chaos almost in the very words of Ovid : 

" Quern dixere Chaos, rudis indigestaque moles." Met. I. 


" Which Chaos hight, a huge rude heap, : 
" No sunne as yet with lightsome beames the shapeless 
world did view." Gelding's Translation, 1587. 


VOL. X. M M 

530 KING JOHN. ACT v. 

Upon a parchment ; and against this fire 
Do I shrink up. 

P. HEN. How fares your majesty ? 

K. JOHN. Poison'd, ill-fare ; ' dead, forsook, 

cast off: 

2 And none of you will bid the winter come, 
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw ; 3 

1 Poison'd, ill-fare;'] Mr. Malone supposes fare to be here 
\lsed as a dissyllable, like Jire, hour, &c. But as this word has 
not concurring vowels in it, like hour, or fair, nor was ever dis- 
syllabically spelt (like fz'er) faer; I had rather suppose the pre- 
sent line imperfect, than complete it by such unprecedented 
means. STEEVENS. 

* This scene has been imitated by Beaumont and Fletcher, ii> 
The Wife for a Month, Act IV. STEEVENS. 

3 To thrust his icy Jingers in my maiu i] Decker, in The Gul's 
Hornbook, 1609, has the same thought : '* the morning wax- 
ing cold, thrust his frosty Jingers into thy bosome." 

Again, in a pamphlet entitled The great Frost, Cold Doings, 
Sfc. in London, 1608 : " The cold hand of winter is thrust into 
our bosoms." STEEVENS. 

The corresponding passage in the old play runs thus : 
" Philip, some drink. O, for the frozen Alps 
*' To tumble on, and cool this inward heat, 
** That rageth as a furnace seven-fold hot.*' 
There is so strong a resemblance, not only in the thought, but 
in the expression, between the passage before us and the follow- 
ing lines in two of Marlowe's plays, that we may fairly suppose 
them to have been in our author's thoughts : 

" O, I am dull, and the cold hand of sleep 
" Hath thrust his icy Jingers in my breast 
" And made a frost within me." Lust's Dominion. 

" O, poor Zabina, O my queen, my queen, 
" Fetch me some water for my burning breast, 
" To cool and comfort me with longer date." 

Tamburlaine, 1591. 

Lust's Dominion, like many of the plays of that time, remained 
unpublished for a great number of years, and was first printed 
in 1657, by Francis Kirkman, a bookseller. It must, however, 
have been written before 1593, in which year Marlowe died. 


so. vn. KING JOHN. 53 i 

Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course 
Through my burn'd bosom ; nor entreat the north 
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips, 
And comfort me with cold : I do not ask you much,* 
I beg cold comfort ; and you are so strait, 5 
And so ingrateful, you deny me that. 

P. HEN. O, that there were some virtue in my 

That might relieve you ! 

K. JOHN. The salt in them is hot. 

Within me is a hell ; and there the poison 
Is, as a fiend, confin'd to tyrannize 
On unreprievable condemned blood. 

Enter the Bastard. 

BAST. O, I am scalded with my violent motion, 
And spleen of speed to see your majesty. 

K. JOHN. O cousin, thou art come to set mine 

eye : 

The tackle of my heart is crack'd and burn'd; 
And all the shrouds," wherewith my life should sail, 
Are turned to one thread, one little hair : 
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by, 
Which holds but till thy news be uttered ; 

I do not ask you much,] We should read, for the sake 

of metre, with Sir T. Hanmer / ask not much. STEEVEN*. 

* so strait,] i. e. narrow, avaricious ; an unusual sense of 

the word. STEEVENS. 

6 And all the shrouds,] Shakspeare here uses the word shrouds 
in its true sense. The shrouds are the great ropes, which come 
from each side of the mast. In modern poetry the word fre- 
quently signifies the sails of a ship. MA LONE. 

This latter usage of the word shrouds, has hitherto escaped 
my notice. STEEVENS. 

532 KING JOHN. ACT v. 

And then all this thou see'st, is but a clod, 
And module of confounded royalty. 7 

BAST. The Dauphin is preparing hitherward ; 
Where, heaven he knows, how we shall answer 


For, in a night, the best part of my power, 
As I upon advantage did remove, 
Were in the washes, all unwarily, 
Devoured by the unexpected flood. 8 

[The King dies. 

SAL. You breathe these dead news in as dead an 

My liege ! my lord ! But now a king, now thus. 

P. HEN. Even so must I run on, and even so stop. 
What surety of the world, what hope, what stay, 
When this was now a king, and now is clay ! 

BAST. Art thou gone so ? I do but stay behind, 
To do the office for thee of revenge ; 
And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven, 

As it on earth hath been thy servant still. 

Now,now,you stars, that move in your right spheres, 

7 And module of confounded royalty J] Module and model, 
k has been already observed, were, in our author's time, only 
different modes of spelling the same word. Model signified not 
an archetype after, which something was to be formed, but the 
thing formed after an archetype ; and hence it is used by Shak- 
speare and his contemporaries for a representation. So, in The 
London Prodigal, 1605 : 

" Dear copy of my husband ! O let me kiss thee ! 

[Kissing a picture. 

" How like him is this model?" 
See Vol. VIII. p. 352, n. 2. MALONE. 

* Were in the washes, all unwarily, &c.] This untoward 
accident really happened to King John himself. As he passed 
from Lynn to Lincolnshire, he lost by an inundation all his trea- 
sure, carriages, baggage, and regalia. MALONE. 

sc. r//. KING JOHN. 533 

Where be your powers ? Show now your mended 

faiths ; 

And instantly return with me again, 
To push destruction, and perpetual shame, 
Out of the weak door of our fainting land : 
Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought ; 
The Dauphin rages at our very heels. 

SAL. It seems, you know not then so much as we : 
The cardinal Pandulph is within at rest, 
Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin ; 
And brings from him such offers of our peace 
As we with honour and respect may take, 
With purpose presently to leave this war. 

BAST. He will the rather do it, when he sees 
Ourselves well sinewed to our defence. 

SAL. Nay, it is in a manner done already ; 
For many carriages he hath despatch'd 
To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel 
To the disposing of the cardinal : 
With whom yourself, myself, and other lords, 
If you think meet, this afternoon will post 
To consummate this business happily. 

BAST. Let it be so : And you, my noble prince, 
With other princes that may best be spar'd, 
Shall wait upon your father's funeral. 

P. HEN. At Worcester must his body be interr'd ; 9 
For so he will'd it. 

BAST. Thither shall it then. 

And happily may your sweet self put on 
The lineal state and glory of the land ! 
To whom, with all submission, on my knee, 

' At Worcester must his body be interred;] A stone coffin, con- 
taining the body of King John, was discovered in the cathedral 
church of Worcester, July 17, 1797. 'STEEVENS. 


I do bequeath my faithful services 
And true subjection everlastingly. 

SAL. And the like tender of our love we make, 
To rest without a spot for evermore. 

P. HEN. I have a kind soul, that would give you 1 

And knows not how to do it, but with tears. 

BAST. O, let us pay the time but needful woe, 
Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs. 2 
This England never did, (nor never shall,) 
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror, 
But when it first did help to wound itself. 
Now these her princes are come home again, 
Come the three corners of the world in arms, 
And we shall shock them : Nought shall make us 

If England to itself do rest but true. 3 [Exeunt* 

1 that tvould give you ] You, which is not in the old 

copy, was added for the sake of the metre, by Mr. Rowe. 


* let us pay the time but needful woe, 

Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.'} Let us now 
indulge in sorrow, since there is abundant cause for it. England 
has been long in a scene of confusion, and its calamities have 
anticipated our tears. By those which we now shed, we only 
pay her what is her due. MALONE. 

I believe the plain meaning of the passage is this : As pre- 
viously we have found sufficient cause for lamentation, let us not 
waste the present time in superfluous sorrow. STEEVENS. 

* If England to itself do rest but true.~\ This sentiment seems 
borrowed from the conclusion of the old play : 

" If England's peers and people join in one, 
" Nor pope, nor France, nor Spain, can do them wrong." 
Again, in King Henry VI. Part III : 

" of itself 

" England is safe, if true within itself." 
Such also was the opinion of the celebrated Due de Rohan : 



" L'Angleterre est un grand animal qui ne peut jamais mourir 

i* 5 .''] PS p . VyJtfVgyj' vV ^yy vpyg 

..* rather to have been borrowed 
IH^Td play : 
live but true within itself, 
^^ Am world can never wrong her state." 


" Brother, brother, we may be both in the wrong;" this sen- 
timent might originate from A Discourse of Rebellion, drawne 
forth for to warne the wanton Wittes how to kepe their Heads 
on their Shoulders, by T. Churchyard, 12mo. 1570: 

" O Britayne bloud, marke this at my desire 

" If that you sticke together 'as you ought 

" This lyttle yle may set the world at nought." 


This sentiment may be traced still higher: Andrew Borde, in 
his Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge, bl. 1. printed 
for Copland, sig. A 4-, says, " They (i. e. the English) fare 
sumptuously; God is served in their churches devouth, but 
treason and deceit amonge them is used crafty ly, the more pitie, 
for if they were true wythin themselves they nede not to feare al- 
though al nacions were set against them, specialli now consyder- 
ing our noble prince (i. e. Henry VIII.) hath and dayly dothe 
make noble defences, as castells," &c. 
Again, in Fuimus Troes, 1633: 

" Yet maugre all, if we ourselves are true, 

" We may despise what all the earth can do." REED. 

4 The tragedy of King John, though not written with the ut- 
most power of Shakspeare, is varied with a very pleasing inter- 
change of incidents and characters. The lady's grief is very 
affecting ; and the character of the Bastard contains that mixture 
of greatness and levity which this author delighted to exhibit. 



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