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ROSSE. I'll fee it done.

DUN. What he hath loft, noble Macbeth hath

won.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III.

A Heath.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Where haft thou been, fifter?

2 WITCH. Killing fwine.8

3 WITCH. Sifter, where thou? 9

1 WITCH. A failor's wife had chefnuts in her lap, And mounch'd, and mounch'd, and mounch'd :Give me, quoth I:

8 Killing fwine.] So, in a Detection of damnable Driftes practized by three Witches, &c. arraigned at Chelmisforde in Effex, 1579, bl. 1. 12mo. "Item, alfo the came on a tyme to the house of one Robert Lathburie &c. who diflyking her dealyng, fent her home emptie; but presently after her departure, his hogges fell ficke and died, to the number of twentie." STEEVENS.

9 1 Witch. Where haft thou been, fifter? 2 Witch. Killing fwine.

3 Witch. Sifter, where thou?] Thus the old copy; yet I cannot help fuppofing that these three fpeeches, collectively taken, were meant to form one verfe, as follows:

1 Witch. Where haft been, fifter?

2 Witch.

3 Witch.

Killing fwine.

Where thou?

If my fuppofition be well founded, there is as little reafon for preferving the useless thou in the first line, as the repetition of fifter, in the third. STEEVENS.

Aroint thee, witch!1 the rump-fed ronyon2 cries.3

* Aroint thee, witch!] Aroint, or avaunt, be gone. POPE. In one of the folio editions the reading is-Anoint thee, in a fenfe very confiftent with the common account of witches, who are related to perform many fupernatural acts, by the means of unguents, and particularly to fly through the air to the places where they meet at their hellifh feftivals. In this fenfe, anoint thee, witch, will mean, away, witch, to your infernal affèmbly. 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 publifhed, in which St. Patrick is reprefented vifiting hell, and putting the devils into great confufion by his prefence, of whom one, that is driving the damned before him with a prong, has a label iffuing out of his mouth with these words, OUT OUT ARONGT, of which the last is evidently the fame with aroint, and used in the same sense as in this paffage. JOHNSON.

*

Dr. Johnfon's memory, on the prefent occafion, appears to have deceived him in more than a fingle inftance. The fubject of the above-mentioned drawing is afcertained by a label affixed to it in Gothick letters. Iefus Chriftus, refurgens a mortuis fpoliat infernum. My predeceffor, indeed, might have been misled by an uncouth abbreviation in the Sacred Name.

The words-Out out arongt, are addreffed to our Redeemer by Satan, who, the better to enforce them, accompanies them with a blaft of the horn he holds in his right hand. Tartareum intendit cornu. If the inftrument he grafps in his left hand was meant for a prong, it is of fingular make. Ecce fignum.

1

Satan is not "driving the damned before him;" nor is any

* See Ectypa Varia &c. Studio st cura Thoma Hearne, &c. 1737..

STEEVENS,

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

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

Redemption,

This ftory of Chrift's exploit, in his defcenfus ad inferos, (as Mr. Tyrwhitt has obferved in a note on Chaucer, 3512,) is taken from the Gofpel of Nicodemus, and was called by our ancestors the harrowinge of helle, under which title it was represented among the Chester Whitfun Playes, MS. Harl.

2013.

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

Anoint is the reading of the folio 1664, a book of no authority. STEEVENS.

2

the rump-fed ronyon-] The chief cooks in noblemen's families, colleges, religious houfes, hofpitals, &c. anciently claimed the emoluments or kitchen fees of kidneys, fat, trotters, rumps, &c. which they fold to the poor. The weird fifter in this fcene, as an infult on the poverty of the woman who had called her witch, reproaches her poor abject ftate, as not being able to procure better provifion than offals, which are confidered as the refufe of the tables of others.

COLEPEPER.

So, in The Ordinance for the Government of Prince Edward, 1474, the following fees are allowed: "mutton's heads, the rumpes of every beefe," &c. Again, in The Ordinances of the Houfehold of George Duke of Clarence: "the hinder shankes of the mutton, with the rumpe, to be feable."

Again, in Ben Jonfon'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. Again, in Wit at feveral Weapons, by Beaumont and Fletcher : "A niggard to your commons, that you're fain "To fize your belly out with fhoulder fees,

"With kidneys, rumps, and cues of fingle 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 of haukes, it is faid : "The hauke tyreth upon rumps."

3

STEEVENS.

Fr.

ronyon cries.] i. e. fcabby or mangy woman. rogneux, royne, fcurf. Thus Chaucer, in The Romaunt of the Rofe, p. 551:

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"

"Withouten bleine, or fcabbe, or roine.' Shakspeare uses the fubftantive again in The Merry Wives of Windfor, and the adjective-roynish, in As you like it.

4

STEEVENS.

in a fieve I'll thither fail,] Reginald Scott, in his Difcovery of Witchcraft, 1584, fays it was believed that witches "could fail in an egg fhell, a cockle or muscle thell, through and under the tempettuous feas." Again, fays Sir W. D'Avenant, in his Albovine, 1629:

"He fits like a witch failing in a fieve."

Again, in Newes from Scotland: Declaring the damnable Life of Doctor Fian a notable Sorcerer, who was burned at Edinbrough in Januarie laft, 1591; which Doctor was Regifter to the Devill, that fundrie Times preached at North Baricke Kirke, to a Number of notorious Witches. With the true Examination of the faid Doctor and Witches, as they uttered them in the Prefence of the Scottish King. Difcovering how they pretended to bewitch and drowne his Majeftie in the Sea comming from Denmarke, with other fuch wonderful Matters as the like hath not bin heard at anie Time. Published according to the Scottish Copie. Printed for William Wright: "—and that all they together went to fea, each one in a riddle or cive, and went in the fame very fubftantially with flaggons of wine, making merrie and drinking by the way in the fame riddles or cives," &c. Dr. Farmer found the title of this scarce pamphlet in an interleaved copy of Maunfells Catalogue, &c. 1595, with additions by Archbishop Harfenet and Thomas Baker the Antiquarian. It is almoft needlefs to mention that I have fince met with the pamphlet itself. STEEVENS.

5 And, like a rat without a tail,] It fhould be remembered, (as it was the belief of the times,) that though a witch could affume the form of any animal fhe pleased, the tail would still be wanting.

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

STEEVENS.

I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do."

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

3 WITCH. And I another.

1 WITCH. I myself have all the other And the very ports they blow,

All the quarters that they know

I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

I' the hipman's card.-
Look what I have.

Show me, fhow me.

Thus do go about, about;] As I cannot help fuppofing this fcene to have been uniformly metrical when our author wrote it, in its prefent ftate I fufpect it to be clogged with interpolations, or mutilated by omiffions.

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

Were even the condition of modern tranfcripts for the ftage understood by the public, the frequent accidents by which a poet's meaning is depraved, and his meafure vitiated, would need no illuftraton. STEEVENS.

7 I'll give thee a wind.] This free gift of a wind is to be confidered as an act of fifterly friendship, for witches were fupposed to fell them. So, in Summer's laft Will and Teftament, 1600:

in Ireland and in Denmark both,
"Witches for gold will fell a man a wind,
"Which in the corner of a napkin wrap'd,

"Shall blow him fafe unto what coaft he will." Drayton, in his Mooncalf, fays the fame. It may be hoped, however, that the conduct of our witches did not refemble that of one of their relations, as defcribed in an Appendix to the old tranflation of Marco Paolo, 1579: "-they demanded that he fhould give them a winde; and he fhewed, fetting his handes behinde, from whence the wind fhould come," &c. STEEVENS.

" And the very ports they blow,] As the word very is here of no other ufe than to fill up the verfe, it is likely that Shakspeare wrote various, which might be eafily miftaken for very,

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