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Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,+ To cry, Hold, hold! Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor! 6


Again, in Spenfer's Fairy Queen, B. I. c. vi:

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the red-cross knight was flain with paynim knife." STEEVENS.

To avoid a multitude of examples, which in the present instance do not feem wanted, I fhall only observe that Mr. Steevens's remark might be confirmed by quotations without end. REED.


-the blanket of the dark,] Drayton, in the 26th Song of his Polyolbion, has an expreffion resembling this:

"Thick vapours, that, like ruggs, ftill hang the troubled


Polyolbion was not publifhed till 1612, after this play had certainly been exhibited; but in an earlier piece Drayton has the fame expreffion :

"The fullen night in miftie rugge is wrapp'd." Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596. Blanket was perhaps fuggefted to our poet by the coarfe 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 of Lucrece, 1594:

"Were Tarquin's night, (as he is but night's child,)
"The filver-fhining queen he would diftain;
"Her twinkling hand-maids too, [the ftars] by him

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

s To cry, Hold, hold!] On this paffage there is a long criticifm 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

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in the dun air fublime,"

And had already told us, in the character of Comus,

"'Tis only daylight that makes fin,

"Which thefe dun fhades will ne'er report."

Gawin Douglas employs dun as a fynonyme to fulvus.



Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have tranfported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the inftant.

To cry, Hold, hold!] The thought is taken from the old military laws which inflicted capital punishment upon "whofoever fhall ftrike ftroke 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 Inftructions for the Wars, tranflated in 1589. TOLLET.

Mr. Tollet's note will likewife illuftrate the laft line in Macbeth's concluding speech:

"And damn'd be him who first cries, hold, enough!" STEEVENS.

6 Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!] Shakspeare has fupported 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 fofter paffions 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 fuch a falutation as would have become one of his friends or vaffals; a falutation apparently fitted rather to raise his thoughts to a level with her own purposes, than to teftify her joy at his return, or manifeft an attachment to his perfon: nor does any fentiment expreflive of love or foftnefs fall from her throughout the play. While Macbeth himself, amidft the horrors of his guilt, ftill retains a character lefs fiend-like than that of his queen, talks to her with a degree of tendernefs, and pours his complaints and fears into her bofom, accompanied with terms of endearment. STEEVENS.

7 This ignorant prefent,] Ignorant has here the fignification of unknowing; that is, I feel by anticipation those future honours, of which, according to the procefs of nature, the present time would be ignorant. JOHNSON.

Duncan comes here to-night.



My dearest love,

And when goes hence

O, never

MACB. To-morrow, as he purposes.


Shall fun that morrow fee!

Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read ftrange matters: To beguile the time,

So, in Cymbeline:

"his fhipping,

"Poor ignorant baubles," &c.

Again, in The Tempeft:

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-ignorant fumes that mantle

"Their clearer reafon." STEEVENS,

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

"And that you not delay the prefent; 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

how you


(For this is from the prefent)
"The offer I have fent you." STEEVENS.

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

May read &c.] That is, thy looks are fuch as will awaken men's curiofity, excite their attention, and make room for fufpicion. HEATH.

So, in Pericles Prince of Tyre, 1609:

"Her face the book of praises, where is read

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Nothing but curious pleafures." STEEVENS. Again, in our author's Rape of Lucrece:

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


Look like the time; 9 bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent



But be the ferpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you fhall put

This night's great business into my despatch;
Which fhall to all our nights and days to come
Give folely fovereign fway and masterdom.

MACB. We will speak further.


Only look

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To alter favour ever is to fear: 2

Leave all the reft to me.



To beguile the time,

Look like the time;] The fame expreffion 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 lefs

"Than ufually he was in every part;

"Wore a clear face upon a cloudy heart." STEEVENS. The feventh and eighth Books of Daniel's Civil Wars were not published till the year 1609; [fee the Epiftle Dedicatorie to that edition:] fo that, if either poet copied the other, Daniel muft have been indebted to Shakspeare; for there can be little doubt that Macbeth had been exhibited before that year.

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

"So depe in greyne he died his coloures,

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Right as a ferpent hideth him under floures,

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

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


"For blufhing cheeks by faults are bred,

"And fears by pale white shown."

Favour is-look, countenance. So, in Troilus and Crefida: "I know your favour, lord Ulyffes, well." STEEVENS.


The fame. Before the Castle.

Hautboys. Servants of Macbeth attending,


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

3 This caftle hath a pleasant feat;] Seat here means fituation. Lord Bacon fays, "He that builds a faire house upon an ill seat, committeth himself to prifon. Neither doe I reckon it an ill feat, only where the aire is unwholfome, but likewise where the aire is unequal; as you fhall fee many fine feats fet upon a knap of ground invironed with higher hills round about it, whereby the heat of the funne is pent in, and the wind gathereth as in troughs; fo as you fhall have, and that fuddenly, as great diverfitie of heat and cold, as if you dwelt in feveral places."

Efays, 2d edit. 4to. 1632, p. 257. REED,

This caftle hath a pleafant feat ;] This fhort dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilft they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's caftle, has always appeared to me a striking inftance of what in painting is termed repofe. Their conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of its fituation, and the pleasantnefs of the air; and Banquo, obferving the martlet's nefts in every recefs of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds moft breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and eafy converfation gives that repofe fo neceffary to the mind after the tumultuous buftle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrafts the scene of horror that immediately fucceeds. It seems as if Shakspeare asked himself, What is a prince likely to fay to his attendants on fuch an occafion? Whereas the modern writers feem, on the contrary, to be always fearching for new thoughts, fuch as would never occur to men in the fituation which is reprefented. This alfo is frequently the practice of Homer, who, from the midst of battles and horrors, relieves and refreshes the mind of the reader, by introducing fome quiet Tural image, or picture of familiar domeftick life. SIR J. REYNOlds.

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