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Whofe loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
We fhall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
Though our lives
MACB. Your fpirits fhine through you. Within this hour, at moft, 4
I will advise you where to plant yourselves. Acquaint you with the perfect fpy o'the time, The moment on't; for't must be done to-night,
at moft,] Thefe words have no other effe& than to spoil the metre, and may therefore be excluded as an evident interpolation. STEEVENS.
5 Acquaint you with the perfed fpy o'the time,
The moment on't;] What is meant by the Spy of the time, it will be found difficult to explain; and therefore fenfe will be cheaply gained by a flight alteration. Macbeth is affuring the affaffins that they fhall not want directions to find Banquo, and therefore says: I will.
Acquaint you with a perfe& fpy o'the time,
Accordingly a third murderer joins them afterwards at the place
Perfect is well inftruded, or well informed, as in this play: Though in your ftate 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 jun&ure.
How the critical juncture is the fpy o'the time, I know not, but I think my own conjecture right. JOHNSON.
I rather believe we fhould read thus:
I believe that the word with, has bere the force of by; in which fenfe Shakipeare frequently uses it; and that the meaning of the paffage is this: "I will let you know by the perfon beft informed, of the exact moment in which the bufinefs is to be done." And
And fomething from the palace: always thought, That I require a clearness: And with him,
accordingly we find in the next fcene, that these two murderers are joined by a third, as Johnfon has observed. In his letter to his wife, Macbeth fays, I have heard by the perfecteft report, that they have more than mortal knowledge. "And in this very fcene, we find the word with used to exprefs by, where the murderer fays he is tugg'd with fortune." 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 affurance of not being difappointed; and not only with the time in general moft proper for lying in wait for him, but with the very moment when you may expect him. MALONE.
I explain the paffage thus, and think it needs no reformation, but that of a fiugle point.
Within this hour at moft,
I will advise you where to plant yourselves.
Here I place a full ftop; as no further inftructions could be given by Macbeth, the hour of Banquo's return being quite uncertain. Macbeth therefore adds - 116 Acquaint you" &c. i. e. in ancient language, acquaint yourselves with the exact time moft favourable to your purposes; for fuch a moment must be spied out by you, be selected by your own attention and scrupulous obfervation. -You is ungrammatically employed, inftead of yourselves; as him is for himself, in The Taming of a Shrew:
"To fee her noble lord reftor'd to health,
"Who, for twice feven years, hath efteemed him
"No better than a poor and loathsome beggar."
In this place it is evident that him is used inftead of himself. Again, in K. Henry IV. P. I:
Advantage feeds him fat— i. e. himself.
Again, more appofitely, in K. Richard II. where York addref fing himself to Bolingbroke, Northumberland, and others faysenter in the cafle
"And there repose you [i. e. yourselves] for this night." Macbeth, in the intervening time, might have learned from fome of Banquo's attendants, which way he had ridden out, and therefore could tell the murderers where to plant themselves fo as to cut him off on bis return; but who could ascertain the precife hour of his arrival, except the ruffians who watched for that purpose?
That I require a clearness: ] i. e. you must manage matters fo, that throughout the whole tranfaction I may ftand clear of fufpicion,
(To leave no rubs, nor botches, in the work.)
We are refolv'd, my lord. MACB. I'll call upon you ftraight; abide within. It is concluded:--Banquo, thy foul's flight, If it find heaven, muft find it out to-night.
The fame. Another Room.
Enter Lady MACBETH, and a Servant.
LADY M. Is Banquo gone from court?
For a few words.
Nought's had, all's spent,' Where our defire is got without content:
So, Holinfhed: "
appointing them to meet Banquo and his fonne without the palace, as they returned to their lodgings, and there to flea them, fo that he would not have his house flandered, but that in time to come he might cleare himself." STEEVENS.
6 I'll come to you anon.] Perhaps the words - to you, which corrupt the metre, without enforcing the sense, are another playhouse interpolation. STEEVENS.
Nought's had, all's fpent,] Surely, the unneceffary words. Nought's had. -are a taftelefs interpolation; for they violate the measure without expanfion of the fentiment.
'Tis fafer to be that which we destroy,
How now, my lord? why do you keep alone,
Should be without regard: what's done, is done. MACB. We have fcotch'd the fnake, not kill'd
For a few words. Madam, I will. All's spent. is a complete verst.
There is fufficient reafon to fuppofe the metre of Shakspeare was originally uniform and regular. His frequent exactnefs in making one fpeaker complete the verfe which another had left imperfect, is too evident to need exemplification. Sir I Hanmer was aware of this, and occafionally fruggled with fuch metrical difficulties as occurred; though for want of familiarity with ancient language, he often failed in the choice of words to be rejected or sup plied. STEEVENS, forrieft fancies
i. e. worthlefs, ignoble, vile. So,
"I have a falt and forry rheum offends me."
Sorry, however, might fignify forrowjul, melancholy, difmal. So, in The Comedy of Errors:
"The place of death and forry execution."
Again, in the play before us (as Mr. M. Mafon obferves) Macbeth fays, This is a forry fight." STEEVENS."
Things without remedy,] The old copy-all remedy. But furely, as Sir T. Hanmer thinks, the word all is an interpolation, hurtful to the metre, without improvement of the lense. The fame thought occurs in K. Richard 11. Act II. c. iii:
Things paft redrefs, are now with me paft care.
- Scotch'd· ] Mr. Theobald.-Fol. Scorch'd.
She'll clofe, and be herfelf; whilft our poor malice Remains in danger of her former tooth.
The frame of things disjoint, both the worlds fuffer,2
In reftless ecftacy. Duncan is in his grave;
Treafon has done his worst: nor fteel, nor poison, Malice domeftick, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further!
LADY M. Come on;
Gentle my lord, fleek o'er your rugged looks;
Scotch'd is the true reading. So, in Coriolanus, Aà IV. fc. v: he fcotch'd him and notch'd him like a carbonado." STEEVENS.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds fuffer,] The old copy reads thus, and I have followed it, rejecting the modern contraction, which was:
But let both worlds disjoint, and all things fuffer.
The fame idea occurs in Hamlet:
"That both the worlds I give to negligence." STEEVENS.
3 Whom we, to gain our place, have fent to peace, ] The old copy
Whom we, to gain our peace-. For the judicious correctionplace, we are indebted to the fecond folio.
3 In reflefs echtacy.] Ecstacy, for madness. WARBURTON.
Ecftacy, in its general fenfe, fignifies any violent emotion of the mind. Here it means the emotions of pain, agony. So, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, P. I:
Griping our bowels with retorqued thoughts, "And have no hope to end our extafies."
Again, Milton, in his ode on The Nativity:
"In penfive trance, and anguilh, and ecftatic fit."