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3. Witch. That will be ere set of fun.
Upon the heath: 3. Witch. There to meet with Macbeth.
s e re set of fun.] The old copy unnecessarily and harshly reads
ere the set of fun. Steevens. 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 avith 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 imply.
Somewhat, however (as the verse is evidently imperfect) muft have been left out by the transcriber or printer. Mr. Capell has therefore proposed to remedy this defect, by reading
There to meet with brave Macbeth. But surely, to beings intent only on mischief, a soldier's bravery in an honest cause, would have been no subject of encomium.
Mr. Malone (omitting all previous remarks, &c. on this passage) assures us that " There is here used as a disfyllable." 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 received.
The pronoun “ their," 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 himself.
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 to supply by the intro duction of a single pronoun, and by distributing the hitherto muti. lated line, among the three speakers :
1. Witch. I come, Graymalkin!? All. Paddock calls :--Anon.
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 W bom 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 deci. five and material answers; and that I would give the words "I come, Graymalkin!” to the third. By allistance from such of our author's plays as had been published in quarto, we have often detected more important errors in the folio 1623, which, unluckily, supplies the most ancient copy of Macbeth. STEEVENS.
7_ Graymalkin!] From a little black-letter book, entitled, Beware the Cat, 1584. I find it was permitted to a Witch to take on her a cattes body nine times. Mr. Upton observes, that, to un. derstand this passage, we should suppose one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad.
Again, in Newes from 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 majestie was in Denmarke, shee beeing accompanied with the parties before fpecially mentioned, tooke a cat and christened it, and afterward bound to each part of that cat the cheefelt parte 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 fayling in their riddles or cives as is aforesaid, and so left the said cat right before the towne of Leith in Scotland. This doone, there did arise such a tempest in the sea, as a greater hath not bene seene," &c. STEEVENS.
8 Paddock calls:-&c.] This, with the two following lines, is given in the folio to the three Witches. Some preceding editors have appropriated the first of them to the second Witch.
According to the late Dr. Goldsmith, and some other naturalists, a frog is called a paddock in the North ; as in the following instance in Cæfar and Pompey, by Chapman, 1607 :
" Paddockes, todes, and watersnakes."
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:9
In Shakspeare, however, it certainly means a toad. The representation of St. James in the witches' house (one of the set of prints taken from the painter called Hellish Breugel, 1566) exhibits witches Aying up and down the chimney on brooms; and before the fire fit 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 ingredient for the charm. A representation somewhat similar likewise occurs in Newes from Scoiland, &c. a pamphlet already quoted. Steevens.
“ — Some say, they switches can keepe devils and spirits, in the likeness of todes and cats.” Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, (1584.] Book I. c. iv. Tollet.
9 Fair is foul, and foul is fair :) i. e. we make these sudden changes of the weather. And Macbeth, speaking of this day, foon after says:
So foul and fair a day I have not feer. 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 notion, Macbeth addresies them in the fourth act:
Though you untie the windi, &c. STEEVENS. I believe the meaning is, that to us, perverse and malignant as we are, fair is foul, and foul is fui. JOHNSON.
This expression seems tu have been proverbial. Spenser has it in the 4th bock of the Farry Queeni " Then fair grow foul, and foul grew fair in fight."
Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM,
DONALBAIN, Lenox, with attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier.
Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report,
This is the sergeant,
Doubtfully it stood ;?.
. . This 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 fpirit among the people, the king sent a Jergeant 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, and finally New him. This sergeant at arms is certainly the origin of the bleeding Jergeant introduced on the present occasion. Shakspeare just caught the name from Holinshed, but the rest of the story not fuiting 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. Steevens.
3 Doubtfully it flood;] Mr. Pope, who introduced the epithet long, to allift the metre, and reads-Doubtful long it ftood,—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;
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together,
The old copy has-Doublfull-so that my addition consists of but a single letter. STEEVENS.
4_ 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 fubftituted, 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 inadvertence or choice, have here written-Macdonwald. Malone.
s to that, &c.] i. e, in addition to that. So, in Troilus and Crellida, 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, be abounds with the numevous enormities to which man, in his natural fate, is liable.
STEEVENS. 6_ from the western ifles
Of Kernes and Gallowglasses is fupplied;] Whether supplied of, for fupplied from or with, was a kind of Grecism of Shakspeare's expresion; or whether of be a corruption of the editors, who took Kernes and Gallowglases, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know. Hinc conjeéturæ vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hiber. nica, Gallicis antiquis fimilia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armature quos Kernos vocant, nec non secures G loricæ ferrere peditum illorum gravioris armature, quos Galloglaslios appellant. Waræi Antiq. Hiber. cap. vi. WARBURTON.
Of and with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. So, in The Spanish Tragedy :
“ Perform'd of pleasure by your son the prince.”