Sidor som bilder


A Heath.


Enter the three Witches.

1. Witch. Where hast thou been, sister? 2. Witch. Killing swine. 3. Witch. Sifter, where thou ?? 1. Witch. A failor's wife had chesnuts in her

lap, And mounch'd, and mounch'd, and mounch'd :

Give me, quoth I: Aroint thee, witch ! * 'the rump-fed ronyons cries.

2 Killing fwine.] So, in a Detetion of damnable Driftes prattized by three Witches, &c. arraigned at Chelmisforde in Essex, &c. 1579. bl. l. 12mo, "Item, also she came on a tyme to the house of one Robart Lathburie &c. who dislyking her dealyng, sent her home emptie; but presently after her departure, his hogges fell ficke and died, to the number of twentie." STEEVENS, 3 1. Witch. Where haft thou been, fifter?

2. Witch. Killing swine.

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

1. Witch. Where haft been, fifter? 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 fifter, in the third. Steevens.

4 Aroint thee, witch!] Aroint, or avaunt, be gone. Pope.

In one of the folio editions the reading is—Anoint thee, in a fenfe 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

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

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 published, 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 ARONGT, of which the last is evidently the same with aroint, and used in the same sense as in this paisage. JOHNSON.

Rynt you wilch, quoth Belle Locket to her mother, is a north coun. try proverb. The word is used again in K. Lear:

“ And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.” Anoint is the reading of the folio 1664, a book of no authority.

STEEVENS. 5 the rump-fed ronyon ] The chief cooks in noblemen's families, colleges, religious houses, hospitals, &c. anciently 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. COLEPEPER.

So, in The Ordinance for the government of Prince Edward, 1474, the following fees are allowed :-" mutton's heades, the rumpes of every beefe," &c. Again, in The Ordinances of the Household of George Duke of Clarence : — the hinder fhankes 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. Again, in Wit at several Weapons, by Beaumont and Fletcher :

“ A niggard to your commons, that you're fain
" To fize your belly out with thoulder fees,

“ With kidneys, rumps, and cues of single beer.” In The Book of Haukynge, &c. (commonly called the Book of Si. Albans) bl. 1. no date, among the proper terms used in kepyng of haukes, it is said : “ The hauke tyreth upon rumps." STEEVENS.

6 - ronyon cries.] i. e. scabby or mangy woman. Fr. rogneux, rojne, scurf. Thus Chaucer, in The Romaunt of the Rose, p. 551 :

But in a fieve I'll thither fail,?
And, like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.'

" - her necke

• Withouten bleine, or scabbe, or roine.Shakspeare uses the word again in The Merry Wives of Windfor.

STEEVENS. ?- in a fieve I'll thither Jail,] Reginald Scott, in his Dilcovery of Witchcraft, 1584, says it was believed that witches“ could fail in an egg shell, a cockle or muscle shell, through and under the tempestuous seas.” Again, says Sir W. Davenant, in his Albovine, 1629:

•s. He fits like a witch sailing in a fieve." Again, in Newes from Scotland : Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian a notable forcerer, who was burned ar Edinbrough in ja nuarie laft, 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 Doétor and Witches, as they uttered them in the presence of the Scottish king. Discovering how they pretended to be witch and drowne his Majestie in the sea comming from Denmarke, with other such wonderful matters as the like hath not bin heard al anie time. Published according to the Scottish copie. Printed for 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 Maunjells 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,

8 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 the pleased, the tail would still be wanting.

The reason given by some 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 till no part about a woman which corresponded with the length of tail common to almost all our four-footed creatures. Steevens. o l'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

Ithe shipman's card.
Look what I hate.
Show me, show me.
Thus do go about, about ;- ] As I cannot help supposing this

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

scene to have been uniformly metrical when our author wrote it, in its present state I suspect it to be clogged with interpolations, 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 Itage understood by the public, the frequent accidents by which a poet's meaning is depraved, and his measure vitiated, would need no illustration. STEEVENS.

2 I'll give thee a wind.] This free gift of a wind is to be confidered as an act of fisterly friendship, for witches were supposed to sell them. So, in Summer's last Will and Teftament, 1600:

“ - 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 coaft he will.” Drayton, in his Moon-calf, says the same. It may be hoped, how. ever, 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, 15794" they demanded that he should give them a winde; and he fewed, setting his handes, from whence the wind should come,&c. Steevens.

3 And the very ports they blcv.,] As the word very is here of no other use than to fill up the verse, it is likely that Shakspeare wrote various, which might be easily mistaken for very, 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 blow upon. So, in Dumain's Ode in Love's Labour's Loft:

Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;_-"

I'the shipman's card."
I will drain him dry as hay:S
Sleep Thall, neither night nor day,
Hang upon his penthouse lid;
He shall live a man forbid : 7

i. e. blow upon them. We still say, it blows East, or West, without a preposition. STEVENS.

The substituted word was first given by Sir William Davenant, 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. 4 the shipman's card.] 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 Fletcher:

“ The card of goodness in your minds, that shews you

" When you sail false.” Again, in Churchyard's Prayfe and Reporte of Maister Martyne Forboisher's Voyage to Meta Incognita, &c. 12 mo. bl. 1. 1578: There the generall gaue a speciall Card and order to his captaines for the passing of the straites,” &c. Steevens.

s- dry as hay:] So, Spenser, in his Faery Queen, B. III. c. ix :

« But he is old and withered as hay.Steevens. 6 Sleep shall, neither night nor day,

Hang upon his penthouse lid;] So, in The Miracles of Moles, 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.

7 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 accursd.So among the Romans, an outlaw's sentence was, Aquæ & Ignis interdictio; i. e. he was forbid the use of water and fire, which imply'd the necessity of banijhment. THBOBALD.

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