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I'll make so bold to call, For 'tis my limited service.? [Exit Macduff. Len.
Goes the king
He does :-he did appoint so."
So, in The Tempeft:
“ There be some sports are painful; and their labour
“ Delight in them fets off.” MALONE. 7 For 'tis my limited service.] Limited, for appointed.
WARBURTON. So, in Timon :
« — for there is boundless theft, “ In limited professions." i. e. professions to which people are regularly and legally appointed. STEEVENS. 8 Goes the king
From hence to-day?] I have supplied the preposition from, for the sake of metre. So, in a former scene-Duncan says,
“ From hence to Inverness,” &c. Steevens. 9 He does :-he did appoint fo.] The words he doesmare omitted by Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton. But perhaps Shakfpeare designed Macbeth to shelter himself under an immediate falshood, till a sudden recollection of guilt restrained his confidence, and unguardedly disposed him to qualify his assertion; as he well knew the King's journey was effectually prevented by his death. A fimilar trait had occurred in a former scene :
" L. M. And when goes hence ?
“ M. To-morrow,-as he purposes.” SteeveNS ' 2 - strange screams of death;
And prophecying, with accents terrible, . Of dire combustion, and confus d events,
New hatch'd to the woeful time. The obscure bird
Was fecerous, and did shake.] These lines, I think, Mould be rather regulated thus :
'Twas a rough night. · Len. My young remembrance cannot parallel A fellow to it.
prophecying with accents terrible,
Was feverous and did shake. A prophecy of an event new-hatch'd seems to be a prophecy of an event past. And a prophecy new-hatch'd is a wry expression. The term new-batch'd is properly applicable to a bird, and that birds of ill omen should be new-batch'd to the woeful time, that is, should appear in uncommon numbers, is very confiftent with the rest of the prodigies here mentioned, and with the universal disorder into which nature is described as thrown by the perpetration of this hor. rid murder. JOHNSON.
I think Dr. Johnson's regulation of these lines is improper. Prophecying is what is new-barch'd, and in the metaphor holds the place of the cgg. The events are the fruit of such hatching.
Steevens. I think Steevens has justly explained this passage, but should wish to read-prophecyings in the plural. M. Mason. · Dr. Johnson observes, that “ a prophecy of an event new-hatch'd feems to be a prophecy of an event paft. And a prophecy new-harcb'd is a wry expression.” The construction suggested by Mr. Steevens meets with the first objection. Yet the following passage in which the same imagery is found, inclines me to believe that our author meant, that new-batch'd should be referred to events, though the events were yet to come. Allowing for his usual inaccuracy with respect to the active and passive participle, the events may be said to be “ the hatch and brood of time." See King Henry IV. P.JI:
“ The which observ'd, a man may prophely,
“ Such things become the hatch and brood of time." . Here certainly it is the thing or event, and not the prophecy, which is the batch of time ; but it must be acknowledged, the word “bre come” sufficiently marks the future time. If therefore the conftruction that I have suggested be the true one, hatch'd must be here used for hatching, or “ in the state of being hatch'd."--To the woeful time, means to suit the woeful time. MALONE.
Re-enter Macduff. MACD. O horror! horror! horror! Tongue, nor
heart, Cannot conceive, nor name thee! . MACB. Len.
What's the matter? MACn. Confusion now hath made his master
What is't you say? the life?
fight With a new Gorgon :-Do not bid me speak; See, and then speak yourselves.-Awake! awake!
[Exeunt Macbeth and Lenox. Ring the alarum-bell:-Murder! and treason! Banquo, and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake! Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, And look on death itself!-up, up, and see The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
3 — some say, the earth
“ - as if the world
“ Was feverous, and did tremble." Steevens. 4 Tongue, nor heart,
Cannot conceive, &c.] The use of two negatives, not to make an affirmative, but to deny more strongly, is very common in our author. So, in Julius Cæfar, Act III. sc. i :
" - there is no harm
STLEVENS, Vol. VII.
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprights, To countenance this horror !s
Enter Lady Macbeth. LADY M.
What's the business, That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley The Neepers of the house? speak, speak, MACD.
O, gentle lady, 'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak: The repetition, in a woman's ear, Would murder as it fell. - Banquo! Banquo !
5 this horror!] Here the old copy addsRing the bell.
STEEVENS. The subsequent hemistich— What's the business?”- which completes the metre of the preceding line, without the words “ Ring the bell,'' affords, in my opinion, a strong presumptive proof that these words were only a marginal direction. It should be remembered that the stage directions were formerly often couched in imperative terms: “ Draw a knife;" “ Play mufick ;” “ Ring the bell;" &c. In the original copy we have here indeed also Bell rings, as a marginal direction; but this was inserted, I imagine, from the players misconceiving what Shakspeare had in truth fet down in his copy as a dramatick direction to the property-inan, f“ King the bell.”) for a part of Macduff's speech; and, to diftinguish the direction which they inserted, from the supposed words of the speaker, they departed from the usual imperative form.
Throughout the whole of the preceding scene we have conttantly an imperative direction to the prompter: “ Knock within."
I suppose, it was in consequence of an imperfect recollection of this hemiftich, that Mr. Pope, having in his preface charged the editors of the first folio with introducing ftage-directions into their author's text, in support of his afertion quotes the following line :
“ My queen is murder'd :-ring the little bell." a line that is not found in any edition of these plays that I have met with, nor, I believe, in any other book. MALONE.
6- speak, Speak,-] These words, which violate the metre, were probably added by the players, who were of opinion that Speak, in the following line, demanded such an introduction.
STEEVEX3, i The repetition, in a woman's ear,
Would murdir as it fell.] So, in Hamlet : .
Too cruel, any where.
Re-enter Macbeth and Lenox. ,
Macb. Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had liy'd a blessed time;' for, from this instant, There's nothing serious in mortality : All is but toys : renown, and grace, is dead; The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees Is left this vault to brag of.
" He would drown the stage with tears,
“ And cleave the general ear with horrid speech." Again, in The Puritan, 1607 : “ The punishments that shall follow you in this world, would with horrour kill the ear should hear them related." MALONE.
8 What, in our house?] This is very fine. Had she been inno. cent, nothing but the murder itself, and not any of its aggravating circumstances, would naturally have affected her. As it was, her business was to appear highly disordered at the news. Therefore, like one who has her thoughts about her, she seeks for an aggravating circumstance, that might be supposed most to affect her perfonally; not considering, that by placing it there, the discovered rather a concern for herself than for the king. On the contrary, her husband, who had repented the act, and was now labouring under the horrors of a recent murder, in his exclamation, gives all the marks of sorrow for thc fact itself. WARBURTON.
9 Had I but died an hour before this chance,
“ Undone, undone!