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Be bright and jovial 'mong your guests to-night.
Muft lave our honours in these flattering ftreams;
Difguifing what they are.
You must leave this.
MACB. O, full of fcorpions is my mind, dear
Thou know'ft, that Banquo, and his Fleance lives. LADY M. But in them nature's copy's not eterne.'
4 remembrance. ] is here employed as a quadrifyllable. So, in Twelfth-Night:
And lafting in her fad remembrance." STEEVENS.
Prefent him eminence, ] i. e. do him the highest honours.
Unfafe the while, that we
Muft lave our honours in thefe flattering ftreams;
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Difguifing what they are. .] The fenfe of this paffage (though clouded by metaphor, and perhaps by omiffion) appears to be as follows: It is a fure fign that our royalty is unfafe, when it muft defcend to flattery, and stoop to diffimulation.
And yet I cannot help fuppofing (from the hemiftich, unfafe the while that we) fome words to be wanting which originally rendered the fentiment lefs obfcure. Shakspeare might have written
Unfafe the while it is for us, that we &c.
By a different arrangement in the old copy, the prefent hemiftich, indeed, is avoided; but, in my opinion, to the disadvantage of the other lines. See former editions. STEEVENS.
nature's copy's not eterne. ] The copy, the lease, by which they hold their lives from nature, has its time of termination li mited. JOHNSON.
Eterne for eternal is often ufed by Chaucer. So, in The Knight's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 1305:
MACB. There's comfort yet, they are affailable; Then be thou jocund: Ere the bat hath flown His cloifter'd flight; ere, to black Hecate's fum
The fhard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
O cruel goddes, that governe
"This world with binding of your word eterne,
"And writen in the table of athamant
"You parlement and your eterne grant." STEEVENS.
Dr. Johnson's interpretation is fupported by a fubfequent paffage in this play:
and our high-plac'd Macbeth
"Shall live the leafe of nature, pay his breath .
To time and mortal cuftom."
Again, by our author's 13th Sonnet:
So fhould that beauty which you hold in leafe,
Find no determination."
I once thought that by "Nature's copy" &c. our author meant (to ufe a Scriptural phrafe) man, as formed after the Deity, though not, like him, immortal. So, in King Henry VIII:
how fhall man,
"The image of his maker, hope to thrive by't?"
but, (as Mr. M. Mafon obferves,) in fupport of Dr. Johnfon's expla nation, we find that Macbeth in his next fpeech but one, alluding to the intended murder of Banquo and Fleance, fays,
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
That keeps me pale.
Mr. M. Mafon, however, adds, that by nature's copy," Shakspeare might only mean-the human form divine. STEEVENS.
The allufion is to an eftate for lives held by copy of court-roll. It is clear, from numberlefs allufions of the fame kind, that Shakfpeare had been an attorney's clerk. RITSON.
His cloifter'd flight;] The bats wheeling round the dim cloisters of Queen's College Cambridge, have frequently impreffed on me the fingular propriety of this original epithet. STEEVENS. Bats are often feen flying round cloisters, in the dusk of the evening, for a confiderable length of time.
9 The hard-borne beetle,] i. e. the beetle hatched in clefts of wood. So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
They are his hards, and he their beetle.".
Hath rung night's yawning peal, there fhall be done Sors. A deed of dreadful note.
The hard-borne beetle is the beetle borne along the air by its Shards or fealy wings. From a paffage in Gower De Confeffione Amantis, it appears that hards fignified Scales:
"She figh, her thought, a dragon tho,
"Whole Scherdes fhynen as the fonne." 1. 6. fol. 138.
and hence the upper or outward wings of the beetle were called Jhards, they being of a Scaly fubftance. To have an outward pair
of wings of a fcaly hard nefs, ferving as integuments to a filmy pair beneath them, is the characteristick of the beetle kind.
Ben Jonson, in his Sad Shepherd, says:*
The fcaly beetles with their habergeons,
"That make a humming murmur as they fly."
In Cymbeline, Shakspeare applies this epithet again to the beetle : we find
"The Sharded beetle in a fafer hold
"Than is the full-wing'd eagle.
Here there is a manifeft oppofition intended between the wings and flight of the infect and the bird. The beetle, whofe Sharded i wings can but juft raise him above the ground, is often in a ftate of greater fecurity than the vaft-winged eagle that can foar to any height.
As Shakspeare is here defcribing the beetle in the act of flying, (for he never makes his humming noife but when he flies,) it is more natural to suppose the epithet fhould allude to the peculiarity of his wings, than to the circumstance of his origin, or his place of habitation, both of which are common to him with several other ereatures of the infe&t kind.
The quotation from Antony and Cleopotra, feems to make against Dr. Warburton's explanation.
The meaning of Ænobarbus in that paffage is evidently as follows: Lepidus, fays he, is the beetle of the triumvirate, a dull, blind creature, that would but crawl on the earth, if Odavius and Antony, his more active colleagues in power, did not ferve him for Shards or wings to raise him a little above the ground.
What idea is afforded, if we fay that Odavius and Antony are two clefts in the old wood in which Lepidus was hatch'd?
The hard-born beetle is the beetle born in dung. Ariftotle and Pliny mention beetles that breed in dung. Poets as well as natural hiftorians have made the fame obfervation. See Drayton's Ideas, 31; fcorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies." So, Ben Jonson, Whalley's edit. Vol. I. p. 59:
What's to be done?
"But men of thy condition feed on floth,
"As doth the beetle on the dung fhe breeds in,"
That hard fignifies dung, is well known in the North of Staffordfhire, where cowfhard is the word generally used for cowdung. So, in A petite Palace of Pettie his Pleafure, p. 165: The humble-bee taketh no fcorn to loge on a cowe's foule fhard." Again, in Bacon's Nat. Hift. exp. 775: "Turf and peat, and cow fheards, are cheap fuels, and laft long."
Sharded beetle in Cymbeline, means the beetle lodged in dung; and there the humble earthly abode of the beetle is opposed to the lofty eyry of the eagle in the cedar, whofe top branch overpeer'd Jove's (preading tree," as the poet obferves in the third part of K. Henry VI. A& V. fc. ii. TOLLET.
The hard-born beetle is perhaps the beetle born among fhards, i. c. (not cow's dung, for that is only a fecondary or metonymical fignification of the word, and not even fo, generally, but) pieces of broken pots, tiles, and fuch-like things, which are frequently thrown together in corners as rubbish, and under which thefe beetles may ufually breed, or (what is the fame) may have been fuppofed fo to do.
Thus in Hamlet the prieft fays of Ophelia:
"Shards, flints, and pebbles, fhould be thrown on her." Would Mr. Tollet fay that cows dung was to be thrown into the grave? It is true, however, that fharded beetle feems fcarcely reconcilable to the above explanation. Mr. Steevens may be right; but Dr. Warburton and Mr. Tollet are certainly wrong.
The hard born beetle is the cock-chafer. Sir W. Davenant appears not to have understood this epithet, for he has given, inflead of it,
the harp-brow'd beetle.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation is, I think, the true one in the paffage before us. MALONE.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation is no doubt the moft fuitable to the context. The fucceeding paffages, however, make in favour of Mr. Tollet's explanation. In a Briefe Difcourfe of the Spanish ftate, 1590. p. 3. there is "How that nation rifing like the beetle from the cowhern hurtleth againft al things. And in Dryden, The
Hind and the Panther:
"Such fouls as fhards produce, fuch beetle things,
The Beetle and the Chafer are diflin& infects. HOLT WHITE.
MACB. Be innocent of the knowledge. dearest
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, feeling night,
deareft chuck, ] I meet with this term of endearment (which is probably corrupted from chick or chicken) in many of our ancient writers. So, in Warner's Albion's England, B. V. c. xxvii : immortal fhe-egg chuck of Tyndarus his wife."
It occurs alfo in our author's Twelfth Night:
Come, feeling night,] Seeling, i. e. blinding. It is a term in falconry. WARBURTON.
So, in The Booke of Hawkyng, Huntyng, &c. bl. 1. no date: And he must take wyth hym nedle and threde, to enfgle the haukes that bene taken. And in thys maner they must be enfiled. Take the nedel and thryde, and put it through the over eye lyd, and foe of that other, and make them faft under the becke that fhe fe not," &c. STEEVINS.
4 Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond
Which keeps me pale!] This may be well explained by the following paffage in K. Richard 111:
Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray."
Again, in Cymbeline, A& V. fc. iv:
Light thickens; and the crow &c.] By the expreffion, light thickens, Shakspeare means, the light grows dull or muddy. In this fenfe he uses it in Antony and Cleopatra:
my luftre thickens
"When he shines by."- EDWARDS'S MSS.
It may be added, that in the fecond part of K. Henry IV. Prince John of Lancafter tells Falftaff, that his defert is too thick to fhine." Again, in The Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, Ad I. fc. ult: "Fold your flocks up, for the air
"Gins to thicken, and the fun