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But for last should then be written next. I believe the

true reading is,

You know your own degrees, sit down.—To first

And last the hearty welcome.

All of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, be assured that their visit is well received.




-There's blood upon thy face.

[To the murderer, aside at the door.

Murderer. 'Tis Banquo's then.

Macbeth. 'Tis better thee without, than he within.

The sense apparently requires that this passage should be read thus:

"Tis better thee without, than him within.

That is, I am more pleased that the blood of Banquo should be on thy face, than in his body.


Lady Macbeth. O proper stuff!

This is the very painting of your fear :

[Aside to Macbeth.

This is the air-drawn dagger, which, you said,

Led you to Duncan. Oh, these flaws and starts,
Impostures to true fear, would well become
A woman's story at a winter's fire,

Authoriz'd by her grandam. Shame itself!

Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
You look but on a stool.

As starts can neither with propriety nor sense be called impostures to true fear, something else was undoubtedly intended by the author, who, perhaps, wrote,

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'These symptoms of terrour and amazement might better become impostors true only to fear, might become a coward at the recital of such falsehoods, as no man could credit,

whose understanding was not weakened by his terrours; tales, told by a woman over a fire on the authority of her grandam.


Macbeth.-Love and health to all!

Then I'll sit down: give me some wine, fill full:-
I drink to the general joy of the whole table,
And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss ;
Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
And all to all.-

Though this passage is, as it now stands, capable of more meanings than one, none of them are very satisfactory; and, therefore, I am inclined to read it thus:

-to all, and him, we thirst, And hail to all.

Macbeth, being about to salute his company with a bumper, declares that he includes Banquo, though absent, in this act of kindness, and wishes health to all. Hail or heil for health was in such continual use among the goodfellows of ancient times, that a drinker was called a washeiler, or a wisher of health, and the liquor was termed was-heil, because health was so often wished over it. Thus in the lines of Hanvil the monk,

Jamque vagante scypho, discincto gutture was-heil
Ingeminant was-heil: labor est plus perdere vini
Quam sitis.

These words were afterwards corrupted into wassail and wassailer.


Macbeth.- -Can such things be,

And overcome us, like a summer's cloud,

Without our special wonder? You make me strange

Even to the disposition that I owe,

When now I think, you can behold such sights,

And keep the natural ruby of your cheek,

When mine is blanched with fear.

This passage, as it now stands, is unintelligible, but may be restored to sense by a very slight alteration :

You make me strange

Ev'n to the disposition that I know.

Though I had before seen many instances of your courage, yet it now appears in a degree altogether new. So that my long acquaintance with your disposition does not hinder me from that astonishment which novelty produces.

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It will have blood, they say, blood will have blood,
Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak;
Augurs, that understand relations, have

By magpies, and by choughs, and rooks, brought forth
The secret'st man of blood.-

In this passage the first line loses much of its force by the present punctuation. Macbeth having considered the prodigy which has just appeared, infers justly from it, that the death of Duncan cannot pass unpunished;

It will have blood:

then, after a short pause, declares it as the general observation of mankind, that murderers cannot escape:

-they say, blood will have blood.

Murderers, when they have practised all human means of security, are detected by supernatural directions: Augurs, that understand relations, &c.

By the word relation is understood the connexion of effects with causes; to understand relations as an augur, is to know how those things relate to each other, which have no visible combination or dependence.



Enter Lenox and another Lord.

As this tragedy, like the rest of Shakespeare's, is, perhaps, overstocked with personages, it is not easy to assign

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a reason, why a nameless character should be introduced here, since nothing is said that might not, with equal propriety, have been put into the mouth of any other disaffected man. I believe, therefore, that in the original copy, it was written, with a very common form of contraction, Lenox and An. for which the transcriber, instead of Lenox and Angus, set down, Lenox and another Lord. The author had, indeed, been more indebted to the transcriber's fidelity and diligence, had he committed no errours of greater importance.

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As this is the chief scene of enchantment in the play, it is proper, in this place, to observe, with how much judgment Shakespeare has selected all the circumstances of his infernal ceremonies, and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions :

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.


The usual form in which familiar spirits are reported to converse with witches, is that of a cat. A witch, who was tried about half a century before the time of Shakespeare, had a cat named Rutterkin, as the spirit of one of those witches was Grimalkin; and when any mischief was to be done, she used to bid Rutterkin go and fly; but once, when she would have sent Rutterkin to torment a daughter of the countess of Rutland, instead of going or flying, he only cried mew, from whence she discovered that the lady was out of his power, the power of witches being not universal, but limited, as Shakespeare has taken care to inculcate :

Though his bark cannot be lost,

Yet it shall be tempest-tost.

The common afflictions which the malice of witches produced, were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh, which are threatened by one of Shakespeare's witches:

Weary sev'n nights, nine times nine,

Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine.

It was, likewise, their practice to destroy the cattle of their neighbours, and the farmers have, to this day, many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from witchcraft; but they seem to have been most suspected of malice against swine. Shakespeare has, accordingly, made one of his witches declare that she has been killing swine; and Dr. Harsenet observes, that, about that time, "a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft.”

Toad, that under the cold stone,
Days and nights hast thirty-one,
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Toads have, likewise, long lain under the reproach of being by some means accessary to witchcraft, for which reason Shakespeare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Padocke, or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found at his lodgings," ingens bufo vitro inclusus," a great toad shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him "veneficium exprobrabant," charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake:
Eye of newt, and toe of frog ;-
For a charm, &c.

The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books De Viribus Animalium and De Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.

Finger of birth-strangled babe,
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab—

It has been already mentioned, in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to

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