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use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom king James examined, and who had of a dead body, that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. It is observable, that Shakespeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horrour. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.

And now about the cauldron sing-
Black spirits and white,
Red spirits and grey,
Mingle, mingle, mingle,
You that mingle may.

And, in a former part:

weird sisters hand in hand,

Thus do go about, about;

Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,

And thrice again, to make up nine;

These two passages I have brought together, because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shown, by one quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded upon a practice really observed by the uncivilized natives of that country. "When any one gets a fall," says the informer of Camden, "he starts up, and, turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way to the place, where she says, I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, red, black, white." There was, likewise, a book writ

ten before the time of Shakespeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.

Many other circumstances might be particularized, in which Shakespeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge".



Macbeth. Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down! Thy crown does (1) sear mine eye-balls:—and thy (2) hair, Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:

A third is like the former.

(1) The expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye-balls, is taken from the method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by holding a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind.

(2) As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only inquiring from what race they would proceed, he could not be surprised that the hair of the second was bound with gold, like that of the first; he was offended only that the second resembled the first, as the first resembled Banquo, and, therefore, said:

-and thy air,

Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.


I will give to the edge o' th' sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls

That trace him in his line.-No boasting like a fool :
This deed I'll do before my purpose cool.

A Compare the Incantations of the Erichtho of Lucan, the Canidia of Horace, the Cantata of Salvator Rosa, “all' incanto all' incanto," and the Eumenides of Eschylus. The Gothic wildness of Shakespeare's "weird sisters" will thence be better appreciated. Ed.

Both the sense and measure of the third line, which, as it rhymes, ought, according to the practice of this author, to be regular, are, at present, injured by two superfluous syllables, which may easily be removed by reading,


That trace his line:-No boasting like a fool.

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I pray you, school yourself: But for your husband,
He's noble, wise, judicious, and best knows

The fits o' th' time, I dare not speak much further,
But cruel are the times when we are traitors,

And do not know't ourselves, when we (1) hold rumour
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear;
But float upon a wild and violent sea,

Each way, and (2) move. I'll take my leave of you:
Shall not be long but I'll be here again :

Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before my pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you!

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From what we fear, yet know not what we fear.

The present reading seems to afford no sense; and, therefore, some critical experiments may be properly tried upon it, though, the verses being without any connexion, there is room for suspicion, that some intermediate lines are lost, and that the passage is, therefore, irretrievable. If it be supposed that the fault arises only from the corruption of some words, and that the traces of the true reading are still to be found, the passage may be changed thus:

-when we bode ruin

From what we fear, yet know not what we fear.

Or, in a sense very applicable to the occasion of the


-when the bold, running

From what they fear, yet know not what they fear.

(2) But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way, and move.

That he who floats upon a rough sea must move, is evident, too evident for Shakespeare so emphatically to assert. The line, therefore, is to be written thus:

Each way, and move- -I'll take my leave of you.

Rosse is about to proceed, but, finding himself overpowered by his tenderness, breaks off abruptly, for which he makes a short apology, and retires.



Malcolm. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there Weep our sad bosoms empty.

Macduff. Let us rather

Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men,
Bestride our downfal birth-doom: each new morn,

New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds

As if it felt with Scotland, and yell'd out

Like syllables of dolour.

He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfal birth-doom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text; but those who are willing to confess that such counsel would to them be unintelligible, must endeavour to discover some reading less. obscure. It is probable that Shakespeare wrote:

-like good men,

Bestride our downfall'n birthdom

The allusion is to a man from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without encumbrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birth

Advantage or 'vantage, in the time of Shakespeare, signified opportunity.

More and less is the same with greater and less. So in the interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter of India the more and the less.



Macbeth. Wherefore was that cry?
Seyton. The queen, my lord, is dead.
Macbeth. She should (1) have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of (2) recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow.—

(1) She should have died hereafter,

There would have been a time for such a word.

This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time, and that there would or would not be a time for any word, seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. I read, therefore :

She should have died hereafter,

There would have been a time for-such a world !—
To-morrow, &c.

It is a broken speech, in which only part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus: The queen is dead. Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; had she lived longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that respect which I owe her for her fidelity and love. Such is the world-such is the condition of human life, that we always think to-morrow will be happier

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