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ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting.
Ν Ο Τ Ε ΙΙ. .
The merciless Macdonel,
from the Western Isles
Kerns are light-armed, and Gallow-glasses heavy-armed soldiers. The word quarry has no sense that is properly applicable in this place, and therefore it is necessary to read,
And fortune on his damned quarrel smiling. Quarrel was formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to be found in that sense in Hollingshead's account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel to endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is fortune smiling on his execrable cause, &c.
If I say sooth, I must report they were
So they redoubled strokes upon the foe. Mr. Theobald has endeavoured to improve the sense of this passage by altering the punctuation thus :
So they redoubled strokes He declares, with some degree of exultation, that he has no idea of a cannon charged with double cracks; but surely the great author will not gain much by an alteration which makes him say of a hero, that he redoubles strokes with double cracks, an expression not more loudly to be applauded, or more easily pardoned, than that which is rejected in its favour. That a cannon is charged with thunder or with double thunders may be written not only without nonsense, but with elegance; and nothing else is here meant by cracks, which in the time of this writer was a word of such emphasis and dignity, that in this play he terms the general dissolution of nature the crack of doom.
There are among Mr. Theobald's alterations others which I do not approve, though I do not always censure them; for some of his amendments are so excellent, that, even when he has failed, he ought to be treated with indulgence and respect.
King. But who comes here?
So should he look, that seems to speak things strange. The meaning of this passage as it now stands is, so should he look, that looks as if he told things strange. But Rosse neither yet told strange things, nor could look as if he told them ; Lenox only conjectured from his air that he had strange things to tell, and therefore undoubtedly said
-What haste looks through his eyes ? So should he look, that teems to speak things strange. He looks like one that is big with something of importance, a metaphor so natural, that it is every day used in common discourse.
NO TE V.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches. 1st Witch. Where hast thou been, sister ? 2d Witch. Killing swine. 3d Witch. Sister, where thou? 1st Witch. A sailor's wife had chesnuts in her lap, And mouncht, and mouncht, and mouncht. Give
me, quoth 1. (1) Aroint thee, witch, the rump-fed ronyon cries. Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'th' Tiger : But in a sieve I'll thither sail, And like a rat without a tail, I'll do I'll do and I'll do. 2d Witch. I'll give thee a wind. 1st Witch. Thou art kind. 3d Witch. And I another. 1st Witch. I myself have all the other, And the (2) very points they blow, All the quarters that they know, I'th' Ship-man's card I will drain him dry as hay; Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his pent-house lid; He shall live a man (3) forbid;
(1) Aroint thee, witch,-In one of the folio editions the reading is anoint thee, in a sense very consistent with the common accounts of witches, who are related to perform many supernatural acts by the means of unguents, and particularly to fly through the air to the place 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 place; 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 from his mouth with these words out out aroynt, of which the last is evidently the same with aroint, and used in the same sense as in this passage.
(2) And the very points they blow. As the word very is here of no other use than to fill
up the verse, it is likely that Shakespeare wrote various, which might be easily mistaken for very, being either negligently read, hastily pronounced, or imperfectly heard.
(3) He shall live a man forbid. Mr. Theobald has very justly explained forbid by accursed, but without giving any reason of his interpretation. To bid is originally to pray, as in this Saxon fragment :
Þe ir Pir bit 7 bote &c.
He is wise that prays & improves. As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the word bid in its present sense, it sigvifies by the same kind of opposition to curse, when it is derived from the same word in its primitive meaning
NO TE VI.
The incongruity of all the passages in which the Thane of Cardor is mentioned is very remarkable ; in the second scene the Thanes of Rosse and Angus bring the king an account of the battle, and inform him that Norway,
Assisted by that most disloyal traytor
The Thane of Cawdor, 'gan a dismal conflict. It appears that Cawdor was taken prisoner, for the king says in the same scene,
--Go, pronounce his death, And with his former title greet Macbeth. Yet though Cawdor was thus taken by Macbeth, in arms against his king, when Macbeth is saluted, in the fourth scene, Thane of Cawdor, by the Weird Sisters, he asks,