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Duch. This must be done with speed, dispatched
This night, if it may possible.

Hec. I have it for you :
Here's that will do't. Stay but perfection's time,
And that's not five hours hence.

Duch. Çan'st thou do this?

Hec. Can I ?
Can you doubt me then, daughter?
That can make mountains tremble, miles of woods walk;
Whole earth's foundations bellow, and the spirits
Of the entomb’d to burst out from their marbles ;
Nay, draw yon moon to my involv'd designs ?

Fire. I know as well as can be when my mother's mad, and
our great cat angry; for one spits French then, and th' other spits
Duch. I did not doubt


Hec. No ? what did you ?
My power's so firm, it is not to be question'd.

Duch. Forgive what's past : and now I know th' offensiveness,
That vexes art, I'll shun th' occasion ever.

Hec. Leave all to me and my five sisters, daughter :
It shall be conveyed in at howlet-time.
Take you no care. My spirits know their moments :
Raven or screech-owl never fly by th’ door
But they call in (I thank 'em), and they lose not by't. ·
Where's grannam Stadlin, and all the rest o'th' sisters ?

Fire. All at hand, forsooth.
Hec. Give me marmaritin; some bear-breech. When?
Fire. Here's bear-breech and lizard's brain, forsooth.

Hec. Into the vessel;
And fetch three ounces of the red-hair'd girl
I kill'd last midnight.

Fire. Whereabouts, sweet mother?
Hec. Hip, hip or flank. Where is the acopus?
Fire. You shall have

acopus, forsooth.
Hec. Stir, stir about; whilst I begin the charm.


The Witches going about the cauldron.
Black spirits and white; red spirits and grey:
Mingle, mingle, mingle; you that mingle may:

Titty, Tiffin, keep it stiff in;
Firedrake, Puckey, make it lucky:

Liard, Robin, you must bob in ;

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Round, around, around ; about, about;
All ill come running in; all good keep out!

1st Witch. Here's the blood of a bat.
Hec. Put in that; oh, put in that.
2d Witch. Here's libbard's-bane.
Hec. Put in again.
1st Witch. The juice of toad, the oil of adder.
2d Witch. Those will make the yonker madder.
All. Round, around, around,” &c.

This scene, the reader will perceive, must (if written before Macbeth, and generally known amongst the writers of the time,) have been the origin of one of the scenes in that celebrated play. With regard to the witches themselves, an eminent critic (Mr. Charles Lamb) has shewn the difference between Shakspeare's witches and those of Middleton; and he has awarded the palm, perhaps deservedly, in favour of the creations of Shakspeare. Nevertheless-with deference to


For the sake of the reader, who may be unacquainted with that delightful volume, the Specimens of the English Dramatic Poets, by Charles Lamb, we transcribe the author's note upon this subject.

Though some resemblance may be traced between the charms in Macbeth, and the incantations in this play, which is supposed to have preceded it, this coincidence will not detract much from the originality of Shakspeare. His witches are distinguished from the witches of Middleton by essential differences. These are creatures to whom man or woman, plotting some dire mischief, might resort for occasional consultation. Those originate deeds of blood, and begin bad impulses to men. From the moment that their


first meet with Macbeth's, he is spell-bound. That meeting sways his destiny. He can never break the fascination. These witches can hurt the body; those have power over the soul.--Hecate in Middleton has a son, a low buffoon: the hags of Shakspeare have neither child of their own, nor seem to be descended from any parent. They are foul anomalies, of whom we know not whence they are sprung, nor whether they have beginning or ending. As they are without human passions, so they seem to be without human relations. They come with thunder and lightning, and vanish to airy music. This is all we know of them. Except Hecate, they have no names, which heightens their mysterious

The names, and some of the properties, which Middleton has given to his hags, excite smiles. The weird sisters are serious things. Their

presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But, in a lesser degree, the witches of Middleton are fine creations. Their power too is, in some measure, over the mind. They raise jars, jealousies, strifes, like a thick scurf o'er life.


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such authority, which, in fact, we are not aware that we materially oppose-we think, that the hags of Middleton, if not so sublime, are, at the least, as true-more true to our pre-conceived notions of those sinful elders, than even the sexless fictions of Shakspeare himself. The witches of our great poet, as pieces of imagination, must rank perhaps above the mere earthy superstitions of Middleton. They have neither sex nor name, parents nor children; they have no occupation but as ministers of evil; no habitation, save the blasted heath and the haunted cavern. They have nothing in common with humanity ; but stand forth, phantoms, as false, though less attractive, than the fabled cloud which arrayed itself in shape and dazzling beauty to tempt the raging love of Ixion. The creatures of Shakspeare are like the Furies, or the Fates of Greek mythology. They seem born of cloud and storm: they come with the tempest, freighted and full of evil, and dissolve in lightning and thunder. The witches of Middleton, on the other hand, seem compounded of earth. They are akin to Caliban, though scarcely so romantic, being dwellers in the neighbourhood of villages, blasters of corn and maimers of cattle, as hate or interest or the love of mischief prompts them. Nevertheless, with all their drawbacks, they are excellent people in their way; and the freshness and truth of some of the scenes wherein they figure are—it is a bold word-not inferior to those of Macbeth. They are altogether a Midsummer Night's Dream,-airy as Titania or Oberon,-buoyant as the winds on which they ride. We will give our readers one of these scenes.

To us it seems perfect in its way. We have the sense of the “rich evening" upon us--the moonlight-the owl hooting in the copse--the mounting into air :

-How light is the dialogue between Hecate and her sisters who are aloft :-We hear them shouting and calling-descending and ascending and loitering for their mistress on the wind :-They speak of the “ dainty pleasure” of riding in the air—in the white moonshine-over woods and hills--steeple-tops and turrets-beyond the sound of bells or the howling of the midnight wolves, and we cannot refuse them our belief.

Enter Heccate, Stadlin, Hoppo, and other Witches.
Hec. The moon's a gallant; see how brisk she rides !
Stad. Here's a rich evening, Heccate.

Hec. Aye, is’t not, wenches,
To take a journey of five thousand miles ?

Hop. Our's will be more to night.
Hec. Oh, it will be precious. Heard you the owl yet?
Stad. Briefly in the copse,

As we came thro' now.

Hec. 'Tis high time for us then.

Stad. There was a bat hung at my lips three times
As we came thro’ the woods, and drank her fill :
Old Puckle saw her.

Hec. You are fortunate still.
The very screech owl lights upon your shoulder,
woos you
like a pidgeon.


you furnished ? Have you your ointments ?

Stad. All.

Hec. Prepare to flight then :
I'll overtake you swiftly.

Stad. Hye then, Heccate :
We shall be


Hec. I'll reach you quickly.

[They ascend.

Enter Firestone.

Fire. They are all going a birding to-night. They talk of fowls i'th'air that fly by day, I'm sure they'll be a company of foul sluts there to night. If we have not mortality affeared, I'll be hang'd, for they are able to putrify it to infect a whole region. She spies me


Hec. What, Firestone, our sweet son?

Fire. A little sweeter than some of you; or a dunghill were too good for one.

Hec. How much hast there?

Fire. Nineteen, and all brave plump ones; besides six lizards, and three serpentine eggs.

Hec. Dear and sweet boy! What herbs hast thou?
Fire. I have some mar-martin, and mandragon.
Hec. Mar-maritin, and mandragora, thou would'st say.
Fire. Here's pannax too.

I thank thee; my pan akes,
I am sure, with kneeling down to cut 'em.

Hec. And selago.
Hedge Hissop too! How near he goes my cuttings !
Were they all cropt by moonlight?

Fire. Every blade of 'em, or I am a mooncalf, mother.

Hec. Hie thee home with 'em.
Look well to th’ house to-night; I am for aloft.

Fire. Aloft, quoth you? I would you would break your neck once, that I might have all quickly. [Aside.]-Hark, hark, mother! they are above the steeple already, flying over your head with a noise of musicians.

Hec. They are indeed, help me! help me! I'm too late else.

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[In the air above.]

Come away, come away,

Heccate, Heccate, come away.
Hec. I come, I come, I come, I come;

With all the speed I may;
With all the speed I may.

Where's Stadlin? [Above.] Here.

Hec. Where's Puckle ? (Above.] Here.

And Hoppo too, and Hellwain too:
We lack but you, we lack but you.


the count. Hec. I will but ’noint, and then I mount.

A Spirit descends in the shape of a Cat. [Above.] There's one come down to fetch his dues;

A kiss, a coll, a sip of blood;
And why thou stay'st so long, I muse, I muse,

Since th' air's so sweet and good.
Hec. Oh, art thou come,

What news, what news ?
Spirit. All goes still to our delight,

Either come, or else

Refuse, refuse.
Hec. Now, I am furnish'd for the flight.
Fire. Hark, hark! The cat sings a brave treble in her own lan-

Hec. [Ascending with the Spirit.] Now I go, now I fly,

Malkin, my sweet spirit, and I.
Oh, what dainty pleasure 'tis
To ride in the air,
When the moon shines fair,
And sing, and dance, and toy, and kiss!
Over woods, high rocks, and mountains,
Over seas our mistress' fountains,
Over steep towers and turrets
We fly by night, 'mongst troops of spirits.
No ring of bells to our ears sounds;
No howls of wolves, no yelp of hounds;
No not the noise of waters' breach,

Or cannon's roar, our height can reach. [Above.] No ring of bells, &c.

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