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Line 134. English epicures:] The reproach of Epicurism, on which Mr. Theobald has bestowed a note, is nothing more than a natural invective uttered by an inhabitant of a barren country, against those who have more opportunities of luxury. JOHNSON. Line 136. Shall never sagg with doubt,] To sagg is to hang heavy, to overload.
Line 143. patch?] An appellation of contempt, alluding to the py'd, patch'd, or particoloured coats anciently worn by the fools belonging to the people of distinction. STEEVENS.
-those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear.] The meaning is, they in
fect others who see them with cowardice.
Line 152. 169.
the sear,] Sear, is dry.
skirr the country round ;] To skirr, I believe, STEEVENS.
signifies to scour, to ride hastily.
Line 181. Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff,] Is the reading of the old copy; but for the sake of the ear, which must be shocked by the recurrence of so harsh a word, I would be willing to read, foul, were there any authority for the change. STEEV, Line 189.
The water of my land,] To cast the water was the phrase in use for finding out disorders by the inspection of urine. STEEVENS.
ACT V. SCENE IV.
Line 214. -but the confident tyrant-] He was confident of success; so confident that he would not fly, but endure their setting down before his castle.
Line 218. For where there is advantage to be given,
Both more and less have given him the revolt ;] Advantage or 'vantage, in the time of Shakspeare, signified opportunity. He shut up himself and his soldiers (says Malcolm) in the castle, because when there is an opportunity to be gone they all desert him. JOHNSON.
Line 227. What we shall say we have, and what we owe.] When we are governed by legal kings we shall know the limits of their claim, and shall know what we have of our own, and what they have a right to take from us. STEEVENS.
Line 229. arbitrate:] Arbitrate is determine. JOHNSON.
Line 241. Fell is skin.
ACT V. SCENE V.
fell of hair-] My hairy part, my capillitium. JOHNSON.
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word, &c.] I read,- -There would have been a time for such a world!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 liv'd 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 than today, but to-morrow and to-morrow steals over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we still linger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to the grave, who were engrossed by the same dream of future felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were, like me, reckoning on to-morrow.
Such was once my conjecture, but I am now less confident. Macbeth might mean, that there would have been a more convenient time for such a word, for such intelligence, and so fall into the following reflection. We say we send word when we give intelligence. JOHNSON.
Line 251. To the last syllable of recorded time;] Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of Heaven for the period of life. The record of futurity is indeed no accurate expression; but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written. JOHNSON.
Line 253. The way to dusty death.] Dr. Warburton reads dusky. Dusty is a very natural epithet.
The dust of death is an expression used in the 22d Psalm.
ACT V. SCENE VII.
Line 351. As easy may'st thou the intrenchant air, &c.] That is, air which cannot be cut. JOHNSON.
Line 354. I bear a charmed life,] In the days of chivalry, the champions' arms being ceremoniously blessed, each took an oath, that he used no charmed weapons. Macbeth, according to the law of arms, or perhaps only in allusion to this custom, tells Macduff of the security he had in the prediction of the spirit. STEEVENS. Line 363.—palter with us in a double sense;] That shuffle with ambiguous expressions.
Line 398. Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death:
And so his knell is knoll'd.] This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his Remains, from which our author probably copied it.
When Seyward, the martial earl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wounds were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered, in the fore part, he replied, "I am right glad; neither wish I any other death "to me or mine." JOHNSON.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON MACBETH.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 36. Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence.] By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, that my present death is according to the ordinary course of Providence, [wrought by nature] and not the effects of divine vengeance overtaking me for my crimes, [not by vile offence.] WARBURTON. Line 138. Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,] Clean is a provincial word, meaning complete, perfect.
Line 171. Richard III.
-wend,] To wend, is to go. Obsolete.
ACT I. SCENE II.
ere the weary sun set in the west.] Thus in King The weary sun hath made a golden set.
-a trusty villain,] Villain means servant.
—I shall be post indeed;
For she will score your fault upon my pate.]
It is very probable that this alludes to a practice which must have been adopted before the arts of writing and arithmetic