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there is no ghost but Banquo's throughout the play. Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakspeare. Mrs. MONTAGUE. Line 136. Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls:] The expression of Macbeth, that the crown scars 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. JOHNSON.
-And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:A third is like the former :] As Macbeth expected to see a train of kings, and was only enquiring 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,
This Dr. Warburton has followed. JOHNSON. Line 146. That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry:] This was intended as a compliment to king James the first, who first united the two islands and the three kingdoms under one head; whose house too was said to be descended from Banquo. WARB. Line 148. the blood-bolter'd Banquo-] i, e. besmeared or begrimed with blood.
cheer we up his sprights,] i. e. his spirits. -175. Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits :] To anticipate is here to prevent, by taking away the opportunity. JOHNS.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
Line 201. -natural touch.] Natural sensibility. touched with natural affection.
-when we are traitors,
He is not JOHNSON.
And do not know ourselves;] i. e. we think ourselves innocent, the government thinks us traitors; therefore we are ignorant of ourselves. This is the ironical argument. WARB. Line 213. when we hold rumour
From what we fear,] To hold rumour signifies to be governed by the authority of rumour. WARBURTON.
Line 225. Sirrab, your father's dead;] Sirrah was not formerly used as a term of reproach, as at present.
Line 273. To do worse to you were fell cruelty,] To do worse is, to let her and her children be destroyed without warning.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Line 299. Bestride our down-fal'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 incumbrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or birth right, says he, lies on the ground; let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not - abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution. JOHNSON.
Line 318. A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge.] A good mind may recede from goodness in the execution of a royal commission. JOHNSON. Line 322. Though all things foul, &c.] The meaning perhaps is this:-My suspicions cannot injure you, if you be virtuous, by supposing that a traitor may put on your virtuous appearance. I do not say that your virtuous appearance proves you a traitor; for virtue must wear its proper form, though that form be often counterfeited by villany. JOHNSON. Line 328. Why in that rawness- -] Without previous provision, without due preparation, without maturity of counsel.
Line 337. -Wear thou thy wrongs] That is, Poor country, wear thou thy wrongs. JOHNSON. Line 339. Thy title is affeer'd!] i. e. confirmed. -400. -foysons-] Plenty.
and the chance, of goodness,
Be like our warranted quarrel!] i. e. And may the success of that goodness, which is about to exert itself in my behalf, be such as may be equal to the justice of my quarrel.
Line 459. -convinces- -] i. e. overpowers, subdues.
STEEVENS. 494. A modern ecstacy:] Modern is foolish or trifling. JOHNSON.
should not latch them.] To latch
(in the North STEEVENS.
country dialect) signifies the same as to catch. Line 531. fee-grief,] A peculiar sorrow; a grief that hath a single owner. The expression is, at least to our ears, very harsh. JOHNSON,
Line 545. Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,] Quarry is a term used both in hunting and falconry. In either of these diversions it means the death of the game. STEEVENS.
Line 560. He has no children.] It has been observed by an anonymous critick, that this is not said of Macbeth, who had children, but of Malcolm, who having none, supposes a father can be so easily comforted. JOHNSON. Line 564. At one fell swoop?] Swoop is the fall of a bird of prey upon his quarry. Line 565. Dispute it like a man.] i. e. contend with your present sorrow like a man. STEEVENS.
Line 591. Put on their instruments.] i. e. encourage, thrust forward us their instruments, against the tyrant. STEEVENS.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 47. You mar all with this starting.] Alluding to Macbeth's terrors at the sight of Banquo's ghost.
Line 82. My mind she has mated,] Astonished, confounded.
ACT V. SCENE II,
Line 90. Excite the mortified man.] By the mortified man, is meant a religious; one who has subdued his passions, is dead to the world, has abandoned it, and all the affairs of it: an Ascetic. WARBURTON.
Line 97. unrough youths,] i. e. unbearded youths.
Itself, for being there ?] That is, when all the facul-
ties of the mind are employed in self-condemnation.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 124. Bring me no more reports; &c.] Tell me not any more of desertions-Let all my subjects leave me—I am safe till, &c.
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 infect others who see them with cowardice. WARBURTON.
the sear,] Sear, is dry.
Line 152. 169. skirr the country round;] To skirr, I believe, signifies to scour, to ride hastily. STEEVENS. 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. JOHNSON.
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 241. Fell is skin.
-arbitrate:] Arbitrate is determine. JOHNSON.
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.] -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. JOHNSON.
The dust of death is an expression used in the 22d Psalm.