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In a sieve I'll thither sail."— Act I. Sc. 3. Reginald Scott says, it was believed that witches “could sail in an egg-shell, a cockle or muscle-shell, through and under the tempestuous seas.” And in a book, " declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian," is the following passage: “ All they (the witches) together went to sea, each one in a riddle or cive, and went in the same very substantially with flagons of wine, making merrie and drinking by the way, in the same riddles or cives.'

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And like a rat without a tail.”—Act I. Sc. 3. It was imagined, that though a witch could assume the form of any animal she pleased, the tail would still be wanting. This deficiency has been thus accounted for; though the hands and feet, by an easy change, might be converted into the four paws of a beast, still there was no part about a woman which corresponded to the length of tail common to almost all our four-footed animals.-STEEVENS.

" I'll give thee a wind.—Act I. Sc. 3. This gift of a wind must be looked upon as an act of sisterly friendship, for witches were supposed to sell them. So in Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600.

in Ireland and in Denmark both, Witches for gold will sell a man a winde, Which in the corner of a napkin wrap'd,

Shall blow him safe unto what coast he will." It may be hoped that our witches behaved more handsomely than one of their relations, as described in an appendix to the old translation of Marco Paulo, 1579 : “ they demanded that he should give them a winde ; and he shewed, setting his hands behinde, from whence the winde should come.”-STEEVENS.

The insane root." — Act I. Sc. 3. “ You gaz'd against the sun, and so blemished your sight; or else you have eaten of the roots of hemlock, that makes men's eyes conceit unseen objects "-GREENE's NEVER TOO LATE, 1616.

The prince of Cumberland.—Act I. Sc. 4. “ Duncan having two sonnes, he made the elder of them, called Mal. colm, prince of Cumberland, as it was thereby to appoint him successor in his kingdome immediatelie after his decease. Mackbeth, sorely troubled herewith, for that he saw by this means his hope sore hindered (where by the old laws of the realme the ordinance was, that if he that should succeed was not able of age to take the charge upon himselfe, he that was next of blood unto him should be admitted) he began to take counsel how he might usurp the kingdom by force, having a just quarrel so to doe (as he tooke the matter), for that Duncane did what in him lay to defraude him of all manner of title and claime, which he might, in tyme to come, pretend to the crowne.”—HOLINSHED.

I have drugg'd their possets."—Act II. Sc. 2. It was a general custom to eat possets just before bed-time. Randle Holmes in his Academy of Armory, says: " Possel is hot milk poured on ale or sack, having sugar, grated bisket, and eggs, with other ingredients boiled in it, which goes all to a curd.”—MALONE.

VOL. II. – 45

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Colme-kill." - Act II. Sc. 2. Colme-kill is the famous Iona, the burying-place of the ancient Scottish kings, one of the Western Isles, described by Johnson in his Tour.


The pit of Acheron.”—Act III. Sc. 5. Shakspeare seems to have thought it allowable to give the name of Acheron to any fountain, lake, or pit, through which there was vulgarly supposed to be any communication between this and the infernal world. The true original Acheron was a river in Greece, and yet Virgil gives this name to his lake in the valley of Amsanctus, in Italy.-STEEVENS.

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Enter the three witches."-Act IV. Sc. 1. Shakspeare has chosen every circumstance of his infernal cremunies with great judgment. A cat was the usual interlocutor between witches and familiar spirits. A witch, who was tried about fifty years before the bard's time, was said to have had a cat named Rullerkin, and when any mischief was to be done she would bid Rutterkin go and fly. The common atllictions attributed to the malice of witches, were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh. They likewise destroyed the cattle of their neighbors, and the farmers have, to this day, many ceremonies to secure their herds from witchcraft. They were very malicious to swine; one of Shakspeare's hays, says, she has been killing swine; and Dr. Harsnet observes, that in his time “a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the sullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft. Toads have long been reproached as the abettors of witchcraft. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found in his lodgings a great load shut in a phial, upon which, those that prosecuted him denounced him as a wizard. The ingredients of Shakspeare's cauldron are selected according to the formularies prescribed in books of magick. Witches were supposed to take up bodies to nse in enchantinents, 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. A passage from Camden explains and justifies our author in some other particulars: “When any one gets a fall, he stands 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, and white.'-JOHNson, &c.

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And yel the eighth appears, who bears a glass.”—Act IV. Sc. 1.

Magicians, in the superstitious age of our author, professed to have the power of showing fiture events by means of a charmed glass or mirror. So, in an extract from the Penal Laws against Witches, it is said, " They do answer either by voice, or else do set before their eyes in glasses, crystal stones, &c., the pictures or images of persons or things sought for.” Spenser has given a very circumstantial account of the gla which Merlin made for King Ryence. A mirror of the same kind was presented to Cambuscan in The Squire's Tale of Chaucer; and in John Alday's translation of Pierre Boisteau's Theatrum Mundi, “ A certain philosopher did the like to Poinpey, the which shewed him in a glass the order of his enemies' march."-STEEVENS.

" The mere despair of surgery ke cures.”—Act IV. Sc. 3. The power of curing the king's evil was claimed by many of the Plantagenets. Dr. Borde, who wrote in the time of Henry VIII., says: "The kynges of England, by the power that God hath given unto them, doyth make sych men whole of a syckness called the kyng's evyll.” In Laneham's account of the Entertainments of Kenelworth, it is said : “ And also by her highnesse (Queen Elizabeth) accustemed mercy and charitee, nyne cured of the paynful and dangerous deseaz called the king's evil, for that kings and quaens of this realme without oother medsin (save only by handling and prayer) only doo it.” This practice was continued so late as Queen Anne's time: Dr. Johnson, when a child, was touched for the evil by that princess.

English epicures.”—Act V. Sc. 3. Of the ancient poverty of Scotland, the following mention is made by Froissart: “They be like wylde and savage people--they dought ever to lese that they have, for it is a poore countrey. . And when the Englishmen maketh any rood or voyage into the contrey, if they thynke to lyve, they must cause their provysion and vitayle to follow them at their backe, for they shall find nothing in that countrey.” Such a people, who made but one meal a day, envying the “ English likerous delicats," would be ready enough to brand their ancient enemies with the name of epicures.


Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland

In such an honour named."-Act V. Sc. 7.

“Malcolm, immediately after his coronation, called a parlement at Forfair, in the which he rewarded them with lands and livings that had assisted him against Macbeth. Manie of them that were before thanes, were at this time made earles, as Fife, Menteith, Atholl, Levenox, Murrey, Cathness, Rosse, and Angus."—HOLINSHED's Hist. of Scot.


With that half-face.—Act I. Sc. 1. The poet sneers at the meagre sharp visage of the elder brother, by comparing him to a silver groat that bore the king's face in profile, so showed but half the face ; the groats of all our English kings, and indeed all their other silver coins, with one or two exceptions, had a full face crowned; till Henry VII. coined groats and hail groats, as also some shillings with half faces, as all our coin has now. The first groats of Henry VIII. were ike his father's, though he afterwards returned to the broad faces again. These groats, with the impression in profile, are here alluded to; though the author is guilty of an anachronism; for in John's time there were no groats at all, they being first coined in the reign of Edward III.-THEOBALD.

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My face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
Lest men should say, look where three farthings goes."— Act I. Sc. 1.

In Elizabeth's time there were three farthing silver pieces ; they were impressed with her head, with a full blown rose behind it; these pieces were of course extremely thin. In this age, fashionables of both sexes wore flowers, especially roses, behind their ears. Combine these circumstances, and the allusion is obvious.—THEOBALD.

Plantagenet.—Act I. Sc. 1. Plantagenet was not a family name, but a nick-name, by which a grandson of Geffrey, the first earl of Anjou, was distinguished, from his wearing a broom-stalk in his bonnet.

Now your traveller."-Act I. Sc. 1.
Travelling, in Elizabeth's time, was the fashionable resource of those
who had no fixed occupation; as to have seen foreign countries enabled
a man to assume airs of superiority over his untravelled companions.
“A traveller was a good thing after dinner;" a constant occasion of
wonder and amusement. Yet travellers fell into strange impertinences
Sır Thomas Overbury, speaking of one, says:-"He censures all things
by countenances and shrugs, and speaks his own language with shame
and lisping: he will choke rather than confess beere good drinke, and his
tooth-pick is a main part of his behaviour.” Travellers brought home
many ridiculous fashions. Gascoine, in his Poems, 1572, describes some
of these :-

“Now, sir, if I shall see yonr mastership
Come home disguis’d, and clad in quaint array:
As with a pike-tooth byting on your lippe;
Your brave mustachios turn'd the Turkie way;
A coptankt hat made on a Flemish blocke;
A night-gowne cloake down trayling to your toes;
A slender slop close couched to your dock,
A curtolde slipper, and a short silk hose.”



Colbrand.”—Act I, Sc. 1. Colbrand was a Danish giant, whom Guy of Warwick discomfited in the presence of King Athelstan. The combat is very pompously described by Drayton in his Polyolbion.—Johnson.

Richard, that robb’d the lion of his heart.”—Act II. Sc. 1. So Rastal in his Chronicle:-“ It is sayd that a lyon was put to Kynge Richard, heynge in prison, to have devoured him, and when the lyon was gapynge he put his arme into his mouth, and pulled the lyon by the harte so hard that he slew the lyon, and therefore some say he is called Richard Cure de Lyon; but some say he is called Cure de Lyon, because of his boldness and hardy stomake."-Grey.

* By this brave duke came early to his grave."—Act II. Sc. 1. Richard was not killed by the duke of Austria ; he lost his life at the siege of Chaluz, long after he had been ransomed out of the hands of this petty potentate. The producing Austria on the scene is also contrary to che truth of history. Leopold, duke of Austria, by whom Richard I had


been thrown into prison in 1193, died in consequence of a fall from his horse, in 1195, some years before the commencement of the present play. The original cause of quarrel between Austria and Richard is variously related. Harding in his Chronicle says, that the source of enmity was Richard's taking down the duke of Austria's arms and banner, which he had set up above those of the king of France and the king of Jerusalem. The affront was given when they lay before Acre in Palestine.—MALONE.

That thou may'st be a queen, and check the world."— Act II. Sc. 1.

“Surely Queen Eleanor, the kyng's mother, was sore against her nephew Arthur, rather moved thereto by envye conceyved against his mother, than upon any just occasion, given in the behalfe of the childe: for that she saw, if he were kynge, how his mother Constance would looke to beare the most rule within the realme of Englande, till her sonne should come to a lawful age to governe himselfe. So hard a thing it is to bringe women to agree in one ininde, their natures commonly being so contrary.”—HOLINSHED.

The Lady Blanch.—Act II. Sc. 2. The Lady Blanch was daughter to Alphonso IX., king of Castile, and was niece to King John, by his sister Eleanor.-STEEVENS.

A widow." -Act III. Sc. 1. This was not the fact. Constance was, at this time, married to a third husband, Guido, brother to the viscount of Touars. She had been divorced from her second husband, Ranulph, earl of Chester.—MALONE.


Some airy devil hovers in the sky.—Act III. Sc. 2. “ The spirits of the aire will mixe themselves with thunder and lightning, and so infect the clyme where they raise any tempest, that sodainely great mortalitie shall ensue to the inhabitants. The spirits of fire have their mansions under the regions of the moone.”—PIERCE PENNILESSE, His SUPPLICATION,

Bell, book, and candle, shall not drive me back.—Act III. Sc. 3. In Archbishop Winchelsea's Sentences of Excommunication, anno 1298, it is directed, that the sentence against the infringers of certain articles should be “throughout explained in order in English, with bells tolling and candles lighted, that it may cause the greater dread; for laymen have greater regard to this solemnity, than to the effect of such sentences." —REED.


Young gentlemen would be as sad as night,

Only for wanlonness.-Act IV. Sc. 1. It was once fashionable to affect melancholy in company. Ben Johnson ridicules this folly in Every Man in his Humour; again, in Questions concerny ng Conie-hood, and the Nature of the Conic: That conie-hood which proceeds of melancholy, is, when in feastings appointed for merriment, this kind of conie-man sits like Mopsus or Corydon, blockish, never laughing, never speaking, but so bearishlie as if he would devour all the companie, which he doth to this end, that the guests might mutter how this his deep melancholy argueth great learning in him, and an intendinent to most weighty affaires and heavenly speculations." Again in Lyly's Midas, 1592:-Melancholy? is melancholy a word for a barber's

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