Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lady M.

Lady M.

Enter MACBETH.
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond
This ignorant present, and I feel now
The future in the instant.
Macb.

My dearest love,
Duncan comes here to-night.

And when goes hence? Macb. To-morrow,-as he

purposes.

O, never
Shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
May read strange matters;2–To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent

flower,
But be the serpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you
This night's great business into my despatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.
Macb. We will speak further.

up

clear; To alter favour ever is to fear:) Leave all the rest to me.

[Exeunt.

shall put

Lady M.

Only look

with her own purposes, than to testify her joy at his return, or manifest an attachment to his person: nor does any sentiment expressive of love or softness fall from her throughout the play. While Macbeth himself, amidst the horrors of his guilt, still retains a character less fiend-like than that of his queen, talks to her with a degree of tenderness, and pours his complaints and fears into her bosom, accompanied with terms of endearment. STEEVENS. 2 Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men

May read, &c.] That is, thy looks are such as will awaken men's curiosity, excite their attention, and make room for suspicion.

3 To alter favour ever is to fear:] Fatour is-look, counte

nance.

SCENE VI.

The sanie. Before the Castle.

Hautboys. Servants of Macbeth attending.

Enter Duncan, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO,

Lenox, MacDUPF, Rosse, Angus, and Attendants.

Dun. This castle hath a pleasant seat;* the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses. Вап. .

This guest of summer, The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath, Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze, buttress, Nor coigne of vantage, but this bird hath

made

* This castle hath a pleasant seat;] This short dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. Their conversation very naturally turns upon the beauty of its situation, and the pleasantness of the air ; and Banquo, observing the martlets' nests in every recess of the cornice, remarks, that where those birds most breed and haunt, the air is delicate. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately succeeds. It seems as if Shakspeare asked himself, What is a prince likely to say to his at. tendants on such an occasion? Whereas the modern writers seem, on the contrary, to be always searching for new thoughts, such as would never occur to men in the situation which is represented.This also is frequently the practice of Homer, who, from the midst of battles and horrors, relieves and refreshes the mind of the reader, by introducing some quiet rural image, or picture of familiar domestick life. SIR J. REYNOLDS.

coigne of vantage,] Convenient corner.

5

His pendent bed, and procreant cradle: Where

they Most breed and haunt, I have observ'd, the air Is delicate.

Enter Lady Macbeth. Dun. See, see! our honour'd hostess ! The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble, Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you, How you shall bid God yield us for your pains, And thank us for your trouble. Lady M.

All our service In every point twice done, and then done double, Were poor and single business, to contend Against those honours deep and broad, wherewith Your majesty loads our house: For those of old, And the laté dignities heap'd up to them, We rest

your

hermits.? Dun.

Where's the thane of Cawdor ? We cours'd him at the heels, and had a purpose

6 The love that follows us, sometime is our trouble, Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach

you, How you

shall bid God yield us for your pains, And thank us for your trouble.] This passage is undoubtedly obscure, and the following is the best explication of it I am able to offer:

Marks of respect, importunately shown, are sometimes troublesome, though we are still bound to be grateful for them, as indications of sincere attachment. If you pray for us on account of the trouble we create in your house, and thank us for the molestations we bring with us, it must be on such a principle. Herein I teach you, that the inconvenience you suffer, is the result of our affection; and that you are therefore to pray for us, or thank us, only as far as prayers or thanks can be deserved for kindnesses that fatigue, and honours that oppress. You are, in short, to make your acknowledg. ments for intended respect and love, however irksone our present mode of expressing them may have proved. To bid is here used in the Saxon sense to pray. STEEVENS.

? We rest your hermits.] Hermits, for beadsmen.

Lady M.

[ocr errors]

To be his purveyor: but he rides well;
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him
To his home before us: Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night.

Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in

compt,
To make their audit at your highness' pleasure, ,
Still to return your own.
Dun.

Give me your hand:
Conduct me to mine host; we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess.

[Exeunt.

SCENE VII.

The same.

A Room in the Castle.

Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the

stage, a Sewer,' and divers Servants with dishes
and service. Then enter MACBETH.
Macb. If it were done, when 'tis done, then

'twere well
It were done quickly: If the assassination'

[ocr errors]

* Your servants ever, &c.] The sense is:—We, and all who belong to us, look upon our lives and fortunes not as our own properties, but as things we have received merely for your use, and for which we must be accountable, whenever you please to call us to our audit; when, like faithful stewards, we shall be ready to answer your

summons, by returning you what is your own. 9 Enter

-a Sewer,] A sewer was an officer so called from his placing the dishes upon the table. Asseour, French; from asseoir, to place.

- If the assassination, &c.] Of this soliloquy the meaning is not very clear; I have never found the readers of Shakspeare agreeing about it. I understand it thus:

If that which I am about to do, when it is once done and executed, were done and ended without any following effects, it

1

Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,-
We'd jump the life to come.-But, in these cases,
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips. He's here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek,' hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off:
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.-I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only

would then be best to do it quickly: if the murder could terminate in itself, and restrain the regular course of consequences, if its success would secure its surcease, if, being once done successfully, without detection, it could fix a period to all vengeance and enquiry, so that this blow might be all that I have to do, and this anxiety all that I have to suffer; if this could be my condition, even here in this world, in this contracted period of temporal existence, on this narrow bank in the ocean of eternity, I would jump the life to come, I would venture upon the deed without care

future state. But this is one of those cases in which judgment is pronounced and vengeance inflicted upon us here in our present life. We teach others to do as we have done, and are punished by our own example. Johnson.

· Hath borne his faculties so meek,] Faculties, for office, exercise of power, &c.

of any

« PreviousContinue »