« PreviousContinue »
3 Witch. A drum! a drum! Macbeth doth come.
All. The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO.
Macb. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
Ban. How far is't call'd to Fores??-What are these,
Speak, if you can.-What are you? 1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis ! 2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! 3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
Ban. Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that do sound so fair?-I' the name of truth, Are ye fantastical", or that indeed
6 The WEIRD sisters, hand in hand,] All authorities agree that " weird " (spelt weyward in the folio, 1623) is of Saxon origin, viz. from wyrd, which has the same meaning as the Latin fatum : “ weird” is therefore fatal. In the ballad of “ The Birth of St. George,” in Percy's “Reliques," Vol. iii. p. 275, edit. 1812, we meet with the expression “The weird lady of the woods;" and the same word occurs twice in the old Scottish drama of “ Philotus," printed in 1603 and 1612. As Steevens remarks, Gawin Douglas, in his translation of the Æneid, calls the Parcæ " the weird sisters,” but it is useless to go back to other early authorities, when we find the following words in Holinshed, to whom Shakespeare constantly resorted :-" But afterwards the common opinion was that these women were either the weird sisters, that is (as ye would say) the goddesses of destinie, or else some nymphes or fairies." The Rev. Mr. Dyce refers us to Chaucer, but Steevens did the same more than half a century ago.
? How far is't call’d to Fores?] Sores in all the folios, but amended to “Fores" in the corr. fo. 1632: the blunder must have arisen from the misuse and mistake of the long 8.
& Are ye FANTASTICAL,] i. e. Creatures of fantasy or imagination. In Holinshed it is stated, that Macbeth and Banquo at first reputed the appearance of the witches " some vain, fantastical illusion."
Which outwardly ye show ? My noble partner
1 Witch. Hail!
3 Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none: So, all hail, Macbeth, and Banquo !
1 Witch. Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail !
Macb. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.
[Witches vanish. Ban. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them.-Whither are they vanish'd ?
Macb. Into the air; and what seem'd corporal, melted
Ban. Were such things here, as we do speak about,
Macb. Your children shall be kings.
You shall be king.
Enter Rosse and ANGUS.
Rosse. The king hath happily receiv'd, Macbeth, The news of thy success; and when he reads
9 - eaten on the INSANE ROOT,] The "insane root” is hemlock or henbane.
Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
We are sent
What! can the devil speak true ?
Who was the thane, lives yet;
Glamis, and thane of Cawdor:
As thick as TALE, Came post with post ;] The old copies read, “ Can post with post,” which misprint was corrected by Rowe. The meaning is evident, when we take tale in the sense, not of a narrative, but of an enumeration, from the Sax. telan, to count. Johnson explains the passage correctly in these words :—" Posts arrived as fast as they could be counted.” Rowe read, “as thick as hail," and Southern, in his copy of the folio, 1685, made the same change in MS. The corr. fo. 1632 presents us with no emendation of “tale," although it amends can to came:" nevertheless, hail may be the word, though the simile is very trite.
Aside.] This stage-direction, with several others of the same kind in this scene, is from the corr. fo. 1632: they are deficient in all copies of the tragedy, ancient and modern.
Promis'd no less to them?
That, trusted home,
Two truths are told,
Look, how our partner's rapt. Macb. If chance will have me king, why, chance may
crown me, Without my stir. Ban.
New honours come upon him,
Come what come may,
Ban. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
3 My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,] It is “ where murder," &c. in the corr. fo. 1632, but the change is not required, and may be taken merely as a different mode of reciting the passage.
* Give me your favour:] Here we are told in the corr. fo. 1632, that the actor of the part of the hero was to start, on being suddenly roused from his ambitious dream. The word was intended as a direction to the performer, and seems scarcely required in our text.
With things forgotten.—Kind gentlemen, your pains
Fores. A Room in the Palace.
Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENOX,
Dun. Is execution done on Cawdor? are not
There's no art,
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, Rosse, and Angus. Oh worthiest cousin !
[Embracing MACBETH. The sin of my ingratitude even now Was heavy on me. Thou art so far before,
ARE not Those in commission yet return’d?] The folio of 1632 alters “or” of the folio, 1623, into are, a change which all modern editors have adopted.