deed, the work of one who fancied he was surpassing Shake-
speare. In all these cases, however, I do not feel quite sure enough
to venture a full decision, and therefore leave them unmarked.
As regards the closing part of the play, all, I mean, that fol-
lows, after Macbeth and Macduff go out fighting, I have not yet
been able fully to make up my mind. The Clarendon Editors, as
we have seen, rule it all off from Shakespeare. Mr. Fleay speaks
of it as follows : ** The account of young Siward's death and the
unnatural patriotism of his father, which is derived from Holin-
shed's history of England, and not of Scotland like the rest of
the play, is a bit of padding put in by Shakespeare after finishing
the whole tragedy." To the best of my judgment, some portions
of it are not unworthy of Shakespeare ; especially the speech of
Macduff on his re-entrance with Macbeth's head. On the other
hand, what old Siward says about the death of his son seems too
hard and unnatural for Shakespeare's healthy human-heartedness
to have written. To be sure, we cannot but feel that the brave
old father's heart is not in his words ; and the latter may be taken
as a spontaneous effort to hide his grief. So that I still hesitate.
As to the last speech, however, I have no doubts whatever, and
accordingly print it in Italic type.
I close with a statement, somewhat condensed, of Mr. Fleay's
** theory as to the composition of the play." ** It was written,"
says he, ** by Shakespeare during his third period : I think, after
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1 82 MACBETH.
Hamlet and King Lear i so that its date was probably 1606. At
some time after this, Middleton revised and abridged it : I agree
with the Cambridge Editors in saying not earlier than 1613.
There is a decisive argument that he did so after he wrote The
Witch ; namely, that he borrows the songs from the latter play,
and repeats himself a good deal. It is to me very likely that he
should repeat himself in Macbeth^ and somewhat improve on his
original conception, as he has done in the corresponding pas-
sages ; and yet be unable to do a couple of songs, or to avoid the
monotony of introducing Hecate in both plays. I believe that
Middleton, having found the groundlings more taken with the
Witches, and the cauldron, than with the grander art displayed
in the Fate-goddesses, determined to amalgamate these, and to
give us plenty of them- I believe also the extra fighting in the
last scenes was inserted for the same reason. But, finding that
the magic and the singing and the fighting made the play too
long, he cut out large portions of the psychological Shakespeare
work, in which, as far as quantity is concerned, this play is very
deficient compared with the three other masterpieces of world-
poetry, and left us the torso we now have. To hide the excisions,
Middleton put on tags at the places where he made the scenes
end : and, to my thinking, if any one will compare the endings
of the scenes where Shakespeare has left them without tags with
those where I have tried to show that Middleton put them in, he
will find that there is a great difference in the completeness of the
scenes. Or try another experiment : cut off the tags from the
scenes where Shakespeare put them, and those where Middleton
put them ; a similarly decisive result will be felt."
There remains but to add, that I have no doubt whatever of
the play's having been greatly shortened in the process of altera-
tion. For the alteration was evidently prosecuted with a view to
stage-effect. Such being the case, those parts which were most
effective on the stage would naturally be retained, and others
added still more suited to catch the applause of the groundlings ;
while such parts as were especially at home in the courts (^
reason and thought would be cast aside.
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CRITICAL NOTES ON MACBETH.
ACT I., SCENE I.
Page 47. When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, and in rain? — So Hanmer. The
original has " Lightning, or in raine." This makes the three, thunder^
lightnings rain^ alternative ; the sense, expressed in full, being " either
in thunder or in lightning or in rain." The context and the occasion
apparently require the sense of those three words to be cumulative.
P. 48. / Witch. Where the place ?
2 Witch, Upon the heath.
S Witch. There to meet with Macbeth. — There is surely
some corruption here ; for Macbeth was evidently meant to rhyme with
heathy but there needs another syllable to make it do so. And every-
where else, I think, Macbeth has the ictus on the second syllable. Per-
haps boldy brave, proud, or great should be supplied before the name.
P. 48. / Witch. I come, g^aymalkin.
2 Witch. Paddock calls : — Anon !
All, Fair is foul, and foul is fair :
Hover through the fog and filthy air. — So Pope. The original
prints the last two speeches as one, with All prefixed. Dyce's remark
is right, beyond question: "Surely it is evident that the author in-
tended only the concluding couplet to be si>oken in chorus." White
prints "Anon! " as a separate speech, and prefixes to it "j Witch."
In a note he says, " The arrangement of the text seems to me to be
required both by the succession of the thoughts, and by the ternary
sequence of the dialogue of the Witches throughout all the scenes in
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which we see them at their incantations." Perhaps he is right. But I
do not believe we have the scene as Shakespeare wrote it ; and I am
sure that the first two lines are not his. Probably Middleton threw
out some of Shakespeare's gold, and thrust in some of his own dross.
ACT I., SCENE n.
P. 49. Say to the King thy knowledge of the broil. — So Walk-
er. The original has " Say to the King the knowledge."
P. 50. Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied ;
And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
Show'd like a rebel's trull ; but all's too weak : &c. In the
first of these lines, the original has Gallowgrosses. Corrected in the
second folio. In the second line, the original has " damned quarry,^^
The change of quarry to quarrel is made in Collier's second folio, but
had been adopted by most of the editors before that volume was heard
of. It is amply justified by Holinshed's account of the matter : " Out
of the Western Isles there came unto him a great multitude of people,
offering themselves to assist him in that rebellious quarrelP And later
in the play we have " the chance of goodness be like our warranted
quarrel! " where " warranted quarrel " is just the opposite of " damnid
quarrel." See, also, foot-note 5. — For w, in the first line. Pope sub-
stitutes waSy and also, in the third line, changes aWs to all. Of course
this is done to redress the confusion of tenses. And Lettsom says,
" Read, with Pope, * was supplied ' : the corruption was caused by Do
just above." And again, " Read, with Pope, *all too weak.*" But we
have other like mixing of tenses in this scene. See foot-note 6.
P. 50. And ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him. —
The original reads " Which nev'r shooke hands." As Which begins
the third line above, it doubtless crept in here by accidental repetition.
Corrected by Capell.
P. 50. As whence the Sun gives his reflection
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break ;
So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come
Discomfort swells. — So Pope. The word break is wanting in
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CRITICAL NOTES. 1 85
the original; which thus leaves both sense and metre defective. The
second folio supplied breaking. — There has been some stumbling at
swells here; I hardly know why: the meaning clearly is, grows dig;
just as a thunder-cloud often swells up rapidly into a huge, dark mass,
where, a little before, the sky was full of comfort. Capell reads wellsy
which, to my sense, is nothing near so good. — In the first line, the
original has ^gins instead of gives. Having never been able to un-
derstand the old text, I adopt Pope's reading. Heath comments as
follows : " The fact, in this island at least, is, that storms and thunder
do as frequently take their course from the North and West as from
the East. The hurricanes always proceed from the North, and turn to
the westward. But this was not the point Shakespeare had in view.
He draws the similitude from a very common appearance; when a clear
sky and bright sunshine are on a sudden overcast with dark clouds,
which terminate in thunder and a short but very dangerous tempest, es-
pecially in the lochs and narrow, embarrassed seas of Scotland. It is
evident therefore that we ought to prefer the other reading, * As whence
the Sun gives his reflection'; that is. As from a clear sky whence
the light of the Sun is transmitted in its full brightness." — See foot-
P. 51. As cannons overcharged with double cracks;
So they redoubled strokes upon the foe. — So Pope. The
original has ** So they doubly redoubled stroakes"; doubly\i€vi\% proba-
bly interpolated by some player in order to prolong the jingle on
double. At all events, both sense and verse plead against it. Walker
thinks the word has no business in the text.
P. 51. What haste looks through his eyes! — So the second
folio. The first has " What a haste." But the Poet has many like ex-
clamative phrases without the article, which here mars the verse. See
P. 52. The Thane of Cawdor 'gan a dismal conflict ;
Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp*d in proof.
Confronted him with self caparisons. — In the first of these
lines, the original has began instead of ^gan, and in the third, " selfe-
comparisons!^ It is, I think, hardly possible to squeeze any fitting
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1 86 MACBETH.
sense out of comparisons here. The common explanation takes kim as
referring to Norway ; but this is plainly inconsistent with ** Point
against point rebellious,^'* Self caparisons means that they were both
armed in the self-same way. The correction is Mr. P. A. Daniel's. The
folio has the same misprint again in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 13 : ** I
dare him therefore to lay his gay Comparisons a-part," &c. Here Pope
reads caparisons, and rightly, beyond question. See foot-note 19.
ACT I., SCENE m.
P. 54. And the very points they blow,
All the quarters that they know
r the shipman's card. — So Pope. The original has ports
instead of points, Davenant's alteration of the play has " From all
the points that seamen know."
P. 56. How far is't called to Forres ? — The original has Soris,
P. 57. 3 Witch. Thou Shalt get kings, though thou be none.
All three. So, all hail, Macbeth and Banquo !
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail ! — The original makes the
second of these lines a continuation of the preceding speech, and as-
signs the third to the first Witch. But surely Lettsom is right in say-
ing, "These two verses should be pronounced by i, 2, 3, in chorus."
It seems rather strange that the error should have waited so long to be
P. 58. His wonders and his praises do contend
What should be thine or his. — The original has Which in-
stead of What. Commentators have tugged mighty hard to wring a
coherent and intelligible meaning out of the old reading, and I have
tugged mighty hard to understand their explanations ; but all the hard
tugging has been in vain. As Which must needs refer to wonders and
praises, I make bold to say that the passage so read cannot be approved
to be either sense or English. With What, the passage yields a sense,
at least, and, I think, a fitting one ; though, to be sure, not of the clear-
est. See foot-note 21.
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CRITICAL NOTES. 187
P. 59. As thick as tale
Came post with post ; and every one did bear, &c. — The
original has Can instead of Camf ; an obvious error, which Rowe cor-
rected. Some editors cannot stand ^a/e here, and substitute kai/.
Dyce asks, " was such an expression as * thick as /a/e ' ever employed
by any writer whatsoever? " To which it might be answered that Shake-
speare seems to have used it here. Dyce also quotes from old writers
divers instances of ** as thick as hail " ; which only shows that thb was
a commonplace hyperbole ; whereas Shakespeare may have chosen to
use one less hackneyed ; as I think he had a right to do. Ta/e is the
substantive form of the verb to /^/// and Shakespeare repeatedly uses
the verb in the exact sense of to count; as he also does thick in the
exact sense of fast; and surely the phrase " as fast as you can count"
is common enough. See foot-note 23.
ACT I., SCENE IV.
P. 63. Is execution done on Cawdor ? Are not
Those in commission yet returned? — So the second folio.
The first has "d?rnot."
ACT I., SCENE V.
P. 67. Thou'dst have, great Glamis,
That which cries '*Thus thou must do," if thou have it, —
An act which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone. — Instead of " An act
which," the original has " and that which." This defeats the right
sense of the passage, as it naturally makes 7vhich refer to the same
thing as which in the preceding line ; whereas it should clearly be
taken as referring to the words *^Thus thou must do.^^ Hanmer
reads " And that^s what "/ and the same change occurred to me, as it
also did to Mr. Joseph Crosby, before either of us knew of Hanmer*s
reading. But I prefer "/f » act which," and have little doubt that the
original reading crept in by mistake from the line before. — The pas-
sage is commonly printed so as to make the words " if thou have it " a
part of what is supposed to be cried by the crown. The original gives
no sign as to how much of the speech is to be taken thus, — none, that
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is, except what is implied in the word it. Of course the crown is the
thing which Glamis would havte ; and if the crown is here represented
as crying out to him " Thus thou must do, if thou have," there appears
no way of getting the sense but by substituting me for ii. If, however,
we suppose only the words " Thus thou must do" io be spoken by the
crown, and the following words to be spoken by Lady Macbeth in her
own person, then it is right ; and this is probably the way the passage
ought to be understood and printed. Johnson saw the difficulty, and
proposed to read " if thou have me."
P. 6S. That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor break peace between
Th* effect and it. — The original has keepe instead of break,
and hit instead of it. The attempts that have been made to explain
" nor keep peace," are, it seems to me, either absurdly ingenious and
over-subtile or something worse. The natural sense of it is plainly
just the reverse of what was intended. To be sure, almost any lan-
guage can be tormented into yielding almost any meaning. And we
have too many instances of what may be called a fanaticism of inge-
nuity, which always delights especially in a reading that none but it-
self can explain, and in an explanation that none but itself can under-
stand. See foot-note 8. — The other error, hity corrects itself.
P. 69. Nor Heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
. To cry " Hold, hold ! " — « The blanket of the dark" seems
to have troubled some persons greatly ; and Collier's second folio sub-
stitutes blankness for blanket. This is dreadful. "The blanket of
the dark " is indeed a pretty bold metaphor, but not more bold than
apt ; and I agree with Mr. Grant White, that " the man who does not
apprehend the meaning and the pertinence of the figure had better
shut his Shakespeare, and give his days and nights to the perusal of —
some more correct and classic writer." See foot-note II.
ACT I., SCENE VI.
P. 70. The guest of Summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, &c. — The
original has " This guest," and BarUt instead of martUt, Th« Uttof
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CRITICAL NOTES. 189
was corrected by Rowe. As to the former, Lettsom says, " Read the.
This was repeated by mistake from the beginning of the preceding
P. 71. Where they most breed and haunt, &c. — The original
has must instead of most. Corrected by Rowe.
ACT I., SCENE VII.
P. 73. But here, upon this bank and shoal of time. — The orig-
inal has " Schoole of time." Theobald's correction.
P. 74. Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye.
That tears shall drown the wind. — Mr. P. A. Daniel would
read " in every ear "/ and in support of that lection he quotes the fol-
lowing from Southwell, Saint Peter's Complaint^ Ixxvii. : —
And seeke none other quintessence but tears,
That eyes may shed what enter'd at thine ears.
P. 74. Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself.
And falls on th* other side. — So Hanmer. The original
lacks sidey and yfet puts a period after other. Walker notes upon it
thus: "Evidently *th' other side^\ and this adds one to the apparently
numerous instances of omission in this play." — It has been ingeniously
proposed to change itself 'vaXo its sell^ an old word for saddle. But the
Poet very seldom uses its : besides, no change is necessary. See foot-
P. 75. Wouldst thou lack that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem, &c. — The original
reads " Wouldst thou have that "; whereupon Johnson notes thus : " In
this there seems to be no reasoning. I should read * Or live ' ; unless
we choose rather * Wouldst thou leave that.' " The reading in the text
was proposed anonymously, but occurred to me independently. In-
stead of have^ crave has also been proposed. But Lady Macbeth evi-
dently means that, with so good an opportunity as he now has for
gaining the crown, nothing but cowardice can induce him to let it slip.
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We have the same error again in Antony and Cleopatruy 11. 2 : ** If
you'll patch a quarrel, as matter whole you have^ to make it with," &c
Here have should be lack^ beyond question.
P. 75. I dare do all that may become a man ;
Who dares do more is none.
Lady M, What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me? — The orig-
inal reads ** Who dares no more"; a very palpable error. — Collier's
second folio substitutes boast for beast, and the change has been re-
garded with favour in some quarters. Mr. John Forster, in The Exam-
iner, Jan. 29, 1853, disposes of it thus: "The expression immediately
preceding and eliciting Lady Macbeth's reproach is that in which Mac-
beth declares that he dares do all that may become a man, and that
who dares do more is none. She instantly takes up that expression.
If not an affair in which a man may engage, what beast was it, then,
in himself or others, that made him break this enterprise to her? The
force of the passage lies in that contrasted word, and its meaning is
lost by the proposed substitution."
P. 76. And dash'd the brains on't out, had I so sworn
As you have done to this. — So Lettsom. The original lacks
of'J't, which is needful alike to sense and metre. The omission was
doubtless owing to the close resemblance of on't and out,
P. 76. If we should fail, —
Lady M. We fail.
But, screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. — Such, I am very confident, is the right
pointing of this much-disputed passage. It is commonly given either
with an (!) or an (?) 2X\.tx fail, as if the speaker did not admit the
possibility of failure, and scouted at any apprehension of the kind.
Now I cannot think her so far gone in the infatuation of crime as not
to see and own the possibility that the enterprise may fail ; but she is
no doubt ambitious enough to risk life and all for the chance or in the
hope of being a queen. And so I take her meaning to be, " If we
fail, then we fail, and there's the end of it." And the use of the adver-
sative btit in what follows strongly favours this sense ; in fact, will
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CRITICAL NOTES. I9I
hardly cohere with any other sense. Accordingly the simple period is
said to have been fixed upon by Mrs. Siddons after long study and
exercise in the speech. See foot-note 15.
ACT II., SCENE I.
P. 79. Sent forth great largess to your officers. — The original
has offices instead of officers. The context fairly requires a word denot-
ing persons. Corrected by Rowe.
P. 81. Now o*cr the one half- world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep ; now witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings. — The second now is wanting in the
original. Some complete the verse by printing sleeper; but surely the
repetition of now is much better. Rowe*s correction.
P. 81. With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost. — Thou sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps which way they walk, &c. — In the first
of these lines, the original has sides instead of strides ; in the second,
sowre instead of sure ; in the third, " which they may walke." The first
two corrections are Pope's ; the other, Rowe's.
P. 85. This my hand will rather
The multitudinous sea incarnadine. — So Rowe. The
original has Seas incarnardine. Some editors adopt incarnadine^ but
retain seas. In the former they are right, of course, there being really
no such word as incarnardine : but surely multitudinous loses more
than half its force, if made the epithet of a plural noun.
P. 89. Lamentings heard i' the air ; strange screams of
And, prophesying, with accents terrible.
Of dire combustion and confused events
New-hatch'd to th' woeful time, the obscene bird
Clamour'd the livelong night. — The original has obscure
instead of obscene. The correction was proposed by Walker and
White independently. SJce foot-note 36. — Most editors have a diffw-
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cnt pointing in this passage ; putting a colon after woeful time, and
thus separating bird from prophesying, and turning, the latter into a
substantive. But surely it is far better, lx)th in poetry and in sense,
to regard the obscene, that is, ill-omened, bird as predicting the dread-
ful events in question. Or, if this be thought inconsistent with netu-
hatched, we may, as White suggests, take prophesying in an interpretive
sense, — the sense of qroaking or wailing a dismal and awful meaning
into what is occurring. The word is often so used in the Bible ; es-
pecially in Ezekiel, xxxvii.
P. 90. Banquo and Malcolm ! Donalbain ! awake !
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself ! up, up, and see
The great doom's image ! Malcolm, Banquo ! all !
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites.
To countenance this horror ! [Alarum-bell rings,
— In the first of these lines, the original reads "and Donalbaine :
Malcolme^"* Sec. I transpose the names for metre's sake. Also, in the
fourth line, the original is without all, thus leaving a breach in the
rhythm. The addition is Lettsom's. Again, the original has the last
line thus : " To countenance this horror. Ring the bell " ; and then,
in another line, the stage-direction, " Bell rings. Enter Lady'"* Here,
no doubt, as M alone observes, the players mistook " Ring the bell " for
a portion of Macduff's speech, and so inserted the stage-direction,
" Bell rings:'
ACT II., SCENE II.
P. 95. And Duncan's horse', — a thing most strange and
certain, &c. — Instead of horse\ the original has Horses.
But elsewhere the Poet uses the singular form both of this word and
of various others with the plural sense. See foot-note 2.
ACT III., SCENE I.
P. 97. It had been as a gap in our great feast.
And all things unbecoming. — So the third and fourth folios.
The first has all-thing, the second all-thirds. But the hyphen was so
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CRITICAL NOTES. 1 93
used in a great many instances where no one would now think of re-
taining it. Some editors here print all-things and explain it by altogether
or in every ivay. But I am not aware of any other instance being
produced of the phrase so used in Shakespeare's time.
P. 98. Lay your Highness'
Command upon me. — So Rowe and Collier's second folio.
The original has "/>/ your Highnesse," &c.; which, surely. Is not
English, and never was. Mason proposes Set,
P. 99. My genius is rebuked ; as, it is said,
Mark Antony's was by Caesar's. — So Ilanmer. The orig-
inal has Casar instead of Casar^s. The correction is approved by a
passage in Antony and Cleopatra^ ii., 3 : " Thy demon, that's thy spirit
which keeps thee, is noble, courageous, high, unmatchable, where
Casar^s is not."
P. 100. To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings ! —