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which reason Shakspeare, in the first scene of this play, calls one of the spirits Paddock or Toad, and now takes care to put a toad first into the pot. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found at his lodgings ingens Bufo vitro inclusus, a great toad shut in a vial, upon which those that prosecuted him Veneficium exprobrabant, charged him, I suppose, with witchcraft.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
For a charm, &c. The propriety of these ingredients may be known by consulting the books de Viribus Animalium and de Mirabilibus Mundi, ascribed to Albertus Magnus, in which the reader, who has time and credulity, may discover very wonderful secrets.
Finger of birth-strangled babe,
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,It has been already mentioned in the law against witches, that they are supposed to take up dead bodies to use in enchantments, 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. It is observable that Shakspeare, on this great occasion, which involves the fate of a king, multiplies all the circumstances of horror. The babe, whose finger is used, must be strangled in its birth; the grease must not only be human, but
must have dropped from a gibbet, the gibbet of a murderer; and even the sow, whose blood is used, must have offended nature by devouring her own farrow. These are touches of judgment and genius.
And now about the cauldron sing-
Red spirits and grey;
You that mingle may.
The weird sisters, hand in hand,
And thrice again, to make up nine : These two passages I have brought together, because they both seem subject to the objection of too much levity for the solemnity of enchantment, and may both be shewn, by one quotation from Camden's account of Ireland, to be founded upon a practice really observed by the uncivilised natives of that country: “When any one gets a fall,” says the informer of Camden, “ he starts 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, white." There
was likewise a book written before the time of Shakspeare, describing, amongst other properties, the colours of spirits.
Many other circumstances might be particularised, in which Shakspeare has shown his judgment and his knowledge.
JOHNSON. -yesty waves-] boiling as though fermented: foamy, frothy.
47 An Apparition of an armed head rises.] The armed head represents symbolically Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff. The bloody child is Macduff untimely ripp'd from his mother's womb. The child with a crown on his bead, and a bough in his hand, is the royal Malcolm ; who ordered his soldiers to hew them down a bough, and bear it before them to Dunsinane. This observation I have adopted from Mr. Upton.
48 Eight kings appear,] It is reported that Voltaire often laughs at the tragedy of Macbeth, for having a legion of ghosts in it. One should imagine he either had not learned English, or had forgot his Latin; for the spirits of Banquo's line are no more ghosts, than the representations of the Julian race in the Æneid; and there is no ghost but Banquo's throughout the play. Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakspeare.
MRS. MONTAGUE. 49 Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls:] The expression of Macbeth, that the crown sears his eye-balls, is taken from the method formerly practised of destroying the sight of captives or competitors, by hold
ing a burning bason before the eye, which dried up its humidity. Whence the Italian, abacinare, to blind.
JOHNSON. 50 That twofold balls and treble scepters 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.
Of this last particular, our poet seems to have been thoroughly aware, having represented Banquo not only as an innocent, but as a noble character, whereas he was confederate with Macbeth in the murder of Duncan.
STE EVENS. 51 Enter MALCOLM and MacDÚFF.) This scene is almost literally taken from the Chronicle. The part of Holinshed, that relates to this play, is an abridgment of John Bellenden's translation of the Noble Clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, in folio, 1541. Mr. Farmer has incontrovertibly proved that Shakspeare had not the story from Buchanan, as has been asserted.
STEEVENS. 52 Why in that rawness-] Without previous provision, without due preparation, without maturity of counsel.
JOHNSON, 53 Thy title is affeer'd!] Affeerd, a law term for confirmed.
54 My countryman; but yet I know him not.] Malcolm discovers Rosse to be his countryman, while he is yet at some distance from him, by his dress. This circumstance loses its propriety on our stage, as all
the characters are uniformly represented in English habits.
STEEVENS. 55 A modern ecstacy:] I believe modern is only foolish or trifling.
JOHNSON. -quarry--] Quarry is a term used both in hunting and falconry. In the first of these diversions it means the death of the deer, in the second, the game of the hawk after she has seized it, and is tiring on it.
57 Hell is murky! &c.] Lady Macbeth is acting over, in a dream, the business of the murder, and encouraging her husband as when awake. She therefore would never have said any thing of the terrors of hell to one whose conscience she saw was too much alarmed already for her purpose. She certainly imagines herself here talking to Macbeth, who (she supposes) has just said, Hell is murky (i. e. hell is a dismal place to go to in consequence of such a deed), and repeats his words in contempt of his cowardice. Hell is murky!--Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and
afear'd ? This explanation, I think, gives a spirit to the passage, which has hitherto appeared languid, being, perhaps, misapprehended by those who placed a full point at the conclusion of it.
-mated,] Conquer'd or subdued. Rather astonished, confounded.
59 And mingle with the 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