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1606, and it has been supposed to convey a dexterous and delicate compliment to James the First, who derived his lineage from Banquo, and first united the threefold sceptre of England, Scotland, and Ireland. At the same time, the monarch's prejudices on the subject of demonology were flattered by the choice of the story.
It was once thought that Shakspeare derived some hints for his scenes of incantation from The Witch, a tragi-comedy, by John Middleton, which, after lying long in manuscript, was published about thirty years since by Isaac Reed; but Malone* has with considerable ingenuity shown that Middleton's drama was most probably written subsequently to Macbeth.
* See the chronological order of the plays in the late Variorum Edition, by Mr. Botwell, vol. ii. p. 430.
Duncan, King of Scotland.
Banquo,h' } Gmerals °f the King's Army.
An English Doctor. A Scotch Doctor.
. Noblemen of Scotland.
Lady Macbeth.1 Lady Macduff.
Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth. Hecate, and three Witches.2
Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers, Attend-
The Ghost of Banquo, and several other Apparitions.
SCENE, in the end of the Fourth Act, lies in England;
1 Lady Macbeth's name was Gruach filia Bodhe, according- to Lord Hailes. Andrew of Wintown, in his Cronykil, informs us that she was the widow of Duncan; a circumstance with which Shak^peare was, of course, unacquainted.
2 As the play now stands, in Act v. Sc. 1, three other witches make their appearance.
SCENE I. An open Place. Thunder and lightning
Enter three Witches.
1 Witch. When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2 Witch. When the hurlyburly's done, When the battle's lost and won.
3 Witch. That will be ere set of sun.
1 Witch. Where the place?
2 Witch. Upon the heath;
3 Witch. There to meet with Macbeth. 1 Witch. I come, Graymalkin!
All. Paddock calls;—Anon.1 Fair is foul, and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air. [Witches vanish
SCENE II. A Camp near Fores. Alarum within.
Enter King Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, Lenox, ivith Attendants, meeting a bleeding Soldier.2
Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report, As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt The newest state.
1 Upton observes, that, to understand this passage, we should suppose one familiar calling with the voice of a cat, and another with the croaking of a toad, A paddock most generally seems to have signified a toad, though it sometimes means a frog. What we now call a toadstoo* was anciently called a paddock-stool.
2 The first folio reads captain. Vol. in. 23
Mai. This is the sergeant,1
Who, like a good and hardy soldier, fought
Sold. Doubtful it stood;
As two spent swimmers, that do cling together,
Carved out his passage, till he faced the slave;
Dun. O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
Sold. As whence the sun 'gins his reflection Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break ;7
1 Sergeants, in ancient times, were men performing one kind of feudal military service, in rank next to esquires.
2 Vide Tyrwhitt's Glossary to Chaucer, v. for; and Pegge's Anecdotes of the English Language, p. 205. For to that means no more than for that, or cause that.
3 i. e. supplied with armed troops so named. Of and with are indiscriminately used by our ancient writers. Gallowglasses were heavyarmed foot-soldiers of Ireland and the Western Isles; Kernes were the lighter armed troops.
4 "But fortune on his damned quarry smiling."—Thus the old copies. It was altered at Johnson's suggestion to quarrel. But the old copy needs no alteration. Quarry means the squadron (escadre), or square body, into which Macdonwald's troops were formed, better to receive the charge.
5 The meaning is, that Fortune, while she smiled on him, deceived him.
6 The old copy reads which.
7 Sir W. D'Avenant's reading of this passage, in his alteration of the play, is a tolerable comment on it:—
"But then this daybreak of our victory
So from that spring, whence comfort seemed to come,
Dun. Dismayed not this
Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
As sparrows, eagles; or the hare, the lion.
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe;
[Exit Soldier, attended.
Who comes here?
hen. What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look, That seems to speak things strange.3
Rosse. God save the king!
Dun. Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane?
Rosse. From Fife, great king,
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky,
1 i. e. make another Golgotha as memorable as the first
2 "That seems about to speak strange things."