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OBSERVATIONS ON THE The impropriety of the expression advantage to be given, instead of advantage given, and the disagreeable repetition of the word given in the next line, incline me to read,
- Where there is a vantage to be gone, Both more and less have given him the revolt. Advantage or vantage in the time of Shakespeare signified opportunity.
More and less is the same with greater and less. So in the interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter of India the more and the less.
She should have died hereafter,
This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time ; and that there would or would not be a time for any word, seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. therefore,
(1) She should have died hereafter, There would have been a time for—such a world! To-morrow, &c.
It is a broken speech, in which only part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus : The queen is dead. Macbeth. Her death should have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; had she lived longer, there would at length have been a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and that respect which I owe her for her fidelity and love Such is the world—such is the condition of human life, that we always think to-morrow will be happier than to-day ; but to-morrow and to-morrow steals overusunenjoyed and unregarded, and we stilllinger in the same expectation to the moment appointed for our end. All these days, which have thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to the grave who were engrossed by the same dream of future felicity, and, when life was departing from them, were like me reckoning on to-morrow.
(2) To the last syllable of recorded time.
Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of heaven for the period of life. The records of futurity is indeed no accurate expression, but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written.
Macbeth. If thou speak’st false,
I pull in resolution—Though this is the reading of all the editions, yet as it is a phrase without either example, elegance, or propriety, it is surely better to read
I pall in resolution-I languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake me. It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an unskilful printer.
Seyward. Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his “ Remains," from which our author probably copied it.
When Seyward, the martial Earl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wound were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered in the fore part, he replied, “I am right glad; neither wish I any other death to me or mine.”
AFTER the foregoing pages were printed, the late edition of Shakespeare, ascribed to Sir Thomas Hanmer, fell into my hands; and it was therefore convènient for me to delay the publication of my remarks till I had examined whether they were not anticipated by similar observations, or precluded by better. I therefore read over this tragedy, but found that the editor's apprehension is of a cast so different from mine, that he appears to find no difficulty in most of those passages which I have represented as unintelligible, and has therefore passed smoothly over them, without any attempt to alter or explain them.
Some of the lines with which I had been perplexed, have been indeed so fortunate as to attract his regard; and it is not without all the satisfaction which it is usual to express on such occasions, that I find an entire agreement between us in substituting (see Note II.] quarrel for quarry, and in explaining the adage of the cat, [Note XVII.] But this pleasure is, like most others, known only to be regretted; for I have the unhappiness to find no such conformity with regard to any other passage.
The line which I have endeavoured to amend, Note XI. is likewise attempted by the new editor,
and is perhaps the only passage in the play in which he has not submissively admitted the emendations of foregoing critics. Instead of the common reading,
- Doing every thing
Safe towards your love and honour, he has published,
--Doing every thing
Shap'd towards your love and honour. This alteration, which, like all the rest attempted by him, the reader is expected to admit, without any reason alleged in its defence, is, in my opinion, more plausible than that of Mr. Theobald: whether it is right, I am not to determine.
In the passage which I have altered in Note XL. an emendation is likewise attempted in the late edition, where, for
--And the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel, is substituted--And the chance in goodness—whether with more or less elegance, dignity, and propriety, than the reading which I have offered, I must again decline the province of deciding.
Most of the other emendations which he has endeavoured, whether with good or bad fortune, are too trivial to deserve mention. For surely the weapons of criticism ought not to be blunted against an editor, who can imagine that he is restoring poetry, while he is amusing himself with alterations like these :
For- This is the serjeant,