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Weary sev'n-nights nine times nine,
2d Witch. Shew me, Shew me.
(1) Aroint thee, witch,-In one of the folio editions the reading is anoint thee, in a sense very consistent with the common accounts of witches, who are related to perform many supernatural acts by the means of unguents, and particularly to fly through the air to the place where they meet at their hellish festivals. In this sense anoint thee, witch, will mean, away, witch, to your infernal assembly. This reading I was inclined to favour, because I had met with the word aroint in no other place; till looking into Hearne's Collections, I found it in a very old drawing, that he has published, in which St. Patrick is represented visiting hell, and putting the devils into great confusion by his presence, of whom one that is driving the damned before him with a prong, has a label issuing out from his mouth with these words out out aroynt, of which the last is evidently the same with aroint, and used in the same sense as in this passage.
(2) And the very points they blow. As the word very is here of no other use than to fill up the verse, it is likely that Shakespeare wrote various, which might be easily mistaken for very, being either negligently read, hastily pronounced, or imperfectly heard.
(3) He shall live a man forbid. Mr. Theobald has very justly explained forbid by accursed, but without giving any reason of his interpretation. To bid is originally to pray, as in this Saxon fragment:
He is Vis B bit 7 bote &c.
prays & improves. As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the word bid in its present sense, it sig. nifies by the same kind of opposition to curse, when it is derived from the same word in its primitive meaning
NO TE VI.
THE incongruity of all the passages in which the Thane of Cawdor is mentioned is very remarkable ; in the second scene the Thanes of Rosse and Angus bring the king an account of the battle, and inform him that Norway,
Assisted by that most disloyal traytor
The Thane of Cawdor, 'gan a dismal conflict. It appears that Cawdor was taken prisoner, for the king says in the same scene,
-Go, pronounce his death, And with his former title greet Macbeth. Yet though Cawdor was thus taken by Macbeth, in arms against his king, when Macbeth is saluted, in the fourth scene, Thane of Cawdor, by the Weird Sisters, he asks,
How of Cawdor ? the Thane of Cardor lives,
A prosp'rous gentleman.And in the next line considers the promises, that he should be Cawdor and King, as equally unlikely to be accomplished. How can Macbeth be ignorant of the state of the Thane of Cawdor, whom he has just defeated and taken prisoner, or call him a prosperous gentleman who has forfeited his title and life by open rebellion ? Or why should he wonder that the title of the rebel whom he has overthrown should be conferred upon him? He cannot be supposed to dissemble his knowledge of the condition of Cawdor, because he inquires with all the ardour of curiosity, and the vehemence of sudden astonishment; and because nobody is present but Banquo, who had an equal part in the battle, and was equally acquainted with Cawdor's treason. However, in the next scene, his ignorance still continues; and when Rosse and Angus present him from the king with his new title, he cries out
The Thane of Cawdor lives.
you dress me in his borrowed robes ? Rosse and Angus, who were the messengers that in the second scene informed the king of the assistance given by Cawdor to the invader, having lost, as well as Macbeth, all memory of what they had so lately seen and related, make this answer,
Whether he was
He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not. Neither Rosse knew what he had just reported, nor
Macbeth what he had just done. This seems not to be one of the faults that are to be imputed to the transcribers, since, though the inconsistency of Rosse and Angus might be removed, by supposing that their names are erroneously inserted, and that only Rosse brought the account of the battle, and only Angus was sent to compliment Macbeth, yet the forgetfulness of Macbeth cannot be palliated, since what he says could not have been spoken by any other.
NO TE VII.
The thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man, The single state of man seems to be used by Shakespeare for an individual, in opposition to a commonwealth, or conjunct body of men.
NO TE VIII.
Macbeth. COME what come may,
suppose every reader is disgusted at the tautology in this passage, time and the hour, and will therefore willingly believe that Shakespeare wrote it thus,
Come what come may, Time! on !—the hour runs thro' the roughest day. Macbeth is deliberating upon the events which are to befal him; but finding no satisfaction from his own thoughts, he grows impatient of reflection, and resolves to wait the close without harassing himself with conjectures,
Come what come may. But to shorten the pain of suspense, he calls upon time in the usual style of ardent desire, to quicken his motion,
Time! on! He then comforts himself with the reflection that all his perplexity must have an end,
The hour runs thro’ the roughest day. This conjecture is supported by the passage in the letter to his lady, in which he says, They referrd me to the coming on of time with Hail King that shall be.
Ν Ο Τ Ε ΙΧ. .
Malcolm. Nothing in his life
away the dearest thing he ow'd,
King.–– THERE's no art,