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Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'the Tiger:
2 Witch. I'll give thee a wind.
3 Witch. And I another.
1 Witch. I myself have all the other; And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I will drain him dry as hay:
2 Witch. Show me, show me.
1 Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb, Wreck'd, as homeward he did come.
3 Witch. A drum, a drum;
Macbeth doth come.
All. The weird sisters, hand in hand,5 Posters of the sea and land,
the shipman's card.] The card is the paper on which the winds are marked under the pilot's needle; or perhaps the seachart, so called in our author's age.
4 He shall live a man forbid:] i. e. as one under a curse, an interdiction. To bid is originally to pray. As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the word bid in its present sense, it signifies by the same kind of opposition to curse, when it is derived from the same word in its primitive meaning.
5 The weird sisters, hand in hand,] These weird sisters, were the Fates of the northern nations; the three hand-maids of Odin. Hæ nominantur Valkyriæ, quas quodvis ad prælium Odinus mittit.
Thus do go about, about;
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
Enter MACBETH and BANQUO.
Macb. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
So wither'd, and so wild in their attire;
That look not like the inhabitants o'the earth,
Hæ viros morti destinant, et victoriam gubernant. Gunna, et Rota, et Parcarum minima Skullda: per aëra et maria equitant semper ad morituros eligendos; et cædes in potestate habent. Bartholinus de Causis contemptæ à Danis adhuc Gentilibus mortis. It is for this reason that Shakspeare makes them three; and calls them,
Posters of the sea and land;
and intent only upon death and mischief. However, to give this part of his work the more dignity, he intermixes, with this Northern, the Greek and Roman superstitions; and puts Hecate at the head of their enchantments. And to make it still more familiar to the common audience (which was always his point) he adds, for another ingredient, a sufficient quantity of our own country superstitious concerning witches; their beards, their cats, and their broomsticks. So that his witch-scenes are like the charm they prepare in one of them; where the ingredients are gathered from every thing shocking in the natural world, as here, from every thing absurd in the moral. But as extravagant as all this is, the play has had the power to charm and bewitch every audience, from that time to this. WARBURTON.
The Valkyrie, or Valkyriur, were not barely three in number. The learned critic might have found, in Bartholinus, not only Gunna, Rota, et Skullda, but also, Scogula, Hilda, Gondula, and Geiroscogula. Bartholinus adds, that their number is yet greater; according to other writers who speak of them. They were the cupbearers of Odin, and conductors of the dead. They were distinguished by the elegance of their forms; and it would be as just to compare youth and beauty with age and deformity, as the Valkyria of the North with the Witches of Shakspeare.
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Mach. Speak, if you can;-What are you?
2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!"7
3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
Ban. Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?-I'the name of truth, Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace, and great prediction Of noble having,' and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt withal;2 to me you speak not:
And say, which grain will grow, and which will not;
1 Witch. Hail! 2 Witch. Hail!
3 Witch. Hail!
thane of Glamis!] The thaneship of Glamis was the ancient inheritance of Macbeth's family. The castle where they lived is still standing, and was lately the magnificent residence of the Earl of Strathmore.
thane of Cawdor!] Dr. Johnson observes, in his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, that part of Calder Castle, from which Macbeth drew his second title, is still remaining.
8 Are ye fantastical,] By fantastical, he means creatures of fantasy or imagination: the question is, Are these real beings before us, or are we deceived by illusions of fancy?
1 Of noble having,] Having is estate, possession, fortune. 2 That he seems rapt withal;] Rapt is rapturously affected, extra se raptus.
1 Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. 2 Witch. Not so happy, yet much happier.
3 Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be
So, all hail, Macbeth, and Banquo!
1 Witch. Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail! Macb. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me
By Sinel's death,3 I know, I am thane of Glamis;
No more than to be Cawdor. Say, from whence
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetick greeting?-Speak, I charge [Witches vanish. Ban. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them:-Whither are they vanish'd? Macb. Into the air; and what seem'd corporal, melted
As breath into the wind.-'Would they had staid! Ban. Were such things here, as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten of the insane root,*
That takes the reason prisoner?
Macb. Your children shall be kings.
You shall be king.
Macb. And thane of Cawdor too; went it not
Ban. To the self-same tune, and words. Who's here?
3 By Sinel's death,] The father of Macbeth.
4 eaten of the insane root,] The insane root is the root which makes insane, and which the commentators have not discovered.
Enter ROSSE and ANGUS.
Rosse. The king hath happily receiv'd, Macbeth,
Which should be thine, or his: Silenc'd with that,"
Rosse. And, for an earnest of a greater honour, He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
For it is thine.
What, can the devil speak true? Macb. The thane of Cawdor lives; Why do you dress me
In borrow'd robes?
Who was the thane, lives yet; But under heavy judgment bears that life Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was
5 His wonders and his praises do contend,
Which should be thine, or his: &c.] i. e. private admiration of your deeds, and a desire to do them public justice by commendation, contend in his mind for pre-eminence.-Or,—There is a contest in his mind whether he should indulge his desire of publishing to the world the commendations due to your heroism, or whether he should remain in silent admiration of what no words could celebrate in proportion to its desert.
6 As thick as tale,] Meaning, that the news came as thick as a tale can travel with the post.