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quarrel And fortune, on his damned quarry smiling, Show'd like a rebel's whore8. But all's too weak: For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, Which smok'd with bloody execution,
Like valour's minion,
Carv'd out his passage, till he fac'd the slave;
Dun. O, valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
With furbish'd arms, and new supplies of men,
'But fortune on his damned quarry smiling. Thus the old copies. It was altered at Johnson's suggestion to quarrel, which is approved and defended by Steevens and Malone. 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; through which Macbeth 'carved out his passage till he faced the slave.' Thus in King Henry V. Act iv. Sc. 2:
--our superfluous lackeys, and our peasants,
About our squares of battle.'
Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:—
'In the brave squares of battle."
8 The meaning is that Fortune, while she smiled on him, deceived him.
9 The old copy reads which.
10 Sir W. Davenant's reading of this passage, in his alteration of the play, is a tolerable comment on it:
"But then this daybreak of our victory
Serv'd but to light us into other dangers,
That spring from whence our hopes did seem to rise.
Break is not in the first folio.
As sparrows, eagles; or the hare, the lion.
Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, Or memorize another Golgotha13,
I cannot tell:
But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
Dun. So well thy words become thee, as thy wounds;
They smack of honour both:-Go, get him sur[Exit Soldier, attended.
Who comes here?
The worthy thane of Rosse.
Len. What a haste looks through his eyes! So
should he look,
That seems to speak things strange14.
God save the king!
Dun. Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane?
From Fife, great king,
Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky15,
Norway himself, with terrible numbers,
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor
The thane of Cawdor, gan a dismal conflict: Till that Bellona's bridegroom16 lapp'd in proof, Confronted him with self-comparisons17,
12 That is, reports. So in the old play of King John, 1591 :as harmless and without effect
As is the echo of a cannon's crack.'
13 i. e. make another Golgatha as memorable as the first. 14 "That seems about to speak strange things."
15 So in King John:
'Mocking the air with colours idly spread.
16 By Bellona's bridegroom Shakspeare means Macbeth. Lapp'd
in proof is defended by armour of proof.
By him is meant
Norway, and by self-comparisons is meant that he gave him as good as he brought, showed that he was his equal.
Point against point rebellious, arm 'gainst arm,
Rosse. That now
Sweno18, the Norways' king, craves composition;
Dun. No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom interest:-Go, pronounce his present death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.
Rosse. I'll see it done.
Dun. What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.
SCENE III. A Heath.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
1 Witch. Where hast thou been, sister? 2 Witch. Killing swine.
3 Witch. Sister, where thou?
1 Witch. A sailor's wife had chesnuts in her lap, And mounch'd, and mounch'd, and mounch'd:Give me, quoth I:
Aroint thee1, witch! the rump-fed ronyon2 cries.
18 It appears probable, as Steevens suggests, that Sweno only a marginal reference, which has crept into the text by mistake; and that the line originally stood
"That now the Norway's king craves composition.'
It was surely not necessary for Rosse to tell Duncan the name of his old enemy, the king of Norway.
19 Colmes is here a dissyllable. Colmes' Inch, now called Inchcomb, is a small island, lying in the Firth of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it dedicated to St. Columb. Inch or inse, in Erse, signifies an island.
1 The etymology of this imprecation is yet to seek. Rynt ye for out with ye! stand off! is still used in Cheshire; where there is also a proverbial saying, 'Rynt ye, witch, quoth Besse Locket to her mother.' Tooke thought it was from roynous, and might signify a scab or scale on thee!-Others have derived it from the rowan tree, or witch-hazle, the wood of which was believed
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o'the Tiger:
And, like a rat without a tail,
2 Witch. I'll give thee a wind1.
3 Witch. And I another.
1 Witch. I myself have all the other;
to be a powerful charm against witchcraft; and every careful housewife had a churn-staff made of it. This superstition is as old as Pliny's time, who asserts that 'a serpent will rather creep into the fire than over a twig of ash. The French have a phrase of somewhat similar sound and import-Arry-avant, away there ho-Mr. Douce thinks that 'aroint thee' will be found to have a Saxon origin.
2 Rump-fed ronyon,' a scabby or mangy woman fed on offals; the rumps being formerly part of the emoluments or kitchen fees of the cooks in great houses.
3 In The Discovery of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scott, 1584, he says it was believed that witches 'could sail in an egg-shell, a cockle or muscle-shell through and under the tempestuous seas.' And in another pamphlet, 'Declaring the damnable Life of Doctor Fian, a notable Sorcerer, who was buried at Edenborough in Januarie last, 1591'-'All they together went to sea, each one in a riddle or cive, and went in the same very substantially, with flaggons of wine making merrie, and drinking by the way in the same riddles or cives,' &c.
Sir W. D'Avenant, in his Albovine, 1629, says
'He sits like a witch sailing in a sieve.'
It was the belief of the times that though a witch could assume the form of any animal she pleased, the tail would still be wanting.
4 This free gift of a wind is to be considered as an act of sisterly friendship; for witches were supposed to sell them. So in Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600:
in Ireland and in Denmark both
Witches for gold will sell a man a wind,
i. e. the sailor's chart; carte-marine.
6 Forbid, i. e. forspoken, unhappy, charmed or bewitched. The explanation of Theobald and Johnson, 'interdicted or under a curse, is erroneous. A forbodin fellow, Scotice, still signifies an unhappy one.
Weary sev'n-nights, nine times nine,
2 Witch. Show me, show me.
1 Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wreck'd, as homeward he did come. [Drum within. 3 Witch. A drum, a drum;
Macbeth doth come.
All. The weird sisters9, hand in hand,
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,
This mischief was supposed to be put in execution by means of a waxen figure. Holinshed, speaking of the witchcraft practised to destroy King Duff, says that they found one of the witches roasting, upon a wooden broach, an image of wax at the fire, resembling in each feature the king's person, &c for as the image did waste afore the fire, so did the bodie of the king break forth in sweat: and as for the words of the inchantment, they served to keepe him still waking from sleepe.' This may serve to explain the foregoing passage :
'Sleep shall, neither night nor day,
Hang upon his pent-house lid.'
8 In the pamphlet about Dr. Fian, already quoted-'Againe it is confessed, that the said christened cat was the cause of the Kinge's majestie's shippe, at his coming forth of Denmarke, had a contrarie winde to the rest of his shippes then being in his companie. And further the said witch declared, that his majestie had never come safely from the sea, if his faith had not prevailed above their intentions.' To this circumstance, perhaps, Shakspeare's allusion is sufficiently plain.
9 The old copy has weyward, evidently by mistake. Weird, from the Saxon wyrd, a witch, Shakspeare found in Holinshed. Gawin Douglas, in his translation of Virgil, renders the parcae by weird sisters.