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1 Of Kernes and Gallow-glasses-] WHETHER supply'd of, for supply'd from or with, was a kind of Grecism of Shakspeare's expression; or whether of be a corruption of the editors, who took Kernes and Gallow-glasses, which were only light and heavy armed foot, to be the names of two of the western islands, I don't know. Hinc conjectura vigorem etiam adjiciunt arma quædam Hibernica, Gallicis antiquis similia, jacula nimirum peditum levis armaturæ quos Kernos vocant, nec non secures & lorica ferreæ peditum illorum gravioris armaturæ, quos Galloglassios, appellant. Warai Antiq. Hiber. cap. 6. WARBURTON.
2 And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,] The old copy has-quarry; but I am inclined to read quarrel. Quarrel was formerly used for cause, or for the occasion of a quarrel, and is to be found in that sense in Holinshed's account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had a just quarrel to endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is,
Fortune smiling on his execrable cause, &c. This is followed by Dr. Warburton.
3 Till that Bellona's bridegroom,] This passage may be added to the many others, which shew how little Shakspeare knew of ancient mythology. HENLEY.
Confronted him with self-comparisons,] i. e. gave him as good as he brought, shew'd he was his equal.
5 Saint Colmes' inch.] Now called Inchcomb, a small island lying in the Forth, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to St. Columb.
Inch or ynch was the old Scots word for an island, and, as I am informed, is still used in some parts of Ireland.
6 Aroint thee, witch!] Aroint, or avaunt, be gone.
-ronyon-] i. e. scabby or mangy woman. Fr. rogneux, royne, scurf.
8 like a rat without a tail,] It should be remembered (as 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.
The reason given by some of the old writers, for such a deficiency, is, that though the hands and feet, by an easy change, might be converted into the four paws of a beast, there was still no part about a woman which corresponded with the length of tail common to almost all four-footed creatures.
9 He shall live a man forbid :] i. e. as one under a cûrse, an interdiction. So afterwards in this play,
By his own interdiction stands accurs'd. So among the Romans, an outlaw's sentence was, Aque & Ignis interdictio; i. e. he was forbid the use of water and fire, which imply'd the necessity of banish
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 bir bir y bore, &c. He is wise that prays and makes amends. 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.
10 The weird sisters, hand in hand,] Weird comes from the Anglo-Saxon þýnd, and is used as a substantive signifying a prophecy by the translator of Hector Boethius in the year 1541, as well as for the Destinies by Chaucer and Holinshed. Of the weirdis gevyn to Makbeth and Banqhuo, is the argument of one of the chapters. And Gawin Douglas, in his translation of Virgil, calls the Parca the weird sisteris. The other method of spelling was merely a blunder of the transcriber or printer.
The Valkyria, or Valkyriur, were not barely three in number. The learned critic Dr. Warburton 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 cup-bearers 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.
11 All hail, Macbeth!] It hath lately been repeated from Mr. Guthrie's Essay upon English Tragedy, that the portrait of Macbeth's wife is copied from Buchanan, "whose spirit, as well as words, is translated "into the play of Shakspeare: and it had signified "nothing to have pored only on Holinshed for facts."
"Animus etiam, per se ferox, prope quotidianis "conviciis uxoris (quæ omnium consiliorum ei erat "conscia) stimulabatur."- -This is the whole, that Buchanan says of the Lady, and truly I see no more spirit in the Scotch, than in the English chronicler. "The wordes of the three weird sisters also greatly "encouraged him [to the murder of Duncan], but "specially his wife lay sore upon him to attempt the thing, as she that was very ambitious, brenning " in unquenchable desire to beare the name of a queene." Edit. 1577. p. 244.
This part of Holinshed is an abridgment of Johne Bellenden's translation of the noble clerk, Hector Boece, imprinted at Edinburgh, in fol. 1541. I will give the passage as it is found there. "His wyfe impacient "of lang tary (as all wemen ar) specially quhare
they ar desirus of ony purpos, gaif hym gret arta"tion to pursew the thrid weird, that sche micht be ane
" quene, calland hym oft tymis febyl cowart and "nocht desyrus of honouris, sen he durst not assailze "the thing with manheid and curage, quhilk is offerit "to hym be beniuolence of fortoun. Howbeit sindry "otheris hes assailzeit sic thinges afore with maist "terribyl jeopardyis, quhen thay had not sic sickernes "to succeid in the end of thair laubouris as he had." p. 173.
But we can demonstrate, that Shakspeare had not the story from Buchanan. According to him, the weird-sisters salute Macbeth, "Una Angusiæ Tha“num, altera Moravia, tertia Regem.”—Thane of Angus, and of Murray, &c. but according to Holinshed, immediately from Bellenden, as it stands in Shakspeare, "The first of them spake and sayde, "All hayle Makbeth Thane of Glammis,-the second "of them sayde, Hayle Makbeth Thane of Cawder; "but the third sayde, All hayle Makbeth, that here"after shall be king of Scotland." p. 243.
1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis !
2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter!
Here too our poet found the equivocal predictions, on which his hero so fatally depended, "He had learned " of certain wysards, how that he ought to take heede "of Macduffe ;--and surely hereupon had he put "Macduffe to death, but a certaine witch whom he