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To plague the inventor: this a even-handed justice
Enter LADY MACBETH.
How now! what news ?
Know you not he has ?
Was the hope drunk
1- this even-handed justice-] Mason suggested that we might more advantageously round, -" Thus even-handed justice.”
- I have no spur
And falls on the other.--] Malone's exposition of this troublesome passage is as follows,-"I apprehend that there is not here one long-drawn metaphor, but two distinct ones; I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent: I have nothing to stimulate me to the execution of my purpose but ambition, which is apt to overreach itself; this he expresses by the second image, of a person meaning to vault into his saddle, who, by taking too great a leap, will fall on the other side." This does not assist us much ; still less does the fanciful suggestion to read for “itself” its sell, i.e. its saddle. The only resolution of the enigma which presents itself to our mind is to suppose Intent and Ambition are represented in Macbeth's disordered imagination by two steeds, the one lacking all incentive to motion, the other so impulsive that it overreaches itself and falls on its companion.
And live a coward in thine own esteem;
What beastb was 't then,
If we should fail ?
We fail! ;
Bring forth men-children only!
(*) Old text, no. * Like the poor cat i' the adage. Catus amat pisces, sed non vult tingere plantas; or, as it is rendered in Heywood's Proverbs, 1566,-“The cat would eate fishe, and vould not wet her feete.” *,b What beast was 't then, &c.] As Mr. Collier, in deference to critical opinion, has rejected from his latest edition of the poet the preposterous substitution boast for “beast” in this line, we are spared the necessity of citing a host of passages collected for the purpose of substantiating the original reading. c— the sticking place,-) The abiding place,
“ Which flower out of my hand shall never passe,
The Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions. The metaphor may have been taken from the screwing up the chords of a musical instrument, d – so convince,-) So subdue or overpower.
receipt of reason-] Receptacle of reason,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Who dares receive it other,
MACB. I am settled, and bend up
Enter BANQUO and FLEANCE, with a torch.
I take ’t, 't is later, sir.
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch.
Ban. What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's a-bed :
(*) Old text, offices
and shut us
In measureless content.) Shut up, meant finished, concluded.
I think not of them ;
At your kind'st leisure.
So I lose none,
Good repose, the while!
[Exit Servant. Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand ? Come, let me clutch thee:I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a 'false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw. Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going; And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses, Or else worth all the rest :- I see thee still ; And on thy blade and dudgeon' gouts of blood, Which was not so before.—There's no such thing; It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes.—Now o'er the one-half world Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse The curtain'd sleep;c Witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate's offerings; and wither'd Murder, Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, With Tarquin's ravishing strides,d towards his design
If you shall cleave to my consent,—when 't is,
It shall make honour for you.] This passage, we apprehend, has suffered some mutilation or corruption since it left the poet's hands. It seems impracticable to obtain a consistent meaning from the lines as they now stand.
b - dudgeon-] The wooden haft or handle of a dagger.
c The curtain'd sleep; Witchcraft celebrates, &c.] To perfect the measure, D'Avenant reads, “ --now witchcraft celebrates," &c.; but Steevens' emendation, “The curtain'd sleeper ;" &c. is more generally adopted.
d With Tarquin's ravishing strides,-) It is painful to reflect, that, with the exception of " Pericles," and “All's Well that Ends Well,” this sublime drama is more carelessly printed in the only old edition of it we possess, than any other in the collection; there are probably not thirty consecutive lines throughout which have come down to us as the poet wrote them.' In the line above, the folio reads sides, and this, which was corrected by Pope, it may be suspected is not the only error. “Tarquin's ravishing strides," reads very like a transposition of " Ravishing Tarquin's strides."
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure * and firm-set earth,
MACB. [Within.) Who's there?-what, ho!
LADY M. Alack! I am afraid they have awak'd,
LADY M. I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
As I descended ?
[Looking on his hands. LADY M. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
MACB. There's one did laugh in 's sleep,
LADY M. There are two lodg’d together.
MACB. One cried, God bless us! and Amen, the other;
(*) Old text, sowre.
(+) Old text, which they may."