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That follow'd me so near, (O, our lives sweetness !
That we the pain of death would hourly bear,
Their precious gems new loft; became his guide,
Baft. This fpeech of yours hath mov'd me,
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in,
Edg. (26) This would have feem'd a period, To fuch as love not forrow: but another,
(26) This, &c.] The baftard, whofe favage nature is well difplay'd by it, defires to hear more: the gentle Albany, touch'd at the fad tale, begs him no more to melt his heart; upon which, Edgar obferves, fenfibly affected by Edmund's inhumanity, fhould have imagined, this would have feem'd a period, a fufficient end of woe, to fuch as love not forrow, who are not pleased to hear of the diftreffes of others: but another [a perfon of another and more, cruel temper] to amplify too much, [to augment and aggravate that which is already too great] would fill make much more [would ftill increase it] and top extremity itself; that is, even go beyond that which is already at the utmost limit." Nothing can be plainer than this, which Mr. Warburton condemning as miferable nonfenfe, reads thus, and admits into his text!
To amplify too much, would make much more,
Whilft I was big in clamour, there came a man,
This wou'd have feem'd a period; but fuch
As love to amplify anothers forrow,
Too much, wou'd make much more and top extremity!
'Tis remarkable, this fine fpeech, (and indeed many others) are emitted in the Oxford edition.
That look not like th' inhabitants o'th' earth,
And yet are on't? Live you, or are you aught
That man may question? You feem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips ;
-You fhould be women;
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret,
you are fo.
(1) What, &c.] Shakespear's excellence in thefe fictitious characters hath been before obferved: See Vol. 1. p. 77. n. 5. fuch circles, indeed, none could move like him; ghofts, witches, and fairies feem to acknowledge him their fovereign. We must obferve, that the reality of witches was firmly believed in our author's time, not only establish'd by law, but by fashion also, and that it was not only unpolite but criminal, to doubt it: and as hath been remarked, 66 upon this general infatuation, Shakespear might be easily allowed to found a play, efpecially fince he has followed with great exactnefs fuch hiftories as were then thought true: nor can it be doubted, that the fcenes of enchantment, however they may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting.' See Mifcellaneous obfervations on Macbeth, by Mr. S.Johnson, (note the firft) printed for Ed. Cave, 1745. Otway's celebrated defcription of the witch in his Orphan, is fo univerfally known, I omit quoting it here,
SCENE VII. Macbeth's Temper.
Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' th' milk of hunan kindness,
To catch the nearest way.
Art not without ambition;
Thou wouldst be great;
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly
Lady Macbeth, on the News of Duncan's approach. (2) The raven himself is hoarfe,
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Shake my fell purpose, (3) nor keep peace between
(2) The Raven, &c.] It is faid in the speech which precedes this, that the meffenger, who brought the news
Almoft dead for breath had fcarcely more,
Than would make up his meffage.
Him the queen moft beautifully calls the Raven.
With this clue
the reader will eafily enter into the fenfe of the paffage, and fee the abfurdity of any alteration.-By mortal thoughts' meant deftruct ive, deadly, &c.----In which sense mortal is frequently used.
(3) Nor keep, &c.] Mr. Johnson is of opinion, that no sense at all is expreft by the prefent reading, and therefore he proposes keep pace between the paffage feems clear to me, and the fenfe as fol lows: grant that no womanish tenderness, no compunctious vifitings of nature, no ftings of conscience, may thake my fell purpofe, may defeat my defign, and keep peace between it and the effect, that is, keep my purpose from being executed," which is most aptly expreft by a peace between them, which the remorfe of her mind, the ftings of her confcience were to be the occafion of her keeping.
Th' effect and it. Come to my woman's breasts,
You wait on nature's mifchief-Come, thick night!
That my keen knife fee not the wound it makes ;
SCENE IX. Macbeth's Irrefolution.
*If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well
(5) Then a, &c.] This is quité claffical: hofpitality was held fo facred amongst the ancients, that the Chief of their gods was dignified with the title of hofpitable. Zeug Evos, Jupiter Hofpitalis. The writings of the ancients abound with this noble principle, and hofpitality is mentioned with honour in them all: this amongst a thousand other proofs, fhews Shakespear to have been no stranger to the works of antiquity.