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the ground, is often in a state of greater security than the vast-winged eagle that can soar to any height.
As Shakspere is here describing the beetle in the act of flying (for he never makes his humming noise but when he Alies), it is more natural to suppose the epithet should allude to the peculiarity of his wings, than to the circumstance of his origin, or his place of habi. tation, both of which are common to him with several other creatures of the insect kind.
The quotation from Antony and Cleopatra, seems to make against Dr. Warburton's explanation.
The meaning of Ænobarbus in that passage is evidently this: Lepidus, says he, is the beetle of the triumvirate, a dull, blind creature, that would but crawl on the earth, if Oétavius and Antony, his more active colleagues in power, did not serve him for shards wings to raise him a little above the ground.
What idea is afforded, if we say that Octavius and Antony are two clefts in the old wood in which Lepidus was hatch'd?
Steevens. 204 -dearest chuck,] I meet with this term of endearment (which is probably corrupted from chick or chicken) in many of our ancient writers. So, in Warner's Albion's England, b. v. C. 27.
immortal she-egg chuck of Tyndarus his wife."
STEEV ENS. 205
-Come sealing night,] Thus the common editions had it; but the old one, seeling, i. e. blind. ing; which is right. It is a term in falconry.
So, in the Booke of Hawkyng, Huntyng, &c. bl. let. no date: “ And he must take wyth hym nedle and threde, to ensyle the haukes that bene taken. And in thys maner the must be ensiled. Take the nedel and thryde, and put it through the over eye lyd, and soe of that other, and make them fast under the beeke that she se not,” &c.
Which keeps me pale! -] This may be well explained by the following passage in Richard III.
“ Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray." Again, in Cymbeline, act v. sc. 4.
-take this life, " And cancel these cold bonds." STEEVENS. 209. Light thickens; and the crow] By the expres. sion, light thickens, Shakspere means, the light grows dull or muddy. In this sense he uses it in Antony and Cleopatra :
-my lustre thickens “ When he shines by”
EDWARDS'S MSS. It may be added, that in the second part of King Henry IV. Prince John of Lancaster tells Falstaff, that “ his desert is too thich to shine."
STEVENS. Makes wing to the rooky wood:] Rooky may mean damp, misty, straming with exhalations. It is only a North country variation of dialect from recky. In Coriolanus, Shakspere mentions -the reck of th' rotten fens."
And, in Caltha Poëtarum, &c. 1599 :
“ Comes in a vapour like a rookish ryme." Rooky wood may, however, signify a rookery, the wood that abounds with rooks.
STEEVENS. 216. But who did bid thee join with us?] The mean. ing of this abrubt dialogue is this : The perfe&t spy, mentioned by Macbeth in the foregoing scene, has, before they enter upon the stage, given them the directions which were promised at the time of their agreement; yet one of the murderers suborned, sus. pects him of intending to betray them; the other observes, that, by his exact knowledge of what they were to do, he appears to be employed by Macbeth, and needs not be mistrusted.
JOHNSON. 229. the note of expectation,] i.e. they who are set down in the list of guests, and expected to supper.
STEEVENS, 243. Was't not the way?] i. e. the best means we could take to evade discovery.
STEEVENS, 247 You know your own degrees, sit down: at first
And last, the hearty welcome.] As this passage stands, not only the numbers are very imperfect; but the sense, if any can be found, weak and contemptible, The numbers will be improved by reading :
-sit down at first, And last a hearty welcome. But for last should then be written next. I believe the true reading is :
You know your own degrees, sit down.-To first
All of whatever degree, from the highest to the lowest, may be assured that their visit is well received.
JOHNSON. 252. Our hostess keeps her state, &c.] This idea might have been borrowed from Holinshed, p. 108: “ The king (Hen. VIII.) caused the queene to keepe the estate, and then sat the ambassadours and ladies as they were marshalled by the king, who would not sit, but walked from place to place, making cheer,” &c.
STEEVENS. A state appears to have been a royal chair with a canopy over it. So, in K. Henry IV. Part I.
“ This chair shall be my state." Again, in Sir Thomas Herbert's Memoirs of Charles I. “ Where being set, the king under a state at the end of the room." -Again, in The View of France, 1598 : “ Espying the chayre not to stand well under the state, he mended it handsomely himself."
MALONE. 261. 'Tis better thee without, than he within.] The sense requires that this passage should be read thus :
'Tis better thee without, than him within. That is, I am better pleased that the blood of Banquo should be on thy face than in thy body.
The author might mean, It is better that Banquo's blood were on thy face, than he in this room. Expres. sions thus imperfect are common in his works.
JOHNSON. This is another play on a word, and serves to mark the state of Macbeth's mind. 275
-trenched gashes -] Trancher to cut. Fr.
-the feast is sold, &c.] The same ex. pression occurs in the Romaunt of the Rose :
“Good dede done through praiere,
“ Is sold, and bought to dere." STEEVENS. It is still common to say, that we pay dear for an entertainment, if the circumstances attending the participation of it prove irksome to us.
HENLEY. 288. Enter the ghost of Banquo, -] This circumstance of Banquo's ghost seems to be alluded to in The Puritan, first printed in 1607, and ridiculously ascri. bed to Shakspere : “ We'll ha' the ghost i' th' white sheet sit at upper end o' th' table.”
FARMER. 312. extend his passion ;] Prolong his suffering; make his fit longer.
JOHNSON 319. Oh, these flaws and starts.
(Impostors to true fear) would well become
Authoriz'd by her grandam. -] Flaws are sudden gusis. The author perhaps wrote:
Those flaws and starts,
A woman's story,
JOHNSON, 329. Shall be the maws of kites.] The same thought occurs in Spenser's Faery Queen, b. ii. c. 8.