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Shall not be long but I'll be here again:
(1)-When we hold rumour
The present reading seems to afford no sense; and therefore some critical experiments may be properly tried upon it, though, the verses being without any connexion, there is room for suspicion, that some intermediate lines are lost, and that the passage is therefore irretrievable. If it be supposed that the fault arises only from the corruption of some words, and that the traces of the true reading are still to be found, the passage may be changed thus:
-When we bode ruin
Or in a sense very applicable to the occasion of the conference,
When the bold running
(2) But float upon a wild and violent sea
That he who floats upon a rough sea must move is evident, too evident for Shakespeare so emphatically to assert. The line therefore is to be written thus:
Each way, and move---I'll take my leave of you.
Rosse is about to proceed, but finding himself overpowered by his tenderness, breaks off abruptly, for which he makes a short apology and retires.
Malcolm.---LET us seek out some desolate shade,
and there Weep our sad bosoms empty.
Macduff.---Let us rather Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men, Bestride our downfal birth-doom: each new morn, New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds As if it felt with Scotland, and yell'd out Like syllables of dolour.
He who can discover what is meant by him that earnestly exhorts him to bestride his downfal birth-doom, is at liberty to adhere to the present text; but those who are willing to confess that such counsel would to them be unintelligible, must endeavour to discover some reading less obscure. It is probable that Shakespeare wrote,
-Like good men, Bestride our downfaln birthdom
The allusion is to a man from whom something valuable is about to be taken by violence, and who, that he may defend it without encumbrance, lays it on the ground, and stands over it with his weapon in his hand. Our birthdom, or birthright, says he, lies on the ground, let us, like men who are to fight for what is dearest to them, not abandon it, but stand over it and defend it. This is a strong picture of obstinate resolution.
Birthdom for birthright is formed by the same analogy with masterdom in this play, signifying the privileges or rights of a master.
Perhaps it might be birth-dame for mother; let us stand over our mother that lies bleeding on the ground.
Malcolm. Now we'll together, and the chance of
goodness Be like our warranted quarrel.
The chance of goodness, as it is commonly read, conveys no sense. If there be not some more important error in the
passage, it should at least be pointed thus ;
And the chance, of goodness,
That is, May the event be, of the goodness of heaven (pro justitia divina] answerable to the cause.
But I am inclined to believe that Shakespeare wrote,
And the chance, O goodness,
This some of his transcribers wrote with a small o, which another imagined to mean of. If we adopt this reading, the sense will be, and 0 thou sovereign goodness, to whom we now appeal, may our fortune answer to our cause.
Macbeth. BRING me no more reports, let them
fly all, 'Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane, I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman?
Fly false Thanes,
In the first line of this speech, the proper pauses are not observed in the present editions.
Bring me no more reports---let them fly all--Tell me not any more of desertions--- Let all my
subjects leave me---I am safe till, &c.
The reproach of epicurism, on which Mr. Theobald has bestowed a note, is nothing more than a natural invective uttered by an inhabitant of a barren country, against those who have more opportunities of luxury.
Macbeth. I have liv'd long enough: my way of life Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf.
As there is no relation between the way of life, and fallen into the sear, I am inclined to think, that the
W is only an M inverted, and that it was originally written, My May of life.
I am now passed from the spring to the autumn of my days, but I am without those comforts that should succeed the sprightliness of bloom, and support me in this melancholy season.
Malcolm. "Tis his main hope: for where there is advantage to be given, Both more and less have given him the revolt; And none serve with him but constrained things, Whose hearts are absent too.
The impropriety of the expression advantage to be given instead of advantage given, and the disagreeable repetition of the word given in the next line, incline . me to read,
Where there is a vantage to be gone, Both more and less have given him the revolt.
Advantage or vontage in the time of Shakespeare signified opportunity.
More and less is the same with greater and less. So in the interpolated Mandeville, a book of that age, there is a chapter of India the more and the less.