Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

NOTE XLIV.

SCENE V.

Macbeth. - WHEREFORE was that cry?"
Seyton. The queen is dead.

Macbeth. She should (1) have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of (2) recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candde!
Life's but a walking shadow.-

She should have died hereafter,
There would have been a time for such a word.

This passage has very justly been suspected of being corrupt. . It is not apparent for what word there would have been a time ; and that there would or would not be a time for any word seems not a consideration of importance sufficient to transport Macbeth into the following exclamation. I read therefore,

(1) She should have died hereafter, There would have been a time for---such a world!... To-morrow, &c.

It is a broken speech, in which only a part of the thought is expressed, and may be paraphrased thus : The queen is dead.Macbeth. “Her death should “ have been deferred to some more peaceful hour; “ had she lived longer, there would at length have been " a time for the honours due to her as a queen, and “ that respect which I owe her for her fidelity and “ love. Such is the world_such is the condition of “ human life, that we always think to-morrow will be

happier than to-day; but to-morrow and to-morrow “steals over us unenjoyed and unregarded, and we “ still linger in the same expectation to the moment “appointed for our end. All these days, which have “ thus passed away, have sent multitudes of fools to “ the grave, who were engrossed by the same dream of “ future felicity, and, when life was departing from

them, were like me reckoning on to-morrow.”

(2) To the last syllable of recorded time. Recorded time seems to signify the time fixed in the decrees of heaven for the period of life. The record of futurity is indeed no accurate expression, but as we only know transactions past or present, the language of men affords no term for the volumes of prescience, in which future events may be supposed to be written.

NOTE XLV.

Macbeth. If thou speak’st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive
Till famine cling thee: if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much
I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt th’equivocation of the fiend,

That lies like truth. « Fear not till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane,” and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.

I pull in resolution

Though this is the reading of all the editions, yet as it is a phrase without either example, elegance, or propriety, it is surely better to read

I pall in resolutionI languish in my constancy, my confidence begins to forsake me. It is scarcely necessary to observe how easily pall might be changed into pull by a negligent writer, or mistaken for it by an unskilful printer.

NOTE XLVI.

SCENE VIII.

Seyward. Had I as many sons as I have hairs, I would not wish them to a fairer death : And so his knell is knoll'd.

This incident is thus related from Henry of Huntingdon by Camden in his Remains, from which our author probably copied it.

When Seyward, the martial Earl of Northumberland, understood that his son, whom he had sent in service against the Scotchmen, was slain, he demanded whether his wound were in the fore part or hinder part of his body. When it was answered in the fore part, he replied, “I am right glad; neither wish Į any

other death to me or mine."

[ocr errors]

AFTER the foregoing pages were printed, the late edition of Shakespeare, ascribed to Sir Thomas Hanmer, fell into my hands; and it was therefore convenient for me to delay the publication of my remarks, till I had examined whether they were not anticipated by similar observations, or precluded by better. I therefore read over this tragedy, but found that the editor's apprehension is of a cast so different from mine, that he appears to find no difficulty in most of those passages which I have represented as unintelligible, and has therefore passed smoothly over them, without any attempt to alter or explain them.

Some of the lines with which I had been perplexed, have been indeed so fortunate as to attract his regard; and it is not without all the satisfaction which it is usual to express on such occasions, that I find an entire agreement between us in substituting (see Note II.] quarrel for quarry, and in explaining the adage of the caț, [Note XVỊI.] Bụt this pleasure is, like most others, known only to be regretted ; for I have the unhappiness to find no such conformity with regard to any other passage.

[ocr errors]

The line which I have endeavoured to amend, Note, XI. is likewise attempted by the new editor, and is perhaps the only passage in the play in which he has not submissively admitted the emendations of foregoing critics. Instead of the common reading,

Doing every thing
Safe towards your love and honour,
he has published,

Doing every thing
Shap'd towards your love and honour.

This alteration, which, like all the rest attempted by him, the reader is expected to admit, without any reason alleged in its defence, is, in my opinion, more plausible than that of Mr. Theobald; whether it is right, I am not to determine.

In the passage which I have altered in Note XL. an emendation is likewise attempted in the late edition, where, for

And the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel,

is substituted-And the chance in goodness--whether with more or less elegance, dignity, and propriety, than the reading which I have offered, I must again decline the province of deciding.

Most of the other emendations which he has endeavoured, whether with good or bad fortune, are too trivial to deserve mention. For surely the weapons of criticism ought not to be blunted against an

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »