Safe toward your love and honour. Macbeth Act 1 Scene 4 by William Shakespeare 3

Of the last line of this speech which is certainly as it is now read, unintelligible, an emendation has been attempted which Mr. Warburton, and Mr. Theobald have admitted as the true reading.

—-Our duties
Are to your throne and state, children and servants,
Which do but what they should, in doing every thing
Fiefs to your love and honour.

My esteem of these critics, inclines me to believe that they cannot be much pleased with the expressions “fiefs to love,” or “fiefs to honour”; and that they have proposed this alteration rather because no other occurred to them, than because they approved it. I shall therefore propose a bolder change, perhaps with no better success, but sua cuique placent. I read thus,

—-Our duties
Are to your throne and state, children and servants,
Which do but what they should, in doing nothing
Save
tow'rds your love and honour.

We do but perform our duty when we contract all our views to your service, when we act with “no other” principle than regard to “your love and honour.”

It is probable that this passage was first corrupted by writing “safe” for “save,” and the lines then stood thus,

—-Doing nothing
Safe tow'rd your love and honour.

Which the next transcriber observing to be wrong, and yet not being able to discover the real fault, altered to the present reading.

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To find the mind's construction in the face: Macbeth Act 1 Scene 4 by William Shakespeare 3

The “construction of the mind” is, I believe, a phrase peculiar to Shakespeare; it implies the “frame” or “disposition” of the mind, by which it is determined to good or ill.

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chris
February 6th, 2014

speak english

bobs farm
February 10th, 2014

ok

April 11th, 2014

The phrase basically means that there is no science or technique to figure out someones mental processes through their facial features.

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To throw away the dearest thing he owed, Macbeth Act 1 Scene 4 by William Shakespeare 3

As the word “ow’d” affords here no sense but such as is forced and unnatural, it cannot be doubted that it was originally written, “The dearest thing he own’d,” a reading which needs neither defence nor explication.

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Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 by William Shakespeare 5

I suppose every reader is disgusted at the tautology in this passage, “Time and the hour,” and will therefore willingly believe that Shakespeare wrote it thus,

—-Come what come may,
Time! on!-the hour runs thro' the roughest day.

Macbeth is deliberating upon the events which are to befal him, but finding no satisfaction from his own thoughts, he grows impatient of reflection, and resolves to wait the close without harrassing himself with conjectures,

—-Come what come may.

But to shorten the pain of suspense, he calls upon time in the usual stile of ardent desire, to quicken his motion,

Time! on!—–

He then comforts himself with the reflection that all his perplexity must have an end,

—-The hour runs thro' the roughest day.

This conjecture is supported by the passage in the letter to his Lady in which he says, “They referr’d me to the coming on of time with Hail King that shall be.”

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My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man
Macbeth Act 1 Scene 3 by William Shakespeare 5

The “single state of man” seems to be used by Shakespeare for an “individual,” in opposition to a “commonwealth,” or “conjunct body” of men.

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'Thane of Cawdor;' Macbeth Act 1 Scene 5 by William Shakespeare 5

The incongruity of all the passages in which the Thane of Cawdor is mentioned is very remarkable; in the second scene the Thanes of Rosse and Angus bring the King an account of the battle, and inform him that Norway

Assisted by that most disloyal traytor
The Thane of Cawdor, ‘gan a dismal conflict.

It appears that Cawdor was taken prisoner, for the King says in the same scene.

—-Go, pronounce his death,
And with his former title greet Macbeth.

Yet though Cawdor was thus taken by Macbeth, in arms against his King, when Macbeth is saluted, in the fourth scene,
“Thane of Cawdor,” by the weird sisters, he asks,

How of Cawdor? the Thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosp'rous gentleman.—–

And in the next line considers the promises, that he should be Cawdor and King, as equally unlikely to be accomplished. How can Macbeth be ignorant of the state of the Thane of Cawdor whom he has just defeated and taken prisoner, or call him “a prosperous gentleman” who has forfeited his title, and life by open rebellion? Or why should he wonder that the title of the rebel whom he has overthrown should be conferred upon him? He cannot be supposed to dissemble his knowledge of the condition of Cawdor, because he enquires with all the ardour of curiosity, and the vehemence of sudden astonishment, and because nobody is present but Banquo, who had an equal part in the battle, and was equally acquainted with Cawdor’s treason. However in the next scene, his ignorance still continues, and, when Rosse and Angus present him from the King with his new title, he cries out

—-The Thane of Cawdor lives.
Why do you dress me in his borrowed robes?

Rosse and Angus, who were the messengers that in the second scene informed the King of the assistance given by Cawdor to the invader, having lost, as well as Macbeth, all memory of what they had so lately seen and related, make this answer,

—-Whether he was
Combin’d with Norway, or did line the rebels
With hidden help and vantage, or with both
He labour’d in his country’s wreck, I know not.

Neither Rosse knew what he had just reported, nor Macbeth what he had just done. This seems not to be one of the faults that are to be imputed to the transcribers, since, though the inconsistency of Rosse and Angus might be removed, by supposing that their names are erroneously inserted, and that only Rosse brought the account of the battle, and only Angus was sent to compliment Macbeth, yet the forgetfullness of Macbeth cannot be palliated, since what he says could not have been spoken by any other.

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Who comes here?

MALCOLM
The worthy Thane of Ross.
Macbeth Act I Scene 2 by William Shakespeare 3

KING. But who comes here?
MAL. The worthy Thane of Rosse.
LENOX. What haste looks thro' his eyes?
So should he look, that seems to speak things strange.

The meaning of this passage as it now stands is, “so should he look, that looks as if he told things strange.” But Rosse neither yet told strange things, nor could look as if he told them; Lenox only conjectured from his air that he had strange things to tell, and therefore undoubtedly said

—What haste looks thro' his eyes?
So should he look, that teems to speak things strange.

“He looks like one that is big with something of importance”; a metaphor so natural that it is every day used in common discourse.

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If I say sooth, Macbeth Act I Scene 2 by William Shakespeare 3

If I say sooth, I must report they were
As cannons overcharged with double cracks,
So they redoubled strokes upon the foe:

Mr. Theobald has endeavoured to improve the sense of this passage by altering the punctuation thus:

—-They were
As cannons overcharg’d, with double cracks
So they redoubled strokes—–

He declares, with some degree of exultation, that he has no idea of a “cannon charged with double cracks”; but surely the great author will not gain much by an alteration which makes him say of a hero, that he “redoubles strokes with double cracks,” an expression not more loudly to be applauded, or more easily pardon’d than that which is rejected in its favour. That “a cannon is charged with thunder” or “with double thunders” may be written, not only without nonsense, but with elegance, and nothing else is here meant by “cracks,” which in the time of this writer was a word of such emphasis and dignity, that in this play he terms the general dissolution of nature the “crack of doom.”

There are among Mr. Theobald’s alterations others which I do not approve, though I do not always censure them; for some of his amendments are so excellent, that, even when he has failed, he ought to be treated with indulgence and respect.

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The merciless Macdonwald
(Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
The multiplying villainies of nature
Do swarm upon him) from the Western Isles
Of kerns and [gallowglasses] is supplied;
Macbeth Act I Scene 2 by William Shakespeare 3

“Kerns” are light-armed, and “gallow-glasses” heavy-armed soldiers. The word “quarry” has no sense that is properly applicable in this place, and therefore it is necessary to read

And Fortune on his damned quarrel smiling.

Quarrel was formerly used for “cause,” or for “the occasion of a quarrel,” and is to be found in that sense in Hollingshead’s account of the story of Macbeth, who, upon the creation of the Prince of Cumberland, thought, says the historian, that he had “a just quarrel” to endeavour after the crown. The sense therefore is “Fortune smiling on his execrable cause,” &c.

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Three witches. Macbeth Act 1 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare 1

In order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer, it is always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries. A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the assistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as transgressing the bounds of probability, he would be banished from the theatre to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of tragedies; but a survey of the notions that prevailed at the time when this play was written, will prove that Shakespeare was in no danger of such censures, since he only turned the system that was then universally admitted to his advantage, and was far from overburthening the credulity of his audience.

The reality of witchcraft or enchantment, which, though not strictly the same, are confounded in this play, has in all ages and countries been credited by the common people, and in most by the learned themselves. These phantoms have indeed appeared more frequently, in proportion as the darkness of ignorance has been more gross; but it cannot be shown, that the brightest gleams of knowledge have at any time been sufficient to drive them out of the world. The time in which this kind of credulity was at its height, seems to have been that of the holy war, in which the Christians imputed all their defeats to enchantments or diabolical opposition, as they ascribed their success to the assistance of their military saints, and the learned Mr. W[arburton] appears to believe (Suppl. to the Introduction to Don Quixote) that the first accounts of enchantments were brought into this part of the world by those who returned from their eastern expeditions. But there is always some distance between the birth and maturity of folly as of wickedness: This opinion had long existed, though perhaps the application of it had in no foregoing age been so frequent, nor the reception so general. Olympiodorus, in Photius’s Extracts, tells us of one Libanius, who practised this kind of military magic, and having promised (…) “to perform great things against the barbarians without soldiers,” was, at the instances of the empress Placidia, put to death, when he was about to have given proofs of his abilities. The Empress shewed some kindness in her anger by cutting him off at a time so convenient for his reputation.

But a more remarkable proof of the antiquity of this notion may be found in St. Chrysostom’s book De Sacerdotio, which exhibits a scene of enchantments not exceeded by any romance of the middle age; he supposes a spectator overlooking a field of battle attended by one that points out all the various objects of horror, the engines of destruction, and the arts of slaughter. (….) “Let him then proceed to shew him in the opposite armies horses flying by enchantment, armed men transported through the air, and every power and form of magick.” Whether St. Chrysostom believed that such performances were really to be seen in a day of battle, or only endeavoured to enliven his description, by adopting the notions of the vulgar, it is equally certain, that such notions were in his time received, and that therefore they were not imported from the Saracens in a later age; the wars with the Saracens however gave occasion to their propagation, not only as bigotry naturally discovers prodigies, but as the scene of action was removed to a great distance, and distance either of time or place is sufficient to reconcile weak minds to wonderful relations.

The Reformation did not immediately arrive at its meridian, and tho' day was gradually encreasing upon us, the goblins of witchcraft still continued to hover in the twilight. In the time of Queen Elizabeth was the remarkable Trial of the Witches of Warbois, whose conviction is still commemorated in an annual sermon at Huntingdon. But in the reign of King James, in which this tragedy was written, many circumstances concurred to propagate and confirm this opinion. The King, who was much celebrated for his knowledge, had, before his arrival in England, not only examined in person a woman accused of witchcraft, but had given a very formal account of the practices and illusions of evil spirits, the compacts of witches, the ceremonies used by them, the manner of detecting them, and the justice of punishing them, in his dialogues of Daemonologie, written in the Scottish dialect, and published at Edinburgh. This book was, soon after his accession, reprinted at London, and as the ready way to gain K. James’s favour was to flatter his speculations, the system of Daemonologie was immediately adopted by all who desired either to gain preferment or not to lose it. Thus the doctrine of witchcraft was very powerfully inculcated, and as the greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion, it cannot be doubted but this persuasion made a rapid progress, since vanity and credulity co-operated in its favour, and it had a tendency to free cowardice from reproach. The infection soon reached the Parliament, who, in the first year of King James, made a law by which it was enacted Ch. XII. That “if any person shall use any invocation or conjuration of any evil or wicked spirit; 2. Or shall consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed or reward any evil or cursed spirit to or for any intent or purpose; 3. Or take up any dead man, woman or child out of the grave,-or the skin, bone, or any part of the dead person, to be employed or used in any manner of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; 4. Or shall use, practise or exercise any sort of witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; 5. Whereby any person shall be destroyed, killed, wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed in any part of the body; 6. That every such person being convicted shall suffer death.” This law was repealed in our time.

Thus, in the time of Shakespeare, was the doctrine of witchcraft at once established by law and by the fashion, and it became not only unpolite, but criminal, to doubt it, and as prodigies are always seen in proportion as they are expected, witches were every day discovered, and multiplied so fast in some places, that Bishop Hall mentions a village in Lancashire, where their number was greater than that of the houses. The Jesuits and sectaries took advantage of this universal error, and endeavoured to promote the interest of their parties by pretended cures of persons afflicted by evil spirits, but they were detected and exposed by the clergy of the established Church.

Upon this general infatuation Shakespeare might be easily allowed to found a play, especially since he has followed with great exactness such histories as were then thought true; nor can it be doubted that the scenes of enchantment, however they may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting.

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8,929

January 11th, 2014

This tate is badass.

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