« AnteriorContinuar »
seems about to speak strange things. Our author hiinself furnishes us with the best comment on this passage. In Antony and Cleopatra we meet with nearly the same idea : “ The business of this man looks out of him."
MALONE 69. Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky,
And fan our people cold.] So, Gray: « Ruin cease thee, ruthless king !
“ Confusion on thy banners wait, « Tho' fann'd by conquest's crimson wing
“ They meck the air with idle state.” HENLEY, To flout is to mock or insult, The banners are very poetically described, as waving in mockery or defiance of the sky. So, in King Edward III. 1599:
“ And new replenish'd pendants cuff the air,
STEEVENS. So, in King John: “ Mocking the air with colours idly spread.”
Till that Bellona's Bridegroom-] This passage may be added to the many others, which shew how little Shakspere knew of ancient mythology.
-with self-comparisons,] i.e. give him as good as he brought, shew'd he was his equal.
-Saint Colmes' inch,] The folio reads: At Saint Colmes' ynch.
Colmes-inch, now called Inchcomb, a small island lying in the Frith of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to St. Columb: called by Camden Inch Colm, or the Isle of Columba.
Holinshed thus mentions the whole circumstance : “ The Danes that escaped, and got once to their ships, obtained of Macbeth for a great sum of gold, that such of their friends as were slaine, might be buried in Saint Colmes' Inch. In memory whereof many old sepultures are yet in the said Inch, graven with the arms of the Danes.” Inch, or Inshe, in the Irish and Erse lan. guages, signifies an island. See Lhuyd's Archæologia.
STEEVENS. 95. Aroint thee,
-] Aroint, or avaunt,
Pope. In Hearne's Collections is a print from a very old drawing, in which St. Patrick is represented visiting hell, and putting the devils into great confusion' by his presence, of whom one, that is driving the damned before him with a prong, has a label issuing out of his mouth with these words, our OUT ARONGT, of which the last is evidently the same with arcint, and used in the same sense as in this passage. Johnson.
Rynt you witch, quoth Besse Locket to her mother, is a morth country proverb. The word is used again in King Lear: “ And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee."
STEEVENS, 95, -the rųmp fed ronyon -] The chief
cooks in noblemen's families, colleges, religious houses, hospitals, &c. anciently claimed the emoluments or kitchen fees of kidneys, fat, trotters, rumps, &c. which they sold to the poor. The weird sister in this scene, as an insult on the poverty of the woman who had called her witch, reproaches her poor abject state, as not being able to procure better provision than offals, which are considered as the refuse of the tabl of others.
COLEPEPER. So, in Ben Jonson's Staple of News, old Penny-boy says to the Cook:
“ And then remember meat for my two dogs;
-ronyon cries.] i. e. scabby or mangy woman. French, rogneux, royne, scurf. Thus Chaucer, in the Romaunt of the Rose, p. 551 :
her necke “ Withouten bleine, or scabbe, or roine." Shakspere uses the word again in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
in a sieve I'll thither sail,] Sir W. Dave. nant, in his Albovine, 1629 :
“ He sits like a witch sailing in a sieve." Again, in Newes from Scotland. Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian, a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edinbrough in Januarie last, 1591 : which Doctor was register to the Devill, that sundrie times preached at North Baricke Kirke, to a number of notorious Witches. With the true examinations of the said Doclor and Witches, as
they uttered them in the presence of the Scottish king. Discovering how they pretinded to bewitch and drownc his Majestie in the sea comming from Denmarke, with such other wonderfull matters as the like hath not bin heard at anie time. Published according to the Scottish copie. Printed for William Wright. “ and that all they together went to sea, each one in a riddle or cive, and went in the same very substantially with flaggons of wine, making merrie and drinking by the way in the same riddles or cives,” &c. Dr. Farmer found the title of this scarce pamphlet in an interleaved copy of Mounsell's Catalogue, &c. 1595, with additions by Archbishop Harsenet and Thomas Baker the Antiquarian. It is almost needless to mention, that I have since met with the pamphlet itself.
STEEVENS. 98. And like a rat without a tail,] It should be remembered (as it was the belief of the times), that though a witch could assume the form of any animal she pleased, the tail would still be wanting.
The reason given by some of the old writers for such a deficiency, is, that though the hands and feet, by an easy change, might be converted into tlie four paws of a beast, there was still no part about a woman which corresponded with the length of tail common to almost all four-footed creatures.
STEEVENS. I'll give thee a wind.] This free gift of a wind is to be considered as an act of sisterly friendship, for witches were supposed to sell them. So, in Summer's last Will and Testament, 1600:
-in Ireland and in Denmark both,
" Shall blow him safe unto what coast he will." Drayton, in his Moon-calf, says the same.
the shipman's card.] The card is the paper on which the winds are marked under the pilot's needle. So, in the Loyal Subject, by Beaumont and Fetcher: - The card of goodness in your minds, that shews
STEEVENS. He shall live a man forbid :) i.e. as one under a curse, an interdiction. So, afterwards, in this play:
“ By his own interdi&tion stands accurs’d." So, among the Romans, an outlaw's sentence was, Aquæ & Ignis interdictio; i. c. he was forbid the use of water and fire, which implied the necessity of banish
THEOBALD. Mr. Theobald has very justly explained forbid by accursed, but without giving any reason of his interpretation. To bid is originally to pray, as in this Saxon fragment :
He is pir f bit y bote, &c.
He is wise that prays and makes amends. As to forbid therefore implies to prohibit, in opposition to the word bid in its present sense, it signifies by the same kind of opposition to curse, when it is