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Cawdor Castle


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SCENE VI. Before Macbeth's castle.
Hautboys and torches. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS, and Attendants
This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air (note 95)
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses. (note 96)

This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve, (notes 97, 98)
By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird (note 99)
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate.

See, see, our honour'd hostess!
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you
How you shall bid God 'ild us for your pains, (note 100)
And thank us for your trouble. (note 101)

All our service
In every point twice done and then done double
Were poor and single business to contend (note 102)
Against those honours deep and broad wherewith
Your majesty loads our house: for those of old,
And the late dignities heap'd up to them, (note 103)
We rest your hermits. (note 104)

Where's the thane of Cawdor?
We coursed him at the heels, and had a purpose
To be his purveyor: but he rides well; (note 105)
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him
To his home before us. Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night.

Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves and what is theirs, in compt, (note 106)
To make their audit at your highness' pleasure,
Still to return your own.

Give me your hand;
Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess.


(95) Seat. Here used for' site,' 'situation.'
(96) Unto our gentle senses. Sir Joshua Reynolds, upon the present passage, has a graceful note,which comes with double effect from an artist. He says: "This short dialogue between Duncan and Banquo, whilst they are approaching the gates of Macbeth's castle, has always appeared to me a striking instance of what in painting is termed repose. The subject of this quiet and easy conversation gives that repose so necessary to the mind after the tumultuous bustle of the preceding scenes, and perfectly contrasts the scene of horror that immediately succeeds."
(97) Martlet. Misprinted 'barlet' in the Folio. Rowe's correction.
(98) Approve. Here used for 'prove,' 'testify.'
(99) Coigne of vantage. 'Advantageous corner,' 'convenient nook.' At the opening of Act V., sc. 4, " Coriolanus," Menenius says, " See you yond' coigne o' the Capitol, -yond' corner-stone? "
(100) God yield. This is probably the same expression and has the same meaning as the phrase " God 'ild," explained in Note 91, Act III, " As You Like It." In all the four passages where Shakespeare uses this phrase, the Folio prints it differently; thus :-
" Goddild you for your last companie."
" As You Like It," Act III, sc. 3. "
God'ild you, sir, I desire you of the like."
" As You Like It," Act V., sc. 4.
" Shall bid God-eyld us for your paines."
" Macbeth, " Act I., sc. 6.
"Well, God dil'd you."-
" Hamlet," Act IV., sc.5.
The question has been mooted 'whether the abbreviated phrase meant 'God yield,' meaning 'God reward,' or "God shield,' meaning 'God protect;' but we do not believe that it bears the latter sense, because wherever Shakespeare has " God shield" he employs it to express 'God forbid.'
(101) For your trouble. This passage has been pronounced "undoubtedly obscure." We think it is a delicately-worded, royal compliment, to this effect: 'We ourselves have sometimes felt the love shown us by our subjects to be a trouble, but, knowing its source, we have thanked it as love; by this I show you how you shall invoke a blessing on our heads, and thank us for the trouble we give you, since it proceeds from our love towards you.'
(102) Poor and single business. Here "single" is not only used in its sense of' weak,' 'feeble,' 'Ineffectual' (see Note 53 of this Act); it has also antithetical effect in juxtaposition with "double" in the previous line.
(103) Late dignities. 'Lately conferred dignities.'
(104) Hermits. Beadsmen; persons dedicated to constant prayer on your behalf.
(105) Purveyor. Here used for 'precursor,' 'one that arrives before, or first.'
(106) In compt. Here used to express 'in trust;' 'that which is to be accounted for.'

17th Jun 2005


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