[ p.1 /

[Written in ink:]
Twenty Copies only printed.
J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps
3 Feby. 1881.


[ p.2 ]

The three witches stirring the contents of a cauldron

[ p.2 ]

Title: Cursory Memoranda on Shakespeare's Tragedy of Macbeth, with early notices of the moving wood stratagem




[ p.5 ]

      "1046. Duncane, nephew to Malcolme, six yeares. In his time was Banquho Thaine of Lochquaber, of whom the house of the Stuarts is descended, even to his Majesty now raigning," Munday's Briefe Chronicle of the Successe of Times, 8vo. 1611, p.457. The incident of the stratagem of the soldiers carrying boughs of trees, and so looking like "a walking grove, or els a moving wood," occurs in an old ballad, the Kentishmen with Long Tayles, in Deloney's Strange Histories, 1607. A similar stratagem is related in the Life of Alexander, a manuscript of the fifteenth century preserved in the library of Lincoln Cathedral,--"In the mene tyme Kyng Alexander remowed his oste, and drew nere the city of Susis, in the whilke Darius was lengand the same tyme, so that he myzte see alle the heghe hillez that ware abowune the citee. Than Alexander commanded alle his mene that ilk ane of thame suld cutte downe a brawnche of a tree, and bere thame furth with thame, and dryfe bifore thame alle manere of bestez that thay myzte fynde in the way, and when the Percyenes saw thame fra the heghe hillez, thay wondred thame gretly."
      In the year 1568 a tragedy called the King of Scots, in which Scotland and a great castle were parts of the scenery, was exhibited before Queen Elizabeth. See Collier's Annals of the Stage, i. 195.

/ p.6 /

      "A peticion of the Kings players complayning of intermingleing some passages of witches in old playes to the prejudice of their designed comedye of the Lancashire Witches, and desiring a prohibition of any other till theirs bee allowed and acted. Answered per reference to Blagrave in absence of Sir H. Herbert, July 20, 1634," MS. Lord Chamberlain's Office.
      "1760. Sept. 21st. I went to a little knoll on a heath fronting Brodie House westward, which is called Mackbeth's Knoll, supposed to be the place where he and Banquo met the witches, not far from which, between Nairn and Fort George, lyes Calder, of which place among others, Duncan, when he met Mackbeth between Forres and Elgin, saluted him Thane. Dunsinane and Birnam Wood are near Dunkeld, a seat of the Duke of Athol's.--Oct. 8. Captain Gordon assures me that the Duncan murdered at Forres was the same person that Shakespere writes of," Gastrell's Tour in Scotland, MS.
      "October 15th. Bayley Dummock went with us to show us Glamis Castle. He is bayley or steward to the lord of it. This castle is the property of Lord Strathmore, and was given to one of his ancestors as a dowry with his daughter by Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. It is a fine old castle, well wooded about, an avenue with fine large fir trees on each side near half a mile long leads down to it, in which you pass under two gateways with human figures in stone on each side full as large as life. You enter the court by a strong gate-way, contiguous to which is the porter's lodge. To the right and left of the court are the gardens, which / p.7 / are continued in the old taste. In one of them is a dial containing in all seventy plates; the whole is supported by lions in stone, each holding a plate in his paw. There are in the court four large gigantick stone figures, between which you pass to the steps that lead into the house. Over and on each side the doorway are the arms of the family in stone. The inner walls of the castle are fourteen yards thick, thro' one of which a passage or entry was cut about twenty years since for conveniency of passing from one room to another. The rooms on this, and, indeed, on all the floors, are very irregular. In one of the smallest, which looks like a butler's pantry now, Malcolm, the second King of Scotland, was murdered. On the second floor is a very large dining-room, which, when a king's palace, might possibly have been an audience-chamber; near to which is a pretty little old chappel, decorated with paintings in the popish way. The furniture of the house is chiefly old tapestry with chairs and bedding, which is very large in the same taste, together with old cabinets and family pictures. One hundred and forty-four stone steps lead you up to the top of the castle, which is covered with lead, from whence you have a very extensive prospect," Gastrell's Tour in Scotland, 1760, MS.
      Amongst the Corporation records of Coventry, under the date of 1636, is the following entry:--"Paid, given to the players that would have shewed a sight about witches, vj. s."
      "Neere this we did perceave where proud Makbeth,--Who to the furies did his soul bequeath,--His castle mounted on Dunsinnen hill,--Causing the mightiest peeres obey his will;-- / p.8 / Who had this strange response, that none should catch him-- That borne was of a woman, or should match him,-- Nor any horse should overtake him there,-- But yet his sprite deceav'd him by a mare,-- And by a man was not of woman borne,-- For brave Makduff was from his mother shorne.-- Up to Dunsinnen's top then did we clim,-- With panting heart, weak loynes and wearied limme," Adamson's Muses Threnodie, 4to. Edinb. 1638. "Right over to Forteviot did we hy,-- And there the ruin'd castle did we spy-- Of Malcolme Ken-more, whom Mackduff, then Thane-- Of Fife so cald, from England brought againe,-- And fiercelie did persue tyrant Makbeth,-- Usurper of the crowne, even to the death.-- These castle ruines when we did consider,-- We saw that wasting time makes all things wither," ibid.
      In Macbeth there seems to be a recollection of a bok I fancy that Shakespeare must have perused, the English translation of the Philocopo of Boccaccio, 1567,-- "Hee tooke stones also uppon the Mount Causacus and of the sands of Ganges, and out of Libia he brought tongs of venomous serpents. He serched the watrie bankes of Rodanus, of Senna at Parys, of the great Po, of Arnus, of the imperiall Tyber, of Nifeus, of Tana and of Danuby, uppon those eke gathering such herbes as seemed to him most necessary for his purpose, putting these together with the others gathered on the toppes of the savage mountaines. He also sought the ilandes of Lesbos and Pathmos, and every other wherin he perceived any profitable thing to be had for his attempt. With all the which things he came to that place from whence he departed, / p.9 / and the dragons, that only had felt the odour of the gathered herbes, did cast of their olde hides of many yeares, and were, with new, renued and become yong. There he dismounted from his chariot, and of the grene earth he made two altares; on his right hand that of Hecates, and on the left that of the renuing goddesse. That being done, and devout fires kindled thereupon, with lockes disperpled upon the old shulders, he began with a murmuring noise to go about the same, and with gathered bloud oftentimes he besprent the blasing brandes. After he placed the same bloud upon the altars, somtimes softning therwithall the grounde appoynted for hys garden, and, after that, he softned agayne the selfe same three times with fire, water and sulphur, setting after a great vessell full of bloud, milke and water upon the burning brandes, which he caused to boile a good space, and put thereto the herbes and rootes gathered in straunge places, mingling therwith also divers seedes and floures of unknowen hearbes, he added therunto stones soughte in the extreame partes of the east, and deawe gathered the nightes paste, together with the flesh of infamous witches, the stones of a wolfe, the hinder part of a fat cinyphis, and the skin of a chilinder. And lastly a lyver, with the whole lunges of an exceding olde harte, and herewithal a thousande other things, both without name, and so straunge as my memorie cannot againe tell them. After, he toke a drie bough of an olive tree, and therwith began to mingle all these thinges together."
      "As I went homewards, I saw a dagger in the air, and on the blade of the dagger the words, Slay the avenger." So wrote / p.10 / Felton, the assassin of the Duke of Buckingham, according to a note of mine made long ago. I neglected to note the authority, and have no recollection of it.
      "Experience sheweth that whether they (witches) be men or women, but especially aged women, they be such persons as doe renounce God and their baptisme, and make a league with the devil, either secretly or openly, in which the devill bindeth himselfe to teach them certaine rites and ceremonies whereby they may be able to worke wonders, as to stirre up tempests, to reveale secrets, to kill or hurt men and cattell, or to cure and doe good, according to the tenour of their covenant," Perkins's Discourse of Witchcraft, 1610.
      Macbeth is alluded to in a list of "some of the most ancient plays that were played at Blackfriars" in a manuscript dated in December, 1660.
      "My lady holdeth on her way, perhaps to the tire-maker's shop, where she shaketh out her crownes to bestowe upon some new fashioned attire, upon such artificial deformed periwigs, that they were fitter to furnish a theatre, or for her that in a stage-play should represent some hag of hell, than to be used by a Christian woman," Rich's Honestie of this Age, 4to. Lond. 1615.
      "Here is a castle called the castle of Macbeth, the walls of which are yet standing. It was no very capacious edifice, but stands upon a rock so high and steep, that I think it was once not accessible but by the help of ladders or a bridge," Journey to the Western islands of Scotland, 8vo. Edinb. 1798, p.40. "Crossed / p.11 / the country for Fort George, but called by the way at Cawdor, the ancient seat of Macbeth; there I saw the identical bed in which tradition says King Duncan was murdered," Letters of Robert Burns, ed. 1801. There is a long account of Glames Castle in a letter from Gray to Wharton, 1765, printed in Gray's Works, 4to., York, 1775.
      Wool of bat.--The blood of a bat was a powerful ingredient in magical incantations, according to one of Dr.Forman's manuscripts,-- "Of the blode of a batt, howe you muste worke by it. Take a lyve batt, and exorsize her after this sorte,-- Camac, Lamath, Omac, Cachac, Marbac, Glyac, Jamachar, Valmath, I adjure the, batt. Afterwardes, take the nedle and pricke hyr under the ryght wynge, and take hyr blode and saye, O allmighty Adonay Araton, Ossul, Heloy, Heloe, Helion, Essercon, Sadon, be my helper that this blode may have power in these my doyinges."
      There is a curious passage in Gower, MS. Soc. Antiq. 134, fol. 152, where Medea repares to restore Eson, the father of her husband Jason, to youth,-- "But who that wol of wondris here,-- What thinge sche wrouzte in this matere,-- To make an ende of that sche gan,-- Suche mervayle herde never man;-- Apoynted in the newe mone,-- Whan it was tyme for to doone,-- Sche sette a caudron on the fyre,-- In whiche was alle the hoolle,-- Whereon the medicine stood,-- Of jus, of watir and of blood;-- And let it boyle in suche a plite,-- Tille that sche saw the spume white;-- And tho sche caste in rynde and rote,-- And sed and floure that was forbote / p.12 / -- With many an herde and many a ston,-- Whiche sche hath ther many on;-- and eek Eimpherus, the serpente,-- To hire hath alle hire scalis sente; Chelidre hire zaf his addris skyn,-- And sche to boylen caste hem in-- A parte eek of the hornid owle,-- the whiche men here on nyztis houle,-- And of a raven whiche was tolde-- Of nyne hundrid wyntir olde,-- Sche took the heed with alle the bille-- And as the medicine it wile,-- Sche took theraftir the bowele --of the see-wolfe; and for the hele-- Of Eson, with a thousande moo-- Of thingis that sche hadde thoo."
      "Monday, 25 July. Leave Forfar in the morning and ride six miles to Glamis Castle, belonging to Lord Strathmore. This antient castle is situated on a plain and surrounded by extensive woods and plantations. The centre and one wing of the castle are entire; the other wing has been taken down. The castle is very high, with a number of curious and conical turrets on the top. There are at least fifty rooms in it still, though only part of it remains. In the centre, to which you ascend by a number of large stone steps, is a spacious hall with a cove ceiling, which, with its furniture, seems to have suffered no alteration since the castle was first built," Tour in England and Scotland in 1785, 8vo. Lond. 1788.
      In Thorny Abbey or the London Maid, a tragedy written by T. W., first printed in the year 1662, but doubtlessly written previously to that date, the writer appears to have imitated the scenes describing the murder of Duncan and the slaughter of the attendants.

/ p.13 /

      According to Lambarde, 1577, the wood story is of great antiquity. Writing of Swanscomb, co. Kent, he observes,-- "neare to the which, sayeth Thomas Spotte, a monke of Seint Augustines of Canterbyry and the chronicler of that house, it happened as followeth. After that William the Conquerour had ovorthrowne Harolde in the field, he marched with his army toward the Castle of Dover, thinkinge to have taken that, and therby to have brought in subjection the sea-coast in Kent also. But Sigand, then Archebyshop of Canterbyry, and Egelsin, thabbot of St. Augustines, perceyvinge this daunger, assembled the people together and layed before theim the pride of the Normanes, and the estate of their owne miserie, if they should yeld unto theim; by which meanes they so enraged the people that they ranne forthwith to weapon, and, assemblinge theimselves at this place, made tharchebyshop and thabbot their capitaines. Then every man gate a grene boughe in his hande and bare it over his head in suche sort as, when the Kinge came neare, he was amased thearat, halfe thinkinge that it had bene a wood that moved towardes him. But they, as sone as he was within hearinge, cast away theire bowghes, and at the sound of a trumpet shewed eche man his weapon," Topographical Dictionary of England, ed. 1730, pp.348, 349.
      Either Shakespeare's tragedy, or some drama on the subject of Macbeth, was probably in being before the month of Arpil, 1602, when the Earl of Nottingham's actors produced what appears to have been a continuation of the history. "Paid at the apoyntment of the companye the 18th of Aprell, 1602, unto / p.14 / Charlles Massey, for a playe boocke called Malcolm Kynge of Scottes, the some of v. li.," Henslowe's Diary. "Lent unto Thomas Downton, the 27 of Aprell, 1602, to bye a sewt of motley for the Scotchman, for the playe called the Malcom, Kynge of Scotes, the some of x x x. s," ibid. ed. Collier.
      "Nor time, nor place, did then adhere," &c., act i. sc. 7. Is there not something here inconsistent with the previous story? Or has something been omitted in the earlier part of the tragedy?
      The frontispiece of the very characteristic representation of three witches round a caldron, was engraved for me many years ago by my dear friend, J. T. Blight, from a painting, dated 1606, in the possession of the Rev. A. Dyce.
      It has been questioned whether the Ghost of Banquo should appear or only be imagined by Macbeth. When Dryden and Davenant revived Macbeth, some of the older performers in the tragedy were living, and probably from their information not only did the Ghost of Banquo appear, but, to render it the more appalling, though Smith acted the living Banquo, Sandford, who had the faculty of looking terribly, appeared as Banquo's ghost. There was certainly a vulgar notion that spirits are only seen by those they had business with, let there be never so many persons in company.
      In reference to Forman's account of the performance of Macbeth in 1610, the following printed note occurs amongst my memoranda, written, I fancy, by myself many years ago, but I am not quite sure,-- "The 20th of April in 1610 fell on a Friday, but / p.15 / the 20th of April, 1611, on Saturday. This affords a strong ground for believing that the date in the text is a mistake for 1611, and this latter is much more likely to be correct, being nearer the other dates. I have very little doubt that Cymbeline was seen by Forman also in the spring of 1611."

end design