Imatges de pàgina

And prythée, lead me in s
There take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny, 'tis the king's. Myrobe,
And my intregity to heav'n, is all
I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

I selected these two passages a$ containing reflections of such a general kind, as might be with least impropriety transferred to the choruss but if even these would lose much of their force and pathos if not spoken by the fallen statesman, how much more would those do, which are the exprellions of some instantaneous emotion, 'occafioned by the peculiar situation of the person by whom they are uttered! The felf-condemnation of a murderer makes a very deep ñpreffion upon us when we are told by Macbeth himfelf, that hearing, while he was killing Duncan, one of the grooms cry God bless us, and Amen the other, he durft not lay Amen, Had a formal chorus observed that a man in


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such a guilty moment durft not implore that, mercy of which he stood most in need, it would have had but a flight effect. All know the deteftation with which virtuous men behold a bad action. A much more falutary admonition is given when we are Thewn the terrors that are combined with guilt in the breast of the offender.

Our author has so tempered the constitutional character of Macbeth, by infusing into it the milk of human kindness, and a strong tincture of honour, as to make the most violent perturbation, and pungent remorse, naturally attend on those steps: to which he is led by the force of temptation, Here we must commend the poet's judgment, and bis invariable attention to confistency of character ; but more amazing is the art with which he exhibits the movement of the human mind, and renders audible the filent march of thought : traces its modes of operation in the course of deliberating, the pauses of hesitation, and the final act of decision : shews how reason


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checks, and how the passions impel ; and displays to us the trepidations that precede, and the horrors that pursue acts of blood. No fpecies of dialogue but that which a man holds with himself could effect this. The soliloquy has been permitted to all dramatic writers; but its true use has been understood only by our author, who alone has attained to a just imitation of nature in this kind of selfconference.

It is certain men do not tell themselves who they are, and whence they came ; they neither narrate nor declaim in the folitude of the closet, as Greek and French writers represent. Here then is added to the drama an imitation of the most difficult and delicate kind, that of representing the internal process of the mind in reasoning and reflecting; and it is not only a difficult, but a very useful art, as it best assists the poet to expose the anguish of remorse, to repeat every whisper of the internal monitor, conscience, and, upon occasion, to lend her a voice to amaze the guilty and appal the free. As a man is averse to expose his crimes, and discover the turpitude of his actions, even to the faithful friend, and trusty confident, it is more natural for him to breathe in soliloquy the dark and heavy secrets of the soul, than to utter them to the moft intimate affociate. The conflicts in the bosom of Macbeth, before he committed the murder, could not, by any other means, have been fo well exposed. He entertains the prophecy of his future greatness with complacency, but the very idea of the means by which he is to attain it shocks him to the highest degree.


This supernatural solliciting
Cannot be ill; cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it giv'n me the earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I'm Thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion,
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs

Against the use of nature ? There is an obscurity and stiffness in part of these foliloquies, which I wish I could charge entirely to the confusion of Macbeth's

mind from the horror he feels at the thought of the murder ; but our author is too much addicted to the obscure bombast, much affected by all sorts of writers in that


Thc abhorrence Macbeth feels at the suggestion of assassinating his king brings him back to this determination,

If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown


Without my ftir. After a pause, in which we may suppose the ambitious desire of a crown to return, so far as to make him undetermined what he thall do, and leave the decision to future time and unborn events, he concludes,

Come what come may, Time and the hour runs thro’the roughest day. By which I confess I do not with his two last commentators imagine is meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or an allufion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation to time to haften forward, but rather to say tempus & hora, time and occasion, will carry the thing through, and bring it to some determined point and end,


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