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In this grand tragic opera is combined that which is terrific, sublime, infernal. Spirits are called from the bottomless pit, to give additional horror to the crimes which are here perpetrated. Yet supernatural agency is produced and conducted by such natural means, that spectators return again to their childish credulity, and tremble, as in the nursery,
at a witch and a goblin.
It is impossible to contemplate the consistent disposition of able actors, of appropriate habiliments, and of picturesque scenery, with which this tragedy is now embellished, at the London theatres, and not boldly demand—where was Garrick's taste, his innovating judgment, his common sense, and common feelings, as a connoisseur in his art, that he could perform this historical tragedy-Macbeth, of ancient Scotland—with the characters dressed in coats, waistcoats, and hats, so as to place the scene in modern times, or every scene in England.
Garrick had taste, it is said; and so, they say, had his admirers: yet, taste like this, would be now exploded. So, it might be insinuated, perhaps, would be the acting of those days, could it have been preserved, along with the old attire, for the inspection of critics of the present era.
On this impossibility the actor's art triumphs over, yet sinks beneath, every other. He has no rivals to vanquish, but cotemporaries. He has no former artists to excel, but such as cannot come forth to claim the preference, or to crouch to superior skill.
The story of Macbeth is founded on Scottish history, and may be traced in the works of
many writers. But, in a production called “ Shakspeare Illustrated, every event of that usurper's life is collected from different histories, and given at large.
So conspicuous are the various excellencies contained in this tragedy, there is no cause whatever to point them out to the reader; for, if he cannot see them at once, it is vain to direct his sight.
But to those, who are unacquainted with the effect wrought by theatrical action and decoration, it may. not be superfluous to say-The huge rocks, the enormous caverns, and blasted heaths of Scotland, in the scenery ;-the highland warrior's dress, of centuries past, worn by the soldiers and their generals ;-the splendid robes and banquet at the royal court held at Fores ;—the awful, yet inspiring music, which accompanies words assimilated to each sound;—and, above all—the fear, the terror, the remorse ;—the agonizing throbs and throes, which speak in looks, whispers, sudden starts, and writhings, by Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, all tending to one great precept-Thou shalt not murder,-render this play one of the most impressive moral lessons which the stage exhibits.
It was the tragedy of Macbeth, which conferred upon Shakspeare the distinguished honour of receiving a letter, written with his sovereign's own hand, James the First, in testimony of his high admiration of the work!
Steevens calls this play, “ The first of all dramatic enjoyments.”
Johnson says, in apology for some occurrences contained in it, “ I know not whether it may
not be said, in defence of some parts which now seem improbable, that, in Shakspeare's time, it was necessary to warn credulity against vain and delusive predictions."
} Mr. Hull.
Duncan, KING OF
Mr. Powell, Mr. C. Kemble. Mr. De Camp. Mr. Menage.
Mr. Tokeley. Mr. Kemble. Mr. Elliston. Mr. Cooke. Mr. Raymond. Mr. Murray Mr. H. Siddons. Mr.T.Blanchurd Master West. Mr. Creswell. Mr. Bartley. Mr. Brunton. Mr. Holland. Mr. Chapman.
Mr. Wewitzer. Mr. Simmons. Mr. Cherry.
LADY MACBETH GENTLEWOMAN
Mrs. Siddons. Mrs. Powell. Mrs. Humphries. Miss Tidswell.
SCENE,-In Scotland, and in England.
ACT THE FIRST.
The open Country.
Three WITCHES discovered.
1 Witch. When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain ?
2 Witch. When the hurly-burly's done, When the battle's lost and won.
3 Witch. That will be ere th' set of sun.
[Noise of a Cat. 1 Witch. I come, Gray-malkin. [Noise of a Toad. 2 Witch. Paddock calls. 1 Witch. Anon.
All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair : Hover through the fog and filthy air.
[Thunder and Lightning.- Exeunt severally.