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Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exil'd friends abroad,
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen;
Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life;—This, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time, and place:
So thanks to all at once, and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

[Flourish. Exeunt.5

Murrey, Cathness, Rosse, and Angus.” Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 176. Malone.

5 This play is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its fictions, and solemnity, grandeur, and variety of its action; but it has no nice discriminations of character; the events are too great to admit the influence of particular dispositions, and the course of the action necessarily determines the conduct of the agents.

The danger of ambition is well described; and 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 illusive predictions.

The passions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth is merely detested; and though the courage of Macbeth preserves some esteem, yet every reader rejoices at his fail.

Fohnson. How frequent the practice of inquiring into the events of futurity, similar to those of Macbeth, was in Shakspeare's time, may be seen in the following instances: “The Marshall of Raiz wife hath bin heard to say, that queen Katherine beeing de. sirous to know what should become of her children, and who should succeed them, the party which undertooke to assure her, let her see a glasse, representing a hall, in the which either of them made so many turns as he should raigne yeares; and that king Henry the Third, making his, the duke of Guise crost him like a flash of lightning; after which, the Prince of Navarre presented himselfe, and made 22 turnes, and then vanished.” P. Mathieu's Heroyk Life and deplorable Death of Henry the Fourth, translated by Ed. Grimeston, 4to. 1612, p. 42. Again: “ It is reported that a duke of Bourgondy had like to have died for feare at the sight of the nine worthies which a magician shewed him.” Ibid. p. 116, Reed.

Mr. Whitaker, in his judicious and spirited Vindication of Mary Queen of Scots, 8vo. p. 486, edit. 1790, has the following reference to the prophecies of one John Lenton: “ All this




serves to show the propriety of Shakspeare's scenes of the weird sisters, &c. as adapted to his own age. In the remote period of Macbeth, it might be well presumed, the popular faith mounted up into all the wildest extravagance described by him. In his own age it rose, as in lady Shrewsbury here, and in lady Derby, (Camden, Trans. 529, Orig. ii, 129) into a belief in the verbal predictions of some reputed prophet then alive, or into a reliance upon the written predictions of some dead one. And Shakspeare might well endeavour to expose such a faith, when we see here, that though it could not lay hold of queen Mary, yet it fastened firmly upon such a woman of the world as lady Shrewsbury."

It may be worth while to remark, that Milton, who left be. hind him a list of no less than CII dramatic subjects, had fixed on the story of this play among the rest. His intention was to have begun with the arrival of Malcolm at Macduff's castle. “ The matter of Duncan (says he) may be expressed by the appearing of his ghost.” It should seem, from this last memorandum, that Milton disliked the license his predecessor had taken in comprehending a history of such length within the short compass of a play, and would have new-written the whole on the plan of the ancient drama. He could not surely have in. dulged so vain a hope, as that of excelling Shakspeare in the tragedy of Macbeth.

The late Mr. Whateley's Remarks on some of the Characters of Sbakspeare, have shown, with the utmost clearness of dis. tinction and felicity of arrangement, that wbat in Richard III, is fortitude, in Macbeth is no more than resolution. But this judicious critick having imputed the cause of Macbeth's inferiority in courage to his natural disposition, induces me to dissent, in one particular, from an Essay, which otherwise is too comprehensive to need a supplement, and too rational to admit of confutation.

Throughout such parts of this drama as afford opportunities for a display of personal bravery, Macbeth sometimes screws his courage to the sticking place, but never rises into constitutional heroism. Instead of meditating some decisive stroke on the enemy, his restless and self-accusing mind discharges itself in splenetic effusions and personal invectives on the attendants about his person. His genuine intrepidity had forsaken him when he ceased to be a virtuous character. He would now de. ceive himself into confidence, and depends on forced alacrity, and artificial valour, to extricate him from his present difficul. ties. Despondency too deep to be rooted out, and fury too irregular to be successful, have, by turns, possession of his mind. Though he has been assured of what he certainly credited, that none of woman born shall hurt him, he has twice given us reason to suppose that he would have fled, but that he cannot, being tied to the stake, and compelled to fight the course. Sui. cide also has once entered into his thoughts; though this idea, in a paroxysm of noisy rage, is suppressed. Yet here it must

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be acknowledged that his apprehensions had betrayed him into a strange inconsistency of belief. As he persisted

in supposing he could be destroyed by none of woman börn, by what means did he think to destroy himself? for he was produced in the common way of nature, and fell not within the description of the only object that could end the being of Macbeth. In short, his efforts are no longer those of courage, but of despair, excited by self-conviction, infuriated by the menaces of an injured father, and confirmed by a presentiment of inevitable defeat. Thus situated, -Dum nec luce frui, nec mortem arcere licebit,he very naturally prefers a manly and violent, to a shameful and lingering termination of life.

One of Shakspeare's favourite morals is—that criminality re. duces the brave and pusillanimous to a level. Every puny wbipster gets my sword, exclaims Othello, for wby should bonour outlive bonesty? Where I could not be honest, says Albany, I was neder valiant; Iachimo, imputes his want of manbood to the beaviness and guilt within his bosom ; Hamlet asserts that conscience does make cowards of us all; and Imogen tells Pisanio be may be valiant in a better cause, but now be seems a coward. The laté Dr. Johnson, than whom no man was better acquainted with general nature, in bis Irene, has also observed of a once faithful Bassa

“ How guilt, when harbour'd in the conscious breasts
“ Intimidates the brave, degrades the great!
“See Cali, dread of kings, and pride of armies,
“ By treason levell’d with the dregs of men!
“ Ere guilty fear depress’d the hoary chief,
An angry murmur, a rebellious frown,

“ Had stretch'd the fiery boaster in his grave.” Who then can suppose that Shakspeare would have exhibited his Macbeth with increasing guilt, but undiminished bravery? or wonder that our hero

“Whose pester'd senses do recoil and start,
" When all that is within him does condemn

“ Itself for being there,” should have lost the magnanimity he displayed in a righteous cause, against Macdonwald and the thane of Cawdor? Of this circumstance, indeed, the murderer of Duncan was soon aware, as appears from his asking himself the dreadful question

How is 't with me, when every noise appals me?" Between the courage of Richard and Macbeth, however, no comparison in favour of the latter can be supported. Richard was so thoroughly designed for a daring, impious, and obdurate character, that even his birth was attended by prodigies, and his person armed with ability to do the earliest mischief of which infancy is capable. Macbeth, on the contrary, till deceived by the illusions of witchcraft, and depraved by the suggestions of his wife, was a religious, temperate, and blameless characters The vices of the one were originally woven into his heart; those of the other were only applied to the surface of his disposition. They can scarce be said to have penetrated quite into its substance, for while there was shame, there might have been re. formation.

The precautions of Richard concerning the armour he was to wear in the next day's battle, his preparations for the onset, and his orders after it is begun, are equally characteristick of a calm and intrepid soldier, who possesses the wisdom that appeared so formidable to Macbeth, and guided Banquo's valour to act in safety. But Macbeth appears in confusion from the moment his castle is invested, issues no distinct or material directions, prematurely calls for his armour, as irresolutely throws it off again, and is more intent on self-crimination, than the repulse of the besiegers, or the disposition of the troops who are to defend his fortress. But it is useless to dwell on particulars so much more exactly enumerated by Mr Whateley.

The truth is, that the mind of Richard, unimpregnated by original morality, and uninfluenced by the laws of Heaven, is harrassed by no subsequent remorse. Repente fuit turpissimus. Even the depression he feels from preternatural objects, is speedily taken off. In spite of ominous visions he sallies forth, and seeks bis competitor in the throat of death. Macbeth, though he had long abandoned the practice of goodness, had not so far forgot his accustomed influence, but that a virtuous adversary whom he had injured, is as painful to his sight as the spectre in a former scene, and equally blasts the resolution lie was willing to think he had still possessed. His conscien'e (as Hamlet says of the poison) overcrows bis spirit, and all his enter. prizes are sicklied over by the pale cast of thought. The curse that attends on him is, virtutum videre, et intabescere relicta. Had Richard once been a feeling and conscientious character, when his end drew nigh, he might also have betraved evidences of timidity" there sadly summing what be late had lost;" and if Macbeth originally had been a hardened villain, no terrors might have obtruded themselves in his close of life. Qualis ab incepto processerat. In short, Macbeth is timid in spite of all his boasting, as long as he thinks timidity can afford resources; por does he exhibit a specimen of determined intrepidity, till the completion of the prophecy, and the challenge of Macduff, have taught him that life is no longer tenable. Five counterfeit Richmonds are slain by Richard, who, before his fall, bas enact. ed wonders beyond the common ability of man. The prowess of Macbeth is confined to the single conquest of Siward, a novice in the art of war Neither are the truly brave ever disgraced by unnecessary deeds of cruelty. The victims of Richard, therefore, are merely such as obstructed his progress to the crown, or betrayed the confidence he had repised in their assurances of fidelity. Macbeth, with a savage Haptonness that would have dishonoured a Scythian female, cuts off a whole


defenceless family, though the father of it was the only resonable object of his fear.-Can it be a question then which of these two personages would manifest the most determined valour in the field ? Shall we hesitate to bestow the palm of courage on the steady unrepenting Yorkist, in whose bosoin ideas of hereditary greatness, and confidence resulting from success, had fed the flame of glory, and who dies in combat for a crown which had been the early object of his ambition? and shall we allot the same wreath to the wavering self-convicted Thane, who, educat. ed without hope of royalty, had been suggested into greatness and yet, at last, would forego it all to secure himself by flight, but that flight is become an impossibility?

To conclude; a picture of conscience encroaching on fortitude of magnanimity once animated by virtue, and afterwards extinguished by guilt, was what Shakspeare meant to display in the character and conduct of Macbeth. Steevens.

Macbeth was certainly one of Shakspeare's latest produc. tions, and it might possibly have been suggested to him by a little performance on the same subject at Oxford, before king James, 1605. I will transcribe my notice of it from Wake's Rex Platonicus : “ Fabulæ ansam dedit antiqua de regiâ prosapiâ historiola apud Scoto-Britannos celebrata, quæ narrat tres olim Sibyllas occurrisse duobus Scotiæ proceribus, Macbetho et Banchoni, et illum prædixisse regem futurum, sed regem nullum geniturum ; hunc regem non futurum, sed reges geniturum multos. Vaticinii veritatem rerum eventus com. probavit. Banchonis enim è stirpe potentissimus Jacobus oriundus." p. 29.

Since I made the observation here quoted, I have been repeatedly told, that I unwittingly make Shakspeare learned, at least in Latin, as this must have been the language of the performance before king James. One might, perhaps, have plausibly said, that he probably picked up the story at second-band; but mere accident has thrown a pamphlet in my way, intitled The Oxford Triumph, by one Anthony Nixon, 1605, which ex: plains the whole matter: “This performance, says Anthony, was first in Latine to the king, then in English to the queene and young prince:” and, as he goes on to tell us, “ the conceipt thereof the kinge did very much applaude.” It is likely that the friendly letter, which we are informed king James once wrote to Shakspeare, was on this occasion. Farmer.

Dr. Johnson used often to mention an acquaintance of his, who was for ever boasting what great things he would do, could he but meet with Ascham's Toxophilus, * at a time when

* Ascham's Toxophilus,] Mr. Malone is somewhat mistaken in his account of Dr. Johnson's pleasantry, which originated from an observation made by Mr. Theobald in 1733, and repeated by him in 1740, See his note on Much Ado about Nothing, in his 8vo. edition of Shakspeare, Vol. I, p. 414; and his duodecimo, Vol. II, p. 12: “_ and had I the convenience of rsulting Aschain's Toxophilus, I might probably grow better acquainted with his history:" i.e. that of Adam Bell, the celebrated archer.


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