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He is exhibited to us valiant, dutiful to his Sovereign, mild, gentle, and ambitious : But ambitious without guilt. Soon after, we find him false, perfidious, barbarous, and vindictive.
All the prin eiples in his constitution seem to have undergone a violent and total change. Some appear to be altogether reduced or extirpated : Others monstrously overgrown. Ferocity is substituted instead of mildness, treasonable intentions instead of a sense of duty. His ambition, however, has suffered no diminution: On the contrary, by having become exceedingly powerful, and by rising to undue pretenfions, it seems to have vanquished and fuppressed every amiable and virtuous principle. But, in a conflict so important, and where the opposing powers were naturally vigorous, and invested with high authority, violent must have been the struggle, and
obftinate the resistance, Nor could the prevailing passion have been 3
enabled to contend with virtue, without having gained, at some former period, an unlawful ascendency. Therefore, in treating the history of this revolution, we shall consider how the usurping principle became so powerful; how its powers were exerted in its conflict with opposing principles; and what were the consequences of its victory.
I. The growth of Macbeth's ambition was so imperceptible, and his treason so unexpected, that the historians of an ignorant age, little accustomed to explain uncommon events by simple causes, and Itrongly addicted to a superstitious belief in sorcery, ascribed them to praeternatural agency. And Shakespeare, capable of exalting this fiction, and of rendering it interetting, by his power over the “ terrible graces,” hath adopted it in its full extent, In this part, therefore, having little assiftance from the poet, we shall hazard a conjecture, supported by some facts and
observations, concerning the power of fancy, aided by partial gratification, to invigorate and inflame our passions.
All men, who possess the feeds of vio. lent passions, will often be conscious of their influence, before they have opportunities of indulging them. By nature provident, and prone to reflection, we look forward with eagerness into futurity, and anticipate our enjoyments. Never completely satisfied with our present condition, we embrace in imagination the happiness that is to come. But happiness is relative to constitution : It depends on the gratification of our desires : And the happiness of mankind is various; because the desires of the heart are various. The · nature, therefore, of anticipated enjoyment is agreeable to the nature of our desires. Men of indolent dispositions, and addicted to pleasure, indulge themselves in dreams of festivity. Those, again, who have in their constitution, the
THE CHARACTER Jatent principles of avarice, adminifter to the gratification of their fatal propensity, by reveries of ideal opulence: Dignity, parade, and magnificence, are ever prefent to the ambitious man: Laurels, if he pursues literary fame: Battles and conquest, if his humour is warlike. Whoever would cultivate an acquaintance 'with himself, and would know to what passions he is most exposed, should attend to the operations of fancy, and by remarking the objects te with greatest pleasure exhibits, he may discern, with tolerable accuracy, the nature of his own mind, , and the principles most likely to rule him. Excursions of the imagination, except in minds idly extravagant, are commonly governed by the probability of success. They are also regulated by moral considerations *: For no man indulging via fions of ideal felicity, embrues his hands
* See Hutcheson on the origin of our ideas of beauty and harmony.
in the blood of the guiltless, or suffers himself in imagination to be unjust or perfidious. Yet, by this imaginary indulgence, harmless as it may appear, our passions become immoderate. This is manifest from the following observations.
When the mind is agitated by violent passions, the thoughts presented to us are of a corresponding character. The angry man thinks of injury, perfidy, or insult. Under the influences of fear, we figure to ourselves dangers that have no reality, and tremble without a cause.
Vitas hinnuleo me fimilis, Chloë,
Et corde et genibus tremit. Hora Minds, differently fashioned, and under the influence of different passions, receive