« PreviousContinue »
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye
Never to hope again.
Let's dry our eyes, and thus far hear me, Cromwell;
Have left me naked to mine enemies. I felelt these two passages as containing reflections of such a general kind, as might be with leaft impropriety transferred to the chorus; but if even these would lose much of their force and pathos, if not spoken by the fallen ittesman, how much more would those do, which are the expressions of fome instantaneous emotion, occafioned by the peculiar fituation of the perfon Vol. III.
by whom they are uttered! The self-condemnation of a'murderer makes a very deep impression upon us; when we are told by Macbeth himself, that hearing, while he was killing Duncan, one of the grooms cry God bless us, and Amen the other, he durft not say Amen. Had a formal chorus obferved, that a man in such a guilty moment, durst not implore that mercy of which he stood so much in need, it would have had but a flight effect. All know the detestation with which virtuous men behold a bad action. A much more falutary admonition is given, when we are shewn the terrors-that. are combined with guilt in the breast of the offender.
Our author has lo 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 his invariable attention to consistency of character ; but more amazing still 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 decifion; thews how reason checks, and how the passions impel : and displays to us the trepidation that precede, and the horrors that pursue acts of blood. No fpecies of dialogue, but that which a man holds with himself, could effe& this. The foliloquy has been permitted to all dramatic writers; but its true use seems to be understood only by our author, who alone has attained to a just imitation of nature, in this kind of self-conference.
It is certain, that men do no not tell themselves who they are, and whence they caine,' they neither narrate nor declaim in the solitude 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 affifts the poet to expose
This supernatural soliciting
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
Without my ftir. After a pause, in which we may suppose the ambitious defire of a crown to return, so far as to make him undetermined what he shall do, and leave the decision to future time and unborn events, he concludes,
Come what come may,
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 allusion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation to time to hasten forward, but I rather apprehend the meaning to be, tempus & bora, time and occasion, will carry the thing through, and bring it to some determined point and end, let its nature be what it will. In the next soliloquy, he agitates this great question concerning the proposed murder. One argument against it, is, that such deeds must be supported by others of like nature.
But, in these cases,
To our own lips. He proceeds next to consider the peculiar relations, in which he stands to Duncan,
He's here in double truft:
Then follow his arguments against the deed, from the admirable qualities of the king.
Besides, this Duncan
The deep damnation of his taking off, So, says, he, with many reasons to dissuade, I have none to urge me to this act, but a vaulting ainbition; which, by a daring leap, often procures itself a fall. And shus having determined, he tells Lady Macbeth;
We will proceed no further in this business.
Macbeth, in debating with himself, chiefly dwells upon the guilt, yet touches fomething on the danger of affaflinating the king. When he argues with Lady 11acbeth, knowing her too wicked to be affected by the one, and too daring to be deterred by the other, he urges with great propriety what he thinks may have more weight with one of her disposition; the favour he is in with the king, and the eiteem he has lately acquired of the people. In answer to her charge of cowardice, he finely distinguishes between manly courage and brutal ferocity.
Macb, I dare do all that may become a man ;
Who dares do more is none.
At length, overcome, rather than persuaded, he desermines on the bloody deed.
I am fettled, and bend up Each corp'ral agent to this terrible feat. How terrible to him, how repugnant to his nature, we plainly perceive, when, even in the moment that he summons up the resolution needful to perform it, horrid phantasms present themselves : murder alarmed by his sentinel the wolf stealing towards his design; witchcraft celebrating pale Hecate's offerings; the midnight ravisher invading sleeping innocence, feem his affociates ; and bloody daggers lead him to the very chamber of the king. At his return thence, the sense of the crime he has committed appears suitable to his repugnance at undertaking it. He tells Lady Macbeth, that of the grooms who slept in Duncan's chamber, Macb. There's one did laugh in Neep, and one cry'd, Murder ! They wak'd each other; and I stood and heard them;