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doctrine of the Unities imputed to Aristotle --the good critic must have been sleeping when he gave his voice to the general suffrage at the risk of being accounted weak. Johnson was too clever a man not to know that he lost something by not reading "the last scenes” of Shakspere's 'Lear;' and we have considerable doubts whether he ever looked into the last scenes of Tate's ' Lear.' Carrying the principle to the end with which we set out, we venture to print the last scene of each writer; and we ask our readers to apply the scale of Tate, in the manner which we have indicated, to the admeasurement of Shakspere :
[TATE.) “ Enter ALBANY, KENT, and Knights to
LEAR and CORDELIA in Prison, Lear. Who are you? My eyes are none o' th' best, I'll tell you
straight : Oh, Albany! Well, sir, we are your captives, And you are come to see death pass upon us. Why this delay ?--Or, is 't your highness'
pleasure To give us first the torture? Say you so? Why here 's old Kent, and I, as tough a pair As e're bore tyrant stroke;—but my Cordelia, My poor Cordelia here, O pity
Alb. Thou injured majesty, The wheel of fortune now has made her
circle, And blessings yet stand twixt thy grave and
thee. Lear. Com'st thou, inhuman lord, to sooth
us back To a fool's paradise of hope, to make Our doom more wretched ? Go to; we are
too well. Acquainted with misfortune, to be gull’d With lying hope; no, we will hope no more.
What comfort may be brought to cheer your
age, And heal your savage wrongs, shall be ap
piy'd; For to your majesty we do resign Your kingdom, save what part yourself con
Kent. Hear you that, my liege?
their care. Lear. Is 't possible? Let the spheres stop their course, the sun
make halt, The winds be hush'd, the seas and fountains
Kent. Here, my liege.
youth; Ha! didst thou hear 't?or did th' inspiring
gods Whisper to me alone?-Old Lear shall be A king again. Kent. The prince, that like a god has
pow'r, has said it. Lear. Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark
that; Cordelia shall be queen: winds, catch the
sound, And bear it on your rosy wings to heaven, Cordelia is a queen.
Alb. Look, sir, where pious Edgar comes, Leading his eyeless father. O, my liege, His wondrous story well deserves your leisure; What he has done and suffer'd for your sake, What for the fair Cordelia's.
Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in
with thine, I have resolved the same redress for both.
Kent. What says my lord?
Cord. Speak; for methought I heard The charming voice of a descending god. Alb. The troops by Edmund raised, I have
disbanded : Those that remain are under my command.
Re-enter EDGAR with GLOSTER.
his knees, to hail His second birth of empire: My dear Edgar Has, with himself, reveal’d the king's blest
restoration. Lear. My poor dark Gloster! Glost. Oh, let me kiss that once more scep
ter'd hand? Lear. Hold, thou mistak'st the majesty;
kneel here; Cordelia has our pow'r, Cordelia 's queen. Speak, is not that the noble, suff'ring Edgar?
Glost. My pious son, more dear than my
Edg. Divine Cordelia, all the gods can
witness How much thy love to empire I prefer. Thy bright example shall convince the world, Whatever storms of fortune are decreed, That truth and virtue shall at last succeed.
(Flourish of Drums and Trumpets.)"
[SHAKSPERE.) “ Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his
arms ; EDGAR, Officer, and others. Lear. Howl, howl, howl ! O, you are meu
of stones; Had I your tongues and eyes I'd use them so That heaven's vault should crack :She 's
gone for ever !I know when one is dead, and when one
lives; She 's dead as earth :-Lend me a looking.
glass; If that her breath will mist or stain the stone, Why, then she lives. Kent.
Is this the promised end ? Edg. Or image of that horror? Alb.
Fall, and cease! Lear. This feather stirs; she lives ! if it
He'll strike, and quickly too: He's dead and
rotten. Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very
man; Lear. I'll see that straight. Kent. That, from your first of difference
and decay, Have follow'd your sad steps. Lear.
You are welcome hither. Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless,
dark, and deadly.Your eldest daughters have fore-done them
selves, And desperately are dead. Lear.
Ay, so I think. Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain
it is That we present us to him. Edg.
Very bootless. Enter an Officer, Of. Edmund is dead, my lord. Alb.
That's but a trifle here.— You lords, and noble friends, know our intent. What comfort to this great decay may come Shall be applied: For us, we will resign, During the life of this old majesty, To him our absolute power:-You, to your rights:
[To EDGAR and KENT. With boot, and such addition as your honours Have more than merited.-All friends shall
taste The wages of their virtue, and all foes The cup of their deservings. -Oh, see, see !
Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
O my good master !
[Kneeling. Lear. Prythee, away. Edg. 'T is noble Kent, your friend. Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, trai
tors all ! I might have saved her; now she's gone for
ever Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha! What is't thou say'st ?-Her voice was ever soft, Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou 'lt come no
I kill'd the slave that was a hanging thee.
Off. T is true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellow? I have seen the day, with my good biting
faulchion I would have made them skip: I am old now, And these same crosses spoil me.- Who are
Never, never, never, never, never I-
[He dies. Edg. He faints !—My lord, my lord,
Mine eyes are not o' the best:-I'll tell you
Kent. Break, heart; I prythee, break! of Shakspere from the stage, was, as far as Edg.
Look up, my lord. regards the knowledge of the highest efforts Kent. Vex not his ghost: Oh, let him pass ! of intellect, a presumptuous, artificial, and he hates him
therefore empty age.
Tate was tolerated That would upon the rack of this tough because Shakspere was not read. We have world
arrived, in some degree, to a better judgment, Stretch him out longer.
because we have learnt to judge more
humbly. We have learnt to compare the [Exeunt with a dead march.”
highest works of the highest masters of And why do we ask any one of our readers poetry, not by the pedantic principle of to compare what cannot be compared ?-why considering a modern great only to the do we put one of the most divine conceptions extent in which he is an imitator of an of poetry side by side with the meanest ancient, but by endeavouring to comprehend interpretation of the most unimaginative the idea in which the modern and the ancient feelings — equally remote from the verisi- each worked. The Cordelia of Shakspere and militude of common life, as from the truth the Antigone of Sophocles have many points of ideal beauty? It is, as we have said of similarity ; but they each belong to a before, because we feel unable to impart to different system of art. It is for the highest others our own conceptions of the marvellous minds only to carry their several systems to power of the 'Lear' of Shakspere, without an approach to the perfection to which employing some agency that may give dis- Shakspere and Sophocles have carried them. tinctness to ideas which must be otherwise it was for the feeblest of imitators, in a vague. There is only one mode in which feeble age, to produce such parodies as we such a production as the 'Lear' of Shakspere have exhibited, under the pretence of subcan be understood—by study, and by reve- stituting order for irregularity, but in utter rential reflection. The age which produced ignorance of the principle of order which the miserable parody of 'Lear' that till was too skilfully framed to be visible to the within a few years has banished the 'Lear' grossness of their taste.
"The Tragedie of Macbeth' was first pub- is true, or has been related as true: it belished in the folio collection of 1623. Its longs to the realms of poetry altogether. place in that edition is between 'Julius We might as well call · Lear' or 'Hamlet' Cæsar' and 'Hamlet.' In the entry on the historical plays, because the outlines of the Stationers' register, immediately previous to story of each are to be found in old records the publication of the edition of 1623, it is of the past. also classed amongst the Tragedies. And yet, Malone and Chalmers agree in assigning in modern reprints of the text of Shakspere, this tragedy to the year 1606. Their proofs, Macbeth' is placed the first amongst the as we apprehend, are entirely frivolous and Histories. This is to convey a wrong no- unsatisfactory. The Porter says, “ Here's a tion of the character of this great drama. farmer, that hanged himself on the expectaShakspere's Chronicle-histories are essentially tion of plenty:" the year 1606 was a year of conducted upon a different principle. The plenty, and therefore 'Macbeth' was written interest of 'Macbeth' is not an historical | in 1606. Again, the same character says, interest. It matters not whether the action “ Here 's an equivocator, that could swear
in both the scales, against either scale." on his hands could not be washed off by any This passage Malone most solemnly tells means, nor from his wife's hands, which handled
“ without doubt, had a direct reference the bloody daggers in hiding them, by which to the doctrine of equivocation avowed and means they became both much amazed and maintained by Henry Garnet, superior of the affronted. order of the Jesuits in England, on his trial
The murder being known, Duncan's two sons for the Gunpowder Treason, on the 28th of fled, the one to England, the other to Wales, to March, 1606, and to his detestable perjury.”
save themselves : they being fled, were supposed There is more of this sort of reasoning, in guilty of the murder of their father, which was
nothing so. the examination of which it appears to us
Then was Macbeth crowned king, and then quite unnecessary to occupy the time of he, for fear of Banquo, his old companion, that our readers. We have two facts as to the
he should beget kings but be no king himself, chronology of this play which are indis. he contrived the death of Banquo, and caused putable:—the first is, that it must have him to be murdered on the way that he rode. been written after the crowns of England The night, being at supper with his noblemen, and Scotland were united in one monarch, whom he bad bid to a feast (to the which also who was a descendant of Banquo:
Banquo should have come), he began to speak of “Some I see
noble Banquo, and to wish that he were there. That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry.”
And as he thus did, standing up to drink a The second is, that Dr. Forman has most
carouse to him, the ghost of Banquo came and
sat down in his chair behind him. And he, minutely described the representation of this
turning about to sit down again, saw the ghost tragedy in the year 1610. The following of Banquo, which fronted him, so that he fell in extract from his ‘ Book of Plays, and Notes
a great passion of fear and fury, uttered many thereof, for common Policy,' is copied by Mr.
words about his murder, by which, when they Collier from the manuscript in the Bodleian heard that Banquo was murdered, they suspected Library :
Macbeth. “In Macbeth,' at the Globe, 1610, the 20th " Then Macduff fled to England to the king's of April, Saturday, there was to be observed, son, and so they raised an army and came first, how Macbeth and Banquo, two noblemen into Scotland, and at Dunston Anyse overthrew of Scotland, riding through a wood, there stood Macbeth. In the mean time, while Macduff was before them three women, fairies, or nymphs, in England, Macbeth slew Macduff's wife and and saluted Macbeth, saying three times unto children, and after, in the battle, Macduff slew him, Hail, Macbeth, King of Coudor, for thou Macbeth. shalt be a king, but shalt beget no kings, &c. Observe, also, how Macbeth's queen did rise Then said Banquo, What, all to Macbeth and in the night in her sleep and walk, and talked none to me? Yes, said the nymphs, Hail to and confessed all, and the doctor noted her thee, Banquo? thou shalt beget kings, yet be words." no king. And so they departed, and came to Here, then, the date of this tragedy must the court of Scotland, to Duncan, King of Scots, be fixed after the accession of James I. in and it was in the days of Edward the Con 1603, and before the representation at which fessor. And Duncan bade them both kindly Forman was present in 1610. Mr. Collier is welcome, and made Macbeth forthwith Prince
inclined to believe that the play was a new of Northumberland ; and sent him home to his
one when Forman saw it acted. Be that as own castle, and appointed Macbeth to provide for him, for he would sup with him the next it may, we can have no doubt that it beday at night, and did so.
longed to the last ten years of the poet's “ And M: beth contrived to kill Duncan, and
life. through the persuasion of his wife did that night
That Shakspere found sufficient materials murder the king in his own castle, being his for this great drama in Holinshed's ‘History guest. And there were many prodigies seen of Scotland' is a fact that renders it quite that night and the day before. And when unnecessary for us to enter into any disMacbeth had murdered the king, the blood cussion as to the truth of this portion of
the history, or to point out the authorities | king's chamber how the king was slain, his upon which the narrative of Holinshed was body conveyed away, and the bed all beraid founded. Better authorities than Holinshed with blood, he with the watch ran thither, as had access to have shown that the contest though he had known nothing of the matter, for the crown of Scotland between Duncan and breaking into the chamber, and finding and Macbeth was a contest of factions, and
cakes of blood in the bed and on the floor that Macbeth was raised to the throne by about the sides of it, he forthwith slew the his Norwegian allies after a battle in which
chamberlains as guilty of that heinous murder. Duncan fell: in the same way, after a long
For the space of six months rule, was he vanquished and killed by the together, after this heinous murder thus com
mitted, there appeared no sun by day, nor moon son of Duncan, supported by his English by night, in any part of the realm, but still allies *. But with the differences between
was the sky covered with continual clouds, and the real and apocryphal history it is ma
sometimes such outrageous winds arose, with nifest that we can here have no concern. lightnings and tempests, that the people were There is another story told also in the same in great fear of present destruction.” narrative, which Shakspere with consummate skill has blended with the story of Macbeth. It was originally the opinion of Steevens It is that of the Murder of King Duff by and Malone that a play by Thomas MiddleDonwald and his wife in Donwald's castle ton, entitled The Witch,' had preceded of Forres
Macbeth, and that Shakspere was con“ The king got him into his privy chamber,
sequently indebted to Middleton for the only with two of his chamberlains, who, having
general idea of the witch incantations. brought him to bed, came forth again, and then
Malone subsequently changed his opinion; fell to banqueting with Donwald and his wife,
for in a posthumous edition of his “Essay on who hod prepared divers delicate dishes and the Chronological Order,' he has maintained sundry sorts of drinks for their rear-supper or
that “The Witch' was a later production collation, whereat they sat up so long, till they
than Macbeth.' had charged their stomachs with such full gorges, There is an interesting point connected that their heads were no sooner got to the pillow with the origin of Macbeth,' namely, but asleep they were so fast that a man might whether an actual visit to Scotland sughave removed the chamber over them sooner than gested some of the descriptions, and proto have awaked them out of their drunken sleep. bably the very story of this tragedy. The
" Then Donwald, though he abhorred the act question · Did Shakspere visit Scotland ?' greatly in heart, yet through instigation of his
was first raised, in 1767, by William Guthrie, wife he called four of his servants unto him
in his 'General History of Scotland:' “A.D. (whom he had made privy to his wicked intent before, and framed to his purpose with
1599. The King, to prove how thoroughly large gifts), and now declaring unto them after
he was now emancipated from the tutelage what sort they should work the feat, they gladly this year a company of English comedians.
of his clergy, desired Elizabeth to send him obeyed his instructions, and, speedily going about the murder, they enter the chamber (in She complied, and James gave them a liwhich the king lay) a little before cock's crow,
cence to act in his capital and in his court. where they secretly cut his throat as he lay I have great reason to think that the sleeping, without any bustling at all; and im- immortal Shakspere was of the number.” mediately by a postern gate they carried forth Guthrie, a very loose and inaccurate comthe dead body into the fields.
piler, gives no authority for his statement; Donwald, about the time that the murder was but it is evidently founded upon the folin doing, got him amongst them that kept lowing passage in Archbishop Spottiswood's the watch, and so continued in company with · History of the Church of Scotland,' which them all the residue of the night. But in the the writer says was
penned at the commorning, when the noise was raised in the
mand of King James the Sixth, who bid the * See Skene's Highlanders of Scotland,' vol. i. p. 116.
author write the truth and spare not:"