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mation ! She salutes him as Glamis and | light; the servants are moving to rest ; Cawdor, and
Macbeth is alone. He sees “the air-drawn “Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter.” dagger” which leads him to Duncan; he is
still under the influence of some power This is the sole allusion to the weird sisters. stronger than his will ; he is beset with false “We will speak further," seals his fate. creations ; his imagination is excited ; he
Here then, up to this point, we have the moves to bloodshed amidst a crowd of poetisupernatural influence determining the pro- cal images, with which his mind dallies, as gress of the action with a precipitation it were, in its agony. Half frantic he has which in itself appears almost supernatural ; done the deed. His passion must now have and yet it is in itself strictly consonant to vent. It rushes like a torrent over the calmnature. It works in and through human ness which his wife opposes to it. His terrors passions and feelings. It works through un- embody themselves in gushing descriptions belief as well as through belief. It per- of those fearful voices that rang in the murvades the entire action, whether in its repose derer's ears. Reproaches and taunts have or in its tumult. When “the heavens' now no power over him :breath smells wooingly” in Macbeth's castle,
“I'll go no more: we feel that it is as treacherous to the
I am afraid to think what I have done; “gentle senses” of Duncan as the blandish
Look on 't again, I dare not." ments of his hostess; and that this calm is but the prelude to that “ unruly” night which It is impossible, we apprehend, for the poet is to follow, with its “lamentings” and its to have more clearly indicated the mode in “strange screams of death.” But this is a
which he meant to contrast the characters part of the poetry of the action, whieh of Macbeth and his wife than in the scene keeps the horror within the bounds pre- before us. It is a mistake to characterise scribed by a high art. The beautiful adap- the intellect of Lady Macbeth as of a higher tation of the characters to the action con- order than that of her husband. Her force stitutes a higher essential of the poetry of character was stronger, because her inThe last scene of the first act, where Mac tellect was less. She wanted that higher beth marshals before him the secondary con- power which he possessed — the power of sequences of the meditated crime, and the imagination. She hears no noises in that secondary arguments against its commission, terrible hour but the scream of the owl and -all the while forgetting that the real the cry of the crickets. To her, question is that of the one step from inno
“The sleeping, and the dead, cence into guilt,--and where all these pru
Are but as pictures." dential considerations are at once
In her view whelmed by a guilty energy which despises as well as renounces them,—that scene is “A little water clears us of this deed." indeed more terrible to us than the assas
We believe that, if it had not been for the sination scene ; for it shows us how men fall
necessities of a theatrical representation, through their own weakness and the bad Shakspere would never have allowed it to strength of others. But in all this we see the deep philosophy of the poet,-his pro- presented in the banquet-scene. It is to him
have been supposed that a visible ghost was found knowledge of the springs of human who saw the dagger, and heard the voices action, derived perhaps from his experience
cry“ sleep no more," and who exclaimed of every-day crime and folly, but lifted into the highest poetry by his marvellous imagi- “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood nation. We know that after this the scene
Clean from my hand ?"of the murder must come. All the pre- it is to him alone that the spectral appearparatory incidents are poetical. The moon ances of that “solemn supper” are visible. is down ; Banquo and Fleance walk by torch- | Are they not then the forms only of his
imagination ? The partner of his guilt, who, it has run its terrific course, and the frighted looked
upon the great crime only as a guests have departed, and the guilty man business of necessity,—who would have com- mutters “it will have blood," then is her mitted it herself but for one touch of feeling, intellectual energy utterly helpless before confessed only to herself,
his higher passion. Mrs. Jameson says of “ Had he not resembled
“ A few words of subMy father as he slept I had done 't,”— missive reply to his questions, and an entreaty who had before disclaimed even the tenderest
to seek repose, are all she permits herself to
utter. There is a touch of pathos and tenfeelings of a mother if they had stood between her and her purpose, -she sees no
derness in this silence which has always spectre, because her obdurate will cannot affected me beyond expression.” Is it subco-exist with the imagination which produces mission ? Is it tenderness ? Is it not rather the terror and remorse of her husband. It is the lower energy in subjection to the higher ? scarcely the "towering bravery of her mind,"
Her intellect has lost its anchorage ; but his in the right sense of the word; it is some
imagination is about to receive a new stimu
lant:thing lower than courage ; it is the absence
“I will to-morrow of impressibility: the tenacious adherence to
(And betimes I will) unto the weird sisters : one dominant passion constitutes her force of character.
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to As Macbeth recedes from his original
By the worst means, the worst." nature under the influence of his fears and his su; erstitions, he becomes, of necessity, a
“He has by guilt torn himself live-asunder lower creature. It is the natural course of from nature, and is therefore himself in a guilt. The“ brave Macbeth " changes to a preternatural state: no wonder, then, that counterfeiter of passions, a hypocrite,
he is inclined to superstition, and faith in
the unknown of signs and tokens, and superOh, yet I do repent me of my fury,
human agencies.” Coleridge thus notices the That I did kill them."
point of action of which we are speaking. He descends not only to the hire of mur- But it must not be forgotten that Macbeth derers, but to the slander of his friend to was inclined to superstition before the guilt. stimulate their revenge. But his tempera- and that his faith in superhuman agencies ment is still that of which poets are made. went far to produce the guilt. From this In his murderous purposes he is still imagi- moment, however, his guilt is bolder, and his native :
will more obdurate ; his supernatural know“Ere the bat hath flown
ledge stands in the place of reflection and His cloister'd flight; ere, to black Hecate's caution. He believes in it, and yet he will do summons,
something beyond the belief. He is told to The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums, “beware Macduff ;” but he is also told that Hath rung night's yawning peal,
“none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” There shall be done a deed of dreadful note." How does he reconcile this contrary belief ?It is this condition of Macbeth's mind which, " Then live, Macduff: What need I fear of thee? we must again repeat, limits and mitigates But yet I 'll make assurance double sure, the horror of the tragedy. After the tumult
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live; of the banquet-scene the imagination of That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, Macbeth again overbears (as it did after the
And sleep in spite of thunder." murder) the force of the will in Lady And then comes the other prophecy of Macbeth. It appears to us that her taunts safety:and reproaches are only ventured upon by her when his excitement is beginning. After
“Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
• Mrs. Jameson.
Does it produce tranquillity? All beyond is
And that which should accompany old age, desperation:
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but, in their stead, "Macb. Saw you the weird sisters ?
Curses not loud, but deep, mouth-honour, Len.
No, my lord. Macb. Came they not by you?
breath, Len. No, indeed, my lord.
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and
dare not." Macb. Infected be the air whereon they
This passage, and the subsequent one of And damn'd all those that trust them I did " To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, hear
Creeps in this petty space from day to day, The galloping of horse: Who was 't came by? To the last syllable of recorded time; Len. 'T is two or three, my lord, that bring And all our yesterdays have lighted fools you word,
The way to dusty death," Macduff is filed to England.
tell us of something higher and better in his Macb.
Fled to England ? character than the assassin and the usurper. Len. Ay, my good lord.
He was the victim of “the equivocation of Macb. Time, thou anticipat'st my dread
the fiend;” and he has paid a fearful penalty exploits:
for his belief. The final avenging is a comThe flighty purpose never is o’ertook, Unless the deed go with it: From this mo
passionate one, for he dies a warrior's
death : ment,
" I will not yield, The very firstlings of my heart shall be The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's
feet, To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought
And to be baited with the rabble's curse. and done: The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane, Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the
And thou oppos’d, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last: Before my body sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
I throw my warlike shield." That trace him in his line."
The principle which we have thus so imThe retribution which falls upon Lady perfectly attempted to exhibit, as the leading
characteristic of this glorious tragedy, is, Macbeth is precisely that which is fitted to her guilt. The powerful will is subjected to
without doubt, that which constitutes the
essential difference between a work of the the domination of her own imperfect senses. We cannot dwell upon her terrible punish
highest genius and a work of mediocrity. ment. There can be nothing beyond the
Without power—by which we here especially agony of
mean the ability to produce strong excite
ment by the display of scenes of horror-no “ Here is the smell of the blood still: all the poet of the highest order was ever made ; perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little but this alone does not make such a poet. hand."
If he is called upon to present such scenes, The vengeance falls more gently on Macbeth; they must, even in their most striking forms, for he is in activity; he is still confident in be associated with the beautiful. The preprophetic securities. The contemplative eminence of his art in this particular can melancholy which, however, occasionally alone prevent them affecting the imagination comes over him in the last struggle is still beyond the limits of pleasurable emotion. true to the poetry of his character:
To keep within these limits, and yet to Seyton !-I am sick at heart. preserve all the energy which results from When I behold-Seyton, I say !—This push
the power of dealing with the terrible apart Will cheer me ever, or dis-seat me now. from the beautiful, belongs to few that the I have liv'd long enough: my way of life world has seen : to Shakspere it belongs Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf: surpassingly
A WINTER'S TALE.
WB have no edition of the Winter's Tale', so home an allusion on any other ground than prior to that of the folio of 1623; nor was it compliment. The unreasonable jealousy of entered upon the registers of the Stationers' Leontes, and his violent conduct in consequence, Company previous to the entry by the pro- form a true portrait of Henry VIII., who geneprietors of the folio. The original text, rally made the law the engine of his boisterous which is divided into acts and scenes, is passions. Not only the general plan of the
story is most applicable, but several passages remarkably correct.
are so marked that they touch the real history Chalmers has assigned the “Winter's Tale'
nearer than the fable. Hermione on her trial, to 1601. The play contains this passage:
says, “If I could find example
For honour, Of thousands that had struck anointed kings 'T is a derivative from me to mine, And flourish'd after, I'd not do't: but since
And only that I stand for.' Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment, bears
This seems to be taken from the very letter of not one,
Anne Boleyn to the king before her execution, Let villainy itself forswear 't.”
where she pleads for the infant princess his “ These lines,” says Chalmers, “were called daughter. Mamillius, the young prince, an forth by the occasion of the conspiracy of unnecessary character, dies in his infancy; but Essex.” “No,” says Malone, “these lines it confirms the allusion, as Queen Anne, before could never have been intended for the ear Elizabeth, bore a still-born son. But the most of her who had deprived the Queen of Scots striking passage, and which had nothing to do of her life. To the son of Mary they could not in the tragedy but as it pictured Elizabeth, is but have been agreeable.” Upon this ground where Paulina, describing the new-born princess, he assigned the comedy to 1604. There is a and her likeness to her father, says, ' She has the third critic, of much higher acuteness than very trick of his frown.' There is one sentence, the greater number of those who have given indeed, so applicable both to Elizabeth and her us speculations on the chronology of Shak- father, that I should suspect the poet inserted it spere's plays,—we mean Horace Walpole, after her death. Paulina, speaking of the child, whose conjecture is so ingenious and amusing
tells the kingthat we copy it without abridgment:
"'T is yours: “ The Winter's Tale' may be ranked among
And might we lay the old proverb to your the historic plays of Shakspere, though not one
charge, of his numerous critics and commentators have
So like yon, 't is the worse.' discovered the drift of it. It was certainly The Winter's Tale' was therefore in reality a intended (in compliment to Queen Elizabeth) Second Part of ‘Henry VIJI.”” as an indirect apology for her mother, Anne Boleyn. The address of the poet appears no
Plausible as this may appear, the conjecture where to more advantage. The subject was too falls to the ground when we consider that delicate to be exhibited on the stage without a Shakspere adopted all that part of the plot veil; and it was too recent, and touched the of this comedy which relates to the “unqueen too nearly, for the bard to have ventured | reasonable jealousy of Leontes” from a novel
of which we have an edition as early as 1588. | lost, the king should die without issue; for the Robert Greene, the auther of 'Pandosto,' child was carried into Bohemia, and there laid could scarcely have intended his story as in a forest, and brought up by a shepherd. And a compliment to Queen Elizabeth” and a the King of Bohemia's son married that wench,
true portrait of Henry VIII.,” for he makes and how they fled into Sicilia to Leontes; and the jealous king of his novel terminate his the shepherd having showed the letter to the care r with suicide. In truth, as we have nobleman whom Leontes sent, it was that child, sometimes inferred, questions such as this and by the jewels found about her she was
known to be Leontes' daughter, and was then are very pretty conundrums, and worthy to
sixteen years old. be cherished as the amusement of elderly gentlemen who have outlived their relish for tattered, like Coll Pipin, and how he feigned
Remember, also, the rogue that came in all early sports, and leave to others who are less him sick and to have been robbed of all he had, careful of their dignity to
and how he cozened the poor man of all his “ Play at push-pin with the boys."
money, and after came to the sheep-shear with a
pedlar's pack, and there cozened them again of Beyond this they are for the most part all their money. And how he changed apparel worthless.
with the King of Bohemia's son, and then how In the absence of any satisfactory internal he turned courtier, &c. evidence of the date of this comedy, beyond
“ Beware of trusting feigned beggars or that furnished by the general character of fawning fellows."* the language and versification, it was at The novel of Robert Greene, called 'Panlength pointed out by Malone that an entry | dosto,' and “The History of Dorastus and in the office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Fawnia,' which Shakspere undoubtedly folMaster of the Revels in 1623, mentions “an lowed, with very few important deviations, old play called 'Winter's Tale, formerly in the construction of the plot of his “Winter's allowed of by Sir George Bucke and likewise Tale,' is a small book, occupying fifty-nine by me.” Sir George Bucke first exercised pages in the reprint, with an Introductory the office of Master of the Revels in 1610. Notice by Mr. Colliert. It was a work of The play, therefore, could not have been extraordinary popularity, there being fourteen earlier than this year; and Mr. Collier has editions known to exist. Of the nature of produced conclusive evidence that it was Shakspere's obligations to this work, Mr. acted in 1611. We have again to refer to Collier thus justly speaks :“ a book of plays, and notes thereof, for common policy” kept by Dr. Symon Forman,
“ Robert Greene was a man who possessed all and discovered some few years ago in the the advantages of education: he was a graduate Bodleian Library. Forman saw the Winter's of both Universities—he was skilled in ancient Tale' acted on the 15th of May, 1611, at learning and in modern languages—he had, Shakspere's theatre, the Globe. It was most
besides, a prolific imagination, a lively and probably then a new play; for he is very exceeded; yet, let any person well acquainted
elegant fancy, and a grace of expression rarely minute in his description of the plot.
with the Winter's Tale' read the novel of “Observe there how Leontes, King of Sicilia, •Pandosto,' upon which it was founded, and he was overcome with jealousy of his wife with the will be struck at once with the vast pre-eminence King of Bohemia, his friend, that came to see
of Shakespeare, and with the admirable manner him; and how he contrived his death, and would in which he has converted materials supplied by have had his cupbearer to have poisoned him, another to his own use. The bare outline of who gave the King of Bohemia warning thereof, the story (with the exception of Shakespeare's and fled with him to Bohemia.
miraculous conclusion) is nearly the same in " Remember, also, how he sent to the oracle of both; but this is all they have in common, and Apollo, and the answer of Apollo that she was Shakespeare may be said to have scarcely guiltless, and that the king was jealous, &c., and
* New Particulars,' p. 20. how, except the child was found again that was
Shakespeare's Library, Part I.