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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 :
"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
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.
Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine,
I have resolved the same redress for both.
Cord. Speak; for methought I heard
Alb. The troops by Edmund raised, I have disbanded:
Those that remain are under my command.
Off. 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, no life:
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou 'lt come no
[Exeunt with a dead march."
And why do we ask any one of our readers to compare what cannot be compared ?-why do we put one of the most divine conceptions of poetry side by side with the meanest interpretation of the most unimaginative feelings-equally remote from the verisimilitude of common life, as from the truth of ideal beauty? It is, as we have said before, because we feel unable to impart to others our own conceptions of the marvellous power of the Lear' of Shakspere, without employing some agency that may give distinctness to ideas which must be otherwise vague. There is only one mode in which such a production as the Lear' of Shakspere can be understood-by study, and by reverential reflection. The age which produced the miserable parody of Lear' that till within a few years has banished the Lear'
of Shakspere from the stage, was, as far as regards the knowledge of the highest efforts of intellect, a presumptuous, artificial, and therefore empty age. Tate was tolerated because Shakspere was not read. We have arrived, in some degree, to a better judgment, because we have learnt to judge more humbly. We have learnt to compare the highest works of the highest masters of poetry, not by the pedantic principle of considering a modern great only to the extent in which he is an imitator of an ancient, but by endeavouring to comprehend the idea in which the modern and the ancient each worked. The Cordelia of Shakspere and the Antigone of Sophocles have many points of similarity; but they each belong to a different system of art. It is for the highest minds only to carry their several systems to an approach to the perfection to which Shakspere and Sophocles have carried them. It was for the feeblest of imitators, in a feeble age, to produce such parodies as we have exhibited, under the pretence of substituting order for irregularity, but in utter ignorance of the principle of order which was too skilfully framed to be visible to the 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, in modern reprints of the text of Shakspere, 'Macbeth' is placed the first amongst the Histories. This is to convey a wrong notion of the character of this great drama. Shakspere's Chronicle-histories are essentially conducted upon a different principle. The interest of Macbeth' is not an historical interest. It matters not whether the action
Malone and Chalmers agree in assigning this tragedy to the year 1606. Their proofs, as we apprehend, are entirely frivolous and unsatisfactory. The Porter says, “Here's a farmer, that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty:" the year 1606 was a year of plenty, and therefore 'Macbeth' was written in 1606. Again, the same character says, "Here's an equivocator, that could swear
in both the scales, against either scale." This passage Malone most solemnly tells us, "without doubt, had a direct reference to the doctrine of equivocation avowed and maintained by Henry Garnet, superior of the order of the Jesuits in England, on his trial for the Gunpowder Treason, on the 28th of March, 1606, and to his detestable perjury." There is more of this sort of reasoning, in the examination of which it appears to us quite unnecessary to occupy the time of We have two facts as to the chronology of this play which are indisputable: the first is, that it must have been written after the crowns of England and Scotland were united in one monarch, who was a descendant of Banquo:
"Some I see
That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry." The second is, that Dr. Forman has most minutely described the representation of this tragedy in the year 1610. The following extract from his 'Book of Plays, and Notes thereof, for common Policy,' is copied by Mr. Collier from the manuscript in the Bodleian Library
"In 'Macbeth,' at the Globe, 1610, the 20th of April, Saturday, there was to be observed, first, how Macbeth and Banquo, two noblemen of Scotland, riding through a wood, there stood before them three women, fairies, or nymphs, and saluted Macbeth, saying three times unto him, Hail, Macbeth, King of Coudor, for thou shalt be a king, but shalt beget no kings, &c. Then said Banquo, What, all to Macbeth and none to me? Yes, said the nymphs, Hail to thee, Banquo? thou shalt beget kings, yet be no king. And so they departed, and came to the court of Scotland, to Duncan, King of Scots, and it was in the days of Edward the Confessor. And Duncan bade them both kindly welcome, and made Macbeth forthwith Prince of Northumberland; and sent him home to his
"Then was Macbeth crowned king, and then he, for fear of Banquo, his old companion, that he should beget kings but be no king himself, he contrived the death of Banquo, and caused him to be murdered on the way that he rode. The night, being at supper with his noblemen, whom he had bid to a feast (to the which also Banquo should have come), he began to speak of noble Banquo, and to wish that he were there. And as he thus did, standing up to drink a carouse to him, the ghost of Banquo came and sat down in his chair behind him. And he, turning about to sit down again, saw the ghost of Banquo, which fronted him, so that he fell in a great passion of fear and fury, uttered many words about his murder, by which, when they heard that Banquo was murdered, they suspected Macbeth.
"Then Macduff fled to England to the king's son, and so they raised an army and came into Scotland, and at Dunston Anyse overthrew Macbeth. In the mean time, while Macduff was in England, Macbeth slew Macduff's wife and children, and after, in the battle, Macduff slew Macbeth.
'Observe, also, how Macbeth's queen did rise in the night in her sleep and walk, and talked and confessed all, and the doctor noted her words."
Here, then, the date of this tragedy must be fixed after the accession of James I. in 1603, and before the representation at which Forman was present in 1610. Mr. Collier is inclined to believe that the play was a new one when Forman saw it acted. Be that as
own castle, and appointed Macbeth to provide it may, we can have no doubt that it be
for him, for he would sup with him the next day at night, and did so.
"And Macbeth contrived to kill Duncan, and through the persuasion of his wife did that night murder the king in his own castle, being his guest. And there were many prodigies seen that night and the day before. And when Macbeth had murdered the king, the blood
longed to the last ten years of the poet's life.
That Shakspere found sufficient materials for this great drama in Holinshed's 'History of Scotland' is a fact that renders it quite unnecessary for us to enter into any discussion 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 founded. Better authorities than Holinshed had access to have shown that the contest for the crown of Scotland between Duncan and Macbeth was a contest of factions, and that Macbeth was raised to the throne by his Norwegian allies after a battle in which Duncan fell: in the same way, after a long rule, was he vanquished and killed by the son of Duncan, supported by his English
allies*. But with the differences between the real and apocryphal history it is manifest that we can here have no concern. There is another story told also in the same narrative, which Shakspere with consummate skill has blended with the story of Macbeth. It is that of the Murder of King Duff by Donwald and his wife in Donwald's castle of Forres
"The king got him into his privy chamber, only with two of his chamberlains, who, having brought him to bed, came forth again, and then fell to banqueting with Donwald and his wife, who had prepared divers delicate dishes and sundry sorts of drinks for their rear-supper or collation, whereat they sat up so long, till they had charged their stomachs with such full gorges, that their heads were no sooner got to the pillow but asleep they were so fast that a man might have removed the chamber over them sooner than to have awaked them out of their drunken sleep. "Then Donwald, though he abhorred the act greatly in heart, yet through instigation of his wife he called four of his servants unto him (whom he had made privy to his wicked intent before, and framed to his purpose with large gifts), and now declaring unto them after what sort they should work the feat, they gladly obeyed his instructions, and, speedily going about the murder, they enter the chamber (in which the king lay) a little before cock's crow, where they secretly cut his throat as he lay sleeping, without any bustling at all; and immediately by a postern gate they carried forth the dead body into the fields.
Donwald, about the time that the murder was in doing, got him amongst them that kept the watch, and so continued in company with them all the residue of the night. But in the morning, when the noise was raised in the
* See Skene's Highlanders of Scotland,' vol. i. p. 116.
body conveyed away, and the bed all beraid with blood, he with the watch ran thither, as though he had known nothing of the matter, and breaking into the chamber, and finding cakes of blood in the bed and on the floor about the sides of it, he forthwith slew the chamberlains as guilty of that heinous murder. For the space of six months together, after this heinous murder thus committed, there appeared no sun by day, nor moon by night, in any part of the realm, but still
was the sky covered with continual clouds, and sometimes such outrageous winds arose, with lightnings and tempests, that the people were in great fear of present destruction."
It was originally the opinion of Steevens and Malone that a play by Thomas Middleton, entitled 'The Witch,' had preceded Macbeth,' and that Shakspere was consequently indebted to Middleton for the general idea of the witch incantations. Malone subsequently changed his opinion; for in a posthumous edition of his 'Essay on the Chronological Order,' he has maintained that The Witch' was a later production than 'Macbeth.'
There is an interesting point connected with the origin of Macbeth,' namely, whether an actual visit to Scotland suggested some of the descriptions, and probably the very story of this tragedy. The question Did Shakspere visit Scotland?' was first raised, in 1767, by William Guthrie, in his 'General History of Scotland:' "A.D. 1599. The King, to prove how thoroughly he was now emancipated from the tutelage this year a company of English comedians. of his clergy, desired Elizabeth to send him She complied, and James gave them a licence to act in his capital and in his court. I have great reason to think that the immortal Shakspere was of the number." Guthrie, a very loose and inaccurate compiler, gives no authority for his statement; but it is evidently founded upon the following passage in Archbishop Spottiswood's
History of the Church of Scotland,' which the writer says was "penned at the command of King James the Sixth, who bid the author write the truth and spare not:"