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aeting that part. We can conceive of nothing grand
It was something above nature. It seemed almost as if a being of a superiour order had dropped from a higher sphere to awe the world with the majesty of her appearance. Power was seated on her brow, passion emanated from her breast as from a shrine; she was tragedy personified. In coming on in the sleeping scene, her eyes were open, but their sense was shut. She was like a person bewildered and unconscious of what she did. Her lips moved involuntarily-all her gestures were involuntary and mechanical. She glided on and off the stage like an apparition. To have seen her in that character was an event in every one's life, not to be forgotten.
The dramatick beauty of the character of Duncan, which excites the respect and pity even of his murderers, has been often pointed out. It forms a picture of itself. An instance of the author's power of giving a striking effect to a common reflection, by the manner of introducing it, occurs in a speech of Duncan, complaining of his baving been deceived in his opinion of the Thane of Cawdor, at the very moment that he is expressing the most unbounded confidence in the loyalty and services of Macbeth.
" There is no art
Another passage to shew that Shakspeare lost sight of pothing tbat could in any way give relief or
heightening to his subject, is the conversation which takes place between Banquo and Fleance immediately before the murder scene of Duncan.
“ Banquo. How goes the night, boy?
Banquo. Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heav'n,
In like manner, a fine idea is given of the gloomy coming on of evening, just as Banquo is going to be assassinated.
MACBETH (generally speaking) is done upon a stronger and more systematick principle of contrast than any other of Shakspeare's plays. It moves upon the verge of an abyss, and is a constant struggle between life and death. The action is desperate and the reaction is dreadful. It is a huddling together of fierce extremes, a war of opposite natures which of them shall destroy the other. There is nothing but
. what has a violent end or violent beginnings. The lights and shades are laid on with a determined hand;
the transitions from triumph to despair, from the height of terrour to the repose of death, are sudden and startling; every passion brings in its fellowcontrary, and the thoughts pitch and jostle against each other as in the dark. The whole play is an unruly chaos of strange and forbidden things, where the ground rocks under our feet. Shakspeare's genius here took its full swing, and trod upon the farthest bounds of nature and passion. This circumstance will account for the abruptness and violent aptitheses of the style, the throes and labour which run through the expression, and from defects will turn them into beauties. “ So fair and foul a day I have not seen,” &c. “ Such welcome and unwelcome news together." 64 Men's lives are like the flowers in their caps, dying or ere they sicken.” “ Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it." The scene before the castle gate follows the appearance of the Witches on the heath, and is followed by a midnight murder. Duncan is cut off betimes by treason leagued with witchcraft, and Macduff is ripped untimely from his mother's womb to avenge his death. Macbeth, after the death of Banquo, wishes for his presence in extravagant terms, “To him and all we thirst,” and when his ghost appears, cries out, “ Avauot and quit my sight,” and being gone, he is “ himself again.” Macbeth resolves to get rid of Macduff, that" he may sleep in spite of thunder;" and cheers his wife on the doubtful intelligence of Banquo's taking off, with the encouragement--" Then be thou jocund: ere the bat has flown bis cloistered flight; ere to black Hecate's summons tbe shard-bora beetle has rung night's yawning peal, there shall be donema deed of dreadful note.” In Lady Macbeth's speech “ Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done 't," there is murder and filial piety together, and in urging him to fulfil his vengeance against the defenceless king, ber thoughis spare the blood neither of infants nor old age. The descrip tion of the Witches is full of the same contradictory principle; they “rejoice when good kings bleed," they are neither of the earth nor the air, but both; " they should be women, but their beards forbid it;" they take all the pains possible to lead Macbeth on to the height of his ambition, only to betray him in deeper consequence, and after shewing him all the pomp of their art, discover their malignant delight in his disappointed hopes, by that bitter taupt, “Why stands Macbeth thus amazedly ?" We might multiply such instances every where.
The leading features in the character of Macbeth are striking enough, and they form what may be thought at first only a bold, rude, Gothick outline. By comparing it with other characters of the same author, we shall perceive the absolute truth and identity which is observed in the midst of the giddy whirl and rapid career of events. Macheth in Shakspeare no more loses his identity of character in the fluctuations of fortune or the storm of passion, than Maebeth in himself would have lost the identity of his person. Thus he is as distinct a being from Richard Ill. as it is possible to imagine, though these two characters in common hands, and indeed in the bands of any other poet, would have been a repetition of
the same general idea, more or less exaggerated. For both are tyrants, usurpers, murderers, both aspiring and ambitious, both courageous, cruel, treach
But Richard is cruel from nature and constitution. Macbeth becomes so from accidental circumstances. Richard is from his birth deformed in body and mind, and naturally incapable of good.Macbeth is full of “ the milk of human kindoess," is frank, sociable, generous. He is tempted to the commission of guilt by golden opportunities, by the instigations of his wife, and by prophetick warnings. Fate and metaphysical aid conspire against his virtue and his loyalty. Richard, on the contrary, needs no prompter, but wades through a series of crimes to the height of his ambition from the ungovernable violence of his temper and a reckless love of mischief. He is never gay but in the prospect or in the success of his villanies : Macbeth is full of horrour at the thoughts of the murder of Duncan, which he is with difficulty prevailed on to commit, and of remorse after its perpetration. Richard has no mixture of common humanity in his composition, no regard to kindred or posterity, he owns no fellowship with others, he is “ himself alone.” Macbeth is not destitute of feelings of sympathy, is accessible to pity, is even made in some measure the dupe of his uxoriousness, ranks the loss of friends, of the cordial love of his followers, and of his good name, among the causes which have made him weary of life, and regrets that he has ever seized the crown by unjust means, since he cannot transmit it to his posterity