Imatges de pÓgina

such a guilty moment, durft not implore that mercy of which he stood fo much in need, it would have had but a flight effect. All know the deteftation, with which virtuous men behold a bad action. A much more falutary admonition is given, when we are fhewn the terrors that are combined with guilt in the breast of the Offender.

Our author has fo tempered the conftitutional character of Macbeth, by infusing into it the milk of human kindness, and a ftrong tincture of honour, as to make the most violent perturbation, and pungent remorfe, 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 confiftency of character; but more amazing still is the art with which he exhibits the move ment of the human mind, and renders audible the filent march of thought: traces its modes of operation in the course of Deliberating, the paufes of Hefitation, and the final act of Decifion; fhews how Reafon M 4 checks,

checks, and how the Paffions impel; and displays to us the trepidations that precede, and the horrors that pursue acts of blood. No fpecies of dialogue, but that which a man holds with himself, could effect this. The Soliloquy has been permitted to all dramatic writers; but its true use seems to be underftood only by our author, who alone has attained to a just imitation of nature, in this kind of felf-conference.

It is certain, that men do not tell themfelves who they are, and whence they came, they neither narrate nor declaim in the folitude of the clofet, as Greek and French writers represent. Here then is added to the drama an imitation of the moft difficult and delicate kind, that of representing the internal procefs of the mind in reasoning and reflecting; and it is not only a difficult, but a very useful art, as it beft affifts the Poet to expofe the anguish of Remorse, to repeat every whisper of the internal monitor, Confcience, and, upon occafion, to lend her a voice to amaze the guilty and appal the free. As a man

is averfe to expose his crimes, and discover the turpitude of his actions, even to the faithful Friend, and trusty Confident, it is more natural for him to breathe in Soliloquy the dark and heavy fecrets of the foul, than to utter them to the most intimate affociate. The conflicts in the bofom of Macbeth, before he commits the murder, could not, by any other means, have been so well expofed. He entertains the prophecy of his future greatnefs with complacency, but the very idea of the means by which he is to attain it shocks him to the highest degree.

This fupernatural folliciting

Cannot be ill; cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it giv'n me the earnest of fuccefs,
Commencing in a truth? I'm Thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that fuggestion,
Whofe horrid image doth unfix my hair,
And make my feated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature?

There is an obfcurity and stiffness in part of thefe foliloquies, which I wish could be charged entirely to the confufion of Macbeth's




mind from the horror he feels, at the thought of the murder; but our author is too much addicted to the obfcure bombast, much affected by all forts of writers in that age. The abhorrence Macbeth feels at the suggestion of affaffinating his king, brings him back to this determination,

If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown


Without my ftir.

After a pause, in which we may fuppose the ambitious defire of a crown to return, fo far as to make him undetermined what he shall do, and leave the decifion to future time and unborn events, he concludes,

Come what come may,

Time and the hour runs thro' the roughest day. By which, I confefs, I do not with his two last commentators imagine is meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or an Allufion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation to time to haften forward, but I rather apprehend the meaning to be, tempus & bora, time and occafion, will carry the thing through, and bring it to fome determined point and end, let its nature be what it will.

will. In the next foliloquy, he agitates this great question concerning the proposed murder. One argument against it, is, that fuch deeds must be supported by others of like nature.

But, in these cafes,

We still have judgment here; that we but teach Bloody inftructions, which, being taught, return To plague th' inventor; this even-handed justice Commends th' ingredients of our poifon'd chalice To our own lips.

He proceeds next to confider the peculiar relations, in which he ftands to Duncan.

He's here in double truft:

Firft as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murd'rer fhut the door;
Not bear the knife myself.

Then follow his arguments against the deed, from the admirable qualities of the king. Befides, this Duncan

Hath borne his faculties fo meekly, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead, like angels, trumpet-tongu❜d again
The deep damnation of his taking off.


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