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hope, according to the general condition of all vain oracles. And it is with great judgment the poet has given to Macbeth the very temper to be wrought upon by such suggestions. The bad man is his own tempter. Richard III. had a heart that prompted him to do all, that the worst demon could have suggested, so that the witches would have been only an idle wonder in his story; nor did he want such a counsellor as Lady Macbeth: a ready instrument like Buckingham, to adopt his projects, and execute his orders, was sufficient. But Macbeth, of a generous disposition, and good propensities, but with vehement passions and aspiring wishes, was a subject liable to be seduced by splendid prospects, and ambitious counsels. This appears from the following character given of him by his wife:
Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
Thou would'st be great;
Art not without ambition; but without
The illness should attend it. What thou would'st
That wouldst thou holily; would'st not play false,
So much inherent ambition in a character, without any other vice, and full of the milk of human kindness, though obnoxious to temptation, yet would have great struggles before it yielded, and as violent fits of subsequent remorse.
If the mind is to be medicated by the operations of pity and terror, surely no means are so well adapted to that end, as a strong and lively representation of the agonizing struggles that precede, and the terrible horrors that follow wicked actions. Other poets thought they had sufficiently attended to the moral purpose of the Drama, by making the furies pursue the perpetrated crime. Our author waves their bloody daggers in the road to guilt, and demonstrates, that so soon as a man begins to hearken to ill suggestions, terrors environ, and fears distract him. Tenderness and conjugal love combat in the breasts of a Medea and a Herod, in their purposed vengeance. Personal
sonal affection often weeps on the theatre, while jealousy or revenge whet the bloody knife: but Macbeth's emotions are the struggles of conscience; his agonies are the agonies of remorse. They are lessons of justice, and warnings to innocence. I do not know that any dramatic writer, except Shakspeare, has set forth the pangs of guilt separate from the fear of punishment. Clytemnestra is represented by Euripides, as under great terrors, on account of the murder of Agamemnon; but they arise from fear of punishment, not repentance. It is not the memory of the assassinated husband, which haunts and terrifies her, but an apprehension of vengeance from his surviving son: when she is told Orestes is dead, her mind is again at ease. It must be allowed, that on the Grecian stage, it is the office of the chorus to moralize, and to point out, on every occasion, the advantages of virtue over vice. But how much less affecting are their animadversions than the testimony of the person concerned! Whatever belongs to the part of the chorus, has hardly the force of dramatic imitation. The chorus is in a
manner without personal character, or interest, and no way an agent in the drama. We cannot sympathize with the cool reflections of these idle spectators, as we do with the sentiments of the persons, in whose circumstances and situation we are interested.
The heart of man, like iron and other metal, is hard, and of firm resistance, when cold, but, warmed, it becomes malleable and ductile: It is by touching the passions, and exciting sympathetic emotions, not by sentences, that the tragedian must make his impressions on the spectator. I will appeal to any person of taste, whether the following speeches of Wolsey, in another play of Shakspeare, the first a soliloquy, the second addressed to his servant Cromwell, in which he gives the testimony of his experience, and the result of his own feelings, would make the same impression, if uttered by a set of speculative sages in the episode of a chorus.
So farewell to the little good you bear me !
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
But far beyond my depth; my high-blown pride
And in another place,
Let's dry our eyes, and thus far hear me, Cromwell,
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be,