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it is strange a man of universal learning, a real and just connoisseur, and a true genius, should cite, as improper and absurd, what has been practised by the most celebrated artists in the dramatic way, when such machinery was authorized by the belief of the people. . Is there not reason to suspect from such uncandid treatment of our poet by this critic, that he
Views him with jealous, yet with scornful eyes,
The difference between a mind naturally prone to evil, and a frail one warped by the violence of temptations, is delicately distinguished in Macbeth and his wife. There are also some touches of the pencil, that mark the male and female character. When they deliberate on the murder of the king, the duties of host and subject strongly plead with him against the deed. She passes over these considerations; goes to Duncan's chamber resolved to kill him, but could not do it, because, she fays, he resembled her father while he slept. There is something feminine in this, and perfectly agreeable to the nature of the sex: who, even when void of principle,are seldom entirely divested of sentiment; and thus the poet, who, to use his own phrase, had overstepped the modesty of nature in the exaggerated fierceness of her character, returns back to the line and limits of humanity, and that very judiciously, by a sudden impression, which has only an instantaneous effect. Thus she may relapse into her former wickedness, and, from the same susceptibility, by the force of other impressions, be afterwards driven to distraction. As her character was not composed of those gentle elements out of which regular repentance could be formed, it was well judged to throw her mind into the chaos of madness; and, as the had exhibited wickedness in its highest degree of ferocity and atrociousness, fhe should be an example of the wildest agonies of remorse. As Shakespear could most exactly delincate the human mind, in its regular
State of reason, fo no one ever so happily caught its varying forms, in the wanderings of delirium.
The scene in which Macduff is informed of the murder of his wife and children, is so celebrated, that it is not necessary to enlarge upon its merit. We feel there, how much a just imitation of natural sentiments, on such a tender occasion, is more pathetic, than chosen terms and studied phrafes. As, in a former effay, I have made some observations on
our author's management of the Preternatural Beings, I forbear to enlarge further on the subject of the Witches : that he has kept closely to the traditions concerning them, is very fully set forth, in the notes of a learned commentator on his works.
This piece may certainly be deemed one of the best of Shakespear's compofitions: and though it contains fome faulty speeches, and one whole scene entirely absurd and improper, which art might have corrected or lopped away; yet genius, powerful genius only, (wild nature's vigour working at the root !) could have produced fuch strong and original beauties, and adapted both to the general temper and taste of the age in which it appeared.
IS the curse of service:
Preferment goes by letter, and affection, And not (1) by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to th' first.
In dispraise of Honesty. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave, That, doting on his own obfequious bondage, Wears out his time much like his master's ass, For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd; Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
(1) By old, &c.] i. c. by the old and former gradation, the old and usual method formerly practis’d. It is a very common manner of expression, when speaking of any thing formerly in use.
Who trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
SCENE IV. Love the sole Motive of Othello's
For know Iago,
Scene VIII. Othello's Relation of his Courtship
to the Senate.
Most potent, grave, and reverend figniors, My very noble, and approv'd good masters;
(2) Were I, &c.] This bears fome resemblance to that celebrated answer of Alexander wbich Longinus so greatly comiends
-See his Essay on the Sublime, fect. 9. “When Parmenio cried, “ I would accept these proposals, if I was Alexander ;” Alexander made this noble reply, " And so would 1, if I was Parmenigo?? Hlis answer shew'd the greatness of his mind. See the learned Dr. Pearce's note on the passage..
That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
Her father lov'd me, oft invited me; Still questioned me the story of my life, From year to year; the battles, fieges, fortunes, That I have past. I ran it through, e'en from my boyish days, To th' very moment that he både nie tell it': Wherein í fpoke of moft disastrous chances, Of moving accidents by food and field; Of hair-breadth 'fcapes i'th' imminent deadiy breach; Of being taken by the insolent foe, And sold to slavery ; of my redemption thence, (4) And (5) with it all my travels' history.
(3) Soft), i.e. gentle, persuasive, such as is usod by senators and men of peace.
(4) And, &c.] I have omitted here five or fix lines, which tho' indeed capable of defence, cannot well be produced as beauties. The fimplest expressions, where nature and propriety: dictate, may be truly sublime ; such is all this fine fpeech of Othello. (5) Portance in my