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Ant. E. There, take it; and much thanks for
my good cheer. Abb. Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains To with us into the abbey here, And bear at large discoursed all our fortunes ; And all that are assembled in this place, That by this sympathized one duy's error Have suffer'd wrong, go, keep us company, And we shall make full satisfaction. Twenty-five years have I but gone in travail Of you, my sons, and till this present hour My heavy burden ne'er delivered. 21 The duke, my husband, and my children both, And you the calendars of their nativity, a Go to a gossip's feast, and joy with me: After so long grief, such festivity! Duke. With all my heart, I'll gossip at this feast.
[Ereunt DUKE, Abbess, ÆGEON, Courtezan,
Merchant, Angelo, and Attendants. Dro. S. Master, shall I fetch your stuff from ship
board ? Ant. E. Dromio, what stuff of mine bast thou
embark'd ? Dro. S. Your goods, that lay at host, sir, in the
[Excunt Ant. S. and Ant. E., ADR. and Luc. Dro. S. There is a fat friend at your master's house,
21 The original reads " are delivered.” The correction is by Mr. Dyce.
23 That is, the iwo Dromios. Antipholus of Syracuse has al ready called one of them the Almanack of my true date.”
That kitchen'd me for you to-day at dinner :
walk in to see their gossiping ? Dro. S. Not I, sir; you are my elder. Dro. E. That's a question: how shall we try it ?
Dro. S. We will draw cuts for the senior: till then, lead thou first.
Dro. E. Nay; then thus : We came into the world, like brother and brother And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH.
In the folio of 1623 THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, as it is there called, makes the seventh in the list of Tragedies. In modern edi. tions generally, the Chiswick among others, it stands as first in the division of Histories ; an order so clearly and entirely wrong as almost to make us regret having announced that it would be retained in this edition. Macbeth has indeed something of an historical basis, and so have Hamlet and Lear; but in all three the historical matter is so merged in the form and transfigured with the spirit of tragedy, as to put it well nigh out of thought to class them as histories; since this is subjecting them to wrong tests, implies the right to censure them for not being what they were never meant to be. In them historical truth was nowise the Poet's aim; they are to be viewed simply as works of art : so that the proper question Acerning them is, whether and how far they have that truth to nature, that organic proportion and self-consistency which the laws of Art require. Wherefore, while adhering to our announcement, we feel bound to protest against Macbeth's being treated as in any sense an historical drama. The tragedy was never printed that we know of till in the folio, and was registered in the Stationers' books by Blount and Jaggard, November 8, 1623, as one of the plays “not formerly entered to other men.” The original text is remarkably clear and complete, the acts and scenes being regularly marked throughout.
Malone and Chalmers agreed upon the year 1606 as the time when Macbeth was probably written ; their chief ground for this opinion being what the Porter says in Act ii. sc. 3: “ Here's a armer that hang'd himself on the expectation of plenty;" and again, Here's an equivocator, that could swear in both scales against either scale; who commilied treason erongh for God's sake, yet could not equivocale to Heaven." As 1606 was indeed a year of plenty, Malone thought the former passage referred to that fact; and that the latter “had a direct reference to the doctrine of equivocation avowed and maintained by Henry Garney superior of the order of Jesuits in England, at his trial for the Gunpowder Treason, March 28, 1606." These arguments, we confess, neither seem strong enough to uphold the conclusion, nor so weak, on the other hand, as to warrant the scorn which Mr. Knight has vented upon them. And, however inadequate the basis, the conclusion appears to be about right; at least no betler one has been offered.
That Macbeth was probably written after the union of the three kingdoms, has been justly inferred from what the hero says in his last interview with the Weird Sisters, Act iv. sc. 1: “ And some I see,
that twofold balls and treble sceptres carry.” James I came to the throne of England in March, 1603; but the English and Scottislı crowns were not formally united, at least the union was not proclaimed, till October, 1601. That they were to be unitea was doubtless well understood some time before it actually took piace : so that the passage in question does not afford a cer. 'uin guide to the date of the composition. The most we can affirm is, that the writing was probably after 1607, and cerlainly before 1610; the ground of which certainty is from Dr. Simon Forman's « Book of Plays, and Notes thereot, for common Policy;" a man. uscript lately discovered by Mr. Collier in the Ashmolean Museum. Forman gives a minule and particular account of the plot and leading incidents of Macbeth, as he saw it played at the Globe Theatre, April 20, 1610. The notice is too long for our space : some parts of it may be found in the notes, both curious in themselves, and valuable in reference to certain questions that have lately been raised.
In our notes to The Merchant of Venice and The Taining of the Shrew we have referred to certain ground for supposing the Poet to have been in Italy. The play in hand yields similar cause, in the accuracy of local description and allusion, for thinking be had been in Scotland. Aud in the latter case these internal like. lihoods are not a little strengthened by external arguments. 11 hath been fully ascertained that companies of English players did visit Scotland several times during Shakespeare's connection with the stage. The earliest visit of this kind that we hear of was in 1589. when Ashby, the English minister at the Scottish court, wrole 10 Burleigh how “ my Lord Bothwell sheweth great kindness to our nation, using Her Majesty's Players and Canoniers with all courtesy.” And a like visit was again made in 1599, as we learn from Archbishop Spottiswood, who writing the history of that year has the following : “ In the end of the year happeneu some new jars betwixt the King and the ministers of Edinburgh; because of a company of English comedians whom the King bad licensed to play within the burgh. The ministers, being otlended with the liberty given them, did exclaim in their sermons against stageplayers, their unruliness and immodest behaviour ; and in their sessions made an act, prohibiting people to resort unto their plays under pain of church censures. The King, takng this to be a discharge of bis license, called the sessions before the council, and ordained them to amul their act, and not to restrain the people from going to these comedies : which they promised, and accord. ingly performed; wbereof publication was made the day after, and all that pleased permitted to repair unto the same, to the great offence of the ministers."
This account is confirmed by the public records of Scotland, which show that the English players were liberally rewarded by the King, no less a sum than 8281. 5s. 4d. being distributed io them between October, 1599, and December, 1601. And it appears from the registers of the Town Council of Aberdeen, that the same players were received by the public authorities of that place, under the sanction of a special letter from the King, styling them “ our servants." There, also, they had a gratuity of 32 marks, and the freedom of the city was conferred
6. Laurence Fletcher, Comedian to His Majesty," who, no doubt, was the leader of the company.
That this was the same company to which Shakespeare belonged, or a part of it, is highly probable from the palent which was made out by the King's order, May 7, 1603, authorizing Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, and others, to perform plays in any part of the king. doms In this instrument the players are termed - our servants, - the same title whereby the King had recommended them to the authorities of Aberdeen. All which, to be sure, is no positive proof that Shakespeare was of the number who went to Scotland; yet we do not well see how it can fail to impress any one as making strongly that way, there being no positive proof lo the conlrary. And the probability thence arising, together with the internal likelihoods of Macbeth, may very well warrant a beliet of the thing in question.
Ai the date of Shakespeare's Tragedy the story of Macbeth, as handed down by tradition, had been told by Holinshed, whose Chronicles first appeared in 1577, and by George Buchanan, the learned preceptor of James I., who has been termed the Scotch Livy, and whose History of Scotland came forth in 1582. In tbe main features of the story, so far as it is adopted by the Poet, both these writers agree, save that Buchanan represents Macbeth to have merely dreamed of meeting with the Weird Sisters, and of being hailed by them successively as Thane of Angus, of Murray, and as King. We shall see hereafter thai Holimbed was Shakespeare's usual authority in mauers of British bistory. And in the present case the Poet shows no traces of obligation to Buchanan, unless, which is barely possible, be may have taken a bint from the historian, where, speaking of Macbeth's reign, lie says, · Multa hic fabulose quidam nostrorum aftingunt; sed quia theatris aut Milesiis fabulis sunt aptiora quam historiæ, ea omitto." A passage which, as showing the author's care for the truth of what he wrote, perhaps should render us wary of trusting