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SCENE VII. Macbeth's Temper.
Yet do I fear thy nature ; It is too full o'th’milk of human kindness, To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldit be great; Art not without ambition; but without The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldnt wrongly win.
Lady Macbeth, on the News of Duncan's Approach.
(2) The raven himself is hoarse, That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. Come, all you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unfex me here, And fill me, from the crown to th’toe, top-full Of direst cruelty ; make thick my blood, Stop up th'access and paffage to remorse: That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake
it was not only unpolite but criminal, to doubt it, and as hath been remarked, to upon this general infatuation, Shakespear might be easily allowed to found a play, especially since he hath followed with great exactness such histories as were then thought true : nor can it be doubted, that the scenes of enchantment, however they may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting." See Micellaneous Observa.ions on Macbeth, by Mr. S. Johnson, (note the frit) printed for Ed. Cave, 1745. Orway's celebrated description of the wilch in his Orphan is so universally known, I omit quoting it here.
(2) The Raven, &c.] It is said in the speech which precedes this, that the messenger, who brought the news,
Almost dead for breath had scarcely more, Than would make up his message. Him the queen most beautifully calls the Raven. With this clue the Reader will easily enter into the sense of the passage and see the absurdity of any alteration. By morlal thoughts is meant destructive, deadly, &6.-In which sense mortal is frequently wled.
Shake iny fell purpose, (3) nor keep peace between
keen knife see not the wound it makes ; Nor heav'n peep thro' the blanket of the dark, To cry, hold, hold!
SCENE IX. Macbeth's Irrefolution.
(3) Nor keep, &c.] Mr. Johnson is of opinion, that no sense at all is exprest by the present reading, and therefore he proposes keep pace between : the passage seems clear to me, and the fense as follows: “ grant that no womanish tenderness, no compunctious visitings of nature, no stings of conscience; may shake my fell purpose, may defeat my design, and keep peace between it and the effect, that is keep my purpose from being, executed,” which is most aptly exprest by a peace between them, which the remorse of her mind and the itings of her conscience were to be the occasion of her keeping.
(4) Shoal.] Others read selve.
(5) Then as, &c.] This is quite classical: hospitality was held fo sacred among the ancients, that the chief of their gods was dignified with the title of hospitable, Zeus Eevios, Jupiter
Who should against his murd'rer shut the door,
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
Hospitalis. The writings of the ancients abound with this noble principle, and hospitality is mentioned with honour in them all : this amongst a thousand other proofs, lhews Shakespear to have been no stranger to the works of antiquity.
(6) I dare, &c.] The whole present scene well deserves a place here, however I shall only beg to refer the Reader to it. « The arguments,” says Johnson, “ by which Lady Macbeth per. suades her husband to commit the murder, affordd a proof of Shakespear's knowledge of human nature. She urges the ex
To feeling as to fight or art thou but
cellence and dignity of courage, a glitt'ring idea, which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated sometimes the house-breaker, and sometimes the conqueror ; but this sophism Macbeth has forever destroyed, by distinguishing true from false fortitude, in a line and a half, of which it may alınost be said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though his other productions had been lost.” &c. Sce bis fixteenth note.
(7), Gouis, i. e. drops.
(8) Now o'er, &c.) That is, over our bemisphere all action and motion feem to have cased. This image, which is, perbaps, the most Itriking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden in his
Conquest of Mexico.
Ey'n lust and envy Neep! These lines, though so well known, I have transcribed, that the contrast between them and this passage of Shakespiar, may be more accurately observed.-Night is described by two great
(9) With Tarquin's ravishing strides, tow'rds his design Moves like a ghost.(10) Thou found and firm-let earth,
poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the difturbers of the world are laid asleep: in that of Shakespear, nothing but forcery, lust, and murder is awake. He that reads Dryckn finds himself lull'd with serenity, and dispos’d to solitude and contemplation : he that peruses Shakespea", looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lovor, the other that of a murderer.
JOHNSON. (9) With, &c.] The reading in the old books is,
With Tarquin's ravishing fides towards, &c. Which Mr. Pope alter'd to that in the text. Mr. Johnson is for reading,
With Tarquin ravishing, Nides tow'rd, &c. Because a ravishing fride is an action of violence, impetuosity, and tumult ; and because the progression of ghosts is so different from firides, that it has been in all ages represented to be as Mikson expresses it,
Smooth sliding without step. It seems to me, the poet only speaks of the silence, and secrecy wherewith the ghosis were supposed to move; and, as when people walk with a stealthy pace, or as it is called on tip-tot, they generally take long strides, not stepping frequently, I Mould judge strides to be the proper reading; beside, I think the two verbs coming in that manner together not entirely elegant ; pides towards his dißgn, and moves like a ghost, seem too near a tautology. I am the more explicit in this paliage, as any remark of so ingenious a person deserves all attention.
We may observe, Shakespear, in his poem of Tarquin and Lucrece, says of Targuin entering the lady's chamber,
Into the chamber wickedly he falks. (10) Tk011, &c.] “ Hear not, 0, earth, my steps, left thy very stones should prate, should tell of where I am, and what I am about to perpetrate, and by their prating, or making a noise, take away that filence, the present horror, from the time, which