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of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King hereafter!

By Sinel's death I know I'm Thane of Glamis;
But how of Cawilor ?

One part of the prophecy therefore is true; the remaining promises become more deferving of belief. This is one step in the ladder of his ambition, and mark how artfully the poet has laid it in his way: No time is loft ; the wonderful machinery is not suffered to stand still, for behold a verification of the second prediction, and a courtier thus addresses him from the king-

And for an earnest of a greater honcur,
He bade me from him call thee Thane of Cawdor.

The magic now works to his heart, and he cannot wait the departure of the royal messenger before his admiration vents itself aside

Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind,

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A second time he turns aside, and unable to repress the emotions, which this second con

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firmation

firmation of the predictions has excited, repeats the same secret observation

Two truths are told
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.

A soliloquy then ensues, in which the poet judiciously opens enough of his character to thew the spectator that these præternatural agents are not superfluously set to work upon a disposition prone to evil, but one that will have to combat many compunctious struggles before it can be brought to yield even to oracular influence. This alone would demonstrate (if we needed demonstration) that Shakespear, without resorting to the antients, had the judgment of ages as it were instinctively. From this instant we are apprised that Macbeth meditates an attack upon our pity as well as upon our horror, when he puts the following question to his conscience

Why do I yield to that fuggeflion,
Whose herried image doth unfix my hair,
And make my feated heart knock at my ribs
Again;t the use of nature ?

Now

Now let us turn to Richard, in whose cruel heart no such remorse finds place ; he needs no tempter: There is here no dignus vindice nodus, nor indeed any knot at all, for he is already practifed in murder : Ambition is his ruling passion, and a crown is in view, and he tells you at his entrance on the scene,

at his very

very first

I am determined to be a villain.

We are now presented with a character full formed and compleat for all the favage purposes of the drama :

Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer.

To set my

The barriers of conscience are broken down, and the soul, hardened against shame, avows its own depravityPlots have I laid, indufions dangerous,

brother Clarence and the king In deally hate the one against the other. He observes no gradations in guilt, expresses no hesitation, practises no refinements, but plunges into blood with the familiarity of long

of long custom, and gives orders to his assassins to dispatch his brother

Clarence

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Clarence with all the unfeeling tranquillity
of a Nero or Caligula. Richard, having
no longer any scruples to manage with his
own conscience, is exactly in the predica-
ment, which the dramatic poet Diphilus has
described with such beautiful fimplicity of
expression-

Οσίς γάρ αυτός αυτόν εκ αισχύνέθαι,
Συνειδόθ' αυθω φαύλα διαπεπραγμένω,
Πώς τον γε μηδέν ειδόταισχυνθήσεται

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The wretch who knows his own vile deeds, and yet fears not himself, how fhould he fear another, who knows them mot?

It is manifest therefore that there is an effential difference in the development of these characters, and that in favour of Macbeth : In his soul cruelty seems to dawn, it breaks out with faint glimmerings, like a winter-morning, and gathers strength by flow degrees : In Richard it flames forth at once, mounting like the fun between the tropics, and enters boldly on its career without a herald. As the character of Macbeth has a moral advantage in this distinction, so has the drama of that name a much more interesting and affecting cast: The 8

struggles

struggles of a foul, naturally virtuous, whilst it holds the guilty impulse of ambition at bay, affords the noblest theme for the drama, and puts the creative fancy of our poet upon a resource, in which he has been rivalled only by the great father of tragedy Æschylus in the prophetic effusions of Caflandra, the incantations of the Persian Magi for raising the ghost of Darius, and the imaginary terrific forms of his furies; with all which our countryman probably had no acquaintance, or at most a very obscure one.

When I see the names of these two great luminaries of the dramatic sphere, so diftant in time but fo nearly allied in genius, casually brought in contact by the nature of my subject, I cannot help pausing for a while in this place to indulge so interesting a contemplation, in which I find my mind balanced between two objects, that seem to have equal claims upon me for my admiration. Æschylus is justly stiled the father of tragedy, but this is not to be interpreted as if he was the inventor of it: Shakespear with equal justice claims the same title, and his originality is qualified F 6

with

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