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predecessor had taken in comprehending a history of such length within the short compass of a play, and would have new-written the whole on the plan of the ancient drama. He could not surely have indulged so vain a hope, as that of excelling Shakspere in the Tragedy of Macbeth. STEVENS.
Macbeth was certainly one of Shakspere's latest productions, and it might possibly have been suggested to him by a little per. formance on the same subject at Oxford, before king James, 1605. I will transcribe my notice of it from Wake's Rex, Platonicus : “ Fabulæ ansam dedit antiqua de Regiâ prosapia historiola apud Scoto-Britannos celebrata, quæ narrat tres olim Sibyllas occurrisse duobus Scotiæ proceribus, Macbetho et Bane choni, et illum predixisse Regem futurum, sed Regem nullum geniturum ; hunc Regem non futurum, sed Reges geniturum multos. Vaticinii veritatem rerum eventus comprobavit. Bane chonis enim è stirpe Potentissimus Jacobus oriundus." p. 29.
Since I made the observation here quoted, I have been repeatedly told, that I unwittingly make Shakspere learned at least in Latin, as this must have been the language of the performance before king James. One might perhaps have plausibly said, that he probably picked up the story at second-hand; but mere accident has thrown an old pamphlet in my way, intitled The Oxford Triumph, by one Anthony Nixon, 1605, which explains the whole matter : “ This performance, says Anthony, was first in Latine to the kinge, then in English to the queene and young prince ;' and, as he goes on to tell us, ceipt thereof, the kinge did very much applaude." It is likely that the friendly letter, which we are informed king James once wrote to Shakspere, was on this occasion. FARMER.
This play is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its fictions, and solemnity, grandeur, and variety of its action, but it has no nice discriminations of character; the events are too great.
" the con
to SCENE II.
to admit the influence of particular dispositions, and the course of the action necessarily determines the conduct of the agents.
The danger of ambition is well described ; and I know not whether it may not be said in defence of some parts which now seem improbable, that, in Shakspere's time, it was necessary to warn credulity against vain and illusive predictions.
The passions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth is merely detested ; and though the courage of Macbeth preserves some esteem, yet every reader rejoices at his fall. Johnson.
Sons to the King,
Generals of the King's Army.
Noblemen of Scotland.
MACBETH. Lady MACDUFT. Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth. Hecate, and three Witches. Lords, Gentlemen, Officers, Soldiers, Murderers, Attendants,
and Messengers. The Ghost of Banquo, and several other Apparitions. SCENE, in the end of the fourtb act, lies in England; through the rest of the play, in Scotland, and chiefly at Macbeth's castle.
ACTI, SCENE 1.
Thunder and Lightning. Enter three Witches.
i Witch, W
HEN shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain ?
2 Witch. When the hurly-burly's done, When the battle's lost and won: 3
Witch. That will be ere th' set of sun.
All, Paddock calls :- Anon.
Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM,
DONALBAIN, Lenox, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Captain.
King. What bloody man is that? He can report, As seemeth by his plight, of 'the revolt The newest state. - Mal. This is the serjeant, Who like a good and hardy soldier fought 'Gainst my captivity :-Hail, brave friend! Say to the king the knowledge of the broil, As thou did'st leave it.
Cap. Doubtful it stood; As two spent swimmers, that do cling together, And choke their art. The merciless Macdonel (Worthy to be a rebel; for, to that, The multiplying villainies of nature Do swarm upon him), from the western isles Of Kernes and Gallow-glasses is supplied; And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, Shew'd like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak : For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), 30 Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, Which smoak'd with bloody execution, Like valour's minion, carved out his passage, 'Till he fac'd the slave : And ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewel to him, 'Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chops,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.
King. Oh, valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
Cap. As whence the sun ’gins his reflexion,
King. Dismay'd not this
59 King. So well thy words become thee, as thy
wounds; They smack of honour both :-Go, get him surgeons.
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