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HIS piece is perhaps one of the greatest exertions of the tragic and poetic powers, that any age, or any country has produced. Here are opened new fources of terror, new creations of fancy. The agency of witches and spirits excites a fpecies of terror, that cannot be effected by the operation of human agency, or by any form or difpofition of human things. For the known limits of their powers and сараcities fet certain bounds to our apprehenfions; mysterious horrors, undefined terrors, are raised by the intervention of beings whose


nature we do not underftand, whofe actions we cannot control, and whose influence we know not how to escape. Here we feel through all the faculties of the foul, and to the utmost extent of her capacity. The apprehenfion of the interpofition of such agents is the most falutary of all fears. It keeps up in our minds a sense of our connection with awful and invifible spirits, to whom our moft fecret actions are apparent, and from whofe chastisement innocence alone


can defend us. From many dangers power will protect; many crimes may be concealed by art and hypocrify; but when fupernatural beings arife, to reveal, and to avenge, guilt blushes through her mask, and trembles behind her bulwarks.

Shakespear has been fufficiently justified, by the best critics, for availing himself of the popular faith in witchcraft; and he is certainly as defensible in this point, as Euripides, and other Greek tragedians, for introducing Jupiter, Diana, Minerva, &c. whose perfonal intervention, in the events exhibited

bited on their stage, had not obtained more credit, with the thinking and philofophical part of their spectators, than tales of witchcraft had done among the wife and learned here. Much later than the age in which Macbeth lived, even in Shakespear's own time, there were fevere ftatutes extant against witchcraft.

Some objections have been made to the Hecate of the Greeks being joined to the witches of our country.


Milton, a more correct writer, has often mixed the Pagan deities even with the moft facred characters of our religion. Our witches power was fuppofed to be exerted only in little and low mischief: this therefore being the only inftance where their interpofition is recorded in the revolutions of a kingdom, the poet thought, perhaps, that the story would pass off better, with the learned at least, if he added the celebrated Hecate to the weird fifters; and she is introduced, chiding their prefumption, for trading in prophecies and affairs of death.



The dexterity is admirable with which the predictions of the witches (as Macbeth obferves) prove true to the ear, but false to the hope, according to the general condition of vain oracles. With great judgment the poet has given to Macbeth the very temper to be wrought upon by such suggestions. The bad man is his own tempter. Richard III. had a heart that prompted him to do all that the worst demon could have fuggefted, fo that the witches had been only an idle wonder in his story; nor did he want fuch a counsellor as Lady Macbeth; a ready instrument like Buckingham, to adopt his projects, and execute his orders, was fufficient. But Macbeth, of a generous disposition, and good propenfities, but with vehement paffions and aspiring wishes, was a fubject liable to be feduced by fplendid This profpects, and ambitious counfels. appears from the following character given of him by his wife :

Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o'th' milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great;

Art not without ambition; but without


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