« ZurückWeiter »
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldnt
highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win. So much inherent ambition in a character, without other vice, and full of the milk of human kindness, though obnoxious to temptation, yet would have great struggles before it yielded, and as violent fits of subfequent remorse.
If the mind is to be medicated by the operations of pity and terror, surely no means are so well adapted to that end, as a strong and lively representation of the agonizing struggles that precede, and the terrible horrors that follow wicked actions. Other poets thought they had sufficiently attended to the moral purpose of the drama in making the furies pursue the perpetrated crime. Our author waves their bloody daggers in the road to guilt, and demonstrates, that as soon as a man begins to hearken to ill suggestions, terrors environ, M
and fears distracthim. Tenderness and conjugal love combat in the breasts of a Medea and a Herod in their purposed vengeance.
Personal affection often weeps on the theatre, while jealousy or revenge
whet the bloody knife; but Macbeth's emotions are the struggles of conscience ; his agonies are the agonies of remorse. They are leffons of justice, and warnings to innocence. I do not know that any dramatic writer, except Shakespear, has set forth the pangs of guilt separate from the fear of punishment. Clytemnestra is reprefented by Euripides as under great terrors, account of the murder of Agamemnon ; but they arise from fear, not repentance. It is not the memory of the affaffinated husband which haunts and terrifies" her, but an apprehension of Vengeance
from his surviving fon : when she is told Orestes is dead, her mind is again at ease. It must be allowed, that on the Grecian stage, it is the office of the chorus to moralize, and to point out, on every occasion, the advantages
of virtue over vice. But how much less affecting are their animadversions than the testimony of the person concerned ! Whatever belongs to the part of the chorus, hás hardly the force of dramatic imitation. The chorus is in a manner without personal character, or interest, and no way an agent in the drama: We cannot fympathize with the cool reflections of these idle spectators, as we do with the sentiments of the persons in whose circumstances and situation we are interested:
The heart of man, like iton and other metal, is hard, and of firm resistance, when cold, but, warmed, it becomes malleable and ductile. It is by touching the passions, and exciting sympathetic emotions, not by sentences, that the tragedian must make his impressions on the spectator.
I will appeal to any person of taste, whether the following fpeeches of Wolsey, in another play of Shakespear, the first a foliloquy, the fecond addressed to his fervant Cromwell,
in which he gives the testimony of his experience, and the result of his own feelings, would make the same impression, if uttered by a set of speculative fages in the episode of a chorus.
Weary and old with service, to the mercy
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye;
More pangs and fears than war or women have :
Never to hope again.
Let's dry our eyes, and thus far hear me, Cromwell ;
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in
Mark but my fall, and that which ruin'd me;
well, Thou fall'It a blessed martyr. Serve the king;