Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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

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

[ocr errors]

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,

ia

M 2

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.

WOLSEY.
So farewell to the little good you bear me !
Farewell, a long farewell to all my greatness!
This is the state of man; to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him,
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening, nips his root;
And then he falls, as I do. - I have ventur'd,
Like little wanton boys, that swim on bladders,
These many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth; my high-blown pride
At length broke under me, and now has left me,

Weary and old with service, to the mercy
:-Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.

Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye;
I feel my heart new open'd. Oh, how wretched
Is that poor man, that hangs on princes' favours !.
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet afp:ct of princes, and our ruin,

More

More pangs and fears than war or women have :
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,

Never to hope again.
And in another place, ,

Let's dry our eyes, and thus far hear me, Cromwell ;
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me must more be heard, say then, I taught thee,
Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
And founded all the depths and shoals of honour,

Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in
: A fure and safe one, though thy master miss’d it.

Mark but my fall, and that which ruin'd me;
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition,
By that fin fell the angels; how can man then,
The image of his maker, hope to win by't?
Love thyself laft ; cherisha those hearts, that hate

thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right-hand carry gentle peace,
To filence envious tongues, be just, and fear not.
Let all the ends, thou aim'ft at, be thy country's,
Thy god's, and truth's; then if thou fall'It, O Crom-

well, Thou fall'It a blessed martyr. Serve the king;

And

3

M 3

« ZurückWeiter »