Abbildungen der Seite

fumes of Arabia will not fweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!

Doct. What a figh is there? the heart is forely charg❜d.

Gent. I would not have such a heart in my bosom, for the dignity of the whole body.

Doct. Well, well, well

Gent. Pray God it be, Sir.

Doct. This difeafe is beyond my practice: yet I have known those which have walk'd in their fleep, who have died holily in their beds.

Lady. Wash your hands, put on your night-gown, look not fo pale-I tell you yet again Banquo's buried; he cannot come out of his grave.

Doct. Even fo?

Lady. To bed, to bed; there's knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand: what's done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed.


Defpifed Old Age.

I have lived long enough: (25) my way of life
Is fall'n into the fear, the yellow leaf:
And that which fhould accompany (26) old age,



(25) My way, &c.] Way may be explained by-progress or courfe of my life: but I muft own, Mr. John's conjecture appears very plaufible: "as (fays he,) there is no relation between the way of life, and fallen into the fear, I am inclined to believe, that the w is only an m inverted, and, that it was originally written my may of life.

"I am now paffed from the spring to the autumn of my days, but I am without thofe comforts that fucceed the fprightliness of bloom, and fupport me in this melancholy feafon.'

The words the fear, and yellow kaf, feem greatly to counte nance this conjecture.

(26) Old age.] Sampfon enumerating his forrows, laments the mifery of being contemptible in his old age:

To vifitants a gaze

Or pity'd object; thefe redundant locks,


[ocr errors]

As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have: but in their stead,
Curfes, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the
poor heart would fain deny, and dare hot.

Difeafes of the mind, incurable.

Can't thou not minister to a mind diseas'd,
Pluck from the memory a rooted forrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain ;
And, with some sweet (27) oblivious antidote,
Cleanfe the stuff'd bofom of that perilous stuff,
Which weighs upon the heart?

SCENE V. Reflections on Life.

(28) To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps

Robuftious to no purpose, cluftring down,
Vain monument of ftrength, till length of years,
And fedentary numbness craze my limbs
To a contemptible old age obfcure.

Milton's Sampfon Agon.

(27) Oblivious, &c.] Alluding to the Nepenthe: a certain mixture, of which opium perhaps was one of the ingredients. Homer, Od. 4, 221.

Νηπενθες τ' αχολοντε, κακων επιληθον απαίων,

i. e. the oblivious antidote, caufing the forgetfulness of all the evils of life. What is remarkable, had Shakespear understood Greek as well as Jonfon, he could not more clofely have expreffed the meaning of the old bard. Upton.

(28) To, &c.] A cry being heard, Macbeth enquires, Wherefore it was? and is anfwered, the queen is dead: upon which he obferves:

She should have died hereafter:

There would have been a time for fuch a word:
To-morrow, &c.


Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to (29) study death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking fhadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the ftage,
And then is heard no more! it is a tale,
Told by an ideot, full of found and fury,
Signifying nothing!

She should not have died now, any time hereafter, to-morrow or no matter when, it would have been more pleafing than the prefent; this naturally raifes in his mind the falfe notion of our thinking to-morrow will be happier than to-day: but "tomorrow and to-morrow fteals over us unenjoy'd and unregarded, and we still linger in the fame expectation to the moment appointed for our end." &c.

Mr. Johnfon is for reading,

There would have been a time for-fuch a world!
To-morrow, Sc.

His conjecture feems rather beautiful than juft.

(29) Study, &c.] i. c. the time itfelf, the yesterdays that are paft, teach even fools to fudy death: death is a leffon fo eafily learnt, that fools, themfelves, inform'd by the very time, can reafon and moralize upon it." See As you like it, This is a fine and juft fenfe; and this doubtlefs is Shakespear's true word: the first folio reads dufly death, i. e. fays Mr. Theobald, the death which reduces us to duft and afhes; and the fecond fludy: either give good fenfe, the latter appears to me greatly preferable. In the 6th Scene of the 1ft Act of this play, fpeaking of Cawder's dying, he says,

-He dy'd

As one that had been studied in his death,
To throw, &c.


General Obfervations.

THIS play (fays Johnson) is deservedly celebrated for the propriety of its fictions, and folemnity, grandeur, and variety of its action, but has no nice difcriminations of character; the events are too great to admit the influence of particular difpefitions, and the courfe of the action neceffarily determines the the conduct of the agents.

The danger of ambition is well defcribed; and I know not whether it may not be faid in defence of fome parts which now. feem improbable, that, in Shakespear's time, it was necessary to warn credulity against vain and illufive predictions.

The paffions are directed to their true end. Lady Macbeth is merely detefted; and though the courage of Macbeth preferves fome esteem, yet every Reader rejoices at his fall.








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 capacities fet certain bounds to our apprehenfions; myfterious horrors, undefined terrors, are raised by the intervention of beings, whose nature we do not understand, whose actions we cannot control, and whofe 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 dread of the interpofition of fuch agents is the most falutary of all fears. It keeps up in our minds a fenfe of our connection with awful and invifible fpirits, to whom our most fecret actions are apparent, and from whofe chaftifement, 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.


« ZurückWeiter »