To feeling as to fight or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a falfe creation
Proceeding from the heat-opprefled brain ?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw
Thou marshall'it me the way that I was going?
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o'th' other senses,
Or else worth all the rest I see thee still;
And on thy blade and dudgeon, (7) gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes(8) Now o'er one half the world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; now witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither's murder,
(Alarum'd by his centinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch) thus with his stealthy pace,


cellence and dignity of courage, a glitt'ring idea, which has dazzled mankind from age to age, and animated sometimes the house-breaker, and sometimes the conqueror ; but this sophism Macbeth has forever destroyed, by distinguishing true from false fortitude, in a line and a half, of which it may alınost be said, that they ought to bestow immortality on the author, though his other productions had been lost.” &c. Sce bis fixteenth note.

(7), Gouis, i. e. drops.

(8) Now o'er, &c.) That is, over our bemisphere all action and motion feem to have cased. This image, which is, perbaps, the most Itriking that poetry can produce, has been adopted by Dryden in his

Conquest of Mexico.
All things are hush'd as nature's self lay dead,
The mountains seem to nod their drowsy head :
The little birds in dreams their songs repeat,
And neeping flow'rs beneath the nighi-dews sweat:

Ey'n lust and envy Neep! These lines, though so well known, I have transcribed, that the contrast between them and this passage of Shakespiar, may be more accurately observed.-Night is described by two great



(9) With Tarquin's ravishing strides, tow'rds his design Moves like a ghost.(10) Thou found and firm-let earth,


poets, but one describes a night of quiet, the other of perturbation. In the night of Dryden, all the difturbers of the world are laid asleep: in that of Shakespear, nothing but forcery, lust, and murder is awake. He that reads Dryckn finds himself lull'd with serenity, and dispos’d to solitude and contemplation : he that peruses Shakespea", looks round alarmed, and starts to find himself alone. One is the night of a lovor, the other that of a murderer.

JOHNSON. (9) With, &c.] The reading in the old books is,

With Tarquin's ravishing fides towards, &c. Which Mr. Pope alter'd to that in the text. Mr. Johnson is for reading,

With Tarquin ravishing, Nides tow'rd, &c. Because a ravishing fride is an action of violence, impetuosity, and tumult ; and because the progression of ghosts is so different from firides, that it has been in all ages represented to be as Mikson expresses it,

Smooth sliding without step. It seems to me, the poet only speaks of the silence, and secrecy wherewith the ghosis were supposed to move; and, as when people walk with a stealthy pace, or as it is called on tip-tot, they generally take long strides, not stepping frequently, I Mould judge strides to be the proper reading; beside, I think the two verbs coming in that manner together not entirely elegant ; pides towards his dißgn, and moves like a ghost, seem too near a tautology. I am the more explicit in this paliage, as any remark of so ingenious a person deserves all attention.

We may observe, Shakespear, in his poem of Tarquin and Lucrece, says of Targuin entering the lady's chamber,

Into the chamber wickedly he falks. (10) Tk011, &c.] “ Hear not, 0, earth, my steps, left thy very stones should prate, should tell of where I am, and what I am about to perpetrate, and by their prating, or making a noise, take away that filence, the present horror, from the time, which

fo VOL. III.


Heir not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout ;
And take the present horror from the time,
TVhich now suits with it-whilst I threat, he lives

[24 bell rings. I go,

and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven, or to hell. [Exit.

Enter Lady.

Lady. That which hath made them drunk, hath

made me bold : What hath quench'd them, hath giv'n me fire. Hark!

peace! It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bell-man, Which gives the stern’ıt good-night-he is about it The doors are open ; and the surfeited grooms Do mock their charge with inores. I've drugg'd their

poilets, 'That death and nature do contend about thein, Pyhether they live or die.

Enter Macbeth.

Macb. Who's there? what, ho?

Lady. Alack! I am afraid, they have awak'd; And 'tis not done ; th' attempt, and not the deed, Confounds vis--hark!--I laid their daggers ready, He could not miss 'em--Had he not releinbled My father as he flept, I had done't--- Aly husband ! Macb. I've done the deed-didst thou not hear a noise ?


lo well suits with it." For what could be more dreadful to fuch a mind as Maceith's, than so universal a filence, when all nature deeply hum', ruft seem, to his guilty nine', as listening to his purpose, and attending to the act he was about to per form:

Lady. I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry. Did not you speak?

Macb. When?
Lady. Now.
Macb. As I descended ?
Laily. Ay.
Mach. Hark! who lies i'th' second chamber?
Lady. Donalbain.
Macb. This is a forry fight [Looks on bis bands.
Lady. A foolish thought, to say, a forry light.
Macb. There's one did laugh in's fleep, and one cry'd

They wak'd each other; and I stood and heard them ;
But they did say their prayers, and address them
Again to fleep.

Laily. There are two lodg’d together.
Mlach. One cry'd, God bless us; and Amen, the

As they had seen me with these hanginan's hands.
Listening their fear, I could not fay, Amen,
When they did say, God bless us!

Lady. Consider it not so deeply.

Maib. But wherefore could not I pronounce Amen? I had most need of bleiling, and Amen Stuck in


throat. Lady. These deeds must not be thought, After there ways; so, it will make us mad. Macb. Methought, I heard a voice cry, sleep no

more! Macbeth doth murder sleep; the innocent sleep; Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d fleeve of care, (11) The death of each day's life, fore labour's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast.


(11) The death, &c.] Shakespear frequently speaks of feep as the image of death; at the end of the 4th Scene in this Act, Macduff calls it death's counterfeit: peep thai knits up the ravell’d Deeve of care-alludes to fleav'd lilk ravell’d.

Lady. What do you mean?

Mačb. Still it cry'd, sleep no more! to all the house; Glamis hath murder'd fleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall fleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more ! Lady. Who was it that thus cry'd ? why (12) worthy

You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brain-fickly of things; go, get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
IVhy did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there. Go, carry them, and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.

Macb. I'll go no.more ;
I am afraid to think what I have done!
Look on't again, I dare not.

Lady. Intirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers; the sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood,

That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
For it must seem their guilt.


Knocks within.

Macb. Whence is that knocking ? [Starting How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? (13) What hands are here ? hah! they pluck out mine eyes;


(12) Why, &c.] Should not this be read,

Why, worthy Thane,

Do you unbend your noble strength ?
The interrogation seems not only neceffary, but beautiful.

(13) IVbat, &c.] Shakespear had this from his brother tragedians. So Hercules in Seneca,

Aretorum licet
Mesotis in me gelida transfundat mare

« ForrigeFortsett »