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"The Tragedie of Macbeth' was first pub- little more was necessary than to get the lished in the folio collection of 1623. Its words into my head; for the necessity of place in that edition is between 'Julius discrimination, and the development of chaCæsar' and ` Hamlet.' And yet, in modern racter, at that time of my life, had scarcely reprints of the text of Shakspere, 'Macbeth' entered into my imagination. But, to pro is placed the first amongst the Histories. ceed. I went on with tolerable composure, This is to convey a wrong notion of the in the silence of the night (a night I can character of this great drama. Shakspere's never forget), till I came to the assassination Chronicle-histories are essentially conducted scene, when the horrors of the scene rose to upon a different principle. The interest of a degree that made it impossible for me to Macbeth' is not an historical interest. It get farther. I snatched up my candle, and matters not whether the action is true, or hurried out of the room in a paroxysm of has been related as true: it belongs to the terror. My dress was of silk, and the rustrealms of poetry altogether. We might as ling of it, as I ascended the stairs to go to well call ‘Lear' or 'Hamlet' historical plays, bed, seemed to my panic-struck fancy like because the outlines of the story of each are the movement of a spectre pursuing me. to be found in old records of the past. Our At last I reached my chamber, where I text is, with very few exceptions, a restora- found my husband fast asleep. I clapped tion of the text of the original folio. my candlestick down upon the table, without
In Coleridge's early sonnet 'to the Author the power of putting it out; and I threw of the Robbers,' his imagination is enchained myself on my bed, without daring to stay to the most terrible scene of that play; dis- even to take off my clothes.”a If the drama regarding, as it were, all the accessaries by of 'Macbeth'were to produce the same effect which its horrors are mitigated and rendered upon the mind of an imaginative reader as endurable :
that described by Mrs. Siddons, it would not “Schiller! that hour I would have wish'd to die,
be the great work of art which it really is. If through the shuddering midnight I had sent If our poet had resolved, using the words of From the dark dungeon of the tower time-rent
his own ‘Othello,' to That fearful voice, a famish'd father's cryLest in some after-moment aught more mean
“abandon all remorse, Might stamp me mortal! A triumphant shout
On horror's head horrors accumulate,"
the midnight terrors, such as Mrs. Siddons It was in a somewhat similar manner that has described, would have indeed been a Shakspere's representation of the murder of tribute to power,—but not to the power Duncan affected the imagination of Mrs.
which has produced Macbeth.' The paSiddons :—“It was my custom to study my roxysm of fear, the panic-struck fancy, the characters at night, when all the domestic prostrated senses, so beautifully described by cares and business of the day were over. this impassioned actress, were the result of On the night preceding that on which I was
the intensity with which she had fixed her to appear in this part for the first time, I mind upon that part of the play which she shut myself up, as usual, when all the family was herself to act. In the endeavour to get were retired, and commenced my study of the words into her head her own fine genius Lady Macbeth. As the character is very was naturally kindled to behold a complete short, I thought I should soon accomplish it. vision of the wonderful scene. Again, and Being then only twenty years of age, I
* Memoranda by Mrs. Siddons, inserted in her Life believed, as many others do believe, that by Mr. Campbell.
again, were the words repeated, on that night which she could never forget, in the silence of that night when all about her were sleeping. And then she heard the owl shriek, amidst the hurried steps in the fatal chamber, and she saw the bloody hands of the assassin, -and, personifying the murderess, she rushed to dip her own hands in the gore of Duncan. It is perfectly evident that this intensity of conception has carried the horrors far beyond the limits of pleasurable emotion, and has produced all the terrors of a real murder. No reader of the play, and no spectator, can regard this play as Mrs. Siddons regarded it. On that night she, probably for the first time, had a strong though imperfect vision of the character of Lady Macbeth, such as she afterwards delineated it; and, in that case, what to all of us must, under any circumstances, be a work of art, however glorious, was to her almost a reality. It was the isolation of the scene
demanded by her own attempt to conceive the character of Lady Macbeth, which made it so terrible to Mrs. Siddons. The reader has to regard it as a part of a great whole, which combines and harmonises with all around it; for which he is adequately pre
pared by what has gone before; and which,
even if we look at it as a picture which represents only that one portion of the action, has still its own repose, its own harmony of colouring, its own chiaroscuro, is to be seen under a natural light. There was a preternatural light upon it when Mrs. Siddons saw it as she has described.
The leading characteristic of this glorious tragedy is, without doubt, that which constitutes the essential difference between a work of the highest genius and a work of mediocrity. Without power—by which we here especially mean the ability to produce strong excitement by the display of scenes of horror—no poet of the highest order was ever made; but this alone does not make such a poet. If he is called upon to present such scenes, they must, even in their most striking forms, be associated with the beautiful. The pre-eminence of his art in this particular can alone prevent them affecting the imagination beyond the limits of pleasurable emotion. To keep within these limits, and yet to preserve all the energy which results from the power of dealing with the terrible apart from the beautiful, belongs to few that the world has seen: to Shakspere it belongs surpassingly.
DUNCAN, King of Scotland. Young SIWARD, son to the Earl of Northum-
Appears, Act V. sc. 4; sc. 7.
SEYTON, an officer attending on Macbeth.
Appears, Act V. sc. 3; se. 5.
Son to Macduff.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 2.
An English Doctor.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 3.
A Scotch Doctor.
Appears, Act V. sc. 1; sc. 3.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2.
Appears, Act II. sc. 3.
An old Man. sc. 1; se. 4; sc. 6. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 2; sc. 4;
Appears, Act II. sc. 4. sc. 7.
Appears, Act I. sc. 5; sc. 6; sc. 7. Act II. sc. 2; se. 3. Appears, Act I. sc. 2; se. 3; sc. 4; sc. 6. Act II. sc. 4. Act III. sc. 1; se. 2; sc. 4. Act V. sc. I.
Act III. sc. 1; sc. 4. Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 4.
Appears, Act IV. sc. 2.
Gentlewoman, attending on Lady Macbeth.
Appears, Act V. sc. 1.
Appears, Act III. sc. 5.
Appear, Act I. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 5. Act IV. sc. 1.
derers, Attendants, and Messengers. The Appears, Act V. sc. 4; sc. 6; sc. 7.
Ghost of Banquo, and other Apparitions.
SCENE,—IN THE END OF Act IV. IN ENGLAND; THROUGH THE REST OF THE PLAY IN
SCENE I.-An open Place. Thunder and Lightning.
Enter three Witches. 1 WITCH. When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in raina ? 2 WITCH. When the hurlyburly 'sb done,
When the battle 's lost and won : 3 WITCH. That will be ere the set of suno.
a Some of the modern editions read “and in rain,” to prevent that misconception of the question which they think may arise from the use of or. The Witches invariably meet under a disturbance of the elements; and this is clear enough without any change of the original text.
Hurlyburly. In Peacham's 'Garden of Eloquence,' 1577, this word is given as an example of that ornament of language which consists in "a name intimating the sound of that it signifieth, as hurlyburly, for an uproar and tumultuous stir.” Todd finds the word in a collection of Scottish proverbs, and therefore decides upon the propriety of its use by the Scottish witch. This is unnecessary; for, although it might belong to both languages, Spenser had used it in our own; and it had the peculiar recommendation of the quality described by Peacham for its introduction in a lyrical composition. • The line before us reads, in the original,
" That will be ere the set of sun." Steevens strikes out the as harsh and unnecessary. Any one who has an ear for the fine lyrical
1 Witch. Where the place? 2 WITCH.
Upon the heath:
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
SCENE II.-A Camp near Forres. Alarum within. Enter King DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENOx, with Attendants, meeting
a bleeding Soldier. Dun. What bloody man is that? He can report,
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
The newest state.
This is the sergeant,
As thou didst leave it.
Doubtful it stood;
movement of the whole scene will see what an exquisite variety of pause there is in the ten lines of which it consists. Take, for example, the line
“There to meet with Macbeth;" and contrast its solemn movement with what has preceded it. But the editors must have seren syllables; and so some read
" There I go to meet Macbeth:” others,
" There to meet with brave Macbeth:” and others,
" There to meet with—Whom ?–Macbeth.” * Graymalkin is a cat; Paddock, a toad.
Of is here used in the sense of with. • Quarry. So the original. The common reading, on the emendation of Johnson, is quarrel We conceive that the original word is that used by Shakspere. In 'Coriolanus' we have,
-I'd make a quarry
As I could pick my lance." It is in the same sense, we believe, that the soldier uses the word quarry: the “damned quarry being the doomed army of kernes and gallowglasses, who, although fortune deceitfully smiled on them, fled before the sword of Macbeth, and became his quarry-his prey.