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“ Macbeth' stands in contrast throughout with ‘Hamlet ;' in the manner of opening more especially. In the latter, there is a gradual ascent from the simplest forms of conversation to the language of impassioned intellect,-yet the intellect still remaining the seat of passion; in the former, the invocation is at once made to the imagination and the emotions connected therewith. Hence the movement throughout is the most rapid of all Shakspeare's plays, and hence, also, with the exception of the disgusting passage of the Porter (Act II. Sc. 3), which I dare pledge myself to demonstrate to be an interpolation of the actors, there is not, to the best of my remembrance, a single pun or play op words in the whole drama. I have previously given an answer to the thousand times repeated charge against Shakspeare upon the subject of his punning; and I here merely mention the fact of the absence of any puns in ‘Macbeth’as justifying a candid doubt, at least, whether even in these figures of speech and fanciful modifications of language, Shakspeare may not have followed rules and principles that merit and would stand the test of philosophic examination. And hence, also, there is an entire absence of comedy, nay, even of irony and philosophic contemplation in ‘Macbeth,'—the play being wholly and purely tragic. For the same cause, there are no reasonings of equivocal morality, which would have required a more leisurely state and a consequently greater activity of mind ;- no sophistry of selfdelusion,-except only that previously to the dreadful act, Macbeth mistranslates the recoilings and ominous whispers of conscience into prudential and selfish reasonings, and, after the deed is done, the terrors of remorse into fear from external dangers,-like delirious men who run away from the phantoms of their own brains, or, raised by terror to rage, stab the real object that is within their reach :-whilst Lady Macbeth merely endeavours to reconcile his and her own sinkings of heart by anticipations of the worst, and an affected bravado in confronting them. In all the rest, Macbeth's language is the grave utterance of the very heart, conscience-sick, even to the last faintings of moral death. It is the same in all the other characters. The variety arises from rage, caused ever and anon by disruption of anxious thought, and the quick transition of fear into it.

“In ‘Hamlet' and `Macbeth' the scene opens with superstition ; but in each it is not merely different, but opposite. In the first it is connected with the best and holiest feelings ; in the second, with the shadowy, turbulent, and unsanctified cravings of the individual will. Nor is the purpose the same ; in the one the object is to excite, whilst in the other it is to mark a mind already excited.

“The Weird Sisters are as true a creation of Shakspeare's as his Ariel and Caliban,-fates, furies, and materializing witches being the elements. They are wholly different from any representation of witches in the contemporary writers, and yet presented a sufficient external resemblance to the creatures of vulgar prejudice to act immediately on the audience. Their character consists in the imaginative disconnected from the good ; they are the shadowy obscure and fearfully anomalous of physical nature, the lawless of human nature-elemental avengers without sex or kin. The true reason for the first appearance of the Witches is to strike the key-note of the character of the whole drama.

“Macbeth is described by Lady Macbeth so as at the same time to reveal her own character. Could he have everything he wanted, he would rather have it innocently ;-ignorant, as alas, how many of us are, that he who wishes a temporal end for itself does in truth will the means; and hence the danger of indulging fancies. Lady Macbeth, like all in Shakspeare, is a class individualized :-of high rank, left much alone, and feeding herself with day-dreams of ambition, she mistakes the courage of fantasy for the power of bearing the consequences of the realities of guilt. Hers is the mock fortitude of a mind deluded by ambition ; she shames her husband with a superhuman audacity of fancy which she cannot support, but sinks in the season of remorse, and dies in suicidal agony."-COLERIDGE.

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No edition of this tragedy, previous to that in the folio of 1623, is now known ; although, from the fact of its having been entered on the Stationers' Registers by Edward Blount, one of the publishers of the folio, in May, 1608, there is a bare possibility that an earlier impression may some day come to light. It was probably written at the latter end of the year 1607, but we have no evidence to prove when it was first acted, or, indeed, that it was acted at all. There

were two preceding dramas on the subject; the “Cleopatra” of Samuel Daniel, 1594; and

“ The Trajedie of Antonie,” a translation from the French by Lady Pembroke, 1595, to

neither of which, however, was Shakespeare under any obligation, his story and incidents being

evidently borrowed directly from the Life of Antonius in North's Plutarch, which he has

followed, even to the minutest circumstances, with scrupulous fidelity. The action comprehends the events of ten years ; beginning with the death of Fulvia, B.c. 40, and terminating with the overthrow of the Ptolemnean dynasty, B.c. 30."

Persons Represented.

M. Antony,

Domitius ENOBARBUS, )

Friends of Antony

Friends of Cæsar.
MENECRATES, Friends of Pompey.
Taurus, Lieutenant General to Cæsar.
CANIDIUS, Lieutenant-General to Antony.
Siltus, an Officer in Ventidius's Army.
EUPHRONIUS, an Ambassador from Antony to Cæsar.

Attendants on Cleopatra.
A Soothsayer.
A Clown.

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