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This feather stirs, she lives : if it be so
Kent. O my good master.
Lear. Prythee away-
Lear dying. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life. Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt coine no more, Never, never, never, never, never.
THE tragedy of Lear (says Johnson) is deservedly celebrated among the dramas of Shakespiar. There is perhaps no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed ; which so much agitates our paffions; and interests our curiosity. The artful involutions of distinct interests, the striking opposition of contrary characters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick succession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. There is no scene which does not contribute to the aggravation of the distress or conduct of the action, and scarce a line which does not conduce to the progress of the scene. So powerful is the current of the poet's imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
(1) THAT are these,
So wither'd and so wild in their attire, That look not like th' inhabitants o'th'earth, And yet are on't? Live you, or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying Upon her skinny lips; You Thould be women: And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That
you are fo.
(1) What, &c.] Shakespear's excellence in these fictitious characters hath been before observed : . In such circles, indeed, none could move like him; ghosts, witches, and fairies seem to acknowledge him their sovereign. We must observe, that the reality of witches was firmly believed in our author's time, not only established by law, but by fashion also, and that
SCENE VII. Macbeth's Temper.
Yet do I fear thy nature ; It is too full o'th’milk of human kindness, To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldit be great; Art not without ambition; but without The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, And yet wouldnt wrongly win.
Lady Macbeth, on the News of Duncan's Approach.
(2) The raven himself is hoarse, That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. Come, all you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unfex me here, And fill me, from the crown to th’toe, top-full Of direst cruelty ; make thick my blood, Stop up th'access and paffage to remorse: That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake
it was not only unpolite but criminal, to doubt it, and as hath been remarked, to upon this general infatuation, Shakespear might be easily allowed to found a play, especially since he hath followed with great exactness such histories as were then thought true : nor can it be doubted, that the scenes of enchantment, however they may now be ridiculed, were both by himself and his audience thought awful and affecting." See Micellaneous Observa.ions on Macbeth, by Mr. S. Johnson, (note the frit) printed for Ed. Cave, 1745. Orway's celebrated description of the wilch in his Orphan is so universally known, I omit quoting it here.
(2) The Raven, &c.] It is said in the speech which precedes this, that the messenger, who brought the news,
Almost dead for breath had scarcely more, Than would make up his message. Him the queen most beautifully calls the Raven. With this clue the Reader will easily enter into the sense of the passage and see the absurdity of any alteration. By morlal thoughts is meant destructive, deadly, &6.-In which sense mortal is frequently wled.
Shake iny fell purpose, (3) nor keep peace between
keen knife see not the wound it makes ; Nor heav'n peep thro' the blanket of the dark, To cry, hold, hold!
SCENE IX. Macbeth's Irrefolution.
(3) Nor keep, &c.] Mr. Johnson is of opinion, that no sense at all is exprest by the present reading, and therefore he proposes keep pace between : the passage seems clear to me, and the fense as follows: “ grant that no womanish tenderness, no compunctious visitings of nature, no stings of conscience; may shake my fell purpose, may defeat my design, and keep peace between it and the effect, that is keep my purpose from being, executed,” which is most aptly exprest by a peace between them, which the remorse of her mind and the itings of her conscience were to be the occasion of her keeping.
(4) Shoal.] Others read selve.
(5) Then as, &c.] This is quite classical: hospitality was held fo sacred among the ancients, that the chief of their gods was dignified with the title of hospitable, Zeus Eevios, Jupiter
Who should against his murd'rer shut the door,
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
Hospitalis. The writings of the ancients abound with this noble principle, and hospitality is mentioned with honour in them all : this amongst a thousand other proofs, lhews Shakespear to have been no stranger to the works of antiquity.
(6) I dare, &c.] The whole present scene well deserves a place here, however I shall only beg to refer the Reader to it. « The arguments,” says Johnson, “ by which Lady Macbeth per. suades her husband to commit the murder, affordd a proof of Shakespear's knowledge of human nature. She urges the ex