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tutional character of Macbeth, by infusing into it the milk of human kindness, and a strong tincture of honour, as to make the most violent perturbation, and pungent remorse, naturally attend on those steps to which he is led by the force of temptation. Here we must commend the poet's judgment, and his invariable attention to consistency of character: but more amazing still is the art with which he exhibits the movement of the human mind, and renders audible the silent march of thought ; traces its modes of operation in the course of deliberating, the pauses of hesitation, and the final act of decision; shews how reason checks, and how the passions impel ; and displays to us the trepidations that precede, and the horrors that pursue, acts of blood. No species of dialogue, but that which a man holds with himself, could effect this. The soliloquy has been permitted to all dramatic writers ; but its true use seems to be understood only by our Author, who alone has attained to a just imitation of nature, in this kind of self-conference.
It is certain, that men do not tell themselves who they are, and whence they came; they neither narrate nor declaim in the solitude of the closet, as Greek and French writers represent. Here then is added to the drama an imitation of the most difficult and delicate kind, that of representing the internal process of the mind in reasoning and reflecting; and it is not only a difficult, but a very useful art, as it best assists the poet to expose the anguish of remorse, to repeat every whisper of the internal monitor, conscience, and, upon occasion, to lend her a voice to amaze the guilty and appal the free. As a man is averse to expose his crimes, and discover the turpitude of his actions, even to the faithful friend, and trusty confident, it is more natural for him to breathe in soliloquy the dark and heavy secrets of the soul, than to utter them to the most intimate associate. The conflicts in the bosom of Macbeth, before he commits the murder, could not, by any other means, have been so well exposed.
He entertains the prophecy of his future greatness with complacency ; but the very idea of the means by 3
which he is to attain it, shocks him to the highest degree:
This supernatural soliciting
There is an obscurity and stiffness in part of these soliloquies, which I wish could be charged entirely to the confusion of Macbeth's mind from the horror he feels, at the thought of the murder ; but our Author is too much addicted to the obscure bombast, much affected by all sorts of writers in that age.
The abhorrence Macbeth feels at the suggestion of assassinating his King, brings him back to this determination ;
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown
me, Without my stir.
After a pause, in which we may suppose
the ambitious desire of a crown to return, so far as to make him undetermined what he shall do, and leave the decision to future time and unborn events, he concludes, 16:1999 1131
Come what come may, Time and the hour runs thro' the roughest day.
By which, I confess, I do not, with his two last commentators, imagine it meant either the tautology of time and the hour, or an allusion to time painted with an hour-glass, or an exhortation to time to lasten forward ; but I rather apprehend the meaning to be, tempus et hora, time and occasion, will
carry the thing through, and bring it to some determined point and end, let its nature be what it will.
In the next soliloquy, he agitates this great question concerning the proposed murder. One argument against it is, that such deeds must be supported by others of like nature: I 368
But, in these cases, We still have judgment here ; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
He proceeds next to consider the peculiar relations, in which he stands to Duncan:
He's here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Then follow his arguments against the deed, from the admirable qualities of the King:
Besides, this Duncan
So, says he, with many reasons to dissuade, I have none lo urge me to this act, but a vaulting ambition; which, by a daring leap,