Page images

crown, and

though he is able, when occasion ree feelings of the sex. In love, in hatred, quires, to stifle and subdue it.” in ambition, the overbearing passion

On this narrow ground Mr Kem- of the moment quite unsexes them ; ble enters the list with Mr Whately, the most timid become bold, the most and his second, Mr Steevens, and pro- gentle fierce, the most irresolute revided with a great pumber of quota- solved. In the attainment of what tions from the tragedy, traces the ever favourite object, women are much character of its hero from its opening less restrained than men, by reflections to its close, as one of determined cour on the past, or calculations on the fuage and intrepidity,a courage not ture. Lady Macbeth has none of excited by exertion to any particular those doubts or fears which come purpose, but native to the person, and across the mind of her lord ; she looks an inherent quality in his mind. I straight forward to the think Mr Kemble has made out the sees no bar, from humanity or conpoint for which he contends ; but I science, in the way. feel in the two characters compared, The developement of Macbeth's a distinction more marked, in my opi- character is one of the finest things in nion, and more important, than that that admirable drama. What has been on which Mr Kemble has written, criticised as a barbarous departure from with considerable labour, no fewer dramatic rule in Shakspeare, in the than 170 pages.

construction of his plays, affords, in That distinction seems to me to con- truth, the means of tracing the growth sist, not in any particular quality, such and progress of character, the current as that of personal courage, but in of the human mind, in which he exthe original structure of mind of the cels all other dramatists, much more two persons represented, distinguished completely than an adherence to the by Shakspeare with his usual inti- unity of time could have allowed. mate knowledge of human nature. The bursts of passion may be shown That knowledge, with which Shake in a moment; a story may be comspeare seems gifted in an almost mira- pressed, at least in its most interesting culous degree, enables him, beyond parts, into very small compass; but any other dramatist, to individualize the growth, the gradual ripening of his characters. There is nothing ge- character, cannot be traced but in a neral, nothing given in the abstract; considerable space of time. We must every character is a portrait, with be led through many intermediate those marked and peculiar features by transactions, before such a character which we immediately recognize the as that of Macbeth can be exhibited individual. Macbeth and Richard are to us, changed, by steps so natural as both ambitious; but their ambition to gain our fullest belief, from the is differently modified, by the differ- brave and gallant soldier whom Dunent dispositions which the poet has can honours, into the bloody and rein shewn them originally to possess.- lentless tyrant who wades through There is a process, a gradation, in blood to the throne, and remains the crimes and ambition of Macbeth; steeped in blood to maintain himself Richard is from the beginning a vil- there, yet retains enough of its origilain,

---a hard remorseless villain, nal tincture of virtue (or at least the with no restraint but his own in- sense of virtue) and humanity, as to terest or safety, acting from the im- interest us in his fall at the close of a pulse of his own dark mind alone, life sullied by every crime, and which, admitting no adviser from without, no but for the art of the poet, we should conscience from within. Macbeth re devote to pure unmitigated hatred.: quires a prompter for his ambition, a In truth, the same intimate knowledge more than accomplice in his crimes. of the human heart, that enabled him That prompter and that accomplice to unwind the maze of Macbeth's forShakspeare has given him in his wife ; mer conduct, guides the poet in that and with his wonted depth of dis- softening which he has given to his cernment of the peculiar attributes character in the closing scenes. Durof our nature, he has given her that ing the bustle of the chase of ambirapid unhesitating resolution in wick- tion, such feelings have no room to edness, which, in female wickedness, unfold themselves; but if any pause is the effect of the weakness, and the occurs (such as here the death of the quickly as well as strongly excited Queen) they re-assert the



[ocr errors]

they originally possessed ; and such is fore us in the stage, has been often the case with this fiend of Scotland.” remarked. This scenic deception is

His nature is not obdurate like that of a very peculiar kind; it puts the of RICHARD ; he looks back on his reality a little way off, but does not past life, when he is softened by the altogether hide it from our view. We sense of that forlorn and deserted si see Mr Kemble and Mrs Siddons, we tuation in which he stands, compared know them for Mr K. and Mrs S.; with that of the murdered DUNCAN. but we judge of and feel for them as 66 Duncan is in his grave,

Coriolanus and Volumnia.

It is an After life's fitful fever he sleeps well,” &c. improvement on dramatic representa6. My way of life

tion (which in this place I may men. Is fallen into the sear and yellow leaf,” &c. tion to the honour of Mr Kemble) to

Hence that scarce unwilling pity bring the scene before us with all the which we afford him, abated only, not mechanical adjuncts which may assist extinguished, by the recollection of his the deception. The dress of the perpast atrocities.


the streets and temples of the Personal regard for Mr Kemble scene, the statues of the temples, and makes me, I confess, unwilling to the furniture of apartments, should dwell upon a work which I think une certainly be brought aš near as possiworthy of him. I will only quote one ble to the costume and other circumor two passages which fall particularly stances belonging to the country and within the scope of his own profession, place of the representation ; and this às à specimen of the style of the book. is what Mr Kemble, both as an actor

“ A play is written (says Mr Kem- and manager, has accomplished, to the ble) on some event, for the purpose of great and everlasting improvement of being acted ; and plays are so insepar- the British stage. able from the notion of action, that, In another passage, Mr K. considers in reading them, our reflection, neces the moral effect of this drama, and sarily bodying forth the carriage which contradicts the idea of Mr Steevens in it conceives the various characters the following passage. would sustain on the stage, becomes Mr Steevens says 'One of Skakits own theatre, and gratifies itself with speare's favourite morals is, that crian ideal representation of the piece. minality reduces the brave and pusilThis operation of the mind demon- lanimous to a level.'--(Mr Steevens strates, that Mr Whately has in this probably meant to say, that criminalplace once more misconstrued Shak- ity reduces the brave to a level with speare; for there is no risk in saying, the pusillanimous.)- Every puny that the

eye of a spectator would turn, whipster gets my sword, exclaims. offended, from the affront offered to Othello, for why should honour outlive credibility, by the impassive levity of honesty - Where I could not be honmanner set down for Banquo in the est, says Albany, I was never valiant. REMARKS.” Page 53.

-Jachimo imputes his want of manThis is perfectly just; but we ap- hood to the heaviness and guilt within prehend that the imagination of the his bosom.-Hamlet assert that reader would go a step higher than science does make cowards of us all ; that to which Mr K. here conducts it. and Imogen tells Pisanio, he may be It is no doubt natural for a person valiant in a better cause, but now he who has often witnessed scenes repre

seems a coward.

Shakspeare, vol. x. sented on the stage (it is more parti- p. 297. cularly natural for Mr Kemble) to re Is there, among these instances, fer them to that representation ; but one that approaches to any thing like a a person conversant with men and parallel with Macbeth? The sophistry books, but who had never seen a play, of such perverse trifling with a reader's would refer them to the eyents ac time and patience, completely exposes tually happening in real life, and the itself in the example of Jachimo, who language and deportment of those con is indeed most unwarily introduced on cerned in them, to the language and this occasion. Mr Steevens, for some deportment which, in such real cir cause or other, seems determined to cumstances, they would have held. be blind on this side; otherwise, he The ductility of our imaginations, in must have seen, if consciousness of supposing ourselves spectators of e- guilt be, as he says, the measure of vents at Rome or Athens placed be- pusillanimity, that, by his own rule,

speare would ha


Jachimo should have been the victor “ In the first speech which we hear in his combat with Posthumous; for from the mouth of Macbeth in his rehe ought to have been braver than his verse of fortune, Shakspeare still conadversary, in the same proportion as tinues to show an anxiety that, though a vain mischievous liar is still less we detest the tyrant for his cruelties atrociously a wretch than an ungrate- we should yet respect him for his ful murderer. Mr Steevens concludes: courage:" Who then can suppose that Shak Macb. • Bring me no more reports ; let

exhihited his Mac them fly all ; beth with increasing guilt, but un

Till Birnam-wood remove to Dunsinane, '. diminished bravery? Shakspeare,

I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy

Malcolm ? vol. x. p. 297. “ The only answer to this dogmati- Was he not born of woman ? The spirits

that know cal question is-Every body;that is, All mortal consequents, pronounc'd me thus: every body who can read the play, and Fear not, Macbeth ; no man that's born of understand what he reads. Mr Steevens knew that Shakspeare, skilfully Shall e'er have power on thee.* _Then fly, preparing us for the mournful change false Thanes, we are about to witness in Macbeth, And mingle with the English epicures : paints in deep colours the irregular The mind I sway by, and the heart I bear, fury of his actions, and the remorse

abt, nor shake with Shall never sagg with

fear !!"f that preys on his heart ;-he knew,

But the moral effect of thisplay seems, that the blood-stained monster - Cannot buckle his distemper'd cause

very little connected with the courage Within the belt of rule ;'*

or personal valour of Macbeth ; it is

produced by the delineation which the that he feels • His secret murders sticking on his hands;'ť minal ambition ; to warn us against

poet has given of the progress of his criand that the poet finishes this terrific the first deviation from rectitude, the picture of self-condemnation and ab.

first yielding to temptations arising horrence, by adding

from our self-interest or desire, of ad• His pester'd senses do recoil and start, vancement, if our road to such objects When all that is within him doth condemn

lies through crime and inhumanity; to Itself for being there :'*“ But the learned Editor quite forgets that, in the same scene, good care is

Mr Steevens' edition has, for an obtaken that the tyrant shall not so far from Shakspeare from this Essay: It is

vious cause, been used in the quotations forfeit all claim to our esteem, as to fall time, however, to protest, in the strongest into contempt, and be entirely odious to terms, against the unwarrantable liberties he our sight. His original valour remains continually takes with his author. If, Heundiminished, and buoys him up with minge and Condell were, in fairness, chargewild vehemence in this total wreck of able with all the faults which Mr Steevens, his affairs : in spite of us, he com

their unsparing censor, industriously lays to mands our admiration, when we see

their account, still they have not done Shak. him-hated, abandoned, overwhelmed speare all the injury he would receive, if the by calamity, public and domestic, still of the edition of 1803 should ever be per

interpolations, omissions, and transpositions, persist, unshrinking, to brave his ene

mitted to form the text of his works. This mies, and manfully prepare against gentleman certainly had many of the talents the siege with which their combined and acquirements expected in a good editor armies threaten him in his almost un of our poet ; but still he wanted more than garrisoned fortress :

one of the most requisite of them." "Mr Cath. • Great Dunsinane he strongly for

Steevens had no ear for the colloquial metre tifies ;'S

of our old dramatists : it is not possible, on And the English general presently af- whimsical desire, and the pains he takes, to

any other supposition, to account for his ter says to him :

fetter the enchanting freedom of ShakSiw.“ We learn no other, but the confident speare's numbers, and compel them into the tyrant

heroic march and measured cadence of epic Keeps still in Dunsinane, and will endure versification. The native wood notes wild, Our sitting down before it.'||

that could delight the cultivated ear of Mil.

ton, must not be modulated anew, to in* Macbeth, Act V. Scene II. dulge the fastidiousness of those who read


$ Ibid. verses by their fingers.' 1 Ibid. Act V. Scene Iy.

+ Macbeth, Act V. Scene III.

+ Ibid.

show us how the soul can become hare with it a train of overpowering recoldened by degrees, till she loses all her lections. When there is real beauty original regard for virtue, all the for- in a musical air, associations of this iner better feelings of her nature. kind greatly enhance it. Every Eng

I cannot help expressing my regret lishman who has been fortunate enough that Mr K. should have published this

to hear the melodies of Scotland sung little volume, particularly as it may be in the land that gave them birth, with supposed the precursor and specimen the touching simplicity and pathos in of a great work, which it has been fused into them by those who deeply said he meditates in the leisure which feel the sympathies which they are his retirement from the stage will now fitted to excite, must be alive to a deallow him to command. I have heard, gree of pleasure from a Scottish air, that he means to devote that leisure to which, without this association, it the illustration of his favourite Shak- could never have communicated. It speare, and the other less known drama- is moreover remarkable, that, in some tists of the olden time. I hope he cases, the ordinary effect of a melody will prosecute this design, which the may be entirely reversed, by a change bent of his studies, both as a scholar of the circumstances in which it hapand an actor, gives him such favour- pens to be heard. Thus, we are some able opportunities of successfully ac where told by Mr Boswell, in his Life complishing. But let him not confine of Dr Johnson, that the merry airs of himself to verbal criticism or minute the Beggar's Opera, when accidentally remark; and, above all, let him avoid heard by him in Scotland, affected him any polemical writing on Shakspeare, with melancholy, by bringing to his of which we have already too much. mind various pleasures of the English Let him study and illustrate the au- metropolis, where he had first listened thors to whom we allude in their to them, and the friends thén so widegreater attributes,--in their delinea- ly separated from him, in whose societion of mind and of character, amidst ty he had happened to be. the eventful scenes in which they It is on the same principle of assohave placed the persons of their dra- ciation that we are to explain the effect mas,-in their power of placing those of particular instruments of music, in before us in their genuine colours, to exciting trains of feeling in some dem instruct as well as to delight their gree appropriate to them. The“ spirit

readers to give moral to fiction, and stirring drum” necessarily brings with -1 force to truth.

Senex. it the idea of military parade and glory.

And the organ, being usually the accompaniment of sacred music, natur

ally leads the mind to the subjects CURSORY REMARKS ON MUSIC, ESPE with which habit has connected it.

On the same principle, we are to exCOMMUNI« plain the effect of particular tunes,

which, having always been associated

wit certain emotions, have a never( Concluded from page 347.)

failing power of rekindling thein, and In attempting to account for the plea- have thus been rendered powerful auxsure derived from melody, I have pur. iliaries in the excitement of patriotism posely avoided alluding to that kind of or of loyalty. gratification which arises from the ex If we examine the history of musicitement of obvious associations ; be cal taste in any individual, we shall cause, though these often heighten find that a relish for simple melody greatly the enjoyment, yet they are has been the first step in its attainment; by no means essential to it. In some and that a perception of the pleasure instances, associations of this kind, so of harmony has been generally a slow far from being productive of pleasure and gradual acquirement. In a few able feelings, become sources of the instances, however, where an extraor. keenest mental anguish, as in the ma- dinary ear for music has been early ladie du pays, so strongly excited in manifested, the power of discriminat the Swiss by an air, which, to an ing harmony has so rapidly followed a English ear, certainly seems little cal- taste for melody, as almost to have apculated to excite emotion, but to a na- peared coeval with it. This was retive of that happy country, brings markably the case with a gentleman,


at this day of great and deserved ce experience. I know, indeed, no other lebrity, whose early history, distin- principle on which we can explain the guished by a wonderful prematurity fact, that the pleasure of melody, even of musical taste and skill, has fortun- to a person of simple and natural taste, ately been preserved by Dr Burney.* is greatly heightened by harmony, if At the age of only eighteen months, not too intricate and multifarious: Master Crotch shewed a decided pre- May not the pleasure which is thus ference for the pleasures of music, by occasioned, bear some analogy to that deserting his playthings, and even his derived from symmetry and proporfood, to listen to it; and when only tion in visible objects,- qualities, the two years old, and unable to speak, absence of which is quickly discerned, in order to induce his father, whose even by a common eye, in objects that skill in music seems to have been very are familiar to it? limited, to play his favourite tunes,

In the usual acceptation of language, the child would touch the key-note on only an agreeable succession of sounds the organ, or, if that was not enough, is called melody, and only the co-erwould play two or three of the first istence of agreeable sounds harmony. notes of the air. At the age of two An ingenious speculation, however, years and three weeks, he had taught has been proposed by Dr Franklin, in himself to play the first part of God a letter to Lord Kames, by which he Save the King on the organ. In the would resolve all melody into harmony. course of a few days he made himself The hypothesis is founded on a quality master of the treble of the second part; ascertained to exist in our organs of and the day after attempted the bass, sense, viz. that they have the power of which he performed correctly, with retaining, for a time, any impression the exception of a single note. In ac made by an external object; in conbout two months after this period, he sequence of which, in a series of senwas able to play several passages from sations, any one impression becomes voluntaries, which had only once been intermingled with that which immeperformed in his presence, by the or- diately precedes, and with that which ganist of the cathedral at Norwich. immediately follows it. This law of About the same time, he was capable sensation, so far as it is applicable to of making a bass to any melody which the phenomena of vision, had not esa he had recently caught by his ear. At caped the sagacity of Dr Franklin ; the age of only two years and a half, but it has since been more fully des he was able to distinguish, at a dis- veloped, and ingeniously illustrated, tance, and out of sight of the instru- by Dr Darwin, in his Essay on Ocular ment, any note that was struck upon Spectra.* On looking long and atit, within half a note, which, Dr Bur tentively at a bright object, as the setney obseryes, is beyond the power of ting sun, and then shutting the eyes, many old and skilful performers. An or excluding the light, an image, reother wonderfully premature attain sembling in form the object that was ment was, his being able to transpose, contemplated, continues some time to : into the most extraneous and difficult be visible. This appearance in the keys, whatever he played, and to con- eye Dr Darwin calls the ocular' spectrive an extemporary bass to easy me trum of the object. That a similar lodies, when performed by another power exists in the ear, is highly properson on the same instrument. From bable, since, as Dr Franklin observes, that time to the present he has con we are capable of retaining, for tinued to advance in reputation; and some moments, a perfect idea of the is now, I believe, considered as the pitch of a past sound, so as to commost scientific musician that Great pare it with the pitch of a succeedBritain can boast.

ing sound. Thus, in tuning an inExamples of the same kind have strument, a good ear can as easily occurred in Mozart, in the two Messrs determine that two strings are in uniWesley, and in a few other persons; son, by sounding them separatel and they would almost warrant the by sounding them together. Their conclusion, that the ear has an in- disagreement,” he adds, “ is also as stinctive power of discriminating har- easily, I believe I may say more easimony, independently of education or ly, and better distinguished when Philosophical Transactions, lxix.

* See Darwin's Zoonomia.


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »