« PreviousContinue »
Lupton, there is a long narrative of a woman, who, her husband having killed his antagonist in a duel, goes to the judge to solicit a pardon; he obtains of her a sum of money, and the reluctant prostitution of her person, undertaking to remit the sentence. The sequel is the same as in Belleforest's novel. The last example we shall cite, occurs in Cooke's Vindication of the Professors aud Profession of the Law, 1646, 4to. During the wars between Charles V. and Francis I. one Raynacio was imprisoned at Milan, for betraying a fort to the French. His wife petitions Don Garcias, the governor, in his favour, who refuses to listen, but on dishonourable terms, which are indignantly rejected. The husband at first applauds her magnanimity and submits to his sentence; bnt as the time of execution approaches, his courage failing, he prevails on his wife to resign herself to the governor's will. A sum of ten thousand crowns is also extorted from the unhappy woman, and she receives in return her basband's lifeless body. The duke of Ferrara hears of the circumstance, and having induced Don Garcias to marry the lady, orders him to be beheaded.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. THE principal incident of this very delightful comedy may be found in a Spanish romance, called Tirante the White, written in the dialect of Catalonia, about the year 1400. The same story is told in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and thence copied by Bandello, who narrates it in the following terms:
by their very extravagance, and that truly unique
These narrations Shakspeare very probably saw, and they might have suggested the principal incidents in his drama. It is uncertain whether he was acquainted with Cinthio's novel, as there was not any known translation of it in his time. His chief model for the plot must have been the old play of Promos and Cassandra, in which may be traced many parallel passages.
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
THIS is one of the few plays written by Shak
The improvement doubtless is immense. Cas-speare, the source of which has not been ascer-
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Of the fairies, whose exploits constitute the
Fenicia, the daughter of Leonato, a gentleman of Messina, is betrothed to Timbreo de Cardona; and Gerondo, a rejected lover, anxious to prevent the marriage, insinuates to Timbreo, that his mistress is false, and offers to shew him a stranger scaling her chamber window. Timbreo accepts the invitation, and sees Gerondo's hired servant enter the house of Leonato in the garb of a gentleman. Full of jealousy, he accuses the innocent Fenicia to her father, and refuses to marry her. The lady swoons, and to stifle reports injurious to her fame, Leonato gives out that she is dead; and her funeral is performed at Messina, while in reality she is concealed at a country residence. Gerondo is horror-struck at having occasioned her death; and, in the agony of remorse, acknowledges his guilt. Timbreo is requested to espouse a lady whose face he has never seen; and instead of the stranger bride he expects, is presented at the nuptial altar with his injured and beloved Fenicia. Such is Bandello's tale, which might have reached Shakspeare through the medium of the Cent Histories Tragiques, published by Belleforest, in 1583, and translated shortly afterwards. There are many palpable coincidences between the play and the novel; yet the deviations are frequent, and not always judicions. But the inimitable delineations of character, with which the drama abounds, are unborrowed. Those rich humourists, Dogberry and Verges, who, while they outdo nature, please
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
THE plot of this play comprises the chief circumstance of the bond, the auxiliary incident of the caskets, and the episode of Lorenzo and Jessica. The story of the bond is of oriental origin; it first appeared in Europe in a work by Giovanni, a Florentine novelist, from which our dramatist, though indirectly perhaps, has taken his materials.
Giannetto obtains permission from his godfather Ansaldo, to travel to Alexandria; but changes his mind, in the hopes of gaining a lady great wealth and beauty at Belmont, whose hand is proffered to him who can obtain a premature enjoyment of the connubial rites. Overpowered with sleep, occasioned by a narcotic given him in his wine, he fails in his enterprise, and his vessel and cargo are forfeited. Another ship is equipped, which he loses in a second attempt; and a third is made at the expense of his godfather, who borrows ten thousand ducats from a Jew, on condition that if they are not returned by a stipulated day, the lender may cut a pound of flesh from any part of the debtor's body. Giannetto obtains the lady; but lost in delight with his bride, forgets Ansaldo's bond till the very day it becomes due. He hastens to Venice, but the time is past, and the usurer refuses ten times the value of his bond. Giannetto's lady arrives at this crisis, and causes it to be announced that she can resolve difficult questions in law. Consulted in the case of Ansaldo, she decides, that the Jew must have his pound of flesh; but that he shall lose his head if he cuts more or less, or draws one
drop of blood. The Jew relinquishes his demand, | siderable light on the author's method in compo and Ansaldo is released. The bride will not receive money as a recompense, but desires Giannetto's wedding-ring, which he gives her. The lady arrives at home before her husband, and immediately asks for her ring, which he being unable to produce, she upbraids him with having given it to some mistress. At length, Giannetto's sorrow affects his wife, and she explains the particulars of her journey and disguise. All this is closely followed by Shakspeare; but the improbability a lady's possessing so much legal acumen is skilfully removed by making her consult an eminent lawyer, and act under his advice, and Portia is not guilty of the licentious freedoms, imputed to her prototype in the novel.
The chusing of the caskets is borrowed from the English Gesta Romanorum, a collection of tales much esteemed by our ancestors. Three vessels were placed before the king of Apulia's daughter for her choice. The first was of pure gold, and filled with dead men's bones; on it was this inscription: Who chuses me shall find what he deserves. The second was of silver, and thus inscribed: Who chuses me shall find what nature covets. It was filled with earth. The third vessel was of lead, but filled with precious stones; it had this inscription: Who chuses me shall find what God has placed. The princess, after praying for assistance, chuses the leaden vessel. The emperor applauds her wisdom, and she is united to his son. In the play the inscriptions are changed; but the analogy is evident. The loves of Jessica and Lorenzo bear much resemblance to a tale of Massuccio di Salerno, who flourished about 1470; but this subsidiary plot is not of sufficient importance to need a particular inquiry. In a work called The Orator, printed in 1599, is the declaration "of a Jew, who would for his debt have a pound of the flesh of a Christian," which appears to have suggested hints for Shylock's conduct before the court. "It is impossible," urges the Jew, "to break the credit of traffick amongst men, without great detriment to the commonwealth. For debt you bind all the body unto a most loathsome prison, or unto an tolerable slavery. A man may ask, why I would not rather take silver of this man than his flesh? But I will only say, that by his obligation he oweth it me." There is an old ballad in the liques of Ancient Poetry, which, if seen by the poet, might have been employed; and its date seems prior to his time.
"No penny for the loan of it,
The stanza that follows might have originated the strong circumstance of Shylock's whetting his knife, to cut away his victim's forfeit flesh :
"The bloody Jew now ready is,
AS YOU LIKE IT.
SHAKSPEARE bas borrowed the plot of this exc sitely beautiful play from Lodge's Rosalynd, Euphues' Golden Legacye, of which we shall tempt to give a brief abstract. Sir John of B deaux, at his death, left to his eldest son, Salady fourteen ploughlands, with all his manors, hou and plate; to his second son, Fernandyne, twe in-ploughlands; but to the youngest, Rosader, gave his horse, his armour, and his lance, with teen ploughlands, for he thought Rosader wo transcend his brother in honour as he did in co Re-liness. Saladyne was discontented with the w his brothers were under age, and he resolved appropriate their property to himself. Fer dyne, he determined to keep at his studies w he used his wealth; Rosader was uneducated, Saladyne made him his foot-boy. But the pro spirited youth spurned at the degradation,
why," he asked, "has my brother felled woods and spoilt my manors?" Saladyne ord him to be chastised: Rosader seized a rake, drove him from the garden, but would not h him, when he solicited a reconciliation. To mond at this time filled the throne of France, which he had driven his brother Gerismond exile, in the forest of Arden. Torismond claimed a tournament and a wrestling match, Saladyne bribed a Norman wrestler to kill R der, whom he induced to enter the lists. Ali Torismond's daughter, and Rosalynd, the daug of Gerismond, were present, with all the bear of France. Two young men had been killed the Norman, when Rosader stepped forwards; noticing the company more than the combatant fixed his eyes on Rosalynd: the struggle was and fierce, but victory at length decided for R der. Rosalynd took a jewel from her neck, sent it by a page to Rosader. He returns to dyne's house, but is refused admittance. He ters by force, and finds in the hall a trusty En servant, Adam Spencer, by whose mediation brothers are again reconciled. Torismond, vexe
The bond story in the Gesta Romanorum do not exist at present in any printed edition, thou it might in Shakspeare's time; the Latin text never been published, and as a curious specim of ancient English, we give a portion of the tran lation from the Harleian manuscripts, written the reign of Henry VI. "Then saide he, the harde me never seye but that I would ha my covenante kept. Sothely, seyde she, thou shalt trowe afor your Sir Juge, and yowe alle, I sey now, Sir Juge, ywithe a right wi dom of what I shall seye to yowe, ye have iha howe moche I have proferid this marchaunt the lyf of this knigte, and he forsahithe alle, a askithe the lawe, and that likithe me moche, therefore lordinges, that beye her, herithe me wh I shall seye. Ye knowithe welle, that the kn bonne him never by letter, but that the marcha shulde have power to kutte his fleshe fro boons, but there was no covenaunt made of she ing of blode, thereof was nothing ispoke, and ther let him set hand on him anon, and yf he shede bloode with his shavinge of the fleshe, forsothe th shalle the kynge have goode lawe upon him." H horrible incident of cutting off the flesh had not curred in the several stories alluded to, it might ha been suggested by that atrocious decemviral law the twelve tables, which empowered a creditor mangle the living body of his debtor, without of punishment for cutting more or less than magistrate allowed. For the honour of the F man law, it is not recorded that the above inhum decree was ever enforced.
Gratiano and Launcelot do not appear to be borrowed from any of these sources; but a play on the same subject certainly existed long before; and the originals of those characters might have been taken from it. The loss of this performance entitled "The Jew shown at the Bull; representing the Greediness of worldly Choosers, and the bloody Minds of Usurers," is much to be regretted, as the incidents of the bond and the caskets were comprised in its plot, and it might have thrown con
ethod in o
Comanan dedition. ie Latate
Rosalynd's popularity, banishes her from court. Alinda remonstrates, and the same sentence is passed on both. The cousins resolve to travel, and Rosalynd, the tallest, dresses herself as a page: they change their names to Ganimede and Aliena, and arrived at the forest of Arden, where they buy a cottage of the shepherd, Coridon; they also meet with another rustic, Montanus, who amuses them with his idle courtship of a country coquette named Phoebe. Meanwhile, Saladyne's hatred of Rosader breaks out anew. The persecuted youth flies to the forest of Arden, accompanied by Adam: they lose their way, and are in danger of perishing from hunger. Rusader scours the forest in quest of game, and encounters Gerismond and his exiled followers. Rosader is kindly received, and relates his misfortunes. Torismond, in the meantime, banishes Saladyne, on pretence of avenging Rosader, but in reality to obtain his property. Saladyne wanders in the forest, and is just falling a prey to a hungry lioness, when his injured brother saves his life, which effects a reconcilement. Saladyne shortly after rescues Alinda from the violence of ruffians, and conceives a passion for her, which is returned. Rosader bad not forgotten the fair one, whose smile stimulated, and whose gift rewarded his bravery. In the wilds of Arden, he sighs forth her name, and inscribes verses in her praise on the trees. The cousins meet him, and favoured by their disguise, talk with him on the subject of his r, wither 4 passion. In due time, Ganimede the page is found to be Rosalynd; she is restored to her father, and united to Rosader. The dethroned king overcomes the usurper, and recovers his crown.
ad a crede
This tale is told by Lodge with insufferable pedantry, conceit, and prolixity; yet our great dramatist has made a just and interesting use of the story, with the exception of the character of Adam, whose fidelity is strangely neglected, whereas in the novel he is justly rewarded. Jaques is original; Touchstone and Audrey are suggested by Montanus and Phoebe; but the poetical beauties of the comedy are exclusively Shakspeare's
carious spa tion of the t ripts, wr
suide he I world
Jage, t ithe a right 2. ve bo
that the it the ma fleshe
1 made of 9 joke, and vf he shot ie, forse
Don him. T lesh had w to, it migh
r less the our of the in above m
it of these Rosalux I we sta John of son, Sart inors, bag odyne, m Rosér ice, wit:
did in t Fith the resafor
16. Fer todies
Iuested, r t the pr ulation. felied* ne eram
18. anece. mond?
tained, and Giletta has the satisfaction, in due time, of giving birth to two sons, both bearing a strong likeness to their father. Bertram, informed of his wife's absence, determines to return home. The count gives a great entertainment, and Giletta with his ring on her finger, and twin sons begotten by him in her arms, prostrates herself before him, and supplicates to be acknowledged as his wife. The count kisses her, and vows henceforth to love and honour her. Shakspeare has copied the tale with almost verbal fidelity, in many of its particulars; but for the comic scenes, which are very prominent, and serve to introduce the vain-glorious poltroon Parolles, he had no authority in the novel."
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
THE Induction has for its original a tale in the Arabian Nights, called the Sleeper Awakened; but Sly the tinker's transformation has been often repeated. A similar trick is related thus, by Grimstone, in his Histories, 1607: Walking at night through the streets of Brussels, duke Philip found a drunken mechanic asleep on the pavement: he caused him to be taken to his palace, re-clothed, and laid on his richest bed. When the man awoke, a train of servants appeared, and reverendly asked if he would rise, and what robes he would wear: astonished at this, he doubted the evidence of his senses. All day he was treated with great ceremony, and solaced with every delight. In the evening a play was performed, a banquet followed, and he fell into drunken insensibility. Hereupon he was re-dressed in his rags, and left in the place where the duke found him. In the morning he began to remember what had occured, but concluded the whole to have been a dream, and related his vision to his wife.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
In 1594, a play called The Taming of a Shrew, was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, from which there can be no doubt Shakspeare took his comedy. The Induction in both instances is exactly similar, allowing for a few trivial discordances: the story of Taming a Shrew and of Taming the Shrew, is the same. Were we to notice verbal coincidences, we must quote at least half of each comedy. In the old play, the father of three daughters wishes the eldest to be married first: but the lady's shrewish temper deters suitors, and the lovers of the younger sisters resort to the expedient of procuring a husband for Kate. By a singular mode of courtship, the shrew is won, and, by the bridegroom's persevering austerity, at length tamed. On the wedding-day the lover appears fantastically habited.
"Fie, Ferando, not thus attired: for shame ;
Isnardo, count of Rossiglione, retains a famous
All that follows at Ferando's house is closely imitated. The quarrel in the choice of dresses is precisely the same; many of the ideas are preserved without alteration; the faults found with the cap, the trunk sleeves, and the gown, the compassed cape, the balderdash about taking up the gown, have been The copied, as well as the scene in which Petruchio makes Katharine call the sun the moon. joke of addressing an elderly gentleman as a young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet,' belongs also to the old drama; but in this instance it is remarkable, that while the leading idea is adopted, the mode of expressing it is quite dif
Shakspeare is also under some obligations to an old comedy called The Supposes, translated from Ariosto, by George Gascoigne, and published in
genius, is absolutely his own. In the character o Leontes, a fine picture of jealousy is given; th same passion in Egisthus is comparitively feeble Hermione is in every respect far superior to he THIS wild but singularly fascinating play is found-prototype, Bellaria. Fawnia hardly gave a hir ed on a novel entitled Dorastus and Fawnia, writ- for that delightful personification of all that is am ten by Robert Greene, a contemporary of Shak-able in woman, Perdita. Autolycus has no doub speare's, whose works, though neglected, evince in the romance; and though both a liar and a thie very considerable genius. We shall give a few his humour is inexhaustible, and serves most hap passages from the romance, contrasting them with pily to brighten the more sombre colouring of ch quotations from the drama, which fully evince our racter, which predominates in this play. author's obligations to that work.
1566; and, on the whole, The Taming of the Shrew has very slight claims to praise on the score of originality.
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes Came to your court, how I was in your grace,
How merited to be so."-SHAKSPEARE.
"It is her part to deny such a monstrous crime; and to be impudent in fores wearing the fact, since she had passed all shame in committing the fault." "I ne'er heard yet, That any of these bolder vices wanted Less impudence to gainsay what they did, Than to perform it."-SHAKSPEARE. "What hath passed between him and me, the gods only know, and 1 hope will presently reveal. That I loved Egisthus, I cannot denie; that I honoured him, I shame not to confess. But as touching lascivious lust, I say, Egisthus is honest, and hope myself to be found without spot. For Franion, I can neither accuse him, nor excuse him: I was not privie to his departure; and that this is truth which I have here rehearsed, I refer myself to the divine oracle."-GREENE. "For Polixenes, With whom I am accus'd, I do confess, I lov'd him, as in honour he requir'd; With such a kind of love as might become A lady like me, with a love ev'n such; So, and no other, as yourself commanded: Which not to have done, I think, had been in me Both disobedience and ingratitude, To you,
and toward your friend; whose love had spoke, Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy, I know not how it tastes, though it be dish'd For me to try how: all I know of it, Is, that Camillo was an honest man; And why he left your court, the gods themselves, Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.
Your honours all, I do refer me to the oracle: Apollo be my judge."-SHAKSPEARE. "Once in every day he went to Bellaria's tomb, and with tears of penitence and sorrow, lamented her unhappy fate, and his own misfortunes."
GREENE. "Once a day I'll visit The chapel where they lie; and tears, shed there, Shall be my recreation."-SHAKSPEARE.
Shakspeare has even preserved the blunders of the novelist for the shipwreck on the coast of Bohemia is in the original. His chief deviation from Greene, is in the catastrophe: the whole of the statue scene, that wonderful effort of successful
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
THE Menæchmi of Plautus gave rise to this play but as a translation of Plautus's drama was n published till 1596, and it is supposed the Come of Errors was written some years before, it is o vious that Shakspeare could have derived no a sistance from it. The chronology of the play, ho ever, is disputed, and it may be necessary to ad that between the work of our dramatist, and t "Pleasant and fine conceited Comedy, call Menechmus," there are none of those ust points of resemblance, which have enabled to trace the source of his plots in his oth dramas.
before queen Elizabeth, at Hampton Coa A piece was enacted on New Year's night, 157 longer in existence, and we are therefore unable called The Historie of Error; but the play is decide whether he was indebted to that or to drama of Plautus; if our poet had no other sou of information, than the translation in question, surely deserves high praise for the judicions m ner in which he has employed it.
THIS sublime tragedy is evidently derived fr Holinshed's Chronicle. We shall select a f passages from the historian, to prove how use his narrative was to the poet, and then endeav to point out briefly in what particular the m of the drama is peculiarly Shakspeare's.
After a few facts relative to the previous eve in the lives of Duncan and Macbeth, which corr pond with the account in the tragedy, Hol shed goes on thus: "It fortuned as Macbeth Banquo journied towards Fores, where the k then lay, they went sporting by the way toget without other company, save only themselves, p ing through the woods and fields, when s denly, in the midst of a laund, there met them th women in strange and wild apparel, resemb creatures of elder world, whom, when they att tively beheld, wondering much at the sight, first of them spake, and said, All hail, Macb thane of Glamis,' (for he had lately entered that dignity and office by the death of his fat Sinel.) The second of them said, Hail, Macb thane of Cawdor.' But the third said, All Macbeth, that hereafter shall be king of Scotla Then Banquo, What manner of women,' saith 'are you, that seem so little favourable unto whereas to my fellow here, besides high offi ye assign also the kingdom, appointing forth thing for me at all? Yes,' saith the first of th 'we promise greater benefits unto thee, than 1 him, for he shall reign in deed, but with an unlu end: neither shall he leave any issue behind to succeed in his place; where, contrarily, tho deed shalt not reign at all, but of thee those s be born, which shall govern the Scotish king by long order of continual descent.' Herewith aforesaid women vanished immediately out of t sight." The historian proceeds to detail circ stances exactly parallel to those in the p Malcolm is made to alarm Macduff with an acco of his own crimes, and that Thane, though dispo to forgive much in his prince, convinced at la
that he was abandoned to wickedness, indignantly exclaims, "Here then I leave thee, and therefore say, oh, ye unhappy and miserable Scotchmen, which are thus scourged with so many and sundry calamities, each one above other! Ye have one cursed and wicked tyrant that now reigneth over you, without any right or title, oppressing you with his most bloody cruelty. This other, that bath the right to the crown, is so replete with the inconstant behaviour and manifest vices of Englishmen, that he is nothing worthy to enjoy it: for by his own confession, he is not only avaricious, and given to unsatiable lust, but so false a traitor withall, that no trust is to be had unto any word he speaketh. Adieu, Scotland, for now I account myself a banished man for ever, without comfort or consolation: and, with these words the brackish tears trickled down his cheeks very abundantly. At the last, when he was ready to depart, Malcolm took him by the sleeve, and said, Be of good comfort, Macduff, for I have none of these vices before remembered, but have jested with thee in this manner, only to prove thy mind: for divers times heretofore hath Macbeth sought by this manner of means to bring me into his hands, bat the more slow I have shewed myself to con descend to thy motion and request, the more diligence shall I use in accomplishing the same.' Incontinently bereupon they embraced each other, and promising to be faithful the one to the other, they fell in consultation how they might best provide for all their business, to bring the same to good effect. In the meantime, Malcolm purchased such favour at king Edward's hands, that old Siward, earl of Northumberland, was appointed with ten thousand men to go with him into Scotland, to support him in this enterprise, for the recovery of his right. When Macbeth perceived his enemies' power to increase by such aid as came to them forth of England with his adversary Malcolm, he recoiled back into Fife, there purposing to abide in camp fortified, at the castle of Dunsinane, and to fight with his enemies, if they meant to pursue him; howbeit, some of his friends advised him that it should be best for him, either to make some agreement with Malcolm, or else to flee with all speed into the Isles, and to take his treasure with him, to the end he might wage sundry great princes of the realm to take his part, and retain strangers, in whom he might better trust than in his own subjects, which stole daily from him: bat he had such confidence in his prophecies, that he believed he should never be vanquished, till Birnam wood were brought to Dunsinane; nor yet to be slain with any man, that should be, or was born of any woman. ***Malcolm following hastily after Macbeth, came the night before the battle anto Birnam wood; and when the army had rested awhile there to refresh them, he commanded every man to get a bough of some tree or other, of that wood in his hand, as big as he might bear, and to march forth therewith in such wise, that on the Bext morrow they might come closely and without sight in this manner, within view of his enemies. On the morrow, when Macbeth beheld them coming in this sort, he first marvelled what the matter meant, but in the end remembered himself, that the prophecy which he had heard long before that time, of the coming of Birnam-wood unto Dunsinane castle was likely to be now fulfilled. Nevertheless, he brought his men in order of battle, and exhorted them to do valiantly; howbeit his enemies bad scarcely cast from them their boughs, when Macbeth perceiving their numbers, betook him straight to flight, whom Macduff pursued with great hatred, even till he came to Lunfannaine, where Macbeth perceiving that Macduff was hard at his back, leapt beside his horse, saying: Thou traitor, what meaneth it, that thou shouldest thus
in vain follow me, that am not appointed to be slain by any creature that is born of a woman? Come on, therefore, and receive thy reward which thou hast deserved for thy pains; and therewithal, he lifted up his sword, thinking to have slain him. But Macduff quickly avoiding from his horse, ere he came at him, answered (with his naked sword in his hand) saying: 'It is true, Macbeth, and now shall thy insatiable cruelty have an end, for I am even he that thy wizards have told thee of, who was never born of my mother, but ripped out of her womb:' therewithal he stept unto him, and slew him in the place. Then cutting his head from his shoulders, he set it upon a pole, and brought it unto Malcolm. This was the end of Macbeth, after he had reigned seventeen years over the Scotishmen." Such is Holinshed's History: Shakspeare's deviations from it are not numerous.
The old Chronicle gives no particulars of Duncan's murder, but simply relates, that Macbeth "slew the king at Inverness," a brevity which our dramatist supplied by reference to a former portion of the history, where a narrative occurs of the murder of King Duffe, in the year 971 or 972, by Donwald, captain of the Castle of Fores. In this account, the most minute particulars given by the poet are to be found. The king's chamberlains are made drunk, and are conveyed to bed in a state of stupor. Donwald abhors the act he is about to perpetrate, but perseveres at his wife's instigation. In the morning, when the murder is discovered, Donwald assuming a frenzy of loyalty, slays the chamberlains, on whom the guilt is faid. A catalogue of fearful omens, portentous of the king's death, is given; to which Shakspeare is indebted for a similar enumeration. Holinshed does not say, that Macbeth's fall was distinguished by extraordinary courage; but with his usual attention to nature. Shakspeare closed the life of a soldier, whose bravery was once conspicuous, with a desperate exertion of valour; indeed, the whole character of the guilty Thane has so many redeeming points, that we regard him to the last with pity and respect. The matchless powers of our author are no where displayed with more grandeur than in his Lady Macbeth. An outline of this character may be found in the Chronicle: not only is she there described as the stimulatress of her husband to his deed of blood, but boldly called a woman "very ambitious, burning in unquenchable desire to bear the name of queen." In consulting the History of King Duffe, the bard found additional motives to assign his heroine an active participation in the murder. Donwald's wife suggested the king's assassination, devised the means to accomplish it, and brought it to a consummation, when her husband "greatly abhorred the act in his heart," and with these rude materials was produced a character so terribly sublime, that the efforts of other dramatists sink into insignificance. Yet even this bold bad woman has a touch of humanity in her composition, for she cannot kill Duncan herself, because he resembled her father as he slept. For the introduction of witches and spirits in his tragedy, Shakspeare had abundant authority. Holinshed expressly says, that the women who addressed Macbeth, were fairies or weird (that is prophetic) sisters; and at the period in which the play was written, the popular mind was imbued with implicit belief of magicians, astrologers, and witches, who disclosed the events of futurity, and controlled the actions of mankind. Besides, the floating superstitions of the age were embodied and justified by an act of the first parliament of James, against witchcraft; and by the reprint in England, of his Majesty's Essay on Demonology, shortly after his accession to the throne. Witches, it was almost impiety to doubt, could raise tempests, create hail, thunder and lightning, sink ships,