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Lapton, 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 hetween 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 bears of the circumstance, and having induced Don Garcias to marry the lady, orders him to be beheaded.
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.
The improvement doubtless is immense. Cassandra is a degraded wretch, whom we may pity but cannot respect; while Isabella is a glorious example of every virtue which can beautify the female character. All the other agents of the play, when imitated, are equally improved; and we may justly say of Shakspeare, that where he found his materials of lead, he has left them of gold.
by their very extravagance, and that truly unique pair of lovers, Beatrice and Benedick, could be produced by no other hand but Shakspeare's.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Of the general fable used in this most wild but most beautiful production, no satisfactory account can be given; the Book of Troy is the probable source of some of the characters, yet the dramatis persona are so strangely incongruous, that it is difficult to classify them. Bottom and his friend, (it is conjectured by Skottowe,) are perhaps broad likenesses of the theatrical monarchs whom Shakspeare found in favour when he first appeared in London; and in the bickerings, jealousies, and ridiculous conceits which he represents, we are furnished probably with a picture of the green-room politics of the Globe.
Of the fairies, whose exploits constitute the most amusing, and whose dialogue is the most beautiful portion of this play, we can furnish no precise account. The superstitions of the east and the north, of Greece and of Rome, have been examined in search of a clue to their history; even the Dews and Peries of Persia have been thought their remote originals. But as we know that a belief in their existence was general in Shakspeare's age, the poet is abundantly justified for the skilful introduction of a popular superstition.
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
THIS is one of the few plays written by Shakspeare, the source of which has not been ascertained. It was probably borrowed from an obscure French novel; the dramatis personæ in a great measure demonstrate this, as well as a palpable gallicism in Act IV. Sc. 1. viz. the terming a letter a capon. The pageant of the nine worthies, sportively introduced, is not given correctly. The genuine heroes were Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus, Hector, Alexander, Julius Cæsar, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bulloigne, or someTHE principal incident of this very delightful times in his room, Guy of Warwick. Why, among comedy may be found in a Spanish romance, called the five who are introduced, Hercules and PomTirante the White, written in the dialect of Cata-pey are included, remains to be accounted for; lonia, about the year 1400. The same story is perhaps the error was intentional. teld in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and thence copied by Bandello, who narrates it in the following
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
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 expeets, is presented at the nuptial altar with his injured and beloved Fenicia. Sach 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 comp 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 of 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
The bond story in the Gesta Romanorum dnot exist at present in any printed edition, thou it might in Shakspeare's time; the Latin text never been published, and as a curious specin of ancient English, we give a portion of the tra lation from the Harleian manuscripts, written the reign of Henry VI. "Then saide he, th harde me never seye but that I would ha my covenante kept. Sothely, seyde she, thou shalt trowe afor your Sir Juge, and s yowe alle, I sey now, Sir Juge, ywithe a right v dom of what I shall seye to yowe, ye have ih howe moche I have proferid this marchaunt the lyf of this knigte, and he forsahithe alle, askithe the lawe, and that likithe me moche, therefore lordinges, that beye her, herithe me w I shall seye. Ye knowithe welle, that the k 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 sh ing of blode, thereof was nothing ispoke, and the let him set hand on him anon, and yf he shede bloode with his shavinge of the fleshe, forsothe t shalle the kynge bave goode lawe upon him." If horrible incident of cutting off the flesh had not curred in the several stories alluded to, it might h been suggested by that atrocious decemviral la the twelve tables, which empowered a credito mangle the living body of his debtor, without of punishment for cutting more or less than magistrate allowed. For the honour of the man law, it is not recorded that the above inhu decree was ever enforced.
AS YOU LIKE IT.
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 SHAKSPEARE bus borrowed the plot of this ex would for his debt have a pound of the flesh of a sitely beautiful play from Lodge's Rosalynd Christian," which appears to have suggested hints Euphues' Golden Legacye, of which we shall for Shylock's conduct before the court. "It is tempt to give a brief abstract. Sir John of impossible," urges the Jew, "to break the credit deaux, at his death, left to his eldest son, Salad of traffick amongst men, without great detriment to fourteen ploughlands, with all his manors, hou the commonwealth. For debt you bind all the and plate; to his second son, Fernandyne, tw body unto a most loathsome prison, or unto an in-ploughlands; but to the youngest, Rosader tolerable slavery. A man may ask, why I would gave his horse, his armour, and his lance, with not rather take silver of this man than his flesh? teen ploughlands, for he thought Rosader w But I will only say, that by his obligation he transcend his brother in honour as he did in co oweth it me." There is an old ballad in the Re-liness. Saladyne was discontented with 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,
But we will have a merry jest,
You shall make me a bond, quoth he,
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,
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
his brothers were under age, and he resolve appropriate their property to himself. Fer dyne, he determined to keep at his studies v he used his wealth; Rosader was uneducated. Saladyne made him his foot-boy. But the pr 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 him, when he solicited a reconciliation. T 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 F der, whom he induced to enter the lists. Torismond's daughter, and Rosalynd, the daug of Gerismond, were present, with all the bea of France. Two young men had been kille the Norman, when Rosader stepped forwards noticing the company more than the combatan fixed his eyes on Rosalynd: the struggle was and fierce, but victory at length decided for F 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, ves
Rosalynd's popularity, banishes her froin 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 hanger. Rosader 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 raffans, 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 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.
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; repeated. A similar trick is related thus, by Grimbut Sly the tinker's transformation has been often stone, 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.
In 1594, a play called The Taming of a Shrew, was entered on the books of the Stationers' Com
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 origi-pany, from which there can be no doubt Shaknal; Touchstone and Audrey are suggested by Montanus and Phoebe; but the poetical beauties of the comedy are exclusively Shakspeare's
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
speare took his comedy. The Induction in both instances is exactly similar, allowing for a few triand of Taming the Shrew, is the same. Were we vial discordances: the story of Taming a Shrew 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; Come to my chamber, and there suite thyself, Of twenty suits that I did never weare.".
OLD PLAY. "See not your bride in these unreverent robes; Go to my chamber, put on clothes of mine." SHAKSPEARE.
Isnardo, count of Rossiglione, retains a famous physician, Gerardo of Narbona, whose daughter Giletta is in love with the count's son, Bertram. Isnardo dies, his son becomes the king's ward, and is sent to Paris. The physician dying, Giletta makes a journey in pursuit of Bertram. The king languishes under a malady thought incurable; Giletta, farnished with a specific of her father's, promises to effect a cure in eight days: the penalty of failure is death, but if successful, she stipulates for permission to choose a husband, with reservation only of the royal blood. The king is cured, Giletta fixes on Bertram, and unable to disobey All that follows at Ferando's house is closely the king, he consents to the marriage; but disgusted imitated. The quarrel in the choice of dresses is with the meanness of her family, he joins the Flo-precisely the same; many of the ideas are preserved rentine ariny, and in reply to her submissive mes- without alteration; the faults found with the cap, sages, he coldly says "let her do what she list, the gown, the compassed cape, the trunk sleeves, and for I do purpose to dwell with her when she shall the balderdash about taking up the gown, have been have this ring upon her finger, and a son in her copied, as well as the scene in which Petruchio arms begotten by me." Giletta provides herself makes Katharine call the sun the moon. with money, and travels to Florence: here she joke of addressing an elderly gentleman as a Ends that Bertram is in love with the daughter of young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet," a poor, but reputable lady, to whose house she belongs also to the old drama; but in this instance repairs, and explaining her situation, proposes that it is remarkable, that while the leading idea is the young woman should agree to the count's adopted, the mode of expressing it is quite difwishes, on his giving her the ring he wore. Prepa- ferent. rations are made for Bertram's introduction at the dead of night, and Giletta, instead of the young lady, receives Bertram to her arms: the ring is ob
Shakspeare is also under some obligations to an old comedy called The Supposes, translated from Ariosto, by George Gascoigne, and published in
1566; and, on the whole, The Taming of the Shrew genius, is absolutely his own. In the character of has very slight claims to praise on the score of ori- Leontes, a fine picture of jealousy is given; the ginality. same passion in Egisthus is comparitively feeble. Hermione is in every respect far superior to her THIS wild but singularly fascinating play is found-prototype, Bellaria. Fawnia hardly gave a bint ed on a novel entitled Dorastus and Fawnia, writ- for that delightful personification of all that is amiten by Robert Greene, a contemporary of Shak-able in woman, Perdita. Autolycus has no double speare's, whose works, though neglected, evince in the romance; and though both a liar and a thief very considerable genius. We shall give a few his humour is inexhaustible, and serves most happassages from the romance, contrasting them with pily to brighten the more sombre colouring of cha quotations from the drama, which fully evince our racter, which predominates in this play. author's obligations to that work.
Behold our human actions, as they do,
* * * * * * I appeal
To your own conscience, sir, before Polixenes
"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." GREENE.
"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 I 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.
With whom I am accus'd, I do confess,
To you, and toward your friend; whose love had
Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely
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."
"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 no
published till 1596, and it is supposed the Comedy of Errors was written some years before, it is ob vious that Shakspeare could have derived no as sistance from it. The chronology of the play, how ever, is disputed, and it may be necessary to add that between the work of our dramatist, and the "Pleasant and fine conceited Comedy, called Menechmus," there are none of those usua points of resemblance, which have enabled a to trace the source of his plots in his othe dramas.
A piece was enacted on New Year's night, 1576 before queen Elizabeth, at Hampton Court longer in existence, and we are therefore unable t called The Historie of Error; but the play is n decide whether he was indebted to that or to th drama of Plautus; if our poet had no other sourd of information, than the translation in question, h surely deserves high praise for the judicious man ner in which he has employed it.
Holinshed's Chronicle. We shall select a fe
in the lives of Duncan and Macbeth, which corre
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 condescend 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 Dansinane, 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 unto 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 next 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 laid. 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,