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ble agents of evil, and he is already sin- | the empty air. The reply to his vehement struck and terror-struck at their first utter- questioning has already been made ; he has ance; but like a radiant shield, such as we seen, at one glimpse, in the very darkest read of in old magic stories, of virtue to depths of his imagination, how the things protect its bearer from the devil's assault, foretold may be; and to that fatal answer the clear integrity of Banquo's soul remains alone is he left by the silence of those unsullied by the serpent's breath, and, while whose mission to him is thenceforth fully accepting all the wonder of the encounter, accomplished. Twice does he endeavour he feels none of the dismay which shakes to draw from Banquo some comment the spirit of Macbeth
other than that of mere astonishment upon
the fortunes thus foretold them :“Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear Things that do sound so fair ?”
“ Your children shall be kings ?
You shall be king ? The fair sound has conveyed no foul sense And Thane of Cawdor too — went it not so ? to his perception, but, incited rather by the To the self-same tune and words ?' fear and bewilderment of his usually dauntless companion than by any misgiving of But the careless answers of Banquo unconhis own (which indeed his calm and meas- sciously evade the snare ; and it is not unured adjuration shows him to be free from), til the arrival of Rosse, and his ceremonious he turns to these mysterious oracles, and, greeting of Macbeth by his new dignity of with that authority before which the devils Thane of Cawdor, that Banquo's exclamaof old trembled and dispossessed themselves tion of — of their prey, he questions, and they reply. Mark the power higher than any, save
“What! can the devil speak true ?” that of God - from which it directly emapates, of the intrepid utterance of an upright proves at once that he had hitherto attachhuman soul
ed no importance to the prophecy of the
witches, and that, now that its partial ful"In the name of Truth, are ye fantastical ?”
filment compelled him to do so, he unhesi
tatingly pronounces the agency through At that solemn appeal, does one not see which their foreknowledge had reached hell's agents start and cower like the foul them to be evil. Most significant indeed is toad touched by the celestial spear? How the direct, rapid, unhesitating intuition by pales the glitter of the hero of the battle- which the one mind instantly repels the åpfield before the steadfast shining of this proach of evil, pronouncing it at once to honest man, when to his sacred summons the be so, compared with the troubled, persubject ministers of hell reply true oracles, plexed, imperfect process, half mental, half though uttered by lying lips — sincere hom- moral, by which the other labours to stranage, such as was rendered on the fields of gle within himself the pleadings of his Palestine by the defeated powers of dark- better angel : ness, to the divine virtue that overthrew them — such as for ever unwilling evil pays “This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill — to the good which predominates over it, the
Cannot be good! If ill, everlasting subjection of hell to heaven. Why hath it given me earnest of success
Beginning in a truth? I am Thane of
Cawdor." “ Hail, hail, hail ! — lesser than Macbeth, but greater,” &c.
The devil's own logic; the inference of And now the confused and troubled work-right drawn from the succe:sful issue, the ings of Macbeth's mind pour themselves seal whose stamp, whether false or genuine, forth in rapid questions, urging one upon still satisfies the world of the validity of another the evident obstacles which crowd, every deed to which it is appended. Wiser faster than his eager thought can beat them than all the wisdom that ever was elaborataside, between him and the bait held forth ed by human intellect, brighter than any to his ambitious desires; but to his challenge, light that ever yet was obtained by process made, not in the name or spirit of truth, of human thought, juster and more unerbut at the suggestion of the grasping devil ringly infallible than any scientific deduction which is fast growing into entire possession ever produced by the acutest human logic, of his heart, no answer is vouchsafed; the is the simple instinct of good and evil in the witches vanish, leaving the words of impo- soul that loves the one and hates the other. tent and passionate command to fall upon Like those fine perceptions by which certain delicate and powerful organizations | brave, sudden denial of any kindred between detect with amazing accuracy the hidden the devil and truth, and the subsequent adproximity of certain sympathetic or antipa- mission of the awful mystery by which truth thetic existences, so the moral sensibility of sometimes is permitted to be a two-edged the true soul recoils at once from the antag- weapon in the armory of hell — are emionistic principles which it detects with nently characteristic of the same mind. electric rapidity and certainty, leaving the Obliged to confess that the devil does speak intellect to toil after and discover, discrimi- true sometimes, Banquo, nevertheless, can nate and describe, the cause of the unutter- only admit that he does so for an evil purable instantaneous revulsion.
pose, and this passage is one of innumerable Having now not only determined the na- proofs of the general coherence, in spite of ture of the visitation they have received, apparent discrepancy, in Shakespeare's de but become observant of the absorbed and lineations of character. The same soul of distracted demeanour and countenance of the one man may, with no inconsistency but Macbeth, for which he at first accounted what is perfectly compatible with spiritual guilelessly according to his wont, by the harmony, utter both the sentiments : the one mere fact of natural astonishment at the on impulse, the other on reflection. witches' prophecy and its fulfilment, togeth- Here, for the first time, Macbeth encouner with the uneasy novelty of his lately ac- ters the barrier of that uncompromising quired dignities -
, that sovereignty of nature, which as
he afterwards himself acknowledges “ would “Look how our partner's rapt,
be feared," and which he does fear and hate New honours come upon him like our new accordingly, more and more savagely and garments,” &c.
bitterly, till detestation of him as his natural Banquo is called upon by Macbeth directly superior, terror of him as the
possible avenfor some expression of his own opinion of ger of blood, and envy of him as the future these mysterious events, and the impression of his murderous ill-will, and thrust him upon
father of a line of kings, fill up the measure they have made on his mind.
the determination of Banquo's assassination ; “Do you not hope your children shall be and, when in the midst of his royal banquetkings," &c.
hall, filled with hollow-hearted feasting and
ominous revelry and splendour, his conHe answers with that solemn warning, science conjures up the hideous image of the almost approaching to a rebuke of the evil missing, guest, whose health he invokes with suggestion that he now for the first time lips white with terror, while he knows that perceives invading his companion's mind :- his gashed and mangled corpse is lying stark
under the midnight
rain ; surely it is again “ That, trusted home,
with this solemn warning, uttered in vain to Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,” &c. stay his soul from the perdition yawning for
it in the first hour of their joint temptaIt is not a little remarkable that, having tion,in the first instance expressed so strongly
“ That, trusted home, his surprise at finding a truth among the Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,” &c. progeny of the father of lies, and uttered that the dead lips appear to move, and the that fine instinctive exclamation, “ What! can the devil speak true ? ” Banquo, in the dead eyes are sadly fixed on him, and the final deliberate expression of his opinion to heavy locks, dripping with gore, are shaken Macbeth upon the subject of the witches' in silent intolerable rebuke. In the meetprophecy, warns him against the semblance ing with the kind-hearted old king, which of truth, that combined with his own treach- immediately follows, the loyal professions of erous infirmity, is strengthening the temp
the two generals are, as might have been tation by which his whole soul is being sincere devotion to Duncan. Banquo an
expected, precisely in inverse ratio to their searched :
swers in a few simple words the affectionate “ But it is strange,
demonstration of his sovereign, while MacAnd oftentimes to win us to our harm
betb, with bis whole mind churning round The instruments of darkness tell us truths,” &c. and round like some black whirlpool the
murderous but yet unformed designs which Although these two passages may appear have taken possession of it, utters his bollow at first to involve a contradiction almost, it professions of attachment in terms of infiseems to me that both the sentiments - the nitely greater warmth and devotion. On the
nomination of the king's eldest son to the so similar in their general character, and so dignity of Prince of Cumberland, the bloody exquisitely different in their particular form. task which he had already proposed to him. This last quoted passage precedes lines self is in an instant doubled on his hands; which appear to me incomparable in harmony and instantly, without any of his late mis- of sound and in the perfect beauty of their givings, he deals in imagination with the imagery: lines on which the tongue dwells, second human life that intercepts his direct which linger on the ear with a charm enattainment of the crown. This short solil- hanced by the dark horror of the speaker's oquy of his ends with some lines which are purpose in uttering them, and which remind not more remarkable for the power with one of the fatal fascination of the Gorgon's which they exhibit the confused and dark beauty, as it lies in its frame of writhing heavings of his stormy thoughts than for reptiles, terrible and lovely at once to the being the first of three similar adjurations, beholder: of various expression, but almost equal poetic beauty :
Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood."
We see the violet-coloured sky, we feel the The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be
soft intermitting wind of evening, we hear Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see!”
the solemn lullaby of the dark fir-forest; the
homeward flight of the birds suggests the In the very next scene, we have the invo- sweetest images of rest and peace; and, cation to darkness with which Łady Mac- coupled and contrasting with the gradual beth closes her terrible dedication of ber- falling of the dim veil of twilight over the selt to its ruling powers :
placid face of nature, the remote horror “ of
the deed of fearful note about to desecrate “ Come, thick night,
the solemn repose of the approaching night And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,” &c. gives to these harmonious and lovely lines a What can be finer than this peculiar use of The combination of vowels in this line will not
wonderful effect of mingled beauty and terror. the word pall ; suggestive not only of black
the ear of a nice observer of the melness, but of that funereal blackness in which ody of our language: the “ rooky wood” is death is folded up; an image conveying at a specimen of å happiness of a sound not so once absence of light and of life ?
frequent perhaps in Shakespeare as in Mil. “ That my keen knife see not the wound it of words. To return to Banquo: in the
ton, who was a greater master of the melody makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the scene where he and Macbeth are received dark,
with such overflowing demonstrations of To cry, Hold ! hold !” &c.
gratitude by Duncan, we have already ob
served he speaks but little; only once inThe third of these murderous adjurations deed, when in answer to the king's exclato the powers of nature for their complicity mation, is uttered by Macbeth in the scene preceding the banquet, when, having contrived “Let me unfold thee, and hold thee to my the mode of Banquo's death, he apostrophi
heart," zes the approaching night thus :
he simply replies, “ Come, sealing night! Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,” &c.
"There if I grow, the harvest is your own." (what an exquisite grace and beauty there But while Macbeth is rapidly revolving in is in this wonderful line !)
his mind the new difficulties thrown in the
way of his ambition, and devising new “ And with thy bloody and invisible hand crimes to overleap lest he fall down upon Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond, them, we are left to imagine Banquo as diWhich keeps me pale !”
lating upon his achievements to the king,
and finding in his praise the eloquence Who but Shakespeare would thus have that had failed him in the professions of his multiplied expressions of the very same idea own honest loyalty; for no sooner had Macwith such wonderful variety of power and beth departed to announce the king's apbeauty in each of them ? - images at once proach to his wife, than Duncan answers to
the words spoken aside to him by Ban- | Macheth he expresses astonishment that he quo:
is not yet abed. How beautiful is the prayer
with which he fortifies himself against the “ True, worthy Banquo, he is full so valiant, nightly visitation of his soul's enemy!And in his praises I am fed.”
“Merciful powers, This slight indication of the generous dis- Restrain in me the accursed thoughts that naposition that usually lives in holy alliance with integrity and truth is a specimen of Gives way to in repose.” that infinite virtue which pervades all Shakespeare's works, the effect of which is Further on the explanation of these lines felt in the moral harmony of the whole, is found in the brief conversation that foleven by those who overlook the wonderful lows between bimself and Macbeth when he details by which the general result is pro- says, “I dreamed last night of the three duced. Most fitting is it, too, that Banquo weird sisters,” and it is against a similar visshould speak the delicious lines by which itation of the powers of darkness during his the pleasant seat of Macbeth's castle is helpless hours of slumber that he prays to be brought so vividly to our senses. The man defended before surrendering himself to the of temperate passions and calm mind is heavy summons that “lies like lead upon the devout observer of nature; and thus bim.” It is remarkable that Banquo, though it is that, in the grave soldier's mouth bis temptation assails him from without in the notice of the babits of the guest of dreams of the infernal prophetesses, prays to summer, the temple-haunting martlet,” is be delivered not from them, but from the “ acan appropriate beauty of profound signifi- cursed thoughts that nature gives way to in
Here again are lines whose intrin- repose ;” referring, and justly, his danger to sic exquisiteness is keenly enhanced by the complicity with evil in his own nature the impending doom which hovers over the that noble nature of which Macbeth speaks kind old king. With a beart overflowing as sovereignly virtuous, but of which the with joy for the success of his arms, and moral infirmity is thus confessed by him who gratitude towards his victorious generals, best knows its treacherous weakness. Duncan stands, inhaling the serene summer Banquo next appears in the midst of the air, receiving none but sensations of the hideous uproar consequent upon Duncan's most pleasurable exhilarations on the, murder, when the vaulted chambers of the threshold of his slaughter-house. The sunny castle ring with Macduff's cries to the dead breezy eminence, before the hospitable cas- man's sleeping sons — when every door tle gate of his devoted kinsman and subject, bursts open as with the sweeping of a whirlbetrays no glimpse to his delighted spirits wind, and half-naked forms, and faces white of the glimmering midnight chamber, where, with sudden terror, lean from every gallery between his drunken grooms and his devil- overlooking the great hall into which pour, driven assassin, with none to hear his stifled like the in-rushing ridges of the tide, the cries for help but the female fiend who scared and staring denizens of the upper listens by the darkened door, his life-blood chambers; while along remote corridors is to ooze away before the daylight again echoes the sound of hurrying feet, and inarstrikes at the portal by which he now stands ticulate cries of terror are prolonged through rejoicing in the ruddy glow of its departure. dismal distant passages, and the fare of sudBanquo next meets us, as the dark climax den torches flashes above and below, just at hand; the heavens, obedient to the making the intermediate darkness blacker; invocation of guilt, have shut their eyes, un- and the great stone fortress seems to reel willing to behold the perpetration of the from base to settlement with the horror that crime about to be committed. The good old has seized like a frenzy on all its inmates. king has retired to rest in unusual satisfac- From the midst of this appalling tumult rises tion, his host and hostess have made their the calm voice of the man who remembers last lying demonstrations, and are gone to the that he “stands in the great hand of God," secret councils of the chamber where they and thence confronts the furious elements of lie in wait. Banquo — unwilling to yield human passion surging and swaying before himself to the sleep which treacherously him. presents to his mind, through the disturbed Banquo stands in the hall of Macbeth's agency of dreams, the temptation so sternly castle, in that sudden surprise of dreadful repelled by his waking thoughts - is about circumstances alone master of his soul, alone to withdraw, supposing himself the last of able to appeal to the All-seeing Judge of all who wake in the castle ; for on meeting human events, alone able to advise the actions and guide the counsels of the passion- | this up by joining Russia and Austria in an shaken men around him - a wonderful “ identical note” to the same effect. Furthimage of steadfastness in that tremendous er, he is even said to have sanctioned the chaos of universal dismay and doubt and proposal of certain alternatives, such as the terror.
"neutralization” of Luxemburg, or its This is the last individual and character transfer to Belgium, or its exchange for a istic manifestation of the man. The inevita- Belgian district to be given to France, all ble conviction of Macbeth's crime, and of which have been more or less summarily equally inevitable conviction of the proba- rejected. The honourable path of retreat ble truth of the promised royalty of his own is therefcre cut off, and Napoleon, assured children, are the only two important utter- by all Europe that he is quite in the right, ances of his that succeed, and these are fol- must either go forward, or admit publicly that lowed so immediately by his own death that he abandons a claim, adjudged by disinterestthe regretful condemnation of the guilty ed parties to be valid, out of fear. That is man once the object of his affectionate ad- not the result our diplomacy was expected iniration cannot assume the bitterer charac- to achieve, and it is the worse because there ter of personal detestation, or the reluctant was no necessity for intervening. The admission of the truth of the infernal proph- question at issue is not one of importance ecy beguile him into dangerous specula- to us. If the Treaties of 1839 are in existtions as to the manner of its fulfilment. The ence, as Prussia contends, her right to garnoble integrity of the character is unimpair- rison Luxemburg is as cle ir as ours to gared to the last.
rison Malta. If they are not, as France contends and Lord Stanley appears to have
argued, what, beyond acknowledging that From The Spectator, 27 April.
fact, have we to do with the matter ? Lord
Stanley will probably plead that peace is LORD STANLEY AND THE COMING WAR. of the highest importance to our individual
interests, which is true, if by peace we It would seem to be almost impossible for mean a genuine peace, and not merely an England to adhere to the policy of non-in-armed truce, but how does intervention tervention. If ever there was a Foreign help to maintain it? It might, no doubt, if Secretary who might be trusted not to in- we were prepared to threaten an alliance tervene unnecessarily in Continental quar- with France unless Prussia made some conrels it is Lord Stanley. If ever there was a cession, but we are not prepared. We are quarrel in which intervention was inexpedi- not about, and we know that we are not ent, it is the one between France and Ger- about, to land an army at Memel, or blockmany about the evacuation of Luxemburg: ade Hamburg, or do anything whatsoever Yet unless all Europe is deceived, Lord contrary to the interests of Gerinany. If Stanley has not only intervened in that France wins we may have to fight for Belaffair, but intervened in such a manner gium to maintain our pledges, and if Gerthat it will be harder than ever to main- many wins we might interfere to protect tain peace. The situation, stripped of dip- Holland as a free and allied State, but unlomatic reticences, is this. The Emperor til one of those two countries is threatened of the French demands the evacuation of we most assuredly shall not fight. Count Luxemburg as a right — the King of Hol- von Bismarck knows that as well as we do, land being sole proprietor of the State - and the dispatch therefore reads to him as and as a concession necessary to his honour, a mere declaration that England likes peace and threatens that if his demand is rejected on the Continent better than war. So does he will enforce it by arms. The King of he, only he dislikes the price he would just Prussia rejects the demand, first, as un- now have to pay for it
. But there are founded - he having treaty rights in the moral forces which we have to consider. fortress; and secondly, as one with which The “moral force” of England was very his honour will not permit him to comply. strongly exerted on behalf both of DenThe issue being joined, the best hope of mark and Poland, and saved neither of peace is that Napoleon, aware as he is of the them one single exaction. The Prussian magnitude of the risks involved in war, Government does not care one straw whethshould be furnished with some honourable er we think it in the right or not, and as excuse for retreat. Thereupon, Lord Stan- for peace, it may reply, and doubtless will ley, according to report, intervenes with a reply, that peace is very dear to it, and that dispatch in which England gives her opin- Napoleon has only to recede to make peace ion that France is in the right, and follows certain, while we are directly advising him