« PreviousContinue »
chiefly by contagion from her-yet, as both were finally involved in the guilt of murder, the murderous mind of necessity is finally to be presumed in both. This was to be expressed; and on its own account, as well as to make it a more proportionable antagonist to the unoffending nature of their victim, “the gracious Duncan,” and adequately to expound “the deep damnation of his taking off," this was to be expressed with peculiar energy. We were to be made to feel that the human nature, that is, the divine nature of love and mercy, spread through the hearts of all creatures, and seldom utterly withdrawn from man, was gone, vanished, extinct; and that the fiendish nature had taken its place. And, as this effect is marvellously accomplished in the dialogues and soliloquies themselves, so it is finally consummated by the expedient under consideration; and it is to this that I now solicit the reader's attention.
If the reader has ever witnessed a wife, daughter, or sister in a fainting fit, he may chance to have observed that the most affecting moment in such a spectacle is that in which a sigh and a stirring announce the recommencement of suspended life. Or, if the reader has ever been present in a vast metropolis on the day when some great national idol was carried in funeral pomp to his grave, and chancing to walk near the course through which it passed, has felt powerfully, in the silence and desertion of the streets, and in the stagnation of ordinary business, the deep interest which at that moment was possessing the heart of man,if all at once he should hear the death-like stillness broken up by the sound of wheels rattling away from the scene, and making known that the transitory vision was dissolved, he will be aware that at no moment was his sense of the complete suspension and pause in ordinary human concerns so full and affecting as at that moment when the suspension ceases and the goings-on of human life are suddenly resumed.
All action in any direction is best expounded, measured, and made apprehensible by re-action. Now apply this to the case in Macbeth. Here, as I have said, the retiring of the human heart and the entrance of the fiendish heart was to be expressed and made sensible. Another world has stepped in, and the murderers are taken out of the region of human things, human purposes, human desires. They are transfigured : Lady Macheth is “unsexed;” Macbeth has forgot that he was born of woman: both are conformed to the image of devils; and the world of devils is suddenly revealed. But how shall this be conveyed and made palpable?
In order that a new world may step in, this world must for a time disappear. The murderers and the murder must be insulated --cut off by an immeasurable gulf from the ordinary tide and succession of human affairs—locked up and sequestered in some deep recess; we must be made sensible that the world of ordinary life is suddenly arrested—laid asleep-tranced-racked into a dread armistice: time must be annihilated; relation to things without abolished; and all must pass self-withdrawn into a deep syncope and suspension of earthly passion. Hence it is, that when the deed is done, when the work of darkness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes away like a pageantry in the clouds: the knocking at the gate is heard, and it makes known audibly that the re-action has commenced: the human has made its reflux upon the fiendish; the pulses of life are beginning to beat again, and the re establishment of the goings-on of the world in which we live first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that had suspended them.
O mighty poet! thy works are not as those of other men, simply and merely great works of art, but are also like the phenomena of nature—like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers, like frost and snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and thunder, -which are to be studied with entire submission of our own faculties, and in the perfect faith that in them there can be no too much or too little, nothing useless or inert; but that, the further we press in our discoveries, the more we shall see proofs of design and self-supporting arrangement where the careless eye had seen nothing but accident.
To be, or not to be, that is the question; The pangs of despised love, the law's deWhether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
lay, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; The insolence of office, and the spurns Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, That patient merit of the unworthy takes, And, by opposing, end them? To die, -- When he himself might his quietus make to sleep,
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels No more;-and, by a sleep, to say we end bear, The heart-ache, and the thousand natural To grunt and sweat under a weary life, shocks
But that the dread of something after That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation death, Devoutly to be wished. To die ;-- to The undiscovered country, from whose sleep;
bourn To sleep! perchance to dream;--ay, there's No traveller returns,-- puzzles the will. the rub!
And makes us rather bear those ills we For in that sleep of death what dreams have, may come,
Than fly to others that we know not of? When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Thus conscience does make cowards of us Must give us pause. There's the respect That makes calamity of so long life; And thus the native hue of resolution For who would bear the whips and scorns Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought; of time,
And enterprises of great pith and moment, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's With this regard, their currents turn awry, contumely,
And lose the name of action.
THE WIFE'S DUTY TO HER HUSBAND.
FIE, fie ! unknit that threatening, unkind | While thou liest warm at home, secure and brow;
safe; And dart not scornful glances from those And craves no other tribute at thy hands, eyes,
But love, fair looks, and true obedience;To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor: Too little payment for so great a debt. It blots thy beauty, as frost bites the Such duty as the subject owes the prince. meads;
Even such a woman oweth to her husband; Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake And when she's froward, peevish, sullen, fair buds;
sour, And in no sense is meet, or amiable. And not obedient to his honest will, A woman moved is like a fountain troubled, What is she but a foul contending rebel, Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty; And graceless traitor to her loving lord? And, while it is so, none so dry or thirsty I am ashamed that women are so simple Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it. To offer war where they should kneel for Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy peace; keeper,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares When they are bound to serve, love, and for thee,
obey. And for thy maintenance commits his Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and body
smooth, To painful labour, both by sea and land; Unapt to toil and trouble in the world, To watch the night in storms, the day in But that our soft conditions and our hearts cold,
Should well agree with our external parts
OTHELLO'S APOLOGY FOR HIS MARRIAGE.
Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors; Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And portance in my travels' history.
This to hear The very head and front of my offending Would Desdemona seriously incline; Hath this extent; no more.
Rude am I in But still the house-affairs would draw her speech,
thence : And little bless'd with the set phrase of Which ever as she could with haste peace;
despatch, For since these arms of mine had seven She'd come again, and with a greedy ear years' pith,
Devour up my discourse. Which I Till now, some nine mcons wasted, they observing, have used
Took once a pliant hour, and found good Their dearest action in the tented field;
means And little of this great world can I speak To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart, More than pertains to feats of broils and That I would all my pilgrimage dilate, battles:
Whereof by parcels she had something And little, therefore, shall I grace my cause heard, In speaking for myself. Yet, by your But not intentively. I did consent; patience,
And often did beguile her of her tears, I will a round unvarnished tale deliver When I did speak of some distressful stroke Of my whole course of love; what drugs, That my youth suffered. --My story being what charms,
done, What conjuration, and what mighty magic, She gave me for my pains a world of sighs: (For such proceeding I am charged withal,) | She said 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange; I won his daughter with. ...
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful: Her father loved me; oft invited me; She wished she had not heard it; yet she Still questioned me the story of my life
wished From year to year--the battles, sieges, That Heaven had made her such a man: fortunes,
she thanked me; That I have passed.
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved I ran it through, even from my boyish days, her, To the very moment that he bade me tell it. I should but teach him how to tell my story, Wherein I spoke of most disastrous And that would woo her. Upon this hint chances;
I spake: Of moving accidents, by flood and field; She loved me for the dangers I had passed; Of hair-breadth 'scapes i’ the imminent And I loved her that she did pity them.deadly breach;
This only is the witchcraft I have used.
COMMONWEALTH OF BEES.
So work the honey bees;
Which pillage they with merry march bring Creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach To the tent royal of their emperor : [home The act of order to a peopled kingdom. Who, busied in his majesty, surveys They have a king and officers of sorts : The singing masons building roofs of gold; Where some, like magistrates, correct at The civil citizens kneading up the honey; home :
The poor mechanic porters crowding in Others, like merchants, venture trade Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate; abroad :
The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum, Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, Delivering o'er to executors pale Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds; The lazy yawning drone.
STORY OF THE SIEGE OF CALAIS.
EDWARD III., after the battle of Cressy, laid siege to Calais. He had fortified his camp in so impregnable a manner that all the efforts of France proved ineffectual to raise the siege, or throw succours into the city. The citizens, under Count Vienne, their gallant governor, made an admirable defence. France had now put the sickle into her second harvest since Edward, with his victorious army, sat down before the town. The eyes of all Europe were intent on the issue. At length famine did more for Edward than arms. After suffering unheard-of calamities, they resolved to attempt the enemy's camp. They boldly sallied forth; the English joined battle; and, after a long and desperate engagement, Count Vienne was taken prisoner, and the citizens who survived the slaughter retired within their gates. The command devolving upon Eustace St. Pierre, a man of mean birth, but of exalted virtue, he offered to capitulate with Edward, provided he permitted them to depart with life and liberty. Edward, to avoid the imputation of cruelty, consented to spare the bulk of the plebeians, provided they delivered up to him six of their principal citizens, with halters about their necks, as victims of due atonement for that spirit of rebellion with which they had inflamed the vulgar. When his messenger, Sir Walter Mauny, delivered the terms, consternation and pale dismay were impressed on every countenance. To a long and dead silence deep sighs and groans succeeded, till Eustace St. Pierre, getting up to a little eminence, thus addressed the assembly :
“My friends, we are brought to great straits this day. We must either yield to the terms of our cruel and ensnaring conqueror, or give up our tender infants, our wives, and our daughters, to the enemy. Is there any expedient left whereby we may avoid the guilt and infamy of delivering up those who have suffered every inisery with you, on the one hand, or the desolation and horror of a sacked city, on the other ? There is, my friends; there is one