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189. THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.'
ITAL spark of heavenly flame,
2. Hark! they whisper: angels say,
What is this absorbs me quite,—
Heaven opens on my eyes; my ears
Lend, lend your wings! I mount, I fly!
O Death! where is thy sting?
190. MURDER OF KING DUNCAN.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
ACBETH. Is this a dagger which I see befōre me,
Come, let me clutch thee.
Expression, in the delivery of this exquisite little poem, the reader must bear in mind, requires the continued production of the feeble and failing tone of the dying man, while conveying the perfect, enthusiastic
confidence of the hopeful Christian.
'Mac beth', afterward king of Scotland, prompted by ambition, and urged on by his wife, resolves to murder the king, then his guest, and seize the crown.
A dagger of the mind; a false creation,
Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going;
Mine eyes are made the fool o' th' other senses,
Thus to mine eyes.
Now o'er the one half world
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.
Lady M. That which hath made them drunk, hath made me bold:
What hath quenched them, hath given me fire.-Hark!-peace!
Which gives the sternest good-night. He is about it—
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugged their possets,
Tar quin, two kings of Rome: L. Tarquinius Superbus, here alluded to, seventh in the line of kings, ob
tained the throne by the murder of Servius Tullius, whose daughter, Tullia, he had married.
Whether they live or die.
Macbeth [within.] Who's there?-what, ho!
Macb. I've done the deed!—didst thou not hear a noise?
Lady M. Aye.
As I descended?
Who lies i' the second chamber?
Macb. This is a sorry sight.
[Looking on his hands. Lady M. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. Macb. There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried, MURDER! That they did wake each other; I stood and heard them ; But they did say their prayers, and addressed them Again to sleep.
Lady M. There are two lodged together.
Macb. One cried, God bless us! and Amen! the other;
Lady M. Consider it not so deeply.
Macb. But wherefore could not I pronounce, Amen?
Lady M. These deeds must not be thought
Macb. Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
Chief nourisher in life's feast:
What do you mean?
Macb. Still it cried, Sleep no more, to all the house;
GLAMIS hath murdered sleep; and therefore CAWDOR
Lady M. Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
I'll go no more :
I am afraid to think what I have done :
Look on't again, I dare not.
Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
[Exit. Knocking within. Whence is that knocking?
What hands are here?-Ha! they pluck out mine eyes!
Clean from my hands? No: this my hand will rather
Making the green-one red.
Reënter Lady MACBETH.
Lady M. My hands are of your color; but I shame To wear a heart so white. [Knocking.] I hear a knocking At the south entry. Retire we to our chamber :
A little water clears us of this deed;
How easy is it, then? Your constancy'
Hath left you unattended. [Knocking.] Hark! more knocking: Get on your night-gown, lest occasion call us,
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
Incarnadine, (în kår′ nã din), to
stain red, or of a flesh-color.
2 Con' stan cy, fixedness or firm. ness of mind; resolution.
Macb. To know my deed,-'twere best not know myself.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst.
191. THE KNOCKING AT THE GATE, IN MACBETH.
ROM my boyish days I had always felt a great perplexity on one point in Macbeth'. It was this: the knocking at the gate, which succeeds to the murder of Duncan, produced to The my feelings an effect for which I never could account. effect was, that it reflected back upon the murder a peculiar awfulness and a depth of solemnity; yet, however obstinately I endeavored with my understanding to comprehend this, for many years I never could see why it should produce such an effect. Here I pause for one moment, to exhort the reader never to pay any attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any other faculty of his mind. The mere understanding, however useful and indispensable, is the meanèst faculty in the human mind, and the most to be distrusted; and yet the great majority of people trust to nothing else; which may do for ordinary life, but not for philosophical purposes.
2. My understanding could furnish no reason why the knocking at the gate in Macbeth should produce any effect, direct or reflected. In fact, my understanding said positively that it could not produce any effect. But I knew better: I felt that it did; and I waited and clung to the problem until further knowledge should enable me to solve it. At length I solved it to my own satisfaction, and my solution is this: Murder in ordinary cases, where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the murdered person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this reason, that it flings the interèst exclusively upon the natural but ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct which, as being indispensable to the primal law of selfpreservation, is the same in kind (though different in degree) among all living creatures: this instinct, therefore, because it annihilates all distinctions, and degrades the greatest of men to the level of "the poor beetle that we tread on," exhibits human nature in its most ab'ject and humiliating attitude.
3. Such an attitude would little suit the purposes of the poët.