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often procures itself a fall. And thus having determined, he tells Lady Macbeth ;
We will proceed no further in this business.
Which would be worn, now in their newest gloss,
Macbeth, in debating with himself, chiefly dwells upon the guilt, yet touches something on the danger, of assassinating the King. When he argues with Lady Macbeth, knowing her too wicked to be affected by the one, and too daring to be deterred by the other, he urges, with great propriety, what he thinks may have more weight with one of her disposition; the favour he is in with the King, and the esteem he has lately acquired of the people. In answer to her charge of cowardice, he finely distinguishes between manly courage and brutal ferocity.
I dare do all that may become a man ;
Who dares do more, is none.
At length, overcome, rather than persuaded, he determines on the bloody deed:
I am settled, and bend up
Each corp'ral agent to this terrible feat.
How terrible to him, how repugnant to his nature, we plainly perceive, when, even in the moment that he summons up the resolution needful to perform it, horrid phantasms present themselves: murder alarmed by his sentinel the wolf stealing towards his design; witchcraft celebrating pale Hecate's offerings; the midnight ravisher invading sleeping innocence, seem his associates; and bloody daggers lead him to the very chamber of the King. At his return thence, the sense of the crime he has committed appears suitable to his repugnance at undertaking it. He tells Lady Macbeth, that, of the grooms who slept in Duncan's chamber,—
There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cry'd, Murder! They wak'd each other; and I stood and heard them But they did say their prayers, and address them Again to sleep.
One cry'd, God bless us! and, Amen! the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Consider it not so deeply.
But wherefore could not I pronounce, Amen? 201 had most need of blessings, and Amen
Stuck in my throat.
Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
Then he replies, when his Lady bids him carry back the daggers;
I am afraid to think what I have done!
Look on't again I dare not.
How natural is the exclamation of a person, who, from the fearless state of unsuspecting
innocence, is fallen into the suspicious condition of guilt, when, upon hearing a knocking at the gate, he cries out;
How is it with me, when every noise appals me ?, [
The Poet has contrived to throw a tincture of remorse even into Macbeth's resolution to murder Banquo.- He does not proceed in it like a man who, impenitent in crimes, and wanton in success, gaily goes forward in his violent career; but seems impelled onward, and stimulated to this additional villainy, by an apprehension, that, if Banquo's posterity should inherit the crown, he has sacrificed his virtue, and defiled his own soul in vain.
If 'tis so,
For Banquo's issue have I 'fil'd my mind;
For them, the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Giv'n to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings
His desire to keep Lady Macbeth innocent of this intended murder, and yet, from the. fulness of a throbbing heart, uttering what may render suspected the very thing he wishes to conceal, shews how deeply the Author enters into human nature in general, and in every circumstance preserves the consistency of the character he exhibits..
How strongly is expressed the great truth, that to a man of courage, the most terrible object is the person he has injured, in the following address to Banquo's ghost!
What man dare, I dare.
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
And dare me to the desart with thy sword;
If trembling 1 evade it, then protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, terrible shadow !
It is impossible not to sympathize with the