it yields to no compunctious visitings of conscience. "Conscience" is to her an unknown tongue,-it is a sixth sense: she admits no nice casuistry of right and wrong. The object of her ambition must be obtained-come it how it may. Means are nothing to her ;-the end is everything. The means are merged in the end. It becomes to her a necessity, to which all other circumstances must give way. She neither sees nor will hear of any let or hindrance to the accomplishment of her purpose. She neither listens to the promptings of her own mind, nor to those of her husband. She has neither scruples, doubts of success, nor fears of consequence. She is in one blaze and sunlight of hope and exultation, when once the golden promise of her ambition shines fully before her. She unflinchingly fixes her gaze upon it-eagle-like; and never after suffers her imagination to be for one instant diverted or withdrawn. She no sooner beholds it as a possibility, than that very moment it becomes to her a certainty. Her first exclamation is:—

"Glamis thou art, and Cawdor;

And shalt be what thou art promised."

The only thing wanting, she feels, is steadfastness in her husband; and this she knows she can supply. What energy, what grandeur in her invocation to him :

"Hie thee hither,

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear!"

She sets herself the task of controlling and effectually stifling all weak misgivings that might have lingered within her, and is at once prepared to meet her lord with that resolute bearing which shall infuse its spirit into his :

"Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor!

Greater than both,-by the all hail hereafter!"

The words she uses in speaking of her guest and victim, King Duncan, are wonderfully characteristic, and carry with them a slight womanly redemption, which Shakespeare so well knew to convey. She says to her husband :—

"HE that's coming

Must be provided for: and you shall put

This night's great business into my despatch."

In the next scene, we note how closely she keeps her purpose in sight, and adheres to her plan of carrying it forward. Her eye has been fixed upon her husband-has noted the vacillations in him which she dreaded, and the conflict of mind which causes him to leave the supperchamber. She follows him, expostulates with him; rises into remonstrance and reproach, even into the bitterness

of taunt:

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“What beast was 't then,

That made you break this enterprise to me?"

And when he falters out

"If we should fail?"

she rejoins

"We fail!

But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail."

Lady Macbeth neglects nothing which shall assure the accomplishment of her purpose. When the deed of murder is to be enacted, we find that she has not omitted to partake of the sleeping-cup- the posset-upon retiring to rest. Having then drugged the possets of the grooms, she enters upon the scene with these tremendous words :

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'That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold; What hath quench'd them hath given me fire."

This was a grand dramatic circumstance to introduce, illustrating the manners of the time; and singularly illustrative of the character of the woman, who disdains no means that may help to nerve and confirm her. Wonderfully in keeping, too, is her obtuse reply to her husband's agony of remorse, and affecting apostrophe to sleep :—

"Still it cried, 'Sleep no more,'" &c.
"Lady M. What do you mean?”

Impressive indeed is the lesson the poet reads upon the fruits of a bad ambition reaped by unhallowed means in the after-career of Lady Macbeth. Not only has he presented us that terrible vision of her haunted and restless sleep; but even in the very first glimpse we have of her alone,—after she is crowned queen,-is there any triumph? any satisfaction? Oh no!-sadness, discontent, despondency. This is her tone of musing :—

"Naught's had, all's spent,

Where our desire is got without content :
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy,

Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy."

Inexpressibly affecting, and profound in its admonition, is the half envy of the murderous survivors for their victim. Macbeth, too, says :

"Better be with the dead,

Whom we, to gain our place, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie

In restless agony."

With all her energy, however, to screen and sustain her husband, where is her own spirit?-Cast down-prostrate. She is capable of immense exertion while the pressure of necessity lasts; during that excessive demand upon her,

during the banquet scene, she appears omnipotent: but when the guests are gone, we behold the sudden reaction: -she sinks down into the utterly dispirited being, and utters but a few languid sentences in reply to her husband's words. It is, indeed, a striking lesson to behold Lady Macbeth as she is now, and to recall what she was. Her vigour, her animation, her fiery eloquence, when the object of her ambition was in view, and as yet unattained; her broken spirit, her depression, alternated with spasmodic efforts in her husband's behalf, her saddened days, her awful nights, her premature death, as we find them when her ambitious desires are crowned. When we desire to realise the intense bliss of rectitude and innocence, we have but to analyse the motives, the actions, and the consequences of a blood-guilty ambition, as thus depicted by Shakespeare. In scrutinising the career of such people as Macbeth and his wife,—and especially of Macbeth, who was an impressible and imaginative man,—who does not sympathise with-who does not pity him? and, in the comparison of suffering, who does not even envy the victim of his ambition?

And now, to proceed to the minor agents in this illustrious drama, and to notice their no less individuality and truth to nature, with their uniform current of action, carrying us on to its grand catastrophe.

Thus we have the first victim of Macbeth's ambition, "the good king Duncan," described as a man formed in the very mould of unoffending gentleness; even his murderer is constrained to testify that he

"Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been

So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking off."

And so beautifully do these qualities in his nature shine

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forth, that they have nearly pushed the traitor from his purpose. And when the deed has been perpetrated, with what appropriate and poetical licence has the poet heightened its circumstances, calling in the elements to

"blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind."

With what a simple and, consequently, forcible effect has he introduced that conversation between the Earl of Rosse and an "old man," without the walls of the castle, the morning after the murder, the circumstance of their wonder and amazement harmonising so finely with the romantic and preternatural character of the whole story!

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Old M. Threescore years and ten I can remember well; Within the volume of which time I have seen

Hours dreadful, and things strange; but this sore night
Hath trifled former knowings.


Ah! good father!

Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
Threaten his bloody stage. By the clock, 'tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp.
Is 't night's predominance, or the day's shame,
That darkness does the face of earth entomb,
When living light should kiss it?

Old M.

'Tis unnatural,

Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last,

A falcon, towering in her pride of place,

Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd."

[Note the felicity of that image, the courtly falcon, the

familiar of the royal fist, struck to death by a night-bird of prey-a "mousing owl." How apt, too, the epithet!]

"Rosse. And Duncan's horses, (a thing most strange and certain,)

Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,

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