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-and I ask—when did Macbeth first de- 3d Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou sign the murder of Duncan ? Does not every
be none : body think—in the moment after the Witches
So, all hail, Macbeth and Banquo. have first accosted and left him ? Does not
1st Witch. Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
Macbeth. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me -it may be asked—the whole moral signifi
more ; cancy of the Witches disappear, unless the By Sinel's death, I know, I am thane of Glamis : invasion of hell into Macbeth's bosom is first But how of Cawdor ? the thane of Cawdor lives, made by their presence and voices ?
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king, NORTH. No. The whole moral signifi
Stands not within the prospect of belief, cancy of the Witches only then appears,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say, from whence
You owe this strange intelligence ? or why when we
are assured that they address themselves only to those who already have with such prophetic greeting ?-Speak, I charge
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way been tampering with their conscience. “Good
you. sir ! why do you start, and seem to fear
[Witches vanish. things that do sound so fair ?” That ques- Banquo. The earth hath bubbles, as the water tion put to Macbeth by Banquo turns our has, eyes to his face---and we see Guilt. There And these are of them :-Whither are they van
ished ? was no start at “ Hail to thee, Thane of Caw
Macbeth. Into the air, and what seem'd corpodor,”—but at the word “ King,” well might
ral, melted he start; for- -eh?
As breath into the wind. Would they had staid ! Talboys. We must look up the Scene.
Bunquo. Were such things here, as we do North. No need for that. You have it
speak about ? by heart—recite it.
Or have we eaten of the insane root TALBOYS.
That takes the reason prisoner ?
Macbeth. Your children shall be kings. “ Macbeth: So foul and fair a day I have not seen. Banquo. You shall be king. Banquo. How far is't called to Forres ?-- What Macbeth. And thane of Cawdor too; went it are these,
not so ? So wither'd, and so wild in their attire ;
Banquo. To the self-same tune, and words." That look not like the inhabitants of the earth, And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught NORTII. Charles Kemble himself could not That man may question? You seem to under- have given it more impressively,
stand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying
BULLER. You make him blush, sir. Upon her skinny lips :-You should be women,
North. Attend to that “start" of MacAnd yet your beards forbid me to interpret
beth, Talboys. That you are so.
Talboys. He might well start on being Macbeth. Speak, if you can ;-What are you? told of a sudden, by such seers, that he was 1st Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, hereafter to be King of Scotland.
thane of Glamis ! 21 Witch. All hail, Macbeth ! hail to thee, that, my lad, else Shakspeare would not have
NORTH. There was more in the start than thane of Cawdor ! 3d Witch. All hail, Macbeth ! that shalt be king so directed our eyes to it. I say again-it hereafter.
was the start-of a murderer. Banquo. Good sir, why do you start ; and seem Talboys. And what if I say it was not ? to fear
But I have the candor to confess, that. I am Things that do sound so fair ? --I' the name of not familiar with the starts of murderers—so truth,
may possibly be mistaken. Are ye fantastical, or that indeed Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
North. Omit what intervenes—and give
But before you You greet with present grace, and great predic- us the Soliloquy, Talboys. tion
do so, let me merely remind you that MacOf noble having, and of royal hope,
beth's mind, from the little he says in the inThat he seems rapt withal; to me you speak not : terim, is manifestly ruminating on something If you can look into the seeds of time,
bad, ere he breaks out into Soliloquy. And say which grain will grow, and which will
“ Two truths are told, 1st Witch. Hail!
As happy prologues to the swelling act 2d Witch. Hail!
Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen. 3d Witch. Hail!
This supernatural soliciting 1st Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Cannot be ill-cant ot be good :--If ill, 2d Witch. Not so happy, yet much happier. Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth ? I am Thane of Cawdor: 1 but once, and then without interchanging a
is, I say, from no leaning toward the Weird Are less than horrible imaginings :
Sisters that I take this view of Macbeth's My thought whose murder is yet but fantastical
character. No " sublime flashes of
generosShakes so my single state of man, that function ity, magnanimity, tenderness, and every exIs smothered in surmise; and nothing is, alted quality that can dignify and adorn the But what is not."
human mind," do I ever suffer to pass by withNorth. Now, my dear Talboys, you will character of any well-disposed man, real or
out approbation, when coruscating from the agree with me in thinking that this first imaginary, however unaccountable at other great and pregnant, although brief soliloquy, times his conduct may appear to be; but stands for germ, type, and law of the whole Shakspeare, who knew Macbeth better than Play, and of its criticism and for clue
has here assured us that he was to the labyrinth of the Thane's character.
in heart a murderer-for how long he does " Out of this wood do not desire to go.” not specify—before he had ever seen a birse Out of it I do not expect soon to go. I re- on any of the Weird Sisters' beards. But gard William as a fair Poet and a reasonable let's be canny. Talboys-pray, what is the Philosopher ; but as a supereminent Play: meaning of the word "- soliciting,” “ preterwright. The First Soliloquy must speak natural soliciting,” in this Soliloquy ? the nature of Macbeth, else the Craftsman
Talboys. Soliciting, sir, is, in my interhas no skill in his trade. A Soliloquy rereals. preting, “an appealing, intimate visitation.” That is its function. Therein is the soul
NORTH. Right. The appeal is generalheard and seen discoursing with itself-with- as that challenge of a trumpet--Fairy Queen, in itself; and if you carry your eye through book III., canto xii., stanza 1—up to the First Appearance of Lady Macbeth--this Soliloquy is distinctly the highest “ Signe of nigh battail or got victorye.” point of the Tragedy--the tragic acme-or dome—or pinnacle--therefore of power in which, all indeterminate, is notwithstanding a definite, infinite. On this rock i stand, a challenge-operates, and is felt as such. Colossus ready to be thrown down by-an Talboys. So a thundering knock at your Earthquake.
door—which be a friend or an enemy. Buller. Pushed off by—a shove. It comes as a summoning: It is more than
North. Not by a thousand Buller-power. internal urging and inciting of me by my Can you believe, Buller, that the word of the
own thoughts—for, mark, sir, the rigor of Third Witch, “that shalt be King HEREAF- the word “supernatural,” which throws the TER,” sows the murder in Macbeth's heart, soliciting off his own soul upon the Weirds. and that it springs up, flowers, and fruits The word is really undetermined to pleasure with such fearful rapidity ?
or pain-the essential thought being that BULLER. Why-Yes and No.
there is a searching or penetrating provocaNorth. Attend, Talboys, to the words tive—a stirring up of that which lay dead “supernatural soliciting.” What “supernat- and still. Next is the debate whether this ural soliciting” to evil is there bere? Not a intrusive, and pungent, and stimulant assault syllable had the Weird Sisters breathed about of a presence and an oracle be good or ill? Murder. But now there is much soliloqui- North. Does the hope live in him for a zing—and Cawdor contemplates himself ob- moment that this home-visiting is not illjectively-seen busy upon an elderly gentle that the spirits are not ill? They have spoman called Duncan-after a fashion that so
ken truth so far-ergo, the third “All hail!” frightens him subjectively—that Banquo can- shall be true, too. . But more than that not help whispering to Rosse and Angus- they have spoken truth. Ergo, they are not “See how our partner's rapt!"
spirits of Evil. That hope dies in the same
instant, submerged in the stormy waves Talboys. “My thought whose murder's which the blast from hell arouses. The inyet fantastical.” I agree with you, sir, in fernal revelation glares clear before him—a suspecting that he must have thought of the Crown held out by the hand of Murder. murder.
One or two struggles occur. Then the truth NORTH. is from no leaning toward the stands before him fixed and immutableWeird Sisters—whom I never set eyes on “Evil, be thou my good.” He is dedicated :
and passive to fate. I cannot comprehend | words have become favorites with us, who this so feeble debate in the mind of a good are an affectionate and domestic people—and man-I cannot comprehend any such debate are lovingly applied to the loving; but Lady at all in the mind of a previously settled and Macbeth attached no such profound sense to determined murderer; but I can compre- them as we do; and meant merely that she hend and feel its awful significancy in the thought her husband would, after all, much mind of a man already in a most perilous prefer greatness unbought by blood; and, moral condition.
at the time she referred to, it is probable he SEWARD. The “start” shows that the would ; but that she meant no more than spark has caught—it has fallen into a tun of that, is plain from the continuation of her gunpowder.
praise, in which her ideas get not a little Talboys. The touch of Ithuriel's spear. confused ; and her words, interpret them as
NORTH. May we not say, then, that per- you will, leave nothing “milky” in Macbeth baps the Witches have shown no more than at all. Milk of human kindness, indeed! this-the Fascination of Contact between Talboys. Passion and Opportunity?
“ What thou would'st highly, Seward. To Philosophy reading the hie- That would'st thou holily; would'st not play false, roglyphic; but to the People what? To And yet would'st wrongly win : thou'dst have them they are a reality. They seize the ima- That witch cries,'· Thus thou must do, if thou
great Glamis, gination with all power. They come like
have it ; * blasts from hell”-like spirits of Plague, And that which rather thou dost fear to do, whose breath—whose very sight kills. Than wishest should be undone."
6. Within them Hell They bring, and round about them; nor from Hell
That is her Ladyship’s n tion of the “milk One step, no more than from themselves, can fly." of human kindness!” “I wish somebody
would murder Duncan—as for murdering The contagion of their presence, in spite of him myself, I am much too tender-hearted what we have been saying, almost reconciles and humane for perpetrating such cruelty my understanding to what it would otherwise with my own hand !"* revolt from, the suddenness with which the
Buller. Won't you believe a Wife to be penetration of Macbeth into futurity lays fast
a good judge of her husband's disposition ? hold upon Murder.
North. Not Lady Macbeth. For does Buller. Pretty fast—though it gives a not she herself tell us, at the same time, that twist or two in his handling.
he had formerly schemed how to commit SEWARD. Lady Macbeth herself corrobo- Murder ? rates your judgment and Shakspeare's on her
Buller. Gagged again. husband's character.
North. I see no reason for doubting that Talboys. Does she ?
she was attached to her husband ; and ShakSeward. She does. In that dreadful par- speare loved to put into the lips of women ley between them on the night of the Mur- beautiful expressions of love—but he did not der—she reminds him of a time when
intend that we should be deceived thereby “ Nor time nor place
in our moral judgments. Did then adhere, and yet you would make both; Seward. Did this ever occur to you, sir ? They have made themselves, and that their fitness Macbeth, when hiring the murderers who Does unmake you."
are to look after Banquo and Fleance, cites
a conversation in which he had demonstrated This—mark you, sir---must have been be- to them that the oppression under which fore the Play began !
they had long suffered, and which they had North. I have often thought of the words supposed to proceed from Macbeth, proceed--and Shakspeare himself has so adjusted ed really from Banquo ? My firm belief is the action of the Play as that, since the en- that it proceeded from Macbeth-that their counter with ihe Weirds, no opportunity had suspicion was right—that Macbeth was misoccurred to Macbeth for the making of leading them—and that Shakspeare means
“ time and place.” Therefore it must, as you you to apprehend this. But why should say, have been before it. Buller, what say Macbeth have oppressed his inferiors, unless
he had been-long since-of a tyrannical naBuller. Gagged.
He oppresses his inferiors—they are NORTH. True, she speaks of his being sickened and angered with the world-by full of the milk of human kindness.” The | his oppression-he tells them 'twas not he
but another who had oppressed them—and
“ The Prince of Cumberland !—That is a step that other-at his instigation--they willingly
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, murder. An ugly affair altogether.
For in my way it lies." North. Very. But let us keep to the First Act—and see what a hypocrite Macbeth has But the remorseless miscreant becomes poet
icalso very soon become—what a savage assassin !. He has just followed up his Soliloquy
“ Stars, hide your fires ! with these significant lines
Let not light see my black and deep desires ; 6. Come what come may,
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be, Time and the hour run through the roughest day;" Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see!"
when he recollects that Banquo, Rosse, and The milk of human kindness has coagulated Angus are standing near. Richard himself into the curd of inhuman ferocity—and all is not more wily-guily-smily--and oily; this—slanderers say-is the sole work of the to the Lords his condescension is already Weird Sisters ! No. His wicked heartquite kingly
because it is wicked-believes in their Pro“ Kind gentlemen, your pains
phecy--the end is assured to him—and the Are registered where every day I turn
means are at once suggested to his own The leaf to read them"
slaughterous nature. No supernatural soliTalBoys. And soon after, to the King, successfully have resisted. I again repudiate
citing here, which a better man would not how obsequious !
---should it be preferred against me-the 6. The service and the loyalty I owe,
charge of a tendresse toward the Bearded BeauIn doing it, pays itself. Your Highness' part
ties of the Blasted Heath ; but rather would Is to receive our duties; and our duties
I marry them all Three-one after the other Are to your throne and state, children, and ser- —nay, all three at once, and as many more
vants; Which do but what they should by doing every than see your Sophia, Seward, or, Buller,
as there may be in our Celtic Mythologything Safe toward you love and honor."
BULLER. We have but Marmy. What would Payne Knight have said to all
North. Wedded to a Macbeth. that? This to his King, whom he has re
SEWARD. We know your affection, my dear solved, first good opportunity, to murder !
sir, for your god-daughter. She is insured. North. Duncan is now too happy for this
North. Well, this Milk of Human Kindwicked world.
ness is off at a hand-gallopto Inverness.
The King has announced a Royal Visit to “My plenteous joys,
Macbeth's own Castle. But Cawdor had Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves
before this dispatched a letter to his lady, In drops of sorrow.”
from which Shakspeare has given us an exInvaders-traitors-now there are none.
tract. And then, as I understand it, a special Peace is restored to the Land—the Throne messenger besides, to say “the King comes rock-fast-the line secure
here to-night.” Which of the two is the
more impatient to be at work 'tis hard to “ We will establish our estate upon say ; but the idea of the murder originated Our eldest, Malcolm; whom we name hereafter, with the male Prisoner. We have his wife's The Prince of Cumberland: which honor must word for it-she told him so to his faceNot, unaccompanied, invest him only,
and he did not deny it. We have his own But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
word for it-he told himself so to his own On all deservers."
face—and he never denies it at any time durNow was the time for “the manly but in- ing the play. effectual struggle of every exalted quality Talboys. You said, a little while ago, sir, that can dignify and exalt the human mind that you believed Macleth and his wife were —for a few
sublime flashes at least of gene- a happy couple. rosity and tenderness, et cetera—now when North. Not I. I said she was attached the Gracious Duncan is loading him with to him-and I say now that the wise men honors, and, better than all honors, lavishing are not of the Seven, who point to her re. on bim the boundless effusions of a grateful ception of her husband, on his arrival at and royal heart. The Prince of Cumberland ! home, as a proof of her want of affection. Ha, ha!
They seem to think she ought to have rushed into his arms—slobbered upon his shoulder North. Ay, Seward-reserved and close -and so forth. For had he not been at as he is—he wants nerve-pluck-he is close the Wars ? Pshaw! The most tender- upon the coward—and that would be well, hearted Thanesses of those days---even those were there the slightest tendency toward that kept albums--would have been ashamed change of purpose in the Pale Face; but of weeping on sending their Thanes off to there is none—he is as cruel as ever the 'battle--much more on receiving them back more close the more cruel—the more irresoin a sound skin—with new honors nodding lute the more murderous—for to murder he on their plumes. Lady Macbeth was not one is sure to come. Seward, you said wellof the turtle doves—fit mate she for the King why does not the poor devil speak up-speak of the Vultures. I am too good an ornithol- out? Is he afraid of the spiders ? ogist to call them Eagles. She received her Talboys. Murderous-looking villain—no mate fittingly—with murder in her soul; but need of words. more cruel-more selfish than he, she could North. I did not say, sir, there was any not be--nor, perhaps, was she less; but she need of words. Why will you always be was more resolute--and resolution even in contradicting one? evil-in such circumstances as hers--seems Talboys. Me? 1? I hope I shall never to argue a superior nature to his, who, while live to see the day on which I contradict he keeps vacillating, as if it were between Christopher North’in his own Tent. At good and evil, betrays all the time the bias least-rudely. that is surely inclining him to “vil, into which NORTH. Do it rudely-not as you did now he makes a sudden and sure wheel at last. --and often do—as if you were agreeing with
Buller. The Weirds--the Weirds !--the me--but you are incurable. I say, my dear Weirds have done it all!
Talboys, that Macbeth so bold in a *twa NORTli. Macbeth — Macbeth !- Macbeth haun'd crack” with himself in a Soliloquyhath done it all!
so figurative—and so fond of swearing by the BULLER. Furies and Fates !
Stars and old Mother Night, who were not NORTH. Who make the wicked their vic- aware of his existence—should not have been tims!
thus tongue-tied to his own wife in their own SEWARD. Is she sublime in her wicked secretest chamber-should have unlocked ness?
and flung open the door of his heart to herNorth. It would, I fear, be wrong to say like a man. I blush for him-I do. So did
But I was speaking of Macbeth's char- his wife. acter--not of hers-and, in comparison with BULLER. I don't find that in the record. him, she may seem a great creature. They North. Don't you?
“ Your face, my are now utterly alone—and of the two be Thane, is as a book where men may read has been the more familiar with murder. strange matters.” She sees in his face selfBetween them, Duncan already is a dead alarm at his own murderous intentions. And man. But how pitiful—at such a time and so she counsels him about his face-like a at such a greeting—Macbeth's cautions self-collected, trust-worthy woman.
“ To beguile the time, look like the time;" with " My dearest love,
further good stern advice. But-“We shall Duncan comes here to-night!
speak farther," is all she can get from him in Lady - And when goes hence ? Mubeth.-To-morrow, as he purposes.
answer to conjugal assurances that should Lady.-Oh, never
have given him a palpitation at the heart, and Shall sun that morrow see !"
set his eyes on fireWhy, Talboys, does not the poor devil
“ He that's coming Talboys. Poor devil! Macbeth a poor Must be provided for; and you shall put devil?
This night's great business into my dispatch ; North. Why, Buller, does not the poor Which shall, to all our nights and days to come, devil ?
Give solely sovereign sway and Masterdom.” BULLER. Poor devil!
Macbeth a poor devil ?
There spoke one worthy to be a Queen! North. Why, Seward, does the poor Seward. Worthy! devil
Nortii. Ay—in that age-in that counSEWARD. Speak up-speak out? Is he try. "Twas not then the custom “ to speak afraid of the spiders ? You know him, sir- daggers but use none. Did Shakspeare you see through him.
mean to dignify, to magnify Macbeth by