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that has been effected, without a word, she listens to his fretful communing with his guilty conscience, remarking only with considerate feeling
“ You lack the season of all natures, sleep.”
Down to the end of this scene, she is her true self—the woman of fearless thought and purpose, and unhalting reckless deed : after that, a dream of it.
LAST SCENE.-Act V., Scene 1.
She comes gliding on with that peculiar step which distinguishes the somnambulist from any other being in motion, viz., a kind of predetermined adherence to a course, shadowed by the still waking memory, which gives to the figure that singular and awful appearance of moving repose: the stillness of sleep disturbed by convulsions characterising the waking propensities and experience, the hopes and fears, of life.
Her action, it is to be conceived, should indicate the native energy of her character, the indomitable will of her soul, to contend with and subjugate even the consciousness it retains of guilt and pollution. Her strife with the upbraiding spot, after her determined efforts to eradicate it
" Yet here's a spot;”.
her impatient agony at its resistance to her imaginary endeavours at purification, and then her renewed and desperate exertions to obliterate it; her command, as if her will were 'omnipotent,
“ Out,. damned spot-out, I say!" are in perfect keeping with the extraordinary energy, which
has carried her, through every opposing circumstance, to the attainment of the “golden round" for which she sighed. With the momentary triumph seemingly attained over this dreadful monitor—the spot, the phantasy changes; and the signal-bell of Duncan's death rings in her ears. She counts with listening attitude,
“ One!-two !"
and (seeming to gather up her entire powers) steps forward, as if bent upon her task of horror, with all her waking confidence in its accomplishment expressed in her dreamy absorption of idea and attitude
“ Why, then, 'tis time to do 't!"
and, as if sensible of the thick darkness she had invoked, partly bewildered in it, but unshaken in courage, murmurs her troubled consciousness of its density
“ Hell is murky!"
Her mocking scorn of cowardice amidst her own sense of horror, is a fine touch of the master hand
Fie, my lord-fie! a soldier, and a-feared ?"
Her daring reasoning
“ What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?"
and her dreadful, shuddering admission of the revolting nature and consequence of the act having exceeded her anticipations
“ Yet who would have thought the old mun to have had so much blood in him?"
follow in rapid succession, shifting with the facility common to dreams, but always consistent with the past acts of the sleeper. Then“
comes her fit again"
“ What, will these hands ne'er be clean?"
and with it the additional dread of betrayal through the involuntary ravings of her partner in guilt
“ No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that ; you mar all with this starting;"
then her mournful conviction of the continuance of murder's effects
“ Here's the smell of the blood still;"
and the futility of all attempts at purification
“ AU the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!"
then the last efforts to avoid detection
“ Wash your hands, put on your night-gown; look not so pale;"
her hushed nervous reasoning on the chances of concealment
“ I tell you get again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out of his grave;"
her fear of surprise and promptitude to escape it
“ To bed, to bed; there's knocking at the gate; come, come, come, come, give me your hand; what's done, cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed!”
With this summary of her eventful history the scene of this world closes on this being of wondrous but perverted faculties; and with it must close our speculations.
We have endeavoured to find a relationship between her acts and external circumstances: assuming that to them, as well as to the heart-nourished passion for dominion arising out of them, rather than entirely to inherent cruelty of disposition or more than common depravity of heart, her extraordinary hardihood in crime is owing. The passionate and powerful elements of her character, if they had been directed to some pure moral end, would have made her memory as blessed as it is now odious; so that, whilst we reflect with abhorrence and terror on her acts as in league with evil, we cannot help lamenting our loss of her finely-touched spirit breathing in the records of the deeds of the just and merciful.
Decked in all the tinsel glory of earthly state, for which she had defiled her immortal soul with innocent blood, and betrayed the majesty of her radiant intellect into the murky regions of cowering crime, there to become the instrument of destruction to others and herself, she teaches us the deep lesson that,
“ Nought's had, all's spent
When our desire is got without content !"
It is to the more recondite features of her character the chief attention of the reader is directed, as a means of judging how far she may have sacrificed her true nature on the altar of her ambition, in directing the force of her intellect and physical powers to the execution of so dark a crime as murder : under the conviction that a fair consideration of them will justify the opinions which have been submitted, with regard to her equal capacities for good instead of evil, had the influences of the age and position in whieh she lived been different.
Sickened with the often idealess iteration of “The fiend, the demon, Lady Macbeth!” indulged in by the many, the inqairing and candid mind has no resource but careful and open-minded investigation for itself; and, without endeavouring to enforce the opinions, resulting from such an examination of the records it has made available for the purpose, it should lay them open in turn to the examination of such as may be animated by a similar object. In this spirit the author addressess the preceding remarks on the character of Lady Macbeth to the candour of the reader.