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crime to himself, that he chiefly fears—the probability of its being somehow punished even in this world— the universal horror it will excite in the minds of others,these are what determine him, for the time, to give up his murderous intent. Not that he does not feel the guilt too, in all its aggravation, but that this would not have been sufficient to decide him without the other considerations that have been mentioned.
After the crime is perpetrated, we have a scene of a different kind. The high wrought state of excitement into which his ambitious views, and the persuasions of the lady, had raised him when he "screwed his courage to the sticking place," and determined to commit the act, has now given way, and reflection, or conscience, now opens his eyes to the full horror of his situation.
Macb. I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? It was but the owl and the cricket, but to the disturbed mind of Macbeth every thing is a cause of alarm. His eye glances on the bloody evidences of his guilt, and he exclaims,
This is a sorry sight.
Macb. There's one did laugh in 's sleep, and one cried murder!
They did wake each other. I stood and heard them ;
There are two lodged together.
Macb. One cried, God bless us! and, Amen, the other;
When they did say, God bless us.
Consider it not so deeply.
I had most need of blessing, and amen
Stuck in my throat.
There is nothing more hitherto than the natural
operation of the good feelings he possessed, awakened to activity, after the strong excitement under which he committed the crime had subsided. What follows is bolder. He had previously seen an air-drawn dagger—the mere product of his excited fancy. He is now represented as hearing a voice, which is equally the result of high wrought feelings, and expressive of the deep horror with which his crime seems now invested.
Methought I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
The lady, who has no such compunctious feelings, is astonished at this emotion, and asks, impatiently,—
What do you mean?
In his answer, it appears that this internal monitor had made so deep an impression upon him, that the "voice" appeared to address not himself merely, but the whole household:
Still it cried, Sleep no more! to all the house:
Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
His emotion has now totally deprived him of the power of thinking and acting; but she retains both :
I'll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
When she takes the daggers, and leaves him by himself, a knocking at the gate raises him from his stupor :
Whence is that knocking?
How is 't with me, when every noise appals me?
Clean from my hand? No: this my hand will rather
She returns, and again urges him to retire, to which he pays no attention.
To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.
The following remarks upon this subject are contained in a paper on the character of Macbeth, in the first number of the Phrenological Journal :* - "Lady Macbeth had no struggles before the crime: she has no immediate remorse after it. But Macbeth, who is represented with so much more feeling of a good tendency than she possesses, with some benevolence, some conscientiousness, large love of approbation, and considerable cautiousness, has no sooner committed the act to which he was goaded on by his own and his wife's ambition, than he is seized with the utmost horror at what he has done. Conscience, in such minds as his, is said to be a treacherous monitor, inasmuch as, before the commission of the crime, it warns us only in the gentlest whispers, but afterwards raises its accusing voice like thunder. This is easily and beautifully explained by the phrenological doctrine, that the organs of the different faculties are not always in an equally active state, but come into activity seriatim, either from internal causes, or as they may be affected by external circumstances. The doctrine is, that, previously to the commission of crime, the propensities leading to that crime are in a highly active * Pages 106, 107.
state; but no sooner are these gratified, than a reaction takes place. The propensities, wearied with long exertion, become dormant, and the moral powers coming into activity, shew us the enormity we have been guilty of in all its horror. It is not merely conscientiousness that, being roused, is offended by the commission of the crime. Veneration, when it exists, is offended by our seeing that we have transgressed the laws, and done outrage to the commands of our Maker. Love of Approbation is offended, in that we feel that we have incurred the reprobation, the scorn, and the hatred of all the wise and the good. Cautiousness is alarmed at the evil consequences which may attend our guilt in this world, and the punishment which awaits it in the This, joined to Secretiveness, alarms us with the fear of detection, and we start at every sound, and mistake every bush for a minister of vengeance. In the case of murder, which outrages a greater number of the higher sentiments than almost any other crime, benevolence is highly offended, and, through that, all the social affections. All these feelings, being roused in the mind of the murderer after the passions that led to the murder have subsided, are sufficient to convert his mind into a nest of scorpions. The whole mixed state of feeling constitutes what is called remorse, and which probably, when those feelings are possessed in any considerable degree, continues to haunt the culprit. through life, and to render him his own tormentor, even when he is not overtaken by public justice."
This, then, is CONSCIENCE, and this the way in which, in many cases, it asserts its supremacy. The case above stated is one where a crime has been committed under the influence of selfish and inferior feelings, and contrary to the dictates of the higher sentiments. But cases may be figured, and have no doubt occurred, where the very
highest sentiments have led to crime. This is particularly apt to occur in matters of the most important kind, as in relation to points of religious faith. It cannot be doubted that many persecutors of heretics have been incited to acts of the most atrocious cruelty, from the most firm and conscientious belief, that they were acting for the benefit of the souls of mankind, and even of those whom they most bitterly persecuted. Can it be doubted that this was the case with Saul the persecutor, when he went down to Damascus, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord." His sincerity in this has never been questioned; he firmly believed he was doing God service. But after his miraculous conversion, we can easily conceive the anguish of mind which this sincere and conscientious man must have endured, when he discoverd that Jesus of Nazareth, whom he persecuted, was in truth the Son of the living God-the Eternal King of Glory-the Saviour of the world. He possessed the sentiments of veneration, hope, wonder, benevolence, justice, and firmness, in great endowment, and in high activity, before as well as after his conversion; and it was in consequence of their activity that he was a persecutor; but this would afford him little consolation after it was declared to him how grievously they had been misdirected, and how deeply and fatally he had been in error. We may imagine his thoughts during the three days that elapsed before the visit of Ananias, while he remained blind, solitary, and fasting; all his self-righteousness cast down, and humbled in the dust. His previous ignorance would not then appear to excuse him, for he would feel that he ought to have inquired into the evidence before he persecuted the followers of Christianity, and that, in fact, his understanding had been darkened by an evil heart of unbelief. Accordingly his remorse, or con