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comprehend this, for many years I never could see why it should produce such an effect.
Here I pause for one moment, to exhort the reader never to pay any attention to his understanding when it stands in opposition to any other faculty of his mind. The mere understanding, however useful and indispensable, is the meanest faculty in the human mind, and the most to be distrusted; and yet the great majority of people trust to nothing else; which may do for ordinary life, but not for philosophical purposes.
My understanding could furnish no reason why the knocking at the gate in Macbeth should produce any effect, direct or reflected. In fact, my understanding said positively that it could not produce any effect. But I knew better: I felt that it did; and I waited and clung to the problem until further knowledge should enable me to solve it. At length I solved it to my own satisfaction ; and my solution is this. Murder in ordinary cases, where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the murdered person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this reason, that it flings the interest exclusively upon the natural but ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct which, as being indispensable to the primal law of self-preservation, is the same in kind, (though different in degree,) amongst all living creatures; this instinct, therefore, because it annihilates all distinctions, and degrades the greatest of men to the level of “the poor beetle that we tread on,” exhibits human nature in its most abject and humiliating attitude. Such an attitude would little suit the purposes of the poet. What, then, must he do? He must throw the interest on the murderer. Our sympathy must be with him; (of course I mean a sympathy of comprehension, a sympathy by which we enter into his feelings and are made to understand them—not a sympathy? of pity or approbation.) In the murdered person all strife of thought, all flux and reflux of passion and of purpose, are crushed by one overwhelming panic: the fear of instant death smites him “with its petrific mace.” But in the murderer-such a murderer as a poet will condescend to, there must be raging some great storm of passion-jealousy, ambition, vengeance, hatred—which will create a hell within him; and into this hell we are to look.
In Macbeth, for the sake of gratifying his own enormous and teeming faculty of creation, Shakspeare has introduced two murderers: and as usual in his hands. they are remarkably discrimiin his wife, the tiger spirit not so awake, and his feelings caught chiefly by contagion from her,-yet, as both were finally involved in the guilt of murder, the murderous mind of necessity is finally to be presumed in both. This was to be expressed; and on its own account, as well as to make it a more proportionable antagonist to the unoffending nature of their victim, “the gracious Duncan," and adequately to expound “the deep damnation of his taking off," — this was to be expressed with peculiar energy. We were to be made to feel that the human nature, i.e. the divine nature of love and mercy, spread through the hearts of all creatures, and seldom utterly withdrawn from man, was gone, vanished, extinct; and that the fiendish nature had taken its place. And, as this effect is marvellously accomplished in the dialogues and soliloquies themselves, so it is finally consummated by the expedient under consideration; and it is to this that I now solicit the reader's attention. If the reader has ever witnessed a wife, daughter, or sister in a fainting fit, he may chance to have observed that the most affecting moment in such a spectacle, is that in which a sigh and a stirring announce the recommencement of suspended life. Or, if the reader has erer been present in a vast metropolis on the day when some great national idol was carried in funeral pomp to his grave, and chancing to walk near the course through which it passed, has felt powerfully, in the silence and desertion of the streets, and in the stagnation of ordinary business, the deep interest which at that moment was possessing the heart of man, —if all at once he should hear the deathlike stillness broken up by the sound of wheels rattling away from the scene, and making known that the transitory vision was dissolved, he will be aware that at no moment was his sense of the complete suspension and pause in ordinary human concerns so full and affecting, as at that moment when the suspension ceases and the goings-on of human life are suddenly resumed. All action in any direction is best expounded, measured, and made apprehensible, by reaction. Now apply this to the case in Macbeth. Here, as I have said, the retiring of the human heart and the entrance of the fiendish heart was to be expressed and made sensible. Another world has stepped in; and the murderers are taken out of the region of human things, human purposes, human desires. They are transfigured : Lady Macbeth is "unsexed;" Macbeth has forgot that he was born of woman; both are conformed to the image of devils; and the world of devils is suddenly revealed. But how shall this be conveyed and made palpable? In order that a new world may step in, this world must for a time disappear. The murderers and the murder must be insulated—cut off by an immeasurable gulf from the ordinary tide and succession of human affairs—locked up and sequestered in some deep recess; we must be made sensible that the world of ordinary life is suddenly arrested—laid asleep
tranced-racked into a dread armistice: time must be annihilated ; relation to things without abolished; and all must pass self-withdrawn into a deep syncope and suspension of earthly passion. Hence it is, that when the deed is done, when the work of darkness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes away like a pageantry in the clouds: the knocking at the gate is heard, and it makes known audibly that the reaction has commenced : the human has made its reflux upon the fiendish; the pulses of life are beginning to beat again; and the re-establishment of the goings-on of the world in which we live, first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that had suspended them.
O mighty poet! Thy works are not as those of other men, simply and merely great works of art, but are also like the phenomena of nature--like the sun and the sea, the stars and the flowers, like frost and snow, rain and dew, hail-storm and thunder,—which are to be studied with entire submission of our own faculties, and in the perfect faith that in them there can be no too much or too little, nothing useless or inert,—but that, the further we press in our discoveries, the more we shall see proofs of design and self-supporting arrangement where the careless eye had seen nothing but accident !
AN INTERVIEW WITII A MALAY.
One day a Malay knocked at my door. What business a Malay could have to transact among English mountains, I cannot conjecture; but possibly he was on on his road to a pea-port, about forty miles distant. The servant who opened the door to him was a young girl born and bred among the mountains, who had never seen an Asiatic dress of any sort : his turban, therefore, confounded her not a little; and, as it turned out that his attainments in English were exactly of the same extent as her's in the Malay, there seemed to be an impassable gulf fixed between all communication of ideas, if either party had happened to possess any. In this dilemma, the girl recollecting the reputed learning of her master, (and, doubtless, giving me credit for a knowledge of all the languages of the earth, besides, perhaps, a few of the lunar ones,) came and gave me to understand that there was a sort of demon below, whom she clearly imagined that my art could exorcise from the house. I did not immediately go down; but when I did, the group which presented itself, arranged as it was by accident, though not very elaborate, took hold of my fancy and my eye in a way that none of the statuesque attitudes exhibited in the ballets at the operahouse, though so ostentatiously complex, had ever done. In a cottage kitchen, but panelled on the wall with dark wood that from age and rubbing resembled oak, and looking more like a rustic hall of entrance than a kitchen, stood the Malay—his turban and loose
trowsers of dingy white relieved upon the dark panelling: he had placed himself nearer to the girl than she seemed to relish, though her native spirit of mountain intrepidity contended with the feelings of simple awe which her countenance expressed as she gazed upon the tiger-cat before her. And a more striking picture there could not be imagined than the beautiful English face of the girl, and its exquisite fairness, together with her erect and independent attitude, contrasted with the sallow and bilious skin of the Malay, enamelled or veneered with mahogany by marine air; his small, fierce, restless eyes, thin lips, slavish gestures and adorations. Half hidden by the ferocious-looking Malay was a little child from a neighboring cottage, who had crept in after him, and was now in the act of reverting its head and gazing upwards at the turban and the fiery eyes beneath it, whilst with one hand he caught at the dress of the young woman for protection. My knowledge of the Oriental tongues is not remarkably extensive, being, indeed, confined to two words—the Arabic word for barley and the Turkish for opium, (madjoon,) which I have learnt from Anastasius. And as I had neither a Malay dictionary nor even Adelung's Mithridates, which might have helped me to a few words, I addressed him in some lines from the Iliad, considering that, of such languages as I possessed, Greek, in point of longitude, came geographically nearest to an Oriental one. He worshipped me in a most devout manner, and replied in what I suppose was Malay. In this way I saved my reputation with my neighbors, for the Malay had no means of betraying the secret. He lay down upon the floor for about an hour, and then pursued his journey. On his departure, I presented him with a piece of opium. To him, as an Orientalist, I concluded that opium must be familiar; and the expression of his face convinced me that it was. Nevertheless, I was struck with some little consternation when I saw him suddenly raise his hand to his mouth, and in the school-boy phrase) bolt the whole, divided into three pieces, at one mouthful. The quantity was enough to kill three dragoons and their horses, and I felt some alarm for the poor creature; but what could be done? I had given him the opium in compassion for his solitary life, on recollecting that, if he had travelled on foot from London, it must be nearly three weeks since he could have exchanged a thought with any human being. I could not think of violating the laws of hospitality by having him surged and drenched with an emetic, and thus frightening him into a notion that we were going to sacrifice him to some English idol. No, there was clearly no help for it; he took his leave, and for some days I felt anxious; but, as I never heard of any Malay being found dead, I became convinced that he was used to opium, and that I must have done him the service I designed, by giving him one night of respite from the pains of wandering.
Tuis most agreeable and eminently instructive writer has published the following works : “ Pantica, or Traditions of the most Ancient Times,” 2 vols.; "The Boy's Country Book ;" “ The Rural Life of England," 2 vols.; “ The Student Life of Germany;" "A Popular History of Priestcraft in all Ages and Nations;" “ Colonization and Christianity;" “Visits to Remarkable Places—Old Halls, Battle-fields, and Scenes illustrative of Striking Passages in English History and Poetry,” first and second series; “The Rural and Domestic Life of Germany;" “German Experiences, addressed to the English, both stayers at home and goers abroad;"
;" “ Homes and IIaunts of the most eminent British Poets ;” “ The Ilall and the Hamlet, or Scenes and Characters of Country Life;" “ Country Year Book; Field, Forest, and Fireside ;" “Madame Dorington of the Dene, the Story of a Life,” in 3 vols.; and he and his wife have recently jointly published “ The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, being a complete history of the Literature of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland,” 2 vols.
William Howitt, as well as his wife Mary, contributed largely to the “ People's Journal," and afterward, in consequence of some misunderstanding between themselves and the editor, they established a journal of their own, called “ Howitt's Journal,” which was well received and encouraged, mingling, as it did, “ tasteful literary essays with radical political disquisitions, and bringing them within the reach of every-day men of business and toil. The educated radicalism of England found an organ in these journals, whose tone harmonized with their sympathies. High as is Mr. Howitt's literary reputation, it is as a political and social reformer that his name will be the most widely known. llis · History of Priestcraft,' published in 1834, while he lived at Nottingham, and of which more than 20,000 copies have been sold, gave him éclat in a new field, brought him somo money, which he needed, and an election of alderman of that town, which he did not want at all. Four years afterward he published • Colonization and Christianity,' which led to the formation of the British Indian Society, to the abolition of slavery in the peninsula of Hindostan, and to efforts to relieve from oppression, and stimulate to enterprise, the myriads that swarm in that long-neglected portion of the empire. Mr. Howitt's writings in behalf of complete suffrage, religious toleration, and Irish relief are as honorable to the benevolence of his heart as are his numerous literary works to the fertility of his genius."
TIIE MISSION OF CHRIST.
Christ appeared ;—the career of paganism was checked ;—the fate of Judaism was scaled. A character and a religion were placed before the eyes of men hitherto inconceivable in the beauty and philanthropy of their nature. Unlike all other founders of a religious faith, Christ had no selfishness, no desire of dominance; and his system, unlike all other systems of worship, was bloodless, boundlessly beneficent, inexpressibly pure, and most marvellous of