“And Pity, like and naked new-born babe”
This is from the soliloquy of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s famous play Macbeth. Here Macbeth weighs the pros and cons of murder. Duncan has been a good king. His goodness will plead loudly for him to the minds of men with the trumpet-like tongues of angels against the unforgivable crime of his murder.
The babe naked and new-born, the most helpless of all things, the cherubim, innocent and beautiful call out the pity and the love by which Macbeth is judged. It is not the terror of heaven’s vengeance, which makes him pause, but the terror of moral isolation. He ends by seeing himself alone in a sudden silence where nothing can be heard but weeping, as, when a storm has blown itself out, the wind drops and we hear the steady falling of the rain, which sounds as if it would go on for ever. The naked babe ‘strides the blast’ because pity is to Shakespeare the strongest and profoundest of human emotions. It rises above and masters indignation. The cherubim are born with incredible swiftness about the world because the virtues of Duncan are of such heavenly beauty that they command universal love and reverence.