The Tragedy of Macbeth/Act III
SCENE I. Forres. The palace.
- Thou hast it now,—king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
- As the weird women promis'd; and, I fear,
- Thou play'dst most foully for't; yet it was said
- It should not stand in thy posterity;
- But that myself should be the root and father
- Of many kings. If there come truth from them,—
- As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine,—
- Why, by the verities on thee made good,
- May they not be my oracles as well,
- And set me up in hope? But hush; no more.
[Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth as King, Lady Macbeth as Queen; Lennox, Ross, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants.]
- Here's our chief guest.
- If he had been forgotten,
- It had been as a gap in our great feast,
- And all-thing unbecoming.
- To-night we hold a solemn supper, sir,
- And I'll request your presence.
- Let your highness
- Command upon me; to the which my duties
- Are with a most indissoluble tie
- For ever knit.
- Ride you this afternoon?
- Ay, my good lord.
- We should have else desir'd your good advice,—
- Which still hath been both grave and prosperous,—
- In this day's council; but we'll take to-morrow.
- Is't far you ride?
- As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
- 'Twixt this and supper: go not my horse the better,
- I must become a borrower of the night,
- For a dark hour or twain.
- Fail not our feast.
- My lord, I will not.
- We hear our bloody cousins are bestow'd
- In England and in Ireland; not confessing
- Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
- With strange invention: but of that to-morrow;
- When therewithal we shall have cause of state
- Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse: adieu,
- Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
- Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon's.
- I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
- And so I do commend you to their backs.
- Let every man be master of his time
- Till seven at night; to make society
- The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
- Till supper time alone: while then, God be with you!
[Exeunt Lady Macbeth, Lords, Ladies, &c.]
- Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men
- Our pleasure?
- They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
- Bring them before us.
- To be thus is nothing;
- But to be safely thus:—our fears in Banquo.
- Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
- Reigns that which would be fear'd: 'tis much he dares;
- And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
- He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
- To act in safety. There is none but he
- Whose being I do fear: and under him,
- My genius is rebuk'd; as, it is said,
- Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
- When first they put the name of king upon me,
- And bade them speak to him; then, prophet-like,
- They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
- Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown,
- And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
- Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
- No son of mine succeeding. If't be so,
- For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind;
- For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
- Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
- Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
- Given to the common enemy of man,
- To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
- Rather than so, come, fate, into the list,
- And champion me to the utterance!—Who's there?—
[Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers.]
- Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.
- Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
- It was, so please your highness.
- Well then, now
- Have you consider'd of my speeches? Know
- That it was he, in the times past, which held you
- So under fortune; which you thought had been
- Our innocent self: this I made good to you
- In our last conference, pass'd in probation with you
- How you were borne in hand, how cross'd, the instruments,
- Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
- To half a soul and to a notion craz'd
- Say, "Thus did Banquo."
- You made it known to us.
- I did so; and went further, which is now
- Our point of second meeting. Do you find
- Your patience so predominant in your nature,
- That you can let this go? Are you so gospell'd,
- To pray for this good man and for his issue,
- Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave,
- And beggar'd yours forever?
- We are men, my liege.
- Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
- As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
- Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
- All by the name of dogs: the valu'd file
- Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
- The house-keeper, the hunter, every one
- According to the gift which bounteous nature
- Hath in him clos'd; whereby he does receive
- Particular addition, from the bill
- That writes them all alike: and so of men.
- Now, if you have a station in the file,
- Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say it;
- And I will put that business in your bosoms,
- Whose execution takes your enemy off;
- Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
- Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
- Which in his death were perfect.
- I am one, my liege,
- Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
- Have so incens'd that I am reckless what
- I do to spite the world.
- And I another,
- So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
- That I would set my life on any chance,
- To mend it or be rid on't.
- Both of you
- Know Banquo was your enemy.
- True, my lord.
- So is he mine; and in such bloody distance,
- That every minute of his being thrusts
- Against my near'st of life; and though I could
- With barefac'd power sweep him from my sight,
- And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
- For certain friends that are both his and mine,
- Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
- Who I myself struck down: and thence it is
- That I to your assistance do make love;
- Masking the business from the common eye
- For sundry weighty reasons.
- We shall, my lord,
- Perform what you command us.
- Though our lives—
- Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most,
- I will advise you where to plant yourselves;
- Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time,
- The moment on't; for't must be done to-night
- And something from the palace; always thought
- That I require a clearness; and with him,—
- To leave no rubs nor botches in the work,—
- Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
- Whose absence is no less material to me
- Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
- Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart:
- I'll come to you anon.
- We are resolv'd, my lord.
- I'll call upon you straight: abide within.
- It is concluded:—Banquo, thy soul's flight,
- If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.
SCENE II. The palace.
[Enter Lady Macbeth and a Servant.]
- Is Banquo gone from court?
- Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.
- Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
- For a few words.
- Madam, I will.
- Naught's had, all's spent,
- Where our desire is got without content:
- 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
- Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy.
- How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
- Of sorriest fancies your companions making;
- Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
- With them they think on? Things without all remedy
- Should be without regard: what's done is done.
- We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it;
- She'll close, and be herself; whilst our poor malice
- Remains in danger of her former tooth.
- But let the frame of things disjoint,
- Both the worlds suffer,
- Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
- In the affliction of these terrible dreams
- That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
- Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
- Than on the torture of the mind to lie
- In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
- After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
- Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
- Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
- Can touch him further.
- Come on;
- Gently my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
- Be bright and jovial 'mong your guests to-night.
- So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you:
- Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
- Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue:
- Unsafe the while, that we
- Must lave our honours in these flattering streams;
- And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
- Disguising what they are.
- You must leave this.
- O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
- Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.
- But in them nature's copy's not eterne.
- There's comfort yet; they are assailable;
- Then be thou jocund: ere the bat hath flown
- His cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summons,
- The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
- Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
- A deed of dreadful note.
- What's to be done?
- Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
- Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
- Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
- And with thy bloody and invisible hand
- Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
- Which keeps me pale!—Light thickens; and the crow
- Makes wing to the rooky wood:
- Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
- Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse.—
- Thou marvell'st at my words: but hold thee still;
- Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill:
- So, pr'ythee, go with me.
SCENE III. A park near the palace.
[Enter three Murderers.]
- But who did bid thee join with us?
- He needs not our mistrust; since he delivers
- Our offices and what we have to do
- To the direction just.
- Then stand with us.
- The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day:
- Now spurs the lated traveller apace,
- To gain the timely inn; and near approaches
- The subject of our watch.
- Hark! I hear horses.
- [Within.] Give us a light there, ho!
- Then 'tis he; the rest
- That are within the note of expectation
- Already are i' the court.
- His horses go about.
- Almost a mile; but he does usually,
- So all men do, from hence to the palace gate
- Make it their walk.
- A light, a light!
- 'Tis he.
- Stand to't.
[Enter Banquo, and Fleance with a torch.]
- It will be rain to-night.
- Let it come down.
[They set upon Banquo.]
- O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!
- Thou mayst revenge.—O slave!
[Dies. Fleance escapes.]
- Who did strike out the light?
- Was't not the way?
- There's but one down: the son is fled.
- We have lost best half of our affair.
- Well, let's away, and say how much is done.
SCENE IV. The same. Hall in the palace.
[A banquet prepared. Enter Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Ross, Lennox, Lords, and Attendants.]
- You know your own degrees: sit down. At first
- And last the hearty welcome.
- Thanks to your majesty.
- Ourself will mingle with society,
- And play the humble host.
- Our hostess keeps her state; but, in best time,
- We will require her welcome.
- Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;
- For my heart speaks they are welcome.
- See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks.—
- Both sides are even: here I'll sit i' the midst:
[Enter First Murderer to the door.]
- Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure
- The table round.—There's blood upon thy face.
- 'Tis Banquo's then.
- 'Tis better thee without than he within.
- Is he despatch'd?
- My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.
- Thou art the best o' the cut-throats; yet he's good
- That did the like for Fleance: if thou didst it,
- Thou art the nonpareil.
- Most royal sir,
- Fleance is 'scap'd.
- Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect;
- Whole as the marble, founded as the rock;
- As broad and general as the casing air:
- But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
- To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?
- Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
- With twenty trenched gashes on his head;
- The least a death to nature.
- Thanks for that:
- There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled
- Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
- No teeth for the present.—Get thee gone; to-morrow
- We'll hear, ourselves, again.
- My royal lord,
- You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold
- That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a-making,
- 'Tis given with welcome; to feed were best at home;
- From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony;
- Meeting were bare without it.
- Sweet remembrancer!—
- Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
- And health on both!
- May't please your highness sit.
[The Ghost of Banquo rises, and sits in Macbeth's place.]
- Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
- Were the grac'd person of our Banquo present;
- Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
- Than pity for mischance!
- His absence, sir,
- Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your highness
- To grace us with your royal company?
- The table's full.
- Here is a place reserv'd, sir.
- Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your highness?
- Which of you have done this?
- What, my good lord?
- Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
- Thy gory locks at me.
- Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well.
- Sit, worthy friends:—my lord is often thus,
- And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
- The fit is momentary; upon a thought
- He will again be well: if much you note him,
- You shall offend him, and extend his passion:
- Feed, and regard him not.—Are you a man?
- Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
- Which might appal the devil.
- O proper stuff!
- This is the very painting of your fear:
- This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
- Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws, and starts,—
- Impostors to true fear,—would well become
- A woman's story at a winter's fire,
- Authoriz'd by her grandam. Shame itself!
- Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
- You look but on a stool.
- Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo! how say you?—
- Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.—
- If charnel houses and our graves must send
- Those that we bury back, our monuments
- Shall be the maws of kites.
- What, quite unmann'd in folly?
- If I stand here, I saw him.
- Fie, for shame!
- Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time,
- Ere humane statute purg'd the gentle weal;
- Ay, and since too, murders have been perform'd
- Too terrible for the ear: the time has been,
- That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
- And there an end; but now they rise again,
- With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
- And push us from our stools: this is more strange
- Than such a murder is.
- My worthy lord,
- Your noble friends do lack you.
- I do forget:—
- Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends;
- I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
- To those that know me. Come, love and health to all;
- Then I'll sit down.—Give me some wine, fill full.—
- I drink to the general joy o' the whole table,
- And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss:
- Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
- And all to all.
- Our duties, and the pledge.
[Ghost rises again.]
- Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
- Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
- Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
- Which thou dost glare with!
- Think of this, good peers,
- But as a thing of custom: 'tis no other,
- Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
- What man dare, I dare:
- Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
- The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
- Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
- Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
- And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
- If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
- The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
- Unreal mockery, hence!
- Why, so;—being gone,
- I am a man again.—Pray you, sit still.
- You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
- With most admir'd disorder.
- Can such things be,
- And overcome us like a summer's cloud,
- Without our special wonder? You make me strange
- Even to the disposition that I owe,
- When now I think you can behold such sights,
- And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
- When mine are blanch'd with fear.
- What sights, my lord?
- I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
- Question enrages him: at once, good-night:—
- Stand not upon the order of your going,
- But go at once.
- Good-night; and better health
- Attend his majesty!
- A kind good-night to all!
[Exeunt all Lords and Attendants.]
- It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:
- Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak;
- Augurs, and understood relations, have
- By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks, brought forth
- The secret'st man of blood.—What is the night?
- Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
- How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
- At our great bidding?
- Did you send to him, sir?
- I hear it by the way; but I will send:
- There's not a one of them but in his house
- I keep a servant fee'd. I will to-morrow,
- (And betimes I will) to the weird sisters:
- More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
- By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,
- All causes shall give way: I am in blood
- Step't in so far that, should I wade no more,
- Returning were as tedious as go o'er:
- Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
- Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.
- You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
- Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
- Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:—
- We are yet but young in deed.
SCENE V. A Heath.
- Note: Some consider this scene apocryphal and possibly not written by Shakespeare, since it is not in iambic pentameter and the plot is intact without it.
[Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting Hecate.]
- Why, how now, Hecate? You look angerly.
- Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
- Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
- To trade and traffic with Macbeth
- In riddles and affairs of death;
- And I, the mistress of your charms,
- The close contriver of all harms,
- Was never call'd to bear my part,
- Or show the glory of our art?
- And, which is worse, all you have done
- Hath been but for a wayward son,
- Spiteful and wrathful; who, as others do,
- Loves for his own ends, not for you.
- But make amends now: get you gone,
- And at the pit of Acheron
- Meet me i' the morning: thither he
- Will come to know his destiny.
- Your vessels and your spells provide,
- Your charms, and everything beside.
- I am for the air; this night I'll spend
- Unto a dismal and a fatal end.
- Great business must be wrought ere noon:
- Upon the corner of the moon
- There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
- I'll catch it ere it come to ground:
- And that, distill'd by magic sleights,
- Shall raise such artificial sprites,
- As, by the strength of their illusion,
- Shall draw him on to his confusion:
- He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
- His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear:
- And you all know, security
- Is mortals' chiefest enemy.
[Music and song within, "Come away, come away" &c.]
- Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
- Sits in a foggy cloud and stays for me.
- Come, let's make haste; she'll soon be back again.
SCENE VI. Forres. The palace.
[Enter Lennox and another Lord.]
- My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,
- Which can interpret further: only, I say,
- Thing's have been strangely borne. The gracious Duncan
- Was pitied of Macbeth:—marry, he was dead:—
- And the right valiant Banquo walk'd too late;
- Whom, you may say, if't please you, Fleance kill'd,
- For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late.
- Who cannot want the thought, how monstrous
- It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
- To kill their gracious father? damned fact!
- How it did grieve Macbeth! did he not straight,
- In pious rage, the two delinquents tear
- That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
- Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too;
- For 'twould have anger'd any heart alive,
- To hear the men deny't. So that, I say,
- He has borne all things well: and I do think,
- That had he Duncan's sons under his key,—
- As, an't please heaven, he shall not,—they should find
- What 'twere to kill a father; so should Fleance.
- But, peace!—for from broad words, and 'cause he fail'd
- His presence at the tyrant's feast, I hear,
- Macduff lives in disgrace. Sir, can you tell
- Where he bestows himself?
- The son of Duncan,
- From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth,
- Lives in the English court and is receiv'd
- Of the most pious Edward with such grace
- That the malevolence of fortune nothing
- Takes from his high respect: thither Macduff
- Is gone to pray the holy king, upon his aid
- To wake Northumberland, and warlike Siward:
- That, by the help of these,—with Him above
- To ratify the work,—we may again
- Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights;
- Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives;
- Do faithful homage, and receive free honours,—
- All which we pine for now: and this report
- Hath so exasperate the king that he
- Prepares for some attempt of war.
- Sent he to Macduff?
- He did: and with an absolute "Sir, not I,"
- The cloudy messenger turns me his back,
- And hums, as who should say, "You'll rue the time
- That clogs me with this answer."
- And that well might
- Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance
- His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
- Fly to the court of England, and unfold
- His message ere he come; that a swift blessing
- May soon return to this our suffering country
- Under a hand accurs'd!
- I'll send my prayers with him.