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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene III.


The Same.

Knocking within.Enter a Porter.

Porter.Here’s a knocking, indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate he should have old turning the key.[Knocking within.]Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty: come in time; have napkins enough about you; here you’ll sweat for ’t.[Knocking within.]Knock, knock! Who’s there i’ the other devil’s name! Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: O! come in, equivocator.[Knocking within.]Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither for stealing out of a French hose: come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose.[Knocking within.]Knock, knock; never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further: I had thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.[Knocking within.]Anon, anon! I pray you, remember the porter.[Opens the gate.


Macd.Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,

That you do lie so late?

Port.Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

Macd.What three things does drink especially provoke?

Port.Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery; it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

Macd.I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.

Port.That it did, sir, i’ the very throat o’ me: but I requited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him.

Macd.Is thy master stirring?


Our knocking has awak’d him; here he comes.

Len.Good morrow, noble sir.

Macb.Good morrow, both.

Macd.Is the king stirring, worthy thane?

Macb.Not yet.

Macd.He did command me to call timely on him:

I have almost slipp’d the hour.

Macb.I’ll bring you to him.

Macd.I know this is a joyful trouble to you;

But yet ’tis one.

Macb.The labour we delight in physics pain.

This is the door.

Macd.I’ll make so bold to call,

For ’tis my limited service.[Exit.

Len.Goes the king hence to-day?

Macb.He does: he did appoint so.

Len.The night has been unruly: where we lay,

Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,

Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,

And prophesying with accents terrible

Of dire combustion and confus’d events

New hatch’d to the woeful time. The obscure bird

Clamour’d the livelong night: some say the earth

Was feverous and did shake.

Macb.’Twas a rough night.

Len.My young remembrance cannot parallel

A fellow to it.

Re-enter MACDUFF.

Macd.O horror! horror! horror! Tongue nor heart

Cannot conceive nor name thee!

Macb. & Len.What’s the matter?

Macd.Confusion now hath made his master-piece!

Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope

The Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence

The life o’ the building!

Macb.What is ’t you say? the life?

Len.Mean you his majesty?

Macd.Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight

With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;

See, and then speak yourselves.[Exeunt MACBETH and LENNOX.

Awake! awake!

Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!

Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!

Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,

And look on death itself! up, up, and see

The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!

As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,

To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.[Bell rings.


Lady M.What’s the business,

That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley

The sleepers of the house? speak, speak!

Macd.O gentle lady!

’Tis not for you to hear what I can speak;

The repetition in a woman’s ear

Would murder as it fell.


O Banquo! Banquo!

Our royal master’s murder’d!

Lady M.Woe, alas!

What! in our house?

Ban.Too cruel any where.

Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,

And say it is not so.

Re-enter MACBETH and LENNOX.

Macb.Had I but died an hour before this chance

I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this instant,

There’s nothing serious in mortality,

All is but toys; renown and grace is dead,

The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees

Is left this vault to brag of.


Don.What is amiss?

Macb.You are, and do not know ’t:

The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood

Is stopp’d; the very source of it is stopp’d.

Macd.Your royal father’s murder’d.

Mal.O! by whom?

Len.Those of his chamber, as it seem’d, had done ’t:

Their hands and faces were all badg’d with blood;

So were their daggers, which unwip’d we found

Upon their pillows: they star’d, and were distracted; no man’s life

Was to be trusted with them.

Macb.O! yet I do repent me of my fury,

That I did kill them.

Macd.Wherefore did you so?

Macb.Who can be wise, amaz’d, temperate and furious,

Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man:

The expedition of my violent love

Outran the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,

His silver skin lac’d with his golden blood;

And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature

For ruin’s wasteful entrance: there, the murderers,

Steep’d in the colours of their trade, their daggers

Unmannerly breech’d with gore: who could refrain,

That had a heart to love, and in that heart

Courage to make’s love known?

Lady M.Help me hence, ho!

Macd.Look to the lady.

Mal.[Aside to DONALBAIN.]Why do we hold our tongues,

That most may claim this argument for ours:

Don.[Aside to MALCOLM.]What should be spoken

Here where our fate, hid in an auger-hole,

May rush and seize us? Let’s away: our tears

Are not yet brew’d.

Mal.[Aside to DONALBAIN.]Nor our strong sorrow

Upon the foot of motion.

Ban.Look to the lady:[LADY MACBETH is carried out.

And when we have our naked frailties hid,

That suffer in exposure, let us meet,

And question this most bloody piece of work,

To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us:

In the great hand of God I stand, and thence

Against the undivulg’d pretence I fight

Of treasonous malice.

Macd.And so do I.

All.So all.

Macb.Let’s briefly put on manly readiness,

And meet i’ the hall together.

All.Well contented.[Exeunt all but MALCOLM and DONALBAIN.

Mal.What will you do? Let’s not consort with them:

To show an unfelt sorrow is an office

Which the false man does easy. I’ll to England.

Don.To Ireland, I; our separated fortune

Shall keep us both the safer: where we are,

There’s daggers in men’s smiles: the near in blood,

The nearer bloody.

Mal.This murderous shaft that’s shot

Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way

Is to avoid the aim: therefore, to horse;

And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,

But shift away: there’s warrant in that theft

Which steals itself when there’s no mercy left.[Exeunt.