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

Act III. Scene I.


Forres.A Room in the Palace.


Ban.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.

Macb.Here’s our chief guest.

Lady M.If he had been forgotten

It had been as a gap in our great feast,

And all-thing unbecoming.

Macb.To-night we hold a solemn supper, sir,

And I’ll request your presence.

Ban.Let your highness

Command upon me; to the which my duties

Are with a most indissoluble tie

For ever knit.

Macb.Ride you this afternoon?

Ban.Ay, my good lord.

Macb.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?

Ban.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.

Macb.Fail not our feast.

Ban.My lord, I will not.

Macb.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?

Ban.Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon ’s.

Macb.I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;

And so I do commend you to their backs.

Farewell.[Exit BANQUO.

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 all but MACBETH and an Attendant.

Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men

Our pleasure?

Atten.They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

Macb.Bring them before us.[Exit Attendant.]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 Cæsar. 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.[Exit Attendant.

Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

First Mur.It was, so please your highness.

Macb.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.’

First Mur.You made it known to us.

Macb.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 for ever?

First Mur.We are men, my liege.

Macb.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 housekeeper, 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.

Sec. Mur.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.

First Mur.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.

Macb.Both of you

Know Banquo was your enemy.

Sec. Mur.True, my lord.

Macb.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 bare-fac’d powersweep 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

Whom 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.

Sec. Mur.We shall, my lord,

Perform what you command us.

First Mur.Though our lives—

Macb.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.

Sec. Mur.We are resolv’d, my lord.

Macb.I’ll call upon you straight: abide within.[Exeunt Murderers.

It is concluded: Banquo, thy soul’s flight,

If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.[Exit.