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

Act III. Scene II.


The Same.Another Room in the Palace.

Enter LADY MACBETH and a Servant.

Lady M.Is Banquo gone from court?

Serv.Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.

Lady M.Say to the king, I would attend his leisure

For a few words.

Serv.Madam, I will.[Exit.

Lady M.Nought’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.

Macb.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.

Lady M.Come on;

Gentle my lord, sleek o’er your rugged looks;

Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.

Macb.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.

Lady M.You must leave this.

Macb.O! full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife;

Thou know’st that Banquo and his Fleance lives.

Lady M.But in them nature’s copy’s not eterne.

Macb.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.

Lady M.What’s to be done?

Macb.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, prithee, go with me.[Exeunt.