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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Scene II


[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 leisureFor 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 destroyThan 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 diedWith them they think on? Things without all remedyShould 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 maliceRemains 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 sleepIn the affliction of these terrible dreamsThat shake us nightly. Better be with the deadWhom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,Than on the torture of the mind to lieIn 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 weMust 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 flownHis cloister’d flight, ere to black Hecate’s summonsThe shard-borne beetle with his drowsy humsHath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be doneA 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 handCancel and tear to pieces that great bondWhich keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the crowMakes 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.