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

Scene III

Act IV

[England. Before the King’s palace]

Mal.Let us seek out some desolate shade, and thereWeep our sad bosoms empty.Macd.Let us ratherHold fast the mortal sword, and like good menBestride our down-fallen birthdom. Each new mornNew widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrowsStrike heaven on the face, that it resoundsAs if it felt with Scotland, and yell’d outLike syllable of dolour.Mal.What I believe I’ll wail,What know believe, and what I can redress,As I shall find the time to friend, I will.What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,Was once thought honest; you have lov’d him well.He hath not touch’d you yet. I am young; but somethingYou may deserve of him through me, and wisdomTo offer up a weak poor innocent lambTo appease an angry god.Macd.I am not treacherous.Mal.But Macbeth is.A good and virtuous nature may recoilIn an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon;That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose.Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,Yet grace must still look so.Macd.I have lost my hopes.Mal.Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.Why in that rawness left you wife and child,Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,Without leave-taking? I pray you,Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,Whatever I shall think.Macd.Bleed, bleed, poor country!Great tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure,For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs;The title is affeer’d! Fare thee well, lord:I would not be the villain that thou think’stFor the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,And the rich East to boot.Mal.Be not offended;I speak not as in absolute fear of you.I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gashIs added to her wounds. I think withalThere would be hands uplifted in my right;And here from gracious England have I offerOf goodly thousands. But, for all this,When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head,Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor countryShall have more vices than it had before,More suffer and more sundry ways than ever,By him that shall succeed.Macd.What should he be?Mal.It is myself I mean; in whom I knowAll the particulars of vice so graftedThat, when they shall be open’d, black MacbethWill seem as pure as snow, and the poor stateEsteem him as a lamb, being compar’dWith my confineless harms.Macd.Not in the legionsOf horrid hell can come a devil more damn’dIn evils to top Macbeth.Mal.I grant him bloody,Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sinThat has a name; but there’s no bottom, none,In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill upThe cistern of my lust, and my desireAll continent impediments would o’erbearThat did oppose my will. Better MacbethThan such an one to reign.Macd.Boundless intemperanceIn nature is a tyranny; it hath beenThe untimely emptying of the happy throneAnd fall of many kings. But fear not yetTo take upon you what is yours. You mayConvey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,And yet seem cold; the time you may so hoodwink.We have willing dames enough; there cannot beThat vulture in you, to devour so manyAs will to greatness dedicate themselves,Finding it so inclin’d.Mal.With this there growsIn my most ill-compos’d affection suchA stanchless avarice that, were I King,I should cut off the nobles for their lands,Desire his jewels and this other’s house;And my more-having would be as a sauceTo make me hunger more, that I should forgeQuarrels unjust against the good and loyal,Destroying them for wealth.Macd.This avariceSticks deeper, grows with more pernicious rootThan summer-seeming lust, and it hath beenThe sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear;Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will,Of your mere own. All these are portable,With other graces weigh’d.Mal.But I have none. The king-becoming graces,As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,I have no relish of them, but aboundIn the division of each several crime,Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I shouldPour the sweet milk of concord into hell,Uproar the universal peace, confoundAll unity on earth.Macd.O Scotland, Scotland!Mal.If such an one be fit to govern, speak.I am as I have spoken.Macd.Fit to govern!No, not to live. O nation miserable,With an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptred,When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,Since that the truest issue of thy throneBy his own interdiction stands accurs’d,And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal fatherWas a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,Died every day she liv’d. Fare thee well!These evils thou repeat’st upon thyselfHath banish’d me from Scotland. O my breast,Thy hope ends here!Mal.Macduff, this noble passion,Child of integrity, hath from my soulWip’d the black scruples, reconcil’d my thoughtsTo thy good truth and honour. Devilish MacbethBy many of these trains hath sought to win meInto his power, and modest wisdom plucks meFrom over-credulous haste. But God aboveDeal between thee and me! for even nowI put myself to thy direction, andUnspeak mine own detraction; here abjureThe taints and blames I laid upon myself,For strangers to my nature. I am yetUnknown to woman, never was forsworn,Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,At no time broke my faith, would not betrayThe devil to his fellow, and delightNo less in truth than life; my first false speakingWas this upon myself. What I am truly,Is thine and my poor country’s to command;Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,Already at a point, was setting forth.Now we’ll together; and the chance of goodnessBe like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?Macd.Such welcome and unwelcome things at once’Tis hard to reconcile.
Enter a Doctor

Mal.Well; more anon.—Comes the King forth, I pray you?Doct.Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched soulsThat stay his cure. Their malady convincesThe great assay of art; but at his touch—Such sanctity hath Heaven given his hand—They presently amend.Mal.I thank you, doctor.[Exit Doctor.Macd.What’s the disease he means?Mal.’Tis call’d the evil:A most miraculous work in this good king;Which often, since my here-remain in England,I have seen him do. How he solicits Heaven,Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people,All swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,The mere despair of surgery, he cures,Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,Put on with holy prayers; and ’tis spoken,To the succeeding royalty he leavesThe healing benediction. With this strange virtue,He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,And sundry blessings hang about his throne,That speak him full of grace.
Enter ROSS

Macd.See, who comes here?Mal.My countryman; but yet I know him not.Macd.My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.Mal.I know him now. Good God, betimes removeThe means that makes us strangers!Ross.Sir, amen.Macd.Stands Scotland where it did?Ross.Alas, poor country!Almost afraid to know itself. It cannotBe call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the airAre made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seemsA modern ecstasy. The dead man’s knellIs there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s livesExpire before the flowers in their caps,Dying or ere they sicken.Macd.O, relationToo nice, and yet too true!Mal.What’s the newest grief?Ross.That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker;Each minute teems a new one.Macd.How does my wife?Ross.Why, well.Macd.And all my children?Ross.Well too.Macd.The tyrant has not batter’d at their peace?Ross.No; they were well at peace when I did leave ’em.Macd.Be not a niggard of your speech; how goes ’t?Ross.When I came hither to transport the tidings,Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumourOf many worthy fellows that were out;Which was to my belief witness’d the rather,For that I saw the tyrant’s power a-foot.Now is the time of help; your eye in ScotlandWould create soldiers, make our women fight,To doff their dire distresses.Mal.Be ’t their comfortWe’re coming thither. Gracious England hathLent us good Siward and ten thousand men;An older and a better soldier noneThat Christendom gives out.Ross.Would I could answerThis comfort with the like! But I have wordsThat would be howl’d out in the desert air,Where hearing should not latch them.Macd.What concern they?The general cause? Or is it a fee-griefDue to some single breast?Ross.No mind that’s honestBut in it shares some woe; though the main partPertains to you alone.Macd.If it be mine,Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.Ross.Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,Which shall possess them with the heaviest soundThat ever yet they heard.Macd.Hum! I guess at it.Ross.Your castle is surpris’d; your wife and babesSavagely slaughter’d. To relate the manner,Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,To add the death of you.Mal.Merciful heaven!What, man! ne’er pull your hat upon your brows;Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speakWhispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.Macd.My children too?Ross.Wife, children, servants, allThat could be found.Macd.And I must be from thence!My wife kill’d too?Ross.I have said.Mal.Be comforted.Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge,To cure this deadly grief.Macd.He has no children.—All my pretty ones?Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?What, all my pretty chickens and their damAt one fell swoop?Mal.Dispute it like a man.Macd.I shall do so;But I must also feel it as a man.I cannot but remember such things were,That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am,Not for their own demerits, but for mine,Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!Mal.Be this the whetstone of your sword; let griefConvert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.Macd.O, I could play the woman with mine eyesAnd braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,Cut short all intermission. Front to frontBring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;Within my sword’s length set him; if he scape,Heaven forgive him too!Mal.This tune goes manly.Come, go we to the King; our power is ready;Our lack is nothing but our leave. MacbethIs ripe for shaking, and the powers abovePut on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may;The night is long that never finds the day.Exeunt.