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

Act III. Scene IV.


The Same.A Room of State in the Palace.

A Banquet prepared.Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants.

Macb.You know your own degrees; sit down: at first and last,

The hearty welcome.

Lords.Thanks to your majesty.

Macb.Ourself will mingle with society

And play the humble host.

Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time

We will require her welcome.

Lady M.Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;

For my heart speaks they are welcome.

Enter First Murderer, to the door.

Macb.See, they encounter thee with their hearts’ thanks;

Both sides are even: here I’ll sit i’ the midst:

Be large in mirth; anon, we’ll drink a measure

The table round.[Approaching the door.]There’s blood upon thy face.

Mur.’Tis Banquo’s, then.

Macb.’Tis better thee without than he within.

Is he dispatch’d?

Mur.My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.

Macb.Thou art the best o’ the cut-throats; yet he’s good

That did the like for Fleance: if thou didst it,

Thou art the nonpareil.

Mur.Most royal sir,

Fleance is ’scap’d.

Macb.Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect;

Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,

As broad and general as the casing air:

But now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in

To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe?

Mur.Ay, my good lord; safe in a ditch he bides,

With twenty trenched gashes on his head;

The least a death to nature.

Macb.Thanks for that.

There the grown serpent lies: the worm that’s fled

Hath nature that in time will venom breed,

No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; to-morrow

We’ll hear ourselves again.[Exit Murderer.

Lady M.My royal lord,

You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold

That is not often vouch’d, while ’tis a-making,

’Tis given with welcome: to feed were best at home;

From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony;

Meeting were bare without it.

Macb.Sweet remembrancer!

Now good digestion wait on appetite,

And health on both!

Len.May it please your highness sit?[The Ghost of BANQUO enters, and sits in MACBETH’S place.

Macb.Here had we now our country’s honour roof’d,

Were the grac’d person of our Banquo present;

Who may I rather challenge for unkindness

Than pity for mischance!

Ross.His absence, sir,

Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your highness

To grace us with your royal company.

Macb.The table’s full.

Len.Here is a place reserv’d, sir.


Len.Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your highness?

Macb.Which of you have done this?

Lords.What, my good lord?

Macb.Thou canst not say I did it: never shake

Thy gory locks at me.

Ross.Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well.

Lady M.Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,

And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;

The fit is momentary; upon a thought

He will again be well. If much you note him

You shall offend him and extend his passion:

Feed and regard him not. Are you a man?

Macb.Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that

Which might appal the devil.

Lady M.O proper stuff!

This is the very painting of your fear;

This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,

Led you to Duncan. O! these flaws and starts—

Impostors to true fear—would well become

A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,

Authoriz’d by her grandam. Shame itself!

Why do you make such faces? When all’s done

You look but on a stool.

Macb.Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo! how say you?

Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.

If charnel-houses and our graves must send

Those that we bury back, our monuments

Shall be the maws of kites.[Ghost disappears.

Lady M.What! quite unmann’d in folly?

Macb.If I stand here, I saw him.

Lady M.Fie, for shame!

Macb.Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,

Ere human statute purg’d the gentle weal;

Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d

Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,

That, when the brains were out, the man would die,

And there an end; but now they rise again,

With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,

And push us from our stools: this is more strange

Than such a murder is.

Lady M.My worthy lord,

Your noble friends do lack you.

Macb.I do forget.

Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends;

I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing

To those that know me. Come, love and health to all;

Then, I’ll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.

I drink to the general joy of the whole table,

And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;

Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,

And all to all.

Lords.Our duties, and the pledge.

Re-enter Ghost.

Macb.Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!

Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes

Which thou dost glare with.

Lady M.Think of this, good peers,

But as a thing of custom: ’tis no other;

Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.

Macb.What man dare, I dare:

Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,

The arm’d rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;

Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves

Shall never tremble: or be alive again,

And dare me to the desart with thy sword;

If trembling I inhabit then, protest me

The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!

Unreal mockery, hence![Ghost vanishes.

Why, so; being gone,

I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.

Lady M.You have displac’d the mirth, broke the good meeting,

With most admir’d disorder.

Macb.Can such things be

And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,

Without our special wonder? You make me strange

Even to the disposition that I owe,

When now I think you can behold such sights,

And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,

When mine are blanch’d with fear.

Ross.What sights, my lord?

Lady M.I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;

Question enrages him. At once, good-night:

Stand not upon the order of your going,

But go at once.

Len.Good-night; and better health

Attend his majesty!

Lady M.A kind good-night to all![Exeunt Lords and Attendants.

Macb.It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood:

Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;

Augurs and understood relations have

By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth

The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?

Lady M.Almost at odds with morning, which is which.

Macb.How sayst thou, that Macduff denies his person

At our great bidding?

Lady M.Did you send to him, sir?

Macb.I hear it by the way; but I will send.

There’s not a one of them but in his house

I keep a servant fee’d. I will to-morrow—

And betimes I will—to the weird sisters:

More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,

By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good

All causes shall give way: I am in blood

Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

Strange things I have in head that will to hand,

Which must be acted ere they may be scann’d.

Lady M.You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

Macb.Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse

Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:

We are yet but young in deed.[Exeunt.