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

Act III. Scene VI.


Forres.A Room in the Palace.

Enter LENNOX and another Lord.

Len.My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,

Which can interpret further: only, I say,

Things have been strangely borne. The gracious Duncan

Was pitied of Macbeth: marry, he was dead:

And the right-valiant Banquo walk’d too late;

Whom, you may say, if ’t please you, Fleance kill’d,

For Fleance fled: men must not walk too late.

Who cannot want the thought how monstrous

It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain

To kill their gracious father? damned fact!

How it did grieve Macbeth! did he not straight

In pious rage the two delinquents tear,

That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?

Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too;

For ’twould have anger’d any heart alive

To hear the men deny ’t. So that, I say,

He has borne all things well; and I do think

That, had he Duncan’s sons under his key,—

As, an ’t please heaven, he shall not,—they should find

What ’twere to kill a father; so should Fleance.

But, peace! for from broad words, and ’cause he fail’d

His presence at the tyrant’s feast, I hear,

Macduff lives in disgrace. Sir, can you tell

Where he bestows himself?

Lord.The son of Duncan,

From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth,

Lives in the English court, and is receiv’d

Of the most pious Edward with such grace

That the malevolence of fortune nothing

Takes from his high respect. Thither Macduff

Is gone to pray the holy king, upon his aid

To wake Northumberland and war-like Siward:

That, by the help of these—with him above

To ratify the work—we may again

Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,

Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives,

Do faithful homage and receive free honours;

All which we pine for now. And this report

Hath so exasperate the king that he

Prepares for some attempt at war.

Len.Sent he to Macduff?

Lord.He did: and with an absolute, ‘Sir, not I,’

The cloudy messenger turns me his back,

And hums, as who should say, ‘You’ll rue the time

That clogs me with this answer.’

Len.And that well might

Advise him to a caution to hold what distance

His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel

Fly to the court of England and unfold

His message ere he come, that a swift blessing

May soon return to this our suffering country

Under a hand accurs’d!

Lord.I’ll send my prayers with him![Exeunt.