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

Act IV. Scene I.


A Cavern.In the middle, a boiling Cauldron.

Thunder.Enter the three Witches.

First Witch.Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

Sec. Witch.Thrice and once the hedge-pig whin’d.

Third Witch.Harper cries: ’Tis time, ’tis time.

First Witch.Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.

Toad, that under cold stone

Days and nights hast thirty-one

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

All.Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Sec. Witch.Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

All.Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch.Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,

Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf

Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,

Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,

Liver of blaspheming Jew,

Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,

Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips,

Finger of birth-strangled babe

Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,

Make the gruel thick and slab:

Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,

For the ingredients of our cauldron.

All.Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Sec. Witch.Cool it with a baboon’s blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.


Hec.O! well done! I commend your pains,

And every one shall share i’ the gains.

And now about the cauldron sing,

Like elves and fairies in a ring,

Enchanting all that you put in.[Music and a song, ‘Black Spirits,’ &c.

Sec. Witch.By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

Open, locks,

Whoever knocks.


Macb.How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!

What is ’t you do?

All.A deed without a name.

Macb.I conjure you, by that which you profess,—

Howe’er you come to know it,—answer me:

Though you untie the winds and let them fight

Against the churches; though the yesty waves

Confound and swallow navigation up;

Though bladed corn be lodg’d and trees blown down;

Though castles topple on their warders’ heads;

Though palaces and pyramids do slope

Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure

Of Nature’s germens tumble all together,

Even till destruction sicken; answer me

To what I ask you.

First Witch.Speak.

Sec. Witch.Demand.

Third Witch.We’ll answer.

First Witch.Say if thou’dst rather hear it from our mouths,

Or from our masters’?

Macb.Call ’em: let me see ’em.

First Witch.Pour in sow’s blood, that hath eaten

Her nine farrow; grease, that’s sweaten

From the murderer’s gibbet throw

Into the flame.

All.Come, high or low;

Thyself and office deftly show.

Thunder.First Apparition of an armed Head.

Macb.Tell me, thou unknown power,—

First Witch.He knows thy thought:

Hear his speech, but say thou nought.

First App.Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;

Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.[Descends.

Macb.Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution thanks;

Thou hast harp’d my fear aright. But one word more,—

First Witch.He will not be commanded: here’s another,

More potent than the first.

Thunder.Second Apparition, a bloody Child.

Sec. App.Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!—

Macb.Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.

Sec. App.Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn

The power of man, for none of woman born

Shall harm Macbeth.[Descends.

Macb.Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?

But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,

And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;

That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,

And sleep in spite of thunder.

Thunder.Third Apparition, a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand.

What is this,

That rises like the issue of a king,

And wears upon his baby brow the round

And top of sovereignty?

All.Listen, but speak not to ’t.

Third App.Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care

Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:

Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until

Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill

Shall come against him.[Descends.

Macb.That will never be:

Who can impress the forest, bid the tree

Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!

Rebellion’s head, rise never till the wood

Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac’d Macbeth

Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath

To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart

Throbs to know one thing: tell me—if your art

Can tell so much,—shall Banquo’s issue ever

Reign in this kingdom?

All.Seek to know no more.

Macb.I will be satisfied: deny me this,

And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.

Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?[Hautboys.

First Witch.Show!

Sec. Witch.Show!

Third Witch.Show!

All.Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;

Come like shadows, so depart.

A show of Eight Kings; the last with a glass in his hand: BANQUO’S Ghost following.

Macb.Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down!

Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs: and thy hair,

Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first:

A third is like the former. Filthy hags!

Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!

What! will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?

Another yet? A seventh! I’ll see no more:

And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass

Which shows me many more; and some I see

That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry.

Horrible sight! Now, I see, ’tis true;

For the blood-bolter’d Banquo smiles upon me,

And points at them for his.[Apparitions vanish.

What! is this so?

First Witch.Ay, sir, all this is so: but why

Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?

Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,

And show the best of our delights.

I’ll charm the air to give a sound,

While you perform your antick round,

That this great king may kindly say,

Our duties did his welcome pay.[Music.The Witches dance, and then vanish with HECATE.

Macb.Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour

Stand aye accursed in the calendar!

Come in, without there!


Len.What’s your Grace’s will?

Macb.Saw you the weird sisters?

Len.No, my lord.

Macb.Came they not by you?

Len.No indeed, my lord.

Macb.Infected be the air whereon they ride,

And damn’d all those that trust them! I did hear

The galloping of horse: who was ’t came by?

Len.’Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word

Macduff is fled to England.

Macb.Fled to England!

Len.Ay, my good lord.

Macb.Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits;

The flighty purpose never is o’ertook

Unless the deed go with it; from this moment

The very firstlings of my heart shall be

The firstlings of my hand. And even now,

To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:

The castle of Macduff I will surprise;

Seize upon Fife; give to the edge of the sword

His wife, his babes; and all unfortunate souls

That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;

This deed I’ll do, before this purpose cool:

But no moresights! Where are these gentlemen?

Come, bring me where they are.[Exeunt.