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And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.

      — King Richard II, Act III Scene 2

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Act III

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Scene 1. Forres. The palace.

Scene 2. The palace.

Scene 3. A park near the palace.

Scene 4. The same. Hall in the palace.

Scene 5. A Heath.

Scene 6. Forres. The palace.

---
       

Act III, Scene 1

Forres. The palace.

      next scene .
---

[Enter BANQUO]

  • Banquo. Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
    As the weird women promised, and, I fear,
    Thou play'dst most foully for't: yet it was said
    It should not stand in thy posterity, 1005
    But that myself should be the root and father
    Of many kings. If there come truth from them—
    As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine—
    Why, by the verities on thee made good,
    May they not be my oracles as well, 1010
    And set me up in hope? But hush! no more.
    [Sennet sounded. Enter MACBETH, as king, LADY]
    MACBETH, as queen, LENNOX, ROSS, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants]
  • Lady Macbeth. If he had been forgotten, 1015
    It had been as a gap in our great feast,
    And all-thing unbecoming.
  • Macbeth. To-night we hold a solemn supper sir,
    And I'll request your presence.
  • Banquo. Let your highness 1020
    Command upon me; to the which my duties
    Are with a most indissoluble tie
    For ever knit.
  • Banquo. Ay, my good lord. 1025
  • Macbeth. We should have else desired your good advice,
    Which still hath been both grave and prosperous,
    In this day's council; but we'll take to-morrow.
    Is't far you ride?
  • Banquo. As far, my lord, as will fill up the time 1030
    'Twixt this and supper: go not my horse the better,
    I must become a borrower of the night
    For a dark hour or twain.
  • Banquo. My lord, I will not. 1035
  • Macbeth. We hear, our bloody cousins are bestow'd
    In England and in Ireland, not confessing
    Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
    With strange invention: but of that to-morrow,
    When therewithal we shall have cause of state 1040
    Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse: adieu,
    Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
  • Banquo. Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon 's.
  • Macbeth. I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
    And so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell. 1045
    [Exit BANQUO]
    Let every man be master of his time
    Till seven at night: to make society
    The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
    Till supper-time alone: while then, God be with you! 1050
    [Exeunt all but MACBETH, and an attendant]
    Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men
    Our pleasure?
  • Attendant. They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
  • Macbeth. Bring them before us. 1055
    [Exit Attendant]
    To be thus is nothing;
    But to be safely thus.—Our fears in Banquo
    Stick deep; and in his royalty of nature
    Reigns that which would be fear'd: 'tis much he dares; 1060
    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,
    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour
    To act in safety. There is none but he
    Whose being I do fear: and, under him,
    My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, 1065
    Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
    When first they put the name of king upon me,
    And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
    They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
    Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown, 1070
    And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
    Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
    No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
    For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;
    For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd; 1075
    Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
    Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
    Given to the common enemy of man,
    To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
    Rather than so, come fate into the list. 1080
    And champion me to the utterance! Who's there!
    [Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers]
    Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.
    [Exit Attendant]
    Was it not yesterday we spoke together? 1085
  • Macbeth. Well then, now
    Have you consider'd of my speeches? Know
    That it was he in the times past which held you
    So under fortune, which you thought had been 1090
    Our innocent self: this I made good to you
    In our last conference, pass'd in probation with you,
    How you were borne in hand, how cross'd,
    the instruments,
    Who wrought with them, and all things else that might 1095
    To half a soul and to a notion crazed
    Say 'Thus did Banquo.'
  • Macbeth. I did so, and went further, which is now
    Our point of second meeting. Do you find 1100
    Your patience so predominant in your nature
    That you can let this go? Are you so gospell'd
    To pray for this good man and for his issue,
    Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave
    And beggar'd yours for ever? 1105
  • Macbeth. Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
    As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
    Shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves, are clept
    All by the name of dogs: the valued file 1110
    Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
    The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
    According to the gift which bounteous nature
    Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
    Particular addition. from the bill 1115
    That writes them all alike: and so of men.
    Now, if you have a station in the file,
    Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say 't;
    And I will put that business in your bosoms,
    Whose execution takes your enemy off, 1120
    Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
    Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
    Which in his death were perfect.
  • Second Murderer. I am one, my liege,
    Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world 1125
    Have so incensed that I am reckless what
    I do to spite the world.
  • First Murderer. And I another
    So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
    That I would set my lie on any chance, 1130
    To mend it, or be rid on't.
  • Macbeth. Both of you
    Know Banquo was your enemy.
  • Macbeth. So is he mine; and in such bloody distance, 1135
    That every minute of his being thrusts
    Against my near'st of life: and though I could
    With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
    And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
    For certain friends that are both his and mine, 1140
    Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
    Who I myself struck down; and thence it is,
    That I to your assistance do make love,
    Masking the business from the common eye
    For sundry weighty reasons. 1145
  • Macbeth. Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most
    I will advise you where to plant yourselves; 1150
    Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time,
    The moment on't; for't must be done to-night,
    And something from the palace; always thought
    That I require a clearness: and with him—
    To leave no rubs nor botches in the work— 1155
    Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
    Whose absence is no less material to me
    Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
    Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart:
    I'll come to you anon. 1160
  • Macbeth. I'll call upon you straight: abide within.
    [Exeunt Murderers]
    It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight,
    If it find heaven, must find it out to-night. 1165

[Exit]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

The palace.

      next scene .
---

[Enter LADY MACBETH and a Servant]

  • Servant. Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.
  • Lady Macbeth. Say to the king, I would attend his leisure 1170
    For a few words.

[Exit]

  • Lady Macbeth. Nought's had, all's spent,
    Where our desire is got without content: 1175
    'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
    Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
    [Enter MACBETH]
    How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
    Of sorriest fancies your companions making, 1180
    Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
    With them they think on? Things without all remedy
    Should be without regard: what's done is done.
  • Macbeth. We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it:
    She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice 1185
    Remains 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 sleep
    In the affliction of these terrible dreams 1190
    That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
    Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
    Than on the torture of the mind to lie
    In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
    After life's fitful fever he sleeps well; 1195
    Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
    Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
    Can touch him further.
  • Lady Macbeth. Come on;
    Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks; 1200
    Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.
  • Macbeth. 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 we 1205
    Must lave our honours in these flattering streams,
    And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
    Disguising what they are.
  • Macbeth. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! 1210
    Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.
  • Macbeth. There's comfort yet; they are assailable;
    Then be thou jocund: ere the bat hath flown
    His cloister'd flight, ere to black Hecate's summons 1215
    The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums
    Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done
    A deed of dreadful note.
  • Macbeth. Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, 1220
    Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
    Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
    And with thy bloody and invisible hand
    Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
    Which keeps me pale! Light thickens; and the crow 1225
    Makes wing to the rooky wood:
    Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
    While 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. 1230
    So, prithee, go with me.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

A park near the palace.

      next scene .
---

[Enter three Murderers]

  • Second Murderer. He needs not our mistrust, since he delivers
    Our offices and what we have to do
    To the direction just.
  • First Murderer. Then stand with us.
    The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day: 1240
    Now spurs the lated traveller apace
    To gain the timely inn; and near approaches
    The subject of our watch.
  • Banquo. [Within] Give us a light there, ho! 1245
  • Second Murderer. Then 'tis he: the rest
    That are within the note of expectation
    Already are i' the court.
  • Third Murderer. Almost a mile: but he does usually, 1250
    So all men do, from hence to the palace gate
    Make it their walk.

[Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE with a torch]

  • Banquo. It will be rain to-night.

[They set upon BANQUO]

  • Banquo. O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! 1260
    Thou mayst revenge. O slave!

[Dies. FLEANCE escapes]

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

The same. Hall in the palace.

      next scene .
---

[A banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH,] [p]ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants]

  • Macbeth. You know your own degrees; sit down: at first
    And last the hearty welcome.
  • Lords. Thanks to your majesty.
  • Macbeth. Ourself will mingle with society, 1275
    And play the humble host.
    Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
    We will require her welcome.
  • Lady Macbeth. Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;
    For my heart speaks they are welcome. 1280

[First Murderer appears at the door]

  • Macbeth. 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. 1285
    [Approaching the door]
    There's blood on thy face.
  • Macbeth. 'Tis better thee without than he within.
    Is he dispatch'd? 1290
  • Macbeth. 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.
  • Macbeth. 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, confined, bound in 1300
    To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?
  • First Murderer. Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
    With twenty trenched gashes on his head;
    The least a death to nature.
  • Macbeth. Thanks for that: 1305
    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 Macbeth. 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; 1315
    Meeting were bare without it.
  • Macbeth. Sweet remembrancer!
    Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
    And health on both!
  • Lennox. May't please your highness sit. 1320
    [The GHOST OF BANQUO enters, and sits in]
    MACBETH's place]
  • Macbeth. Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
    Were the graced person of our Banquo present;
    Who may I rather challenge for unkindness 1325
    Than pity for mischance!
  • Ross. His absence, sir,
    Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your highness
    To grace us with your royal company.
  • Lennox. Here is a place reserved, sir.
  • Lennox. Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your highness?
  • Macbeth. Which of you have done this?
  • Lords. What, my good lord? 1335
  • Macbeth. Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
    Thy gory locks at me.
  • Ross. Gentlemen, rise: his highness is not well.
  • Lady Macbeth. Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
    And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat; 1340
    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?
  • Macbeth. Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that 1345
    Which might appal the devil.
  • Lady Macbeth. 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, 1350
    Impostors to true fear, would well become
    A woman's story at a winter's fire,
    Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
    Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
    You look but on a stool. 1355
  • Macbeth. 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 1360
    Shall be the maws of kites.

[GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes]

  • Macbeth. If I stand here, I saw him.
  • Macbeth. Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time,
    Ere human statute purged 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, 1370
    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 Macbeth. My worthy lord, 1375
    Your noble friends do lack you.
  • Macbeth. 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; 1380
    Then I'll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
    I drink to the general joy o' 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. 1385
  • Lords. Our duties, and the pledge.

[Re-enter GHOST OF BANQUO]

  • Macbeth. 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 1390
    Which thou dost glare with!
  • Lady Macbeth. Think of this, good peers,
    But as a thing of custom: 'tis no other;
    Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
  • Macbeth. What man dare, I dare: 1395
    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 desert with thy sword; 1400
    If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
    The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
    Unreal mockery, hence!
    [GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes]
    Why, so: being gone, 1405
    I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
  • Lady Macbeth. You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
    With most admired disorder.
  • Macbeth. Can such things be,
    And overcome us like a summer's cloud, 1410
    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 is blanched with fear. 1415
  • Ross. What sights, my lord?
  • Lady Macbeth. 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. 1420
  • Lennox. Good night; and better health
    Attend his majesty!

[Exeunt all but MACBETH and LADY MACBETH]

  • Macbeth. It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood: 1425
    Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
    Augurs and understood relations have
    By magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
    The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?
  • Lady Macbeth. Almost at odds with morning, which is which. 1430
  • Macbeth. How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
    At our great bidding?
  • Macbeth. I hear it by the way; but I will send:
    There's not a one of them but in his house 1435
    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 1440
    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 Macbeth. You lack the season of all natures, sleep. 1445
  • Macbeth. 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]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

A Heath.

      next scene .
---

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches meeting HECATE]

  • Hecate. Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
    Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
    To trade and traffic with Macbeth
    In riddles and affairs of death; 1455
    And I, the mistress of your charms,
    The close contriver of all harms,
    Was never call'd to bear my part,
    Or show the glory of our art?
    And, which is worse, all you have done 1460
    Hath been but for a wayward son,
    Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
    Loves for his own ends, not for you.
    But make amends now: get you gone,
    And at the pit of Acheron 1465
    Meet me i' the morning: thither he
    Will come to know his destiny:
    Your vessels and your spells provide,
    Your charms and every thing beside.
    I am for the air; this night I'll spend 1470
    Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
    Great business must be wrought ere noon:
    Upon the corner of the moon
    There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
    I'll catch it ere it come to ground: 1475
    And that distill'd by magic sleights
    Shall raise such artificial sprites
    As by the strength of their illusion
    Shall draw him on to his confusion:
    He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear 1480
    He hopes 'bove wisdom, grace and fear:
    And you all know, security
    Is mortals' chiefest enemy.
    [Music and a song within: 'Come away, come away,' &c]
    Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see, 1485
    Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.

[Exit]

  • First Witch. Come, let's make haste; she'll soon be back again.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 6

Forres. The palace.

       
---

[Enter LENNOX and another Lord]

  • Lennox. 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: 1495
    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 1500
    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; 1505
    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 1510
    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 1515
    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 received
    Of the most pious Edward with such grace 1520
    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 warlike Siward:
    That, by the help of these—with Him above 1525
    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 1530
    Hath so exasperate the king that he
    Prepares for some attempt of war.
  • Lord. He did: and with an absolute 'Sir, not I,'
    The cloudy messenger turns me his back, 1535
    And hums, as who should say 'You'll rue the time
    That clogs me with this answer.'
  • Lennox. And that well might
    Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance
    His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel 1540
    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 accursed!
  • Lord. I'll send my prayers with him. 1545

[Exeunt]

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