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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act I, Scene 2

A camp near Forres.


[Alarum within. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN,] [p]LENNOX, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Sergeant]

  • Duncan. What bloody man is that? He can report,
    As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt
    The newest state. 20
  • Malcolm. This is the sergeant
    Who like a good and hardy soldier fought
    'Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend!
    Say to the king the knowledge of the broil
    As thou didst leave it. 25
  • Sergeant. Doubtful it stood;
    As two spent swimmers, that do cling together
    And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald—
    Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
    The multiplying villanies of nature 30
    Do swarm upon him—from the western isles
    Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
    And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling,
    Show'd like a rebel's whore: but all's too weak:
    For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name— 35
    Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
    Which smoked with bloody execution,
    Like valour's minion carved out his passage
    Till he faced the slave;
    Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, 40
    Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
    And fix'd his head upon our battlements.
  • Duncan. O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!
  • Sergeant. As whence the sun 'gins his reflection
    Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, 45
    So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come
    Discomfort swells. Mark, king of Scotland, mark:
    No sooner justice had with valour arm'd
    Compell'd these skipping kerns to trust their heels,
    But the Norweyan lord surveying vantage, 50
    With furbish'd arms and new supplies of men
    Began a fresh assault.
  • Duncan. Dismay'd not this
    Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?
  • Sergeant. Yes; 55
    As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion.
    If I say sooth, I must report they were
    As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they
    Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe:
    Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, 60
    Or memorise another Golgotha,
    I cannot tell.
    But I am faint, my gashes cry for help.
  • Duncan. So well thy words become thee as thy wounds;
    They smack of honour both. Go get him surgeons. 65
    [Exit Sergeant, attended]
    Who comes here?

[Enter ROSS]

  • Malcolm. The worthy thane of Ross.
  • Lennox. What a haste looks through his eyes! So should he look 70
    That seems to speak things strange.
  • Ross. God save the king!
  • Duncan. Whence camest thou, worthy thane?
  • Ross. From Fife, great king;
    Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky 75
    And fan our people cold. Norway himself,
    With terrible numbers,
    Assisted by that most disloyal traitor
    The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict;
    Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof, 80
    Confronted him with self-comparisons,
    Point against point rebellious, arm 'gainst arm.
    Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to conclude,
    The victory fell on us.
  • Ross. That now
    Sweno, the Norways' king, craves composition:
    Nor would we deign him burial of his men
    Till he disbursed at Saint Colme's inch
    Ten thousand dollars to our general use. 90
  • Duncan. No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive
    Our bosom interest: go pronounce his present death,
    And with his former title greet Macbeth.
  • Ross. I'll see it done.
  • Duncan. What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won. 95