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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act I, Scene 3

A heath near Forres.


[Thunder. Enter the three Witches]

  • First Witch. A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
    And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd:—
    'Give me,' quoth I:
    'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed ronyon cries.
    Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger: 105
    But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
    And, like a rat without a tail,
    I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.
  • First Witch. I myself have all the other,
    And the very ports they blow,
    All the quarters that they know
    I' the shipman's card. 115
    I will drain him dry as hay:
    Sleep shall neither night nor day
    Hang upon his pent-house lid;
    He shall live a man forbid:
    Weary se'nnights nine times nine 120
    Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
    Though his bark cannot be lost,
    Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
    Look what I have.
  • First Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb,
    Wreck'd as homeward he did come.

[Drum within]

  • All. The weird sisters, hand in hand,
    Posters of the sea and land,
    Thus do go about, about:
    Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
    And thrice again, to make up nine. 135
    Peace! the charm's wound up.


  • Macbeth. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
  • Banquo. How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these
    So wither'd and so wild in their attire, 140
    That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
    That man may question? You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her chappy finger laying
    Upon her skinny lips: you should be women, 145
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.
  • Macbeth. Speak, if you can: what are you?
  • First Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
  • Second Witch. All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! 150
  • Third Witch. All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!
  • Banquo. Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
    Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth,
    Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
    Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner 155
    You greet with present grace and great prediction
    Of noble having and of royal hope,
    That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.
    If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow and which will not, 160
    Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
    Your favours nor your hate.
  • Third Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
    So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
  • Macbeth. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
    By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis;
    But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
    A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
    Stands not within the prospect of belief, 175
    No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
    You owe this strange intelligence? or why
    Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
    With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

[Witches vanish]

  • Banquo. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
    And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?
  • Macbeth. Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted
    As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!
  • Banquo. Were such things here as we do speak about? 185
    Or have we eaten on the insane root
    That takes the reason prisoner?
  • Macbeth. Your children shall be kings.
  • Macbeth. And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so? 190
  • Banquo. To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?

[Enter ROSS and ANGUS]

  • Ross. The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
    The news of thy success; and when he reads
    Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight, 195
    His wonders and his praises do contend
    Which should be thine or his: silenced with that,
    In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
    He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
    Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make, 200
    Strange images of death. As thick as hail
    Came post with post; and every one did bear
    Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence,
    And pour'd them down before him.
  • Angus. We are sent 205
    To give thee from our royal master thanks;
    Only to herald thee into his sight,
    Not pay thee.
  • Ross. And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
    He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: 210
    In which addition, hail, most worthy thane!
    For it is thine.
  • Banquo. What, can the devil speak true?
  • Macbeth. The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me
    In borrow'd robes? 215
  • Angus. Who was the thane lives yet;
    But under heavy judgment bears that life
    Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
    With those of Norway, or did line the rebel
    With hidden help and vantage, or that with both 220
    He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not;
    But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
    Have overthrown him.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
    The greatest is behind. 225
    [To ROSS and ANGUS]
    Thanks for your pains.
    [To BANQUO]
    Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
    When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me 230
    Promised no less to them?
  • Banquo. That trusted home
    Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
    Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange:
    And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, 235
    The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
    Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
    In deepest consequence.
    Cousins, a word, I pray you.
  • Macbeth. [Aside]. Two truths are told, 240
    As happy prologues to the swelling act
    Of the imperial theme.—I thank you, gentlemen.
    [Aside] This supernatural soliciting]
    Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
    Why hath it given me earnest of success, 245
    Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
    If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
    Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
    And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
    Against the use of nature? Present fears 250
    Are less than horrible imaginings:
    My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
    Shakes so my single state of man that function
    Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is
    But what is not. 255
  • Banquo. Look, how our partner's rapt.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
    Without my stir.
  • Banquo. New horrors come upon him,
    Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould 260
    But with the aid of use.
  • Macbeth. [Aside] Come what come may,
    Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
  • Banquo. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
  • Macbeth. Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought 265
    With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
    Are register'd where every day I turn
    The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
    Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
    The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak 270
    Our free hearts each to other.
  • Macbeth. Till then, enough. Come, friends.