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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act II, Scene 1

Court of Macbeth’s castle.


[Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE bearing a torch before him]

  • Banquo. How goes the night, boy?
  • Fleance. The moon is down; I have not heard the clock. 570
  • Banquo. And she goes down at twelve.
  • Fleance. I take't, 'tis later, sir.
  • Banquo. Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heaven;
    Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
    A heavy summons lies like lead upon me, 575
    And yet I would not sleep: merciful powers,
    Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature
    Gives way to in repose!
    [Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch]
    Give me my sword. 580
    Who's there?
  • Banquo. What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's a-bed:
    He hath been in unusual pleasure, and
    Sent forth great largess to your offices. 585
    This diamond he greets your wife withal,
    By the name of most kind hostess; and shut up
    In measureless content.
  • Macbeth. Being unprepared,
    Our will became the servant to defect; 590
    Which else should free have wrought.
  • Banquo. All's well.
    I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters:
    To you they have show'd some truth.
  • Macbeth. I think not of them: 595
    Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
    We would spend it in some words upon that business,
    If you would grant the time.
  • Banquo. At your kind'st leisure.
  • Macbeth. If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis, 600
    It shall make honour for you.
  • Banquo. So I lose none
    In seeking to augment it, but still keep
    My bosom franchised and allegiance clear,
    I shall be counsell'd. 605
  • Banquo. Thanks, sir: the like to you!


  • Macbeth. Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
    She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed. 610
    [Exit Servant]
    Is this a dagger which I see before me,
    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
    I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
    Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible 615
    To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
    A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
    Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
    I see thee yet, in form as palpable
    As this which now I draw. 620
    Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
    And such an instrument I was to use.
    Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
    Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
    And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, 625
    Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
    It is the bloody business which informs
    Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one halfworld
    Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
    The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates 630
    Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder,
    Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
    Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace.
    With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
    Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, 635
    Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
    Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
    And take the present horror from the time,
    Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:
    Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. 640
    [A bell rings]
    I go, and it is done; the bell invites me.
    Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell
    That summons thee to heaven or to hell.