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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act II, Scene 4

Outside Macbeth’s castle.


[Enter ROSS and an old Man]

  • Old Man. Threescore and ten I can remember well:
    Within the volume of which time I have seen
    Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night 950
    Hath trifled former knowings.
  • Ross. Ah, good father,
    Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
    Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock, 'tis day,
    And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp: 955
    Is't night's predominance, or the day's shame,
    That darkness does the face of earth entomb,
    When living light should kiss it?
  • Old Man. 'Tis unnatural,
    Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last, 960
    A falcon, towering in her pride of place,
    Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd.
  • Ross. And Duncan's horses—a thing most strange and certain—
    Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
    Turn'd wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, 965
    Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make
    War with mankind.
  • Old Man. 'Tis said they eat each other.
  • Ross. They did so, to the amazement of mine eyes
    That look'd upon't. Here comes the good Macduff. 970
    [Enter MACDUFF]
    How goes the world, sir, now?
  • Ross. Is't known who did this more than bloody deed?
  • Macduff. Those that Macbeth hath slain. 975
  • Ross. Alas, the day!
    What good could they pretend?
  • Macduff. They were suborn'd:
    Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons,
    Are stol'n away and fled; which puts upon them 980
    Suspicion of the deed.
  • Ross. 'Gainst nature still!
    Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up
    Thine own life's means! Then 'tis most like
    The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth. 985
  • Macduff. He is already named, and gone to Scone
    To be invested.
  • Ross. Where is Duncan's body?
  • Macduff. Carried to Colmekill,
    The sacred storehouse of his predecessors, 990
    And guardian of their bones.
  • Ross. Will you to Scone?
  • Macduff. No, cousin, I'll to Fife.
  • Ross. Well, I will thither.
  • Macduff. Well, may you see things well done there: adieu! 995
    Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!
  • Ross. Farewell, father.
  • Old Man. God's benison go with you; and with those
    That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!