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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act III, Scene 1

Forres. The palace.


[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