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The Tragedy of Macbeth

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Act III, Scene 4

The same. Hall in the palace.


[A banquet prepared. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH,] [p]ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants]

  • Macbeth. You know your own degrees; sit down: at first
    And last the hearty welcome.
  • Lords. Thanks to your majesty.
  • Macbeth. Ourself will mingle with society, 1275
    And play the humble host.
    Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
    We will require her welcome.
  • Lady Macbeth. Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;
    For my heart speaks they are welcome. 1280

[First Murderer appears at the door]

  • Macbeth. See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks.
    Both sides are even: here I'll sit i' the midst:
    Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure
    The table round. 1285
    [Approaching the door]
    There's blood on thy face.
  • Macbeth. 'Tis better thee without than he within.
    Is he dispatch'd? 1290
  • Macbeth. Thou art the best o' the cut-throats: yet he's good
    That did the like for Fleance: if thou didst it,
    Thou art the nonpareil.
  • Macbeth. Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect,
    Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
    As broad and general as the casing air:
    But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in 1300
    To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo's safe?
  • First Murderer. Ay, my good lord: safe in a ditch he bides,
    With twenty trenched gashes on his head;
    The least a death to nature.
  • Macbeth. Thanks for that: 1305
    There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled
    Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
    No teeth for the present. Get thee gone: to-morrow
    We'll hear, ourselves, again.

[Exit Murderer]

  • Lady Macbeth. My royal lord,
    You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold
    That is not often vouch'd, while 'tis a-making,
    'Tis given with welcome: to feed were best at home;
    From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony; 1315
    Meeting were bare without it.
  • Macbeth. Sweet remembrancer!
    Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
    And health on both!
  • Lennox. May't please your highness sit. 1320
    [The GHOST OF BANQUO enters, and sits in]
    MACBETH's place]
  • Macbeth. Here had we now our country's honour roof'd,
    Were the graced person of our Banquo present;
    Who may I rather challenge for unkindness 1325
    Than pity for mischance!
  • Ross. His absence, sir,
    Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your highness
    To grace us with your royal company.
  • Lennox. Here is a place reserved, sir.
  • Lennox. Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your highness?
  • Macbeth. Which of you have done this?
  • Lords. What, my good lord? 1335
  • Macbeth. Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
    Thy gory locks at me.
  • Ross. Gentlemen, rise: his highness is not well.
  • Lady Macbeth. Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
    And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat; 1340
    The fit is momentary; upon a thought
    He will again be well: if much you note him,
    You shall offend him and extend his passion:
    Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man?
  • Macbeth. Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that 1345
    Which might appal the devil.
  • Lady Macbeth. O proper stuff!
    This is the very painting of your fear:
    This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
    Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts, 1350
    Impostors to true fear, would well become
    A woman's story at a winter's fire,
    Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself!
    Why do you make such faces? When all's done,
    You look but on a stool. 1355
  • Macbeth. Prithee, see there! behold! look! lo!
    how say you?
    Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.
    If charnel-houses and our graves must send
    Those that we bury back, our monuments 1360
    Shall be the maws of kites.

[GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes]

  • Macbeth. If I stand here, I saw him.
  • Macbeth. Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time,
    Ere human statute purged the gentle weal;
    Ay, and since too, murders have been perform'd
    Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
    That, when the brains were out, the man would die, 1370
    And there an end; but now they rise again,
    With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
    And push us from our stools: this is more strange
    Than such a murder is.
  • Lady Macbeth. My worthy lord, 1375
    Your noble friends do lack you.
  • Macbeth. I do forget.
    Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends,
    I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing
    To those that know me. Come, love and health to all; 1380
    Then I'll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.
    I drink to the general joy o' the whole table,
    And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss;
    Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
    And all to all. 1385
  • Lords. Our duties, and the pledge.


  • Macbeth. Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
    Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
    Thou hast no speculation in those eyes 1390
    Which thou dost glare with!
  • Lady Macbeth. Think of this, good peers,
    But as a thing of custom: 'tis no other;
    Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
  • Macbeth. What man dare, I dare: 1395
    Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
    The arm'd rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
    Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
    Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
    And dare me to the desert with thy sword; 1400
    If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
    The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
    Unreal mockery, hence!
    [GHOST OF BANQUO vanishes]
    Why, so: being gone, 1405
    I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
  • Lady Macbeth. You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
    With most admired disorder.
  • Macbeth. Can such things be,
    And overcome us like a summer's cloud, 1410
    Without our special wonder? You make me strange
    Even to the disposition that I owe,
    When now I think you can behold such sights,
    And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
    When mine is blanched with fear. 1415
  • Ross. What sights, my lord?
  • Lady Macbeth. I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
    Question enrages him. At once, good night:
    Stand not upon the order of your going,
    But go at once. 1420
  • Lennox. Good night; and better health
    Attend his majesty!

[Exeunt all but MACBETH and LADY MACBETH]

  • Macbeth. It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood: 1425
    Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
    Augurs and understood relations have
    By magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
    The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?
  • Lady Macbeth. Almost at odds with morning, which is which. 1430
  • Macbeth. How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
    At our great bidding?
  • Macbeth. I hear it by the way; but I will send:
    There's not a one of them but in his house 1435
    I keep a servant fee'd. I will to-morrow,
    And betimes I will, to the weird sisters:
    More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
    By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,
    All causes shall give way: I am in blood 1440
    Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
    Returning were as tedious as go o'er:
    Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
    Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.
  • Lady Macbeth. You lack the season of all natures, sleep. 1445
  • Macbeth. Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
    Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
    We are yet but young in deed.