Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene I
[Within Macbeth’s castle]
Enter BANQUO, and FLEANCE with a torch before him

  Ban.  How goes the night, boy?
  Fle.  The moon is down; I have not heard the clock.
  Ban.  And she goes down at twelve.
  Fle.        I take ’t, ’tis later, sir.        4
  Ban.  Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry 1 in heaven;
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too.
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,
And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers,        8
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.
Who’s there?        12
  Macb.  A friend.
  Ban.  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. 2        16
This diamond he greets your wife withal,
By the name of most kind hostess; and shut up 3
In measureless content.
  Macb.        Being unprepar’d,        20
Our will became the servant to defect; 4
Which else should free have wrought.
  Ban.        All’s well.
I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters:        24
To you they have show’d some truth.
  Macb.        I think not of them;
Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
We would spend it in some words upon that business,        28
If you would grant the time.
  Ban.        At your kind’st leisure.
  Macb.  If you shall cleave to my consent, 5 when ’tis, 6
It shall make honour for you.        32
  Ban.        So I lose none
In seeking to augment it, but still keep
My bosom franchis’d 7 and allegiance clear,
I shall be counsell’d.        36
  Macb.        Good repose the while!
  Ban.  Thanks, sir; the like to you!  Exeunt BANQUO [and FLEANCE].
  Macb.  Go bid thy mistress, when my drink 8 is ready,  Exit [Servant].
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.        40
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 9 vision, sensible        44
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        48
As this which now I draw.
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,        52
Or else worth all the rest. 10 I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon 11 gouts 12 of blood,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing.
It is the bloody business which informs 13        56
Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one half-world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse 14
The curtain’d sleep. Witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate’s offerings, and wither’d murder,        60
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,        64
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror 15 from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives:        68
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
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.  A bell rings.
Note 1. Thrift. [back]
Note 2. Servants’ rooms. [back]
Note 3. Concluded. [back]
Note 4. Was forced to act as our limitations compelled it. [back]
Note 5. Side with my party. [back]
Note 6. When I have a party. [back]
Note 7. Conscience clear. [back]
Note 8. The cup drunk before retiring. [back]
Note 9. Sent by fate. [back]
Note 10. As alone trustworthy. [back]
Note 11. Handle. [back]
Note 12. Drops. [back]
Note 13. Presents forms. [back]
Note 14. Fill with deceptive appearances. [back]
Note 15. I. e., silence. [back]


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