Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene III
[The same]
Enter a Porter. Knocking within

  Porter.  Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of hellgate, he should have old turning 1 the key. (Knocking.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hang’d himself on the expectation of plenty. 2 Come in time; have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for ’t. (Knocking.) Knock, knock! Who’s there, in the other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator. (Knocking.) Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there? Faith, here’s an English tailor come hither, for stealing 3 out of a French hose. Come in, tailor; here you may roast your goose. (Knocking.) Knock, knock; never at quiet! What are you? But this place is too cold for hell. I’ll devil-porter it no further. I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire. (Knocking.) Anon, anon. I pray you, remember the porter.  [Opens the gate.]

  Macd.  Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed,
That you do lie so late?
  Port.  Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; and drink,        4
sir, is a great provoker of three things.
  Macd.  What three things does drink especially provoke?
  Port.  Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance; therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
  Macd.  I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.        8
  Port.  That it did, sir, i’ the very throat on me. But I requited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast him.

  Macd.  Is thy master stirring?
Our knocking has awak’d him; here he comes.
  Len.  Good morrow, noble sir.        12
  Macb.        Good morrow, both.
  Macd.  Is the King stirring, worthy thane?
  Macb.        Not yet.
  Macd.  He did command me to call timely 4 on him.        16
I have almost slipp’d the hour.
  Macb.        I’ll bring you to him.
  Macd.  I know this is a joyful trouble to you;
But yet ’tis one.        20
  Macb.  The labour we delight in physics pain.
This is the door.
  Macd.        I’ll make so bold to call,
For ’tis my limited 5 service.  [Exit.        24
  Len.  Goes the King hence to-day?
  Macb.        He does;—he did appoint so.
  Len.  The night has been unruly. Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,        28
Lamentings heard i’ the air; strange screams of death,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion 6 and confus’d events
New hatch’d to the woeful time. The obscure bird        32
Clamour’d the livelong night; some say, the earth
Was feverous and did shake.
  Macb.        ’Twas a rough night.
  Len.  My young remembrance cannot parallel        36
A fellow to it.
Re-enter MACDUFF

  Macd.  O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!
  Macb. & Len.        What’s the matter?        40
  Macd.  Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o’ the building!        44
  Macb.        What is ’t you say? The life?
  Len.  Mean you his Majesty?
  Macd.  Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon. 7 Do not bid me speak;        48
See, and then speak yourselves.  Exeunt MACBETH and LENNOX.
        Awake, awake!
Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!        52
Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit,
And look on death itself! Up, up, and see
The great doom’s 8 image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,        56
To countenance this horror. Ring the bell.  Bell rings.

  Lady M.  What’s the business,
That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!        60
  Macd.        O gentle lady,
’Tis not for you to hear what I can speak;
The repetition in a woman’s ear
Would murder as it fell.        64

      O Banquo, Banquo,
Our royal master’s murder’d!
  Lady M.        Woe, alas!
What, in our house?        68
  Ban.        Too cruel anywhere.
Dear Duff, I prithee, contradict thyself,
And say it is not so.
Re-enter MACBETH and LENNOX, with Ross

  Macb.  Had I but died an hour before this chance,
I had liv’d a blessed time; for, from this instant,
There’s nothing serious in mortality. 9
All is but toys; 10 renown and grace is dead;
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees        76
Is left this vault to brag of.

  Don.  What is amiss?
  Macb.        You are, and do not know ’t.
The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood        80
Is stopp’d; the very source of it is stopp’d.
  Macd.  Your royal father’s murder’d.
  Mal.        O, by whom?
  Len.  Those of his chamber, as it seem’d, had done ’t.        84
Their hands and faces were all badg’d 11 with blood;
So were their daggers, which unwip’d we found
Upon their pillows.
They star’d, and were distracted; no man’s life        88
Was to be trusted with them.
  Macb.  O, yet I do repent me of my fury,
That I did kill them.
  Macd.        Wherefore did you so?        92
  Macb.  Who can be wise, amaz’d, temperate and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.
The expedition 12 of my violent love
Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan,        96
His silver skin lac’d with his golden blood,
And his gash’d stabs look’d like a breach in nature
For ruin’s wasteful entrance; there, the murderers,
Steeped in the colours of their trade, their daggers        100
Unmannerly breech’d 13 with gore. Who could refrain,
That had a heart to love, and in that heart
Courage to make’s love known?
  Lady M.        Help me hence, ho!        104
  Macd.  Look to the lady.
  Mal.  [Aside to DON.]  Why do we hold our tongues,
That most may claim this argument 14 for ours?
  Don.  [Aside to MAL.]  What should be spoken here, where our fate,        108
Hid in an auger-hole, may rush and seize us?
Let’s away;
Our tears are not yet brew’d.
  Mal.  [Aside to DON.]        Nor our strong sorrow        112
Upon the foot of motion. 15
  Ban.        Look to the lady;  [LADY MACBETH is carried out.]
And when we have our naked frailties 16 hid,
That suffer in exposure, let us meet        116
And question 17 this most bloody piece of work,
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us.
In the great hand of God I stand, and thence
Against the undivulg’d pretence 18 I fight        120
Of treasonous malice.
  Macd.        And so do I.
  All.        So all.
  Macb.  Let’s briefly put on manly readiness, 19        124
And meet i’ the hall together.
  All.        Well contented.  Exeunt [all but MALCOLM and DONALBAIN].
  Mal.  What will you do? Let’s not consort with them;
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office        128
Which the false man does easy. I’ll to England.
  Don.  To Ireland, I; our separated fortune
Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are,
There’s daggers in men’s smiles; the near 20 in blood,        132
The nearer bloody.
  Mal.        This murderous shaft that’s shot
Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse;        136
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,
But shift away. There’s warrant in that theft
Which steals itself, when there’s no mercy left.  [Exeunt.]
Note 1. Slang. Plenty of turning. [back]
Note 2. Having hoarded grain. [back]
Note 3. Stealing part of the cloth supplied. [back]
Note 4. Early. [back]
Note 5. Appointed. [back]
Note 6. Turmoil. [back]
Note 7. Which will turn you to stone, like Medusa’s head. [back]
Note 8. Judgment day. [back]
Note 9. Human life. [back]
Note 10. Trifles. [back]
Note 11. Marked. [back]
Note 12. Haste. [back]
Note 13. Smeared to the handles. [back]
Note 14. Subject of discussion. [back]
Note 15. Begun to move. [back]
Note 16. Frail bodies. [back]
Note 17. Discuss. [back]
Note 18. Undiscovered purpose. [back]
Note 19. Men’s clothes. [back]
Note 20. Nearer. [back]


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