Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Scene I
[Forres. The palace]

  Ban.  Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promis’d, and, I fear,
Thou play’dst most foully for ’t: yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,        4
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 1
Why, by the verities on thee made good,        8
May they not be my oracles as well,
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 Servants

  Macb.  Here’s our chief guest.
  Lady M.        If he had been forgotten,        12
It had been as a gap in our great feast,
And all-thing 2 unbecoming.
  Macb.  To-night we hold a solemn supper, sir,
And I’ll request your presence.        16
  Ban.        Let your Highness
Command upon me; to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
For ever knit.        20
  Macb.  Ride you this afternoon?
  Ban.  Ay, my good lord.
  Macb.  We should have else desir’d your good advice,
Which still hath been both grave and prosperous,        24
In this day’s council; but we’ll take to-morrow.
Is’t far you ride?
  Ban.  As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
’Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better, 3        28
I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain.
  Macb.        Fail not our feast.
  Ban.  My lord, I will not.        32
  Macb.  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,        36
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse; adieu,
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
  Ban.  Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon’s.        40
  Macb.  I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Farewell.  Exit BANQUO.
Let every man be master of his time        44
Till seven at night. To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till supper-time alone; while 4 then, God be with you!  Exeunt [all but MACBETH, and a Servant].
Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men        48
Our pleasure?
  Serv.        They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
  Macb.  Bring them before us.  (Exit Servant.)
        To be thus is nothing;        52
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;
And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,        56
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 rebuk’d, as, it is said,        60
Mark Antony’s was by CÆsar. 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.        64
Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown,
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,        68
For Banquo’s issue have I fil’d 5 my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel 6        72
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list,
And champion me to the utterance! 7 Who’s there?        76
Re-enter Servant, with two Murderers

Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.  Exit Servant.
Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
  [1.] Mur.  It was, so please your Highness.
  Macb.        Well then, now        80
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
Our innocent self. This I made good to you        84
In our last conference, pass’d in probation 8 with you,
How you were borne in hand, 9 how cross’d, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion 10 craz’d        88
Say, “Thus did Banquo.”
  1. Mur.        You made it known to us.
  Macb.  I did so, and went further, which is now
Our point of second meeting. Do you find        92
Your patience so predominant in your nature
That you can let this go? Are you so gospell’d 11
To pray for this good man and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bow’d you to the grave        96
And beggar’d yours for ever?
  1. Mur.        We are men, my liege.
  Macb.  Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,        100
Shoughs, 12 water-rugs, 13 and demi-wolves, are clept
All by the name of dogs; the valued file 14
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one        104
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him clos’d; whereby he does receive
Particular addition, 15 from the bill
That writes them all alike; and so of men.        108
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,        112
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.
  2. Mur.        I am one, my liege,        116
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Hath so incens’d that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.
  1. Mur.        And I another        120
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on ’t.
  Macb.        Both of you        124
Know Banquo was your enemy.
  [Both] Mur.        True, my lord.
  Macb.  So is he mine; and in such bloody distance, 16
That every minute of his being thrusts        128
Against my near’st of life, 17 and though I could
With barefac’d power sweep him from my sight
And bid my will avouch it, 18 yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,        132
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        136
For sundry weighty reasons.
  2. Mur.        We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
  1. Mur.        Though our lives—        140
  Macb.  Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most
I will advise 19 you where to plant yourselves;
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ the time,
The moment on ’t; for ’t must be done to-night,        144
And something from the palace; always thought
That I require a clearness: 20 and with him—
To leave no rubs 21 nor botches 22 in the work—
Fleance his son, that keeps him company,        148
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.        152
  [Both] Mur.        We are resolv’d, my lord.
  Macb.  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.  Exit.        156
Note 1. Are conspicuously fulfilled. [back]
Note 2. Entirely. [back]
Note 3. Faster. [back]
Note 4. Till. [back]
Note 5. Defiled. [back]
Note 6. His soul. [back]
Note 7. Challenge me to deadly combat. [back]
Note 8. Proved. [back]
Note 9. Deceived with false hopes. [back]
Note 10. Mind. [back]
Note 11. Christian. [back]
Note 12. A shaggy dog. [back]
Note 13. A poodle. [back]
Note 14. List with values noted. [back]
Note 15. Distinguishing name. [back]
Note 16. At such dangerously close quarters. [back]
Note 17. My most vital parts. [back]
Note 18. Take the responsibility. [back]
Note 19. Instruct. [back]
Note 20. It being understood that I must be kept clear of suspicion. [back]
Note 21. Roughnesses. [back]
Note 22. Patches. [back]


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