Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Scene IV
[The same. Hall in the palace]
A banquet prepar’d. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants

  Macb.  You know your own degrees; sit down. At first
And last, the hearty welcome.
  Lords.        Thanks to your Majesty.
  Macb.  Ourself will mingle with society        4
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state, 1 but in best time
We will require her welcome.
  Lady M.  Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends,        8
For my heart speaks they are welcome.
First Murderer [appears at the door]

  Macb.  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        12
The table round.  [Approaching the door.]
        —There’s blood upon thy face.
  Mur.  ’Tis Banquo’s then.
  Macb.  ’Tis better thee without than he within.        16
Is he dispatch’d?
  Mur.  My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.
  Macb.  Thou art the best o’ the cut-throats; yet he’s good
That did the like for Fleance. If thou didst it,        20
Thou art the nonpareil. 2
  Mur.        Most royal sir,
Fleance is scap’d.
  Macb.  Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect,        24
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air;
But now I am cabin’d, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe?        28
  Mur.  Ay, my good lord; safe in a ditch he bides,
With twenty trenched gashes on his head,
The least a death to nature.
  Macb.        Thanks for that;        32
There the grown serpent lies. The worm 3 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. 4  Exit Murderer.        36
  Lady M.        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;        40
From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony;
Meeting were bare without it.
Enter the Ghost of BANQUO, and sits in MACBETH’S place

  Macb.        Sweet remembrancer!
Now, good digestion wait on appetite,        44
And health on both!
  Len.        May ’t please your Highness sit.
  Macb.  Here had we now our country’s honour roof’d,
Were the grac’d person of our Banquo present,        48
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
Than pity for mischance.
  Ross.        His absence, sir,
Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your Highness        52
To grace us with your royal company?
  Macb.  The table’s full.
  Len.        Here is a place reserv’d, sir.
  Macb.  Where?        56
  Len.  Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your Highness?
  Macb.  Which of you have done this?
  Lords.        What, my good lord?
  Macb.  Thou canst not say I did it; never shake        60
Thy gory locks at me.
  Ross.  Gentlemen, rise: his Highness is not well.
  Lady M.  Sit, worthy friends; my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat;        64
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. 5
Feed, and regard him not. [Aside to MACBETH.]        68
Are you a man?
  Macb.  Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appall the devil.
  Lady M.  [Aside to MACBETH.]  O proper 6 stuff!        72
This is the very painting of your fear;
This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,
Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws 7 and starts,
Impostors to 8 true fear, would well become        76
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authoriz’d 9 by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done,
You look but on a stool.        80
  Macb.  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 10        84
Shall be the maws of kites.  [Ghost vanishes.]
  Lady M.  [Aside to MACBETH.]  What, quite unmann’d in folly?
  Macb.  If I stand here, I saw him.
  Lady M.  [Aside to MACBETH.]  Fie, for shame!        88
  Macb.  Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,
Ere humane statute purg’d the gentle weal; 11
Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d
Too terrible for the ear. The time has been,        92
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
With twenty mortal murders 12 on their crowns,
And push us from our stools. This is more strange        96
Than such a murder is.
  Lady M.        My worthy lord,
Your noble friends do lack you.
  Macb.        I do forget.        100
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;
Then I’ll sit down. Give me some wine; fill full.        104
Re-enter Ghost

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.        108
  Lords.        Our duties, and the pledge.
  Macb.  Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation 13 in those eyes        112
Which thou dost glare with!
  Lady M.        Think of this, good peers,
But as a thing of custom; ’tis no other,
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.        116
  Macb.  What man dare, I dare.
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
The arm’d rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves        120
Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,
And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
If trembling I inhabit 14 then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!        124
Unreal mockery, hence!  [Ghost vanishes.]
        Why, so; being gone,
I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
  Lady M.  You have displac’d the mirth, broke the good meeting,        128
With most admir’d 15 disorder.
  Macb.        Can such things be,
And overcome 16 us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me strange 17        132
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 blanch’d with fear.        136
  Ross.        What sights, my lord?
  Lady M.  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,        140
But go at once.
  Len.        Good-night; and better health
Attend his Majesty!
  Lady M.        A kind good-night to all! Exeunt Lords.        144
  Macb.  It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood.
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augures 18 and understood 19 relations have
By maggot-pies and choughs 20 and rooks brought forth        148
The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?
  Lady M.  Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
  Macb.  How say’st thou, that Macduff denies his person
At our great bidding?        152
  Lady M.        Did you send to him, sir?
  Macb.  I hear it by the way; but I will send.
There’s not a one of them but in his house
I keep a servant fee’d. I will to-morrow,        156
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        160
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.        164
  Lady M.  You lack the season 21 of all natures, sleep.
  Macb.  Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse 22
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use;
We are yet but young in deed.  Exeunt.        168
Note 1. Throne. [back]
Note 2. The one without equal. [back]
Note 3. Serpent. [back]
Note 4. Talk together. [back]
Note 5. Prolong his agitation. [back]
Note 6. Fine. [back]
Note 7. Sudden outbursts. [back]
Note 8. Compared to. [back]
Note 9. Vouched for. [back]
Note 10. Tombs. [back]
Note 11. Made the state gentle by purging it. [back]
Note 12. Deadly wounds. [back]
Note 13. Sight. [back]
Note 14. Continue (?). Clothe myself in (?). [back]
Note 15. Producing wonder. [back]
Note 16. Overshadow. [back]
Note 17. A stranger. [back]
Note 18. Auguries. [back]
Note 19. Secret. [back]
Note 20. Daws. [back]
Note 21. Seasoning. [back]
Note 22. Deception. [back]


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