Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene III
[England. Before the King’s palace]

  Mal.  Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there
Weep our sad bosoms empty.
  Macd.        Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men        4
Bestride our down-fallen birthdom. 1 Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland, and yell’d out        8
Like syllable of dolour.
  Mal.        What I believe I’ll wail,
What know believe, and what I can redress,
As I shall find the time to friend, I will.        12
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest; you have lov’d him well.
He hath not touch’d you yet. I am young; but something        16
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak poor innocent lamb
To appease an angry god.
  Macd.  I am not treacherous.        20
  Mal.        But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge. 2 But I shall crave your pardon;
That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose.        24
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.
Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
Yet grace must still look so.
  Macd.        I have lost my hopes.        28
  Mal.  Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
Why in that rawness 3 left you wife and child,
Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
Without leave-taking? I pray you,        32
Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,
But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.
  Macd.        Bleed, bleed, poor country!        36
Great tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs;
The title is affeer’d! 4 Fare thee well, lord:
I would not be the villain that thou think’st        40
For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,
And the rich East to boot.
  Mal.        Be not offended;
I speak not as in absolute fear of you.        44
I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds. I think withal
There would be hands uplifted in my right;        48
And here from gracious England have I offer
Of goodly thousands. But, for all this,
When I shall tread upon the tyrant’s head,
Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country        52
Shall have more vices than it had before,
More suffer and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.
  Macd.        What should he be?        56
  Mal.  It is myself I mean; in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be open’d, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state        60
Esteem him as a lamb, being compar’d
With my confineless 5 harms.
  Macd.        Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d        64
In evils to top Macbeth.
  Mal.        I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, 6 avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, 7 malicious, smacking of every sin        68
That has a name; but there’s no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire        72
All continent 8 impediments would o’erbear
That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.
  Macd.        Boundless intemperance        76
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
The untimely emptying of the happy throne
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
To take upon you what is yours. You may        80
Convey 9 your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
And yet seem cold; the time 10 you may so hoodwink.
We have willing dames enough; there cannot be
That vulture in you, to devour so many        84
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclin’d.
  Mal.        With this there grows
In my most ill-compos’d affection 11 such        88
A stanchless 12 avarice that, were I King,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other’s house;
And my more-having would be as a sauce        92
To make me hunger more, that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
  Macd.        This avarice        96
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming 13 lust, and it hath been
The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foisons 14 to fill up your will,        100
Of your mere own. All these are portable, 15
With other graces weigh’d. 16
  Mal.  But I have none. The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,        104
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish 17 of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,        108
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
Uproar the universal peace, confound
All unity on earth.        112
  Macd.        O Scotland, Scotland!
  Mal.  If such an one be fit to govern, speak.
I am as I have spoken.
  Macd.        Fit to govern!        116
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
With an untitled 18 tyrant bloody-sceptred,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne        120
By his own interdiction stands accurs’d,
And does blaspheme 19 his breed? Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,        124
Died every day she liv’d. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
Hath banish’d me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!        128
  Mal.        Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wip’d the black scruples, reconcil’d my thoughts
To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth        132
By many of these trains 20 hath sought to win me
Into his power, and modest 21 wisdom plucks me
From over-credulous haste. But God above
Deal between thee and me! for even now        136
I put myself to thy direction, and
Unspeak mine own detraction; here abjure
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature. I am yet        140
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
At no time broke my faith, would not betray
The devil to his fellow, and delight        144
No less in truth than life; my first false speaking
Was this upon myself. What I am truly,
Is thine and my poor country’s to command;
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,        148
Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,
Already at a point, 22 was setting forth.
Now we’ll together; and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?        152
  Macd.  Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
’Tis hard to reconcile.
Enter a Doctor

  Mal.  Well; more anon.—Comes the King forth, I pray you?
  Doct.  Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls        156
That stay his cure. Their malady convinces 23
The great assay of art; 24 but at his touch—
Such sanctity hath Heaven given his hand—
They presently 25 amend.        160
  Mal.        I thank you, doctor.    [Exit Doctor.
  Macd.  What’s the disease he means?
  Mal.        ’Tis call’d the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king;        164
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits Heaven,
Himself best knows; but strangely-visited 26 people,
All swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,        168
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers; and ’tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves        172
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace.        176
Enter ROSS

  Macd.        See, who comes here?
  Mal.  My countryman; but yet I know him not.
  Macd.  My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.
  Mal.  I know him now. Good God, betimes 27 remove        180
The means that makes us strangers!
  Ross.        Sir, amen.
  Macd.  Stands Scotland where it did?
  Ross.        Alas, poor country!        184
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air        188
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy. 28 The dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,        192
Dying or ere they sicken.
  Macd.        O, relation
Too nice, 29 and yet too true!
  Mal.        What’s the newest grief?        196
  Ross.  That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker; 30
Each minute teems 31 a new one.
  Macd.        How does my wife?
  Ross.  Why, well.        200
  Macd.        And all my children?
  Ross.        Well too.
  Macd.  The tyrant has not batter’d at their peace?
  Ross.  No; they were well at peace when I did leave ’em.        204
  Macd.  Be not a niggard of your speech; how goes ’t?
  Ross.  When I came hither to transport the tidings,
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
Of many worthy fellows that were out; 32        208
Which was to my belief witness’d the rather,
For that I saw the tyrant’s power a-foot.
Now is the time of help; your eye in Scotland
Would create soldiers, make our women fight,        212
To doff their dire distresses.
  Mal.        Be ’t their comfort
We’re coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;        216
An older and a better soldier none
That Christendom gives out.
  Ross.        Would I could answer
This comfort with the like! But I have words        220
That would be howl’d out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch 33 them.
  Macd.        What concern they?
The general cause? Or is it a fee-grief 34        224
Due to some single breast?
  Ross.        No mind that’s honest
But in it shares some woe; though the main part
Pertains to you alone.        228
  Macd.        If it be mine,
Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.
  Ross.  Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound        232
That ever yet they heard.
  Macd.        Hum! I guess at it.
  Ross.  Your castle is surpris’d; your wife and babes
Savagely slaughter’d. To relate the manner,        236
Were, on the quarry 35 of these murder’d deer,
To add the death of you.
  Mal.        Merciful heaven!
What, man! ne’er pull your hat upon your brows;        240
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught 36 heart and bids it break.
  Macd.  My children too?
  Ross.        Wife, children, servants, all        244
That could be found.
  Macd.        And I must be from thence!
My wife kill’d too?
  Ross.        I have said.        248
  Mal.        Be comforted.
Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.
  Macd.  He has no children.—All my pretty ones?        252
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?
  Mal.  Dispute 37 it like a man.        256
  Macd.        I shall do so;
But I must also feel it as a man.
I cannot but remember such things were,
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,        260
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
They were all struck for thee! Naught 38 that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!        264
  Mal.  Be this the whetstone of your sword; let grief
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.
  Macd.  O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,        268
Cut short all intermission. Front to front
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
Within my sword’s length set him; if he scape,
Heaven forgive him too!        272
  Mal.        This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the King; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave. 39 Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above        276
Put on 40 their instruments. Receive what cheer you may;
The night is long that never finds the day.  Exeunt.
Note 1. Native country. [back]
Note 2. Under a king’s orders. [back]
Note 3. Without preparation. [back]
Note 4. Sanctioned. [back]
Note 5. Boundless. [back]
Note 6. Lustful. [back]
Note 7. Hasty. [back]
Note 8. Restraining. [back]
Note 9. Carry on. [back]
Note 10. Society. [back]
Note 11. Badly constituted disposition. [back]
Note 12. Insatiable. [back]
Note 13. Belonging to the prime of life. [back]
Note 14. Abundance. [back]
Note 15. Tolerable. [back]
Note 16. Balanced. [back]
Note 17. Flavor. [back]
Note 18. Without just claim. [back]
Note 19. Slander. [back]
Note 20. Plots. [back]
Note 21. Discreet. [back]
Note 22. Prepared. [back]
Note 23. Baffles. [back]
Note 24. Attempts of physicians. [back]
Note 25. Boundless. [back]
Note 26. Afflicted. [back]
Note 27. Soon. [back]
Note 28. An every-day excitement. [back]
Note 29. Story too fanciful. [back]
Note 30. I. e., as a bringer of stale news. [back]
Note 31. Produces. [back]
Note 32. In revolt. [back]
Note 33. Catch. [back]
Note 34. Private property in grief. [back]
Note 35. Dead bodies. [back]
Note 36. Over-burdened. [back]
Note 37. Strive against. [back]
Note 38. Worthless. [back]
Note 39. Leave-taking. [back]
Note 40. Set to work. [back]


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