Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act III. Scene IV.
The Same.  A Room of State in the Palace.
A Banquet prepared.  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.        5
  Macb.  Ourself will mingle with society
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time
We will require her welcome.
  Lady M.  Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends;        10
For my heart speaks they are welcome.
Enter First Murderer, to 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        15
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.
Is he dispatch’d?
  Mur.  My lord, his throat is cut; that I did for him.        20
  Macb.  Thou art the best o’ the cut-throats; yet he’s good
That did the like for Fleance: if thou didst it,
Thou art the nonpareil.
  Mur.        Most royal sir,
Fleance is ’scap’d.        25
  Macb.  Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect;
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?        30
  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.
There the grown serpent lies: the worm that’s fled        35
Hath nature that in time will venom breed,
No teeth for the present. Get thee gone; to-morrow
We’ll hear ourselves again.  [Exit Murderer.
  Lady M.        My royal lord,
You do not give the cheer: the feast is sold        40
That is not often vouch’d, while ’tis a-making,
’Tis given with welcome: to feed were best at home;
From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony;
Meeting were bare without it.
  Macb.        Sweet remembrancer!        45
Now good digestion wait on appetite,
And health on both!
  Len.        May it please your highness sit?  [The Ghost of BANQUO enters, and sits in MACBETH’S place.
  Macb.  Here had we now our country’s honour roof’d,
Were the grac’d person of our Banquo present;        50
Who may I rather challenge for unkindness
Than pity for mischance!
  Ross.        His absence, sir,
Lays blame upon his promise. Please ’t your highness
To grace us with your royal company.        55
  Macb.  The table’s full.
  Len.        Here is a place reserv’d, sir.
  Macb.  Where?
  Len.  Here, my good lord. What is ’t that moves your highness?
  Macb.  Which of you have done this?        60
  Lords.        What, my good lord?
  Macb.  Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory locks at me.
  Ross.  Gentlemen, rise; his highness is not well.
  Lady M.  Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,        65
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
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:
Feed and regard him not. Are you a man?        70
  Macb.  Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appal the devil.
  Lady M.        O proper stuff!
This is the very painting of your fear;
This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said,        75
Led you to Duncan. O! these flaws and starts—
Impostors to true fear—would well become
A woman’s story at a winter’s fire,
Authoriz’d by her grandam. Shame itself!
Why do you make such faces? When all’s done        80
You look but on a stool.
  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        85
Shall be the maws of kites.  [Ghost disappears.
  Lady M.        What! quite unmann’d in folly?
  Macb.  If I stand here, I saw him.
  Lady M.        Fie, for shame!
  Macb.  Blood hath been shed ere now, i’ the olden time,        90
Ere human statute purg’d the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been perform’d
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
That, when the brains were out, the man would die,
And there an end; but now they rise again,        95
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
And push us from our stools: this is more strange
Than such a murder is.
  Lady M.        My worthy lord,
Your noble friends do lack you.        100
  Macb.        I do forget.
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.        105
I drink to the general joy of 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.
  Lords.        Our duties, and the pledge.        110
Re-enter Ghost.
  Macb.  Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with.        115
  Lady M.        Think of this, good peers,
But as a thing of custom: ’tis no other;
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
  Macb.  What man dare, I dare:
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,        120
The arm’d rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
And dare me to the desart with thy sword;
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me        125
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
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,        130
With most admir’d disorder.
  Macb.        Can such things be
And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,        135
When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
When mine are blanch’d with fear.
  Ross.        What sights, my lord?
  Lady M.  I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;        140
Question enrages him. At once, good-night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.
  Len.        Good-night; and better health
Attend his majesty!        145
  Lady M.        A kind good-night to all!  [Exeunt Lords and Attendants.
  Macb.  It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augurs and understood relations have
By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth        150
The secret’st man of blood. What is the night?
  Lady M.  Almost at odds with morning, which is which.
  Macb.  How sayst thou, that Macduff denies his person
At our great bidding?
  Lady M.        Did you send to him, sir?        155
  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—
And betimes I will—to the weird sisters:
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,        160
By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
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,        165
Which must be acted ere they may be scann’d.
  Lady M.  You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
  Macb.  Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
We are yet but young in deed.  [Exeunt.        170

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