Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Macbeth
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
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        5
Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall’n birthdom; 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        10
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.
What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.        15
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
You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb        20
To appease an angry god.
  Macd.  I am not treacherous.
  Mal.        But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon;        25
That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose;
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.        30
  Mal.  Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
Why in that rawness left you wife and child—
Those precious motives, those strong knots of love—
Without leave-taking? I pray you,
Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,        35
But mine own safeties: you may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.
  Macd.        Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dares not check thee! wear thou thy wrongs;        40
The title is affeer’d! Fare thee well, lord:
I would not be the villain that thou think’st
For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp,
And the rich East to boot.
  Mal.        Be not offended:        45
I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
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;        50
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
Shall have more vices than it had before,        55
More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.
  Macd.        What should he be?
  Mal.  It is myself I mean; in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted,        60
That, when they shall be open’d, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compar’d
With my confineless harms.
  Macd.        Not in the legions        65
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
In evils to top Macbeth.
  Mal.        I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin        70
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
All continent impediments would o’erbear        75
That did oppose my will; better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.
  Macd.        Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne,        80
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
To take upon you what is yours; you may
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
And yet seem cold, the time you may so hoodwink.
We have willing dames enough; there cannot be        85
That vulture in you, to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclin’d.
  Mal.        With this there grows
In my most ill-compos’d affection such        90
A stanchless 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
To make me hunger more, that I should forge        95
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
  Macd.        This avarice
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been        100
The sword of our slain kings: yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will,
Of your mere own; all these are portable,
With other graces weigh’d.
  Mal.  But I have none: the king-becoming graces,        105
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them, but abound
In the division of each several crime,        110
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.
  Macd.        O Scotland, Scotland!        115
  Mal.  If such a one be fit to govern, speak:
I am as I have spoken.
  Macd.        Fit to govern!
No, not to live. O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d,        120
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands accurs’d,
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,        125
Oft’ner upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she liv’d. Fare thee well!
These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
Have banish’d me from Scotland. O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!        130
  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
By many of these trains hath sought to win me        135
Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
From over-credulous haste; but God above
Deal between thee and me! for even now
I put myself to thy direction, and
Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure        140
The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
For strangers to my nature. I am yet
Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
Scarcely have coveted what was mine own;
At no time broke my faith, would not betray        145
The devil to his fellow, and delight
No less in truth than life; my first false speaking
Was this upon myself. What I am truly,
Is thine and my poorcountry’s to command;
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,        150
Old Siward, with ten thousand war-like men,
Already at a point, was setting forth.
Now we’ll together, and the chance of goodness
Be like our warranted quarrel. Why are you silent?
  Macd.  Such welcome and unwelcome things at once        155
’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
That stay his cure; their malady convinces        160
The great assay of art; but, at his touch,
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
They presently amend.
  Mal.        I thank you, doctor.  [Exit Doctor.
  Macd.  What’s the disease he means?        165
  Mal.        ’Tis call’d the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king,
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people,        170
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
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        175
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.
  Macd.        See, who comes here?        180
  Mal.  My countryman; but yet I know him not.
Enter ROSS.
  Macd.  My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.
  Mal.  I know him now. Good God, betimes remove
The means that make us strangers!        185
  Ross.        Sir, amen.
  Macd.  Stands Scotland where it did?
  Ross.        Alas! poor country;
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be call’d our mother, but our grave; where nothing,        190
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the air
Are made, not mark’d; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy; the dead man’s knell
Is there scarce ask’d for who; and good men’s lives        195
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.
  Macd.        O! relation
Too nice, and yet too true!
  Mal.        What’s the newest grief?        200
  Ross.  That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker;
Each minute teems a new one.
  Macd.        How does my wife?
  Ross.  Why, well.
  Macd.        And all my children?        205
  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.
  Macd.  Be not a niggard of your speech: how goes ’t?
  Ross.  When I came hither to transport the tidings,        210
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
Of many worthy fellows that were out;
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        215
Would create soldiers, make our women fight,
To doff their dire distresses.
  Mal.        Be ’t their comfort,
We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;        220
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
That would be howl’d out in the desert air,        225
Where hearing should not latch them.
  Macd.        What concern they?
The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
Due to some single breast?
  Ross.        No mind that’s honest        230
But in it shares some woe, though the main part
Pertains to you alone.
  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,        235
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
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,        240
Were, on the quarry of these murder’d deer,
To add the death of you.
  Mal.        Merciful heaven!
What! man; ne’er pull your hat upon your brows;
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak        245
Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
  Macd.  My children too?
  Ross.        Wife, children, servants, all
That could be found.
  Macd.        And I must be from thence!        250
My wife kill’d too?
  Ross.        I have said.
  Mal.                Be comforted:
Let’s make us medicine of our great revenge,
To cure this deadly grief.        255
  Macd.  He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What! all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?
  Mal.        Dispute it like a man.        260
  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,
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff!        265
They were all struck for thee. Naught that I am,
Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!
  Mal.  Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.        270
  Macd.  O! I could play the woman with mine eyes,
And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle heavens,
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,        275
Heaven forgive him too!
  Mal.        This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above        280
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may;
The night is long that never finds the day.  [Exeunt.

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