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Macb. To-night we hold a solemn supper, sir,
And I'll request your presence.
Let your highness
Command upon me; to the which, my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
For ever knit.
Macb. Ride you this afternoon ?
Ay, my good lord.
Macb. We should have else desir'd your good advice
(Which still hath been both grave and prosperous)
In this day's council; but we 'll take to-morrow.
Is 't far ride?
Ban. As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
'Twixt this and supper; go not my horse the better,
I must become a borrower of the night,
For a dark hour, or twain.
Fail not our feast.
Ban. My lord, I will not.
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;
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 us.
Macb. I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night; to make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till supper-time alone : while then, God be with you.
[Exeunt LADY MACBETH, Lords, Ladies, &c. Sirrah, a word with you: Attend those men our pleasure ?
Attend. They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
Macb. Bring them before us.—[Exit Attend.] To be thus, is
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,
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
(1) While then, i. e. until then.
My genius is rebuk'd; as, it is said,
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 :
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 it be so,
For Banquo's issue have I 'fil'd my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murther'd :
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace,
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
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! i— Who's there?-
Re-enter Attendant, with two Murderers.
Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.
[Exit Attendant. Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
1 Mur. It was, so please your highness. Macb.
Well then, now Have you
considered of my speeches ? Know, That it was be, in the times past, which held you So under fortune; which, you thought, had been Our innocent self: this I made good to you In our last conference ; pass'd in probation with you, How you were borne in hand; ? how cross'd; the instruments; Who wrought with them; and all things else, that might, To half a soul, and to a notion craz'd, 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
Your patience so predominant in your nature,
That you can let this go? Are you so gospell’d, 3
To pray for this good man, and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave,
(1) Champion me to the utterance. The figure is here borrowed from an ancient combat between two knights, when they agreed to accept or give no quarter, but to fight à l'outrance, to extremity, till one or both was slain. Macbeth here declares that if fate has decreed the exaltation of Banquo's race, he will yet oppose it to the utterance, or outrance. (2) Borne in hand, i. e. played with, dallied with, deceived, tricked.
(3) Are you so gospelld ? i. e. are you so very virtuous, so very pious and gospel-like?
And beggar'd yours for ever?
We are men, my liege.
Macb. Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves, are cleped
All by the name of dogs: the valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in bim clos'd; whereby he does receive
Particular addition, from the bill
That writes them all alike : and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not in the worst rank of manhood, say it;
And I will put that business in your bosoms
Whose execution takes your enemy off;
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.
I am one, my liege,
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Have so incens'd, that I am reckless what
I do, to spite the world.
And I another,
So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune,
Tbat I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on 't.
Know, Banquo was your enemy.
True, my lord.
Macb. So is he mine; and in such bloody distance,
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near'st of life: And though I could
With bare-fac'd power sweep him from my sight,
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Whom I myself struck down: and thence it is
That I to your assistance do make love;
Masking the business from the common eye,
For sundry weighty reasons.
We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
Though our lives-Macb. Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour, at
most, I will advise 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,
And something from the palace; always thought
That I require a clearness :' And with him,
(To leave no rubs, nor botches, in the work,)
Fleance his son, that keeps him company,
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.
We are resolved, my lord.
Macb. I'll call upon you straight; abide within.
It is concluded :—Banquo, thy soul's flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.
[Exeunt. SCENE II.—The same. Another Room.
Enter LADY MACBETH and a Servant.
Lady M. Is Banquo gone from court?
Serv. Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.
Lady M. Say to the king, I would attend his leisure
For a few words.
Madam, I will.
[Eril. Lady M.
Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
"Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy.
How now, my lord ? why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making?
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy,
Should be without regard : what's done is done.
Macb. We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it;
She'll close, and be herself; whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams,
That shake us nightly: Better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstacy: Duncan is in his grave;
(1) The perfect spy o' the time, i.e. the very nick, the exact moment, the critical juncture, of the time when Banquo will return.
(2) I require a clearness. The meaning is, Let not me be suspected. (3) Ecstacy is here used for madness.
After lise's fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done its worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further !
Lady M. Come on;
Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks;
Be bright and jovial among your guests to-night.
Macb. So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you:
Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
Present him eminence,' both with eye and tongue :
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honours in these flattering streams;
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
You must leave this.
Macb. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!
Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.
Lady M. But in them nature's copy's not eterne.?
Mach. There's comfort yet; they are assailable ;
Then be thou jocund: Ere the bat hath flown
His cloister'd light; ere, to black Hecate's summons,
The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums,
Hath rung night's yawning peal,
There shall be done a deed of dreadful note.
Lady M. What's to be done?
Macb. Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
And with thy bloody and invisible hand,
Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond
Which keeps me pale!-Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood;
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouse.
Thou marvell'st at my words: but hold thee still ;
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill:
So, prithee, go with me.
[Exeunt. SCENE III.—The same. A Park or Lawn with a Gate leading
to the Palace.
Enter three Murderers. 1 Mur. But who did bid thee join with us? 3 Mur.
(1) Present him eminence, i. e. do him the highest honour. (2) Nature's copy's not eterne,-the copy or lease by which they hold their life of nature is not eternal.
(3) Shard-borne, i.e. borne on its shards, or scaly wings