William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Act III

Act III

Scene I

Forres. The palace

Enter Banquo

Banquo

Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and, I fear, Thou play'dst most foully for't: yet it was said It should not stand in thy posterity, But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings. If there come truth from them— As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine— Why, by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well, And set me up in hope? But hush! no more.

Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth, as king, Lady Macbeth, as queen, Lennox, Ross, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants

Macbeth

Here's our chief guest.

Lady Macbeth

If he had been forgotten, It had been as a gap in our great feast, And all-thing unbecoming.

Macbeth

To-night we hold a solemn supper sir, And I'll request your presence.

Banquo

Let your highness Command upon me; to the which my duties Are with a most indissoluble tie For ever knit.

Macbeth

Ride you this afternoon?

Banquo

Ay, my good lord.

Macbeth

We should have else desired 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 you ride?

Banquo

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.

Macbeth

Fail not our feast.

Banquo

My lord, I will not.

Macbeth

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?

Banquo

Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon 's.

Macbeth

I wish your horses swift and sure of foot; And so I do commend you to their backs. Farewell.

Exit Banquo

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 all but Macbeth, and an attendant

Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men Our pleasure?

Attendant

They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

Macbeth

Bring them before us.

Exit Attendant

To be thus is nothing; 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, My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, Mark Antony's was by Caesar. 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 placed 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 't be so, For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'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! 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?

First Murderer

It was, so please your highness.

Macbeth

Well then, Now, have you consider'd of my speeches? Know that it was he 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 crazed Say “Thus did Banquo.

First Murderer

You made it known to us.

Macbeth

I did so, and went further, which is now Our point of second meeting. Do you find Your patience so predominant in your nature That you can let this go? Are you so gospell'd To pray for this good man and for his issue, Whose heavy hand hath bow'd you to the grave And beggar'd yours for ever?

First Murderer

We are men, my liege.

Macbeth

Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men; As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, Shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves, are clept 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 him closed; 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 i' the worst rank of manhood, say 't; 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.

Second Murderer

I am one, my liege, Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world Have so incensed that I am reckless what I do to spite the world.

First Murderer

And I another So weary with disasters, tugg'd with fortune, That I would set my lie on any chance, To mend it, or be rid on't.

Macbeth

Both of you Know Banquo was your enemy.

Both Murderers

True, my lord.

Macbeth

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 barefaced 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 Who 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.

Second Murderer

We shall, my lord, Perform what you command us.

First Murderer

Though our lives—

Macbeth

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.

Both Murderers

We are resolved, my lord.

Macbeth

I'll call upon you straight: abide within.

Exeunt Murderers

It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight, If it find heaven, must find it out to-night.

Exit