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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act III
 
Scene II
 
 
[The palace]
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.        4
  Serv.        Madam, I will.  Exit.
  Lady M.        Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content.
’Tis safer to be that which we destroy        8
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
 
Enter MACBETH

How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died        12
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard; what’s done is done.
  Macb.  We have scotch’d 1 the snake, not kill’d it;
She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice        16
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        20
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 ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;        24
After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.
Treason has done his worst; nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.        28
  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.        32
Let your remembrance apply to Banquo;
Present him eminence, 2 both with eye and tongue.
Unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honours in these flattering streams,        36
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are.
  Lady M.        You must leave this.
  Macb.  O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!        40
Thou know’st that Banquo and his Fleance lives.
  Lady M.  But in them nature’s copy’s 3 not eterne.
  Macb.  There’s comfort yet; they are assailable.
Then be thou jocund; ere the bat hath flown        44
His cloister’d flight, ere to black Hecate’s summons
The shard-borne 4 beetle with his drowsy hums
Hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done
A deed of dreadful note.        48
  Lady M.        What’s to be done?
  Macb.  Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling 5 night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,        52
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;        56
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
Whiles night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvell’st at my words, but hold thee still;
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.        60
So, prithee, go with me.  Exeunt.
 
Note 1. Slashed. [back]
Note 2. Give him distinguished treatment. [back]
Note 3. Copyhold—the tenure of life which nature holds from God. (Manly.) [back]
Note 4. Borne on his wing-cases. [back]
Note 5. Closing the eyelids. [back]
 

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