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The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 4

Author: William Shakespeare

“Folger Digital Texts.” Edited by Rebecca Niles and Michael Poston, Folger Digital Texts, 1606, www.folgerdigitaltexts.org/?chapter=5&play=Mac&loc=p7.

ACT 4
Scene 1
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.

FIRST WITCH
Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed.
SECOND WITCH
Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.
THIRD WITCH
Harpier cries “’Tis time, ’tis time!”
FIRST WITCH
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ th’ charmèd pot.
The Witches circle the cauldron.
ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
SECOND WITCH
Fillet of a fenny snake
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blindworm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
THIRD WITCH
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravined salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digged i’ th’ dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Slivered in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-delivered by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron
For th’ ingredience of our cauldron.
ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
SECOND WITCH
Cool it with a baboon’s blood.
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter Hecate
to the other three Witches.

HECATE
O, well done! I commend your pains,
And everyone shall share i’ th’ gains.
And now about the cauldron sing
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.
Music and a song: “Black Spirits,” etc. Hecate exits.
SECOND WITCH
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks.

Enter Macbeth.

MACBETH
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
What is ’t you do?
ALL A deed without a name.
MACBETH
I conjure you by that which you profess
(Howe’er you come to know it), answer me.
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches, though the yeasty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up,
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown
down,
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads,
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations, though the
treasure
Of nature’s
germens tumble all together
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.
FIRST WITCH Speak.
SECOND WITCH Demand.
THIRD WITCH We’ll answer.
FIRST WITCH
Say if th’ hadst rather hear it from our mouths
Or from our masters’.
MACBETH Call ’em. Let me see ’em.
FIRST WITCH
Pour in sow’s blood that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that’s sweaten
From the murderers’ gibbet throw
Into the flame.
ALL Come high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show.

Thunder. First Apparition, an Armed Head.

MACBETH
Tell me, thou unknown power—
FIRST WITCH He knows thy
thought.
Hear his speech but say thou naught.
FIRST APPARITION
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff!
Beware the Thane of Fife! Dismiss me. Enough.
He descends.
MACBETH
Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks.
Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word
more—
FIRST WITCH
He will not be commanded. Here’s another
More potent than the first.

Thunder. Second Apparition, a Bloody Child.

SECOND APPARITION Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!—
MACBETH Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.
SECOND APPARITION
Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.
He descends.
MACBETH
Then live, Macduff; what need I fear of thee?
But yet I’ll make assurance double sure
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live,
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.
Thunder. Third Apparition, a Child Crowned, with a tree
in his hand.

What is this
That rises like the issue of a king
And wears upon his baby brow the round
And top of sovereignty?
ALL Listen but speak not to ’t.
THIRD APPARITION
Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.
Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.
He descends.
MACBETH That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements, good!
Rebellious dead, rise never till the Wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?
ALL Seek to know no more.
MACBETH
I will be satisfied. Deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know!
Cauldron sinks. Hautboys.
Why sinks that cauldron? And what noise is this?
FIRST WITCH Show.
SECOND WITCH Show.
THIRD WITCH Show.
ALL
Show his eyes and grieve his heart.
Come like shadows; so depart.
A show of eight kings, the eighth king with a glass in
his hand, and Banquo last.

MACBETH
Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo. Down!
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former.—Filthy hags,
Why do you show me this?—A fourth? Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to th’ crack of doom?
Another yet? A seventh? I’ll see no more.
And yet the eighth appears who bears a glass
Which shows me many more, and some I see
That twofold balls and treble scepters carry.
Horrible sight! Now I see ’tis true,
For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me
And points at them for his.
The Apparitions disappear.
What, is this so?
FIRST WITCH
Ay, sir, all this is so. But why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites
And show the best of our delights.
I’ll charm the air to give a sound
While you perform your antic round,
That this great king may kindly say
Our duties did his welcome pay.
Music. The Witches dance and vanish.
MACBETH
Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursèd in the calendar!—
Come in, without there.

Enter Lennox.

LENNOX What’s your Grace’s will?
MACBETH
Saw you the Weïrd Sisters?
LENNOX No, my lord.
MACBETH
Came they not by you?
LENNOX No, indeed, my lord.
MACBETH
Infected be the air whereon they ride,
And damned all those that trust them! I did hear
The galloping of horse. Who was ’t came by?
LENNOX
’Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.
MACBETH Fled to England?
LENNOX Ay, my good lord.
MACBETH,
aside
Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and
done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!—Where are these gentlemen?
Come bring me where they are.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Macduff’s Wife, her Son, and Ross.

LADY MACDUFF
What had he done to make him fly the land?
ROSS
You must have patience, madam.
LADY MACDUFF He had none.
His flight was madness. When our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.
ROSS You know not
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
LADY MACDUFF
Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch; for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear, and nothing is the love,
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.
ROSS My dearest coz,
I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o’ th’ season. I dare not speak much
further;
But cruel are the times when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move—I take my leave of you.
Shall not be long but I’ll be here again.
Things at the worst will cease or else climb upward
To what they were before.—My pretty cousin,
Blessing upon you.
LADY MACDUFF
Fathered he is, and yet he’s fatherless.
ROSS
I am so much a fool, should I stay longer
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.
I take my leave at once.Ross exits.
LADY MACDUFF Sirrah, your father’s dead.
And what will you do now? How will you live?
SON
As birds do, mother.
LADY MACDUFF What, with worms and flies?
SON
With what I get, I mean; and so do they.
LADY MACDUFF
Poor bird, thou ’dst never fear the net nor lime,
The pitfall nor the gin.
SON
Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set
for.
My father is not dead, for all your saying.
LADY MACDUFF
Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?
SON Nay, how will you do for a husband?
LADY MACDUFF
Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.
SON Then you’ll buy ’em to sell again.
LADY MACDUFF Thou speak’st with all thy wit,
And yet, i’ faith, with wit enough for thee.
SON Was my father a traitor, mother?
LADY MACDUFF Ay, that he was.
SON What is a traitor?
LADY MACDUFF Why, one that swears and lies.
SON And be all traitors that do so?
LADY MACDUFF Every one that does so is a traitor
and must be hanged.
SON And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
LADY MACDUFF Every one.
SON Who must hang them?
LADY MACDUFF Why, the honest men.
SON Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there
are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest
men and hang up them.
LADY MACDUFF Now God help thee, poor monkey! But
how wilt thou do for a father?
SON If he were dead, you’d weep for him. If you would
not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a
new father.
LADY MACDUFF Poor prattler, how thou talk’st!

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER
Bless you, fair dame. I am not to you known,
Though in your state of honor I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.
If you will take a homely man’s advice,
Be not found here. Hence with your little ones!
To fright you thus methinks I am too savage;
To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve
you!
I dare abide no longer.Messenger exits.
LADY MACDUFF Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world, where to do harm
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defense
To say I have done no harm?

Enter Murderers.

What are these faces?
MURDERER Where is your husband?
LADY MACDUFF
I hope in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.
MURDERER He’s a traitor.
SON
Thou liest, thou shag-eared villain!
MURDERER What, you egg?
Stabbing him. Young fry of treachery!
SON He has killed
me, mother.
Run away, I pray you.
Lady Macduff exits, crying “Murder!” followed by the
Murderers bearing the Son’s body.

Scene 3
Enter Malcolm and Macduff.

MALCOLM
Let us seek out some desolate shade and there
Weep our sad bosoms empty.
MACDUFF Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men,
Bestride our
downfall’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 yelled out
Like syllable of dolor.
MALCOLM 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.
This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest. You have loved him well.
He hath not touched you yet. I am young, but
something
You may
deserve of him through me, and wisdom
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb
T’ appease an angry god.
MACDUFF
I am not treacherous.
MALCOLM But Macbeth is.
A good and virtuous nature may recoil
In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your
pardon.
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.
MACDUFF I have lost my hopes.
MALCOLM
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 dishonors,
But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
Whatever I shall think.
MACDUFF Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dare not check thee. Wear thou thy
wrongs;
The title is affeered.—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.
MALCOLM Be not offended.
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;
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,
More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.
MACDUFF What should he be?
MALCOLM
It is myself I mean, in whom I know
All the particulars of vice so grafted
That, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
With my confineless harms.
MACDUFF Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
In evils to top Macbeth.
MALCOLM I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
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
That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.
MACDUFF Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny. It hath been
Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne
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
That vulture in you to devour so many
As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
Finding it so inclined.
MALCOLM With this there grows
In my most ill-composed affection such
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
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
MACDUFF This avarice
Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
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 weighed.
MALCOLM
But I have none. The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temp’rance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them but abound
In the division of each several crime,
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.
MACDUFF O Scotland, Scotland!
MALCOLM
If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
I am as I have spoken.
MACDUFF Fit to govern?
No, not to live.—O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptered,
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
Since that the truest issue of thy throne
By his own interdiction stands
accursed
And does blaspheme his breed?—Thy royal father
Was a most sainted king. The queen that bore thee,
Oft’ner upon her knees than on her feet,
Died every day she lived. Fare thee well.
These evils thou repeat’st upon thyself
Hath banished me from Scotland.—O my breast,
Thy hope ends here!
MALCOLM Macduff, this noble passion,
Child of integrity, hath from my soul
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
To thy good truth and honor. Devilish Macbeth
By many of these trains hath sought to win me
Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
From overcredulous 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
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
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 poor country’s to command—
Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
Old Siward with ten thousand warlike 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?
MACDUFF
Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
’Tis hard to reconcile.

Enter a Doctor.

MALCOLM Well, more anon.—
Comes the King forth, I pray you?
DOCTOR
Ay, sir. There are a crew of wretched souls
That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
The great assay of art, but at his touch
(Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand)
They presently amend.
MALCOLM I thank you, doctor.

Doctor exits.
MACDUFF
What’s the disease he means?
MALCOLM ’Tis called 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
All swoll’n 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
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.

Enter Ross.

MACDUFF See who comes here.
MALCOLM
My countryman, but yet I know him not.
MACDUFF
My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.
MALCOLM
I know him now.—Good God betimes remove
The means that makes us strangers!
ROSS Sir, amen.
MACDUFF
Stands Scotland where it did?
ROSS Alas, poor country,
Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
Be called our mother, but our grave, where nothing
But who knows nothing is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rent the air
Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy. The dead man’s knell
Is there scarce asked for who, and good men’s lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.
MACDUFF
O relation too nice and yet too true!
MALCOLM What’s the newest grief?
ROSS
That of an hour’s age doth hiss the speaker.
Each minute teems a new one.
MACDUFF How does my wife?
ROSS Why, well.
MACDUFF And all my children?
ROSS Well too.
MACDUFF
The tyrant has not battered at their peace?
ROSS
No, they were well at peace when I did leave ’em.
MACDUFF
Be not a niggard of your speech. How goes ’t?
ROSS
When I came hither to transport the tidings
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumor
Of many worthy fellows that were out;
Which was to my belief witnessed the rather
For that I saw the tyrant’s power afoot.
Now is the time of help. Your eye in Scotland
Would create soldiers, make our women fight
To doff their dire distresses.
MALCOLM Be ’t their comfort
We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
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 howled out in the desert air,
Where hearing should not latch them.
MACDUFF What concern
they—
The general cause, or is it a fee-grief
Due to some single breast?
ROSS No mind that’s honest
But in it shares some woe, though the main part
Pertains to you alone.
MACDUFF If it be mine,
Keep it not from me. Quickly let me have it.
ROSS
Let not your ears despise my tongue forever,
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
That ever yet they heard.
MACDUFF Hum! I guess at it.
ROSS
Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner
Were on the quarry of these murdered deer
To add the death of you.
MALCOLM Merciful heaven!—
What, man, ne’er pull your hat upon your brows.
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’erfraught heart and bids it break.
MACDUFF My children too?
ROSS
Wife, children, servants, all that could be found.
MACDUFF
And I must be from thence? My wife killed too?
ROSS I have said.
MALCOLM Be comforted.
Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge
To cure this deadly grief.
MACDUFF
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?
MALCOLM Dispute it like a man.
MACDUFF 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,
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.
MALCOLM
Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief
Convert to anger. Blunt not the heart; enrage it.
MACDUFF
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,
Heaven forgive him too.
MALCOLM 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
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you
may.
The night is long that never finds the day.
They exit.

DMU Timestamp: September 11, 2019 18:32