Page images

But be the serpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for: and you shall put
This night's great business into my despatch;
Which shall to all our nights and days to come
Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.

MACB. We will speak further.

LADY M. Only look up clear; -
To alter favour ever is to fear:
Leave all the rest to me. [Exeunt.

SCENE WI.—The same. Before the Castle.
Hautboys. Servants of Macbeth attending.

Enter DUNCAN, MALcol M, DoNALBAIN, BANQUo, LENOx, MACDUFF, RossE, ANGUs, and Attendants.

DUN. This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.

BAN. This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
By his lov'd mansionry, that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coigne of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendent bed, and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observ'd,
The air is delicate.


DUN. See, see our honour'd hostess'
The love that follows us sometime is our trouble,
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you,
How you shall bid God-eyld us for your pains,
And thank us for your trouble".

LADY M. All our service
In every point twice done, and then done double,
Were poor and single business, to contend
Against those honours deep and broad, wherewith

* We have restored the old familiar expression God-eyld, as suiting better with the playfulness of Duncan's speech than the God yield us of the modern text. Malone and Steevens each give a very long paraphrase of the passage. There is great refinement in the sentiment, but the meaning is tolerably clear. The love which follows us is sometimes troublesome; so we give you trouble, but look you only at the love we bear to you, and so bless us and thank us.


Your majesty loads our house: For those of old,
And the late dignities heap'd up to them,
We rest your hermits".

DUN. Where 's the thane of Cawdor?
We cours'd him at the heels, and had a purpose
To be his purveyor: but he rides well;
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him
To his home before us: Fair and noble hostess,
We are your guest to-night.

LADY M. Your servants ever
Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt,
To make their audit at your highness' pleasure,
Still to return your own.

DUN. Give me your hand:
Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly,
And shall continue our graces towards him.
By your leave, hostess, [Ezeunt.

SCENE VII.-The same. A Room in the Castle.

Hautboys and torches. Enter, and pass over the stage, a Sewer, and divers Servants with dishes and service. Then enter MACBETH.

MACB. If it were done, when 't is done, then 't were well
It were done quickly: If the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
With his surcease, success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal" of time,
We 'd jump the life to come.—But in these cases,
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips". He 's here in double trust:

* Hermits—beadsmen—bound to pray for a benefactor. * Shoal—in the original, schoole. Theobald corrected the word to shoal, “by which," says Steevens, “our author means the shallow ford of life.” We shall not disturb the received reading, which is unquestionably the safest. * The entire passage, from the beginning of the speech to this point, is obscure. Without venturing to alter the common punctuation, we would recommend an attentive consideration of the reading of the first line, as given by Mr. Macready; and then carry on the soliloquy, as suggested by that alteration:— “If it were done when 't is done, then 't were well. It were done quickly, if the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,

First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murtherer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off:
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, hors'd
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.—I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself”,
And falls on the other"—


How now, what news 2
LADY M. He has almost supp'd : Why have you left the chamber?
MACB. Hath he ask'd for me?
LADY M. Know you not he has 2
MACB. We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,

With his surcease, success, that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all. Here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'd jump the life to come, but in these cases We still have judgment here, that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor: This even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice To our own lips.” The meaning of the entire passage we interpret thus: If all were concluded when this is done, then it were well. It would be done quickly if the assassination could shut up its consequences, and ensure success in Duncan's ceasing to exist, so that this blow only might be the beginning and the end of the deed. But here, standing here upon this shallow resting-place of time, we would hazard the consequences in the life to come, except that in these cases we still have here a judgment, a decree, a law, that we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor of them, so that this even-handed judgment commends the ingredients of the poisoned chalice to our own lips. * It has been proposed (by whom we do not recollect) to read, instead of itself, its sell, its saddle. However clever may be the notion, we can scarcely admit the necessity for the change of the original. A person (and vaulting ambition is personified) might be said to overleap himself, as well as overbalance himself, or overcharge himself, or overlabour himself, or overmeasure himself, or overreach himself. * After other Hanmer introduced side. It appears to us that the sentence is broken by the entrance of Lady Macbeth; that it is not complete in itself; and would not have been completed with side.

Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.

LADY M. - Was the hope drunk,
Wherein you dress'd yourself? hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time,
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour,
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem;
Letting I dare not wait upon I would,
Like the poor cat i' the adage"?

MACB. Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more, is none.

LADY M. What beast was 't then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, them you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time, nor place,
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both :
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck; and know
How tender 't is to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,

* And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn,

As you have done to this.

MACB. If we should fail,—

LADY M. We fail".
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep,
(Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him,) his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassel so convince",
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck" only: When in swinish sleep

* We find the adage in Heywood’s ‘Proverbs, 1566:—“The cat would eat fish and would not wet her feet.” * We fail. This is generally pointed We fail!—The quiet self-possession of the punctuation we have adopted appears preferable to the original “We fail?" * Convince—overpower. * Limbeck—alembic. Shakspere understood the construction of a still, in this happy comparison of the brain to that part of a vessel through which a distilled liquor passes.

Their drenched natures lie, as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers; who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell"?

MACB. Bring forth men-children only,

For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv'd,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber, and us’d their very daggers,
That they have done 't?

LADY M. Who dares receive it other,

As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?

MACB. I am settled, and bend up

Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know. [Ea'eunt.

a Quell—mutder.

[merged small][graphic]
« PreviousContinue »