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When first they put the name of king upon me,
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 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, passed in probation with you, How you were borne in hand ;4 how crossed; the in
struments ; Who wrought with them; and all things else, that
might, To half a soul, and to a notion crazed, Say, Thus did Banquo.
1 For de filed. 2 “ To the utterance.” This phrase, which is found in writers who preceded Shakspeare, is borrowed from the French; se battre a l'outrance, to fight desperately or to extremity, even to death. 3 i. e. “ passed in proving to you.”
4 To bear in hand is to delude by encouraging hope and holding out fair prospects, without any intention of performance.
You made it known to us. Macb. 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 gospelled To pray for that good man, and for his issue, Whose heavy hand has bowed you to the grave, And beggared yours forever? 1 Mur.
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 4 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 in the worst rank of manhood, say it; And I will put that business in your bosoms, Whose execution takes your eneiny Grapples you to the heart and love of us, Who wear our health but sickly in his life, Which in his death were perfect. 2 Mur.
I am one, my liege,
And I another,
1 i. e. “are you so obedient to the precept of the gospel, which teaches us to pray for those who despitefully use us ? "
2 Shoughs are probably what we now call shocks ; dogs bred between wolves and dogs.
3 Cleped, called.
4 The valued file is the descriptive list wherein their value and peculiar qualities are set down.
5 Particular addition, title, description.
That I would set my life on any chance,
you Know, Banquo was your enemy. 2 Mur.
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 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 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. 2 Mur.
We shall, my lord, Perform what
command us. 1 Mur.
Though our lives
hour, at most,
We are resolved, my lord.
1 i. e. the exact time when you may look out or lie in wait for him. 2 " Always remembering that I must stand clear of suspicion.”
SCENE II. The same.
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. Serv. Madam, I will.
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,
Macb. We have scotched the snake, not killed it;
' After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst; nor steel, nor poison,
1 Sorriest, most melancholy. 2 The first folio reads peace; the second folio place. 3 Ecstasy, in its general senge, signifies any violent emotion or alienation of the mind. The old dictionaries render it a trance, a dampe, a crampe. he says,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
So shall I, love;
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.
Macb. There's comfort yet; they are assailable ; Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown His cloistered flight ; 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?
1 Present him eminence, do him the highest honor.
2 Ritson has observed, that “ Nature's copy" alludes to copyhold tenure, in which the tenant holds an estate for life, having nothing but the copy of the rolls of his lord's court to show for it. A lifehold tenure may well be said to be not eternal. The subsequent speech of Macbeth, in which
“ Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond," confirms this explanation. Many of Shakspeare's allusions are to legal customs.
3 That is, the beetle borne along the air by its shards or scaly wings. Steevens had the merit of first showing that shard or sherd was the ancient word for a scale or outward covering, a case or sheath.
4 i. e. blinding: to seel up the eyes of a hawk was to close them by sewing the eyelids together.
VOL. III. 28