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Enter Murderers.

Mur. Where is your husband?

L. Macd. I hope, in no place so unsanctified, Where such as thou may'st find him.

He's a traitor.

Son. Thou ly'st, thou shag-eared1 villain.


What, you egg! [Stabbing him.

Young fry of treachery!


Run away, I pray you.

He has killed me, mother;

[Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying murder,
and pursued by the Murderers.

SCENE III. England.

England. A Room in the King's


Mal. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there Weep our sad bosoms empty.

Let us rather

Hold fast the mortal sword; and, like good men,
Bestride our downfallen 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.


What I believe, I'll wail;

What know, believe; and, what I can redress,
As I shall find the time to friend,3 I will.

1 "Shag-eared villain." It has been suggested that we should read shag-haired, an abusive epithet frequent in our old plays. Hair being formerly spelled heare, the corruption would easily arise.

2 This scene is almost literally taken from Holinshed's Chronicle, which is in this part an abridgment of the chronicle of Hector Boece, as translated by John Bellenden. From the recent reprints of both the Scottish and English chroniclers, quotations from them become the less necessary; they are now accessible to the reader curious in tracing the Poet to his sources of information.

3 i. e. befriend.

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

You may deserve of him through me; and wisdom
To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb,

To appease an angry god.

Macd. I am not treacherous.


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.3


I have lost my hopes.

Mal. 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.


Bleed, bleed, poor country!

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,

For goodness dares not check thee !-Wear thou thy


1 "You may deserve of him through me." The old copy reads discerne. The emendation was made by Theobald. In the subsequent part of the line something is wanted to complete the sense. There is no verb to which wisdom can refer. Steevens conjectured that the line might originally have run thus:


- but something

You may deserve through me; and wisdom is it

To offer," &c.

2 A good mind may recede from goodness in the execution of a royal commission.

3 "Virtue must wear its proper form, though that form be counterfeited by villany."

Thy title is affeered!1-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.


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 then it had before;
More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.


What should he be?

Mal. 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.



Not in the legions

Of horrid hell, can come a devil more damned
In evils, to top Macbeth.


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 a one to reign.

1 To affeer is a law term, signifying to assess or reduce to certainty.

2 i. e. immeasurable evils.

3 Luxurious, lascivious.

4 Sudden, passionate.


Boundless intemperance

In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
The 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.

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.


This avarice

Sticks deeper; grows with more pernicious root
Than summer-seeming lust:1 and it hath been
The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear;
Scotland hath foysons to fill up your will,
Of your mere own. All these are portable,3
With other graces weighed.

Mal. But I have none.


The king-becoming

As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them; but abound
In the division of each several crime,

1 Sir W. Blackstone proposed to read summer-seeding, which was adopted by Steevens; but the meaning of the epithet may be, "lust as hot as summer." In Donne's Poems, Malone has pointed out its oppositewinter-seeming.

Foysons, plenty.

3 Portable answers to a phrase now in use. Such failings may be borne with, or are bearable.



Acting in 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.


O Scotland! Scotland!

If such a one be fit to govern, speak.

I am as I have spoken.


Fit to govern!

No, not to live.-O nation miserable,

With an untitled' tyrant bloody-sceptred,

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,
Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,

Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
These evils, thou repeat'st upon thyself,

Have banished me from Scotland.-O, my breast,
Thy hope ends here!


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 over-credulous haste:2 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

1 "With an untitled tyrant." Thus in Chaucer's Manciple's Tale:

"Right so betwix a titleless tiraunt

And an outlawe."

2 Credulous haste, overhasty credulity.

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