Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 7
Hoboys, torches. SEWER: butler. divers: various. service: knives, spoons, etc. and pass over the stage: These servants hurriedly enter at one of the two stage doors, walk across the stage, and exit through the other door. Thus we know that in another room supper is about to start.
Hoboys, torches. Enter a SEWER, and divers
SERVANTS with dishes and service, and pass
over the stage. Then enter MACBETH.
1. If it were done when 'tis done if it would be over with when it is done.
1If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
2It were done quickly: if th' assassination
3. trammel up catch in a net. 3-4. catch / With his surcease success catch [and stop], immediately after the assassination, all consequences [which could arise from the assassination]. 5-6. here / But here here [on earth], only here. upon this bank and shoal of time: i.e. in the limited time that we have on earth. <more> 7. We'ld jump I would risk. 8-10. We still ... the inventor we always receive punishment here [in this life], for the reason that [when we attack someone else] we only teach bloody lessons, which, being learned [by our victims], are turned against the one who initiated [the violence].
3Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
4With his surcease success; that but this blow
5Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
6But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
7We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
8We still have judgment here, that we but teach
9Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
10To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice
11Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
12To our own lips. He's here in double trust;
13First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
14Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
15Who should against his murderer shut the door,
16Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
17. faculties royal powers.
17Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
18. clear in his great office blameless in [carrying out the duties of] his great position [as king] .
18So clear in his great office, that his virtues
19Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
20. taking-off murder.
20The deep damnation of his taking-off;
21-23. And pity ... air: <Image>
21And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
22. cherubins: guardians of innocence. Striding the blast: striding upon the wind. horsed: mounted. 23. sightless couriers of the air: invisible messengers of the air [i.e., the winds]. 25. That tears shall drown the wind so that tears shall make the wind be still. A downpour of rain was thought to still the wind. 27. Vaulting ... other: Macbeth compares his ambition to a horseman who tries to vault into the saddle, only to fall to the ground on the other side of the horse.
22Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed
23Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
24Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
25That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
26To prick the sides of my intent, but only
27Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
28And falls on the other
Enter LADY [MACBETH].
28. How now? what news? what's the matter? what's going on? One look at his wife tells Macbeth that she's not happy.
How now? what news?
29. supp'd: finished supper.
29He has almost supp'd: why have you left the chamber?
30Hath he ask'd for me?
Know you not he has?
31We will proceed no further in this business:
32. bought: won, earned.
32He hath honour'd me of late; and I have bought
33Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
34Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
35Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
36Wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since?
37. green: sickly.
37And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
38At what it did so freely? From this time
39Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
40To be the same in thine own act and valour
41As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
42. the ornament of life: i.e., the crown of Scotland.
42Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
43And live a coward in thine own esteem,
44Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
45. the adage: "The cat would eat fish, and would not wet her feet."
45Like the poor cat i' the adage?
Prithee, peace!: please be quiet.
46. all that may become a man: i.e., everything that is not disgraceful. 47. is none: is not a real man.
46I dare do all that may become a man;
47Who dares do more is none.
What beast was't, then,
48. break: broach, bring up [the subject]. <Exactly what is she talking about?> 49. durst: dared.
48That made you break this enterprise to me?
49When you durst do it, then you were a man;
50-51. to be ... the man: i.e., in order to be much more (king) than you were, you wanted to be much more of a man. 51-52. Nor time ... both: i.e., At that time it wasn't the right time or place to talk about killing the king, but you wanted to make it the the right time and place. 53-54. They have ... unmake you: i.e., now the right time and place have made themselves, but that has made a mess out of you.
50And, to be more than what you were, you would
51Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
52Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
53They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
54Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
55How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
56I would, while it was smiling in my face,
57Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
58-59. had I so sworn as you / Have done to this: See <Exactly what is she talking about?>
58And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
59Have done to this.
If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place: The "sticking-place" is the notch that holds the string of a crossbow when it is ready to fire.
60But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
61And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep
62Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
63. chamberlains: personal attendants.
63Soundly invite him his two chamberlains
64. wassail: carousing. convince: overpower.
64Will I with wine and wassail so convince
65. warder: guardian.
65That memory, the warder of the brain,
66. receipt of reason: receptacle of reason, i.e., the brain.
66Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
67. A limbeck only: merely an alembic. An alembic is the upper part of a still; it's typically full of volatile fumes. 68. drenched: dead drunk.
67A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep
68Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
69What cannot you and I perform upon
70. put upon: blame on.
70The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
71. spongy officers: drunken attendants.
71His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
72. quell: killing.
72Of our great quell?
Bring forth men-children only;
73. mettle: temperament, spirit.
73For thy undaunted mettle should compose
74. receiv'd: believed.
74Nothing but males. Will it not be receiv'd,
75When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
76. their very daggers: their own daggers.
76Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
77That they have done't?
77. receive it other: believe otherwise.
Who dares receive it other,
78As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
79Upon his death?
79. settled: settled on a course of action; determined. bend up: draw tight [as a bow is bent just before the arrow is shot]. 80. each corporal agent: every bodily sense and power. 81. mock the time: deceive by acting as is appropriate to the occasion; pretend they are just enjoying supper with the king.
I am settled, and bend up
80Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
81Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
82False face must hide what the false heart doth know.