Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 2



          Enter MACDUFF'S WIFE, her SON, and ROSS.

       LADY MACDUFF
  1    What had he done, to make him fly the land?

       ROSS
  2    You must have patience, madam.

       LADY MACDUFF
                                                        He had none;
  3    His flight was madness. When our actions do not,
  4    Our fears do make us traitors.

       ROSS
                                                   You know not
  5    Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

       LADY MACDUFF
  6    Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
  7    His mansion and his titles in a place
  8    From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
  9    He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
 10    The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
 11    Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
 12    All is the fear and nothing is the love;
 13    As little is the wisdom, where the flight
 14    So runs against all reason.

       ROSS
                                                 My dearest coz,
 15    I pray you, school yourself. But for your husband,
 16    He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
 17    The fits o' the season. I dare not speak much further;
 18    But cruel are the times, when we are traitors
 19    And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumour
 20    From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
 21    But float upon a wild and violent sea
 22    Each way and none. I take my leave of you;
 23    'Shall not be long but I'll be here again.
 24    Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
 25    To what they were before. —My pretty cousin,
 26    Blessing upon you!

       LADY MACDUFF
 27    Father'd he is, and yet he's fatherless.

       ROSS
 28    I am so much a fool, should I stay longer,
 29    It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.
 30    I take my leave at once.          

          Exit Ross.

       LADY MACDUFF
                                           Sirrah, your father's dead;
 31    And what will you do now? How will you live?

       Son
 32    As birds do, mother.

       LADY MACDUFF
                                       What, with worms and flies?

       Son
 33    With what I get, I mean; and so do they.

       LADY MACDUFF
 34    Poor bird! thou'ldst never fear the net nor lime,
 35    The pitfall nor the gin.

       Son
 36    Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.
 37    My father is not dead, for all your saying.

       LADY MACDUFF
 38    Yes, he is dead; how wilt thou do for a father?

       Son
 39    Nay, how will you do for a husband?

       LADY MACDUFF
 40    Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.

       Son
 41    Then you'll buy 'em to sell again.

       LADY MACDUFF
 42    Thou speak'st with all thy wit, and yet, i' faith,
 43    With wit enough for thee.

       Son
 44    Was my father a traitor, mother?

       LADY MACDUFF
 45    Ay, that he was.

       Son
 46    What is a traitor?

       LADY MACDUFF
 47    Why, one that swears and lies.

       Son
 48    And be all traitors that do so?

       LADY MACDUFF
 49    Every one that does so is a traitor, and
 50    must be hanged.

       Son
 51    And must they all be hanged that swear
 52    and lie?

       LADY MACDUFF
 53    Every one.

       Son
 54    Who must hang them?

       LADY MACDUFF
 55    Why, the honest men.

       Son
 56    Then the liars and swearers are fools, for
 57    there are liars and swearers enow to beat
 58    the honest men and hang up them.

       LADY MACDUFF
 59    Now, God help thee, poor monkey! But
 60    how wilt thou do for a father?

       Son
 61    If he were dead, you'ld weep for him: if you
 62    would not, it were a good sign that I should
 63    quickly have a new father.

       LADY MACDUFF
 64    Poor prattler, how thou talk'st!

          Enter a MESSENGER.

       Messenger
 65    Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,
 66    Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
 67    I doubt some danger does approach you nearly:
 68    If you will take a homely man's advice,
 69    Be not found here; hence, with your little ones.
 70    To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage;
 71    To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
 72    Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!
 73    I dare abide no longer.          

          Exit Messenger.

       LADY MACDUFF
                                          Whither should I fly?
 74    I have done no harm. But I remember now
 75    I am in this earthly world; where to do harm
 76    Is often laudable, to do good sometime
 77    Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
 78    Do I put up that womanly defence,
 79    To say I have done no harm?          

          Enter MURDERERS.

                                               What are these faces?

       First Murderer
 80    Where is your husband?

       LADY MACDUFF
 81    I hope, in no place so unsanctified
 82    Where such as thou mayst find him.

       First Murderer
                                                           He's a traitor.

       Son
 83    Thou liest, thou shag-ear'd villain!

       First Murderer
                                                         What, you egg!

          [Stabbing him.]

 84    Young fry of treachery!

       Son
                                             He has kill'd me, mother:
 85    Run away, I pray you!

          [Dies.]

          Exit [Lady Macduff] crying "Murder!"
          [and pursued by the Murderers].