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Macbeth: Act 4, Scene 3


          Enter MALCOLM and MACDUFF.

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

       MACDUFF
                                                  Let us rather
  3    Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
  4    Bestride our down-fall'n birthdom. Each new morn
  5    New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
  6    Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
  7    As if it felt with Scotland and yell'd out
  8    Like syllable of dolour.

       MALCOLM
                                            What I believe I'll wail,
  9    What know believe, and what I can redress,
 10    As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
 11    What you have spoke, it may be so perchance.
 12    This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
 13    Was once thought honest; you have loved him well;
 14    He hath not touch'd you yet. I am young, but something
 15    You may deserve of him through me, and wisdom
 16    To offer up a weak poor innocent lamb
 17    To appease an angry god.

       MACDUFF
 18    I am not treacherous.

       MALCOLM
                                          But Macbeth is.
 19    A good and virtuous nature may recoil
 20    In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon;
 21    That which you are my thoughts cannot transpose:
 22    Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
 23    Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
 24    Yet grace must still look so.

       MACDUFF
                                                   I have lost my hopes.

       MALCOLM
 25    Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
 26    Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
 27    Those precious motives, those strong knots of love,
 28    Without leave-taking? I pray you,
 29    Let not my jealousies be your dishonours,
 30    But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just,
 31    Whatever I shall think.

       MACDUFF
                                           Bleed, bleed, poor country!
 32    Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
 33    For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs,
 34    The title is affeer'd! Fare thee well, lord:
 35    I would not be the villain that thou think'st
 36    For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp,
 37    And the rich East to boot.

       MALCOLM
                                                Be not offended:
 38    I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
 39    I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
 40    It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash
 41    Is added to her wounds. I think withal
 42    There would be hands uplifted in my right;
 43    And here from gracious England have I offer
 44    Of goodly thousands. But, for all this,
 45    When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head,
 46    Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
 47    Shall have more vices than it had before,
 48    More suffer and more sundry ways than ever,
 49    By him that shall succeed.

       MACDUFF
                                               What should he be?

       MALCOLM
 50    It is myself I mean; in whom I know
 51    All the particulars of vice so grafted
 52    That, when they shall be open'd, black Macbeth
 53    Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state
 54    Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
 55    With my confineless harms.

       MACDUFF
                                               Not in the legions
 56    Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd
 57    In evils to top Macbeth.

       MALCOLM
                                              I grant him bloody,
 58    Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
 59    Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
 60    That has a name; but there's no bottom, none,
 61    In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters,
 62    Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up
 63    The cistern of my lust, and my desire
 64    All continent impediments would o'erbear
 65    That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth
 66    Than such an one to reign.

       MACDUFF
                                               Boundless intemperance
 67    In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
 68    The untimely emptying of the happy throne
 69    And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
 70    To take upon you what is yours. You may
 71    Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty,
 72    And yet seem cold, the time you may so hoodwink.
 73    We have willing dames enough; there cannot be
 74    That vulture in you, to devour so many
 75    As will to greatness dedicate themselves,
 76    Finding it so inclined.

       MALCOLM
                                            With this, there grows
 77    In my most ill-composed affection such
 78    A stanchless avarice that, were I king,
 79    I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
 80    Desire his jewels and this other's house:
 81    And my more-having would be as a sauce
 82    To make me hunger more; that I should forge
 83    Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
 84    Destroying them for wealth.

       MACDUFF
                                                 This avarice
 85    Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
 86    Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
 87    The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear;
 88    Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will
 89    Of your mere own. All these are portable,
 90    With other graces weigh'd.

       MALCOLM
 91    But I have none. The king-becoming graces,
 92    As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
 93    Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
 94    Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
 95    I have no relish of them, but abound
 96    In the division of each several crime,
 97    Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
 98    Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
 99    Uproar the universal peace, confound
100    All unity on earth.

       MACDUFF
                                        O Scotland, Scotland!

       MALCOLM
101    If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
102    I am as I have spoken.

       MACDUFF
                                          Fit to govern!
103    No, not to live. O nation miserable,
104    With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd,
105    When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
106    Since that the truest issue of thy throne
107    By his own interdiction stands accursed,
108    And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
109    Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,
110    Oftener upon her knees than on her feet,
111    Died every day she lived. Fare thee well!
112    These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
113    Have banish'd me from Scotland. O my breast,
114    Thy hope ends here!

       MALCOLM
                                        Macduff, this noble passion,
115    Child of integrity, hath from my soul
116    Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
117    To thy good truth and honour. Devilish Macbeth
118    By many of these trains hath sought to win me
119    Into his power, and modest wisdom plucks me
120    From over-credulous haste. But God above
121    Deal between thee and me! for even now
122    I put myself to thy direction, and
123    Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure
124    The taints and blames I laid upon myself,
125    For strangers to my nature. I am yet
126    Unknown to woman, never was forsworn,
127    Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
128    At no time broke my faith, would not betray
129    The devil to his fellow and delight
130    No less in truth than life. My first false speaking
131    Was this upon myself. What I am truly,
132    Is thine and my poor country's to command:
133    Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
134    Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,
135    Already at a point, was setting forth.
136    Now we'll together; and the chance of goodness
137    Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent?

       MACDUFF
138    Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
139    'Tis hard to reconcile.

          Enter a DOCTOR.

       MALCOLM
140    Well, more anon.—Comes the King forth, I pray you?

       Doctor
141    Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
142    That stay his cure. Their malady convinces
143    The great assay of art; but at his touch—
144    Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand—
145    They presently amend.

       MALCOLM
                                           I thank you, doctor.

          Exit [Doctor].

       MACDUFF
146    What's the disease he means?

       MALCOLM
                                                    'Tis call'd the evil:
147    A most miraculous work in this good king;
148    Which often, since my here-remain in England,
149    I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
150    Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people,
151    All swoll'n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
152    The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
153    Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
154    Put on with holy prayers, and 'tis spoken,
155    To the succeeding royalty he leaves
156    The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
157    He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
158    And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
159    That speak him full of grace.

          Enter ROSS.

       MACDUFF
                                                    See who comes here.

       MALCOLM
160    My countryman; but yet I know him not.

       MACDUFF
161    My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.

       MALCOLM
162    I know him now. Good God betimes remove
163    The means that makes us strangers!

       ROSS
                                                            Sir, amen.

       MACDUFF
164    Stands Scotland where it did?

       ROSS
                                                   Alas, poor country!
165    Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
166    Be call'd our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
167    But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
168    Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
169    Are made, not mark'd; where violent sorrow seems
170    A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell
171    Is there scarce ask'd for who; and good men's lives
172    Expire before the flowers in their caps,
173    Dying or ere they sicken.

       MACDUFF
                                              O, relation
174    Too nice, and yet too true!

       MALCOLM
                                                What's the newest grief?

       ROSS
175    That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker;
176    Each minute teems a new one.

       MACDUFF
                                                     How does my wife?

       ROSS
177    Why, well.

       MACDUFF
                              And all my children?

       ROSS
                                                                Well too.

       MACDUFF
178    The tyrant has not batter'd at their peace?

       ROSS
179    No; they were well at peace when I did leave 'em.

       MACDUFF
180    Be not a niggard of your speech; how goes't?

       ROSS
181    When I came hither to transport the tidings,
182    Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
183    Of many worthy fellows that were out;
184    Which was to my belief witness'd the rather,
185    For that I saw the tyrant's power a-foot.
186    Now is the time of help; your eye in Scotland
187    Would create soldiers, make our women fight,
188    To doff their dire distresses.

       MALCOLM
                                                   Be't their comfort
189    We are coming thither. Gracious England hath
190    Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men;
191    An older and a better soldier none
192    That Christendom gives out.

       ROSS
                                                  Would I could answer
193    This comfort with the like! But I have words
194    That would be howl'd out in the desert air,
195    Where hearing should not latch them.

       MACDUFF
                                                             What concern they?
196    The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
197    Due to some single breast?

       ROSS
                                                 No mind that's honest
198    But in it shares some woe; though the main part
199    Pertains to you alone.

       MACDUFF
                                          If it be mine,
200    Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it.

       ROSS
201    Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
202    Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
203    That ever yet they heard.

       MACDUFF
                                              Humh! I guess at it.

       ROSS
204    Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
205    Savagely slaughter'd. To relate the manner,
206    Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,
207    To add the death of you.

       MALCOLM
                                               Merciful heaven!
208    What, man! ne'er pull your hat upon your brows;
209    Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
210    Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

       MACDUFF
211    My children too?

       ROSS
                                   Wife, children, servants, all
212    That could be found.

       MACDUFF
                                        And I must be from thence!
213    My wife kill'd too?

       ROSS
                                      I have said.

       MALCOLM
                                                           Be comforted.
214    Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
215    To cure this deadly grief.

       MACDUFF
216    He has no children. All my pretty ones?
217    Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
218    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
219    At one fell swoop?

       MALCOLM
220    Dispute it like a man.

       MACDUFF
                                            I shall do so;
221    But I must also feel it as a man:
222    I cannot but remember such things were,
223    That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
224    And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
225    They were all struck for thee! naught that I am,
226    Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
227    Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!

       MALCOLM
228    Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief
229    Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.

       MACDUFF
230    O, I could play the woman with mine eyes
231    And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens,
232    Cut short all intermission. Front to front
233    Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
234    Within my sword's length set him; if he 'scape,
235    Heaven forgive him too!

       MALCOLM
                                            This tune goes manly.
236    Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
237    Our lack is nothing but our leave; Macbeth
238    Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
239    Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may,
240    The night is long that never finds the day.

          Exeunt.