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Macbeth Illustration


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SCENE III. A heath near Forres.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches
First Witch
Where hast thou been, sister?

Second Witch
Killing swine.

Third Witch
Sister, where thou?

First Witch
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd:--
'Give me,' quoth I:
'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed ronyon cries. (notes 20, 21)
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger: (note 22)
But in a sieve I'll thither sail, (note 23)
And, like a rat without a tail, (note 24)
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

Second Witch
I'll give thee a wind. (note 25)

First Witch
Thou'rt kind.

Third Witch
And I another.

First Witch
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow, (note 26)
All the quarters that they know
I' the shipman's card. (note 27)
I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day (note 29)
Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid: (note 28)
Weary se'nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have.

Second Witch
Show me, show me.

First Witch
Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wreck'd as homeward he did come.

Drum within
Third Witch
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.

The weird sisters, hand in hand, (note 30)
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about:
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! the charm's wound up.

So foul and fair a day I have not seen. (note 31)

How far is't call'd to Forres? What are these (note 32)
So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her chappy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.

Speak, if you can: what are you?

First Witch
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! (notes 33, 34)

Second Witch
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!

Third Witch
All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth,
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed (note 35)
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
You greet with present grace and great prediction
Of noble having and of royal hope, (note 36)
That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not. (note 37)
If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear (note 38)
Your favours nor your hate.

First Witch

Second Witch

Third Witch

First Witch
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

Second Witch
Not so happy, yet much happier.

Third Witch
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

First Witch
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
By Sinel's death I know I am thane of Glamis; (note 39)
But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives,
A prosperous gentleman; and to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief,
No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence? or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.

Witches vanish
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?

Into the air; and what seem'd corporal melted
As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!

Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root (note 40)
That takes the reason prisoner?

Your children shall be kings.

You shall be king.

And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?

To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here?

Enter ROSS and ANGUS
The king hath happily received, Macbeth,
The news of thy success; and when he reads
Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight,
His wonders and his praises do contend (note 41)
Which should be thine or his: silenced with that, (note 42)
In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as hail (note 43)
Came post with post; and every one did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence,
And pour'd them down before him.

We are sent
To give thee from our royal master thanks;
Only to herald thee into his sight,
Not pay thee.

And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor:
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane! (note 44)
For it is thine.

What, can the devil speak true?

The thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me
In borrow'd robes?

Who was the thane lives yet;
But under heavy judgment bears that life
Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined
With those of Norway, or did line the rebel (note 45)
With hidden help and vantage, or that with both
He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not;
But treasons capital, confess'd and proved,
Have overthrown him.

[Aside] Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind.

Thanks for your pains.

Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me
Promised no less to them?


That trusted home (note 46)
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, (note 47)
Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange: (note 48)
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence.
Cousins, a word, I pray you.

[Aside] Two truths are told, (note 49)
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears (note 51)
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, (note 52)
Shakes so my single state of man that function (note 53)
Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is (notes 54, 55)
But what is not.

Look, how our partner's rapt. (note 56)

[Aside] If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
Without my stir.

New horrors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould (note 57)
But with the aid of use.

[Aside] Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. (note 58)

Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. (note 59)

Give me your favour: my dull brain was wrought (notes 60, 61)
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are register'd where every day I turn (note 62)
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the king.
Think upon what hath chanced, and, at more time,
The interim having weigh'd it, let us speak (note 63)
Our free hearts each to other.

Very gladly.

Till then, enough. Come, friends.


(20) Aroint. This word is probably derived from the Latin averrunco, ' I drive away evil;' and employed to mean 'begone,' 'stand off,' 'avoid,' 'avaunt.' Various other derivations have been suggested; but we think the above is the most probable, because old exorcists and witch-suppressors were in the habit of using Latin terms in their adjurations. Dr. Johnson met with an old print representing St. Patrick visiting the infernal regions and putting the devils to great confusion; one of whom is driving away a crowd of the condemned, with a label issuing out of his mouth bearing these words - 'Out, out, Arongt: ' which word, being probably an antique form of "aroint," comes even nearer to the Latin word, which we believe to be its original root. Nares mentions that the expression is still used in Cheshire; where, if the cow press too close to the dairy-maid who is milking her, she will give the animal a push, saying at the same time, ' Roint thee!' by which she means, 'Stand off.' There is also a North-country proverb-' Rynt ye, witch! quoth Bessie Locket to her mother.' .
(21) The rump-fed ronyon. Formerly the cooks in large establishments claimed as perquisites the fat and chump-ends of the meat; therefore the epithet in the text is applied by the witch to the sailor's wife as a fleer at her being so poor as to have nothing to feed upon but offal and refuse bits. "Ronyon" means a scurvy wretch.
(22) To Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger. Sir W. C. Trevelyan has remarked that in "Hakluyt's Voyages" there are several letters and journals of a voyage made to Aleppo in the ship Tiger, of London, in the year 1583.
(23) In a sieve I'll thither sail. A pamphlet concerning the " Life and Death of Dr. Fian, a Notable Sorcerer," 1591, and describing a conspiracy of 200 witches with Dr. Fian to "bewitch and drowne" King James in the sea, contains this passage: "They altogether went by sea, each one in a riddle or sieve, and went in the same very substantially with flaggons of wine, making merry and drinking by the way in the same riddles or sieves:' Reginald Scot, in his "Discoverie of Witchcraft " 1584, says it was believed that witches "could sail in an egg shell, a cockle or mussel shell, through and under the tempestuous seas.'. .
(24) Like a rat without a tail. Among other preposterous popular beliefs respecting witches, it was supposed that though a witch could assume the form of any animal she pleased, the tail would still be wanting. .
(25) I'll give thee a wind. This offer of a wind as a free gift is accepted as a kindness, because witches were supposed to make it
.an article of traffic. Witness, among other quotations that have been cited to prove this, a passage from Summer's "Last Will and Testament," 1600:-
" In Ireland and in Denmark both,
Witches for gold will sell a man a wind,
Which, in the comer of a napkin wrapp'd,
Shall blow him safe unto what coast he will."
Also an account written in Sir Walter Scott's own graphic style, and given in Lockhart's "Life of Scott" (1845), chap. xxx.,p.276, showing that the custom alluded to in the text survived to a much later date. "Off Stromness [Orkneys], 17th August, 1814. - We climb, by steep and dirty lanes, an eminence rising above the town, and commanding a fine view. An old hag lives in a wretched cabin on this height, and subsists by selling winds. Each captain of a merchantman, between jest and earnest, gives the old woman sixpence, and she boils her kettle to procure a favourable gale. She was a miserable figure, upwards of ninety, she told us, and dried up like a mummy. A sort of clay-coloured cloak, folded over her head, corresponded in colour to her corpse-Iike complexion. Fine light-blue eyes, and nose and chin that almost met, and a ghastly expression of cunning, gave her quite the effect of Hecate. '.We left our Pythoness, who assured us there was nothing evil In the intercession she was to make for us, but that we were only to have a fair wind through the benefit of her prayers. She repeated a sort of rigmarole, which I suppose she had ready for such occasions; and seemed greatly delighted and surprised with the amount of our donation, as everybody gave her a trifle, our faithful Captain Wilson making the regular offering on behalf of the ship. So much for buying a wind."
(26) And the very ports they blow. ' To' is elliptically understood after " blow."
(27) l' the shipman's card. It has been proposed to add 'to show' here, in order to complete the line and rhyme; but the imperfect rhyming and unequal metre to be traced at intervals throughout the speeches of the witches, appear to us to be so marked as to prove that they are intentional on the part of the dramatist, giving characteristic ruggedness and uncouthness to that which is "uttered by these unhallowed creatures. "The shipman's card" is the mariner's compass; or, more strictly, the paper on which the points of the wind are marked.
(28) Forbid. Here used in the sense of 'forespoken,' 'bewitched,' 'under a spell or charm.' A forbodin fellow' is a Scottish term for an unhappy fellow. .
(29) Sleep shall neither night nor day, etc.. Shall he dwindle, peak and pine. In Holinshed Shakespeare found a hint for these witch-spells; for, speaking of the witchcraft practised against King Duff, the chronicler says, that a witch was found roasting upon a wooden broach an image of wax at the fire, resembling in feature the king's person; and ''as the image did waste afore the fire, so did the bodie of the king break forth in sweat: and as for the words of the inchantment, they served to keepe him still waking from sleepe."
(30) Weird. Spelt in the Folio sometimes 'weyward,' sometimes 'weyard.' he word "weird" is derived from the Saxon wyrd, a fate, or witch, and signifies 'fatal,' 'prophetic.' Shakespeare derived the expression in the text from Holinshed; who says "The common opinion was that these women were either the weird sisters, that is (as ye would say) the goddesses of destinie, or else some nymphs or feiries, indued with knowledge of prophesie by their necromanticall science, because everie thing came to passe as they had spoken."
(31) So foul and fair a day. By these words we think Shakespeare indicates the effect of fair weather overcast and rendered foul by the witches' spells. Their appearance is always accompanied by thunder; they meet in thunder, lightning, and rain; they control the elements, vend the winds and revel in storm and tempest. The commotion produced in the air by their unholy incantations, and the discord of good marred by evil which they delight to promote are indicated by somewhat similar words where they previously chant in grim chorus -
" Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air."
(32) How far is't call'd to Fores? The Folio misprints 'Soris' for "Fores" here; shown to be right by the passage in Holinshed which recounts the circumstance of Macbeth and Banquo's meeting the witches on their way "towards Pores, where the king then lay", By these few words, the dramatist contrives to denote the place where the incident takes place, to open the scene naturally and easily, and to mark the moment emphatically when the witches are first beheld by their human encounterers.
(33) All hail. "Hail" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon hael, or hal, meaning 'hale,' 'whole,' or 'healthy;' and "all hail" is a salutation equivalent to the Latin ave or salve , God save you! ,
(34) Thane of Glamis. The thaneship of Glamis was the ancient inheritance of Macbeth's family. The castle where they lived is still standing; and was in late years the residence of the Earl of Strathmore.
(35) Fantastical. 'Creatures of fantasy or imagination.'
(36) Having. 'Possession, fortune, ' estate.'
(37) Rapt. Here and elsewhere used by Shakespeare to express 'transported,' in a state of mental abstraction, 'in a fit of strongly excited impression.'
(38) Who neither beg nor fear your favours nor your hate. 'Who neither beg your favours nor fear your hate.'
(39) By Sinel's death. Holinshed mentions "Sinell, the thane of Glamis," as being Macbeth's father.
(40) Eaten on the insane root. Here "on" is used for 'of.' It is conjectured that Shakespeare, in the present passage, had thought of one that occurs in Batman s "Commentary de Propriet, Rerum" - "Henbane.. is called insana, mad, for the use thereof is perillous ; for if it be eate or drunke, it breedeth madnesse, or slow lykenesse of sleepe. Therefore this hearb is called commonly Mirilidium, for it taketh away wit and reason."
(41) His wonders and his praises, &c. 'His wonder and his admiration at your deeds struggle with desire to express themselves in laudation towards yourself instead of remaining within his own breast;' or, 'his wonder at your deeds and his desire to praise you for them contend for mastery within him.'
(42) Silenc'd with that. 'Remaining silently absorbed in that wonder and admiration.'
(43) As thick as tale, came post with post. The Folio misprints .'can' for "came." Rowe's correction. He also changed " tale" to 'hail' , but when we remember that Shakespeare uses "thick" to express 'rapidly' and "tales" in reference to the sense it bears of reckoned numbers , we believe that here "as thick as tale" means' as quickly as counting,' as rapidly in succession as could be counted. Baret explains Crebritas literarum by 'the often sending or thick coming of letters; , while Milton and Dryden both employ the word " tale " in the sense of , score taken,' or' number reckoned.' Milton has -
"And every shepherd tells his tale,
Under the hawthorn in the dale."
Dryden has -
" Both number twice a day the milky dams,
And once she takes the tale of all the lambs."
We think, moreover, that the image of successive numbers reckoned quickly one after the other accords far better with the arrival of many posts rapidly following each other, than the image of fast
down-coming hail would do; and therefore we believe "as thick as tale" to be what Shakespeare wrote in the present passage.
(44) In which addition. 'In which title.'
(45) Line. Here used to express 'strengthen,' 'reinforce,' 'support,' 'sustain.'
(46) That, trusted home. ' That oracle trusted fully.
(47) Enkindle.'Incite,' 'fire you with the hope of attaining.'
(48) Besides the thane of Cawdor. Here, and in the preceding speech, " thane" is used elliptically for 'thaneship' or 'title of thane.'
(49) Two truths are told. Steevens and Malone complain that it is not stated how the former of these "truths" has been fulfilled; proceeding to discuss the witch's first salutation as if it were intended to be a prediction. But it appears to us that Macbeth is dwelling upon the point of whether the titles by which the witches have saluted him are true, and not thinking of them all as prophetic. He knows that he is already thane of Glamis, he learns that he has just been created thane of Cawdor and he tests the probability of the truth that may lie in the "shalt be king hereafter" by his knowledge of the verity that lies in the "two truths" already "told."
(50) Soliciting. Here used for 'prompting,' 'urging upon the attention.'
(51) Present fears. 'Objects of fear actually present.'
(52) Fantastical. 'A circumstance of the fantasy or imagination.' See Note 35 of this Act.
(53) My single state of man. "Single" is here used in the sense of' imperfect,' 'fallible,' 'weak,' 'simple'; and "state of man" is 'realm of man,' , constitutional condition of man,' 'component conformation as a human being.
(54) Function is smother'd in surmise. 'My mental and bodily powers are absorbed in contemplation of a possible future.'
(55) Nothing is but what is not. ' Nothing is palpably before me but that which does not yet exist,' Nothing seems real to me but that which is as yet unreal,' I can see nothing of the actual things around me, my mind being so occupied with visions of what may hereafter happen.'
(56) Rapt. 'lnvolved in a state of abstraction,' 'carried away into a fit of thought and absence of mind.' See Note 37 of this Act.
(57) Cleave not to their mould. ' They' is elliptically understood before "cleave."
(58) Time and the hour. An idiomatic and pleonastic phrase, in use among early English writers; as its counterpart, il tempo e l'ora, is among Italian writers. In the present passage its signification is equivalent to 'Time and the hour destined to witness a special event,' 'Time and the hour appointed for a pre-ordained event.'
(59) We stay upon your leisure. 'We attend upon your will to depart,' 'we wait but for your convenience to go.'
(60) Give me your favour. ' Give me your favourable construction,' ' Give me your Indulgence.'
(61) My dull brain was wrought with things forgotten. "Wrought" is here used for' working,' 'toiling,' 'occupied.'
(62) Register'd where every day I turn the leaf to read them. Macbeth poetically refers to his mind as a memorandum-book, where he keeps a record of his friends' courtesies and kindly deeds;
(63) The interim having weigh'd it. 'The interim having allowed of its being deliberately considered:' or 'duly balanced in our minds.'

SCENE IV. Forres. The palace.
Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and Attendants
Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not (note 64)
Those in commission yet return'd?

My liege,
They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
With one that saw him die: who did report
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons,
Implored your highness' pardon and set forth
A deep repentance: nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death (note 65)
To throw away the dearest thing he owed, (note 66)
As 'twere a careless trifle.

There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face: (note 67)
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.

O worthiest cousin! (note 68)
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me: thou art so far before
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved,
That the proportion both of thanks and payment (note 69)
Might have been mine! only I have left to say, (note 70)
More is thy due than more than all can pay.

The service and the loyalty I owe, (note 71)
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part
Is to receive our duties; and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing (note 72)
Safe toward your love and honour.

Welcome hither:
I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,
That hast no less deserved, nor must be known
No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
And hold thee to my heart.

There if I grow,
The harvest is your own.

My plenteous joys,
Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
And you whose places are the nearest, know
We will establish our estate upon
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter
The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must (note 73)
Not unaccompanied invest him only,
But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
On all deservers. From hence to Inverness, (note 74)
And bind us further to you.

The rest is labour, which is not used for you:
I'll be myself the harbinger and make joyful
The hearing of my wife with your approach;
So humbly take my leave.

My worthy Cawdor!

[Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step (note 75)
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant, (note 76)
And in his commendations I am fed;
It is a banquet to me. Let's after him,
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome:
It is a peerless kinsman. (note 77)

Flourish. Exeunt

(64) Are not those in commission. The First Folio prints 'or' for "are." Corrected in the Second Folio.
(65) As one that had been studied in his death. ' Like one that had perfectly studied the part he was to play in dying with firmness and penitence.'
(66) Owed. 'Owned.'
(67) To find the mind's construction in the face. 'To discover the mode of construing the inward mind by the exterior demonstration of the face.'
(68) Oh, worthiest cousin! Duncan and Macbeth were the sons of two sisters, Beatrice and Doada, daughters to Malcolm, the previous King of Scotland.
(69) That the proportion both of thanks and payment might have been mine. The word "mine" has been suspected of error here; but we think that the sentence bears this interpretation: - 'I would thou hadst deserved less, that the satisfaction might have been mine of knowing that my thanks and rewards were better proportioned to thy merit than now they can be.'
(70) More is thy due than more than all can pay. 'More is thy due than could be repaid by even more than all that I can give thee.'
(71) The service and the loyalty I owe, in doing it, pays itself. Here "service" and "loyalty" are treated as one and the same thing, and therefore referred to by "it" and "itself," instead of by a plural pronoun.
(72) By doing everything safe toward your love and honour. "Safe" has here been variously interpreted: Blackstone altering "your " to 'you,' and affirming that "safe", bears the same sense in this passage that 'sauf' does in the form of doing homage during the feudal times: - 'Sauf la foy que je doy a nostre Seignor le roy ;' and Upton alleging that here "safe" is used adverbially, for safely.' We incline to think that here "safe" is employed adjectively, meaning 'productive of security'; as it is in Philippians III 1 : "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. "And therefore we take the passage in the text to signify, 'by doing everything productive of security toward you whom we love and honour,' or 'by doing everything that tends to secure and promote your love and honour.'
(73) The Prince of Cumberland, The crown of Scotland was in early times not strictly hereditary; and when a successor was declared in the lifetime of a king (as was sometimes the case), the title of Prince of Cumberland was conferred upon him in token of his appointment. Cumberland was then held in fief of the English crown.
(74) From hence to Inverness. This royal visit to Macbeth's castle has historical authority; and it was customary for the king to make an annual progress through his dominions, sojourning at the mansions of his nobles.
(75) That is a step. Macbeth being, equally with Duncan, the grandson of the Iate monarch, considered that his claims to the throne were set aside by this nomination of Malcolm to be heir to the crown; -and it acts as a fresh incentive to his meditated deed.
(76) True, worthy Banquo,- he is full so valiant. These words are said by Duncan in reply to something which has been said by Banquo in praise of Macbeth's valour, while conversing apart during Macbeth's soliloquy 'the proneness of the latter to fall into abstractedself - communing throughout these first scenes serves forcibly to depict the tumult of his mind; so engrossed with its subject of secret debate, that it positively cannot disengage itself therefrom, but causes him to fall into perpetually recurring fits of soliloquising even in the presence of others.
(77) It is a peerless kinsman.

17th Jun 2005


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