What do you like about the ISE? What could we do better? Please tell us in this 10-minute survey!

Start Survey

Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Macbeth: Modern (Modern)
  • Editor: Anthony Dawson
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • Research assistant: Katie Davion
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-528-5

    Copyright Anthony Dawson. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Anthony Dawson
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Modern (Modern)

    Enter Malcolm and Macduff.
    Malcolm
    Let us seek out some desolate shade and there
    1815Weep our sad bosoms empty.
    Macduff
    Let us rather
    Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men,
    Bestride our downfall birthdom. Each new morn
    New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
    1820Strike heaven on the face that it resounds
    As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
    Like syllable of dolor.
    Malcolm
    What I believe, I'll wail;
    What know, believe; and what I can redress,
    1825As I shall find the time to friend, I will.
    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 something
    1830You may discern of him through me, and wisdom
    To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb
    T'appease an angry god.
    Macduff
    I am not treacherous.
    Malcolm
    But Macbeth is.
    1835A 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,
    1840Yet grace must still look so.
    Macduff
    I have lost my hopes.
    Malcolm
    Perchance even there where I did find my doubts.
    Why in that rawness left you wife and child,
    1845Those 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.
    1850Macduff
    Bleed, bleed poor country.
    Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure,
    For goodness dare not check thee; wear thou thy wrongs,
    The title is affeered. Fare thee well, lord,
    I would not be the villain that thou think'st
    1855For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp
    And the rich East to boot.
    Malcolm
    Be not offended.
    I speak not as in absolute fear of you.
    I think our country sinks beneath the yoke,
    1860It 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,
    1865When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head
    Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country
    Shall have more vices than it had before,
    More suffer, and more sundry ways than ever,
    By him that shall succeed.
    1870Macduff
    What should he be?
    Malcolm
    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
    1875Esteem him as a lamb, being compared
    With my confineless harms.
    Macduff
    Not in the legions
    Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned
    In evils to top Macbeth.
    1880Malcolm
    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,
    1885Your 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 an one to reign.
    1890Macduff
    Boundless intemperance
    In nature is a tyranny. It hath been
    Th'untimely emptying of the happy throne
    And fall of many kings. But fear not yet
    To take upon you what is yours: you may
    1895Convey 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,
    1900Finding it so inclined.
    Malcolm
    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,
    1905Desire 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.
    1910Macduff
    This avarice
    Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root
    Than summer-seeming lust, and it hath been
    The sword of our slain kings; yet do not fear,
    Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will
    1915Of your mere own. All these are portable,
    With other graces weighed.
    Malcolm
    But I have none. The king-becoming graces--
    As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
    Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
    1920Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude--
    I have no relish of them, but abound
    In the division of each several crime,
    Acting it many ways. Nay, had I power, I should
    Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell,
    1925Uproar the universal peace, confound
    All unity on earth.
    Macduff
    O Scotland, Scotland!
    Malcolm
    If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
    I am as I have spoken.
    1930Macduff
    Fit to govern?
    No, not to live. O nation miserable!
    With an untitled tyrant bloody-sceptered,
    When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again,
    Since that the truest issue of thy throne
    By his own interdiction stands accused
    1935And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father
    Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee,
    Oft'ner upon her knees than on her feet,
    Died every day she lived. Fare thee well,
    These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
    1940Hath banished me from Scotland. O my breast,
    Thy hope ends here.
    Malcolm
    Macduff, this noble passion,
    Child of integrity, hath from my soul
    Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts
    1945To 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. But God above
    Deal between thee and me, for even now
    1950I 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,
    1955Scarcely have coveted what was mine own,
    At no time broke my faith, would not betray
    The devil to his fellow, and delight
    No less in truth than life. My first false speaking
    Was this upon myself. What I am truly
    1960Is thine and my poor country's to command,
    Whither indeed, before thy here-approach,
    Old Siward with ten thousand warlike men
    Already at a point was setting forth.
    Now we'll together and the chance of goodness
    1965Be like our warranted quarrel. Why are you silent?
    Macduff
    Such welcome and unwelcome things at once,
    'Tis hard to reconcile.
    Enter a Doctor.
    Malcolm
    Well, more anon.
    Comes the King forth, 1970I pray you?
    Ay, sir: there are a crew of wretched souls
    That stay his cure; their malady convinces
    The great assay of art, but at his touch,
    Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
    1975They presently amend.
    Malcolm
    I thank you, doctor.
    Exit [Doctor].
    Macduff
    What's the disease he means?
    Malcolm
    'Tis called the evil.
    A most miraculous work in this good King,
    1980Which often since my here-remain in England
    I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven
    Himself best knows, but strangely visited people,
    All swollen and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
    The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
    1985Hanging a golden stamp about their necks
    Put on with holy prayers, and 'tis spoken
    To the succeeding royalty he leaves
    The healing benediction. With this strange virtue
    He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
    1990And sundry blessings hang about his throne
    That speak him full of grace.
    Enter Ross.
    Macduff
    See who comes here.
    Malcolm
    My countryman, but yet I know him not.
    1995Macduff
    My ever gentle cousin, welcome hither.
    Malcolm
    I know him now. Good God betimes remove
    The means that makes us strangers.
    Ross
    Sir, amen.
    Macduff
    Stands Scotland where it did?
    2000Ross
    Alas, poor country,
    Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot
    Be called our mother, but our grave, where nothing
    But who knows nothing is once seen to smile;
    Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
    2005Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems
    A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell
    Is there scarce asked for who, and good men's lives
    Expire before the flowers in their caps,
    Dying or e'er they sicken.
    2010Macduff
    Oh, relation
    Too nice and yet too true.
    Malcolm
    What's the newest grief?
    That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker,
    Each minute teems a new one.
    Macduff
    How does my wife?
    Why, well.
    Macduff
    And all my children?
    Ross
    Well, too.
    Macduff
    The tyrant has not battered at their peace?
    No, they were well at peace when I did leave 'em.
    2020Macduff
    Be not a niggard of your speech--how goes't?
    When I came hither to transport the tidings
    Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumor
    Of many worthy fellows that were out,
    Which was to my belief witnessed the rather,
    2025For that I saw the tyrant's power afoot.
    Now is the time of help. [To Malcolm] Your eye in Scotland
    Would create soldiers, make our women fight
    To doff their dire distresses.
    Malcolm
    Be't their comfort
    2030We are coming thither: gracious England hath
    Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men--
    An older and a better soldier none
    That Christendom gives out.
    Ross
    Would I could answer
    2035This comfort with the like. But I have words
    That would be howled out in the desert air
    Where hearing should not latch them.
    Macduff
    What concern they--
    The general cause, or is it a fee-grief
    2040Due to some single breast?
    Ross
    No mind that's honest
    But in it shares some woe, though the main part
    Pertains to you alone.
    Macduff
    If it be mine
    2045Keep it not from me; quickly let me have it.
    Let not your ears despise my tongue forever
    Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
    That ever yet they heard.
    Macduff
    H'm, I guess at it.
    Your castle is surprised, your wife and babes
    Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner
    Were on the quarry of these murdered deer
    To add the death of you.
    Malcolm
    Merciful heaven!
    2055What, man, ne'er pull your hat upon your brows:
    Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
    Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.
    Macduff
    My children too?
    Ross
    Wife, children, servants, all
    That could be found.
    2060Macduff
    And I must be from thence!
    My wife killed too?
    Ross
    I have said.
    Malcolm
    Be comforted.
    Let's make us med'cines of our great revenge
    To cure this deadly grief.
    2065Macduff
    He has no children. All my pretty ones?
    Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop?
    Malcolm
    Dispute it like a man.
    2070Macduff
    I shall do so,
    But I must also feel it as a man.
    I cannot but remember such things were
    That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on
    And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff,
    2075They were all struck for thee. Naught that I am,
    Not for their own demerits but for mine,
    Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now.
    Malcolm
    Be this the whetstone of your sword; let grief
    Convert to anger. Blunt not the heart, enrage it.
    2080Macduff
    Oh, I could play the woman with mine eyes
    And braggart with my tongue. But gentle heavens,
    Cut short all intermission. Front to front
    Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself--
    Within my sword's length set him. If he 'scape,
    2085Heaven forgive him too.
    Malcolm
    This tune goes manly.
    Come, go we to the King; our power is ready,
    Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
    Is ripe for shaking and the powers above
    2090Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may,
    The night is long that never finds the day.
    Exeunt.