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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Banquo.
    Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
    As the weird women promised, and I fear
    Thou played'st most foully for't. Yet it was said
    985It should not stand in thy posterity,
    But that myself should be the root and father
    Of many kings. If there come truth from them,
    As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine,
    Why, by the verities on thee made good,
    990May they not be my oracles as well
    And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.
    Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth as King, Lady [Macbeth as Queen], Lennox, Ross, lords, and attendants.
    Here's our chief guest.
    995Lady Macbeth
    If he had been forgotten,
    It had been as a gap in our great feast,
    And all-thing unbecoming.
    Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,
    And I'll request your presence.
    Let your highness
    Command upon me, to the which my duties
    Are with a most indissoluble tie
    Forever knit.
    Ride you this afternoon?
    Ay, my good lord.
    We should have else desired your good advice,
    Which still hath been both grave and prosperous,
    In this day's council; but we'll take tomorrow.
    Is't far you ride?
    As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
    'Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better,
    I must become a borrower of the night
    For a dark hour or twain.
    Fail not our feast.
    My lord, I will not.
    We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed
    In England and in Ireland, not confessing
    Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
    With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,
    1020When therewithal we shall have cause of state
    Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse--adieu
    Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
    Ay, my good lord, our time does call upon's.
    I wish your horses swift and sure of foot,
    And so I do commend you to their backs.
    Exit Banquo.
    Let every man be master of his time
    Till seven at night. To make society
    1030The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
    Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you.
    Exeunt [all but Macbeth and a Servant].
    Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men
    Our pleasure?
    They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
    Bring them before us.
    Exit Servant.
    To be thus is nothing,
    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
    Stick deep, 1040and in his royalty of nature
    Reigns that which would be feared. 'Tis much he dares,
    And to that dauntless temper of his mind
    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
    To act in safety. There is none but he
    1045Whose being I do fear; and under him
    My genius is rebuked, as it is said
    Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
    When first they put the name of King upon me
    And bade them speak to him. Then, prophet-like,
    1050They hailed him father to a line of kings.
    Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
    And put a barren scepter in my grip,
    Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
    No son of mine succeeding. If't be so,
    1055For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind,
    For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,
    Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
    Only for them, and mine eternal jewel
    Given to the common enemy of man
    1060To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings.
    Rather than so, come, Fate, into the list,
    And champion me to th'utterance. Who's there?
    Enter Servant and two Murderers.
    1065[To Servant] Now go to the door and stay there till we call.
    Exit Servant.
    Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
    It was, so please your highness.
    Well then, 1070now,
    Have you considered of my speeches? Know
    That it was he in the times past which held you
    So under fortune, which you thought had been
    Our innocent self. This I made good to you
    In our last conference; 1075passed in probation with you
    How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments,
    Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
    To half a soul and to a notion crazed
    1080Say, "Thus did Banquo."
    1 Murderer
    You made it known to us.
    I did so; and went further which is now
    Our point of second meeting. 1085Do you find
    Your patience so predominant in your nature
    That you can let this go? Are you so gospelled
    To pray for this good man and for his issue,
    Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave
    And beggared 1090yours forever?
    1 Murderer
    We are men, my liege.
    Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
    As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
    Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept
    1095All by the name of dogs. The valued file
    Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
    The house-keeper, the hunter, every one
    According to the gift which bounteous nature
    Hath in him closed, whereby he does receive
    1100Particular addition from the bill
    That writes them all alike. And so of men.
    Now, if you have a station in the file
    Not i'th' worst rank of manhood, say't,
    And I will put that business in your bosoms
    1105Whose execution takes your enemy off,
    Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
    Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
    Which in his death were perfect.
    2 Murderer
    I am one, my liege,
    1110Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
    Hath so incensed that I am reckless what I do
    To spite the world.
    1 Murderer
    And I another,
    So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune,
    1115That I would set my life on any chance
    To mend it or be rid on't.
    Both of you
    Know Banquo was your enemy.
    True, my lord.
    So is he mine--and in such bloody distance
    1120That every minute of his being thrusts
    Against my near'st of life. And though I could
    With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
    And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not
    For certain friends that are both his and mine,
    1125Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
    Who I myself struck down. And thence it is
    That I to your assistance do make love,
    Masking the business from the common eye
    For sundry weighty reasons.
    11302 Murderer
    We shall, my lord,
    Perform what you command us.
    1 Murderer
    Though our lives--
    Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most
    1135I will advise you where to plant yourselves,
    Acquaint you with the perfect spy o'th' time,
    The moment on't, for't must be done tonight,
    And something from the palace--always thought
    That I require a clearness. And with him,
    1140To leave no rubs nor botches in the work,
    Fleance, his son, that keeps him company,
    Whose absence is no less material to me
    Than is his father's, must embrace the fate
    Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart,
    1145I'll come to you anon.
    We are resolved, my lord.
    I'll call upon you straight; abide within.
    Exeunt [Murderers].
    It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight,
    If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.