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    Not Peer Reviewed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 [Lady Macduff], her Son, and Ross.
    Lady Macduff
    What had he done to make him fly the land?
    You must have patience, madam.
    Lady Macduff
    He had none;
    1715His flight was madness. When our actions do not,
    Our fears do make us traitors.
    You know not
    Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.
    Lady Macduff
    Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes,
    1720His mansion, and his titles, in a place
    From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
    He wants the natural touch. For the poor wren,
    The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
    Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
    1725All is the fear and nothing is the love;
    As little is the wisdom where the flight
    So runs against all reason.
    My dearest coz,
    I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,
    1730He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
    The fits o'th' season. I dare not speak much further,
    But cruel are the times when we are traitors
    And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor
    From what we fear yet know not what we fear,
    1735But float upon a wild and violent sea
    Each way and none. I take my leave of you;
    Shall not be long but I'll be here again.
    Things at the worst will cease or else climb upward
    To what they were before. [To Son] My pretty cousin,
    1740Blessing upon you.
    Lady Macduff
    Fathered he is, and yet he's fatherless.
    I am so much a fool, should I stay longer
    It would be my disgrace and your discomfort.
    1745I take my leave at once.
    Lady Macduff
    Sirrah, your father's dead,
    And what will you do now? How will you live?
    As birds do, mother.
    Lady Macduff
    What, with worms and flies?
    With what I get, I mean, and so do they.
    Lady Macduff
    Poor bird, thou'dst never fear the net nor lime,
    The pitfall, nor the gin.
    Why should I, mother?
    1755Poor birds they are not set for. My father is not dead for all your saying.
    Lady Macduff
    Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father?
    Nay, how will you do for a husband?
    1760Lady Macduff
    Why, I can buy me twenty at any market.
    Then you'll buy 'em to sell again.
    Lady Macduff
    Thou speak'st with all thy wit, and yet i'faith with wit enough for thee.
    Was my father a traitor, mother?
    1765Lady Macduff
    Ay, that he was.
    What is a traitor?
    Lady Macduff
    Why, one that swears and lies.
    And be all traitors that do so?
    Lady Macduff
    Every one that does so is a traitor 1770and must be hanged.
    And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
    Lady Macduff
    Every one.
    Who must hang them?
    Lady Macduff
    Why, the honest men.
    Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there are liars and swearers enough to beat the honest men and hang up them.
    Lady Macduff
    Now God help thee, poor monkey. But how wilt thou do for a father?
    If he were dead, you'd weep for him; if you would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new father.
    Lady Macduff
    Poor prattler, how thou talk'st!
    Enter a Messenger.
    Bless you, fair dame. I am not to you known,
    Though in your state of honor I am perfect;
    I doubt some danger does approach you nearly.
    If you will take a homely man's advice,
    Be not found here. Hence with your little ones.
    1790To fright you thus methinks I am too savage;
    To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
    Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you,
    I dare abide no longer.
    Lady Macduff
    Whither should I fly?
    1795I have done no harm. But I remember now
    I am in this earthly world where to do harm
    Is often laudable, to do good sometime
    Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas,
    Do I put up that womanly defense
    1800To say I have done no harm?
    Enter Murderers.
    What are these faces?
    1 Murderer
    Where is your husband?
    Lady Macduff
    I hope in no place so unsanctified
    1805Where such as thou mayst find him.
    1 Murderer
    He's a traitor.
    Thou liest, thou shag-haired villain!
    1 Murderer
    What, you egg!
    Young fry of treachery!
    [Stabbing him.]
    He has killed me, mother.
    Run away, I pray you.
    Exit [Lady Macduff] crying "Murder," [pursued by the Murderers bearing her Son].