Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Macbeth
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Macbeth.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act IV
 
Scene I
 
 
[A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron]
Thunder. Enter the three Witches

  1. Witch.  Thrice the brinded 1 cat hath mew’d.
  2. Witch.  Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whin’d.
  3. Witch.  Harpier cries; ’tis time, ’tis time.
  1. Witch.  Round about the cauldron go;        4
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelt’red 2 venom sleeping got,        8
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
  All.  Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
  2. Witch.  Fillet of a fenny 3 snake,        12
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt 4 and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,        16
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
  All.  Double, double, toil and trouble;        20
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
  3. Witch.  Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, 5 maw and gulf 6
Of the ravin’d 7 salt-sea shark,        24
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse,        28
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab. 8        32
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, 9
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
  All.  Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.        36
  2. Witch.   Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
 
Enter HECATE to the other three Witches

  Hec.  O, well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i’ the gains.        40
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.
  Music and a song: “Black spirits,” etc.  [HECATE retires.]        44
  2. Witch.  By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
        Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!
 
Enter MACBETH

  Macb.  How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is ’t you do?        48
  All.        A deed without a name.
  Macb.  I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe’er you come to know it, answer me!
Though you untie the winds and let them fight        52
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodg’d 10 and trees blown down;
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads;        56
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature’s germens 11 tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken; answer me        60
To what I ask you.
  1. Witch.        Speak.
  2. Witch.        Demand.
  3. Witch.        We’ll answer.        64
  1. Witch.  Say, if thou ’dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our master’s?
  Macb.        Call ’em; let me see ’em.
  1. Witch.  Pour in sow’s blood, that hath eaten        68
Her nine farrow; 12 grease that’s sweaten
From the murderer’s gibbet throw
Into the flame.
  All.        Come, high or low;        72
Thyself and office deftly show!
 
Thunder. First Apparition, an armed Head

  Macb.  Tell me, thou unknown power,—
  1. Witch.        He knows thy thought.
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.        76
  1. App.  Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.  Descends.
  Macb.  Whate’er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp’d my fear aright. But one word more,—        80
  1. Witch.  He will not be commanded. Here’s another,
More potent than the first.
 
Thunder. Second Apparition, a bloody Child

  2. App.  Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
  Macb.  Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.        84
  2. App.  Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man; for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.  Descends.
  Macb.  Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?        88
But yet I’ll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.        92
 
Thunder. Third Apparition, a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand

        What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?        96
  All.        Listen, but speak not to ’t.
  3. App.  Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until        100
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.  Descends.
  Macb.        That will never be.
Who can impress 13 the forest, bid the tree        104
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! 14 good!
Rebellion’s head, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac’d Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath        108
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much, shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?        112
  All.        Seek to know no more.
  Macb.  I will be satisfied! Deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? And what noise is this?  Hautboys.        116
  1. Witch.  Show!
  2. Witch.  Show!
  3. Witch.  Show!
  All.  Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;        120
Come like shadows, so depart!
 
A show of Eight Kings, the last with a glass in his hand; BANQUO’S Ghost following

  Macb.  Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.        124
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet! A seventh! I’ll see no more.        128
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That twofold balls and treble sceptres carry.
Horrible sight! Now, I see, ’tis true;        132
For the blood-bolter’d 15 Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his. [Apparitions vanish.] What, is this so?
  1. Witch.    Ay, sir, all this is so; but why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?        136
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights.
I’ll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round;        140
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.  Music. The Witches dance, and vanish [with HECATE].
  Macb.  Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!        144
Come in, without there!
 
Enter LENNOX

  Len.        What’s your Grace’s will?
  Macb.  Saw you the weird sisters?
  Len.        No, my lord.        148
  Macb.  Came they not by you?
  Len.        No, indeed, my lord.
  Macb.  Infected be the air whereon they ride;
And damn’d all those that trust them! I did hear        152
The galloping of horse; who was ’t came by?
  Len.  ’Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.
  Macb.        Fled to England!        156
  Len.  Ay, my good lord.
  Macb.  Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits:
The flighty 16 purpose never is o’ertook
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment        160
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done.
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;        164
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.        168
But no more sights!—Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are.  Exeunt.
 
Note 1. Brindled. [back]
Note 2. Sweated. [back]
Note 3. From the marshes. [back]
Note 4. Water-lizard. [back]
Note 5. The gum that oozed from embalmed bodies-used as a medicine. [back]
Note 6. Stomach (?). [back]
Note 7. Ravenous. [back]
Note 8. Glutinous. [back]
Note 9. Entrails. [back]
Note 10. Let corn not yet in the ear be laid flat. [back]
Note 11. Seeds. [back]
Note 12. Litter of pigs. [back]
Note 13. Force into service. [back]
Note 14. Predictions. [back]
Note 15. With hair clotted with blood. [back]
Note 16. Swift. [back]
 

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