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I take't, 'tis later, sir. Ban. Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in
Enter MACBETH, and a Servant with a torch. Who's there?
Macb. A friend.
Ban. What, sir, not yet at rest? The king's abed.
I think not of them; Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve,
1 It is apparent from what Banquo says afterwards, that he had been solicited in a dream to attempt something in consequence of the prophecy of the witches, that his waking senses were shocked at; and Shakspeare has here most exquisitely contrasted his character with that of Macbeth. Banquo is praying against being tempted to encourage thoughts of guilt even in his sleep; while Macbeth is hurrying into temptation, and revolving in his mind every scheme, however flagitious, that may assist him to complete his purpose. The one is unwilling to sleep, lest the same phantoms should assail his resolution again, while the other is depriving himself of rest through impatience to commit the murder.
2 The old copy reads offices. Officers of a household was the common term for servants.
3 Steevens has explained " to shut up,” by “to conclude," and the examples he has adduced are satisfactory
A Being unprepared, our desire to entertain the king honorably was constrained by defective means, otherwise our zeal should have been manifest by more liberal entertainments.
Would spend it in some words upon that business,
At your kind'st leisure.
So I lose none,
Good repose, the while !
[Exit Servant. Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The handle toward my hand ? Come, let me clutch
1 Consent is accord, agreement, a combination for a particular purpose. By “if you shall cleave to my consent,” Macbeth means, “if you shall adhere to me (i. e. agree or accord with my views), when 'tis (i. e. when events shall fall out as they are predicted), it shall make honor for you." Macbeth mentally refers to the crown which he expected to obtain in consequence of the murder that he was about to commit. We comprehend all that passes in his mind; but Banquo is still in ignorance of it.
2 Dudgeon, for handle ; “ a dudgeon dagger is a dagger whose handle is made of the root of box."
3 Gouts, drops; from the French gouttes.
It is the bloody business, which informs
[A bell rings.
SCENE II. The same.
Enter LADY MACBETH. Lady M. That which hath made them drunk, hath
made me bold; What hath quenched them, hath given me fire.
Hark !-peace ! It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman, Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it : The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
1 Steevens proposed to substitute the word “sleeper" for "sleep," and to erase the word “now,” in order to render the measure harmonious.
2 The old copy reads sides : Pope made the alteration. Johnson objects to the epithet ravishing strides. But a stride was not always an action of violence, impetuosity, or tumult. Thus in The Faerie Queene, b. iv. c. viii.,
“ With easy steps so soft as foot could stride." 3 Macbeth would have nothing break through the universal silence that added such horror to the night, as well suited with the bloody deed he was about to perform.
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugged
their possets, That death and nature do contend about them, Whether they live or die.
Macb. [Within.) Who's there ? - what, ho!
Lady M. Alack! I am afraid, they have awaked, And 'tis not done ;-the attempt, and not the deed, Confounds us.—Hark !-I laid their daggers ready; He could not miss them.-Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done't.—My husband ?
Enter MACBETH. Macb. I have done the deed.—Didst thou not hear
a noise ? Lady M. I heard the owl scream, and the crickets
cry. Did not you speak ? Macb.
As I descended ? Lady M. Ay.
Macb. Hark !-
[Looking on his hands. Lady M. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. Macb. There's one did laugh in his sleep, and one
cried, murder! That they did wake each other; I stood and heard
Lady M. There are two lodged together.
other; As? they had seen me, with these hangman's hands.
1 As for as if.
Listening their fear," I could not say, amen,
Consider it not so deeply.
Lady M. These deeds must not be thought
What do you mean? Macb. Still it cried, Sleep no more! to all the house. Glamis hath murdered sleep; and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more-Macbeth shall sleep no more! Lady M. Who was it that thus cried ? Why,
I'll go no more.
Infirm of purpose !
1 i. e. listening to their fear; the particle omitted.
2 Sleave is unwrought silk, sometimes, also, called floss silk. It appears to be the coarse, ravelled part separated by passing through the slaie (reed comb) of the weaver's loom; and hence called sleaved or sleided silk. Sleeveless, which has puzzled the etymologists, may be that which cannot be sleaved, sleided, or unravelled; and therefore useless: thus a sleeveless errand would be a fruitless one.
VOL. III. 26