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And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me,
By each at once her choppy finger laying
Upon her skinny lips:– You should be women,
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
That you are so.
Macb. Speak, if you can;- What are you?
1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane

of Glamis 10! 2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane

of Cawdor! 3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king

hereafter. Ban. Good sir, why do you start; and seem to

fear Things that do sound so fair ?-I' the name of truth, Are ye fantasticalll, or that indeed Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace, and great prediction Of noble having12, and of royal hope, That he seems rapt13 withal; to me you speak not: If you can look into the seeds of time, And say, which grain will grow, and which will not; Speak then to me, who neither beg, nor fear, Your favours, nor your hate. 1 Witch. Hail! 2 Witch. Hail ! 3 Witch. Hail ! 1 Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. 2 Witch. Not so happy, yet much happier. 3 Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be

none: So, all hail, Macbeth, and Banquo !

10 The thaneship of Glamis was the ancient inheritance o Macbeth's family. The castle where they lived is still standing, and was lately the magnificent residence of the earl of Strathmore. Gray has given a particular description of it in a Letter to Dr. Wharton.

11 i. e. creatures of fantasy or imagination.
12 Estate, fortune.
13 Rapt is rapturously affected ; extra se raptus.

1 Witch. Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail! Macb. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more: By Sinel’s!4 death, I know, I am thane of Glamis; But how of Cawdor? the thane of Cawdor lives, A prosperous gentleman; and to be king Stands not within the prospect of belief, No more than to be Cawdor. Say, from whence You owe this strange intelligence! or why Upon this blasted heath you stop our way With such prophetic greeting ?-Speak, I charge you.

(Witches vanish. Ban. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them :-Whither are they vanish'd ? Macb. Into the air; and what seem'd corporal,

melted As breath into the wind.—'Would, they had staid ! Ban. Were such things here, as we do speak

Or have we eaten of the insane root15,
That takes the reason prisoner?
Macb. Your children shall be kings.

You shall be king. Macb. And thane of Cawdor too; went it not so ? Ban. To the selfsame tune, and words. Who's here?

Enter Rosse and Angus. Rosse. The king hath happily receiv'd, Macbeth, The news of thy success: and when he reads Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight, His wonders and his praises do contend,

14 Sinel. The late Dr. Beattie conjectured that the real name of this family was Sinane, and that Dunsinane, or the hill of Sinane from thence derived its name.

15 The insane root was probably henbane. In Batman's Commentary on Bartholome de Propriet. Rerum, a book with Shakspeare was familiar, is the following passage :-Henbane is called insana, mad, for the use thereof is perillous; for if it be eate or dronke it breedeth madnesse, or slow lykenesse of sleepe. Therefore this hearb is called commonly mirilidiusn, for it taketh away wit and reason.'

Which should be thine, or his: Silenc'd with that16,
In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afеard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as tale17,
Came18 post with post; and every one did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom's great defence,
And pour'd them down before him.

We are sent,
To give thee, from our royal master, thanks;
Only to herald thee into his sight, not pay thee.

Rosse. And, for an earnest of a greater honour, He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor: In which addition, hail, most worthy thane! For it is thine. Ban.

What, can the devil speak true? Macb. The thane of Cawdor lives? Why do you

dress me In borrow'd robes ? Ang.

Who was the thane, lives yet; But under heavy judgment bears that life Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combin'd With those of Norway, or did line the rebel With hidden help and vantage; or that with both He labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not; But treasons capital, confess’d, and prov’d, Have overthrown him. Macb.

Glamis, and thane of Cawdor: fruited Ban.

16 i. e. admiration of your deeds, and a desire to do them justice by public commendation, contend in his mind for preeminence: he is silenced with wonder.

17 i. e. posts arrived as fast as they could be counted. Thicke (says Baret), that cometh often and thicke together; creber, frequens, frequent, souvent venant.' And again : Crebritas literarum, the often sending, or thicke coming of letters. Thicke breathing, anhelitus oreber.' Shakspeare twice uses to speak thick' for 'to speak quick.' To tale or tell is to score or number. Rowe, not understanding this passage, altered it to as quick as hail' Thus also in Forbess State Papers, vol. i. p. 475:--Peraventure the often and thick sending, with words only, that this prince hathe lately usyd to hyr majestie, dothe somewhat molest her.'

18 "Came post. The old copy reads can. Rowe made the emendation.

'The greatest is behind.— Thanks for your pains.-
Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me,
Promis'd no less to them ?

That, trusted home19,
Might yet enkindle20 you unto the crown,
Besides the thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths;
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence.-
Cousins, a word, I pray you.

Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act21
Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen.
This supernatural soliciting 22
Cannot be ill; cannot be good :-If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion 23
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,
And make my seated24 heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Arc less than horrible imaginings25:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single26 state of man, that function
Is smother'd in surmise27; and nothing is,
But what is not28.

19 i. c. entirely, thoroughly relied on.

20 Enkindle means encourage you to expect the crown.' A similar expression occurs in As You Like It, Act i. Sc. 1 :

--nothing remains, but that I kindle the boy thither.' 21 As happy prologues to the swelling act. So in the prologue to King Henry V.:

- --princes to act,

And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.'
22 i. e. incitement.
23 Suggestion, temptation.
24 Seated, firmly placed, fixed.
25 - ----Present fears

Are less than horrible imaginings.'
So in The Tragedie of Croesus, by Lord Sterline, 1604:-

•For as the shadow seems more monstrous still
Than doth the substance whence it hath the being,
So th' apprehension of approaching ill
Seems greater than itself, whilst fears are lying.'

Look, how our partner's rapt. Macb. If chance will have me king, why, chance

may crown me, Without my stir. Ban.

New honours come upon him Like our strange garments cleave not to their mould, But with the aid of use.' Macb.

Come what come may; Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. Ban. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. Macb. Give me your favour29:-my dull brain

was wrought With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains Are register'd where every day I turn The leaf to read them.-Let us toward the king. Think upon what hath chanc'd: and, at more time, The interim having weigh’d it30, let us speak Our free hearts each to other. Ban.

Very gladly. Macb. Till then, enough.—Come, friends.


26 By his single state of man, Macbeth means his simple condition of human nature. Single soul, for a simple or weak guileless person, was the phraseology of the poet's time. Simplicity and singleness were synonymous. 27 ------that function

Is smother'd in surmise.'
The powers of action are oppressed by conjecture.

28. But what is not.' Shakspeare has something like this sentiment in The Merchant of Venice:

"Where every something, being blent together,

Turns to a wild of nothing.' Again, in King Richard II.:

"---is nought but shadows

Of what is not.' 29 Favour is countenance, good will, and not pardon as it has been here interpreted. Vide Hamlet, Act v. Sc. 2.

30 «The interim having weigh'd it.' The interim is probably here used adverbially_ You having weighed it in the interiin.'

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