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Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time17,
The moment on't: for’t must be done to-night,
And something from the palace; always thought,
That I require a clearness 18: And with him
('To 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. Reyolve yourselves apart; 11
I'll come to you anon.
2 Mur.

We are resolv’d, my lord.
Macb. I'll call upon you straight; abide within.
It is concluded:--Banquo, thy soul's flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out to-night. (Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same. Another Room.
· Enter LADY MACBETH, and a Servant.
Lady M. Is Banquo gone from court?
Serv. Ay, madam, but returns again to-night.
Lady M. Say to the king, I would attend his

leisure
For a few words.
Serv.
Madam, I will.

[Exit. Lady M.

Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content: *
"Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy.

Enter MACBETH.
How now, my lord? why do you keep alone,
Of sorriestl fancies your companions making ?
Using those thoughts, which should indeed have died.

18

17 i. e. the exact time when you may look out or lie in wait for him.

--- always thonght

That I require a clearness.' Always remembering that I must stand clear of suspicion.'

| Sorriest, most nelancholy.

With them they think on? Things without remedy,
Should be without regard: what's done, is done.

Macb. We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it;
She'll close, and be herself; whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint,
Both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams

That shake us nightly: Better be with the dead, heach Whom we, to gain our place ?, have sent to peace,

Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy3. Duncan is in his grave;
After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,

Can touch him further!
ter': Lady M. Come on; gentle my lord,

Sleek o'er your rugged looks; be bright and jovial
Among your guests to-night.!'.
Macb.

So shall 1, love;
And so, I pray, be you:'let your remembrance
Apply to Banquo: present him eminences, both
With eye and tongue: unsafe the while, that we
Must lave our honours in these flattering streams;
And make our faces vizards to our hearts,
Disguising what they are..
Lady M.

: You must leave this. Macb. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! Thou know'st, that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.

a The first folio rcade peace. The second folio place.

3 Ecstasy in its general sense signifies any violent emotion or alienation of the mind. The old dictionaries render it a trance, a dampe, a crampe. Vidc note on The Tempest, Act iii. Sc. 3, p. 64.

4 Remembrance is here employed as a quadrisyllable. 5 Present him eminence, do him the highest honour.

6 The sense of this passage (though clouded by metaphor, and perhaps by omission) appears to be as follows: 'It is a sign that our royalty is unsafe, when it must descend to flattery, and stoop to dissimulation. The present arrangement of the text is by Malone.

Lady. M. But in them nature's copy's not eterne?. Macb. There's comfort yet; they are assailable; Then be thou jocund; Ere the bat hath flown His cloister'd flight; ere, to black Hecate's summons, The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hums, Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done A deed of dreadful note. Lady M.

What's to be done? Macb. Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day; And, with thy bloody and invisible hand, Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond Which keeps me pale10!--Light thickens; and the

crow

7 Ritson has justly observed that "Nature's copy' alludes to copyhold tenure; in which the tenant holds an estate for life, having nothing but the copy of the rolls of his lord's court to show for it. "Å life-hold tenure may well be said to be not eterpal. The subsequent speech of Macbeth, in which he says,

'Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond,

Ca confirms this explanation. Many of Shakspeare's allusions are to legal customs.

8 That is the beetle borne along the air by its shards or scaly winge. Stecvens had the merit of first showing that shard or sherd was the ancient word for a scale or outward covering, a case or sheath: as appears from the following passage cited by him, from Gower's Confessio Amantis, b. vi. fol. 138:

'She sigh, her thought a dragon tho,

Whose sherdes shynen as the sonue.' And again in book v, speaking of a serpent:

"He was so sherded all about,

It held all edge tool without." in Cymbeline Shakspeare applies this epithet again to the beetle :

--- -We find
The sharded beetle in a safer hold

Than is the full-winged eagle.' A similar description of the beetle occurs in Chapman's Eugenia, 1614:

"--- the beetle

there did raise
With his Trate wings his most unweildie paise;
And with his knollike humming gave the dor

Of death to men.' gj. e. blinding; to seel up the eyes of a hawk was to close them by sewing the eyelids together. 10 So in Cymbeline :

Cancel bis bond of life, dear God, I pray,' Vol. IV.

11 *

Makes wing to the rooky wood 11:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse12.
Thou marvelläst at my words; but hold thee still;
Things, bad begun, make strong themselves by ill,
So, pr’ythee, go with me.

[Ereunt.

SCENE III. The same. Coll: 4 Park, with a road TA Park or Lawn, with a Gate leading to the Palace.

Enter three Murderers. 1 Mur. But who did bid thee join with us? 3 Mur.

Macbeth. 2 Mur. He needs not our mistrust; since he de

livers Our offices, and what we have to do, To the direction just. 1 Mur.

Then stand with us. . The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day: Now spurs the lated traveller apace, To gain the timely inn; and near approaches The subject of our watch. 3 Mur.

Jark! I hear horses. Ban. [Within.] Give us a light there, ho! 2 Mur.

Then it is he; the rest

11 By the expression, light thickens, Shakspeare means that it is growing dark. Thus in Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess :

Fold your flocks up for the air
Gins to thicken, and the sun

Already his great course hath run.'
Spenser in the Shepherd's Calendar has :-

the welkin thicks apace.' Notwithstanding Mr. Steevens's ingenious attempts to explain the rooky wood otherwise; it surely means nothing more than the wood inhabited by rooks. The poet has shown himself a close observer of nature in marking the return of these birds to their nest trees when the day is drawing to a close. Virgil has a very natural description of the saine circumstance:

---E pastu decedens agmine magno

Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis.' 12 See note on King Richard III. Act iv. Sc. 1.

1 Mur.

That are within the note of expectation',
Already are i'the court.

His horses go about.
3 Mur. Almost a mile: but he does usually,
So all men do, from hence to the palace gate
Make it their walk.
Enter Banquo and FLEANCE, a Sertant with a

Torch preceding-them. 1 Mur.

A light, a light! 3 Mur.

"T'is he. 1 Mur. Stand to’t. Ban. It will be rain to-night. 1 Mur.

Let it come down.

[Assaults Banquo. Ban. O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly; Thou may’st revenge. Oslave!

[Dies. Fleance and Servant escape?. escalist 3 Mur. Who did strike out the light? 1 Mur.

Was't not the way? 3 Mur. There's but one down: the son is fled. 2 Mur. We have lost best half of our affair. 1 Mur. Well, let's away, and say how much is done..

SCENE IV. A Room of State in the Palace.

A Banquet prepared.
Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, Rosse, Lexox,

Lords, and Attendants.
Macb. You know your own degrees, sit down :

at first1
And last, the hearty welcome.

'ie. they who are set down in the list of guests, and ex. pected to supper.

2 Fleance, after the assassination of his father, fled into Wales, where, by the daughter of the prince of that country, he had a son named Walter, who afterwards became Lord High Steward of Scotland, and from thence assumed the name of Sir Walter Steward. From him, in a direct line, King James I. was descended; in compliinent to whom Shakspeare has chosen to describe Banguo, who was equally concerned with Macbeth in the murder of Duncan, as innocent of that crime.

1 'At first and last.' Johnson with great plausibility proposes to read To first and last.'

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