A heath near Forres.
(First Witch; Second Witch; Third Witch; Macbeth; Banquo; Rosse; Angus)
The three witches trade tales of what evils they have been up to of late. On their way back from the battle, Macbeth and his fellow general Banquo are met by the three, who greet Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King to be. Macbeth is incredulous, as two of these titles are not his. Banquo asks the sisters to prophesy to him, too, and they tell him that though he shall never be King himself, his children will take the throne. As Macbeth seeks to know more, the witches vanish. Ross and Angus arrive to greet Macbeth with his new title; the general is amazed to be called Thane of Cawdor, but it is explained to him. The truth of the witches’ words disturbs Macbeth, and Banquo cautions him not to aim at the throne despite the fulfillment of the prophecy, as it may merely be a bait of the devil. He and Banquo agree to discuss the matter further at a better time. (169 lines)
Thunder. Enter the three Witches.
Where hast thou been, sister?
Sister, where thou?
A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And mounch’d, and mounch’d, and mounch’d. “Give me!” quoth I.
“Aroint thee, witch!” the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ th’ Tiger;
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.
I’ll give thee a wind.
Th’ art kind.
And I another.
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I’ th’ shipman’s card.
I’ll drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his penthouse lid;
He shall live a man forbid;
Weary sev’nnights, nine times nine,
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine;
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-toss’d.
Look what I have.
Show me, show me.
Here I have a pilot’s thumb,
Wrack’d as homeward he did come.
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go, about, about,
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine,
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace, the charm’s wound up.
Enter Macbeth and Banquo.
So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
How far is’t call’d to Forres? What are these
So wither’d and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ earth,
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.
Speak, if you can: what are you?
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee. Thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!
Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?—I’ th’ name of truth,
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner
You greet with present grace, and great prediction
Of noble having and of royal hope,
That he seems rapt 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 favors nor your hate.
Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
Not so happy, yet much happier.
Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more:
By Sinel’s 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.
The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanish’d?
Into the air; and what seem’d corporal melted,
As breath into the wind. Would they had stay’d!
Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?
Your children shall be kings.
You shall be king.
And Thane of Cawdor too; went it not so?
To th’ self-same tune and words. Who’s here?
Enter Rosse and Angus.
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
Which should be thine or his. Silenc’d with that,
In viewing o’er the rest o’ th’ self-same day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make,
Strange images of death. As thick as tale
Came post with post, and every one did bear
Thy praises in his kingdom’s great defense,
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.
And for an earnest of a greater honor,
He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor;
In which addition, hail, most worthy thane,
For it is thine.
What, can the devil speak true?
The Thane of Cawdor lives; why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?
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 labor’d in his country’s wrack, I know not;
But treasons capital, confess’d and prov’d,
Have overthrown him.
Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind.
To Rosse and Angus.
Thanks for your pains.
Aside to Banquo.
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?
Aside to Macbeth
That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle 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 ’s
In deepest consequence.—
Cousins, a word, I pray you.
Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.—I thank you, gentlemen.
This supernatural soliciting
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
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,
Shakes so my single state of man that function
Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.
Look how our partner’s rapt.
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me
Without my stir.
New honors come upon him,
Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould
But with the aid of use.
Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.
Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure.
Give me your favor; my dull brain was wrought
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are regist’red where every day I turn
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the King.
Aside to Banquo.
Think upon what hath chanc’d; and at more time,
The interim having weigh’d it, let us speak
Our free hearts each to other.
Till then, enough.—Come, friends.