Forres. The palace.
(Banquo; Macbeth; Lady Macbeth; Lennox; Rosse; Lords; Attendants; Servant; Two Murderers)
Banquo sees that the witches’ prophecy is fulfilled, and suspects that Macbeth helped it along a little. But he cannot forget the part about his own sons becoming kings rather than Macbeth’s. Macbeth enters with his train and invites Banquo to a feast that evening; Banquo says he will spend the time till then going for a ride with Fleance. Macbeth dismisses everyone, and calls for some men he spoke to the day before. As he waits for them, he ruminates on the same subject as Banquo, the insufferable idea that Banquo’s sons, not his, will succeed to the throne, and that therefore Macbeth has damned himself for Banquo’s good. The two men he has called for enter; they are sworn enemies of Banquo, and Macbeth brings them to agree to murder the man, explaining that he cannot do it openly himself. He lets them know where they can find them, insisting that they must kill Fleance as well. (156 lines)
Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,
As the weird women promis’d, and I fear
Thou play’dst most foully for’t; yet it was said
It should not stand in thy posterity,
But that myself should be the root and father
Of many kings. If there come truth from them—
As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine—
Why, by the verities on thee made good,
May they not be my oracles as well,
And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.
Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth as King, Lady Macbeth as Queen, Lennox, Rosse, Lords, and Attendants.
Here’s our chief guest.
If he had been forgotten,
It had been as a gap in our great feast,
And all-thing unbecoming.
Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,
And I’ll request your presence.
Let your Highness
Command upon me, to the which my duties
Are with a most indissoluble tie
Ride you this afternoon?
Ay, my good lord.
We should have else desir’d your good advice
(Which still hath been both grave and prosperous)
In this day’s council; but we’ll take tomorrow.
Is’t far you ride?
As far, my lord, as will fill up the time
’Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better,
I must become a borrower of the night
For a dark hour or twain.
Fail not our feast.
My lord, I will not.
We hear our bloody cousins are bestow’d
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,
When therewithal we shall have cause of state
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse; adieu,
Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?
Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon’s.
I wish your horses swift and sure of foot;
And so I do commend you to their backs.
Let every man be master of his time
Till seven at night. To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself
Till supper-time alone; while then, God be with you!
Exeunt Lords with Lady Macbeth and others. Manent Macbeth and a Servant.
Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men
They are, my lord, without the palace gate.
Bring them before us.
To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear’d. ’Tis much he dares,
And to that dauntless temper of his mind,
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety. There is none but he
Whose being I do fear; and under him
My Genius is rebuk’d, as it is said
Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him; then prophet-like
They hail’d him father to a line of kings.
Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If’t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I fil’d my mind,
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d,
Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them, and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings—the seeds of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come fate into the list,
And champion me to th’ utterance! Who’s there?
Enter Servant and two Murderers.
Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.
Was it not yesterday we spoke together?
It was, so please your Highness.
Well then, now
Have you consider’d of my speeches?—know
That it was he in the times past which held you
So under fortune, which you thought had been
Our innocent self? This I made good to you
In our last conference, pass’d in probation with you:
How you were borne in hand, how cross’d, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion craz’d
Say, “Thus did Banquo.”
You made it known to us.
I did so; and went further, which is now
Our point of second meeting. Do you find
Your patience so predominant in your nature
That you can let this go? Are you so gospell’d,
To pray for this good man, and for his issue,
Whose heavy hand hath bow’d you to the grave,
And beggar’d yours forever?
We are men, my liege.
Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clipt
All by the name of dogs; the valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The house-keeper, the hunter, every one,
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him clos’d; whereby he does receive
Particular addition, from the bill
That writes them all alike: and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i’ th’ worst rank of manhood, say’t,
And I will put that business in your bosoms,
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.
I am one, my liege,
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world
Hath so incens’d that I am reckless what
I do to spite the world.
And I another,
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my life on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on’t.
Both of you
Know Banquo was your enemy.
True, my lord.
So is he mine; and in such bloody distance,
That every minute of his being thrusts
Against my near’st of life; and though I could
With barefac’d power sweep him from my sight,
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Who I myself struck down. And thence it is
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry weighty reasons.
We shall, my lord,
Perform what you command us.
Though our lives—
Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour, at most,
I will advise you where to plant yourselves,
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ th’ time,
The moment on’t, for’t must be done tonight,
And something from the palace; always thought
That I require a clearness: 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. Resolve yourselves apart,
I’ll come to you anon.
We are resolv’d, my lord.
I’ll call upon you straight; abide within.
It is concluded: Banquo, thy soul’s flight,
If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.