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3 Witch. A drum! a drum!

Macbeth doth come.

All. 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.


Macb. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.

Ban. How far is't call'd to Fores'?-What are these,
So wither'd, and so wild in their attire,

That look not like th' inhabitants o' the 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 chappy 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?

1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis ! 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 fantastical, or that indeed

6 The WEIRD sisters, hand in hand,] All authorities agree that "weird" (spelt weyward in the folio, 1623) is of Saxon origin, viz. from wyrd, which has the same meaning as the Latin fatum: "weird" is therefore fatal. In the ballad of "The Birth of St. George," in Percy's "Reliques," Vol. iii. p. 275, edit. 1812, we meet with the expression "The weird lady of the woods;" and the same word occurs twice in the old Scottish drama of Philotus," printed in 1603 and 1612. As Steevens remarks, Gawin Douglas, in his translation of the Eneid, calls the Parca "the weird sisters," but it is useless to go back to other early authorities, when we find the following words in Holinshed, to whom Shakespeare constantly resorted :-" But afterwards the common opinion was that these women were either the weird sisters, that is (as ye would say) the goddesses of destinie, or else some nymphes or fairies." The Rev. Mr. Dyce refers us to Chaucer, but Steevens did the same more than half a century ago.

7 How far is't call'd to FORES?] Sores in all the folios, but amended to "Fores" in the corr. fo. 1632: the blunder must have arisen from the misuse and mistake of the long s.

8 Are ye FANTASTICAL,] i. e. Creatures of fantasy or imagination. In Holinshed it is stated, that Macbeth and Banquo at first reputed the appearance of the witches "some vain, fantastical illusion."

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 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!

1 Witch. Banquo, and Macbeth, all hail!

Macb. 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.
[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 stay'd!
Ban. Were such things here, as we do speak about,
Or have we eaten on the insane root',

That takes the reason prisoner?

Macb. Your children shall be kings.


You shall be king.

Who's here?

Macb. And thane of Cawdor too: went it not so?
Ban. To the self-same tune, and words.

Enter ROSSE and ANGUS.

Rosse. The king hath happily receiv'd, Macbeth, The news of thy success; and when he reads

9 eaten on the INSANE ROOT,] The "insane root" is hemlock or henbane.

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' the self-same day,
He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks,
Nothing afеard 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 defence,
And pour'd them down before him.


e 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.

What! can the devil speak true ?
Macb. The thane of Cawdor lives : why do you dress me
In borrow'd 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 labour'd in his country's wreck, I know not;
But treasons capital, confess'd and prov'd,
Have overthrown him.

Glamis, and thane of Cawdor:
The greatest is behind. [Aside’.] Thanks for your pains.-
Do you not hope your children shall be kings,
When those that gave the thane of Cawdor to me,


As thick as TALE, CAME post with post ;] The old copies read, “ Can post with post," which misprint was corrected by Rowe. The meaning is evident, when we take tale in the sense, not of a narrative, but of an enumeration, from the Sax. telan, to count. Johnson explains the passage correctly in these words :-“ Posts arrived as fast as they could be counted.” Rowe read, as thick as hail," and Southern, in his copy of the folio, 1685, made the same change in MS. The corr. fo. 1632 presents us with no emendation of “tale," although it amends can to came:" nevertheless, hail may be the word, though the simile is very trite.

2 Aside.] This stage-direction, with several others of the same kind in this scene, is from the corr. fo. 1632: they are deficient in all copies of the tragedy, ancient and modern.



Promis'd no less to them?

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 us
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. 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.

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 favour*: my dull brain was wrought

3 My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,] It is " where murder," &c. in the corr. fo. 1632, but the change is not required, and may be taken merely as a different mode of reciting the passage.

• Give me your favour :) Here we are told in the corr. fo. 1632, that the actor of the part of the hero was to start, on being suddenly roused from his ambitious dream. The word was intended as a direction to the performer, and seems scarcely required in our text.

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 it, let us speak

Our free hearts each to other.


Very gladly.


Macb. Till then, enough.-Come, friends.


Fores. A Room in the Palace.

Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENOX, and Attendants.

Dun. Is execution done on Cawdor? are not Those in commission yet return'd'?


My liege,

They are not yet come back; but I have spoke
With one that saw him die, who did report,
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons,
Implor'd your highness' pardon, and set forth
A deep repentance. Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it: he died
As one that had been studied in his death,
To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd,
As 'twere a careless trifle.


There's no art,

To find the mind's construction in the face:

He was a gentleman on whom I built

An absolute trust.


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Those in commission yet return'd?] The folio of 1632 alters "or" of the folio, 1623, into are, a change which all modern editors have adopted.

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