Main Text


Enter Banquo
Link 1

banquo Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all,

Critical Apparatus Link 2As the Weïrd Women promised, and I fear

3Thou played'st most foully for't; yet it was said

Editor’s Note4It should not stand in thy posterity,

Link 5But that myself should be the root and father

6Of many kings. If there come truth from them,

7As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine,

8Why by the verities on thee made good

Link 9May they not be my oracles as well,

pg 142

10And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.

Editor’s Note Sennet sounded. Critical Apparatus Enter Macbeth as King, Lady Macbeth as Queen, Lennox, Ross, Lords, and Attendants
Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus11

macbeth Here's our chief guest.

lady macbeth If he had been forgotten,

Link 12It had been as a gap in our great feast,

Editor’s Note Link 13And allthing unbecoming.

Editor’s Note14

macbeth (to Banquo) Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,

15And I'll request your presence.

banquo Let your highness

Editor’s Note16Command upon me, to the which my duties

Link 17Are with a most indissoluble tie

18Forever knit.


macbeth Ride you this afternoon?

banquo Ay, my good lord.


macbeth We should have else desired your good advice,

Editor’s Note21Which still hath been both grave, and prosperous,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 22In this day's Council—but we'll take tomorrow.

23Is't far you ride?


banquo As far, my lord, as will fill up the time

Link 25'Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better,

Link 26I must become a borrower of the night

27For a dark hour or twain.

pg 143

macbeth Fail not our feast.


banquo My lord, I will not.


macbeth We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed

30In England and in Ireland, not confessing

31Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers

32With strange invention. But of that tomorrow,

Editor’s Note33When therewithal we shall have cause of state

Critical Apparatus34Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse; adieu,

35Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you?


banquo Ay, my good lord: our time does call upon's.


macbeth I wish your horses swift, and sure of foot—

38And so I do commend you to their backs.


Exit Banquo

40Let every man be master of his time

Critical Apparatus Link 41Till seven at night—

42To make society the sweeter welcome,

43We will keep ourself till supper-time alone—

Editor’s Note Link 44While then, God be with you.

Critical Apparatus Exeunt all but Macbeth and a Servant

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus45Sirrah, a word with you: attend those men our pleasure?


servant They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

Editor’s Note47

macbeth Bring them before us.

Exit Servant

To be thus is nothing,

Editor’s Note48But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo

Editor’s Note Link 49Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

50Reigns that which would be feared. 'Tis much he dares,

pg 144

Editor’s Note51And to that dauntless temper of his mind

52He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour

53To act in safety. There is none but he

54Whose being I do fear; and under him

Editor’s Note Link 55My genius is rebuked, as it is said

Editor’s Note56Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the Sisters

57When first they put the name of king upon me,

58And bade them speak to him. Then prophet-like,

59They hailed him father to a line of kings.

Editor’s Note Link 60Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,

Editor’s Note61And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,

Link 62Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,

63No son of mine succeeding; if't be so,

Editor’s Note Link 64For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind,

Editor’s Note65For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,

Editor’s Note Link 66Put rancours in the vessel of my peace

Editor’s Note67Only for them, and mine eternal jewel

Editor’s Note68Given to the common enemy of man,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus69To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings.

Editor’s Note Link 70Rather than so, come Fate into the list,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 71And champion me to th' utterance. Who's there?

Enter Servant, and two Murderers pg 145

72Now go to the door, and stay there till we call.

Exit Servant

73Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus74

murderers It was, so please your highness.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus75

macbeth Well then, now have you considered of my Editor’s Note76speeches: know that it was he, in the times past, which 77held you so under fortune, which you thought had been Critical Apparatus78our innocent self. This I made good to you in our last Editor’s Note79conference; passed in probation with you how you were Editor’s Note80borne in hand, how crossed; the instruments; who Editor’s Note81wrought with them—and all things else that might to Editor’s Note82half a soul, and to a notion crazed, say 'Thus did 83Banquo.'


first murderer You made it known to us.


macbeth I did so—and went further, which is now our 86point of second meeting. Do you find your patience so 87predominant in your nature, that you can let this go? Link 88Are you so gospelled to pray for this good man, and for 89his issue, whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the Link 90grave and beggared yours for ever?


first murderer We are men, my liege.

pg 146 Editor’s Note92

macbeth Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,

93As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 94Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept

Editor’s Note Link 95All by the name of dogs; the valued file

Link 96Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,

Editor’s Note Link 97The house-keeper, the hunter, every one

Link 98According to the gift which bounteous nature

Editor’s Note99Hath in him closed—whereby he does receive

Editor’s Note Link 100Particular addition from the bill

Link 101That writes them all alike;—and so of men.

Link 102Now, if you have a station in the file

103Not i'th' worst rank of manhood, say't,

104And I will put that business in your bosoms,

Editor’s Note Link 105Whose execution takes your enemy off,

Critical Apparatus106Grapples you to the heart and love of us

Link 107Who wear our health but sickly in his life,

108Which in his death were perfect.

second murderer I am one, my liege,

Link 109Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world

Link 110Hath so incensed, that I am reckless what I do

111To spite the world.

pg 147

first murderer And I another,

Editor’s Note Link 112So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune,

113That I would set my life on any chance,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus114To mend it, or be rid on't.

macbeth Both of you

115Know Banquo was your enemy.

murderers True, my lord.

Editor’s Note116

macbeth So is he mine; and in such bloody distance,

117That every minute of his being thrusts

Editor’s Note Link 118Against my near'st of life; and though I could

Link 119With bare-faced power sweep him from my sight

120And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,

Editor’s Note121For certain friends that are both his and mine,

Editor’s Note Link 122Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall

Link 123Who I myself struck down; and thence it is

124That I to your assistance do make love,

Link 125Masking the business from the common eye

126For sundry weighty reasons.

second murderer We shall, my lord,

127Perform what you command us.

first murderer Though our lives—

Critical Apparatus Link 128

macbeth Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour, at most,

Link 129I will advise you where to plant yourselves,

Editor’s Note Link 130Acquaint you with the perfect spy o'th' time,

131The moment on't, for't must be done tonight,

Editor’s Note Link 132And something from the palace; always thought

pg 148

Editor’s Note Link 133That I require a clearness—and with him,

Editor’s Note Link 134To leave no rubs nor botches in the work,

135Fleance, his son, that keeps him company,

Link 136Whose absence is no less material to me

137Than is his father's, must embrace the fate

138Of that dark hour—resolve yourselves apart,

139I'll come to you anon.

murderers We are resolved, my lord.

Link 140

macbeth I'll call upon you straight: abide within,

141It is concluded—Banquo, thy soul's flight,

142If it find Heaven, must find it out tonight.


Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
3.1.2 Weïrd] f (weyard)
Editor’s Note
3.1.4 stand in thy posterity continue (OED II.41) in your descendants
Editor’s Note
10.1 Sennet The word seems to occur only in stage directions of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays between 1590 and 1620: it evidently refers to a brief call on trumpet or cornet, and may be a corruption of the French 'signet'. a 'small sign'.
Macbeth … Queen F continues to refer to them as Macbeth and Lady throughout. F's 'Lady lenox' here is merely a misprint for 'Lady, Lenox'.
Critical Apparatus
10.2 Macbeth as Queen.] not in f
Critical Apparatus
3.1.11–45] f (substantially) (The part-lines here are so numerous as to look odd, and cannot be reduced by rearrangement. The first two (13 and 18, set by Compositor B) may well be filled out with ceremonial welcoming; thereafter they correspond to abrupt changes of subject—if they signify more than that, it is probably pauses in the strained dialogue between Macbeth and Banquo. Cutting does not seem a likely explanation, despite the breakdown in lineation towards the end.)
Editor’s Note
13 allthing everything, altogether
Editor’s Note
14 solemn formal, ceremonious
Editor’s Note
16 Command upon me i.e. lay your command upon me (cf. Leviticus 25: 21, 'Then I will command my blessing upon you … and it shall bring forth fruit'): Banquo repudiates the proffered friendship of 'request'.
Editor’s Note
21 still continually
prosperous promoting prosperity
Critical Apparatus
22 take] f; talk malone; take't keightley (conj. Warburton)
Editor’s Note
22 take tomorrow i.e. take it (Banquo's advice) tomorrow: when spoken, the words are indistinguishable from 'take't to-morrow'. Oxford accepts Malone's 'talk' which may be correct.
Editor’s Note
33–4 cause of state | Craving us jointly state business calling urgently for our joint attention
Critical Apparatus
34–5] pope; three lines ending … Horse | … Night | … you f
Critical Apparatus
41–3] theobald (subst.); lines ending … societie | … welcome: | … alone: f (F associates 'To make … welcome' more closely with the previous words; in fact it goes equally well with either.)
Editor’s Note
44 While until
Critical Apparatus
44.1] f (Exeunt Lords.)
Critical Apparatus
45–50] hunter (subst); eight lines ending … men | … pleasure | … Gate | … vs | … thus | … deepe | … that | … dares f (Almost as many solutions as there have been editors: it may be that the compositor went wrong in the previous dialogue and took several lines before he got right—but no solution is quite satisfactory. Irregularity, rather than cutting, is the likeliest explanation.)
Editor’s Note
47–8 To be … thus See Lady Macbeth's similar construction in 3.2.5–8.
Editor’s Note
48 But to be without being
Editor’s Note
49 Stick deep metaphorically like thorns in flesh
Editor’s Note
49–50 royalty of nature | Reigns i.e. 'kinglike nature is the quality …'. The words are metaphoric, but the allusion to the Weïrd Sisters' prophecy is apparent.
Editor’s Note
51 to in addition to
Editor’s Note
55 genius the attendant spirit in Roman mythology, Christianized as 'guardian angel'
Editor’s Note
56 Mark Antony's … Caesar The allusion is to Octavius Caesar (Augustus); Shakespeare found it in Plutarch, and the soothsayer quotes it in Antony 2.3.16–20: 'Therefore, O Antony, stay not by his side. | Thy dæmon, that thy spirit which keeps thee, is | Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable, | Where Caesar's is not. But near him thy angel | Becomes afeard, as being o'erpowered.' (See Introduction, pp. 63–4.)
Editor’s Note
60–1 fruitless … barren Alluding, of course, to their prediction that he would have no successors, but stressing childlessness, which they did not say.
Editor’s Note
61 gripe grasp, tenacious clutch; it can be merely an alternative for 'grip', but was used more intensively, which is appropriate here
Editor’s Note
64 filed 1. defiled, befouled; 2. sharpened (as for dagger)
Editor’s Note
65 gracious As well as its common meanings, 'gracious' was used of the deity, and so of outstanding piety.
Editor’s Note
66 rancours bitterness, figuratively poison
vessel cup, here probably alluding to the communion chalice, see 1.7.11 'poisoned chalice'
Editor’s Note
67 mine eternal jewel my immortal soul
Editor’s Note
68 common enemy of man the Devil
Critical Apparatus
69 seeds descendants; in this sense 'seed' is usual as a collective noun, but the plural here stresses the endless succession
Editor’s Note
69 seeds] f; seed pope
Editor’s Note
70 list tilt-yard (for a tournament)
Critical Apparatus
71] f (as two lines ending … th'vtterance | … there) (F may be making space at the end of his column.)
Editor’s Note
71 champion As a noun it usually means 'support'; as a verb it sometimes meant 'challenge' which would be more obvious here; but it is ambiguous whether Fate defies Macbeth or supports him.
utterance last extremity (OED 2, from OF 'outrance'); i.e. death
Critical Apparatus
74. 115. 139 murderers] f (Murth.); 1 Mur. steevens
Editor’s Note
74. 115. 139 murderers Combined response is appropriate for these lines: elsewhere F indicates which murderer is speaking. Steevens's '1 Mur.' presumably indicates preference for a single speaker over the common practice of unison—many editors have followed him.
Critical Apparatus
75 then, now] f; then now, hunter
Critical Apparatus
75–6 have you … speeches: ] f1; you have … speeches; f3: you have … speeches? rowe: have you … speeches? pope
Critical Apparatus
75–91] This edition; as verse, lines ending … then | … speeches | … past | … fortune | … selfe | … conference | … you | … crost | … them | … might | … craz'd | … Banquo | … vs | … so | … now | … meeting | … predominant | … goe | … man | … hand | … begger'd | … euer | … Liege f; as verse, lines ending … now | … Know | … you | … been | … you | … Instruments | … might | … craz'd | … us | … now | … finde | … nature | … Gospell'd | … Issue | … Grave | … Liege rowe (F is obviously altogether wrong, but Rowe's rearrangement is clumsy, often flat, and involves two awkwardly long lines. Elsewhere I have followed similar reconstructions, sometimes reluctantly, but here I think the passage is effectively prose, in strong contrast to the verse before it (despite a number of iambic feet); Macbeth's rhetoric leads to a blank verse cadence at the end of his speech (ll. 82–3) but is returned to prose by the Murderer's flat response, then finally explodes into verse again at l. 92.)
Editor’s Note
75–6 Well … speeches These words have often been adjusted and repunctuated, and frequently made into a question, but the form 'now have you' is fairly common as a statement. Muir thought 'know … fortune' was also a question, which strains the syntax. I take 'know' to be imperative.
Editor’s Note
76 he i.e. Banquo
Critical Apparatus
78 self.] f; self? muir
Editor’s Note
79 passed in probation reviewed, in order to prove
Editor’s Note
80 borne in hand Commonly glossed 'deceived', as in OED. bear. v. l.3e. where it is related to 'maintain a statement', i.e. convince. But elsewhere in Shakespeare it seems to be used in contexts suggesting affection or support, though deceptive, which contrasts more straightforwardly with 'crossed'. See Much Ado 4.1.304–5, Hamlet 2.2.66–7, Cymbeline 5.6.44; Dent H94 gives 'to bear one in hand' as proverbial, but without comment on its meaning.
Editor’s Note
81 wrought worked, with a strong suggestion of 'moulded' (OED. wrought 1), i.e. distorted.
Editor’s Note
81–2 that might … say This seems to be elaborated from the proverb 'he that has but half an eye [sometimes "wit"] may see it' (Dent H47).
Editor’s Note
82 half a soul half-wit
notion understanding, mind
Editor’s Note
92–101 Muir quotes Erasmus, Colloquia (trans. 1671), 482–3, comparing the variety of dogs to the variety of men; Erasmus refers to 'diverse Wolves, Dogs of an unspeakable variety' with none of Shakespeare's particularization. Nearly 200 pages later (661–2) the words 'genius' and 'bounteous nature' occur, but they are not unusual; nor indeed is the general proposition.
Editor’s Note
92 catalogue complete enumeration
Critical Apparatus
94 clept] f (clipt)
Editor’s Note
94 Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves OED is unhelpful about these beasts. Johnson identified 'shough' with 'Shock', a common name in the eighteenth century for long-haired pet dogs, especially poodles, and Shakespeare's word might have been pronounced 'shock'; water-rugs are unknown, but presumably rough-haired water dogs (?spaniels); demi-wolf is presumably the same as wolf-dog, said to be a cross between wolf and dog, but possibly only a wolf-like dog, e.g. Alsatian or German shepherd; Scot said it was used for were-wolf, but that would not be in this catalogue.
Editor’s Note
94 clept called. The word was common in Middle English but already rare by 1600; F's 'clipt' may also have the sense of 'embraced', and might even have been suggested by the standard term for grooming shaggy dogs.
Editor’s Note
95 valued file list of distinguishing qualities
Editor’s Note
97 house-keeper watch-dog
Editor’s Note
99 closed enclosed, limited to certain individuals
Editor’s Note
100 addition something added to the generic name (see 1.3.106); combined here with 'bill' it seems to play with accounting, deriving from 'valued file' in l. 95
from i.e. departing from; OED A.6, 'apart or aside from', was used after words which signify distinction, difference, etc., or else imply that the 'particular' is from the generic ('all alike'), so the 'addition' is from the 'bill'.
bill list, inventory (OED, sb.3, 5)
Editor’s Note
105 takes your enemy off removes, rids (you) of (OED IX. 58)
Critical Apparatus
106 heart‸ ] pope; heart; f
Editor’s Note
112 tugged with mauled by (OED, tug 4b, which does not support Muir's suggestion of a metaphor from wrestling)
Critical Apparatus
114–15] rowe; three lines ending … on't | … Enemie | … Lord f (F prints Macbeth's words as one line.)
Editor’s Note
114 The proverb 'either mend or end', Dent M874.
Editor’s Note
116 distance 1. quarrel (from Old French 'destance'); 2. remoteness (Old French 'distance' from Latin 'distantia'), compare 'near'st' in l. 118.
Editor’s Note
118 near'st of life what most nearly affects my life, i.e. vitals
Editor’s Note
121 For because of
Editor’s Note
122 but wail i.e. but must wail ('must' is understood from 'may' before)
Critical Apparatus
128] pope; two lines ending … you | … most f (The line is long and F could not have printed it as one, but two lines implying a pause is possible.)
Editor’s Note
130 perfect spy o'th' time The general sense is clearly 'exact arrangements for place and time', but it is an odd phrase: presumably 'spy' is used in the senses usually confined to the verb, e.g. 'observe with hostile intent', 'keep watch' (as a noun 'spial' had this sense). Johnson thought it referred to the Third Murderer, who might then be a local guide, but the context makes this unlikely.
Editor’s Note
132 something somewhat, a sufficient distance
always thought 'it must be' is understood from l. 131.
Editor’s Note
133 clearness Probably a play between 'clearance', i.e. distance from the castle, and 'in the clear'; Holinshed wrote 'so that … he might cleare himself'.
Editor’s Note
134 rubs roughnesses
botches bunglings
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