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Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.
That will never be;
Who can impress the forest; bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? sweet bodements ! good!
Rebellious head, rise never, till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-plac’d Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time, and mortal custom.—Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing; Tell me (if your art
Can tell so much) shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in the kingdom ?
Seek to know no more.
Mac. I will be satisfied; deny me this
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know :-
Why sinks that caldron ? and what noise is this?
1st Wi. Show!
2nd Wi. Show!
All. Show his eyes and grieve his heart,
Come like shadows, so depart.
Eight Kings appear, and pass over the stage in order; the last with a
glass in his hand ; Banquo following:
Mac. Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo; down!
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs :-And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow is like the first;
A third is like the former ;-Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this ? a fourth? Start, eyes !
What! will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet?-A seventh ?—I'll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more; and some I see,
That two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry:
Horrible sight !-Now, I see, 'tis true;
For the blood-bolter'd Banquo smiles upon me,
And points at them for his.—What, is this so?
1st Wi. Aye, sir, all this is so :-But why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites,
And show the best of our delights :
I'll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antique round;
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.
(Music. The Witches dance, and vanish.)
Mac. Where are they? Gone?—Let this pernicious hour,
Stand aye accursèd in the calendar !-
Come in, without there !
What's your grace's will ?
Mac. Saw you the weird sisters ?
No, indeed, my lord.
Mac. Infected be the air whereon they ride;
And damn'd all those that trust them!—I did hear
The galloping of horse; who was ’t came by?
Len. 'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word,
Macduff is fled to England.
Fled to England ?
Len. Ay, my good lord.
Mac. Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits :
The flighty purpose never is o’ertook,
Unless the deed go with it: From this moment,
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done :
This castle of Macduff I will surprise ;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool ;
But no more sights !4—Where are these gentlemen ?
Come, bring me where they are.
3“ Apparition of a bloody child.”—The idea of a “ bloody child," and of his being more potent than the armed head, and one of the masters of the witches, is very dreadful. So is that of the child crowned, with a tree in his hand. They impersonate, it is true, certain results of the war, the destruction of Macduff's children, and the succession of Banquo's; but the imagination does not make these reflections at first; and the dreadfulness still remains, of potent demons speaking in the shapes of children.
4.“ But no more sights."—What a world of horrors is in this little familiar phrase !
THE QUARREL OF OBERON AND TITANIA.
I have ventured to give the extract this title, because it not only contains the whole story of the fairy part of the Midsummer Night's Dream, but by the omission of a few lines, and the transposition of one small passage (for which I beg the reader's indulgence), it actually forms a separate little play. It is nearly such in the greater play; and its isolation was easily, and not at all injuriously effected, by the separation of the Weaver from his brother mechanicals.
Enter OBERON at one door with his train ; and TITANIA at another
Ober. Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
Tit. What! jealous Oberon ? Fairies, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Ober. Tarry, rash wanton; am not I thy lord ?
Tit. Then I must be thy lady; but I know
When thou hast stol'n away from fairy-land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here.
Come from the furthest steep of India,5
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress, and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded ; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity ?
Ober. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus ?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
From Perigenia, whom he ravished ?
And make him with fair Æglé break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiope ?
Tit. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain, or by rushing brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But in thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling on the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents;
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain'd a beard :
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock; 1
The nine men's morris* is filld up with mud;
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable ;
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest :
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound :
And thorough this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter : hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hyems' chin, and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The chilling autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which :
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension:
We are their parents and original.
Ober. Do you amend it then: it lies in you :
Why should Titian cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman,t
* Nine men's morris.-A rustic game, played with stones upon lines cut in the ground.
Set your heart at rest;
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a vot’ress of my order;
And, in the spicèd Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarking traders on the flood;
When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind :
Which she with pretty and with swimming gait
(Following her womb, then rich with my young squire)
Would imitate ; and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandize.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy :
And, for her sake, I will not part with him.
Ober. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tit. Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.
If you will patiently dance in our round,
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Ober. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tit. Not for thy fairy kingdom.–Fairies, away :
We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.
[Exeunt TITANIA and her train.
Ober. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove,
Till I torment thee for this injury. -
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remember'st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song ;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.
Ober. That very night I saw (but thou couldst not),
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal, throned by the west ;*
And loos’d his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
* At a fair vestal, thronèd by the west.-An allusion to Queen Elizabeth. See in the Rev. Mr. Halpin's remarks on this passage, published by the Shakspeare Society, a most ingenious speculation on the hidden meaning of it, as a bit of secret court history.