Act 4, Scene 3

  1. England. A room in a King’s palace.

  2. Enter ROSS.

  3. MACDUFF:

    See, who comes here?

  4. MALCOLM:

    My countryman, but yet I know him not. [160]

  5. MACDUFF:

    My ever-gentle cousin, welcome hither.

  6. MALCOLM:

    I know him now. Good God, betimes remove
    The means that makes us strangers!

  7. ROSS:

    Sir, amen.

  8. MACDUFF:

    Stands Scotland where it did?

  9. ROSS:

    Alas, poor country!
    Almost afraid to know itself. It cannot [165]
    Be call'd our mother, but our grave; where nothing,
    But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
    Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air
    Are made, not mark'd; where violent sorrow seems
    A modern ecstasy: the dead man's knell  [170]
    Is there scarce ask'd for who; and good men's lives
    Expire before the flowers in their caps,
    Dying or ere they sicken.

  10. MACDUFF:

    O, relation,
    Too nice, and yet too true!

  11. MALCOLM:

    What's the newest grief?

  12. ROSS:

    That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker; [175]
    Each minute teems a new one.

  13. MACDUFF:

    How does my wife?

  14. ROSS:

    Why, well.

  15. MACDUFF:

    And all my children?

  16. ROSS:

    Well too.

  17. MACDUFF:

    The tyrant has not batter'd at their peace?

  18. ROSS:

    No; they were well at peace when I did leave 'em.

  19. MACDUFF:

    Be not a niggard of your speech: how goes't? [180]

  20. ROSS:

    When I came hither to transport the tidings,
    Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumour
    Of many worthy fellows that were out;
    Which was to my belief witness'd the rather,
    For that I saw the tyrant's power a-foot. [185]
    Now is the time of help. Your eye in Scotland
    Would create soldiers, make our women fight,
    To doff their dire distresses.

  21. MALCOLM:

    Be't their comfort
    We are coming thither: gracious England hath
    Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men; [190]
    An older and a better soldier none
    That Christendom gives out.

  22. ROSS:

    Would I could answer
    This comfort with the like! But I have words
    That would be howl'd out in the desert air,
    Where hearing should not latch them.

  23. MACDUFF:

    What concern they? [195]
    The general cause? or is it a fee-grief
    Due to some single breast?

  24. ROSS:

    No mind that's honest
    But in it shares some woe; though the main part
    Pertains to you alone.

  25. MACDUFF:

    If it be mine,
    Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it. [200]

  26. ROSS:

    Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever,
    Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound
    That ever yet they heard.

  27. MACDUFF:

    Humh! I guess at it.

  28. ROSS:

    Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes
    Savagely slaughter'd: to relate the manner, [205]
    Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,
    To add the death of you.

  29. MALCOLM:

    Merciful heaven!
    What, man! ne'er pull your hat upon your brows;
    Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
    Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. [210]

  30. MACDUFF:

    My children too?

  31. ROSS:

    Wife, children, servants, all
    That could be found.

  32. MACDUFF:

    And I must be from thence!
    My wife kill'd too?

  33. ROSS:

    I have said.

  34. MALCOLM:

    Be comforted:
    Let's make us medicines of our great revenge,
    To cure this deadly grief. [215]

  35. MACDUFF:

    He has no children. All my pretty ones?
    Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop?

  36. MALCOLM:

    Dispute it like a man.

  37. MACDUFF:

    I shall do so; [220]
    But I must also feel it as a man:
    I cannot but remember such things were,
    That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
    And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff!
    They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am, [225]
    Not for their own demerits, but for mine,
    Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!

  38. MALCOLM:

    Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief
    Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.

  39. MACDUFF:

    O, I could play the woman with mine eyes [230]
    And braggart with my tongue!
    But, gentle heavens,
    Cut short all intermission; front to front
    Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
    Within my sword's length set him; if he 'scape,
    Heaven forgive him too!

  40. MALCOLM:

    This tune goes manly. [235]
    Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
    Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth
    Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
    Put on their instruments.
    Receive what cheer you may:
    The night is long that never finds the day. [240]

  41. [Exeunt]

Activites

Macduff has left Scotland and gone to England to join Malcolm. Malcolm initially distrusts Macduff, but after Macduff passes a test of loyalty, Malcolm accepts him as an ally. Ross arrives with news from Scotland. At first, he tells Macduff his family are well, but he soon reveals that they have been murdered by Macbeth. Malcolm urges Macduff to turn his grief to anger, and Macduff promises him that he will take revenge upon Macbeth …