Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 4
Flourish. Enter KING [DUNCAN],
LENNOX, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN,
1Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not
2. Those in commission: i.e., those delegated to execute Cawdor.
2Those in commission yet return'd?
3They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
4With one that saw him die: who did report
5That very frankly he confess'd his treasons,
6Implored your highness' pardon and set forth
7A deep repentance. Nothing in his life
8Became him like the leaving it; he died
9. studied in: thoroughly prepared for.
9As one that had been studied in his death
10. owed: owned.
10To throw away the dearest thing he owed,
11. careless trifle: a trifle not worth thinking about.
11As 'twere a careless trifle.
There's no art
12To find the mind's construction in the face:
13He was a gentleman on whom I built
14An absolute trust.
Enter MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS.
O worthiest cousin!
15The sin of my ingratitude even now
16-18. thou ... thee: i.e., your deservings are so far ahead of ahead of my power to recompense you that it is hard to catch up.
16Was heavy on me: thou art so far before
17That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
18To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved,
19. proportion both of thanks and payment: balance of gratitude and reward. King Duncan says that he wishes that Macbeth had deserved less, so that his thanks and his rewards would at least equal what Macbeth deserves.
19That the proportion both of thanks and payment
20Might have been mine! only I have left to say,
21More is thy due than more than all can pay.
22. The service and the loyalty I owe, / In doing it, pays itself: doing my duty to you is its own reward.
22The service and the loyalty I owe,
23In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part
24Is to receive our duties; and our duties
25Are to your throne and state children and servants,
26Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
27. Safe toward: to safeguard.
27Safe toward your love and honour.
Nicholas Selby as Duncan and Jon Finch as Macbeth.
Image Source: The Real Macbeth/ JenH8
28I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
29To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,
30That hast no less deserved, nor must be known
31No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
32And hold thee to my heart.
There if I grow,
33The harvest is your own.
My plenteous joys,
34. Wanton: unrestrained.
34Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves
35. drops of sorrow: i.e., tears. King Duncan is overcome with emotion.
35In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
36And you whose places are the nearest, know
37. establish our estate upon: settle the succession to the throne upon.
37We will establish our estate upon
38Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter
39. The Prince of Cumberland: King Duncan intends this to be the title of the Scottish heir apparent, but there is no such title in Scottish history, so Shakespeare is apparently making things up to heighten the drama. 42. Inverness: The location of Macbeth's castle, Dunsinane. 43. bind us further to you: make me even more obliged to you (by receiving me at your home) .
39The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must
40Not unaccompanied invest him only,
41But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
42On all deservers. From hence to Inverness,
43And bind us further to you.
44. The rest is labour, which is not used for you: Any leisure not used for your service is wearisome. 45. harbinger: forerunner, one who announces a happy arrival.
44The rest is labour, which is not used for you:
45I'll be myself the harbinger and make joyful
46The hearing of my wife with your approach;
47So humbly take my leave.
My worthy Cawdor!
48. The Prince of Cumberland!: This speech raises an interesting question.
48The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
49On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
50For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires,
51-52. Let . . . The eye wink at the hand: let the eye not see what the hand does.
51Let not light see my black and deep desires;
52The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
53. yet let that be: yet let that (the murder of King Duncan) be accomplished.
53Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
54. True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant: As Macbeth has been thinking hard about killing King Duncan, the king and Banquo have been talking about what a wonderful person Macbeth is. Banquo has just praised Macbeth as being very valiant, and we hear the conversation as King Duncan is agreeing with Banquo. 58. It: He (Macbeth).
54True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant,
55And in his commendations I am fed;
56It is a banquet to me. Let's after him,
57Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome:
58It is a peerless kinsman.