Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 6

          Enter LENNOX and another LORD.

1-2. My ... further: what I have just said has exactly coincided with your thoughts, and so you can draw more conclusions about my opinions. Lennox proceeds to deliver a bitterly ironic speech which is easy to "interpret further." 3. borne: carried on. 4. pitied of Macbeth: pitied by Macbeth. marry, he was dead: indeed, he was dead. The ironic point is that Macbeth pitied Duncan only after Duncan was dead.
  1    My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,
  2    Which can interpret further: only, I say,
  3    Things have been strangely borne. The gracious Duncan
  4    Was pitied of Macbeth; marry, he was dead.
  5    And the right-valiant Banquo walk'd too late,
  6    Whom, you may say, if't please you, Fleance kill'd,
  7    For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late.
8. Who cannot want the thought: who can help thinking.
  8    Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
  9    It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
10. fact: deed, crime.
 10    To kill their gracious father? damned fact!
11. straight: immediately.
 11    How it did grieve Macbeth! did he not straight
12. pious: loyal.
 12    In pious rage the two delinquents tear,
13. thralls: captives.
 13    That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
 14    Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too;
 15    For 'twould have anger'd any heart alive
 16    To hear the men deny't. So that, I say,
 17    He has borne all things well: and I do think
18. under his key: i.e., in his custody.
 18    That had he Duncan's sons under his key—
19. an't please heaven: if it please heaven. 19-20.they should  ... father i.e., they would discover the terrible consequences of killing one's father. 21-23. But, peace! ... disgrace: i.e., but we should be silent, considering what happened to Macduff, who only because he used some plain language and failed to show up at the tyrant's feast, lives—I hear—in disgrace.
 19    As, an't please heaven, he shall not—they should find
 20    What 'twere to kill a father; so should Fleance.
 21    But, peace! for from broad words and 'cause he fail'd
 22    His presence at the tyrant's feast, I hear
 23    Macduff lives in disgrace: sir, can you tell
 24    Where he bestows himself?

24. son of Duncan: i.e., Malcolm, Duncan's eldest son.
                                              The son of Duncan,
25. From whom ... holds the due of birth: withholds his birthright [i.e., Malcolm's claim to the throne of Scotland].
 25    From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth
 26    Lives in the English court, and is received
27. Of: by. the most pious Edward i.e., Edward the Confessor, who was canonized as a saint by the Catholic church. grace: favor. 28-29. the malevolence ... respect: i.e., mere bad luck [the fact that Macbeth has deprived Malcolm of the throne of Scotland] takes away nothing from the high respect shown to Malcolm. 30-31. to pray ... Siward: to implore the holy king, in order to aid Malcolm, to call to arms Northumberland and warlike Siward. 34. meat: food.
 27    Of the most pious Edward with such grace
 28    That the malevolence of fortune nothing
 29    Takes from his high respect. Thither Macduff
 30    Is gone to pray the holy king, upon his aid
 31    To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward,
 32    That, by the help of these—with Him above
 33    To ratify the work—we may again
 34    Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights,
35. Free ... knives: free our feasts and banquets from bloody knives. 36. faithful: sincere. free i.e., freely given. Macbeth has instituted a reign of fear, so that every honor he bestows is earned by kneeling to him. 37. this report: i.e., the news that Malcolm has been welcomed in the English king's court, and may be supported by English forces. 38. Hath so exasperate the king: has so angered and alarmed Macbeth. 39. Sent he to Macduff?: i.e., Did he request the presence of Macduff [to assist him in his preparations for war against the Malcolm and the English].
 35    Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives,
 36    Do faithful homage and receive free honours:
 37    All which we pine for now. And this report
 38    Hath so exasperate the king that he
 39    Prepares for some attempt of war.

                                                       Sent he to Macduff?

40-41. and with an absolute "Sir, not I," / The cloudy messenger turns me his back: i.e., and in response to Macduff's blunt "Sir, not I," the scowling messenger [from Macbeth] turns his back. The "me" in "turns me his back" adds the sense of "I can see it now." The messenger has to go back with bad news, but Macbeth doesn't like bad news. 43. clogs: encumbers. Clogs were ankle cuffs that prevented prisoners from running away. 43-45.And that ... provide and that [the messenger's reaction] might well teach him [Macduff] to be cautious, to keep [the longest] distance [between himself and Macbeth] he can possibly devise. 46-47. Fly ... come: fly to the English court and reveal his [Macduff's] message before he arrives. 48. this ... accursed: this, our country, which suffers under an accursed hand.
 40    He did; and with an absolute "Sir, not I,"
 41    The cloudy messenger turns me his back,
 42    And hums, as who should say "You'll rue the time
 43    That clogs me with this answer."

                                                     And that well might
 44    Advise him to a caution, to hold what distance
 45    His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel
 46    Fly to the court of England and unfold
 47    His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
 48    May soon return to this our suffering country
 49    Under a hand accursed!

                                           I'll send my prayers with him.