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'And these were the warres that Duncane had with forrayne enimies in the seventh yeare of his reygne.

Act I. Scene III. 'Shortly after happened a straunge and vncouth wonder, whiche afterwarde was the cause of muche trouble in the realme of Scotlande as ye shall after heare. It fortuned as Makbeth & Banquho iourneyed towarde Fores, where the king as then lay, they went sporting by the way togither without other companie, saue only themselues, passing through the woodes and fieldes, when sodenly in the middes of a launde 10, there met them .iij. women in straunge & ferly" apparell, resembling creatures of an elder worlde, whom when they attentiuely behelde, wondering much at the sight, The first of them spake & sayde: All hayle Makbeth Thane of Glammis (for he had lately entred into that dignitie and office by the death of his father Synel.) The .ij. of them said: Hayle Makbeth Thane of Cawder: but the third sayde: All Hayle Makbeth that hereafter shall be king of Scotland.

'Then Banquho, what maner of women (saith he) are you, that seeme so litle fauourable vnto me, where as to my fellow here, besides highe offices, yee assigne also the kingdome, appointyng foorth nothing for me at all? Yes sayth the firste of them, wee promise greater benefites vnto thee, than vnto him, for he shall reygne in deede, but with an vnluckie ende: neyther shall he leaue any issue behinde him to succeede in his place, where 12 contrarily thou in deede shalt not reygne at all, but of thee those shall be borne whiche shall gouerne the Scottishe kingdome by long order of continuall discent. Herewith the foresayde women vanished immediatly out of theyr sight. This was reputed at the first but some vayne fantasticall illusion by Makbeth and Banquho, in so muche that Banquho woulde call Makbeth in ieste kyng of Scotland, and Makbeth againe would call him in sporte likewise, the father of many kings. But afterwards the common opinion was, that these women were eyther the weird sisters, that is 12 whereas.

10 lawn.

11 wonderful.

(as ye would say) ye Goddesses of destinie, or els some Nimphes or Feiries, endewed with knowledge of prophesie by their Nicromanticall science, bicause euery thing came to passe as they had spoken.

'For shortly after, the Thane of Cawder being condemned at Fores of treason against the king committed, his landes, liuings and offices were giuen of the kings liberalitie vnto Makbeth.

'The same night after, at supper Banquho iested with him and sayde, now Makbeth thou haste obtayned those things which the twoo former sisters prophesied, there remayneth onely for thee to purchase 13 that which the third sayd should come to passe.

'Wherevpon Makbeth reuoluing the thing in his minde, began euen then to deuise howe he mighte attayne to the kingdome: but yet hee thought with himselfe that he must tary a time, whiche shoulde aduaunce him thereto (by the diuine prouidence) as it had come to passe in his former preferment.

Act I. Scene IV. 'But shortely after it chaunced that king Duncane hauing two sonnes by his wife which was the daughter of Sywarde Earle of Northumberland, he made the elder of them cleped 1 Malcolme prince of Cumberlande, as it were thereby to appoint him his successor in the kingdome, immediatly after his deceasse.

'Makbeth sore troubled herewith, for that he sawe by this meanes his hope sore hindered, (where 15 by the olde lawes of the realme, the ordinance was, that if he that shoulde succeede were not of able age to take the charge vpon himselfe, he that was nexte of bloud vnto him, shoulde be admitted) he beganne to take counsell howe he might vsurpe the kingdome by force, hauing a iuste quarell so to do (as he tooke the mater,) for that Duncane did what in him lay to defraude him of all maner of title and clayme, whiche hee mighte in tyme to come, pretende vnto the crowne.

The woordes of the three weird sisters also, (of whome

13 acquire.

14 called.

15 whereas.

before ye haue heard) greatly encouraged him herevnto, but specially his wife lay sore vpon him to attempt the thing, as she that was very ambitious brenning 16 in vnquenchable desire to beare the name of a Queene.

'At length therefore communicating his purposed intent with his trustie frendes, amongst whom Banquho was the chiefest, vpon confidence of theyr promised ayde, he slewe the king at Enuernes, (or as some say at Botgosuane,) in the .vj. yeare of his reygne.

'Then hauing a companie about him of such as he had made priuie to his enterpryce, he caused himselfe to be proclaymed king, and foorthwith went vnto Scone, where by common consent, he receyued the inuesture 17 of the kingdome according to the accustomed maner.

'The bodie of Duncane was firste conueyed vnto Elgyne, and there buried in kingly wise, but afterwardes it was remoued and conueyed vnto Colmekill, and there layd in a sepulture amongst his predecessours in the yeare after the birth of our Sauiour .1040.


'Malcolme Cammore and Donald Bane the sonnes of king Duncane, for feare of theyr liues (whiche they might well know yt Makbeth would seeke to bring to end for his more sure confirmacion in the astate) fled into Cumberland, where Malcolme remained til time that S. Edward ye sonne of king Etheldred recouered the dominion of England from the Danish power, the whiche Edward receuyed Malcolme by way of moste freendly entertaynement, but Donald passed ouer into Ireland, where he was tenderly cherished by the king of that lande.

'Makbeth after the departure thus of Duncanes sonnes vsed great liberalitie towardes the nobles of the realme, thereby to winne their fauour, & when he saw that no man went about to trouble him, he set his whole intention 19 to maintayne iustice, and to punishe all enormities and

16 burning.
18 sepulchre.

17 investiture.

19 intent, endeavour.

abuses, whiche had chaunced through the feeble and slouthfull administration of Duncane.' (pp. 239-245.)

The narrative proceeds to relate the good government of Macbeth and his just laws. Among other acts of retribution recorded is his putting to death for sedition the thane of Ross, who in the play appears in the second and third scenes of the fourth act and in the very last scene of all.

Act III. Scenes I, II, III. 'These and the like commendable lawes, Makbeth caused to be put as then in vse, gouerning the realme for the space of tenne yeares in equall iustice. But this was but a counterfayte zeale of equitie shewed by him, partely against his naturall inclination to purchase thereby the fauour of the people.


Shortly after, he beganne to shewe what he was, in steede of equitie practising crueltie. For the pricke of conscience (as it chaunceth euer in tyrantes, and suche as attayne to any astate by vnrightuous meanes) caused him euer to feare, least he should be serued of the same cuppe, as he had ministred to his predecessour.

'The woordes also of the three weird sisters, wold not out of his mind, which as they promised him the kingdome, so lykewise did they promise it at the same time, vnto the posteritie of Banquho. He willed therefore the same Banquho with his sonne named Fleaunce, to come to a supper that he had prepared for them, which was in deede, as he had deuised, present death at the handes of certaine murtherers, whome he hyred to execute that deede, appoynting them to meete with the same Banquho and his sonne without the palayce as they returned to theyr lodgings, and there to slea them, so that he woulde not haue his house slaundered, but that in time to come he might cleare himselfe, if any thing were layde to his charge vpon any suspition that might arise.

'It chaunced yet, by the benefite of the darke night, that though the father were slaine, the son yet by the helpe of almightie God reseruing him to better fortune, escaped that

daunger, & afterwardes hauing some inckling by the admonition of some frendes which he had in the courte, howe his life was sought no lesse then his fathers, who was slayne not by chaunce medley (as by the handling of the mater Makbeth would haue had it to appeare,) but euen vpon a prepensed 20 deuise, wherevpon to auoyde further perill he fledde into Wales.' (p. 246.)

Holinshed at some length now traces the descent of the royal family of Scotland from Banquo. The following summary will be sufficient for our purpose. Fleance, who had fled into Wales, had by the daughter of the prince of that country a son Walter, who ultimately returned to Scotland in the suite of Queen Margaret and became Lord Steward. Walter's son Alane went to the Holy Land in the first crusade with Godfrey of Boulogne and Robert Duke of Normandy. Alane Steward had issue Alexander, the founder of the Abbey of Paisley. Alexander had several sons, one of whom, Walter, distinguished himself at the battle of Largs and became the ancestor of the earls of Lennox and Darnley: another, John, was the father of Walter Steward, who 'maried Mariorie Bruce daughter to king Robert Bruce, by whom he had issue king Robert the second of that name.' (p. 247.) After this digression the chronicler proceeds:—

Act IV. Scenes I, II, III. But to returne vnto Makbeth, in continuying the history, and to beginne where I left, ye shal vnderstand, that after the contriued slaughter of Banquho, nothing prospered with the foresayde Makbeth: for in maner euery man began to doubt his owne life, and durst vnneth 21 appeare in the kings presence, & euen as there were many that stoode in feare of him, so likewise stoode he in feare of many, in such sorte that he began to make those away by one surmised cauillation22 or other, whom he thought most able to worke him any displeasure.

'At length he found suche sweetenesse by putting his nobles

20 preconceived, predetermined.

22 imaginary quibble.

21 See note 2.

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