Holinshed's Chronicles

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Holinshed’s Chronicles By Raphael Holinshed Banquo’s Murder 1 It fortuned, as Macbeth and Banquo journeyed toward Forres, where the King then lay, they went sporting by the way together without other company save only themselves, passing through the woods and fields, when suddenly, in midst of a laund, there met them three women in strange and wild apparel, resembling creatures of elder world; whom when they attentively beheld, wondering much at the sight, the first of them spoke and said, “All hail, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis!” (for he had lately entered into that dignity and office by the death of his father Sinel). The second of them said, “Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor!” But the third said, “All hail, Macbeth, that hereafter shalt be King of Scotland!” 2 Then Banquo. “What manner of women,” saith he, “are you, that seem so little favorable unto me, whereas to my fellow here, besides high offices, ye assign also the kingdom, appointing forth nothing for me at all?” “Yes,” PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from PassageBank.com. Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only. saith the first of them, “we promise greater benefits unto thee than unto him, for he shall reign indeed, but with an unlucky end; neither shall he leave any issue behind him to succeed in his place, where contrarily thou indeed shalt not reign at all, but of thee those shall be born which shall govern the Scottish kingdom by long order of continual descent.” Herewith the foresaid women vanished immediately out of their sight. . . . Shortly after, the Thane of Cawdor being condemned at Forres of treason against the King committed, his lands, livings, and offices were given of the King’s liberality to Macbeth. . . . 3 Shortly after it chanced that King Duncan, having two sons by his wife (which was the daughter of Siward Earl of Northumberland), he made the elder of them (called Malcolm) Prince of Cumberland, as it were thereby to appoint him his successor in the kingdom immediately after his decease. Macbeth, sore troubled herewith, for that he saw by this means his hope sore hindered . . . he began to take counsel how he might usurp the kingdom by force, having a just quarrel so to do (as he took the matter), for that Duncan did what in him lay to defraud him of all manner of title and claim which he might, in time to come, pretend unto the crown. 4 The words of the three Weird Sisters also (of whom before ye have heard) greatly encouraged him hereunto; but specially his wife lay sore upon him to attempt the thing, PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from PassageBank.com. Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only. as she that was very ambitious, burning in unquenchable desire to bear the name of a queen. At length, therefore, communicating his purposed intent with his trusty friends, amongst whom Banquo was the chiefest, upon confidence of their promised aid he slew the King at Inverness or (as some say) at Bothgowanan, in the sixth year of his reign. Banquo’s Murder 5 This was but a counterfeit zeal of equity showed by him, partly against his natural inclination, to purchase thereby the favor of the people. Shortly after, he began to show what he was, instead of equity practicing cruelty. For the prick of conscience (as it chanceth ever in tyrants and such as attain to any estate by unrighteous means) caused him ever to fear lest he should be served of the same cup as he had ministered to his predecessor. The words also of the three Weird Sisters would not out of his mind, which as they promised him the kingdom, so likewise did they promise it at the same time unto the posterity of Banquo. He willed therefore the same Banquo, with his son named Fleance, to come to a supper that he had prepared for them; which was indeed, as he had devised, present death at the hands of certain murderers whom he hired to execute that deed, appointing them to meet with the same Banquo and his son without the palace, as they returned to their lodgings, and there to slay them, so that he would not have his house slandered but that in time to come he might PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from PassageBank.com. Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only. clear himself if anything were laid to his charge upon any suspicion that might arise. 6 It chanced by the benefit of the dark night that, though the father were slain, yet the son, by the help of almighty God reserving him to better fortune, escaped that danger; and afterward, having some inkling (by the admonition of some friends which he had in the court) how his life was sought no less than his father’s, who was slain not by chance-medley (as by the handling of the matter Macbeth would have had it to appear) but even upon a prepensed device, whereupon to avoid further peril he fled into Wales. PassageBank © PassageBank • Passage provided under license from PassageBank.com. Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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