Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Weird Sisters
By Raphael Holinshed (c. 15151573)
SHORTLY after happened a strange and uncouth wonder, which afterward was the cause of much trouble in the realm of Scotland, as ye shall after hear. It fortuned as Makbeth and Banquho journeyed towards Fores, 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 the middest of a laund,1 there met them three women in strange and wild apparel, resembling creatures of the elder world, whom when they attentively beheld, wondering much at the sight, the first of them spake and said:
All hail Makbeth, thane of Glammis!
(for he had lately entered into that office by the death of his father Sinell). The second of them said:
Then Banquho: What manner of women (saith he) are you that seem so little favourable unto me, whereas to my fellow here, besides high offices, ye assign also the kingdom, appointing forth nothing for me at all? Yes, (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, when certainly 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 fore said women vanished immediately out of their sight. This was reputed at the first but some vain fantastical illusion by Makbeth and Banquho, insomuch that Banquho would call Makbeth in jest, King of Scotland; and Makbeth again would call him in sport likewise, father of many kings. But afterwards the common opinion was, that these women were either the weird sisters, that is (as ye would say) the goddesses of destiny, or else some nymphs or fairies, indued with knowledge of prophecie by their necromatical science, because everything came to pass as they had spoken.