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A solution to the mystery of Macbeth’s witches

By W. J. Lawrence.

Few neater complements were ever ever paid an English monarch than that with which James I. was agreeably surprised on his first visit to Oxford on August 25th, 1605.

Immediately on his arrival he was arrested in front of St. John’s College by three youthful scholars in the guise of nymphs, who, in Latin verse penned by Matthew Gwinne, explained that they were the sibyls of old who had prophesied the rule of Banquo’s issue, and came now to promise him all happiness and the continuance of the Banquo dynasty upon the British throne.

A trifle less than two months later, when the King’s Players visited the University city, one at least of their number was hugely interested on hearing of the King’s satisfaction with this well-conceived device. Among his rare capacities as actor-dramatist was that of exploiter to the full of the potentialities of a new and imperfectly expanded idea, and his name was William Shakespeare. In the rich soil of his brain the academic seed quickly germinated, and the result, as one takes it, was the tragedy of Macbeth, produced, in all probability, at the Globe somewhere about the Easter of 1606.

Read the original article at: The New Fortnightly Review

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