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women; the reason assigned is, that the devil having experienced, in the temptation of Eve, the facility with which that sex are led astray and also found, that when once they deviate from the paths of virtue they become more wicked than men-he therefore makes his attacks on them in preference to the other sex.
Not only women, but even little children, have been convicted of witchcraft in Sweden, as may be seen in the account printed in Glanvil.
Some hair, the parings of the nails, and urine, of any person bewitched-or, as the term is, labouring under an evil tongue-being put into a stone bottle, with crooked nails, corked close, and tied down with wire, and hung up the chimney, will cause the witch to suffer the most acute torments imaginable, till the bottle is uncorked, and the mixture dispersed; insomuch that they will even risk a detection, by coming to the house and attempting to pull down the bottle.
On meeting a supposed witch, it is advisable to take the wall of her in a town or street, and the right hand of her in a lane or field; and, whilst passing her, to clench both hands, doubling the thumbs beneath the fingers; this will prevent her having a power to injure the person so doing at that time. It is well to salute a witch with civil words on meeting her, before she speaks. But no presents of apples, eggs, or any other thing, should be received from her on any account.
Some persons, born at particular times, and under certain combinations of the planets, have the power of distinguishing witches at first sight. One of these per· sons, named Matthew Hopkins, of Manningtree, in
Essex, with a John Stern, and a woman in their company, were, in 1644, permitted to go round, from town to town, through most parts of Essex, Suffolk, and Huntingdonshire, with a sort of commission to discover witches; nay, it is said, were paid twenty shillings for each town they visited. Many persons were pitched upon by them, and, through their means, convicted: till at length some gentlemen, out of indignation at Hopkins' barbarity, tied him in the manner he had bound others, that is, thumbs and toes to
gether; in which state, being put into the water, he swam. This cleared the country of them.
The following statute, enacted the 1st of King James I. will show that the belief of most of the articles here related was not confined to the populace ; nor was it repealed till the 9th year of the reign of King George I.
- Any one that shall use, practice, or exercise any invocation or conjuration of any evill or wicked spirit, or consult, covenant with, entertain or employ, feede or reward, any evill or wicked spirit, to or for any intent or purpose; or take up any dead man, woman, or child, out of his, her, or their grave, or any other place where the dead body resteth, or the skin, bone, or other part of any dead person, to be employed or used in any manner of witchcraft, sorcery, charme, or enchantment; or shall use, practice, or exercise any witchcraft, enchantment, charme, or sorcery, whereby any person shall be killed, destroyed, wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed, in his or her body, or any part thereof, such offenders, duly and lawfully convicted and ato tainted, shall suffer death.
“ If any person shall take upon him, by witchcraft, enchantment, charme, or sorcery, to tell or declare in what place any treasure of gold or silver should or might be found or had in the earth, or other secret places, or where goods or things lost or stolen should be found or become; or to the intent to provoke any person to unlawful love; or whereby any cattell or goods of any person shall be destroyed, wasted, or impaired; or to destroy or hurt any person in his or her. body, though the same be not effected, &c. a yeare's imprisonment and pillory, &c. and the second conviction
A Ghost is supposed to be the spirit of a person deceased; who is either commissioned to return for some especial errand, such as the discovery of a murder, to procure restitution of lands or money unjustly with
held from an orphan or widow-or having committed some injustice whilst living, cannot rest till that is redressed. Sometimes the occasion of spirits revisiting this world is, to inform their heir in what secret place, or private drawer in an old trunk, they had hidden the title-deeds of their estate ; or where, in troublesome times, they buried their money or plate. Some ghosts of murdered persons, whose bodies have been secretly buried, cannot be at ease till their bones have been taken up, and deposited in consecrated ground, with all the rites of Christian burial. This idea is the remains of a very old piece of heathen superstition. The ancients believed that Charon was not permitted to ferry over the ghosts of unburied persons, but that they wandered up and down the banks of the river Styx for a hundred years, after which they were admitted to a passage. This is mentioned by Virgil :
Hæc omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est:
Sometimes ghosts appear in consequence of an agreement made, whilst living, with some particular friend, that he who first died should appear to the survivor.
Glanvil tells us of the ghost of a person who had lived but a disorderly kind of life, for which it was condemned to wander up and down the earth, in the company of evil spirits, till the day of judgment.
In most of the relations of ghosts, they are supposed to be mere aerial beings, without substance, and that they can pass through walls and other solid bodies at pleasure. A particular instance of this is given, in Relation the 27th, in Glanvil's Collection, where one David Hunter, neat-herd to the bishop of Down and Connor, was for a long time haunted by the apparition of an old woman, whom he was by a secret impulse ob
liged to follow whenever she appeared; which, he says, he did for a considerable time, even if in bed with his wife: and because his wife could not hold him in his bed, she would go too, and walk after him till day, though she saw nothing; but his little dog was so well acquainted with the apparition, that he would follow it as well as his master. If a tree stood in her walk, he observed her always to go through it.-Notwithstanding this seeming immateriality, this very ghost was not without some substance, for, having performed her errand, she desired Hunter to lift her from the ground; in doing of which, he says, she felt just like a bag of feathers. We sometimes also read of ghosts striking violent blows; and that, if not made way for, they overturn all impediments, like a furious whirlwind. Glanvil mentions an instance of this, in Relation 17th, of a Dutch lieutenant, who had the faculty of seeing ghosts; and who, being prevented making way for one which he mentioned to some friends as coming towards them, was, with his companions, violently thrown down, and sorely bruised. We further learn, by Relation 16th, that the hand of a ghost is “ as cold as a clod."
The usual time at which ghosts make their appearance is midnight, and seldom before it is dark; though some audacious spirits have been said to appear even by daylight; but of this there are few instances, and those mostly ghosts who have been laid, perhaps in the Red Sea (of which more hereafter), and whose times of confinement were expired: these, like felons confined to the lighters, are said to return more troublesome and daring than before. No ghosts can appear on Christmas-eve; this Shakspeare has put into the mouth of one of his characters in Hamlet.
Ghosts commonly appear in the same dress they usually wore whilst living, though they are sometimes clothed all in white; but that is chiefly the churchyard ghosts, who have no particular business, but seem to appear pro bono publico, or to scare drunken rustics from tumbling over their graves.
I cannot learn that ghosts carry tapers in their hands,
as they are sometimes depicted, though the room in which they appear, if without fire or candle, is frequently said to be as light as day. Dragging chains is not the fashion of English ghosts, chains and black vestments being chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres, seen in arbitrary governments : dead or alive, English spirits are free. One instance, however, of an English ghost dressed in black is found in the celebrated ballad of William and Margaret, in the following lines :
And clay-cold was her lily hand,
That held her sable shroud. This, however, may be considered as a poetical licence, used in all likelihood for the sake of the opposition of lily to sable.
If, during the time of an apparition, there is a lighted candle in the room, it will burn extremely blue: this is so universally acknowledged, that many eminent philosophers have busied themselves in accounting for it, without once doubting the truth of the fact. Dogs too have the faculty of seeing spirits, as instanced in David Hunter's relation, above quoted; but in that case they usually show signs of terror, by whining and creeping to their master for protection : and it is generally sopposed that they often see things of this nature when their owner cannot; there being some persons, particularly those born of a Christmas-eve, who cannot see spirits.
The coming of a spirit is announced some time before its appearance by a variety of loud and dreadful noises ; sometimes rattling in the old hall like a coach and six, and rumbling up and down the staircase like the trundling of bowls or cannon-balls. At length the door Hies open, and the spectre stalks slowly up to the bed's foot, and opening the curtains, looks steadfastly at the person in bed by whom it is seen ; a ghost being very rarely visible to more than one person, although there are several in company. It is here necessary to observe, that it has been universally found by experience, as well