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WAIVING the consideration of the many Witchcraft, in modern estimation, is a kind
controversies formerly kept up on this subject, of sorcery (especially in women ) (1), in which
founded on misinterpretation of various pas it is ridiculously supposed that an old wo-
sages in the sacred writings, it is my purpose, man, by entering into a contract with the
in the present section, to consider Witchcraft Devil, is enabled in many instances to change
only as a striking article of popular mytho the course of nature, to raise winds, perform
logy; which however bids fair in another actions that require more than human strength,
century to be entirely forgotten.

and to afflict those that offend her with the
sharpest pains. (*)

According to the popular belief on this WITCHCRAFT is defined by Reginald Scot, subject, there are three sorts of Witches : the in his “ Discovery,” p. 284, to be, “ in estima first kind can hurt but not help, and are with tion of the vulgar people, a supernatural work singular propriety called the Black Witches. between a corporal old woman and a spiritual The second kind, very properly called devil :" but, he adds, speaking his own senti White ones, have gifts directly opposite to ments on the subject, “it is, in truth, a cozen those of the former; they can help, but not ing art, wherein the name of God is abused,

hurt. (3) prophaned, and blasphemed, and his power The third species, as a mixture of white attributed to a vile creature."

and black, are styled the Grey Witches; for Perkins defines Witchcraft to be an art they can both help and hurt. (*) serving for the working of wonders by the l'hus the end and effect of Witchcraft seems assistance of the Devil, so far as God will to be sometimes good and sometimes the direct permit.

contrary. In the first case the sick are healed, Delrio defines it to be “ an art in which, by thieves are bewrayed, and true men come to the power of the contract entered into with

their goods. In the second, men, women, the Devil, some wonders are wrought which children, or animals, as also grass, trees, or pass the common understanding of men.” corn, &c., are hurt.



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The mode of becoming a Witch, according parsons, fond of hunting, they change themto Grose, is as follows: (5) "a decrepit super- selves into hares, and elude the speed of the annuated old woman is tempted by a man in fleetest dogs. (13) black to sign a contract to become his, both In vexing the parties troubled, Witches are soul and body. On the conclusion of the visible to them only; sometimes such parties agreement () he gives ber a piece of money, act on the defensive against them, striking at and causes her to write her name and make them with a knife, &c. her mark on a slip of parchment with her own Preventives, according to the popular beblood. Sometimes also on this occasion the

lief, are scratching or pricking a Witch; (14) Witch uses the ceremony of putting one hand taking the wall of her in a town or street, and to the sole of her foot, and the other to the the right hand of her in a lane or field; while crown of her head. On departing, he delivers passing her, by clenching both hands, douto her an imp, or familiar. The familiar, bling the thumbs beneath the fingers; and also in the shape of a cat or kitten, a mole, miller- by saluting her with civil words before she fly, or some other insect or animal, at stated speaks; but no presents of apples, eggs, or times of the day, sucks her blood, through other things, must be received from her on teats on different parts of her body.” (8) There any account. (15) is a great variety of the names of these imps Various were the modes of trying Witches. or familiars.

This was sometimes done by finding private The Sabbath of Witches is a meeting to marks on their bodies ; (16) at others by weighwhich the sisterhood, after having been ing the suspected wretch against the Church anointed with certain magical ointments, pro- Bible;(17) by another method she was made vided by their infernal leader, are supposed to to say the Lord's Prayer. (18) She was somebe carried through the air on brooms, coul- times forced to weep, and so detected, as a staves, spits, &c. )

Witch can shed no more than three tears, and At these meetings they have feastings, mu- those only from her left eye. (10) Swimming sic, and dancing, the Devil himself conde- a Witcb was another kind of popular orscending to play at them on the Pipes or deal. (20) By this method she was handled Cittern.

not less indecently than cruelly; for she was They afterwards proceed at these Assemblies stripped naked and cross bound, the right to the grossest impurities and imınoralities, thumb to the left toe, and the left thumb to and it may be added blasphemies, as the the right toe. In this state she was cast into Devil sometimes preaches to them a mock a pond or river, in which, if guilty, it was sermon. (0)

thought impossible for her to sink. They afterwards open graves for the pur- Other methods of detecting a Witch were, pose of taking out joints of the fingers and by burning the thatch (21) of her house, or by toes of dead bodies, with some of the winding- burning any animal supposed to be bewitched sheet, in order to prepare a powder for their by her; as a hog or ox; these, it was held, magical purposes. Here also the Devil dis- would force a Witch to confess. tributes apples, dishes, spoons, or other trifles, There were other modes of trial, by the to those Witches who desire to torment any stool, (22) and hy shaving off every hair of particular person, to whom they must present

the Witch's body. them. Here also, for similar purposes, the Witches were also detected by putting hair, Devil baptizes waxen images. (1)

parings of the nails, and urine of any person Sometimes Witches content themselves with bewitched into a stone bottle, and hanging it a revenge less than mortal, causing the objects up the chimney. (23) of their hatred to swallow pins, crooked Some persons were supposed by the popunails, (12) dirt, cinders, and trash of all sorts ; lar belief to have the faculty of distinguishor by drying up their cows and killing their ing Witches. These were called Witchoxen; or by preventing butter from coming

Finders. (24) in the churn, or beer from working. Some- The Witch Statutes, in our code of laws, times, to vex squires, justices, and country were enacted in the 33rd year of Henry the

made so)

Eighth, (25) the 1st of James the First, (26) Cause I am poor, deform’d, and ignorant, and the 9th of George the Second. (24)

And like a bow buckled and bent together By the severe laws once in force against By some more strong in mischiefs than myWitches, to the disgrace of humanity, great

self? numbers of innocent persons, distressed with Must I for that be made a common sink poverty and age, were brought to violent and For all the filth and rubbish of men's untimely ends.

tongues Lord Verulam's reflections on Witches, in To fall and run into? Some call me Witch; the tenth century of his “ Natural History," And, being ignorant of myself, they go form a fine contrast to the narrow and bigoted About to teach me how to be one; urging ideas of the royal author of “ The Dæmon That my bad tongue (by their bad usage ology.' 5 Men may not too rashly believe the confession of Witches, nor yet the evi Forespeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their dence against them: for the Witches them

corn, selves are imaginative, and believe oftentimes Themselves, their servants, and their babes they do that which they do not; and people

at nurse. are credulous in that point, and ready to im This they enforce upon me, and in part pute accidents and natural operations to Make me to credit it.” (28) Witchcraft. It is worthy the observing, that, both in ancient and late times, (as in the Thessalian Witches, and the meetings of In an account of Witchcraft, the Cat, who Witches that have been recorded by so many is the sine quâ non of a Witch, deserves partilate confessions,) the great wonders which cular consideration, (29) If I mistake not, they tell, of carrying in the air, transforming this is a connexion which has cost our dothemselves into other bodies, &c., are still re mestic animal all that persecution with which ported to be wrought, not by incantations or it is, by idle boys at least, incessantly purceremonies, but by ointments and anointing sued. (30) In ancient times the case was very themselves all over. This may justly move different. These animals were anciently rea mau to think that these fables are the effects vered as emblems of the moon, and among of imagination; for it is certain that oint the Egyptians were on that account so highly ments do all, (if they be laid on anything honoured as to receive sacrifices and devothick,) by stopping of the pores, shut in the tions, and had stately temples erected to their vapours, and send them to the head extremely. honour. (a) It is said that in whatever house And for the particular ingredients of those a Cat died all the family shaved their eyemagical ointments, it is like they are opiate brows. No favourite lap-dog among the and soporiferous : for anointing of the fore moderns has received such posthumous hohead, neck, feet, backbone, we know is used

Diodorus Siculus relates that, a for procuring dead sleeps. And if any man Roman happening accidentally to kill a cat, say that this effect would be better done by the mob immediately gathered about the house inward potions, answer may be made that where he was, and neither the entreaties of the medicines which go to the ointments are some principal men sent by the king, nor the so strong, that if they were used inwards they fear of the Romans, with whom the Egypwould kill those that use them, and therefore tians were then negotiating a peace, could save they work potently though outwards."

the man's life. In the play of “The Witch of Edmonton, The following particulars relating to a by Rowley, Dekker, Ford, &c., 4to. Lond. game, in which a Cat was treated with savage 1658, already quoted, act ii. sc. i. the Witch, cruelty by our barbarous ancestors, still or Elizabeth Sawyer, is introduced gathering lately retained at Kelso, (b) are extracted from sticks, with this soliloquy:

“Why should the envious world Throw all their scandalous malice upon

(a) Compare “ Savary's Letters," vol. ii. p. 438.

b) A town only not in England, being situated me,

on the northern bank of the Tweed.


after many a frantic blow, being broken, the wretched animal makes her reluctant appearance amidst a great concourse of -spectators, who seem to enjoy much pleasure at the poor animal's shocking figure, and terminate her life and misery by barbarous cruelty." (31)

The author, having called the perpetrators of this deed by a name no softer than that of the “ Savages of Kelso,” concludes the first act with the following miserable couplet: “ The cat in the barrel exhibits such a farce,

That he who can relish it is worse than an


“ A particular Description of the Town of Kelso," &c., by Ebenezer Lazarus, 8vo. Kelso, 1789, p. 144:

“ There is a society or brotherhood in the town of Kelso, which consists of farmers' servants, ploughmen, husbandmen, or whip-men, who hold a meeting once a year for the purpose of merriment and diverting themselves : being all finely dressed out in their best clothes, and adorned with great bunches of beautiful ribands on the crown of their heads, which hang down over their shoulders like so many streamers. By the beating of a drum they repair to the market-place, well mounted upon fine horses, armed with large clubs and great wooden hammers, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when they proceed to a common field about half a mile from the town, attended all the way with music and an undisciplined rabble of men, women, and children, for the purpose of viewing the merriment of a cat in barrel, which is highly esteemed by many for excellent sport. The generalissimo of this regiment of whip-men, who has the honourable style and title of my lord, being arrived with the brotherhood at the place of rendezvous, the music playing, the drum beating, and their flag waving in the air, the poor timorous cat is put into a barrel partly stuffed with soot, and then hung up between two high poles, upon a cross-beam, below which they ride in succession, one after another, hesieging poor puss with their large clubs and wooden hammers. The barrel,

goose, which is

The second act is described as follows: “ The cruel brotherhood, having sacrificed this useful and domestic animal to the idol of cruelty, they next gallantly, and with great heroism, proceeded with their sport to the destruction of a poor sin next hung up by the heels, like the worst of malefactors, with a convulsed breast, in the most pungent distress and struggling for liberty ; when this merciless and profligate society, marching in succession, one after another, each in his turn takes a barbarous pluck at the head, quite regardless of its misery. After the miserable creature has received many a rude twitch, the head is carried away.” They conclude their sports with a clumsy horse-race. Our author has omitted to mention on what day of the year all this was done. He says, however, it is now left off.


(1) King James's reason, in his “ Damonology," why there are or were twenty women given to Witchcraft for one man, is curious.

The reason is easy," as this sagacious monarch thinks, “ for, as that sex is frailer than man is, so is it easier to be entrapped in these grosse snares of the Divell, as was over well proved to be true by the Serpent's deceiving of Eva at the beginning, which makes him the homelier with that sexe sensine." His Majesty, in this work, quaintly calls the Devil “God's ape and hangman."

(2) Witch is derived from the Dutch Witchelen, which signifies whinnying and neighing like a horse : in a secondary sense, also, to foretell and prophesy; because the Germans, as Tacitus informs us, used to divine and foretell things to come by the whinnying and neighing of their horses.

His words are, hinnitu et fremitu.

In Glanvil's "Sadducismus Triumphatus," postscript, p. 12, Witch is derived from the verb “to weet," to know, i.e. “the knowing woman,” answering to the Latin Saga, which

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