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on this country as long as any memory re- common people in Witches; or of that ridicumains of the tragical end of the poor people at lous imposture in the capital itself, in 1762, Tring, (1) who, within a few miles of our capi- of the Cock-lane ghost, which found credit tal in 1751, fell a sacrifice to the belief of the with all ranks of people.”
(1) “April 22, 1751 : At Tring, in Hertfordshire, one B--- -d, a publican, giving out that he was bewitched by one Osborne and his wife, harmless people above 70, had it cried at several market-towns that they were to be tried by ducking this day, which occasioned a vast concourse. The parish officers having removed the old couple from the workhouse into the church for security, the mob, missing them, broke the work house windows, pulled down the pales, and demolished part of the house; and, seizing the governor, threatened to drown liim and fire the town, having straw in their hands for the purpose. The poor wretches were, at length, for public safety, delivered up, stripped stark naked by the moh, their thumbs tied to their toes, then dragged two miles, and thrown into a muddy stream; after much ducking and ill-usage, the old woman was thrown quite naked on the bank, almost choked with mud, and expired in a few minutes, being kicked and beat with sticks, even after she was dead; and the man lies dangerously ill of his bruises. To add to the barbarity, they put the dead Witch (as they called her) in bed with her husband, and tied them together. The coroner's inquest have since brought in their verdict wilful murder against Thomas Mason, Wm. Myatt, Rich. Grice, Rich. Wadley, James Proudham, John Sprouting, John May, Adam Curling, Francis Meadows, and twenty others, names unknown. The poor man is likewise dead of the cruel treatment he received.”
Gent. Mag. 1751, vol. xxi. p. 186. In another part of the same volume, p.198, the incidents of this little narrative are corrected. 66 Tring, May 2, 1751. A little before the defeat of the Scotch, in the late rebellion, the old woman,Osborne, came to one Butterfield, who then kept a dairy at Gubblecot, and begged for some buttermilk, but Butterfield told her with great brutality that he had not enough for his hogs; this provoked the old woman, who went away, telling him that the Pretender would have him and his hogs too. Soon afterwards several of Butterfield's calves became distempered ; upon which some ignorant people who had been told the story of the buttermilk gave out that they were bewitched by old mother Osborne; and Butterfield himself, who had now left his dairy, and taken the public-house by the brook of Gubblecot, having been lately, as he had been many years before at times, troubled with fits, mother Osborne was said to be the cause : he was persuaded that the doctors could do him no good, and was advised to send for an old woman out of Northamptonshire, who was famous for curing diseases that were produced by Witchcraft. This sagacious person was accordingly sent for and came; she confirmed the ridiculous opinion that had been propagated of Butterfield's disorder, and ordered six men to watch his house day and night with staves, pitchforks, and other weapons, at the same time hanging something about their necks, which she said was a charm that would secure them from being bewitched them
selves. However, these extraordinary proceedings produced no considerable effects, nor drew the attention of the place upon them, till some persons, in order to bring a large company together, with a lucrative view, ordered, by anonymous letters, that public notice should be given at Winslow, Leighton, and Hempstead, by the crier, that Witches were to be tried by ducking at Longmarston on the 22nd of April. The consequences were as above related, except that no person has as yet been committed on the coroner's inquest except one Thomas Colley, chimney-sweeper; but several of the ring leaders in the riot are known, some of whom live very remote, and no expense or diligence will be spared to bring them to justice.”.
It appears, ibid. p. 378, that Thomas Colley was executed, and afterwards hung in chains, for the murder of the above Ruth Osborne.
Such, it should seem, was the folly and superstition of the crowd, that, when they searched the workhouse for the supposed Witch, they looked even into the salt-box, supposing she might have concealed herself within less space than would contain a cat. The deceased, being dragged into the water, and not sinking, Colley went into the pond, and turned her over several times with a stick. It appeared that the deceased and her husband were wrapped in two different sheets; but her body, being pushed about by Colley, slipped out of the sheet, and was exposed naked.
In the same vol. p. 269, is a minute statement of the Earl of Derby's disorder, who was supposed to have died from Witchcraft, April 16th, 1594.
In the “Gent. Mag.” also, for July 1760, vol. xxx. p. 346, we read: “ Two persons concerned in ducking for Witches all the poor old women in Glen and Burton Overy, were sentenced to stand in the pillory at Leicester.”
See another instance, which happened at Earl Shilton in Leicestershire, in 1776, in the “Scots Magazine” for that year, vol. xxxviii. p. 390.
The following is from the “Gent. Mag.” for Jan. 1731, vol. i. p. 29; “Of Credulity in Witchcraft :"
“ From Burlington in Pensilvania 'tis advised that the owners of several cattle, believing them to he bewitched, caused some suspected men and women to be taken up, and trials to be made for de. tecting 'em.
Above three hundred people assembled near the governour's house, and, a pair of scales being erected, the suspected persons were each weighed against a large bible : but all of them vastly outweighing it, the accused were then tied head and feet together, and put into a river, on supposition that if they swam they must be guilty. This they offered to undergo, in case the accuser should be served in the like manner; which being done, they all swam very boyant and cleared the accused. А like transaction happened at Frome in Somersetshire, in September last, published in the Daily Journal,' Jan. 15, relating that a child of one titled “ News from Scotland: the damnable on some litter in her wet cloaths, where in an hour Life and Death of Dr. Fian," (m) (printed after she expired. The coroner, upon her inquest, could make no discovery of the ringleaders : altho (m) This Doctor Fian was “ Register to the Devil, above forty persons assisted in the fact, yet none of and sundry times preached at North Baricke Kirke them could be persuaded to accuse his neighbour;
He farther observes, that at Edinburgh there ribus fatidicis,' ad calc. Antiq. Select. Sepis still shown a deep and wide hollow, beneath ten. p. 371. Much information on the same Calton-bill, the place where those imaginary subject is also to be had in M. Mallet's criminals, Witches and Sorcerers, were burnt Northern Antiquities,' vol. i.; and in the in less enlightened times.
Notes to the . Edda,' vol. ij.” Dr. Zouch, in a note to his edition of The curious reader may also consult An“Walton's Lives,” 4to. York, 1796, p. 482, drews's “ Contin. of Henry's Hist. of Great Brisays: “The opinion concerning the reality of tain,' 4to. pp. 35, 196, 198, 207, 303, 374 : Witchcraft was not exploded even at the end “ A Discourse of the subtill Practises of Deof the seventeenth century. The prejudices of uilles by Witches and Sorcerers," by G. Gyfpopular credulity are not easily effaced. Men ford, 4to. Lond. 1587 : “ A Philosophical of learning, either from conviction, or some Endeavour towards the Defence of the Being other equally powerful motive, adopted the of Witches and Apparitions, in a Letter to system of Demonology advanced by James I.; the much honoured Robert Hunt, Esq.” by a and it was only at a recent period that the Member of the Royal Society, 4to. Lond. Legislature repealed the Act made in the first 1666 : and “ An Historical Essay concerning year of the reign of that monarch, entitled Witchcraft," by Francis Hutchinson, D.D., 'An Act against Conjuration, Witchcraft, 8vo. Lond. 1718; the second chapter of which and dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits.' contains a chronological table of the execu
(28) Mr. Warner, in his “Topographical tions or trials of supposed Witches. An acRemarks relating to the South-Western Parts count of the New England Witches will be of Hampshire," already quoted, says, “ It found in Chambers's “Edinburgh Journal," would be a curious speculation to trace the vol. viii. p. 261. origin and progress of that mode of thinking Among foreign publications, “De Lamiis among the northern nations which gave the et Phitonicis Mulieribus, ad illustrissimum faculty of divination to females in ancient Principem Dominum Sigismundum Archidu. ages, and the gift of Witchcraft to them in cem Austrie Tractatus dulcherrimus,” 4to. more modern times. The learned reader will (1489) b. l.; “Compendium Maleficarum,” receive great satisfaction in the perusal of a Āto. Mediol. 1626; “ Tractatus duo singu. dissertation of Keysler, entitled “De Mulie- lares de examine Sagarum super Aquam fri. Wheeler, being seized with strange fits, the mother
gidam projectarum,” 4to. Franc. & Lips, 1686; was advised, by a cunning man, to hang a bottle of and “Specimen Juridicum de nefando Lamithe child's water, mixed with some of its hair, close arum cum Diabolo Coitu," per J. Hen. Pott, stop'd, over the fire, that the Witch would thereupon 4to. Jenæ, 1689. Some curious notes come and break it: it does not mention the success; but a poor old woman in the neighbourhood was
Witchcraft, illustrated by authorities from taken up, and the old trial by water-ordeal reviv'd. the classics, occur at the end of the 1st, They dragg'd her, shiv'ring with an ague, out of 2nd, and 3rd acts of “ The Lancashire her house, set her astride on the pommel of a sad- Witches,” a comedy, by Thomas Shadwell, dle, and carried her about two miles to a mill.pond, stript off her upper cloaths, tied her legs, and with
4to. Lond. 1691. a rope about her middle threw her in, two hundred See also, “ Confessions of Witchcraft," in spectators aiding and abetting the riot. They affirm Blackwood's “Edinburgh Magazine,” vol. i. she swam like a cork, though forced several times under the water; and no wonder, for, when they
pp. 167, 497, 498. strained the line, the ends thereof being held on
(29) In the remarkable account of Witches each side of the pond, she must of necessity rise ; in Scotland, (before James the First's coming but by haling and often plunging she drank water to the Crown of England,) about 1591, enenongh, and when almost spent they poured in brandy to revive her, drew her to a stable, threw her
to a number of notorious Witches :" the very perso that they were able to charge only three of them sons who in this work are said to have pretended with manslaughter."
to bewitch and drown his Majesty in the sea coming from Denmark.
from the old copy in the Gent. Mag. for 1779, vol. xlix. p. 449,) is the following:
Agnis Tompson confessed, that at the time when his Majesty was in Denmark, she, being accompanied with the parties before specially named, took a cat and christened it, and afterwards bound to each part of that cat the chiefest parts of a dead man, and several joints of his body; and that in the night following the said cat was conveyed into the midst of the sea by all these Witches sailing in their riddles or cieves, as is aforesaid, and so left the said cat right before the town of Leith, in Scotland; this done, there did arise such a tempest in the sea as a greater hath not been seen; which tempest was the cause of the perishing of a boat or vessel coming over from the town of Brunt Island to the town of Leith, wherein were sundry jewels and rich gifts, which should have been presented to the now Queen of Scotland, at her Majesty's coming to Leith. Again it is confessed that the said christened cat was the cause that the King's Majesty's ship, at his coming forth of Denmark, had a contrary wind to the rest of his ships then being in his company; which thing was most strange and true, as the King's Majesty acknowledgeth.”
One plainly sees in this publication the foundation-stones of the royal treatise on Dæmonology; and it is said “ these confessions made the king in a wonderful admiration,” and he sent for one Geillis Duncane, who played a reel or dance before the Witches, “ who upon a small trump, called a Jew's trump, did play the same dance before the King's Majesty : who, in respect of the strangeness of these matters, took great delight to be present at all their examinations." Who is there so incurious that would not wish to have seen the monarch of Great Britain entertaining himself with a supposed Witches performance on the Jew's-harp?
Warburton, on the passage in “ Macheth," " Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd," observes that “ A cat, from time immemorial, has been the agent and favourite of Witches. This superstitious fancy is pagan and very ancient; and the original, perhaps, this: when Galinthia was changed into a cat by the Fates (says Antonius Liberalis, Metam.
c. xxix.); by Witches (says Pausanius in his Bæotics); Hecate took pity of her and made her her priestess; in which office she continues to this day. Hecate herself too, when Typhon forced all the gods and goddesses to hide themselves in animals, assumed the shape of a cat. So, Ovid :
- Fele soror Phæbi latuit.'' Hanway, in his “ Travels in Persia," vol. i. p. 177, tells us that “ Cats are there in great esteem."
Mention occurs in Glanvil's “Sadducismus Triumphatus,” pp. 304, 306, of the familiars of Witches sucking them in the shape of cats.
In the description of the Witch Mause, in the “ Gentle Shepherd,” the following
“ And yonder's Mause;
In Gay's Fable of “ The Old Woman and her Cats," one of these animals is introduced as upbraiding the Witch as follows: “ 'Tis infamy to serve a hag ;.
Cats are thought imps, her broom a nag ;
The writer of “ A Journey through the Highlands of Scotland,'' inserted in the Scots Magazine," vol. lxiv. Svo. Edin. 1802, p. 817, describing some of the superstitions of the country, says, “ When the goodwife's cat is ill fed, consequently of a lean and meagre appearance, it is readily ascribed to the Witches riding on them in the night."
(30) Trusler, in his “Hogarth Moralized," p. 134, tells us, speaking of cats, it has been judiciously observed that “ the conceit of a cat's having nine lives hath cost at least nine lives in ten of the whole race of them. Scarce a boy in the streets but has in this point outdone even Hercules himself, who was renowned for killing a monster that had but three lives.” “ The Guardian," No. 61, adds, 66 Whether the unaccountable animosity against this useful domestic may be any cause of the general persecution of owls, (who are a sort of feathered cats,) or whether it be only an unreasonable pique the moderns have taken to a serious countenance, I shall not
determine." The owl was anciently a bird cat, as smooth as a mole, which when it has of ill omen, and thence probably has been sucked, the Witch is in a kind of trance. derived the general detestation of it, as that See “ Hogarth Moralized," p. 116. of the cat has arisen from that useful domes. (31) Mr. Steevens, on the passage in Shaktic's having been considered as a particeps speare's “ Much Ado about Nothing," criminis in the Sorceries of Witches.
“ If I do, hang me in a bottle, like a cat, Mr. Steevens, in his Notes on Shakspeare, and shoot at me,” tells
us, From a little black-letter book entitled “Beware the Cat,' 1584, I tind it was observes that, in some counties in England, a permitted to a Witch to take on her a catte's cat was formerly closed up with a quantity body nine times.''
of soot in a wooden bottle, (such as that in The following passage occurs in Dekker's which shepherds carry their liquor,) and was “ Strange Horse-Race,” 4to. 1613: (the page suspended on a line. He who beat out the before F.) “When the grand Helcat had got bottom as he ran under it, and was nimble ten these two furies with nine lives."
enough to escape its contents, was regarded And in Marston's play called “The Dutch as the hero of this inhuman diversion. See Courtezan," (Works, 8vo. 1633, signat. Bb3,) Reed's edit. of Shakspeare, 1803, vol. vi. we read: “Why then thou hast nine lives like a cat.”
He cites, ibid., some passages that show it
was a custom formerly to shoot with arrows See on this subject “ The British Apollo," “ at a catte in a basket.” They prove also fol. Lond. 1708, vol. ii. Num. 1.
that it was the custom to shoot at fictitious In a jeu d'esprit entitled “ Les Chats," as well as real cats. 8vo. Rotterdam, 1728, there are some very A similar kind of sport seems to be alluded curious particulars relating to these animals, to in the following passage in Brathwaite's which are detailed with no common degree of “Strappado for the Devil," 8vo. Lond. 1615, learning.
There is a very curious extract from a file of informations taken by some justices against
“ If Mother Red-cap chance to have an oxe
Rosted all whole, O how you'le fly to it, a poor Witch, preserved in the “ Life of the
Like widgeons, or like wild geese in full Lord Keeper Guildford,” which forcibly sa
flocks, tirises the folly of admitting such kind of
That for his penny each may have his evidence as was brought against them: “ This
bitte : informant saith he saw a cat leap in at her (the old woman's) window, when it was
Set out a pageant, whooʻl not thither runne? twilight; and this informant farther saith
As 'twere to whip the cat at Abington." that he verily believeth the said cat to be the Devil, and more saith not," It may be ob In “ Frost Fair,” a very rare topographical served upon this evidence, that to affect the print, “printed on the River Thames in the poor culprit he could not well have said year 1740,” there is the following reference: less.
No. 6, Cat in the Basket Booth. Although The ingenious artist Hogarth, in his “Med it is doubtful whether it was used merely as ley,” represents with great spirit of satire a an ale-booth, or intended to invite company Witch sucked by a cat and flying on a broom to partake of the barbarous sport, it is equally stick; it being said, as Trusler remarks, that a proof that Shakspeare's rustic game or play the familiar with whom a Witch converses of “ the Cat and Bottle" continued in use sucks her right breast in shape of a little dun long after his days.
p. 162 :
FASCINATION OF WITCHES.
her eye :
And that it's true she speaks, who can say
nay, When none that lookes on't but will sweare
'tis gray?" I have no doubt but that this expression originated in the popular superstition concerning an evil, that is an enchanting or bewitching, Eve. In confirmation of this I must cite the following passage from Scot's.“ Discovery,” p. 291: *
Many writers agree with Virgil and Theocritus in the effect of bewitching eyes, affirming that in Scythia there are women called Bithiæ, having two balls, or rather blacks, in the apples of their eyes. () These (forsooth) with their angry looks do bewitch and hurt, not only young lambs, but young children.” He says, p. 35, “ The Irishmen affirm that not only their children, but their cattle, are (as they call it) eye-bitten, when they fall suddenly sick.”' (3)
Martin, in his “ Description of the Western Islands of Scotland," p. 123, says: All these islanders, and several thousands of the neighbouring continent, are of opinion that some particular persons have an evil eye, which affects children and cattle. This, they say,
occasions frequent mischances and sometimes death.” (*)
In Heron's “ Journey through Part of Scotland,” vol. ii. p. 228, we read : “Cattle are subject to be injured by what is called an evil eye, for some persons are supposed to have naturally a blasting power in their eyes with which they injure whatever offends or is hopelessly desired by them. Witches and Warlocks are also much disposed to wreak their malignity on cattle." (5)
In the “Statistical Account of Scotland," vol. xv. (Avo. Edinb. 1795), p. 258, parish of Monzie, shire of Perth, we are told: “ The power of an evil eye is still believed, although the faith of the people in Witchcraft is inuch enfeebled.”
In the same work, vol. xviii. p. 123, parish of Gargunnock, county of Stirling, we read : “ The dregs of superstition are still to be found. The less informed suspect something like Witchcraft about poor old women, and are afraid of their evil eye among the cattle. If a cow is suddenly taken ill, it is ascribed to some extraordinary cause. If a person when called to see one does not say I wish her luck,' there would be a suspicion he had some bad design." (0)
In going once to visit the remains of Brinkburne Abbey, in Northumberland, I found a reputed Witch in a lonely cottage by the side of a wood, where the parish had placed her to save expenses and keep her out of the way. On inquiry at a neighbouring farm-house, I was told, though I was a long while before I could elicit anything from the inhabitants in it concerning her, that everybody was afraid of her cat, and that she herself was thought to have an evil eye, and that it was accounted dangerous to meet her in a morning “blackfasting." (0)