Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Of

cap. 12. *

476

stroyed the corn for four leagues round. Thus was witchcraft, in all its The people accused one Anne Mindelin, squalid and disgusting vulgarity, and one Agnes, for being the cause of it. firmly established in Great Britain, They confessed, and were burnt. Budini and the witch was speedily invested Lib. de Dæmonomania, c. 8.

with attributes- not only above her About this time, H. Institor says, one of the it.quisitors came to a certain town, that comprehension, but such as she could was almost desolate by plague and famine.

never have imagined. The report went, that a certain woman, “ They tel us,” says Gaule, “ (and buried not long before, was eating up her the vulgar second them with numberless winding sheet, and that the plague would traditions) of their reading in the moon all not cease till she had made an end of it.

things that shall come to passe for a thouThis matter being taken into consideration, sand generations. Of their reading by Scultetus, with the chief magistrate of the star-light what another has writte in his city, opened the grave, and found that she closet a thousand miles off. Of causing had indeed stoallowed and devoured one

the voyces of two in conference to be muhalf of her winding sheet! Scultetus, tually heard, although as distant one from moved with horror at the thing, drew out another as the east is from the west. his sword, and cut off her head, and threw their being metamorphosed or turned into it into a ditch, and immediately the plague beasts, bears, dogs, wolves, goats, cats, ceased! and, the inquisition sitting upon hares, &c. Of their cutting one another's the case, it was found that she had long heads off, and setting them on again; suf. been a reputed witch. Sce Hen. Institor. fering their limbs to be plucked asunder, Part 1. Quest, 15.

and knitting them to again immediately. A. D. 1524. About this time, a thou- Of their flying in the aire, and walking in. sand were burnt in one year, in the diocese visible. Of their riding long and tedious of Como, and a hundred per annum for se- journeys upon broomes and distaffes; and veral years together. Barthol. de Spina, their sayling over seas in egg-shells......

Of their eating up whole fieldes of corne

or hay, and drinking up whole rivers in Hitherto we have seen that the seives. Of presenting a curious banquet practice of witchcraft was confined upon the table, and inviting thereto their chiefly to foreign parts; the delusion, guests from fairie land. Of making a garo however, soon extended to our own den of delicate flowers to spring up in country, and ran a similar career of your parlour in the dead of winter." of absurdity and imposture.

raising stormes and showres out of tubs;

turning streames backward, haling ships A. D. 1541. The Lord Hungerford be- laden, against wind and water, with haires headed for procuring certain persons to

or twined thrcads. Of making a cock or conjure, that they might know how long a flye to draw the hugest beame. Of Henry the Eighth would live. Lord Her- giving potions to make people love or hate bert's Life of IIenry VIII.

as they please.......Of making bodies imA. D. 1562. This year, being the Fifth penetrable or shot free; anoynting the of Queen Elizabeth, the Countess of Len, weapon, and curing the wound, without the rox, and four others, were condemned for least virtuall contiguity ; and turning all treason. They had consulted with some metalls into gold. Drinking off a glasse pretended cheating wizards, to know how of clarret, and make it to spoute out of the long the Queen should live. Camden's forehead presently. Showing you such and Elizabeth.

such faces in glasses, &c. ... What should A. D. 1574. Agnes Bridges, and Ra. I tell you of their feates wrought by figures, chel Pindar, of eleven or twelve years old, characters, spells, ligatures, circles, numhad counterfeited to be possessed by the bers, barbarismes, images of wax, or clay, devil, and vomited pins and clouts; but crystalls, looking glasses, basons of water, were detected, and stood before the preacher herbes, powders, unguents, sawes, knives, at Paul's cross, and acknowledged their hy. pins, needles, candles, rings, garters, gloves, pocritical counterfeiting. Stowe's Survoie. &c. &c. I feare I have even cloyd, while

A. D. 1575. The Windsor witches exe- I talked but of giving a taste. cuted at Abingdon.

The relation was printed by Richard Gallis. In that, he Some worke their bewitchinge only by said, he came to the God spccil, and with way of invocation, or imprecation: they his sword and buckler, killed the devil, or wish it, or will it, and so it falls out. Some at least wounded him so sore, that he made by way of emissary, sending out their hiin stink of brimstone.t Ibid. B. 2, c. 3, inipes, or familiars, to crosse the way, &c.

justle, affront, flash in the face, barke,

+ Ibid. p. 24, 25, 26.

* Hutchinson's Historical Essay, p. 22, 23, 24.

server.

howle, bite, scratch, or otherwise infest.

even to the most superficial obSome by inspecting, or looking on; but to

In addition to other extenglare, squint, or peep at one with an en- sive evils, these severe regulations, vious or evill eye, is sufficient to effascinate together with the statutes enacted (especially infants, and women with child), against witchcraft

, in the sixteenth Some by a demisse hollow muttering, or mumbling. Some by breathing and blow

and seventeenth centuries, gave rise ing on; the usuall way of the venefick. to a species of informers, whose inSome by cursing and banning. Soine by dustrious efforts materially contriblessing and praising. Some revengefully, buted toward the extension and supby occasion of ill turnes. Some by leaving port of this most popular credulity. something of theirs in your house. Some We allude to the very creditable by getting something of yours into their fraternity of witchfinders, whose pehouse. Some have a more speciall way of culiar interest it was to foster a working by severall elements ; earth, water, delusion by which they profited so aire, or fire. But who can tell all the

abundantly. manner of wayes of a witch's working ; that works not only darkly and closely, but villainous and crafty set.

These inquisitors were a most variously and versatilly, as God will per

They mit, the Devil can suggest, or the mali

were particularly careful not to cious bag devise and put in practice ?"*

visit a town unless they were likeIn process of time, the practice of ly to experience a favourable rewitchcraft became almost exclusively ception. No “sticklers” must be confined to the oldest and ugliest of there to thwart their designs, or to the female sex ;t and the measures

controul their actions; and if they adopted for the destruction of this could not secure beforehand an unamiserable race were in general suffi- nimous approval of their iniquitous ciently atrocious; but, in Scotland, proceedings, they would not venture even a greater refinement of cruelty upon their scrutiny. We have althan that which we have detailed, ready related one ceremony which was practised. The innocent rela- they practised, for the purpose of tions of a suspected criminal were detecting witches; we add another tortured in her presence to wring equally painful and cruel. from her, by the sight of their suf

“ Having taken the suspected witch," ferings, what no corporeal pain in- says Mr. Gaule, “ she is placed in the flicted on herself could extort. Thus, middle of a room upon a stool or table, in 1596, a woman being accused of cross-legged, or in some other uneasy poswitchcraft; her husband, her son, ture, to which, if she submits not, she is and her daughter, a child of seven

then bound with cords. There is she years old, were all tortured in her watched and kept without meat or sleep presence, to wrest from her the re- for the space of four and twenty hours; luctant and condemning confession; for (they say) that within that time they and several other contrivances, equal- little hole is likewise made in the door for

shall see her imp come and suck. A ly unfeeling and atrocious, were resorted to for the purpose of ridding come in some less discernable shape, they

the imp to come in at: and lest it should the world of witches.

that watch are taught to be ever and anon The mischievous tendency of such sweeping the room, and if they see any proceedings must appear evident, spiders or flies to kill them. And if they

Select Cases of Conscience, touching Witches and Witchcraft, p. 110, 111, 112, and 128, 129.

+ Two or three reasons have been assigned by the learned for the more extensive prevalence of witches, rather than wizards. “One writer,” says Dr. Hutchinson, “ giving the reason how it came to pass, that there were so many women that were witches, more than men that were wizards, fetches an argument from the derivation of the word Fæmina. For, he saith, it comes from Fe and minus. Fe, he saith, is the same as fi, and fi stands for fides ; and thence comes the word Fæmina, quia minorem Fidem habent. Varius (Lib. de Fascinatione) attributes the cause to the stronger passions of the fair sex, and their more general fickleness of nature ; while King James declares that, “ The reason is easie : for as that sexe is frailer than man is, so is it easier to be entrapped in these grosse snares of the divell, as was over well found to be trew by the Spirit's deceiv. ing of Eva at the beginning ; which makes him homelier with that sexe sensine.” Demonologie, Book ii. Chap. 5. We beg our fair readers to observe, that these are not our notions of the cause.

[ocr errors]

re

478

cannot kill them, then they may be sure the artful contrivance of a boy and they are her imps !

his father, and to which we alluded From the view which we have in our first paper, affords one instance thus taken of our subject, it may of the effect of the malicious artifices appear that we have leaned too much of two individuals, whose object was to the side of witches, and divested evidently the obtainment of a them of that rancorous malignity, ward for impeaching witches. which they are said to have extended very remarkable case also of this towards those who were obnoxious to kind is that of William Perry, or the them. From this we cannot dissent, “ Boy of Bilson,” as he was called, nor do we wish to do so. That there who practised his ingenious stratawere individuals, who, from some gems in the year 1620, to the maniinterested motive, imposed upon the fest admiration and surprise of the world by a pretension to many of beholders. the appalling attributes of witchcraft, we will not deny. Indeed, we have school to Bilson, in Staffordshire, where

“ The boy returning homeward from given more than one instance of the he dwelt, an old woman unknown met fact; but, then, we have seen that, him, and taxed him, in that he did not in most cases, the poor persecuted give her good time of day, saying, that he wretches were compelled to a prac- was a foul thing, and that it had been bet. tice which their better reason taught ter for him if he had saluted her. At them to abhor, A great deal de which words the boy felt a thing to prick pended upon the opinion which the him to the very heart. In fine, the boy vulgar entertained on the subject; came home, languished some days, and at and when it really did happen that length grew into extream fits, that two or a miserable old woman actually at

three (though he was a child of twelve tempted to practise the mysteries of years of age) could hardly hold him. The witchcraft, it was usually the effect parents, seeing the extremity, sought help

of Catholics; and with cap and knee did of a deranged intellect; of the cre

solicit a zealous gentleman, who, overdulous dotage of old age; or of pro- come by their suit, did rede some prayers, voked malevolence and passion. and exorcisms, allowed by the Catholic There is one example on record, church, with whose prayers the force of the which proves that even a virtuous spiritual enemy ahated. The gentleman incitement urged a criminal to con- insisting to know how many was in him ; fession. An old woman, tried at to his thinking, he said, three." Lancaster, during the early part of king James the First's reign, accused This artful child, though not more herself, from a vain hope of saving than twelve years of age, had ada the life of her daughter, who was dress and perseverance enough to charged with participation in the counterfeit the most agonizing discrime. The judges, partly it may be tortions. He accused an old woman, suspected, with a view of flattering whose name was Joan Cock, and she the prejudices of the king, exhibited was committed to Stafford Gaol. At the most disgraceful eagerness for the assizes, however, the penetrathe conviction of the prisoners; and tion of the judges detected the imone of them was guilty of the re- posture, and the boy was ultimately, mark, “ that such apparent proof induced by Dr. Morton, Bishop of was not to be expected against them Coventry, to make full confession. as others, their's were deeds of dark- Such were the delusive artifices ness. ”of

which imposed upon the easy faith But we are inclined to think that, of our forefathers; and wretched, inin most instances, the witch was deed, must have been the state of either an instrument in the hands of society, when such revolting pracwicked and designing persons, or a

tices were carried on to the destrucvictim of the infamous machinations tion of all moral and intellectual exof the wicked and the indigent. The cellence. There could not have been, condemnation of the Pendle-forest even at a comparatively late period, witches, which was occasioned by any religious feeling among the peo

* Cascs of Conscience, p. 78.
of Aikin's Memoirs of the Court of King James I. vol. 1.

ple ; any of that pure and holy princ suspected witches.

" At the sumciple, which leads the heart to ad- mer assizes, held at Brentwood, in mire with gratitude the benevolence Essex,” says Dr. Hutchinson, "our of an omnipotent Deity, and to re- excellent Lord Chief Justice of Engceive with thankfulness the blessings land, the Right Honourable the Lord of an indulgent providence. All was Parker, by a just and righteous piece dark and gloomy, and terrible. Con- of judgment, hath given all men fidence between man and man was warning, that if any dare, for the fu« destroyed, and people glared upon ture, make use of the experiment of each other with eyes of suspicion and swimming the witches, and the party malevolence. The witehes themselves lose her life thereby, all they that were considered altogether as hags, are the cause of it are guilty of wila -That for a word, or look,

ful murder.Denial of a coal of fire, kill men,

But, notwithstanding these humane Children, and cattle ;

and judicious provisions, the popu

lar belief in the existence and power and the peevish malediction of an of witches was not to be easily overirritable old woman infused terror thrown. The vulgar still continued and dismay, even into the bravest to look upon the aged and the ugly bosoms.

with the eye of hatred and prejuThe disgraceful proceedings which dice ; and it was not till knowledge we have thus endeavoured faithfully became more extensively disseminatto narrate happened, for the most ed, by the writings of the learned of part, in the sixteenth and seventeenth the reign of Anne, that witchcraft centuries; but a period was ap- became an object of but little improaching, when all the detestable portance to the people. The salujugglery of witchcraft was to be tary effect which the diffusion of overthrown, no less by the flou- knowledge produced was followed rishing luxuriance of literature and by the abolition of the existing laws science, than by the benevolent firm- against witchcraft; and in the ninth ness of the English judges. In 1694, year of the reign of George the Seand the four succeeding years, only cond, the mischievous statutes were eleven persons were tried for witch, repealed, * in consequence of the craft, and everyone was acquitted following occurrence. by Chief Justice Holt. “So changed," 1751, a publican, named Butterfield, observes a modern writer, “ were residing at Tring, in Hertfordshire, the times, that even confession failed giving out that he was bewitched by to produce conviction, and the ab- one Osborne and his wife (who were surdities of a disordered imagination harmless people above seventy), had sunk to their real worth.” The de- it cried at several market-towns in cisions of my Lord Holt appear to the county, that they were to be have been the first effectual effort tried by ducking on such a day. A that was made to cut short the ca- vast concourse of people being thus reer of this prevailing delusion; and collected together, the poor wretches the witchfinders were consequently were seized, and stripped naked by greatly discouraged. Their proceed- the mob, their thumbs tied to their ings received another check shortly toes, and then dragged two miles, and afterwards, from the declaration of thrown into a muddy stream. Osborne Lord Chief Justice Parker, whose escaped with his life, though dangerhumanity made them somewhat more ously bruised, but his wife expired sparing of their cruelties towards the under the hands of her brutal perse,

In the year

* When these statutes were repealed it was enacted, that no prosecution should for the future be carried on against any person for conjuration, witchcraft, sorcery or enchantment. But the misdemeanor of persons pretending to use witchcraft, to tell fortunes, or to discover stolen goods by skill in the occult sciences, is still deservedly punished with a year's imprisonment, and standing four times in the pillory. Black. stone's Comment, b. 4, c. 4, 6. It may be necessary to add, that there is still un repealed an Irish statute, inflicting capital punishment on witches. It was passed 28 Eliz. c. 2. and is as minute as the statutc of James in its descriptions, &c. It provides also for a person charged with the crime. Sce Lord Mount norris's Hist. of Irish Parliaments, vol. i. p. 420.

One

of a

480

cutors. One of the ringleaders of sufficiently complete account, of a this atrocious outrage was convicted system of deception and persecution of the murder, and hung in chains which claims no unimportant place near the spot where the crime was in the history of the human mind. perpetrated.* Since this horrible oc- We have endeavoured to illustrate currence, little has been heard of the effects of fear and delusion, by the spells of witches, and the skill references to examples at once traof mortals in the occult sciences has gical and ridiculous; and we are not degenerated into the palmistry of the aware, that we can close this long gipsey, or the vague prediction of detail of credulity and ferocity, more the vagabond conjuror. The relicts appropriately than with the followof actual witchcraft, it is true, stilling citation from Reginald Scot, conlingered among the people, but in taining a convenient Pharmacopeia a condition too trivial and innocuous of approved antidotes. to be attended with any ill effect. “ But now it is necessary to show you It is probable, indeed, that even at how to prevent and cure all mischief this period some scattered particles wrought by charmes and witchcraft. of the delusion exist, more especially principal way is, to nail a horse-shoe at in the retired districts of the king- the inside of the outermost threshold of dom. We ourselves have a distant your house, and so you shall be sure no recollection of an aged individual, witch shall have power to enter thereinto. who resided, several years ago, rule observed in many countrey houses.

And if you mark it, you shall find that amidst the green and secluded hills

Otherwise, let this triumphant title be of North Wales. She was a very written crosswise in every corner of the old and singular-looking woman, and house thus : Jesus to Nasarenus f-Rex fe was always to be seen in fine wea- Judæorum f. Memorandum. You may ther, sitting with her distaff and join herewithall the name of the Virgine. spindle amidst her bees in a little Mary, or of the foure Evangelists ; or garden, which occupied the declivity Verbum caro factum est. Otherwise, in

Sunny Knoll,” behind her some countreys, they naile a wolve's head humble cottage.

Here would she to the doore. Otherwise, they hang scilla sit, basking in the sun, and holding (which is a root, or rather in this place converse with no living creature ex- garlic) in the roofe of the house, for to cept her bees, to which she was par- they do Alicium also. Otherwise a per,

keepe away witches and spirits; and so ticularly attached ; and it was be- fume made of the gall of a black dog, and lieved that these bees, which buzzed his bloode besmeared on the postes and about her person with perfect liberty, walles of the house, driveth out of the were the unhallowed ministers of her doores both devills and witches. Otherwill and pleasure. She was a harm- wise, the house where herba betonica is less, and, we have heard, a good- sown is free from all mischeefes. Othernatured being ; but had, by her sin- wise, it is not unknown, that the Romish gular habits and taciturnity, esta- church allowed, and used the smoke of blished a degree of fame among the sulphur to drive spirits out of their houses, peasantry, of which she seemed as they did frankincense and water bal

per

lowed. fectly conscious. The cause of this

Otherwise, Apuleius saith, that singularity, was never known, but Mercury gave to Ulysses, when he came

neer to the Inchantress Circe, an herb many conjectured that some evil called verbascum, which, in English is doings in early life (for she was not called mullein, or tapsus barbatus, or longa native of the village) had rendered wort, and that preserved him from the her thus unsocial and secluded. Thus enchantments. Otherwise, Pliny and Hoit often happens, that a slight devia- mer both do say, that the herb called moly is tion from the common course of life an excellent herb against enchantments; is sufficient, even in this enlightened and all say that thereby Ulysses escaped age, to impress on the minds of the Circe's sorceries and inchantments. Other. untutored and superstitious, an aw

wise, diverse waies they went to worke in ful idea of supernatural power.

this case, and some used this defensive, and We have thus laid before our

others that preservative against incanta. tions." + B. 12. ch. 18.

R. readers a brief, but, we believe, a

* Gentleman's Magazine, 1751, Part I. and Lord Mountnorris, ubi supra.

+ From a passage in Kenilworth (p. 238, vol. i.) it appears, that a sprig of elma sewn in the neck of a doublet, was also considered as a preservative against witchcraft.

a

« AnteriorContinua »