puted a kind of good and honest harmless witches or wizards, who by good words, by hallowed herbes, and salves, and other superstitious ceremonies, promise to allay and calme divels, practices of other witches, and the forces of many diseases.”

Perkins by Pickering, 8vo. Cambr. 1610, p. 256, concludes with observing; “ It were a thousand times better for the land if all witches, but specially the blessing witch, might suffer death. Men doe commonly hate and spit at the damnifying sorcerer, as unworthie to live among them, whereas they flie unto the other in necessitie, they depend upon him as their God, and by this meanes thousands are carried away to their finall confusion. Death, therefore, is the just and deserved portion of the good witch."

Baxter, in his World of Spirits, p. 184, speaks of those men that tell men of things stolen and lost, and that show men the face of a thief in a glass, and cause the goods to be brought back, who are commonly called white witches. “When I lived,” he says, “at Dudley, Hodges, at Sedgley, two miles off, was long and commonly accounted such a one, and when I lived at Kederminster, one of my neighbours affirmed, that, having his yarn stolen, he went to Hodges (ten miles off), and he told him that at such an hour he should have it brought home again and put in at the window, and so it was; and as I remember he showed him the person's face in a glass. Yet I do not think that Hodges made any

known contract with the devil, but thought it án effect of art.”

The third species, as a mixture of white and black, are styled the

gray witches ; for they can both help and hurt. Thus the end and effect of witchcraft seems to be sometimes good and sometimes the direct contrary. In the first case the sick are healed, thieves are bewrayed, and true men come to their goods. In the second, men, women, children, or animals, as also grass, trees, or corn, &c., are hurt.

The Laplanders, says Scheffer, have a cord tied with knots for the raising of the wind : they, as Ziegler relates it, tie three magical knots in this cord; when they untie the first there blows a favorable gale of wind; when the second, a brisker ; when the third, the sea and wind grow mighty, stormy, and tempestuous. This, he adds, that we have reported concerning the Laplanders, does not in fact belong to them, but to the Finlanders of Norway, because no other writers mention


it, and because the Laplanders live in an inland country. However, the method of selling winds is this : “They deliver a small rope with three knots upon it, with this caution, that when they loose the first they shall have a good wind; if the second, a stronger; if the third such a storm will arise that they can neither see how to direct the ship and avoid rocks, or so much as stand upon the decks, or handle the tackling." The same is admitted by King James in his Dæmonology, p. 117. See also the notes to Macbeth.

Pomponius Mela, who wrote in the reign of the Emperor Claudius (P. Mela, iii. c. 6), mentions a set of priestesses in the Island of Sena, or the Ile des Saints, on the coast of Gaul, who were thought to have the quality, like the Laplanders, or rather Finlanders, of troubling the sea, and raising the winds by their enchantments, being, however, subservient only to seafaring people, and only to such of them as come on purpose to consult them.

Ranulph Higden, in the Polychronicon, p. 195, tells us that the witches in the Isle of Man anciently sold winds to mariners, and delivered them in knots tied upon a thread, exactly as the Laplanders did.'

The following passage is from Scot's Discovery, p. 33 : “No one endued with common sense but will deny that the elements are obedient to witches and at their commandment, or that they may, at their pleasure, send rain, hail, tempests, thunder, lightning, when she, being but an old doting woman, casteth a flint stone over her left shoulder towards the west, or lurleth a little sea-sand up into the element, or wetteth a broomsprig in water, and sprinkleth the same in the air ; or diggeth a pit in the earth, and, putting water therein, stirreth it about with her finger; or boileth hog's bristles; or layeth sticks across upon a bank where never a drop of water is; or buryeth sage till it be rotten : all which things are confessed by witches, and affirmed by writers to be the means that witches use to move extraordinary tempests and rain.”

"Ignorance," says Osbourne, in his Advice to his Son, 8vo. Oxf. 1656, “reports of witches that they are unable to hurt

The power of confining and bestowing is attributed to Eolus in the Odyssey. Calypso, in other places of the same work, is supposed to have been able to confer favorable winds. See Gent. Mag. for Jan. 1763, xxxiii. 13, with the signature of T. Row [the late Dr. Pegge].


[ocr errors]


till they have received an almes ; which, though ridiculous in itselfe, yet in this sense is verified, that charity seldom goes to the gate but it meets with ingratitude,” p. 94.

Spotiswood, as cited by Andrews, in his Continuation of Henry's History of Great Britain, p. 503, says, “In the North” (of Britain) there were “matron-like witches and ignorant witches.” It was to one of the superior sort that Satan, being pressed to kill James the Sixth, thus excused himself in French, “Il est homme de Dieu.

Camden, in his Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish, says: “If a cow becomes dry, a witch is applied to, who, inspiring her with a fondness for some other calf, makes her yield her milk.” (Gough's Camden, iii. 659.) He tells us, ibid. : “ The women who are turned off (by their husbands) have recourse to witches, who are supposed to inflict barrenness, impotence, or the most dangerous diseases, on the former husband or his new wife.” Also, “They account every woman who fetches fire on May-day a witch, nor will they give it to any but sick persons, and that with an imprecation, believing she will steal all the butter next summer.

On Mayday they kill all hares they find among their cattle, supposing them the old women who have designs on the butter. They imagine the butter so stolen may be recovered if they take some of the thatch hanging over the door and burn it.

The mode of becoming a witch, according to Grose, is as follows: “A decrepit superannuated old woman is tempted by a man in black to sign a contract to become his both soul and body. On the conclusion of the agreementl he gives her a piece of money, and causes her to write her name and make her mark on a slip of parchment with her own blood. Sometimes, also, on this occasion, the witch uses the ceremony of putting one hand to the sole of her foot, and the other to the crown of her head. On departing, he delivers to her an imp or familiar.2 The familiar, in the shape of a cat or a kitten,

· In making these bargains, it is said, there was sometimes a great deal of haggling. The sum given to bind the bargain was sometimes a groat, at other times half-a-crown. 2 In Cotgrave's Treasury of Wit and Language, p. 263, we read :

“ Thou art a soldier,
Followest the great duke, feed'st his victories,
As witches do their serviceable spirits,
Even with thy prodigal blood."

a mole, millerfly, or some other insect or animal, at stated times of the day, sucks her blood through teats on different parts of her body.” There is a great variety of the names of these imps or familiars.

A witch,” (as I read in the curious tract entitled, Round about our Coal Fire,) "according to my nurse's account, must be a haggard old woman, living in a little rotten cottage, under a hill, by a wood-side, and must be frequently spinning at the door; she must have a black cat, two or three broomsticks, an imp or two, and two or three diabolical teats to suckle her imps. She must be of so dry a nature, that if you fling her into a river she will not sink; so hard then is her fate, that, if she is to undergo the trial, if she does not drown, she must be burnt, as many have been within the memory of


[ocr errors]

The subsequent occurs in Cotgrave's English Treasury of Wit and Language, p. 298 :

" Thus witches
Possess'd, ev'n in their death deluded, say
They have been wolves and dogs, and sailed in egge-shels'
Over the sea, and rid on fiery dragons,
Pass'd in the air more than a thousand miles
All in a night : the enemy of mankind

So pow'rfull, but false and falshood confident.” Whitaker, in his History of Whalley, 4to. 1818, p. 216, has given from a paper in the Bodleian library (MS. Dodsw. vol. Ixi. p. 47) the confession of one of the poor persons in Pendle Forest, accused of witchcraft, in 1633, describing minutely the manner in which she was made a witch.

In the Relation of the Swedish Witches, at the end of Glanvil's Sadducismus Triumphatus, we are told that “the devil gives them a beast about the bigness and shape of a young cat, which they call a carrier. What this carrier brings they must receive for the devil. These carriers fill themselves so full sometimes, that they are forced to spew by the way, which spewing is found in several gardens where colworts grow, and not far from the houses of those witches. It is of a yellow, colour like gold, and is called “butter of witches.""

1 The Connoisseur, No. 109, says: “It is a common notion that a witch can make a voyage to the East Indies in an egg-shell, or take a journey of two or three hundred miles across the country on a broomstick."

[ocr errors]

p. 494. Probably this is the same substance which is called in Northumberland, fairy butter.

In a Discourse of Witchcraft, MS., communicated by John Pinkerton, Esq., written by Mr. John Bell, Minister of the Gospel at Gladsmuir, 1705, p. 23, on the subject of witches' marks, I read as follows: “ This mark is sometimes like a little teate, sometimes like a blewish spot; and I myself have seen it in the body of a confessing witch like a little powder-mark of a blea(blue) colour, somewhat hard, and withal insensible, so as it did not bleed when I pricked it.”

From the News from Scotland, &c., 1591 (a tract which will be more fully noticed hereafter), it appears that, having tortured in vain à suspected witch with the pilliwinckes upon her fingers, which is a grievous torture, and binding or wrenching her head with a cord or rope, which is a most cruel torture also, they, upon search, found the enemy's mark to be in her forecrag, or forepart of her throat, and then she confessed all.” In another the devil's mark was found upon her privities.

Dr. Fian was by the king's command consigned on this occasion “to the horrid torment of the boots,” and afterwards strangled and burnt on the Castle-hill, Edinburgh, on a Saturday in the end of January, 1591.

The Sabbath of witches is a meeting to which the sisterhood, after having been anointed with certain magical ointments, provided by their infernal leader, are supposed to be carried through the air on brooms, coul-staves, spits, &c. Butler, in his Hudibras, I. ii. 105, has the following on this subject :

“ Or trip it o'er the water quicker

Than witches when their staves they liquor,

As some report." Reginald Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, b. iii. c. i. p. 40, speaking of the vulgar opinion of witches flying, observes that “the devil teacheth them to make ointment of the bowels and members of children, whereby they ride in the air and accomplish all their desires. After burial they steal them out of their graves and seeth them in a cauldron, till the flesh be nade potable, of which they make an ointment, by which they ride in the air.” Wierus exposes the folly of this opinion in his book De Præstigiis Dæmonum, proving it to be a dia

« VorigeDoorgaan »