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and heresy of witchcraft. Luther was reported to have signed the infernal compact with his blood. The devil enabled the Waldenses to walk on the water, till a priest, grieved that such a counterfeit miracle should pass, brought the consecrated wafer to dissolve the enchantment, but in vain; till, enraged at the failure, he threw it into the river, and as soon as that swam, the Waldenses sunk. In More's supplement to Glanvil's Relations, is a tale of a man at Balsham, near Cambridge, who was bewitched away from his parish church by the Quakers, or, when he attended it, rendered unable either to sing or say as he ought. A female Quaker appears to have been the agent; she promised signs for his conversion, and he became possessed with a spirit, which used his organs of speech, against his will, in praise of Quakerism, and compelled him to go, and take his family, all naked, and search after the New Jerusalem. He was dispossessed by the clergyman who himself drew up the account. The nonconformists were not behind. Cotton Mather tried one of the New England possessed, with "the Bible, the Assembly's Catechism, his Grandfather's Milk for Babes, his Father's remarkable Providence, and a book to prove that there were witches;" and when any of these were offered for her to read in, she would be struck dead and fall into hideous convulsions. These good books, he says, were mortal to her. To make the case more manifest both ways, he tried her with other books, as Quakers' books, Popish books, the Cambridge and Oxford Jests, a Prayer-book, a book written to prove that there were no witches; and the devil would let her read these as long as she would, and particularly she treated the Prayer-book with great respect. One of Baxter's tales is of " an old reading Parson, named Lewis, not far from Framlingham, that was hanged; who confessed that he had two imps, and that one of them was always putting him on doing mischief; and he being near the sea, as he saw a ship under sail, it moved him to send him to sink the ship, and he consented, and saw the ship sink before him." That this clergyman was four-score years old; that his confession was obtained after being swam, and made to walk almost incessantly for several days and nights, by Hopkins and his gang; and that when out of their clutches, and on his trial, he steadily denied the charges against him; are circumstances which the impartial historian would have recorded, while only the partizan would have thought his not preaching extempore, but being an old reading Parson,' worth marking by the' archness of italics!' "

The clergy and the witches were like hostile armies, and the possessed were the prize for which they fought; the former ejecting the devils from their human abodes, as fast as the latter sent them in. The witches had much the worst of it, as the

demons who were employed by them generally, either voluntarily or by compulsion, impeached their mistresses, and found ready, and too often fatal, credenee. All parties wished for a monopoly of the glory of delivering mankind from these intruders. The church of England fenced it with a canon. The Catholic priest relied on the high prerogatives of his church and the virtue of his adjurations. The gifted fanatics claimed it by superior holiness and zeal, the purity of their doctrine, and the length and fervency of their devotions. Still the contest implied the existence of the evil for which each boasted of his own infallible remedy. And the consent on this point was indeed extraordinary, as the reader may see in Baxter's book, where authorities of all classes are cited from Jesuits and Inquisitors, down to Emlyn the Arian, who is referred to for an "odd passage," " which is :

"A godly minister, yet living, sitting by to see one of the girls (on whose evidence Rose Cullender and Amy Duny were convicted and executed) in her fits, suddenly felt a force pull one of the hooks from his breeches; and while he looked with wonder what was become of it, the tormented girl vomited it up out of her mouth."

As the stock of superstition in England was continually diminishing by the operation of native good sense, the growing rationality of Theology, and a sounder mode of philosophizing, it was kept up from time to time by importations. The disease might have subsided much sooner, had not the public mind been inoculated with the pestilent matter of exotic insanity. The tales of Sprengen and Institen, in the Malleus Maleficarum, of Bodinus, and of Remigius, were anglicised and read with avidity. The examinations which were had in Scotland were the immediate cause of the statute of James, and of his Demonology. The discovery of the witchcrafts of Mohra, in Sweden, produced considerable effect. At that village, the whole population of which is spoken of as only about three thousand souls, there were condemned at once, in 1670, eighty-five persons, fifteen of which were children; and most, if not all of them, were executed. Six and thirty children, between nine and sixteen years of age, were condemned to run the gauntlet, and to be whipped once a week for a year; and twenty younger children were beaten with rods on the hands for three following Sundays at the church door. Three hundred children were implicated, most of whom confessed that they had, either willingly or by force, accompanied the witches to their weekly meeting with the devil. Their statements were confirmed by those of the witches who confessed, and who alleged that the devil compelled them to bring as many children as could be procured, with them for his service. The part which children have acted

is rather a curious article in the history of witchcraft. Many of the most miraculous facts have, in different trials, both in this and other countries, rested chiefly, or solely, on their testimony. The unmeaning repetition of what they heard, the mistaking of dreams and reveries for realities, the unnatural excitement of their imaginations by what was passing around them, and the desire of sustaining and increasing the importance into which they found themselves elevated, may afford some explanation of this circumstance, independently of the gross falsehoods which fear or bribes made them utter in cases of absolute imposture.

The transactions in New England, about the close of the seventeenth century, were rather too late to have much effect here, though garbled accounts of them served to fill up the volumes of the advocates of a declining folly. They continued about sixteen months, during which time, at Boston and Andover, nineteen were hanged, all protesting their innocence. One was pressed to death for refusing to plead; above fifty had confessed; one hundred and fifty were in prison; and about two hundred more were accused. A dog suffered in this persecution. Those on whom he looked, fell into fits. By what forms he was condemned, and whether he was put to death as wizard or devil, is not mentioned. The sudden stay of these proceedings was occasioned by the increasing boldness of the accusers, who began with a slave, but at length involved many of the most reputable colonists in the charge, and it was feared that the devil was waging a successful war upon the Lord's people, under false colours. The trials therefore ceased, the prisons were thrown open, the possessed became quiet, and the spirits sent by the Pow-wows (who, as Mather thought, had occasioned the mischief) returned to their Indian allies.

The human body is not more liable to contagion than the imagination, nor are the results much more rapid or pernicious. The arrival of reams of horrid tales was as much to be deprecated by our ancestors, as that of bales of infected wares; and could they have been put into quarantine till the noxious falsehoods had evaporated, till the fever had subsided, and the delusion or trick had been exposed, (and for this, in many cases, no very long delay would have sufficed,) the procedure would have been a salutary one. But the mischief was done before the antidote arrived. Truth followed superstition bravely in the chace from country to country, but still arrived too late to prevent her atrocities, and had only the slower task left of mitigating and gradually healing the wounds she had inflicted.

Although ignorance and superstition did occasionally originate a tale of witchcraft, as when a physician knew not what to make of his patient's disease, or how to cure it, and salved his own credit by attributing it to the nearest suspicious old



woman; or when the anger of any such poor creature was followed by some accident or illness to its objects; yet generally their office was only to give ready faith and rapid currency to the inventions of malice and the frauds of rank imposture. They were invited guests at these feasts on human sacrifices, and oft-times discharged the functions of butcher and priest; but they did not cater for the table or altar, nor provide the victims. In the most celebrated cases of witchcraft, almost without exception, trickery, gross trickery, either was very soon detected, or has left very obvious traces of its agency. The fraud was not on the part of the persons accused of witchcraft; their destruction was its object in many cases, and generally was its result. Nobody pretended to be a witch; the character was too odious, even had not its assumption been so dangerous. The acknowledgment of it so frequently made was a confession, not a pretension; it was the plea of guilty to an imputed crime, and not the claim of a privileged and gainful profession. Whitewitchery, wise-womanhood, astrology, and some species of conjuration, were indeed professed, and that not only in many cases with impunity, but often with a considerable degree of honour and profit. These and similar arts were alleged to be the result of abstruse science, and even superior holiness, and not purchased by unhallowed compact with the evil one. Their professors lived in credit, and died in their beds. Sometimes they helped others to die out of them; they were consulted for the detection of witches, whom they readily pointed out; and their divine science was demonstrated by predictions of finding waxen images and other nefarious articles in the houses of the accused, which predictions were very punctually fulfilled, especially if they themselves assisted in the secret. The circumstances recorded in many trials, which yet terminated fatally, are such as to leave little doubt of this fabrication of evidence. Besides the gratification of.personal malice, and perhaps sometimes a profitable ministering to that of others, the members of this class had an obvious interest in keeping up the belief of a more odious class, on which that pitiless storm might beat, which would else have burst upon their own heads. The shelter was convenient; it was necessary. Their turn would have come next, had no black witches been forthcoming; the writers in favour of the reality of that art suspected them, and those on the other side denounced them as the parties who were really obnoxious to the laws, of Moses at least, if not of England; and to be so was not a little perilous during the despotism of the gifted brethren. The general attention and sympathy directed towards those who were supposed to suffer by witchcraft, was alone sufficient to ensure a succession of impostors, and that secured a succession of victims. Many an idle boy was

raised into notice by a few tricks and contortions, and exchanged school or work, with hard fare, for the well-spread tables of his willing dupes, and the receipt of public collections and private donations. If the demoniacs themselves did not accuse a witch as the author of their calamity, the exorcists did it for them. This happened but rarely. In one instance, the prayers and fastings of several ministers having failed to expel the devil, they were so enraged as to charge the demoniac and his whole family with witchcraft, and to have them searched for invisible marks. This was a young man who had sold himself to the devil, that he might be the best dancer in Lancashire. The purchaser took immediate possession, but was loudly reproached by the ministers with having failed to fulfil his part of the contract. They compared the exhibition which their patient made of his ill-acquired skill to the hoppings of a frog, the bouncings of a goat, the friskings of a dog, or the gesticulations of a monkey. They said that he twirled like a calf that had the turn, and twitched up his houghs just like a spring-halt tit. It may be doubted whether their authority is sufficient warrant for the justice of these reproaches, especially as it is on record that the famous la volta, which is in fact the modern waltz, was carried from Italy, its native country, into France by the witches; and it must therefore have been a favourite with the president of their festive meetings, if not of his invention. However, they were foiled; the sufferer called out for Popish priests to dispossess him, and the ministers declared "that the devil had more mind to let them have the credit of casting him out, because his ends would be better served by Popery than by them." He was not the only one whose ends were served by such mummeries. When we find some devils yielding only to good Catholics, others only to regular episcopal clergymen, others working at prayer books, but severely tormented at, and ultimately flying before the extemporaneous effusions of fanatics, we ascertain the prompter as well as the actor. Not that this collusion was formally made and ratified, signed, sealed, and delivered, being first duly stamped; but there were many ways in which exorcist and demoniac could understand each other, and it was not uncommon for the former to predict the particular manner in which the devil would shew his presence in the latter. A variety of tricks of this kind are preserved in the " Discovery of the fraudulent practices of John Darrel," which was written by Dr. Harsnett, afterwards Archbishop of York, and is a very acute and sensible book, with a fine vein of irony. Darrel was designed for the law, but after about a year's preparation for it, Providence gave him a vocation for the gospel, by “laying (as he says) a strange and extraordinary sluggishness upon him." He was one of the first Puritans who entered the lists as an ex

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