Discovery of Witches - The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster
by Thomas Potts
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Remains Historical & Literary Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester

Published by the Chetham Society.

Vol. VI.

Printed for the Chetham Society. M.DCCC.XLV.




In the County of Lancaster,

Reprinted from the Original Edition of 1613.

With an Introduction and Notes, by JAMES CROSSLEY, ESQ.

Printed for the Chetham Society. M.DCC.XLV. Manchester: Printed by Charles Simms and Co.


Were not every chapter of the history of the human mind too precious an inheritance to be willingly relinquished,—for appalling as its contents may be, the value of the materials it may furnish may be inestimable,—we might otherwise be tempted to wish that the miserable record in which the excesses occasioned by the witch mania are narrated, could be struck out of its pages, and for ever cancelled. Most assuredly, he, who is content to take the fine exaggeration of the author of Hydriotaphia as a serious and literal truth, and who believes with him that "man is a glorious animal," must not go to the chapter which contains that record for his evidences and proofs. If he should be in search of materials for humiliation and abasement, he will find in the history of witchcraft in this country, from the beginning to the end of the seventeenth century, large and abundant materials, whether it affects the species or the individual. In truth, human nature is never seen in worse colours than in that dark and dismal review. Childhood, without any of its engaging properties, appears prematurely artful, wicked and cruel[1]; woman, the victim of a wretched and debasing bigotry, has yet so little of the feminine adjuncts, that the fountains of our sympathies are almost closed; and man, tyrannizing over the sex he was bound to protect, in its helpless destitution and enfeebled decline, seems lost in prejudice and superstition and only strong in oppression. If we turn from the common herd to the luminaries of the age, to those whose works are the landmarks of literature and science, the reference is equally disappointing;—

"The sun itself is dark And silent as the moon Hid in her vacant interlunar cave."

[Footnote 1: Take, as an instance, the children of Mr. Throgmorton, of Warbois, for bewitching whom, Mother Samuels, her husband, and daughter, suffered in 1593. No veteran professors "in the art of ingeniously tormenting" could have administered the question with more consummate skill than these little incarnate fiends, till the poor old woman was actually induced, from their confident asseverations and plausible counterfeiting, to believe at last that she had been a witch all her life without knowing it. She made a confession, following the story which they had prompted, on their assurances that it was the only means to restore them, and then was hanged upon that confession, to which she adhered on the scaffold. Few tracts present a more vivid picture of manners than that in which the account of this case of witchcraft is contained. It is perhaps the rarest of the English tracts relating to witchcraft, and is entitled "The most strange and admirable Discoverie of the three Witches of Warboys, arraigned, convicted, and executed at the last Assizes at Huntingdon, for the bewitching of the five daughters of Robert Throckmorton, Esquire, and divers other persons with sundrie Devilish and grievous torments. And also for the bewitching to Death of the Lady Crumwell, the like hath not been heard of in this age. London, Printed by the Widdowe Orwin for Thomas Man and John Winnington, and are to be sold in Paternoster Rowe at the Signe of the Talbot." 1593, 4to. My copy was Brand's, and formed Lot 8224 in his Sale Catalogue.]

We find the illustrious author of the Novum Organon sacrificing to courtly suppleness his philosophic truth, and gravely prescribing the ingredients for a witches' ointment;[2]—Raleigh, adopting miserable fallacies at second hand, without subjecting them to the crucible of his acute and vigorous understanding;[3]—Selden, maintaining that crimes of the imagination may be punished with death;[4]—The detector of Vulgar Errors, and the most humane of physicians,[5] giving the casting weight to the vacillating bigotry of Sir Matthew Hale;[6]—Hobbes, ever sceptical, penetrating and sagacious, yet here paralyzed, and shrinking from the subject as if afraid to touch it;[7]—The adventurous explorer, who sounded the depths and channels of the "Intellectual System" along all the "wide watered" shores of antiquity, running after witches to hear them recite the Common Prayer and the Creed, as a rational test of guilt or innocence;[8]—The gentle spirit of Dr. Henry More, girding on the armour of persecution, and rousing itself from a Platonic reverie on the Divine Life, to assume the hood and cloak of a familiar of the Inquisition;[9]—and the patient and enquiring Boyle, putting aside for a while his searches for the grand Magisterium, and listening, as if spell-bound, with gratified attention to stories of witches at Oxford, and devils at Mascon.[10] Nor is it from a retrospect of our own intellectual progress only that we find how capricious, how intermitting, and how little privileged to great names or high intellects, or even to those minds which seemed to possess the very qualifications which would operate as conductors, are those illuminating gleams of common sense which shoot athwart the gloom, and aid a nation on its tardy progress to wisdom, humanity, and justice. If on the Continent there were, in the sixteenth century, two men from whom an exposure of the absurdities of the system of witchcraft might have been naturally and rationally expected, and who seem to stand out prominently from the crowd as predestined to that honourable and salutary office, those two men were John Bodin[11] and Thomas Erastus.[12] The former a lawyer—much exercised in the affairs of men—whose learning was not merely umbratic—whose knowledge of history was most philosophic and exact—of piercing penetration and sagacity—tolerant—liberal minded—disposed to take no proposition upon trust, but to canvass and examine every thing for himself, and who had large views of human nature and society—in fact, the Montesquieu of the seventeenth century. The other, a physician and professor, sage, judicious, incredulous,

"The scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks,"

who had routed irrecoverably empiricism in almost every shape—Paracelsians—Astrologers—Alchemists—Rosicrucians—and who weighed and scrutinized and analyzed every conclusion, from excommunication and the power of the keys to the revolutions of comets and their supposed effects on empires, and all with perfect fearlessness and intuitive insight into the weak points of an argument. Yet, alas! for human infirmity. Bodin threw all the weight of his reasoning and learning and vivacity into the scale of the witch supporters, and made the "hell-broth boil and bubble" anew, and increased the witch furor to downright fanaticism, by the publication of his Demo-manie,[13] a work in which

"Learning, blinded first and then beguiled, Looks dark as ignorance, as frenzy wild;"

but which it is impossible to read without being carried along by the force of mind and power of combination which the author manifests, and without feeling how much ingenious sophistry can perform to mitigate and soften the most startling absurdity. His contemporary, Erastus, after all his victories on the field of imposition, was foiled by the subject of witchcraft at last. This was his pet delusion—almost the only one he cared not to discard—like the dying miser's last reserve:—

—— "My manor, sir? he cried; Not that, I cannot part with that,—and died."

[Footnote 2: Lord Bacon thinks (see his Sylva Sylvarum) that soporiferous medicines "are likeliest" for this purpose, such as henbane, hemlock, mandrake, moonshade, tobacco, opium, saffron, poplar leaves, &c.]

[Footnote 3: See his History of the World.]

[Footnote 4: See his Table Talk, section "Witches."]

[Footnote 5: Sir Thomas Browne's evidence at the trial of Amy Duny and Rose Cullender at Bury St. Edmunds in 1664, is too well known to need an extract from the frequently reprinted report of the case. To adopt the words of an able writer, (Retros. Review, vol. v. p. 118,) "this trial is the only place in which we ever meet with the name of Sir Thomas Browne without pleasurable associations."]

[Footnote 6: Those who wish to have presented to them a faithful likeness of Sir Matthew Hale must not consult Burnet or Baxter, for that great judge, like Sir Epicure Mammon, sought "for his meet flatterers the gravest of divines," but will not fail to find it in the pages of Roger North, who has depicted his character with a strength and accuracy of outline which no Vandyck or Lely of biography ever surpassed. Would that we could exchange some of those "faultless monsters" with which that fascinating department of literature too much abounds, for a few more such instantly recognised specimens of true but erring and unequal humanity, which are as rare as they are precious. In the unabridged life of Lord Guildford by Roger North, which, with his own most interesting and yet unpublished autobiography, are in my possession in his autograph, are found some additional touches which confirm the general accuracy of the portrait he has sketched of Hale in the work which has been printed. (Vide North's Life of Lord Guildford, by Roscoe, vol. i. p. 119.)]

[Footnote 7: See his Dialogue on the Common Laws of England.]

[Footnote 8: Dr. Cudworth was the friend whom More refers to without naming, Collections of Relations, p. 336, edit. 1726, 8vo.]

[Footnote 9: There is no name in this catalogue that excites more poignant regret than that of Dr. Henry More. So exalted was his character, so serene and admirable his temper, so full of harmony his whole intellectual constitution, that, irradiated at once by all the lights of religion and philosophy, and with clearer glimpses of the land of vision and the glories behind the veil than perhaps uninspired mortality ever partook of before, he seems to have reached as near to the full standard of perfection as it is possible for frail and feeble humanity to attain. Dr. Outram said that he looked upon Dr. More as the holiest person upon the face of the earth; and the sceptical Hobbes, who never dealt in compliment, observed, "That if his own philosophy were not true, he knew of none that he should sooner like than More's of Cambridge." His biographer, Ward, concludes his life in the following glowing terms:—"Thus lived and died the eminent Dr. More: thus set this bright and illustrious star, vanishing by degrees out of our sight after, to the surprise and admiration of many, (like that which was observed in Cassiopeia's chair,) it had illuminated, as it were, both worlds so long at once." At the lapse of many years I have not forgotten the impassioned fondness with which the late and most lamented Robert Southey dwelt upon the memory of the Cambridge Plato, or the delight with which he greeted some works of his favourite author which I was fortunate enough to point out to him, with which he had not been previously acquainted. The sad reverse of the picture will he seen by those who consult the folio of More's philosophical works and Glanville's Sadducismus Triumphatus, the greatest part of which is derived from More's Collections. His hallucinations on the subject of witchcraft, from which none of the English writers of the Platonic school were exempt, are the more extraordinary, as a sister error, judicial astrology, met in More with its most able oppugner. His tract, which has excited much less attention than its merit deserves, (I have not been able to trace a single quotation from it in any author during the last century,) is entitled "Tetractys Anti-astrologica, or a Confutation of Astrology." Lond. 1681, 4to. I may mention while on the subject of More, that the second and most valuable part of the memoir of him by Ward, his devoted admirer and pupil, which was never printed, is in my possession, in manuscript.]

[Footnote 10: See Boyle's letter on the subject of the latter, in the 5th vol. of the folio edition of his works.]

[Footnote 11: I have always considered the conclusion of Bodin's book, De Republica, the accumulative grandeur of which is even heightened in Knolles's admirable English translation, as the finest peroration to be found in any work on government. Those who are fortunate enough to possess a copy of his interdicted Examination of Religions, the title of which is, "Colloquium heptaplomeres de abditis sublimium rerum arcanis, libris 6 digestum," which was never printed, and of which very few MSS. copies are in existence, are well aware how little he felt himself shackled in the spirit of examination which he carried into the most sacred subjects by any respect for popular notions or received systems or great authorities. My MS. copy of this extraordinary work, which came from Heber's Collection, is contained in two rather thick folio volumes.]

[Footnote 12: Few authors are better deserving of an extended biography, a desideratum which, in an age characterised by its want of literary research, is not likely to be soon supplied, than Thomas Erastus, whose theological, philosophical, and medical celebrity entitle him to rank with the greatest men of his century. At present we have to collect all that is known of his life from various scattered and contradictory sources. John Webster, in his Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, contrary to the usual candour and fairness of his judgments, speaks slightingly of Erastus. There was, however, a sufficient reason for this. Erastus had shown up the empiricism of Webster's idol Paracelsus, and was in great disfavour with the writers of the Anti-Galenic school.]

[Footnote 13: I cannot concur with Mr. Hallam in the extremely low estimate he forms of the literary merit of Bodin's Demomanie, which he does not seem to have examined with the care and impartiality which he seldom is deficient in. Like all Bodin's works, it has a spirit peculiarly his own, and is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining books to be found in the circle of Demonology.]

In his treatise De Lamiis, published in 1577, 8vo., he defends nearly all the absurdities of the system with a blind zealotry which in such a man is very remarkable. His book has accordingly taken its place on the same shelf with Sprenger, Remigius, Delrio, and De Lancre, and deserves insertion only in a list which has yet to be made out, and which if accurately compiled would be a literary curiosity, of the singularly illogical books of singularly able reasoners. What was left unaccomplished by the centurions of literature came ultimately from the strangest of all possible quarters; from the study of an humble pupil of the transmuter of metals and prince of mountebanks and quacks—the expounder of Reuchlin de verbo mirifico, and lecturer in the unknown tongues—the follower of Trismegistus—cursed with bell, book and candle, by every decorous Church in Christendom—the redoubted Cornelius Agrippa; who, if he left not to his pupil Wierus the secret of the philosopher's stone or grand elixir, seems to have communicated a treasure perhaps equally rare and not less precious, the faculty of seeing a truth which should open the eyes of bigotry and dispel the mists of superstition, which should stop the persecution of the helpless and stay the call for blood. If, in working out this virgin ore from the mine, he has produced it mixed up with the scoria of his master's Occult Philosophy; if he gives us catalogues of devils and spirits, with whose acquaintance we could have dispensed; if he pleads the great truth faintly, inconsistently, imperfectly, and is evidently unaware of the strength of the weapons he wields; these deductions do not the less entitle Wierus to take his place in the first rank of Humanity's honoured professors, the true philanthropists and noble benefactors of mankind.

In our own country, it may be curious and edifying to observe to whom we mainly owe those enlightened views on this subject, which might have been expected to proceed in their natural channel, but for which we look in vain, from the "triumphant heirs of universal praise," the recognized guides of public opinion, whose fame sheds such a lustre on our annals,—the Bacons, the Raleighs, the Seldens, the Cudworths, and the Boyles.

The strangely assorted and rather grotesque band to whom we are principally indebted for a vindication of outraged common sense and insulted humanity in this instance, and whose vigorous exposition of the absurdities of the prevailing system, in combination with other lights and sources of intelligence, led at last to its being universally abandoned, consists of four individuals—on any of whom a literary Pharisee would look down with supercilious scorn:—a country gentleman, devoted to husbandry, and deep in platforms of hop gardens,[14]—a baronet, whose name for upwards of a century has been used as a synonyme for incurable political bigotry,[15]—a little, crooked, and now forgotten man, who died, as his biographer tells us, "distracted, occasioned by a deep conceit of his own parts, and by a continual bibbing of strong and high tasted liquors,"[16]—and last, but not least assuredly, of one who was by turns a fanatical preacher and an obscure practitioner of physic, and who passed his old age at Clitheroe in Lancashire in attempting to transmute metals and discover the philosopher's stone.[17] So strange a band of Apostles of reason may occasion a smile; it deserves, at all events, a little more particular consideration before we address ourselves to the short narration which may be deemed necessary as an introduction to the republication which follows.

Of the first of the number, Reginald or Reynold Scot, it is to be regretted that more particulars are not known. Nearly the whole are contained in the following information afforded by Anthony a Wood, Athenae., vol. i. p. 297; from which it appears that he took to "solid reading" at a crisis of life when it is generally thrown aside. "Reynolde Scot, a younger son of Sir John Scot, of Scot's Hall, near to Smeeth, in Kent, by his wife, daughter of Reynolde Pimp, of Pimp's Court, Knight, was born in that county, and at about 17 years of age was sent to Oxon, particularly as it seems to Hart Hall, where several of his countrymen and name studied in the latter end of K. Henry VIII. and the reign of Edward VI., &c. Afterwards he retired to his native country, without the honour of a Degree, and settled at Smeeth, where he found great encouragement in his studies from his kinsman, Sir Thomas Scot. About which time, taking to him a wife, he gave himself up solely to solid reading, to the perusing of obscure authors that had, by the generality of scholars, been neglected, and at times of leisure to husbandry and gardening. He died in September or October in 1599, and was buried among his ancestors, in the church at Smeeth before mentioned." Retired as his life and obscure as his death might be, he is one whose name will be remembered as long as vigorous sense, flowing from the "wells of English undefiled," hearty and radiant humour, and sterling patriotism, are considered as deserving of commemoration. His Discoverie of Witchcraft, first published in 1584, is indeed a treat to him who wishes to study the idioms, manners, opinions, and superstitions of the reign of Elizabeth. Its entire title deserves to be given:—

"The discouerie of witchcraft, wherein the lewde dealing of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of coniurors, the impietie of inchantors, the follie of soothsaiers, the impudent falshood of cousenors, the infidelitie of atheists, the pestilent practises of Pythonists, the curiositie of figurecasters, the vanitie of dreamers, the beggerlie art of Alcumystrie, the abhomination of idolatrie, the horrible art of poisoning, the vertue and power of naturall magike, and all the conueiances of Legierdemaine and iuggling are deciphered: and many other things opened, which haue long lien hidden, howbeit verie necessarie to be knowne. Heerevnto is added a treatise vpon the nature and substance of spirits and diuels, &c: all latelie written by Reginald Scot Esquire. 1 John, 4, 1. Beleeue not euerie spirit but trie the spirits, whether they are of God; for many false prophets are gone out into the world, &c. 1584."

[Footnote 14: Reginald Scot.]

[Footnote 15: Sir R. Filmer.]

[Footnote 16: John Wagstaffe.]

[Footnote 17: John Webster.]

This title is sufficient to show that he gives no quarter to the delusion he undertakes to expose, and though he does not deny that there may be witches in the abstract, (to have done so would have left him a preacher without an audience,) yet he guards so cautiously against any practical application of that principle, and battles so vigorously against the error which assimilated the witches of modern times to the witches of Scripture, and, denying the validity of the confessions of those convicted, throws such discredit and ridicule upon the whole system, that the popular belief cannot but have received a severe shock from the publication of his work.[18] By an extraordinary elevation of good sense, he managed, not only to see through the absurdities of witchcraft, but likewise of other errors which long maintained their hold upon the learned as well as the vulgar. Indeed, if not generally more enlightened, he was, in some respects, more emancipated from delusion than even his great successor, the learned and sagacious Webster, who, a century after, clung still to alchemy which Reginald Scot had ridiculed and exposed. Yet with all its strong points and broad humour, it is undeniable that The Discoverie of Witchcraft only scotched the snake instead of killing it; and that its effect was any thing but final and complete. Inveterate error is seldom prostrated by a blow from one hand, and truth seems to be a tree which cannot be forced by planting it before its time. There was something, too, in the book itself which militated against its entire acceptance by the public. It is intended to form a little Encyclopaedia of the different arts of imposition practised in Scot's time; and in order to illustrate the various tricks and modes of cozenage, he gives us so many charms and diagrams and conjurations, to say nothing of an inventory of seventy-nine devils and spirits, and their several seignories and degrees, that the Occult Philosophy of Cornelius Agrippa himself looks scarcely less appalling, at first sight, than the Discoverie. This gave some colour to the declamation of the author's opponents, who held him up as Wierus had been represented before him, as if he were as deeply dipped in diabolical practises as any of those whom he defended. Atheist and Sadducee, if not very wizard himself, were the terms in which his name was generally mentioned, and as such, the royal author of the Demonology anathematizes him with great unction and very edifying horror. Against the papists, the satire of Scot had been almost as much directed as against what he calls the "witch-mongers," so that that very powerful party were to a man opposed to him. Vigorous, therefore, as was his onslaught, its effect soon passed by; and when on the accession of James, the statute which so long disgraced our penal code was enacted, as the adulatory tribute of all parties, against which no honest voice was raised, to the known opinions of the monarch, Scot became too unfashionable to be seen on the tables of the great or in the libraries of the learned. If he were noticed, it was only to be traduced as a sciolist, (imperitus dialecticae et aliarum bonarum artium, says Dr. Reynolds,) and to be exposed for imagined lapses in scholarship in an age when for a writer not to be a scholar, was like a traveller journeying without a passport. Meric Casaubon, who carried all the prejudices of the time of James the first into the reign of Charles the second, but who, though overshadowed by the fame of his father, was no unworthy scion of that incomparable stock, at the same time that he denounces Scot as illiterate, will only acknowledge to having met with him "at friends houses" and "booksellers shops," as if his work were one which would bring contamination to a scholar's library. Scot was certainly not a scholar in the sense in which the term is applied to the Scaligers, Casaubons, and Vossius's, though he would have been considered a prodigy of reading in these days of superficial acquisition. But he had original gifts far transcending scholarship. He had a manly, straightforward, vigorous understanding, which, united with an honest integrity of purpose, kept him right when greater men went wrong. How invaluable a phalanx would the battalion of folios which the reign of James the first produced now afford us, if the admirable mother-wit and single-minded sincerity of Reginald Scot could only have vivified and informed them.[19]

[Footnote 18: In the epistle to his kinsman Sir Thomas Scot, prefixed to his Discoverie, he observes:—

"I see among other malefactors manie poore old women conuented before you for working of miracles, other wise called witchcraft, and therefore I thought you also a meet person to whom I might commend my booke."—And he then proceeds, in the following spirited and gallant strain, to run his course against the Dagon of popular superstition:—

"I therefore (at this time) doo onelie desire you to consider of my report, concerning the euidence that is commonlie brought before you against them. See first whether the euidence be not friuolous, & whether the proofs brought against them be not incredible, consisting of ghesses, presumptions, & impossibilities contrarie to reason, scripture, and nature. See also what persons complaine vpon them, whether they be not of the basest, the vnwisest, & most faithles kind of people. Also may it please you to waie what accusations and crimes they laie to their charge, namelie: She was at my house of late, she would haue had a pot of milke, she departed in a chafe bicause she had it not, she railed, she curssed, she mumbled and whispered, and finallie she said she would be euen with me: and soone after my child, my cow, my sow, or my pullet died, or was strangelie taken. Naie (if it please your Worship) I haue further proofe: I was with a wise woman, and she told me I had an ill neighbour, & that she would come to my house yer it were long, and so did she; and that she had a marke aboue hir waste, & so had she: and God forgiue me, my stomach hath gone against hir a great while. Hir mother before hir was counted a witch, she hath beene beaten and scratched by the face till bloud was drawne vpon hir, bicause she hath beene suspected, & afterwards some of those persons were said to amend. These are the certeinties that I heare in their euidences.

"Note also how easilie they may be brought to confesse that which they neuer did, nor lieth in the power of man to doo: and then see whether I haue cause to write as I doo. Further, if you shall see that infidelitie, poperie, and manie other manifest heresies be backed and shouldered, and their professors animated and hartened, by yeelding to creatures such infinit power as is wrested out of Gods hand, and attributed to witches: finallie, if you shall perceiue that I haue faithfullie and trulie deliuered and set downe the condition and state of the witch, and also of the witchmonger, and haue confuted by reason and lawe, and by the word of God it selfe, all mine aduersaries obiections and arguments: then let me haue your countenance against them that maliciouslie oppose themselues against me.

"My greatest aduersaries are yoong ignorance and old custome. For what follie soeuer tract of time hath fostered, it is so superstitiouslie pursued of some, as though no error could be acquainted with custome. But if the lawe of nations would ioine with such custome, to the maintenance of ignorance, and to the suppressing of knowledge; the ciuilest countrie in the world would soone become barbarous, &c. For as knowledge and time discouereth errors, so dooth superstition and ignorance in time breed them."

The passage which I next quote, is a further specimen of the impressive and even eloquent earnestness with which he pleads his cause:—

"In the meane time, I would wish them to know that if neither the estimation of Gods omnipotencie, nor the tenor of his word, nor the doubtfulnes or rather the impossibilitie of the case, nor the small proofes brought against them, nor the rigor executed vpon them, nor the pitie that should be in a christian heart, nor yet their simplicitie, impotencie, or age may suffice to suppresse the rage or rigor wherewith they are oppressed; yet the consideration of their sex or kind ought to mooue some mitigation of their punishment. For if nature (as Plinie reporteth) haue taught a lion not to deale so roughlie with a woman as with a man, bicause she is in bodie the weaker vessell, and in hart more inclined to pitie (which Ieremie in his lamentations seemeth to confirme) what should a man doo in this case, for whome a woman was created as an helpe and comfort vnto him? In so much as, euen in the lawe of nature, it is a greater offense to slea a woman than a man: not bicause a man is not the more excellent creature, but bicause a woman is the weaker vessell. And therefore among all modest and honest persons it is thought a shame to offer violence or iniurie to a woman: in which respect Virgil saith, Nullum memorabile nomen foeminea in poena est.

"God that knoweth my heart is witnes, and you that read my booke shall see, that my drift and purpose in this enterprise tendeth onelie to these respects. First, that the glorie and power of God be not so abridged and abased, as to be thrust into the hand or lip of a lewd old woman: whereby the worke of the Creator should be attributed to the power of a creature. Secondlie, that the religion of the gospell may be seene to stand without such peeuish trumperie. Thirdlie, that lawfull fauour and christian compassion be rather vsed towards these poore soules, than rigor and extremitie. Bicause they, which are commonlie accused of witchcraft, are the least sufficient of all other persons to speake for themselues; as hauing the most base and simple education of all others; the extremitie of their age giuing them leaue to dote, their pouertie to beg, their wrongs to chide and threaten (as being void of anie other waie of reuenge) their humor melancholicall to be full of imaginations, from whence cheefelie proceedeth the vanitie of their confessions; as that they can transforme themselues and others into apes, owles, asses, dogs, cats, &c: that they can flie in the aire, kill children with charmes, hinder the comming of butter, &c.

"And for so much as the mightie helpe themselues together, and the poore widowes crie, though it reach to heauen, is scarse heard here vpon earth: I thought good (according to my poore abilitie) to make intercession, that some part of common rigor, and some points of hastie iudgement may be aduised vpon. For the world is now at that stay (as Brentius in a most godlie sermon in these words affirmeth) that euen as when the heathen persecuted the christians, if anie were accused to beleeue in Christ, the common people cried Ad leonem: so now, if anie woman, be she neuer so honest, be accused of witchcraft, they crie Ad ignem."]

[Footnote 19: In the intervening period between the publication of Soot's work and the advertisement of Filmer, several books came out on the subject of witchcraft. Amongst them it is right to notice "A Dialogue concerning Witches and Witchcraft, by George Giffard, Minister of God's Word in Maldon," 1593, 4to. This tract, which has been reprinted by the Percy Society, is not free from the leading fallacies which infected the reasonings of almost all the writers on witchcraft. It is, nevertheless, exceedingly entertaining, and well deserves a perusal, if only as transmitting to us, in their full freshness, the racy colloquialisms of the age of Elizabeth. It is to be hoped that the other works of Giffard, all of which are deserving of attention, independently of their theological interest, as specimens of pure and sterling English, may appear in a collected form. The next tract requiring notice is "The Trial of Witchcraft, by John Cotta," 1616, 4to, of which a second and enlarged edition was published in 1624. Cotta, who was a physician of great eminence and experience, residing at Northampton, has supplied in this very able, learned, and vigorous treatise, a groundwork which, if pursued to its just results, for he writes very cautiously and guardedly, and rather hints at his conclusions than follows them out, would have sufficed to have overthrown many of the positions of the supporters of the system of witchcraft. His work has a strong scholastic tinge, and is not without occasional obscurity; and on these accounts probably produced no very extensive impression at the time. He wrote two other tracts—1. "Discovery of the Dangers of ignorant practisers of Physick in England," 1612, 4to; 2. "Cotta contra Antonium, or An Ant-Anthony," Oxford, 1623, 4to; the latter of which, a keen satire against the chymists' aurum potabile, is exceedingly rare. Both are intrinsically valuable and interesting, and written with great vigour of style, and are full of curious illustrations derived from his extensive medical practice. I cannot conclude this note without adverting to Gaule's amusing little work, ("Select Cases of Conscience touching Witches and Witchcraft, by John Gaule, Preacher of the Word at Great Haughton, in the county of Huntingdon," 1646, 24mo.) which gives us all the casuistry applicable to witchcraft. We can almost forgive Gaule's fundamental errors on the general question, for the courage and spirit with which he battled with the villainous witchfinder, Hopkins, who wanted sorely to make an example of him, to the terror of all gainsayers of the sovereign power of this examiner-general of witches. Gaule proved himself to be an overmatch for the itinerating inquisitor, and so effectually attacked, battled with, and exposed him, as to render him quite harmless in future. The minister of Great Haughton was made of different metal to the "old reading parson Lewis," or Lowes, to whose fate Baxter refers with such nonchalance. As the only clergyman of the Church of England, that I am aware of, who was executed for witchcraft, Lewis's case is sufficiently interesting to merit some notice. Stearne's (vide his Confirmation of Witchcraft, p. 23,) account of it, which I have not seen quoted before, is as follows:—

"Thus was Parson Lowis taken, who had been a Minister, (as I have heard) in one Parish above forty yeares, in Suffolke, before he was condemned, but had been indited for a common imbarriter, and for Witchcraft, above thirty yeares before, and the grand Jury (as I have heard) found the bill for a common imbarriter, who now, after he was found with the markes, in his confession, he confessed, that in pride of heart, to be equall, or rather above God, the Devill tooke advantage of him, and hee covenanted with the Devill, and sealed it with his bloud, and had three Familiars or spirits, which sucked on the markes found upon his body, and did much harme, both by Sea and Land, especially by Sea, for he confessed, that he being at Lungarfort in Suffolke, where he preached, as he walked upon the wall, or workes there, he saw a great saile of Ships passe by, and that as they were sailing by, one of his three Impes, namely his yellow one, forthwith appeared to him, and asked him what hee should doe, and he bade it goe and sinke such a Ship, and shewed his Impe a new Ship, amongst the middle of the rest (as I remember) one that belonged to Ipswich, so he confessed the Impe went forthwith away, and he stood still, and viewed the Ships on the Sea as they were a sayling, and perceived that Ship immediately, to be in more trouble and danger then the rest; for he said, the water was more boystrous neere that then the rest, tumbling up and down with waves, as if water had been boyled in a pot, and soone after (he said) in a short time it sanke directly downe into the Sea, as he stood and viewed it, when all the rest sayled away in safety, there he confessed, he made fourteen widdowes in one quarter of an houre. Then Mr. Hopkin, as he told me (for he tooke his Confession) asked him, if it did not grieve him to see so many men cast away, in a short time, and that he should be the cause of so many poore widdowes on a suddaine, but he swore by his maker, no, he was joyfull to see what power his Impes had, and so likewise confessed many other mischiefes, and had a charme to keep him out of Goale, and hanging, as he paraphrased it himselfe, but therein the Devill deceived him; for he was hanged, that Michaelmas time 1645. at Burie Saint Edmunds, but he made a very farre larger confession, which I have heard hath been printed: but if it were so, it was neither of Mr. Hopkins doing nor mine owne; for we never printed anything untill now."

Hutchinson gives the explanation of this confession. What can be more atrocious than the whole story, which is yet but the common story of witch confessions?

"Adv. Then did not he confess this before the Commissioners, at the Time of his Tryal?

"Clerg. No, but maintained his Innocence stoutly, and challenged them to make Proof of such Things as they laid to his Charge. I had this from a Person of Credit, who was then in Court, and heard his Tryal. I may add, that tho' his Case is remembered better than others that suffered, yet I never heard any one speak of him, but with great Compassion, because of his Age and Character, and their Belief of his Innocence: And when he came to his Execution, because he would have Christian Burial, he read the Office himself, and that way committed his own Body to the Ground, in sure and certain Hope of the Resurrection to eternal Life.

"In the Notes upon those Verses that I quoted out of Hudibras, it is said, that he had been a painful Preacher for many Years, I may add for Fifty, for so long he had been Vicar of Brandeston in the County of Suffolk, as appears by the Time of his Institution. That I might know the present Sense of the Chief Inhabitants of that Place, I wrote to Mr. Wilson, the Incumbent of that Town, and by his Means received the following Letter from Mr. Rivett, a worthy Gentleman who lived lately in the same Place, and whose Father lived there before him.


"'In Answer to your Request concerning Mr. Lowes, my Father was always of the opinion, that Mr. Lowes suffered wrongfully, and hath often said, that he did believe, he was no more a Wizzard than he was. I have heard it from them that watched with him, that they kept him awake several Nights together, and run him backwards and forwards about the Room, until he was out of Breath: Then they rested him a little, and then ran him again: And thus they did for several Days and Nights together, till he was weary of his Life, and was scarce sensible of what he said or did. They swam him at Framlingham, but that was no true Rule to try him by; for they put in honest People at the same Time, and they swam as well as he."]

After the lapse of another half century, and at the very period when the persecution against witches waxed hotter, and the public prejudice had become only more inveterate, from the ingredient of fanaticism having been largely thrown in as a stimulant, another ally to the cause of compassion and common sense started up, in the person of one whose name has rounded many a period and given point to many an invective. To find the proscribed author of the Patriarcha purging with "euphrasy and rue" the eyes of the dispensers of justice, and shouldering the crowd to obtain for reason a fair and impartial hearing, is indeed like meeting with Saul among the prophets. If there be one name which has been doomed to run the gauntlet, and against which every pert and insolent political declaimer has had his fling, it is that of this unfortunate writer; yet in his short but masterly and unanswerable "Advertisement to the Jurymen of England, touching Witches, together with a difference between an English and Hebrew Witch," first published in 1653, 4to., he has addressed himself so cogently and decisively to the main fallacy of the arguments in favour of witchcraft which rested their force on Scripture misunderstood, and has so pertinently and popularly urged the points to be considered, that his tract must have had the greatest weight on the class to whom his reasoning was principally addressed, and on whose fiat the fates of his unhappy clients may be said to have hung. For this good service, reason and common sense owe Sir Robert Filmer a debt which does not yet appear to have been paid. The verdict of proscription against him was pronounced by the most incompetent and superficial aera of our literature, and no friendly appellant has yet moved the court of posterity for its reversal. Yet without entering upon the theory of the patriarchal scheme, which after all, perhaps, was not so irrational as may be supposed, or discussing on an occasion like the present the conflicting theories of government, it may be allowable to express a doubt whether even the famous author of the "Essay on the Human Understanding," to whose culminating star the decadence of the rival intelligence is attributable, can be shewn to have been as much in advance of his generation in the time of king William, as from the tract on witchcraft, and another written on a different subject, but with equally enlightened views,[20] Sir Robert Filmer manifestly appears to have outrun his at the period of the usurpation.[21]

[Footnote 20: I allude to his little tract on Usury.]

[Footnote 21: Between the period of the publication of Filmer's Advertisement and the appearance of Wagstaffe's work, a tract was published too important in this controversy to be passed over without notice. It is entitled A Candle in the Dark, or a Treatise concerning the Nature of Witches and Witchcraft; being Advice to Judges, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, and Grand Jurymen, what to do before they passe sentence on such as are arraigned for their lives as Witches. By Thomas Ady, M.A. London, printed for R.J., to be sold by Thomas Newberry, at the Three Lions in Cornhill, by the Exchange, 1656, 4to. Ady, of whom, unfortunately, nothing is known, presses the arguments against the witchmongers and witchfinders with unanswerable force. In fact, this tract comprises the quintessence of all that had been urged against the popular system, and his "Candle" was truly a burning and a shining light. His Dedication is too curious to be omitted:—

"To the Prince of the Kings of the Earth. It is the manner of men, O heavenly King, to dedicate their books to some great men, thereby to have their works protected and countenanced among them; but thou only art able, by thy holy Spirit of Truth, to defend thy Truth, and to make it take impression in the heart and understanding of men. Unto thee alone do I dedicate this work, entreating thy Most High Majesty to grant, that whoever shall open this book, thy holy Spirit may so possess their understanding, as that the Spirit of errour may depart from them, and that they may read and try thy Truth by the touchstone of thy Truth, the holy Scriptures; and finding that Truth, may embrace it and forsake their darksome inventions of Antichrist, that have deluded and defiled the nations now and in former ages. Enlighten the world, thou that art the Light of the World, and let darkness be no more in the world, now or in any future age; but make all people to walk as children of the Light for ever; and destroy Antichrist, that hath deceived the nations, and save us the residue by thyself alone; and let not Satan any more delude us, for the Truth is thine for ever." He then puts his "Dilemma that cannot be answered by Witchmongers." It is too long to quote, but it is a dilemma that would pose the stoutest Coryphaeus of the party to whom he addressed himself.]

The next champion in this unpopular cause, John Wagstaffe, who published "The Question of Witchcraft Debated," 1669, 12mo,[22] was, as A. a Wood informs us, "the son of John Wagstaffe, citizen of London, descended from those of his name of Hasland Hall, in Derbyshire, was born in Cheapside, within the city of London, became a commoner of Oriel College in the latter end of 1649, took the degrees in Arts, and applied himself to the study of politics and other learning. At length, being raised from an academical life to the inheritance of Hasland, by the death of an uncle, who died without male issue, he spent his life afterwards in single estate." His death took place in 1677. The Oxford historian, who had little reverence for new lights, and never loses an opportunity of girding at those whose weights and measures were not according to the current and only authentic standard, has left no very flattering account of his person. "He was a little crooked man, and of a despicable presence. He was laughed at by the boys of this University, because, as they said, he himself looked like a little wizard." Small as might be his stature, and questionable the shape in which he appeared, he might still have taken up the boast of the author of the Religio Medici: "Men that look upon my outside do err in my altitude, for I am above Atlas's shoulders." None but a large-souled and kindly-affectioned man, whose intellect was as comprehensive as his feelings were benevolent, could have produced the excellent little treatise which claims him as its author. The following is the lofty and memorable peroration in which he sums up the strength of his cause:—

"I cannot think without trembling and horror on the vast numbers of people that in several ages and several countries have been sacrificed unto this idol, Opinion. Thousands, ten thousands, are upon record to have been slain, and many of them not with simple deaths, but horrid, exquisite tortures. And yet, how many are there more who have undergone the same fate, of whom we have no memorial extant. Since, therefore, the opinion of witchcraft is a mere stranger unto Scripture, and wholly alien from true religion; since it is ridiculous by asserting fables and impossibilities; since it appears, when duly considered, to be all bloody and full of dangerous consequence unto the lives and safety of men; I hope that with this my Discourse, opposing an absurd and pernicious error, I can not at all disoblige any sober, unbiassed person; especially if he be of such ingenuity as to have freed himself from a slavish subjection unto those prejudicial opinions which custom and education do with too much tyranny impose.—If the doctrine of witchcraft should be carried up to a height, and the inquisition after it should be intrusted in the hands of ambitious, covetous and malicious men, it would prove of far more fatal consequence unto the lives and safety of mankind, than that ancient, heathenish custom of sacrificing men unto idol gods; insomuch that we stand in need of another Hercules Liberator, who, as the former freed the world from human sacrifice, should, in like manner, travel from country to country, and by his all-commanding authority, free it from this euil and base custom of torturing people to confess themselves witches, and burning them after extorted confessions. Surely the blood of men ought not to be so cheap, nor so easily to be shed by those who, under the name of God, do gratifie exorbitant passions and selfish ends; for without question, under this side heaven, there is nothing so sacred as the life of man; for the preservation whereof all policies and forms of government, all laws and magistrates are most especially ordained. Wherefore I presume that this Discourse of mine, attempting to prove the vanity and impossibility of witchcraft, is so far from any deserved censure and blame, that it rather deserves commendation and praise, if I can in the least measure contribute to the saving of the lives of men."

[Footnote 22: I have not seen his earlier work, "Historical Reflections on the Bishop of Rome, &c." Oxford, 1660, 4to. If it be written with any portion of the power evinced in his "Question of Witchcraft Debated," the ridicule with which Wood says it was received by the wits of the university, and the oblivion into which it subsequently fell, were both equally undeserved.]

Wagstaffe was answered by Meric Casaubon in his treatise "Of Credulity and Incredulity in Things Divine and Spiritual," 1670, 12mo; and if his reply be altogether inconclusive, it cannot be denied to be, as indeed every thing of Meric Casaubon's writing was, learned, discursive and entertaining. He observes of Wagstaffe:—

"He doth make some show of a scholar and a man of some learning, but whether he doth acquit himself as a gentleman (which I hear he is) in it, I shall leave to others to judge." This is surely the first time that a belief in witchcraft was ever made a test of gentlemanly propriety.

Two years before the trial, which is the subject of the following republication, took place, the hamlet of Thornton, in the parish of Coxwold, in the adjoining county of York, gave birth to one who was destined so utterly to demolish the unstable and already shaken and tottering structure which Bodin, Delrio, and their followers had set up, as not to leave one stone of that unhallowed edifice remaining upon another. Of the various course of life of John Webster, the author of "The Displaying of supposed Witchcraft," his travels, troubles, and persecutions; of the experience he had had in restless youth and in unsettled manhood of religion under various forms, amongst religionists of almost every denomination; and of those profound and wide-ranging researches in every art and science in which his vigorous intellect delighted, and by which it was in declining age enlightened, sobered and composed; it is much to be regretted that we have not his own narrative, written in the calm evening of his days, when he walked the slopes of Pendle, from where,

"Through shadow dimly seen Rose Clid'row's castle grey;"[23]

when, to use his own expressions, he lived a "solitary and sedentary life, mihi et musis, having more converse with the dead than the living, that is, more with books than with men." The facts for his biography are scanty and meagre, and are rather collected by inference from his works, than from any other source. He was born at Thornton on the 3rd of February, 1610. From a passing notice of A. a Wood, and an incidental allusion in his own works, he may be presumed to have passed some time at Cambridge, though with what views, or at what period of his life, is uncertain. He was ordained Presbyter by Dr. Morton, when Bishop of Durham, who was, it will be recollected, the sagacious prelate by whom the frauds of the boy of Bilson were detected. In the year 1634, Webster was curate of Kildwick in Craven, and while in that cure the scene occurred which he has so vividly sketched in the passage after quoted, and which supplied the hint, and laid the foundation, for the work which has perpetuated his fame. How long he continued in this cure we know not: but, if one authority may be relied on, he was Master of the Free Grammar School at Clitheroe in 1643. To this foundation he may be considered as a great benefactor, for, from information supplied from a manuscript source, I find that he recovered for its use, with considerable trouble and no small personal charge, an income of about L60. per annum, which had been given to the school, but was illegally diverted and withheld. From this period there is a blank in his biography for about ten years. Most probably his life was rambling and desultory. He speaks of himself as having been about that time a chaplain in the army. His first two works, published in 1653 and 1654, "The Saints' Guide," and "The Judgment Set and the Books Opened,"[24] show that in the interval he had deserted the Established Church, and, probably, after some of those restless fluctuations of belief to which men of his ardent temperament are subject, settled at last in a wilder sort of Independency, which he eulogizes as "unmanacling the simple and pure light of the Gospel from the chains and fetters of cold and dead formality, and of restrictive and compulsory power." His language in these two works is more assimilated to that of the Seekers or Quakers, which it resembles in the cloudy mysteriousness of its phraseology, than that of the more rational and sober writers of the Independent school. Amongst the dregs of fanaticism of which they consist, the reader will look in vain for any germ or promise of future excellence or distinction as an author. It would seem that he preached the sermons contained in "The Judgment Set and Books Opened" at the church of All-Hallows, Lombard-street, at which he must have been for some time the officiating minister, and where the amusing incident, in which Webster was concerned, narrated by Wood, which had many a parallel in those times, no doubt occurred. "On the 12th of Oct., 1653," says the author of the Athenae.,[25] "he (i.e. William Erbury) with John Webster, sometimes a Cambridge scholar, endeavoured to knock down learning and the ministry both together, in a disputation that they then had against two ministers in a church in Lombard-street, in London. Erbury then declared that the wisest ministers and purest churches were at that time befool'd, confounded, and defil'd, by reason of learning. Another while he said, that the ministry were monsters, beasts, asses, greedy dogs, false prophets; and that they are the Beast with seven heads and ten horns. The same person also spoke out and said that Babylon is the Church in her ministers, and that the Great Whore is the Church in her worship, &c.; so that with him there was an end of ministers and churches and ordinations altogether. While these things were babbled to and fro, the multitude being of various opinions, began to mutter, and many to cry out, and immediately it came to a meeting or tumult, (call it which you please,) wherein the women bore away the Bell, but lost some of them their kerchiefs: and the dispute being hot, there was more danger of pulling down the church than the ministry."[26]

[Footnote 23: "Poems, by the Rev. R. Parkinson, Canon of Manchester," 1845, 12mo. (Hunter's Song.) A most pleasing volume of a very accomplished author. Long may he survive to add honours to the ancient stock of which he has given so interesting an account, by well-earned trophies gathered from the fair fields of literature and theology, and by a most exemplary discharge of the appropriate duties of his own sacred profession.]

[Footnote 24: "The Saints' Guide, or Christ the Rule and Ruler of Saints. Manifested by way of Positions, Consectaries, and Queries. Wherein is contained the Efficacy of Acquired Knowledge; the Rule of Christians; the Mission and Maintenance of Ministers; and the Power of Magistrates in Spiritual Things. By John Webster, late Chaplain in the Army." London, 1653, 4to.

"The Judgement Set, and the Bookes Opened. Religion Tried whether it be of God or of men. The Lord cometh to visit his own, For the time is come that Judgement must begin at the House of God.

{ The Sheep from the Goats, To separate { and { The Precious from the Vile.

And to discover the Blasphemy of those that say,

{ Apostles, } { Found Lyars, { Teachers, } { Deceivers, They are { Alive, } but are { Dead, { Rich, } { Poore, blind, naked, { Jewes, } { The Synagogue of Satan.

In severall Sermons at Alhallows Lumbard-street, By John Webster, A servant of Christ and his Church. Micah 3. 5. &c. Thus saith the Lord, concerning the Prophets that make my people erre, that bite with their teeth, and cry peace: and he that putteth not into their mouths, they prepare war against him: Therefore night shall be upon them, that they shall not have a vision, &c. The Sun shall goe down over the prophets, and the Day shall be dark. Their seers shall be ashamed, and the Deviners confounded: yea, they shall All cover their lips, for there is no answer of God." London, 1654. 4to.]

[Footnote 25: Athen. Oxon., Vol. ii., p. 175. Edit. 1721.]

[Footnote 26: Old Anthony chronicles this battle of the kerchiefs with a sly humour very different from his usual solemn matter-of-fact style.]

Of Erbury who, being originally in holy orders and a beneficed clergyman, deserted the Established Church and ran into all the excesses of Antinomianism, Webster was a great admirer, and has in a preface, hitherto unnoticed, prefixed to a scarce tract of Erbury's, entitled "The great Earthquake, or Fall of all the Churches," published in 1654, 4to, left a sketch of his opinions and character, in which his defence is undertaken with great zeal and no small ingenuity. One of his apologist's conclusions most of Erbury's readers will find no difficulty in assenting to, "the world is not ripe for such discoveries as our author held forth." The verses which are appended to this sketch, characterizing Erbury—

"As him Who did the saintship sever From the opinion; this fails, that shall never, Chymist of Truth and Gospel;"—

are, also, evidently Webster's, and their quality is not such as to make us unreasonably impatient for any further manifestations of his poetical skill. In the year 1654 he published another tract of singular interest and curiosity, in which he attacks the Universities and the received system of education there, always with vigour and various learning, and frequently with success. It is entitled "Academiarum Examen, or the Examination of Academies; wherein is discussed and examined the matter, method, and customes of academick and scholastic learning, and the insufficiency thereof discovered and laid open; as also some expedients proposed for the reforming of schools, and the perfecting and promoting of all kind of science; offered to the judgment of all those that love the proficiencie of arts and sciences and the advancement of learning. By Jo. Webster. In moribus et institutis academiarum, collegiorum et similium conventium quo ad doctorum hominum sedes et operas mutuas destinata sunt, omnia progressui scientiarum in ulterius adversa inveniri. Franc. Bacon de Verulamio lib. de cogitat. et vis. pag. mihi. 14. London: Printed for Giles Calvert, and are to be sold at the sign of the Black Spread-Eagle, at the west end of Paul's. 1654." 4to. In this tract, which, like some other attacks upon the seats of learning, displays more power in objection than in substitution, in pulling down than in building up again, he shews the same fondness for the philosophers of the Hermetic school, for Paracelsus, Dee, Fludd and Van Helmont, and the same adhesion to planetary sigils, astrology, and the doctrine of sympathies and primaeval signatures, which is perceptible in the deliberate performance of his old age. Of himself he observes: "I owe little to the advantages of those things called the goods of fortune, but most (next under the goodness of God) to industry: however, I am a free born Englishman, a citizen of the world and a seeker of knowledge, and am willing to teach what I know, and learn what I know not." No one can read the Academiarum Examen without feeling that it is the production of a vigorous and powerful mind, which had "tasted," and that not scantily, of the "sweet fruit of far fetched and dear bought science." Yet it still remains a literary problem rather difficult of solution, how a performance so clear, well digested, and rational, could proceed, and that contemporaneously, from the same author as the cloudy and fanatical "Judgment Set and Books Opened." On behalf of the Universities, answerers started up in the persons of Ward and Wilkins, both afterwards bishops, and the part taken by the first of them in the controversy was considered of sufficient importance to form matter of commemoration in his monumental inscription. Two opponents so famous, might almost seem to threaten extinction to one, of whom it could only be said, that he had been an obscure country schoolmaster, and whose acquirements, whatever they were, were mainly the result of his own unassisted study. In the joint answer, the title of which is "Vindiciae Academiarum, containing some briefe animadversions upon Mr. Webster's book entitled the 'Examination of Academies,' together with an appendix concerning what Mr. Hobbes and Mr. Dell have published in this argument, Oxford, 1654," 4to., there is no want of bitterness nor of controversial skill, but though, particularly in the limited arena of the prescribed course of academical study, the knowledge displayed in it is more exact, there is neither visible in it the same power of mind, nor the same breadth of views, nor even the same variety of learning, as is conspicuous in the original tract. This, with the two fanatical pieces which Webster published contemporaneously with it, were entirely unknown to his biographer, Dr. Whitaker, who has ceded him a place amongst the distinguished natives and residents of the parish of Whalley, in the full confidence "that there is no puritanical taint in his writings, and that his taste had evidently been formed upon better models.[27]" Had these early theological and literary delinquencies of the physician of Clitheroe been communicated to his historian, it may be questioned whether the portals of his provincial temple of fame would have opened to receive so heinous a transgressor. But Dr. Whitaker's deduction would have been perhaps perfectly warrantable, had Webster left no remains but his History of Metals, and Displaying of Witchcraft—so little do an author's latest works afford a clue to the character of his earliest. From 1654 to 1671, when he published his History of Metals, little is known of Webster's course of life. He appears to have retired into the country and devoted himself to medical practice and study, and to have taken up his residence in or near Clitheroe. He complains, that in the year 1658 all his books and papers were taken from him, an abstraction which, so far as his manuscripts are concerned, posterity is not called upon to lament, if they all resembled his Judgment Set and Books Opened. But his capacious and acute understanding was gradually unfolding new resources, supplying the defects, and overcoming the disadvantages of his imperfect education and desultory and irregular studies, while his matured and enlightened judgment had abandoned and discarded the fanatical pravities and erroneous tenets, which his ardent enthusiasm had too hastily imbibed. When he again became a candidate for the honours of authorship, it was evident that he knew well how to apply those quarries of learning into which, during his long recess, he had been digging so indefatigably, to furnish materials for solid and durable structures, rising in honourable and gratifying contrast to the fabrics which had preceded them. In 1671 came forth his "Metallographia, or History of Metals,"[28] in which all that recondite learning and extensive observation could bring together, on a subject which experiment had scarcely yet placed upon a rational basis, is collected. He styles himself on the Title page, "Practitioner in Physic and Chirurgery." In 1677, he published his great work. Its Title is "The Displaying of supposed Witchcraft. Wherein is affirmed that there are many sorts of Deceivers and Impostors. And Divers persons under a passive Delusion of Melancholy and Fancy. But that there is a Corporeal League made betwixt the Devil and the Witch, Or that he sucks on the Witches Body, has Carnal Copulation, or that Witches are turned into Cats, Dogs, raise Tempests, or the like, is utterly denied and disproved. Wherein also is handled, the Existence of Angels and Spirits, the truth of Apparitions, the Nature of Astral and Sydereal Spirits, the force of Charms and Philters; with other abstruse matters. By John Webster, Practitioner in Physic. Falsae etenim opiniones Hominum praeoccupantes, non solum surdos, sed et caecos faciunt, ita ut videre nequeant, quae aliis perspicua apparent. Galen, lib. 8. de Comp. Med. London, Printed by J.M. and are to be sold by the Booksellers in London. 1677," (fol.) In this memorable book he exhausts the subject, as far as it is possible to do so, by powerful ridicule, cogent arguments, and the most various and well applied learning, leaving to Hutchinson, and others who have since followed in his track, little further necessary than to reproduce his facts and reasonings in a more popular, it can scarcely be said, in a more effective, form.[29] Those who love literary parallels may compare Webster, as he appears in this his last and most characteristic performance, with two famous medical contemporaries, Sir Thomas Browne, and Thomas Bartholinus the Dane, whom he strongly resembled in the character of his mind, in the complexion and variety of his studies, in grave simplicity, in exactness of observation, in general philosophical incredulity with some startling reserves, in elaborate and massive ratiocination, and in the enthusiasm, subdued but not extinguished, which gives zest to his speculations and poignancy and colouring to his style. He who seeks to measure great men in their strength and in their weakness, and what operation of literary analysis is more instructive or delightful, will find ample employment for collation and comparison in this extraordinary book, in which, keen as is the penetration displayed on almost every subject of imposition and delusion, he appears still to cling, with the obstinacy of a veteran, to some of the darling Dalilahs of his youth, "to the admirable and soul-ravishing knowledge of the three great Hypostatical principles of nature, salt, sulphur, and mercury," and, proh pudor! to alchemy and astrology—and those seraphic doctors and professors, Crollius, Libavius, and Van Helmont. He closed his literary performances with this noble fabric of logic and learning, not the less striking, and scarcely less useful, because it is chequered by some of the mosaic work of human imperfection,—a performance which may be said to have grown up under the umbrage of Pendle, and which he might have bequeathed to its future Demdikes and Chattox's as an amulet of irresistible power.[30]

[Footnote 27: What would Dr. Whitaker have thought of the following explosion, in which Webster sounds the tocsin with a vehemence and vigour which no Macbriar or Kettledrumle of the period could have surpassed. The extract is from his Judgment Set and Books Opened:—

"All those that claim an Ordination by Man, or from Man, that speak from the Spirit of the World, from Wit, Learning and Humane Reason, who Preach for Hire, and make Merchandize of the Souls of Men; I witness they are all Baal's Priests and Idol-Shepherds, who destroy the Sheep, and are Theives and Robbers, who came not in by the Door of the Sheep-fold, but climbed up another way, and are the Magicians, Sorcerers, Inchanters, Soothsayers, Necromancers, and Consulters with Familiar Spirits, which the Lord will cut off out of the Land, so that his People shall have no more Soothsayers; and as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these resist the Truth; Men of corrupt Minds, reprobate concerning the Faith; but they shall proceed no farther, for their Folly shall be manifest to all Men, as theirs also was. Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the Errors of Balaam, for Reward, and Perished in the Gainsaying of Core. These are Spots in your Feasts of Charity, when they Feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: Clouds they are without Water, carried of Winds; Trees, whose Fruit withered, without Fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the Roots: Raging Waves of the Sea, foaming out their own Shame, wandring Stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of Darkness for ever."]

[Footnote 28: "Metallographia: or, An History of Metals. Wherein is declared the signs of Ores and Minerals both before and after digging, the causes and manner of their generations, their kinds, sorts and differences; with the description of sundry new Metals or Semi-Metals, and many other things pertaining to Mineral knowledge. As also, the handling and shewing of their Vegetability, and the discussion of the most difficult Questions belonging to Mystical Chymistry, as of the Philosophers Gold, their Mercury, the Liquor Alkahest, Aurum potabile, and such like. Gathered forth of the most approved Authors that have written in Greek, Latine, or High Dutch; With some Observations and Discoveries of the Author himself. By John Webster, Practitioner in Physick and Chirurgery. Qui principia naturalia in seipso ignoraverit, hic jam multum remotus est ab arte nostra, quoniam non habet radicem veram supra quam intentionem suam fundet. Geber. Sum. perfect. l. c. i. p. 21.

Sed non ante datur telluris operta subire, Auricomos quam quis discerpserit arbore foetus. Virg. AEneid. l. 6.

London, Printed by A.C. for Walter Kettilby at the Bishops-Head in Duck-lane, 1671, 4to."]

[Footnote 29: Dr. Whitaker's assertion, that Webster was "neglected alike by the wise and unwise," seems to be a mere gratis dictum. The age of folios was rapidly passing away; but few folios of the period appear to have been more generally read, if we are to judge at least from its being frequently mentioned and quoted, than Webster's Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft. The same able writer's "Doubt whether Sir Matthew Hale ever read Webster's Discovery of Supposed Witchcraft," might easily have been satisfied by a reference to any common life of that great judge, which would have shown the historian of Whalley that Hale died before the book was published. Nor is Dr. Whitaker correct in stating that all tradition of Webster is now lost in the neighbourhood where he resided. The following anecdote, which would have delighted him, I had from an old inhabitant of Burnley, to whom it had been handed down by his grandfather:—In the days of Webster's fanaticism, during the usurpation, he is stated, in the zealous crusade then so common against superstitious relics, to have headed a party by whom the three venerable crosses, now set up in the churchyard of Whalley, commonly called the Crosses of Paulinus, and supposed to be coeval with the first preaching of Christianity in the North of England, were removed and taken away from their site and appropriated as a boundary fence for some adjoining fields. After the Restoration, and when his religious views had become sobered and settled, he is said, in an eager desire to atone for the desecration of which he had been guilty, to have purchased the crosses from the person who was then in possession of them, and to have been at the cost of re-erecting them on their present site, from which no sacrilegious hand will, I trust, ever again remove them. It is further said, that Webster's favourite and regular walk, in the latter part of his life, till his infirmities rendered him unable to take exercise of any kind, was to the remains of Whalley Abbey; and that a path along the banks of the stream which glides by those most picturesque and pleasing ruins, was long called "Webster's Walk." If this tradition be founded in fact, and I give it as I received it, John Webster, of Clitheroe, if not identical, as Mr. Collier has contended, with the dramatic poet of that name, must have felt something assimilated in spirit to the fine inspiration of those noble lines of the latter:—

"I do love these ancient ruins. We never tread upon them but we set Our foot upon some reverend history; And, questionless, here in this open court, Which now lies naked to the injuries Of stormy weather, some men lie interred that Lov'd the Church so well and gave so largely to't, They thought it should have canopied their bones Till doomsday: but all things have their end. Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men, Must have like death that we have."]

[Footnote 30: Webster's death took place on the 18th June, 1682. He left an extensive library, composed principally of chemical, hermetical, and philosophical works, of which the MSS. catalogue is now in the possession of my friend, the Rev. T. Corser. I have two books which appear to have at one time formed part of his collection, from having his favourite signature, Johannes Hyphantes, in his autograph, on the title pages. Before I conclude with Webster, I ought perhaps to observe, that in the valuable edition of the works of Webster, the dramatic poet, published by the Rev. A. Dyce, that most accurate and judicious editor has proved indisputably, by an elaborate argument, that the John Webster, the writer of the Examen Academiarum, and John Webster, the author of the Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, were one and the same person, who was not identical with the dramatic writer of the same name. Mr. Dyce does not, however, appear to have been aware, that the identity of the author of the Examen Academiarum and the writer on witchcraft is distinctly stated by Dr. Henry More, in his Praefatio Generalissima, to the Latin edition of his works, whose testimony being that of a contemporary, who was, like Webster, "a Cambridge scholar," may perhaps be considered sufficient, without resorting to internal and circumstantial evidence. The inscription on Webster's monument in the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, at Clitheroe, is too characteristic and curious to be omitted. I give it entire:—

"Qui hanc figuram intelligunt Me etiam intellexisse, intelligent.

Hic jacet ignotus mundo, mersusque tumultu Invidiae, semper mens tamen aequa fuit, Multa tulit veterum ut sciret secreta sophorum Ac tandem vires noverit ignis aquae.

* * * * *

Johannes Hyphantes sive Webster, In villa Spinosa supermontana, in Parochia silvae cuculatae, in agro Eboracensi, natus 1610 Feb. 3, Ergastulum animae deposuit 1682, Junii 18, Annoq. aetatis suae 72 currente.

Sicq. peroravit moriens mundo huic valedicens, Aurea pax vivis, requies aeterna sepultis."]

But it is necessary to proceed from the authors on witchcraft to that extraordinary case which forms the subject of the present republication, and which first gave to Pendle its title to be considered as the Hartz Forest of England.

The Forest of Pendle is a portion of the greater one of Blackburnshire, and is so called from the celebrated mountain of that name, over the declivity of which it extends and stretches in a long but interrupted descent of five miles, to the water of Pendle, a barren and dreary tract. Dr. Whitaker observes of this and the neighbouring forests, and the remark even yet holds good, "that they still bear the marks of original barrenness, and recent cultivation; that they are still distinguished from the ancient freehold tracts around them, by want of old houses, old woods, high fences; (for these were forbidden by the forest laws;) by peculiarities of dialect and manners in their inhabitants; and lastly, by a general air of poverty which all the opulence of manufactures cannot remove." He considers that "at an uncertain period during the occupancy of the Lacies, the first principle of population" (in these forests) commenced; it was found that these wilds, bleak and barren as they were, might be occupied to some advantage in breeding young and depasturing lean "cattle, which were afterwards fattened in the lower domains. Vaccaries, or great upland pastures, were laid out for this purpose; booths or mansions erected upon them for the residence of herdsmen; and at the same time that herds of deer were permitted to range at large as heretofore, lawnds, by which are meant parks within a forest, were inclosed, in order to chase them with greater facility, or, by confinement, to produce fatter venison. Of these lawnds Pendle had new and old lawnd, with the contiguous park of Ightenhill."

In the early part of the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of this district must have been, with few exceptions, a wretchedly poor and uncultivated race, having little communication with the occupants of the more fertile regions around them, and in whose minds superstition, even yet unextinguished, must have had absolute and uncontrollable domination. Under the disenchanting influence of steam, manufactures, and projected rail-roads, still much of the old character of its population remains. Hodie manent vestigia ruris. The "parting genius" of superstition still clings to the hoary hill tops and rugged slopes and mossy water sides, along which the old forest stretched its length, and the voices of ancestral tradition are still heard to speak from the depth of its quiet hollows, and along the course of its gurgling streams. He who visits Pendle[31] will yet find that charms are generally resorted to amongst the lower classes; that there are hares which, in their persuasion, never can be caught, and which survive only to baffle and confound the huntsman; that each small hamlet has its peculiar and gifted personage, whom it is dangerous to offend; that the wise man and wise woman (the white witches of our ancestors) still continue their investigations of truth, undisturbed by the rural police or the progress of the schoolmaster; that each locality has its haunted house; that apparitions still walk their ghostly rounds—and little would his reputation for piety avail that clergyman in the eyes of his parishioners who should refuse to lay those "extravagant and erring spirits," when requested, by those due liturgic ceremonies which the orthodoxy of tradition requires.

[Footnote 31: It was my good fortune to visit this wizard-haunted spot within the last few weeks, in company with the able and zealous Archdeacon[A] within whose ecclesiastical cure it is comprized, and to whose singularly accurate knowledge of this district, and courteous communication of much valuable information regarding it, I hold myself greatly indebted. Following, with unequal steps, such a guide, accompanied, likewise, by an excellent Canon of the Church[B] with all the "armamentaria coeli" at command against the powers of darkness, and a lay auxiliary[C], whose friendly converse would make the roughest journey appear smooth, I need scarcely say, I passed through

"The forest wyde, Whose hideous horror and sad trembling sownd Full griesly seem'd,"

unscathed by the old lords of the soil, and needed not Mengus's Fuga, Fustis et Flagellum Daemonum, as a triple coat of mail.]

[Footnote A: The Venerable the Archdeacon of Manchester, the Rev. John Rushton, who is also the Incumbent of New Church, in Pendle.]

[Footnote B: The Rev. Canon Parkinson.]

[Footnote C: J.B. Wanklyn, Esq.]

In the early part of the reign of James the first, and at the period when his execrable statute against witchcraft might have been sharpening its appetite by a temporary fast for the full meal of blood by which it was eventually glutted,—for as yet it could count no recorded victims,—two wretched old women with their families resided in the Forest of Pendle. Their names were Elizabeth Southernes and Ann Whittle, better known, perhaps, in the chronicles of witchcraft, by the appellations of Old Demdike and Old Chattox.[32] Both had attained, or had reached the verge of the advanced age of eighty, were evidently in a state of extreme poverty, subsisting with their families by occasional employment, by mendicancy, but principally, perhaps, by the assumption of that unlawful power, which commerce with spirits of evil was supposed to procure, and of which their sex, life, appearance, and peculiarities, might seem to the prejudiced neighbourhood in the Forest to render them not unsuitable depositaries. In both, perhaps, some vindictive wish, which appeared to have been gratified nearly as soon as uttered, or some one of those curious coincidences which no individual's life is without, led to an impression which time, habit, and general recognition would gradually deepen into full conviction, that each really possessed the powers which witchcraft was believed to confer. Whether it be with witches as it is said to be with a much maligned branch of a certain profession, that it needs two of its members in a district to make its exercise profitable, it is not for me to say; but it is seldom found that competition is accompanied by any very amicable feeling in the competitors, or by a disposition to underrate the value of the merchandize which each has to offer for sale. Accordingly, great was the rivalry, constant the feuds, and unintermitting the respective criminations of the Erictho and Canidia of Pendle,[33] who had opened shops for the vending of similar contraband commodities, and were called upon to decry each other's stock, as well as to magnify their own. Each "gave her little senate laws," and had her own party (or tail, according to modern phraseology) in the Forest. Some looked up to and patronized one, and some the other. If old Demdike could boast that she had Tibb as a familiar, old Chattox was not without her Fancy. If the former had skill in waxen images, the latter could dig up the scalps of the dead, and make their teeth serviceable to her unhallowed purposes. In the anxiety which each felt to outvie the other, and to secure the greater share of the general custom of a not very extended or very lucrative market, each would wish to be represented as more death-dealing, destructive, and powerful than her neighbour; and she who could number up the most goodly assortment of damage done to man and beast, whether real or not was quite immaterial, as long as the draught was spiced and flavoured to suit the general taste, stood the best chance of obtaining a monopoly. It is a curious fact, that the son-in-law of one of these two individuals, and whose wife was herself executed as a witch, paid to the other a yearly rent,[34] on an express covenant that she should exempt him from her charms and witchcrafts. Where the possession of a commission from the powers of darkness was thus eagerly and ostentatiously paraded, every death, the cause of which was not perfectly obvious, whether it ended in a sudden termination or a slow and gradual decline, would be placed to the general account of one of the two (to use Master Potts's description,) "agents for the devil in those parts," as the party responsible for these unclaimed dividends of mortality. Did a cow go mad, or was a horse unaccountably afflicted with the staggers, the same solution was always at hand to clear negligence and save the trouble of inquiry; and so far from modestly disclaiming these atrocities, the only struggle on the parts of Mothers Demdike and Chattox would be which should first appropriate them. And in all this it must not be forgotten that their own credulity was at least as great as the credulity of their neighbours, and that each had the power in question was so much an admitted point, that she had long ceased, in all probability, to entertain any doubts on the subject. With this general conviction on one hand, and a sincere persuasion on the other, it would be surprising if, in the course of a few years, the scandalous chronicle of Pendle had not accumulated a corpus delicti against them, which only required that "one of his Majesties Justices in these parts, a very religious honest gentleman, painful in the service of his country," should work the materials into shape, and make "the gruel thick and slab."

[Footnote 32: The Archdeacon of Manchester suggests that this is merely a corruption of Chadwick or Chadwicks, and not, as explained in the Note, p. 19, from her chattering as she went along.]

[Footnote 33: These bickerings were no doubt exasperated by the robbery committed upon old Demdike and Alizon Device, which is detailed in the examinations, some of the opima spolia abstracted on which occasion she detected on the person of old Chattox's daughter.]

[Footnote 34: Of an aghendole of meal. Since writing the Note, p. 23, I am indebted to Miss Clegg, of Hallfoot, near Clitheroe, for information as to the exact quantity contained in an aghendole, which is eight pounds. This measure, she informs me, is still in use in Little Harwood, in the district of Pendle. The Archdeacon of Manchester considers that an aghendole, or more properly, as generally pronounced, a nackendole, is a kneading-dole, the quantity of meal, &c. usually taken for kneading at one time. There can be no doubt that this is the correct derivation.]

Such a man was soon found in the representative of the old family of the Nowels of Read, who, desirous of signalizing himself as an active and stirring justice, took up the case of these self-accusing culprits, for both made confessions when examined before him, with a vigour worthy of a better cause. On the 2nd April, 1612, he committed old Demdike, old Chattox, Alizon Device, and Anne Redfern to Lancaster, to take their trial at the next assizes for various murders and witchcrafts. "Here," says the faithful chronicler, Master Potts, "they had not stayed a weeke, when their children and friendes being abroad at libertie, laboured a speciall meeting at Malking Tower[35] in the Forrest of Pendle, vpon Good-fryday, within a weeke after they were committed, of all the most dangerous, wicked, and damnable witches in the county farre and neere. Vpon Good-fryday they met, according to solemne appoyntment, solemnized this great festiuall day according to their former order, with great cheare, merry company, and much conference. In the end, in this great assemblie it was decreed that M. Covell, [he was the gaoler of Lancaster Castle,] by reason of his Office, shall be slaine before the next Assises, the Castle at Lancaster to be blown up," &c., &c. This witches' convention, so historically famous, we unquestionably owe to the "painful justice" whose scent after witches and plots entitled him to a promotion which he did not obtain. An overt act so alarming and so indisputable, at once threw the country, far and near, into the greatest ferment—furiis surrexit Etruria justis—while it supplied an admirable locus in quo for tracing those whose retiring habits had prevented their propensities to witchcraft from being generally known to their intimate friends and connexions. The witness by whose evidence this legend was principally supported, was Jennet Device, a child about nine years old, and grand-daughter of old Demdike. A more dangerous tool in the hands of an unscrupulous evidence-compeller, being at once intelligent, cunning and pliant, than the child proved herself, it would not have been easy to have discovered. A foundation being now laid capable of embracing any body of confederates, the indefatigable justice proceeded in his inquiries, and in the end, Elizabeth Device the daughter of old Demdike, James Device her son, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock, Jane Bulcock, with some others, were committed for trial at Lancaster. The very curious report of that trial is contained in the work now republished, which was compiled under the superintendence of the judges who presided, by Master Thomas Potts, clerk in court, and present at the trial. His report, notwithstanding its prolixity and its many repetitions, it has been thought advisable to publish entire, and the reprint which follows is as near a fac-simile as possible of the original tract.

[Footnote 35: Baines confounds Malking-Tower with Hoar-stones, a place rendered famous by the second case of pretended witchcraft in 1633, but at some distance from the first-named spot, the residence of Mother Demdike, which lies in the township of Barrowford. The witch's mansion—

"Where that same wicked wight Her dwelling had— Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave That still for carrion carcases doth crave, On top whereof ay dwelt the ghastly owle, Shrieking his baleful note, which ever drave Far from that haunt all other cheerful fowl, And all about it wandering ghosts did wail and howle"—

is now, alas! no more. It stood in a field a little elevated, on a brow above the building at present called Malking-Tower. The site of the house or cottage is still distinctly traceable, and fragments of the plaster are yet to be found imbedded in the boundary wall of the field. The old road to Gisburne ran almost close to it. It commanded a most extensive prospect in front, in the direction of Alkincoates, Colne, and the Yorkshire moors; while in another direction the vast range of Pendle, nearly intercepted, gloomed in sullen majesty. At the period when Mother Demdike was in being, Malking-Tower would be at some distance from any other habitation; its occupier, as the vulgar would opine—

"So choosing solitarie to abide Far from all neighbours, that her devilish deedes And hellish arts from people she might hide, And hurt far off unknown whomever she envide."]

It is rather strange that Dr. Whitaker, to whom local superstitions were always matters of the strongest interest, and welcome as manna to the sojourners in the wilderness,[36] should have been ignorant, not merely of Master Potts's discovery, but even of the fact of this trial of the witches in 1612. It is equally singular that Sir Walter Scott should have forgotten, when writing his letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, that he had republished this tract, somewhat inaccurately, but with rather a long introduction and notes, in the third volume of his edition of the Somers Tracts, which appeared in 1810. He mentions Potts's Discoverie, in the amusing but very inaccurate and imperfect historical sketch referred to,[37] as a curious and rare book, which he had then for the first time obtained a sight of. What could have been his meaning in referring his readers, for an account of Mother Demdike and a description of Malking Tower, to "Mr. Roby's Antiquities of Lancaster," that apocryphal historian having given no such account or description, and having published no such work, it is rather difficult to conjecture.

[Footnote 36: In a scarce little book, "The Triumph of Sovereign Grace, or a Brand plucked out of the Fire, by David Crosly, Minister, Manchester," 1743, 12mo., which I owe to the kindness of the very able historian of Cheshire, George Ormerod, Esq., Dr. Whitaker, to whom the volume formerly belonged, has been at the pains of chronicling the superstitions connected with a family, ranking amongst the more opulent yeomen of Cliviger, of the name of Briercliffe, on the execution of one of whom for murder the tract was published. The Briercliffe's, from the curious anecdotes which the Doctor gives with great unction, appear to have been one of those gloomy and fated races, dogged by some unassuageable Nemesis, in which crime and horror are transmitted from generation to generation with as much certainty as the family features and name.]

[Footnote 37: We yet want a full, elaborate, and satisfactory history of witchcraft. Hutchinson's is the only account we have which enters at all at length into the detail of the various cases; but his materials were generally collected from common sources, and he confines himself principally to English cases. The European history of witchcraft embraces so wide a field, and requires for its just completion a research so various, that there is little probability, I fear, of this desideratum being speedily supplied.]

With all his habitual tautology and grave absurdity, Master Potts is, nevertheless, a faithful and accurate chronicler, and we owe his memory somewhat for furnishing us with so elaborate a report of what took place on this trial, and giving us, "in their own country terms," the examinations of the witnesses, which contain much which throws light on the manners and language of the times, and nearly all that is necessary to enable us to form a judgment on the proceedings. It will be observed that he follows with great exactness the course pursued in court, in opening the case and recapitulating the evidence separately against each prisoner, so as most graphically to place before us the whole scene as it occurred. The part in which he is felt to be most deficient, is in the want of some further account of the prisoners convicted, from the trial up to the time of their execution. To Master Potts, a man of legal forms and ceremonies, the entire interest in the case seems to have come in and gone out with the judge's trumpets.

As most of the points in the trial which appeared to require observation, have been adverted to in the notes which follow the reprint, it is not considered necessary to enter into any analysis or review of the evidence adduced at the trial, which presents such a miserable mockery of justice. Mother Demdike, it will be seen, died in prison before the trial came on. Of the Pendle witches four, namely Old Chattox, Elizabeth Device, James Device, and Alizon Device, had all made confessions, and had little chance, therefore, of escaping condemnation. They were all found guilty; and with them were convicted, Anne Redfern, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock, and Jane Bulcock, who were all of Pendle or its neighbourhood, and who maintained their innocence and refused to make any confession. They were executed, along with the first-mentioned four and Isabel Robey, who was of Windle, in the parish of Prescot, and had been found guilty of similar practises, the day after the trial, viz. on the 18th of August, 1612, "at the common place of execution near to Lancaster."

The main interest in reviewing this miserable band of victims will be felt to centre in Alice Nutter.[38] Wealthy, well conducted, well connected, and placed probably on an equality with most of the neighbouring families and the magistrate before whom she was brought, and by whom she was committed, she deserves to be distinguished from the companions with whom she suffered, and to attract an attention which has never yet been directed towards her.[39] That Jennet Device, on whose evidence she was convicted, was instructed to accuse her by her own nearest relatives, to whom "superfluous lagged the veteran on the stage," and that the magistrate, Roger Nowell, entered actively as a confederate into the conspiracy from a grudge entertained against her on account of a long disputed boundary, are allegations which tradition has preserved, but the truth or falsehood of which, at this distance of time, it is scarcely possible satisfactorily to examine. With such a witness, however, as Jennet Device, and such an admirable engine as the meeting at Malking-Tower, the guests at which she could multiply ad libitum, doling out the plaat, as Titus Oates would call it, by such instalments, and in such fragmentary portions, as would conduce to an easy digestion of the whole, the wonder seems not to be, that one unfortunate victim of a higher class should have perished in the meshes of artful and complicated villainy, but that its ramifications were not more extensive, and still more fatal and destructive. From one so capable of taking a hint as the little precocious prodigy of wickedness, in whose examination, Potts tells us, "Mr. Nowell took such great paines," a very summary deliverance might be expected from troublesome neighbours, or still more troublesome relatives; and if, by a leading question, she could only be induced to marshal them in their allotted places at the witches' imaginary banquet, there was little doubt of their taking their station at a place of meeting where the sad realities of life were only to be encountered, "the common place of execution near to Lancaster."

[Footnote 38: The explorer of Pendle will find the mansion of Alice Nutter, Rough Lee, still standing. It is impossible to look at it, recollecting the circumstances of her case, without being strongly interested. It is a very substantial, and rather a fine specimen of the houses of the inferior gentry in the time of James the first, and is now divided into cottages. On one of the side walls is an inscription, almost entirely obliterated, which contained the date of the building and the initials of the name of its first owner. At a little distance from Rough Lee, pursuing the course of the stream, he will find the foundations of an ancient mill, and the millstones still unremoved, though the building itself has been pulled down long ago. This was, doubtless, the mill of Richard Baldwin, the miller, who, as stated in Old Demdike's confession, ejected her and Alizon Device her daughter, from his land so contumeliously; immediately after which her "Spirit or divell called Tibb appeared, and sayd Revenge thee of him." Greenhead, the residence of Robert Nutter, one of the reputed victims of the prisoners tried on this occasion, is at some distance from Rough Lee, and is yet in good preservation, and occupied as a farmhouse.]

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