Abbildungen der Seite

by the devil, and all the rest of the company. And such as are absent, and have no care to be assigned, are amerced to this penalty, so to be beaten on the palms of their feet, to be whipt with iron rods, to be pinched and sucked by their familiars till their heart blood come, till they repent them of their sloth, and promise more attendance and diligence for the future.”

"And what was the condition of the poor wretches," said the Bachelor, "after all this, think you ? Excommunication, horror, and misery, in every form that detestation, contumely, and insult, could inflict. There was no humanity for them. They were regarded as having held hideous commerce with infernal beings. Every evil which befell their neighbours was imputed to their malice. Children fled at their approach, or pursued them with execrations, and hootings, and peltings. Many would not sell to them the necessaries of life. They were tried, by casting them into pools and rivers, and often murdered with impunity. I know few states of human distress more touching, than the condition of an innocent and harmless poor old creature suspected of the crime of witchcraft; an affecting instance of this is mentioned in Satan's Invisible World Discovered, in the case of a miserable woman condemned in 1649. She had been some time accused of the sin; and, being arrested, confessed to the minister of the parish and other witnesses her guilt. Her confession was however suspected, and she was urged to revoke it; but she persisted, and was doomed to suffer. Being carried to the place of execution, she remained silent during the first, second, and third prayer, at the end of which she cried out,"—

66 Now, all you that see me this day, know, that I am now to die a witch by my own confession, and I free all men, especially the ministers and magistrates, of the guilt of my blood. I take it wholly upon myself, my blood be upon my own head. And, as I must make answer to the God of heaven presently, I declare I am as free of witchcraft as any child; but being delated by a malicious woman, and put in prison under the name of a witch, disowned by my husband and friends, and seeing no ground of hope of my coming out of prison, or ever coming in credit again, through the temptation of the devil I made up that confession, on purpose to destroy my own life, being weary of it, and choosing rather to die than live."

"Say you, therefore, Egeria, that the laws which led to such effects were either wise or requisite ?"

"I do not perceive the justness of the remark," replied the nymph. "You must first shew me that the belief in witchcraft never existed, and likewise never any wretches who availed themselves of it to afflict others. It is however a curious historical fact, that there were persons who openly made a profession of witch-finding; and one of these, Matthew Hopkins, who took the style and title of witch-finder-general, was so proud of his skill and success, that he has recorded his exploits in a pamphlet, which he published, adorned with effigies of himself and of different imps. He ruined his trade however at last; for he went on scorching and swimming poor creatures, till he so roused the indignation of some gentlemen by his barbarity, that they took him and tied his thumbs and toes together, as he used to tie those of others, and flung him into

a water to his fate. The following extract from his book is at once ludicrous and horrible."

"The discoverer never travelled far for it; but, in March 1644, he had some seven or eight of that horrible sect of witches, living in the town where he lived, (a town in Essex, called Maningtree,) with divers other adjacent witches of other towns, who every six weeks, in the night, (being always on the Friday night,) had their meeting close by his house, and had their several solemn sacrifices there offered to the devil, one of which this discoverer heard speaking to her imps one night, and bid them go to another witch, who was thereupon apprehended, and searched by women, who had for many years known the devil's marks, and found to have some marks about her which honest women have not; so, upon command from the justice, they were to keep her from sleep two or three nights, expecting in that time to see her familiars; which, the fourth night, she called in by their several names, and told them in what shapes to come, a quarter of an hour before they came, there being ten of us in the room. The 1st she called was Holt, who came in like a white kitling. 2. Jarmara, who came in like a fat spaniel, without any legs at all; she said she kept him fat, for he sucked good blood from her body. 3. Vinegar Tom, who was like a long-legged greyhound, with an head like an ox, with a long tail and broad eyes, who, when this discoverer spoke to, and bade him go to the place provided for him and his angels, immediately transformed himself into the shape of a child of four years old, without a head, and gave half a dozen turns about the house, and vanished at the door. 4. Sack and Sugar, like a black rabbit. 5. Newes, like a polecat. All these vanished away in a little time. Immediately after, this witch confessed several other witches, from whom she had her imps, and named to divers women where their

marks were, the number of their marks and imps, and imps' names, as Elemauzer, Pyewacket, Peckin the Crown, Grizzel, Greedigut, &c. which no mortal could invent; and upon their searches, the same marks were found, the same number, and in the same place, and the like confessions from them from the same imps, (though they knew not that we were told before), and so peached one another thereabouts that joined together in the like damnable practice, that in our hundred in Essex, twentynine were condemned at once, four brought twenty-five miles to be hanged, where this discoverer lives, for send-. ing the devil, like a bear, to kill him in his garden; so by seeing divers of the men's marks, and trying ways with hundreds of them, he gained this experience, and, for aught he knows, any man else may find them as well as he and his company, if they had the same skill and experience.

"The devil's policy is great, in persuading many to come of their own accord to be tried, persuading them their marks are so close they shall not be found out; so divers have come ten or twelve miles to be searched, of their own accord, and hanged for their labour."



ONE evening as the Bachelor was reading an agreeable little work ascribed to Lord John Russell, "Essays by a Gentleman who left his Lodgings," he remarked, on looking at the article which bears the

title of "The Wandering Jew," that the idea was a very good one.

"I wonder," said he, " that nobody has adopted it, and given us the travels of that supposed character during the last seventeen centuries."


"O!" exclaimed Egeria, "the thing has been done some time ago, and I am surprised that the author of the work in your hand should have so palpably taken another's thought and plan, without any sort of acknowledgment."

"I do not recollect of having met with the book to which you allude," rejoined Benedict.

"It is called "The Wandering Jew," or the Travels and Observations of Hareach the Prolonged." I believe the name Hareach is a Hebrew term, signifying the prolonged. The work exhibits a view of the most distinguished events in the history of mankind, since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; and the plan of the compilation professes to be a series of extracts from a journal written by the traveller, and left by him in a Greek monastery on mount Parnassus. By the way, now that I recollect it, you will find a copy behind your wig-box; fetch it, and I will read to you a few passages, to show you in what manner the compiler has handled his subject."

The Bachelor, like an obedient husband, went for the book, and gave it to Egeria, who, in opening it, said,

"As the story properly begins with the description of the sack of Jerusalem in the second chapter, we shall take that as the first specimen."

« ZurückWeiter »