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I'll mar their syllabubs, and swathy feastings occupied witchcrafts, enchantments, and sor. Under cows' bellies, with the parish youths."

ceries, to the destruction of their neighbours' Maudlin, the witch of Ben Jonson's 'Sad Shep. persons and goods.” Thus the witches have herd,' is scarcely more elevated. He has, in- pretended to get knowledge of treasure, but deed, thrown some poetry over her abiding they have used enchantments to the injury of place--conventional poetry, but sonorous :

their neighbours. The enactment makes it

felony to use or cause to be used “any invoca. “ Within a gloomy dimble she doth dwell, Down in a pit o'ergrown with brakes and briars,

tions or conjurations of spirits, witchcrafts, Close by the ruins of a shaken abbey,

enchantments or sorceries, to the intent to get Torn with an earthquake down unto the ground, or find money or treasure, or to waste, consume, 'Mongst graves and grots, near an old charnel-house."

or destroy any person in his body, members, But her pursuits scarcely required so solemn a or goods.” So little was the offence regarded in scene for her incantations. Her business was England, or the protection of the law desired,

that this statute was repealed amongst other " To make ewes cast their lambs, swine eat their farrow,

new, felonies in the first year of Edward VI., The housewives' tun not work, nor the milk churn; Writhe children's wrists, and suck their breath in sleep, 1547. The Act of the 5th of Elizabeth, 1562-3, Get vials of their blood; and where the sea

exhibits a considerable progress in the belief in Casts up his slimy ooze, search for a weed

witchcraft. It recites that, since the repeal of To open locks with, and to rivet charms, Planted about her in the wicked feat

the statute of Henry VIII., “Many fantastical of all her inischiefs, which are manifold."

and devilish persons have devised and practised For these ignoble purposes she employs all the

invocations and conjurations of evil and wicked spells of classical antiquity ; but she is never

spirits, and have used and practised witchcrafts, theless nothing more than the traditional Eng. enchantments, charms, and sorceries, to the lish witch who sits in her form in the shape of

destruction of the persons and goods of their a hare:

neighbours, and other subjects of this realm."

The enactment makes a subtle distinction

“I'll lay My hand upon her, make her throw her skut

between those who use, practise, or exercise Along her back, when she doth start before us.

any invocations or conjurations of evil and But you must give her law: and you shall see her

wicked spirits to or for any intent or purMake twenty leaps and doubles; cross the paths, And then squat down beside us."

pose," and those who “ use any witchcraft,

enchantment, charm, or sorcery, whereby any The peculiar elevation of the weird sisters, as person shall happen to be killed or destroyed.” compared with these representations of a vulgar The conjuration of spirits, for any intent, was a superstition, may be partly ascribed to the capital crime: plain witchcraft was only capital higher character of the scenes in which they are when a person was through it killed or destroyed. introduced, and partly to the loftier powers of It would seem, therefore, that witchcraft might the poet who intro ces them. But we think exist without the higher crime of the conjuration it may be also shown, in a great degree, that of evil spirits. By this enactment the witchsome of their peculiar attributes belong to the craft which destroyed life was punishable by superstitions of Scotland rather than to those death; but the witchcraft which only wasted, of England; and, if so, we may next inquire consumed, or lamed the body or member, or how the poet became familiarly acquainted with destroyed or impaired the goods of any person, those superstitions.

was punishable only with imprisonment and The first legislative enactment against witch- the pillory for the first offence. The treasurecraft in England was in the 33rd of Henry VIII. finders were dealt with even more leniently. This bill is a singular mixture of unbelief and The climax of our witch legislation was the Act credulity. The preamble recites that "Where of the 1st of James I., 1603-4. This statute (whereas) divers and sundry persons unlawfully deals with the offence with a minute knowledge have devised and practised invocations and con- of its atrocities which the learning of England jurations of spirits, pretending by such means had not yet attained to. The King brought this to understand and get knowledge for their own lore from his own land : “And for the better lucre in what place treasure of gold and silver restraining the said offences, and more severe should or might be found or had in the earth or punishing the same, be it further enacted by other secret places, and also have used and the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, after the said Feast of Saint Michael that they fostered and upheld it. If Shakspere the Archangel next coming, shall use, practise, were in Scotland about this period, he would find or exercise any invocation or conjuration of any ample materials upon which to found his creation evil and wicked spirit, or shall consult, covenant of the weird sisters, materials which England with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any could not furnish him, and which it did not evil and wicked spirit to or for any intent or furnish to his contemporaries. purpose, or take up any dead man, woman, or On the 2nd of February, 1596, a commission child out of his, her, or their grave, or any other was issued by the King of Scotland “in favour place where the dead body resteth, or the skin, of the Provost and Baillies of the burgh of Aber: 1 bone, or any other part of any dead person, to deen, for the trial of Janet Wishart and others be employed or used in any manner of witch accused of witchcraft.” Other commissions were craft, sorcery, charm, or enchantment; or shall obtained in 1596 and 1597, and during the use, practise, or exercise any witchcraft, enchant- space of one year no less than twenty-three ment, charm, or sorcery, whereby any person women and one man were burned in Aberdeen, shall be killed, destroyed, wasted, consumed, upon conviction of this crime, in addition to pined, or lamed in his or her body, or any part others who were banished and otherwise punished. thereof; that then every such offender or Many of the proceedings on this extraordinary offenders, their aiders, abettors, and counsellors, occasion were recently discovered in an apartbeing of any the said offences duly and law- ment in the Town House of that city, and they fully convicted and attainted, shall suffer pains were published in 1841 in the first volume of of death as a felon or felons, and shall lose the “The Miscellany of the Spalding Club, privilege and benefit of clergy and sanctuary.” Society established “For the printing of the It is a remarkable proof of the little hold which historical, ecclesiastical, genealogical, topogtathe belief in witchcraft had obtained in Eng- phical, and literary remains of the north-easten land, that the legislation against the crime counties of Scotland." These papers occupy appears to have done very little for the produc- more than a hundred closely-printed quarto tion of the crime. “In one hundred and three pages; and very truly does the editor of the years from the statute against witchcraft, in the volume say “There is a greater variety of posi33rd of Henry VIII. till 1644, when we were in tive incident, and more imagination, displayed the midst of our civil wars, I find but about sixteen in these trials than are generally to be met executed." The popular fury against witch- with in similar records. ..... They reflect a craft in England belongs to a later period, very distinct light on many obsolete customs, which we call enlightened; when even such a and on the popular belief of our ancestors" judge as Hale could condemn two women to | We opened these most curious documents with the flames, and Sir Thomas Browne, upon the the hope of finding something that might illus same occasion, could testify his opinion that trate, however inadequately, the wonderful dis- | " the subtlety of the devil was co-operating with play of fancy in the witches of Shakspere—that the malice of these which we term witches.” It extraordinary union of a popular belief and a was in 1597 that James VI. of Scotland (James I.] poetical creation which no other poet has in the published his ‘Dæmonology,' written “against slightest degree approached. We have not the damnable opinions of two principally, in our been disappointed. The documents embody age, whereof the one called Scott, an English- the superstitions of the people within four years man, is not ashamed, in public print, to deny of the period when Shakspere is supposed to that there can be such a thing as witchcraft.” have visited Scotland; and when the company The opinions of the King gave an impulse, no of which he was one of the most important doubt, to the superstitions of the people, and to members is held to have played at Aberdeen. the frightful persecutions to which those super. The popular belief, through which twenty-four stitions led. But the popular belief assumed victims perished in 1597, would not have died such an undoubting form, and displayed itself out in 1601. Had Shakspere spent a few weeks in so many shapes of wild imagination, that we in that city, it must have encountered him on may readily believe that the legal atrocities every side, amidst the wealthy and the poor, were as much a consequence of the delusion as the learned and the ignorant, the clergy and . 'An Historical Essay concerning Witchcraft,' by

the laity. All appear to have concurred in the Francis Hutchinson, D.D., 1720.

unshaken confidence that they were acting

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rightly in the allegation and the credence of peculiar that we can scarcely believe that the the most extraordinary instances of super- poet could have conceived it amongst the woods natural power. It was unnecessary that Shak- and fields of his own mid-England :pere should have heard the trials or read the

"A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap, documents which are now open to us, if he had And mounch'd, and mounch'd, and mounch'd :- Give dwelt for a short time amongst the people who me,' quoth I:

* Aroint thee, witch !'the rump-fed ronyon cries. were judges and witnesses. The popular excite

Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger: ment did not subside for many years. To the

But in a sieve I'll thither sail, philosophical poet the common delusion would And, like a rat without a tail, furnish ample materials for wonder and for use.

I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.'” • Graymalkin,' the cat, and 'Paddock,' the One of the images here employed certainly came toad, belong to the witch superstitions of the from Scotland. The witches who were evidence south as well as the north. The witches of the against Dr. Fian, the notable sorcerer who was extreme north, the Laplanders and Finlanders, burnt at Edinburgh in 1591, in their discovery could bestow favourable winds. Reginald Scott,“ how they pretended to bewitch and drown his with his calm and benevolent irony, says, “ No Majesty in the sea coming from Denmark,” one endued with common sense but will deny testified “that all they together went to sea, that the elements are obedient to witches and each one in a riddle or sieve.” The revengeful at their commandment, or that they may, at witch goes on to say, their pleasure, send rain, hail, tempests, thunder,

Though his bark cannot be lost, lightning, when she, being but an old doting

Yet it shall be tempest-tous 'd." woman, casteth a flint stone over her left

In the indictment against Violet Leys, she is shoulder towards the west.” Shakspere in ‘Macbeth'dwells upon this superstition :

told that “Alexander Lasoun thy husband,

being one long time mariner in William Fin“ Fair is foul, and foul is fair,"

lay's ship, was put forth of the same three years say the witches in the first Scene. The second since. Thou and thy umquhile mother together and third sisters will each give their revengeful bewitched the said William's ship, that since sister "a wind:"

thy husband was put forth of the same she never “ I myself have all the other ;

made one good voyage; but either the master And the very ports they blow,

or merchants at some times through tempest All the quarters that they know

of weather were forced to cast overboard the l' the shipman's card."

greatest part of their lading, or then to perish, Macbeth and Banquo, before they meet the sis

men, ship, and gear.” This is a veritable seaters, have not seen “so foul and fair a day.” | port superstition ; and it is remarkable that Macbeth, in the incantation scene, invokes them

nearly all the dialogue of the witches before with,

“ Macbeth doth come is occupied with it. Though you untie the winds, and let them fight

Such delusions must have been rife at Aberdeen Against the churches."

at the beginning of the seventeenth century. In the ‘Dittay against Issobell Oige' at Aber

In the witch superstitions of England, whether deen she is thus addressed :-“Thou art in- recorded in legislative enactments, in grave dicted and accused of practising of thy witch- treatises, or in dramatic poetry, we find nothing craft in laying of the wind, and making of it

of witchcraft in connection with maritime to become calm and lowdin (smooth) a special affairs. point teached to thee by thy master Satan."

We have seen that, in the enactment of In those humble practices of the witches in

Henry VIII., the superstitious belief that the Macbeth' which assimilate them to common

power of witchcraft could waste the body, was witches, such as “killing swine” in the third

especially regarded. Shakspere need not, Scene of the first Act, Shakspere would scarcely therefore, have gone farther for, need the ample authority which is furnished by charge upon charge in the trials at Aberdeen.

“ Sleep shall neither night nor day

Hang upon his pent-house lid; But even amongst these there is one incident so

He shall live a man forbid :

Weary sev'n nights nine times nine, * In these quotations we shall take the freedom to change

Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine." the Scottish orthography into English, to save unnecessary difficulty to our readers.

But the extent to which this belief was carried

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in Aberdeen, in 1596-7, is almost beyond cre- with Our Lady, who, as thou sayest, was a fine dence. There was no doubt a contagious woman, clad in a white walicot, and sundry distemper ravaging the city and neighbour others of Christsonday's servants with thee, hood; for nearly all the witches are accused of whose names thou knowest not, and that the having produced the same effects upon their devil played on his form of instruments very victims—“The one half day rossin (roasting] pleasantly unto you.”a Here is something like as in a fiery furnace, with an extraordinary kind the poetry of witchcraft opening upon us. Here of drought that she could not be slockit (slaked], are dances something approaching to those of and the other half day in an extraordinary kind Hecateof sweating, melting and consuming her body

“ Live elves and fairies in a ring." as a white burning candle, which kind of sick | Here is what the editor of the Witchcraft ness is a special point of witchcraft.” Still this Trials' so justly calls a display of “imagination." is not essentially a superstition of the north. What if we here should find the very character Bishop Jewell, preaching before the Queen of Hecate herself—something higher than the previous to the revived statute against witch- Dame Hecate of Ben Jonson,-more definite in craft, says, “Your grace's subjects pine away her attributes than the Hecate of the mythoeven unto the death.

Their colour fadeth, logy? Andro Man is thus indicted :-“ Thou their flesh rotteth, their speech is benumbed, artaccused as a most notorious witch and sorcerer, their sense is bereft.” But there is a supersti- in so far as thou confessest and affirmest thyself tion alluded to in Macbeth' which we do not that by the space of threescore years since or find in the south. Banquo addresses the weird thereby the devil thy master came to thy sisters, –

mother's house in the likeness and shape of a If you can look into the seeds of time,

woman whom thou callest the Queen of Elphen." And say, which grain will grow, aud which will not,

The Queen of Elphen, with others, rode upon Speak then to me."

white hackneys. She and her company hare This may be metaphorical, but the metaphor is shapes and clothes like men, and yet they are identical with an Aberdeen delusion. In the

but shadows, but are starker [stronger] than accusation against Johnnet Wischert there is

men; "and they have playing and dancing this item-“ Indicted for passing to the green

when they please, and also that the Queen is growing corn in May, twenty-two years since

very pleasant, and will be old and young when or thereby, sitting thereupon tymous in the she pleases." The force of imagination can morning before the sun-rising, and being there scarcely go farther than in one of the confes' found and demanded what she was doing, thou sions of this poor old man :-“Thou affirmest answered, I shall tell thee, I have been piling that the Queen of Elphen has a grip of all the [peeling] the blades of the corn, I find it will craft, but Christsonday is the good man, and be one dear year, the blade of the corn grows has all power under God, and that thou kennest withersones contrary to the course of the sun), sundry dead men in their company, and that and when it grows sonegatis about (with the the king who died in Flodden and Thomas course of the sun) it will be good cheap year.”

Rymour is there.” There here almost imagiThe witches' dance can scarcely be distinctly nation enough to have suggested the scene of found in any superstition of the south. In

that vision of the dead of which Macbeth ex Macbeth 'the first witch says, -

claimed “I'll charm the air to give a sound,

“ Now, I see, 't is true; While you perform your antique round.”

For the blood-bolter'd Banquo smiles upon me.” The Aberdeen trials abound with charges against • The reader cannot fail to observe that this article of

the witch-belief lingered in Scotland until the period when those who partook in such fearful merriment.

Burns preserved it for all time in • Tam o' Shanier :'They danced early in the morning upon St.

“Warlocks and witches in a dance; Catherine's Hill; they danced at twelve-hours

Nae cotillon brent new frae France, at even round the Fish Cross of the borough.

But hompipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,

Put life and mettle in their heels. The devil, their master, was with them, playing

A winnock-bunker in the east, on his form of instruments. Marion Grant is

There sat auld Nick in shape o' beast ; thus accused : “ Thou confessed that the devil

A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,

To gie them music was his charge : thy master, whom thou termest Christsonday,

He serew'd the pipes, and gart them skirl, caused thee dance sundry times with him, and

Till roof and rafters a' did dirl."


The rudely-sculptured monuments and crosses (except that the nobles preferred those of diffewhich time has spared upon the hills and heaths rent colours); these were long and flowing, but of Scotland, however interesting to the anti- capable of being gathered up at pleasure into quary in other respects, afford but very slender folds. . ... They had also shaggy rugs, such and uncertain information respecting the dress as the Irish use at the present day.

.. The and arms of the Scotch Highlanders in the eleventh rest of their garments consisted of a short woollen

а century; and attempt how we will to decide jacket

, with the sleeves open below, for the confrom written documents, a hundred pens will venience of throwing their darts, and a covering instantly be flourished against us. Our own for the thighs of the simplest kind, more for opinion, however, formed long ago, has within decency than for show or defence against cold. these few years been confirmed by that of a They made also of linen very large shirts, with most intelligent modern historian“, who says numerous folds and very large sleeves, which “it would be too much, perhaps, to affirm that flowed abroad loosely on their knees. These the dress, as at present worn, in all its minute the rich coloured with saffron, and others details, is ancient; but it is very certain that it smeared with some grease to preserve them is compounded of three varieties in the form of longer clean among the toils and exercises of a dress which were separately worn by the High- camp, &c." Here we have the second variety landers in the seventeenth century, and that ---that of the short woollen jacket with the open each of these may be traced back to the re- sleeves; and this confirms most curiously the motest antiquity.” These are : 1st, The belted identity of the ancient Scottish with the ancient plaid ; 2nd, The short coat or jacket; 3rd, The Irish dress, as the Irish chieftains who appeared truis. With each of these, or, at any rate, with at court in the reign of Elizabeth were clad in the two first, was worn, from the earliest periods these long shirts, short open-sleeved jackets, to the seventeenth century, the long-sleeved, and long shaggy mantles, the exact form of saffron-stained shirt, of Irish origin, called the which may be seen in the woodcut representing Leni-croich 6. Pitscottie, in 1573, says, “they them engraved in the History of British Cos(the Scotch Highlanders) be cloathed with ane tume,' p. 569, from a rare print of that period mantle, with ane schirt, saffroned after the Irish in the collection of the late Francis Douce, Esq. manner, going bare-legged to the knee.” And The third variety is the truis, or trowse, "the Nicolay d'Arfeville, cosmographer to the King breeches and stockings of one piece," of the of France, who published at Paris, in 1583, a Irish in the time of Giraldus Cambrensis, and volume entitled 'La Navigation du Roy d'Escosse the bracchæ of the Belgic Gauls and Southern Jacques, cinquiesme du nom, autour de son Britons in that of Cæsar. The truis has hitherto Royaume et Isles Hebrides et Orchades, soutz been traced in Scotland only as far back as the la conduite d'Alexandre Lindsay, excellent year 1538; and there are many who deny its Pilote Escossois,' says, “they wear, like the having formed a portion of the more ancient Irish, a large full shirt, coloured with saffron, Scottish dress : but independently that the and over this a garment hanging to the knee, document of the date above mentioned recog. of thick wool, after the manner of a cassock nises it as an established Highlandgarment (soutane). They go with bare heads, and allow at that time, thereby giving one a right to infer their hair to grow very long, and they wear its having long previously existed, the incon. neither stockings nor shoes, except some who trovertible fact of a similar article of apparel have buskins (botines) made in a very old having been worn by all the chiefs of the other fashion, which come as high as the knees." tribes of the great Celtic or Gaëlic family is Lesley, in 1578, says, “all, both nobles and sufficient, in our minds, to give probability to common people, wore mantles of one sort the belief that it was also worn by those of the

** The Highlanders of Scotland,' by W.F. Skene, F.S.A. * Jean de Beaugne, who accompanied the French auxiliaScot. 2 vols. 12mo, London, Murray, 1837.-Mr. Skene in ries to Scotland in 1548, in like manner describes "les this excellent work has also thrown great light upon the sauvages," as he calls the Highlanders, naked except their real history of Macbeth, from a careful investigation and stained shirts (chemises taintes) and a certain light covering comparison of the Irish annals and the Norse Sagas. made of wool of various colours, carrying large bows and

by " From the Irish words ieni, shirt, and croich, saffron." similar swords and bucklers to the others, i. e., the Low- Martin's · Western Isles of Scotland.'


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