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these, however, are so true to common life; touched with so fine a sense of natural justice. The outcast wretchedness which drove old crones to be what their cursed neighbours fancied them, is painted here with truly dreadful realism. We see the witch in making, watch the persecutions which convert her from a village pariah to a potent servant of the devil, peruse her arguments in self-defence, and follow her amid the jeers and hootings of the rabble to her faggot-grave. Mother Sawyer first appears upon the stage gathering sticks :

And why on me? Why should the envious world
Throw all their scandalous malice upon me?
Cause I am poor, deformed, and ignorant,
And like a bow buckled and bent together
By some more strong in mischief than myself,
Must I for that be made a common sink
For all the filth and rubbish of men's tongues
To fall and run into? Some call me witch ;
And being ignorant of myself, they go
About to teach me how to be one ; urging
That my bad tongue, by their bad usage made so,
Forspeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn,
Themselves, their servants, and their babes at nurse.
This they enforce upon me ; and in part
Make me to credit it.

Beaten before our eyes by a brutal peasant, she falls to cursing, and stretches out her heart's desire toward the unknown power ‘more strong in mischiefs than herself :'

What is the name? Where, and by what art learned,
What spells, what charms or invocations,
May the thing called Familiar be purchased ?

The village rabble fall upon her, lash her with their

leathern belts, and din the name of witch into her ears, until the name becomes a part of her :

I have heard old beldams
Talk of familiars in the shape of mice,
Rats, ferrets, weasels, and I wot not what,
That have appeared, and sucked, some say, their blood ;
But by what means they came acquainted with them,
I now am ignorant. Would some power, good or bad,
Instruct me which way I might be revenged
Upon this churl, I'd go out of myself,
And give this fury leave to dwell within
This ruined cottage, ready to fall with age !
Abjure all goodness, be at hate with prayer,
And study curses, imprecations,
Blasphemous speeches, oaths, detested oaths,
Or anything that 's ill : so I might work
Revenge upon this miser, this black cur,
That barks and bites, and sucks the very blood
Of me, and of my credit. 'T is all one
To be a witch, as to be counted one.
Vengeance, shame, ruin light upon that canker !

As the devil himself, later on in the play, observes:

Thou never art so distant
From an evil spirit, but that thy oaths,
Curses and blasphemies pull him to thine elbow.

This Mother Sawyer now experiences; for the familiar she has been invoking, starts up beside her in the form of a black dog :

Ho! have I found thee cursing ? Now thou art
Mine own.

From him she learns the formula by which he may be summoned, seals their compact by letting him suck blood from her veins, and proceeds to use him against her enemies.

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Whoever wrote the part of Mother Sawyer-Dekker or Rowley ; for we cannot attribute it to Fordtook care to exhibit her from several points of view. Interrogated by two magistrates, she stands for her defence

upon the blunt democracy of evil :

I am none-no witch.
None but base curs so bark at me ; I am none.
Or would I were ! if every poor woman
Be trod on thus by slaves, reviled, kicked, beaten,
As I am daily, she to be revenged
Had need turn witch.

Men in gay clothes,
Whose backs are laden with titles and honours,
Are within far more crooked than I am,
And if I be a witch, more witch-like.
A witch ! who is not ?
What are your painted things in princes' courts,
Upon whose eyelids lust sits, blowing fires
To burn men's souls in sensual hot desires ?
Have you not city-witches, who can turn
Their husbands' wares, whole standing shops of wares,
To sumptuous tables, gardens of stolen sin ?
Reverence once
Had wont to wait on age ; now an old woman,
Ill-favoured grown with years, if she be poor,
Must be called bawd or witch. Such, so abused,
Are the coarse witches; t' other are the fine,
Spun for the devil's own wearing.

So she rages on. Termagant wives, covetous attorneys, usurers, seducers, these are the true witches; not hatehardened, miserable beldams.' Folengo and Michelet have not laid bare with satire or philosophy more

I This fierce apology of Mother Sawyer might be paralleled from that grim satire with which Folengo in his Maccaronic epic of Baldus draws the Court of the Sorceress Smirna Gulfora from all classes of society. See Renaissance in Italy, vol. v. pp. 348–350.

searching the common elements of human evil, out of which witchcraft sprang like a venomous and obscene toadstool.

After this outburst against the hypocrisies of a society with which she is at open war, the wretched creature takes solace with her familiar in a grotesquely ghastly :

I am dried up
With cursing and with madness; and have yet
No blood to moisten these sweet lips of thine.
Stand on thy hind legs up--kiss me, my Tommy,
And rub away some wrinkles on my brow,
By making my old ribs to shrug for joy
Of thy fine tricks.

The effects of her damned traffic with the fiend are obvious in murder, suicide, domestic ruin. But as time goes on, her power wanes, and the familiar deserts her. She calls upon him, famished, in her isolation :

Still wronged by every slave? and not a dog
Barks in his dame's defence? I am called witch,
Yet am myself bewitched from doing harm.
Have I given up myself to thy black lust
Thus to be scorned ? Not see me in three days !
I'm lost without my Tomalin ; prithee come ;
Revenge to me is sweeter far than life :
Thou art my raven, on whose coal-black wings
Revenge comes flying to me. O my best love!
I am on fire, even in the midst of ice,
Raking my blood up, till my shrunk knees feel
Thy curled head leaning on them! Come, then, my darling;
If in the air thou hoverest, fall upon me
In some dark cloud ; and as I oft have seen
Dragons and serpents in the elements,
Appear thou now so to me. Art thou i' the sea ?
Muster up all the monsters from the deep,
Ind be the ugliest of them; so that my bulch

ROWLEY'S CONCEPTION OF WITCHCRAFT.

483

Show but his swarth cheek to me, let earth cleave,
And break from hell, I care not ! could I run
Like a swift powder-mine beneath the world,
Up would I blow it all, to find thee out,
Though I lay ruined in it. Not yet come!
I must then fall to my old prayer.

The dog appears at last, but changed in hue from black to white—the sign, he mockingly assures her, of her coming trial and death. We do not see her again till she is brought out for execution, with the rabble raging round her:

Cannot a poor old woman have your leave
To die without vexation ?

Is every devil mine?
Would I had one now whom I might command
To tear you all to pieces !
Have I scarce breath enough to say my prayers,
And would you force me to spend that in bawling ?

The part, from beginning to ending, is terribly sustained. Not one single ray of human sympathy or kindness falls

upon the abject creature. She is alone in her misery and sin, abandoned to the black delirium of Godforsaken anguish. To paint a witch as she is here painted-midway between an oppressed old woman and a redoubtable agent of hell—and to incorporate this double personality in the character of a common village harridan, required firm belief in sorcery, that curse-begotten curse of social life, which flung back on human nature its own malice in the form of diabolical malignity.

The attention I have paid to these five domestic tragedies may seem to be out of due proportion to the

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