In turning from the Continent to the state of matters in England and Scotland, the prospect is anything but a comfortable one; and certainly nothing can he more deceitful than the miction which Dr. Francis Hutchinson lays to his soul, when he ventures to assert that England was one of those countries where its horrors were least felt and earliest suppressed. Witness the trials and convictions which, even before the enactment of any penal statute, took place for this imaginary offence, as in the case of Bolingbroke and Margery Jourdain, whose incantations the genius of Shake-spear has rendered familiar to us in the Second Part of King Henry VI. Witness the successive .statutes of Henry VIII., of Elizabeth, and of James I., the last of which was repealed only in 1736, and passed while Coke was Attorney-General, and Bacon a member of the Commons! Witness the exploits of Hopkins, the witch-finder-general, against the wretched creatures in Lincolnshire, of whom-
" Some only for not being drown'd, And some for sitting above ground Whole nights and days upon their breeches, And feeling pain, were hanged for witches".
Hudibras, part ii. canto ii.
What would the Doctor have said to the list of three thousand victims executed during the dynasty of the Long Parliament alone, which Za-chary Grey, the editor of Hudibras, says he himself perused ? What absurdities can exceed those sworn to in the trials of the witches of Warboys, whose fate was, hi Dr. Hutchinson's days, and perhaps is still, annually " improved" in a commemoration sermon at Cambridge ? or in the case of the luckless Lancashire witches, sacrificed, as afterwards appeared, to the villany of the impostor Robinson, whose story furnished materials to the dramatic muse of Hey wood and Shadwell ? How melancholy is the spectacle of a man like Hale, condemning Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, in 1664, on evidence which, though corroborated by the opinion of Sir Thomas Browne, a child would now be disposed to laugh at ? A better order of things, it is true, commences with the Chief-justiceship of Holt. The evidence against Mother Munnings, in 1694, would, with a man of weaker intellect, have sealed the fate of the unfortunate old woman; but Holt charged the jury with such firmness and good sense, that a verdict of Xot Guilty, almost the first then on record in a trial for witchcraft, was found. In about ten other trials before Holt, from 1694 to 1701, the result was the same. Wenham's case, which followed in 1711, sufficiently evinced the change which had taken place in the feelings of judges. Throughout the whole trial, Chief Justice Powell seems to have sneered openly at the absurdities which the witnesses, and in particular the clergymen who were examined, were endeavouring to press upon the jury; but, with all his exertions, a verdict of guilty was found against the prisoner. "With the view however of securing her pardon, by showing how far the prejudices of the jury had gone, he asked, when the verdict was given in, " whether they found her guilty upon the indictment for conversing with the devil in the shape of a cat?" The foreman answered, " We find her guilty of that ! " It is almost needless to add that a pardon was procured for her. And yet after all this, in 1716, Mrs. Hicks and her daughter, aged nine, were hanged at Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil, and raising a storm, by pulling off their stockings and making a lather of soap !
With this crowning atrocity, the catalogue of murders in England closes; the penal statutes against witchcraft being repealed in 1736, and the pretended exercise of such arts being punished in future by imprisonment and pillory. Even yet however the case of Rex v. Weldon, in 1809, and the still later case of Barker v. Ray, in Chancery (August 2, 1827), proves that the popular belief in such practices has by no means ceased ; and it is not very long ago that a poor woman narrowly escaped with her life from a revival of Hopkins' s trial by water*. Barring ton, in his observations on the statute 20 Henry VI., does not hesitate to estimate the numbers of those put to death in England on this charge at 30,000 !
* Even now a complaint of ' being bewitched' is occasionally made to Justices of the Peace by the very ignorant or the very malignant.
We now turn to Scotland. Much light has been thrown on the rýse and progress, decline and fall, of the delusion in that country by the valuable work of Mr. Pitcairn*, which contains abstracts of every trial in the supreme Criminal Court of Scotland : the author has given a faithful and minute view of the procedure in each case, accompanied with full extracts from the original documents, where they contained anything of interest.