This was evidently a pure case of mental delusion, but it was soon followed by one of a darker and more complex character, in which, as far as the principal actor was concerned, it seems doubtful whether the mummery of witchcraft formed anything more than a mere pageant in the dark drama of human passions and crimes. We allude to the trials of Lady Fowlis and of Hector Munro of Fowlis, for witchcraft and poisoning, in 1590. This is one of those cases which might plausibly be quoted in support of the ground on which the witch trials have been defended by Selden, Bayle, and the writers of the Encyclopédie,-namely, the necessity of punishing the pretensions to such powers, or the belief in their existence, with as great rigour as if their exercise had been real. " The law against witches," says Selden, " does not prove there be any, but it punishes the malice of those people that use such means to take away men's lives. If one shoidd profess that, by turning his hat and crying buz, he could take away a man's life, though in truth he cordd do no such thing, yet this were a just law made by the state, that whoever should turn his hat thrice and cry buz, with an intention to take away a man's life, shall be put to death." We shall hardly stop to expose the absurdity of this doctrine of Selden in the abstract, which thus makes the will universally equal to the deed ; but when we read such cases as that of Lady Fowlis, it cannot at the same time be denied, that the power which the pretended professor of such arts thus obtained over the popular mind, and the relaxation of moral principle with which it was naturally accompanied in the individual himself, rendered him a most dangerous member of society. In general, the profession of sorcery was associated with other crimes, and was frequently employed as a mere cover by which these might with the more security and effect be perpetrated. The philters and love-potions of La Voisin and Forman, the private court calendar of the latter, containing "what ladies loved what lords best," (which the Chief Justice prudently would not allow to be read in court), are sufficiently well known. Charms of a more disgusting nature appear to have been supplied by our own witches, as in the case of Roy, tried before the sheriff of Perth, in 1601*, and in that of Colquhoun, of Luss, tried for sorcery and incest, 1633, where the instrument of seduction was a jewel obtained from a necromancer. In short, wherever any flagitious purpose was to be effected, nothing more was necessary than to have recourse to some notorious witch. In poisoning, in particular, they were accomplished adepts, as was naturally to be expected from the power which it gave them of realizing their own prophecies. Poisoners and witches are classed together in the conclusion of Louis XIV/s edict ; and the trials before the Chambre Ardente prove that the two trades were generally found in harmonious juxtaposition. , Our own Mrs. Turner, in England, affords us no bad specimen of this union of the poisoner with the procuress and the witch ; while the prevalence of the same connection in Scotland appears from the details of the case of Robert Erskine, of Dun, from that of the daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, Euphemia Macalzean, and still more from the singular case of Lady Fowlis.
* Ree. of Just. May 27, 1601.