Such cases were not, however, limited to the ecclesiastics of Rome. We have already stated that, as extremes usually approach each other, the Dissenters, in their violent opposition to the Papists, adopted some of their ideas respecting demoniacs ; and we have now to add, that they also claimed, by the vehemence of prayer and the authority of their own sacred commission, that power of expelling devils which the Church of Rome pretended to exercise by rites, ceremonies, and relics. The memorable case of Richard Dugdale, called the Surrey Impostor, was one of the most remarkable which the Dissenters brought forward. This youth was supposed to have sold his soul to the devil on condition of being made the best dancer in Lancashire, and during his possession played a number of fantastic tricks, not much different from those exhibited by expert posture-masters of the present day. This person threw himself into the hands of the Dissenters, who, in their eagerness, caught at an opportunity to relieve an afflicted person whose case the regular clergy appeared to have neglected. They fixed a committee of their number, who weekly attended the supposed sufferer, and exercised themselves in appointed days of humiliation and fasting during the course of a whole year. All respect for the demon seems to have abandoned the reverend gentlemen after they had relieved guard in this manner for some little time, and they got so regardless of Satan as to taunt him with the mode in which he executed his promise to teach his vassal dancing. The following specimen of raillery is worth commemoration :—" What, Satan ! is this the dancing that Richard gave himself to thee for ? etc. Canst thou dance no better ? etc. Ransack the old records of all past times and places in thy memory : canst thou not there find out some better * way of trampling ? Pump thine invention dry : cannot the universal seed-plot of subtile wiles and stratagems spring up one new method of cutting capers ? Is this the top of skill and pride, to shuffle feet and brandish knees thus, and to trip like a doe, and skip like a squirrel ? And wherein differ thy leapings from the hoppings of a frog, or the bouncings of a goat, or friskings of a dog, or gesticulations of a monkey ? And cannot a palsy shake such a loose leg as that ? Dost thou not twirl like a calf that hath the turn, and twitch up thy houghs just like a springhault tit ?"* One might almost conceive the demon replying to this raillery in the words of Dr. Johnson : " This merriment of parsons is extremely offensive."
The Dissenters were probably too honest, however simple, to achieve a complete cure on Dugdale by an amicable understanding; so, after their year of vigil, they relinquished their task by degrees. Dugdale, weary of his illness, which now attracted little notice, attended a regular physician, and was cured of that part of his disease which was not affected, in a regular way, par crdonnance du medecin. But the reverend gentlemen who had taken his case in hand still assumed the credit of curing him, and if anything could have induced them to sing Te Deum, it would have been this occasion. They said that the effect of their public prayers had been for a time suspended until seconded by the continued earnestness of their private devotions !!
* Hutchison on Witchcraft, p. 162.
The ministers of the Church of England, though, from education, intercourse with the world, and other advantages, they were less prone to prejudice than those of other sects, are yet far from being entirely free of the charge of encouraging in particular instances the witch superstition. Even while Dr. Hutchison pleads that the Church of England has the least to answer for in that matter, he is under the necessity of acknowledging that some regular country clergymen so far shared the rooted prejudices of congregations, and of the government which established laws against it, as to be active in the persecution of the suspected, and even in countenancing the superstitious signs by which, in that period, the vulgar thought it possible to ascertain the existence of the afflictions by witchcraft, and obtain the knowledge of the perpetrator. A singular case is mentioned of three women, called the Witches of Warbois. Indeed, their story is a matter of solemn enough record ; for Sir Samuel Cromwell, having received the sum of forty pounds, as lord of the manor, out of the estate of the poor persons who suffered, turned it into a rent charge of forty shillings yearly for the endowment of an annual lecture on the subject of witchcraft, to be preached by a doctor or bachelor of divinity of Queen's College, Cambridge. The accused, one Samuel and his wife, were old, and very poor persons, and their daughter, a young woman. The daughter of a Mr. Throgmorton seeing the poor old woman in a black knitted cap at a time when she was not very well, took a whim that she had bewitched her, and was ever after exclaiming against her. The other children of this fanciful family caught up the same cry, and the eldest of them at last got up a vastly pretty drama, in which she herself furnished all the scenes and played all the parts.
Such imaginary scenes, or make-believe stories, are the common amusement of lively children ; and most readers may remember of having had some Utopia of their own. But the nursery drama of Miss Throg-morton had a horrible conclusion. This young lady and her sisters were supposed to be haunted by nine spirits, dispatched by the wicked Mother Samuel for that purpose. The sapient parents heard one part of the dialogue, when the children in their fits returned answers, as was supposed, to the spirits who afflicted them ; and when the patients from time to time recovered, they furnished the counterpart by telling what the spirits had said to them. The names of the spirits were Pluck, Hardname, Catch, Blue, and three Smacks, who were cousins. Mrs. Joan Throgmorton, the eldest, (who, like other young women of her age, about fifteen, had some disease on her nerves, and whose fancy ran apparently on love and gallantry,) supposed that one of the Smacks was her lover, did battle for her with the less friendly spirits, and promised to protect her against Mother Samuel herself; and the following curious extract will show on what a footing of familiarity the damsel stood with her spiritual gallant : "' From whence come you, Mr.