The Reformation, which uprooted other errors, only strengthened and fostered this. Every town and village on the continent was filled with spies, accusers, and wretches who made their living by pretending to detect the secret marks which indicated a compact with the devil"*,-inquisitors,
* The trade of a pricker, as it was called, ?'. e. a person who put pins into the flesh of a witch, was a regular one in Scotland and England, as well as on the Continent. Sir George Mackenzie mentions the case of one of thein who confessed the imposture (p. 48) ; and a similar instance is mentioned by Spottiswood (p. 448). Sir Walter Scott gives the following account of tliis trade :-" One celebrated mode of detecting witches, and torturing them at the same time, to draw forth confession, was, by running pins into their body, on pretence of discovering the devil's stigma, or mark, which was said to be inflicted by him upon all his vassals, and to be insensible to pam. This species of search, the practice of the infamous Hopkins, was in Scotland reduced to a trade ; and the young witch-finder was allowed to torture the accused party, as if in exercise of a lawful calling, although Sir George Mackenzie stigmatizes it as a horrid imposture. I observe in the Collections of Mr. Pitcairn, that, at the trial of Janet Peaston of Dalkeith, the magistrates and ministers of that market-town caused John Kincaid of Tranent, the common pricker, to exercise Ins craft upon her, £ who found two marks of what he called the devil's making, and winch appeared indeed to be so, for she could not feel the pin when it was put into either of the said marks, nor did they (the marks) bleed when they were taken out again ; and when she was asked where she thought the pins were put in, she pointed to a part of her body distant from the real place. They were pins of three inches in length.' Besides the fact, that the persons of old people especially sometimes contain spots void of sensibility, there is also room to believe that the professed prickers used a pin, the point or lower part of which was, on being pressed down, sheathed in the upper, which was hollow for the purpose, and that which appeared to enter the body did not pierce it at all."-Demonology and Witchcraft, judges, advocates, executioners, every one con-nectcd with these frightful tribunals, on the watch for anything which might afford the semblance of suspicion. To ensure the death or ruin of an enemy, nothing more was necessary in most cases than to throw into this lion's mouth an accusation of magic against him. " Vix aliquis eorum," says Linden, the determined foe of these proceedings, " qui accusati sunt, supplicium evasit." The fate of Eclelin, of Urban Grandier, and of the Maréchale d'Ancre in France, of Doctor Flaet and Sidonia von Vork in Germany, and of Peter of Abano in Italy*, prove how often the accusation of sorcery was not even believed by the accusers themselves, but was resorted to merely as a certain means to get rid of an obnoxious enemy. Meanwhile the notaries' clerks and officials, labouring in their vocation, grew rich from the enormous fees attendant on these trials ; the executioner became a personage of first-rate consequence : " generoso equo instar aulici nobilis ferebatur, auro argen-toque vestitus: uxor ejus vestium luxu certabat cum nobilioribus*." Some partial diminution of this persecuting zeal took place in consequence of a Rescript of John VII. (18th December, 1591), addressed to the commission, by which the fees of court were restricted within more moderate bounds ; but still the profits arising from this trade in human victims were sufficient to induce the members and dependants of court, like the Brahmins in India, to support with all their might this system of purification bv fire.
"* Peter died in prison just in time to escape the flames. He was burned hi effigy however after his death.
At last however the horrors of "Wurtzburg and Treves began to open the eyes even of the dullest to the progress of the danger, which, commencing like Elijah's cloud, had gradually overshadowed the land. "While the executions were confined to the lower classes, to crazed old women or unhappy foreigners, even those whose more vigorous intellect enabled them to resist the popular contagion chose rather to sit by spectators of these horrors, than to expose themselves to the fate of Edelin or Flaet, by attacking the madness in which they originated. But now, when the pestilence, spreading on and on, threatened the lives of moreexalted victims,-when noblemen and abbots, presidents of courts and professors, began to swell the catalogue, and when no man felt secure that he might not suddenly be com-pelled by torture to bear witness against his own innocent wife or children,- selfishness began to co-operate with truth and reason. So, in the same way, in the case of the New England witchcrafts, the first effectual check which they received was from the accusation of Mrs. Hale, the clergyman's wife : her husband, who till then had been most active in the persecution, immediately received a new light with regard to the transaction, and exerted his whole influence for the suppression of the trials.
* Lindon, cited bv Wvttenbach. 'yersuch einer Gcscliichte von Trier,' vol. iii. p. 110.