The art is old and new, for verily All ages have been taught the matter.


ADDISON" says that among all the poets who deal with fairies, witches, magicians, demons, and departed spirits, the English are much the best, " and among the English Shakspere has incomparably excelled all others. There is something so wild and yet so solemn in his speeches of his ghosts, fairies, witches, and the like imaginary persons, that we cannot forbear thinking them natural, . . . and must confess, if there are such beings in the world, it looks highly probable that they would talk and act as he has represented them".

As Addison saw his fatal day thirty years before Goethe's natal star arose, he could not compare the prince of German poets with others; but if the ruling sentiment of modern critics may be accepted, Shak-spere's ghosts and witches still maintain their superiority. These are " the secret, black, and midnight hags" that brewed the charm for Duncan's murder, and the familiar but ever awe-inspiring ghost of Hamlet's father:

I am thy father's spirit. Doomed for a certain time to walk the night.

But the fancies of poets can give no help to him who deals with one of the darkest tragedies of humanity, the only stain on the ermine of Sir Matthew Hale, whose fame without it would rival that of Daniel for wisdom, as it does for integrity, and the chief stigma upon the early history of New England. Nor is witchcraft of the past only: for by many theologians it is believed to reappear in modern spiritualism, and by a multitude of Christians to be a reality, because, as they suppose, it is plainly asserted in the sacred Scriptures; and its baleful spell still holds four fifths of the fifteen hundred millions of the human race " fast in its slavish chains".