An Antidote Against Atheism/Book III/Chapter VII
1. The Story of Anne Bodenham, a Witch who suffered at Salisbury, Anno 1653. The Author's punctual Information concerning her. 2. The manner and circumstances of her first Conjuring up the Devil. 3. An Objection answered concerning the truth thereof. 4. The Objection more fully answered by a second Conjuration. 5. An Objection answer'd concerning this second Conjuration, and still further cleared by the circumstances of a third. 6. The Witches fourth and last Conjuration, at which Anne Styles made a Contract with the Devil. 7. That these transactions could be no Dreams nor Fancies of Anne Styles, nor she knowingly forsworn in her avouching them upon Oath. 8. Which is further proved by the impartialness of her Confession. 9, 10. By her Contract with the Devil, evidenced from the real effects thereof. 11. And by her behaviour at the Assizes when she gave evidence. 12. An answer to certain Objections. 13. Sundry Indications that Anne Bodenham was a Witch. 14. The Summary Conclusion, That the above-related Conjurations are no Fictions of Anne Styles, but real Transactions by Anne Bodenham.
1.To that of John Winnick, it will not be amiss to adde a more late and more notable Narration concerning one Anne Bodenham, a Witch, who lived in Fisherton-Anger, adjacent to the City of new Sarum in the County of Wilts, who was arraigned and executed at Salisbury 1653. He that has a minde to read the Story more at large, may consult Edmond Bower, who has an eye-witness and eare-witness of several passages. But I shall onely set down here what is most material to our present purpose, partly out of him, and partly from others who were then at the Assizes, and had also private Conference with the Witch, and spoke also with the Maid that gave evidence against her.
This Anne Bodenham, it seems, concealed not her skill in foretelling things to come, and helping men to their stoln goods, and other such like feats, that the more notable sort of Wizards and Witches are said to pretend to and to practise.
2. Amongst others that resorted to her, there was one Anne Styles, servant to Rich. Goddard Esq; of the close in new Sarum, sent by Mr. Mason this Goddard's Son in Law (he having a design to commence a Law Suit against his Father), to learn of the Witch what would be the event of the Suit. Who being asked by the Maid, who had three shillings to give her for her pains, she took her staff, and there drew it about the house, making a kinde of a Circle; and then took a book, and carrying it over the Circle with her hands, and taking a green glass, did lay it upon the book, and placed in the Circle an earthen Pan of Coals, wherein she threw something, which burning caused a very noisome stink, and told the Maid, she should not be afraid of what she should then see, for now they would come: (they are the words she used) and so calling Belzebub, Tormentor, Satan and Lucifer appear; there suddenly arose a very high wind, which made the house shake, and presently the back-door of the house flying open, there came five Spirits, as the Maid supposed, in the likenesse of ragged Boyes some bigger then others, and ran about the house, where she had drawn the staff; and the Witch threw down upon the ground crums of breads which the Spirits picked up, and leapt over the Pan of coals oftentimes, which she set in the midst of the Circle, and a Dog and a Cat of the Witches danced with them: and after some time the Witch looked again in her book, and threw some great white seeds upon the ground, which the said Spirits picked up; and so in short time the wind was laid, and the Witch going forth at her back-door the Spirits vanished. After which the Witch told the Maid, that Mr. Mason should demand fifteen hundred pound, and one hundred and fifty pound per annum, of Mr. Goddard, and if he denied it she should prosecute the Law against him, and be gone from his Father, and then he should gain it: with which message the Maid returned and acquainted Mr. Mason.
3, But it may be it will be objected, That these were some poor ragged Boyes that complotted there with Anne Bodenham to get money upon pretence of Conjuring and foretelling future events, whenas it was indeed nothing else but a cheat within the power of an ordinary knavish wit. But the loudness of the wind, and the forcible shaking of the house upon those Magical Words and Ceremonies, may easily answer, or rather quite blow away, such frivolous Evasions.
4. But if the Objector will yet persist in his opinion, let him reade the circumstances of the second Conjuration of this Witches. For the same Maid being sent again to her from the same party, to enquire in what part of the house the Poison was that should be given her Mistris, Hereupon she took her stick of before, and making therewith a Circle, the wind rose forthwith: then taking a beesome, she swept over the Circle, and made another; and looking in her book and glass as formerly, and using some words softly to her self, she flood in the Circle and said, Belzebub, Tormentor, Lucifer and Satan appear. There appeared first a Spirit in the shape of a little Boy, as she conceived, which then turned into another shape something like a Snake, and then into the shape of a shagged Dog with great eyes, which went about in the Circle; and in the Circle she set an earthen Pan of Coals, wherein she threw something which burned and stank, and then the Spirit vanished. After which the Witch took her book and glass again, and shewed the Maid in the glast Mris Sarah Goddard's Chamber, the colour of the Curtains, and the bed turned up the wrong way, and under that part of the bed where the Bolster lay she shewed the poison in a white paper. The Maid afterward returned home, and acquainted Mris Rosewell with what the Witch had shewed her in a glass, that the poison lay under Mris Sarah's Bed, and also spoke to her that they might goe together and take it away.
The transformation of a Boy into a Snake, and of that Snake into a shagged Dog with staring eyes, is a feat far above all humane art or wit whatsoever.
5, Nor can it be imagined that Melancholy had so disturbed the mind of the Maid, that she told her own dreams or fancies for external sensible transactions. For she was imployed by others in a reall Negotiation twixt them and the Witch, and ever brought back her answers to them, receiving also things from her, by the help of those ragged Boyes the raised up; as appears in a third Conjuration of hers, when the Maid was another time sent to procure some exemplary punishment upon Mr Goddard's two Daughters, who yet were unjustly, as it seems, aspersed with the suspicion of endeavouring to poison their Mother-in-law. The Witch receiving the Wenches errand, made a Circle as formerly, and set her Pan of Coals therein, and burnt somewhat that stank extremely, and took her book and glass as before is related, and said, Belzebub, Tormentor, Lucifer and Satan appear. And then appeared five Spirits, as she conceived, in the shapes of little ragged Boyes, which the Witch commanded to appear, and goe along with the Maid to a Meadow at Wilton, which the VVitch shewed in a glass, and there to gather Vervine and Dill, And forthwith the ragged Boyes ran away before the Maid, and she followed them to the said Meadow: and when they came thither, the ragged Boyes looked about for the Herbs, and removed the Snow in two or three places before they could finde any, and at last they found some, and brought it away with them; and then the Maid and the Boyes returned again to the Witch, and found her in the Circle, paring her Nails: and then she took the said Herbs, and dried the same, and made Powder of some, and dried the Leaves of other, and threw bread to the Boyes, and they eat and danced as formerly; and then the Witch reading in a book they vanished away. And the VVitch gave the Maid in one paper the Powder, in another the Leaves, and in the third the paring of the Nails, all which the Maid was to give her Mistris. The Powder was to put in the young Gentlewomens, Mris Sarah and Mris Anne Goddard's, drink or broth, to rot their guts in their bellies; the Leaves to rub about the brims of the Pot, to make their teeth fall out of their heads; and the paring of the Nails to make them drunk and mad. And when the Maid came home and delivered it to her Mistris, and told her the effects of the Powder and the other things, her Mistris laughed and said, That is a very brave thing indeed. But yet she had the discretion not to make use of it.
6. This Powder was shewn at the Assizes (so that it could be no Fancy or Dream) together with a piece of Money that she received of the Spirits, which one of them first bit and gave it the Witch, and then the Witch gave it to the Maid. The hole also in her finger was then shown, out of which blood was squeezed to subscribe a Covenant with the Devil, as you may see in the fourth and last bout of Conjuring the Witch performed in the Maid's presence. For she being advised by Mr. Goddard's houshold to goe to London,she went to the Witches first before she quit the Countrey; who being made acquainted with her journey, asked her whether she would goe to London High or Low? To which she replied, what do you mean by that? She answered, if you will goe on High, you will be carried to London, in the Aire, and be there in two hours; but if you goe a Low, you shall be taken at Sutton Towns end and before, unless you have help. But before she departed, the Witch earnestly desired the Maid to live with her, and told her if she would doe so. she would teach her to doe as she did, and that she should never be taken. Then the Maid asked her what she could doe. She answered. You shall know presently; and forthwith she appeared in the shape of a great black Cat, and lay along by the Chimney: at which the Maid being very much affrighted, she came into her own shape again, and told her, I see you are afraid, and I see you are willing to begone; and told her, if she was, she should say so, and not speak against her Conscience: and the Maid replied, she was willing to goe, and not to dwell with the Witch. Then the witch said, she must seal unto her body and blood not to discover her: which she promising to doe, she forthwith made a Circle as formerly she had done, and looking in her book, called, Belzebub, Tormentor, Lucifer and Satan appear. Then appeared two Spirits in the likeness of great Boyes, with long shagged black hair, and stood by her looking over her shoulder; and the Witch took the Maid's forefinger of her right hand in her hand, and pricked it with a pin, and squeezed out the blood, and put it into a Pen, and put the Pen in the Maid's hand, and held her hand to write in a great book; and one of the Spirits layd his hand or Claw upon the VVitches whilest the Maid wrote: and when she had done writing, whilest their hands were together, the Witch said Amen, and made the Maid say Amen, and the Spirits said Amen, Amen: and the Spirit's hand did feel cold to the Maid as it touched her hand, when the Witches hand and hers were together writing. And then the Spirit gave a piece of silver (which he first bit) to the Witch, who gave it to the Maid; and also stuck two Pins in the Maids head-cloths, and bid her keep them, and bid her be gone; and said also, I will vex the Gentlewoman well enough, as I did the man in Clarington Park, which I made walk about with a bundle of Pales on his back all night in a pond of water, and he could not lay them down till the next morning.
7. All these things the Maid deposed upon Oath; and I think it now beyond all controversie evident, that unless she did knowingly forswear her self, that they are certainly true: for they cannot be imputed to any Dreamings, Phansy, nor Melancholy. Now that the Maid did not forswear her self, or invent these Narrations she swore to, many Arguments offer themselves for eviction.
As first, That it is altogether unlikely that a sorry Wench, that could neither write nor read, should be able to excogitate such Magical Forms and Ceremonies, with all the circumstances of the effects of them, and declare them so punctually, had she not indeed seen them done before her eyes.
Secondly, If she had been so cunning at inventing Lies, she could not but have had so much wit as to frame them better for her own advantage, and for theirs by whom she was imployed; or told so much onely of the truth as would have been no prejudice to her self, nor any else to have it revealed.
8. For in brief, the case stood thus; Her Mistris either had, or feigned her self to have, a suspicion that her two Daughters in law, Mistris Sarah and Mistris Anne Goddard, complotted to poison her. Hereupon this Maid Anne Styles was sent to the Witch, upon pretence to know when this poisoning would be, and how to prevent it; and at the second time she consulted her, the Witch sent her to the Apothecaries to buy her some white Arsenick, and bring her it, which she taking told her she would burn it, and so prevent the poisoning of her Mistris. The buying of this Arsenick was the great occasion of the Maid's flying. For it coming to the knowledge of the two Sisters how they were suspected to endeavour the poisoning of their Mother, and that they had bought an ounce and half of Arsenick lately at the Apothecaries, they, to clear themselves from this suspicion, made diligent enquiry at all the Apothecaries shops throughout Sarum, and at last found where the poison was bought. Hereupon the Maid was desired by her Mistris to goe away and shift for her self, to avoid that trouble and disgrace that might come upon them, if she should stay and be examined before some Justice. While she was upon her journey, Mr Chandler, Son-in-law to Mr Goddard, hearing how his Mother-in-law was in danger of being poisoned, and that a Servant of hers that had bought the poison was fled, he forthwith with another man made after her, overtook her near Sutton, had her there into an Inne, where she confessed what has been above related. Which Confession, I say, cannot be any Figment or forged tale, but certain truth, it making nothing for the parties advantage, or theirs that imployed her, but rather against them, and mainly against her self; whenas if she had onely confessed the buying of the Arsenick with the purpose of preventing her Mistrisses being poisoned, by the help and skill of the Witch or Wise-woman, it might have gone for a tolerable piece of folly, could not seem so criminal and execrable as these other acts do. Nothing therefore but a guilty Conscience and the power of truth did extort from her this impartial Confession, which thus every way touches her friends, her self, and the Witch.
9. Thirdly, That her compact with the Devil was no Fable but a sure truth (and if that be true, there is no reason to doubt of the rest) was abundantly evidenced by the reall effects of it. For after she had delivered the piece of Money above-mentioned and the two pins to Mr Chandler, she said she should be troubled for not keeping these things secret. For the Devil told her, so long as she kept them secret, she should never be troubled; but now, she said, having revealed them, she feared she should be troubled. And that those grievous troubles and agonies she was after found in were not mere freaks of her own disturbed Phansy, but the Tyranny of Satan, will appear from several Circumstances.
For at her recovery from the first fitt she fell into, (which was in Stockbridge) both Mr Chandler and William Atwood, the man that went with him, saw a black shade come from her, whereupon presently she came to her self.
Again, she was so strong in her fitts, that six men or more could not hold her; and once as they were holding her, she was caught up from them so high, that her feet touched their breasts, when she was in the Prison at Sarum. As also at another time about midnight, she being miserably tormented, and crying out, The Devil will carry me away, she was pulled from them that held her, and cast from the low bed where she lay to the top of an high bed, with her Clothes torn off her back, and a piece of her skin torn away. The Candle in the room standing on the Table was thrown down and put out: at which time there being a little Boy that was almost asleep, but with this noise affrighted, he had no power with the rest to goe out of the room, but stayed there, and saw a Spirit in the likeness of a great black man with no head in the room, scuffling with the Maid, who took her and set her into a Chair, and told her that she must goe with him, he was come for her Soul, she had given it to him. But the Maid answered, that her Soul was none of her own to give; and he had already got her blood, but as for her Soul he should never have it: and after a while tumbling and throwing about of the Maid, he vanished away.
And that that which the Boy heard and saw was no fancy of his own, but a reall object of his Senses, the Witches condition in another Chamber at the same time does not obscurely argue. For she was then seen with her clothes off, in her fetters, running about like mad; and being asked why she ran about the room, she replied, She could not keep her bed, but was pulled out by violence, and being asked the reason why, she replied, Pray you what is the matter in your Chamber? Nothing, said they, but a Childe is not well. To which she answered. Do not you lie to me, for I know what is the matter as well as your selves.
10. But to return to the Maid, from whom we may draw further Arguments relating also to the Witch. As that, when the Maid had not for many dayes and nights together taken any rest, and being then under most grievous hurryings and tortures of the body, the Witch being brought into the room where she lay, the design unknown to her, and the time of her entring, yet so soon as the Witch had set one foot into the room, she gave a most hideous glance with her eyes, and shut them presently after, falling asleep in a moment, and slept about three hours so fast, that when they would have wakened her they could not by any art or violence whatever, as by stopping her breath, putting things up her nostrils, holding her upright, striking of her, and the like. The Witch also declared her unwillingness that she should be wakened, crying out, O pray you by no means awake the Maid, for if she should awake I should be torn in pieces, and the Devil would fetch me away bodily. And a further evidence that this sleep of the Maid did some way depend upon the Witch is, that so soon as the Witch had gone from under the roof where she was, the Maid wakened of her self; and so soon as the Maid awakened, and was at ease (the Devil, as she said, having gone out of her stomach, but doing her no violence, onely making her body tremble a little,) the Witch began to roar and cry out, The Devil will tear me in pieces. These things you may read more fully and particularly in the Narration of Edmond Bower, who was an eye-witness of them. But what I have trsnscribed from thence I think is sufficient to convince any indifferent man, that what befell the Maid after her revealing those secrets she was intrusted with, was not counterfeited, but reall, nay, I may safely say, Supernatural.
11. Fourthly and lastly, her behaviour at the Assizes, when she gave evidence against the Witch, was so earnest and serious, with that strength of mind and free and confident appeals to the Witch her self, that, as I was informed of those that were Spectators of that Transaction, it had been argument enough to the unprejudiced, that she swore nothing but what she was assured was true. And those floods of tears and her bitter weepings after Sentence was passed on the Witch, and her bewailing of her own wickedness and madness, and professing her willingness notwithstanding, if it might be done without sin, that the Witch might be reprieved, may further wash away all suspicion of either Fraud or Malice.
12. Nor can the Witches denying (even to her dying day) what the Maid swore to, enervate her testimony. For the Maid tells the whole truth as it was, even to the hazard of her own life; which the Witch indeed denies, but for the saving of hers. And it is no wonder that one that would bid a pox on the Hangman when he desired her to forgive him at her death, should lye and impudently deny any thing to save her own life.
But you'l Object, that this reputed Witch may indeed be wicked enough, and willing enough to doe any thing; but the power of her wickedness not reaching to such performances as the Maid witnessed against her, we may well believe her rather then the Maid. The sense of which Objection, if I understand it, can be nothing but this; that either this Anne Bodenham was no Witch, or else the things charged upon her were absolutely impossible. The meaning of the latter whereof assuredly is, that it is impossible any one should be a Witch, there being no such things as Spirits to be conjured up by them. Which is unskilfully to let goe the Premisses as finding them too strong, and to quarrel with the Conclusion.
13. But if the sense be (admitting there are Witches) that she was none; I think it may be evidently evinced that she was, from what she undoubtedly both did and spake. As for example, from her shewing of the Maid in a Glass the shapes of sundry persons, and their actions and postures, in several rooms in her Masters house, whither when she had returned from the Witch, she told them punctually what they had been doing in her absence; which made Elisabeth Rosewell, one of the Family, profess, that she thought Mris Bodenham was either a Witch or a woman of God. Besides, what hapned to her in reference to the fitts of the Maid, which has been already insisted upon, are shrewd suspicions of her being a Witch. As also what she boasted of to Mr Tucker's Clerk concerning a purse that hung about her neck in a green strings that she could doe many feats with it; and that if he would give her half a dozen of Ale, she would make a Toad spring out of it. Her confession to Mr Langley of Sarum, that she lived with Dr Lamb, and learn'd the art of raising Spirits from him, which she also confessed to Edmond Bower; to whom also she acknowledged her skill of curing diseases by Charms and Spells, that she could discover stolen goods, and shew any one the thief in a Glass: and being asked by him for the Red Book half wrote over with blood, being a Catalogue of those that had sealed to the Devil, she denied not the knowledge of the book, but said it was with one in Hampshire. She also professed that she used many good Prayers, and said the Creed backwards and forwards, and that she prayed to the Planet Jupiter for the curing of Diseases.
She also acknowledged she had a Book whereby she raised Spirits, calling it a Book of Charms, and said it was worth thousands of other books; and that there was a particular Charm in it for the finding of a Treasure hid by the old Earl of Pembroke in the North part of Wilton Garden.
To another party, being asked by him whether there were any Spirits, she made this reply. That she was sure there were; and confirmed it to him by several passages of late, and particularly by that of one forced to walk about all night with a bundle of Pales on his back in a pond of water, which is mentioned at the end of the fourth Conjuration above recited. She did also highly magnifie her own art to him, venturing at Astrological terms and phrases, and did much scorn and blame the ignorance of the people; averring to him with all earnestness and confidence that there was no hurt in these Spirits, but that they would doe a man all good offices, attending upon him and guarding him from evil all his life long.
But certainly her ragged Boyes were no such, who discharged the Maid from keeping the Commandments of God, and told her they would teach her a better way; as she also confessed to the same party.
Adde unto all this, that this Anne Bodenham was searched both at the Gaol and before the Judges at the Assizes, and there was found on her shoulder a certain mark or teat about the length and bigness of the nipple of a womans breast, and hollow and soft as a nipple, with an hole on the top of it.
14. Wherefore to conclude, there being found upon her, there being done and spoken by her such things as do evidently indigitate that she is a Witch, and has the power of raising Spirits, and she being accused by one of raising them up, who in no likelihood could excogitate any such either Magical Forms, Effects or Circumstances, as are above recited, and who tells her story so indifferently, that it touches her self near as much as the Witch, and upon her revealing of the villany was so handled that it was plainly above any natural distemper imaginable; it cannot, I say, but gain full assent of any man, whom prejudice and obstinacy has not utterly blinded, that what the Maid confessed concerning her self and the Witch is most certainly true.