Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/439

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337
GHOSTS—FAIRIES—WITCHES

The Witch of Edmonton is asked, "Why wilt not kill him?" he replies, "Fool, because I cannot. Though we have power, know it is circumscribed And tied in limits." Yet the supernatural acts that witches could perform were numerous. They could render themselves invisible, they could come and go at will, traversing long distances instantly. They could control the weather, and, as a result, they often drove a thrifty trade in selling winds to mariners. They could foretell and they could bewitch. Under the latter head one would group the thousand and one acts of malignant evil that were currently attributed to witches. Sudden illness, violent accident, misfortune in business, monstrous birth, etc., etc., were due, oftentimes, to witchcraft, and honestly believed to be so by all sorts and conditions of men. "Finally she said she would be even with me; and soon after my child, my cow, my sow, or my pullet died, or was strangely taken." (Scot.) " She came on a time to the house of one Robert Lathburie … who, disliking her dealing, sent her home empty; but presently after her departure, his hogs fell sick and died, to the number of twenty." (A Detection of Damnable Drifts Practised by Three Witches, 1769.)

One of the commonest means and withal one of the most feared instruments of witchcraft was