The power which the witches claimed to possess over human fertility is shown in many of the trials. Jonet Clark was tried in Edinburgh in 1590 'for giving and taking away power from sundry men's Genital-members'; and in the same year and place Bessie Roy was accused of causing women's milk to dry up. The number of midwives who practised witchcraft points also to this fact; they claimed to be able to cause and to prevent pregnancy, to cause and to prevent an easy delivery, to cast the labour-pains on an animal or a human being (husbands who were the victims are peculiarly incensed against these witches), and in every way to have power over the generative organs of both sexes. In short, it is possible to say that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the better the midwife the better the witch.
The Red Book of Appin, which was obtained from the Devil by a trick, is of great interest in this connexion. It was said to contain charms for the curing of diseases of cattle; among them must certainly have been some for promoting the fertility of the herds in general, and individual animals in particular. It is not unlikely that the charms as noted in the book were the result of many experiments, for we know that the witches were bound to give account to the Devil of all the magic they performed in the intervals between the Sabbaths, and he or his clerk recorded their doings. From this record the Devil instructed the witches. It is evident from the confessions and the evidence at the trials that the help of the witches was often required to promote fertility among human beings as well as among animals. The number of midwives who were also witches was very great, and the fact can hardly be accidental.
Witches were called in to perform incantations during the various events of a farm-yard. Margrat Og of Aberdeen, 1597, was 'indyttit as a manifest witche, in that, be the space of a yeirsyn or theirby, thy kow being in bulling, and James
- Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 206; Glanvil, pt. ii, p. 301.
- Pitcairn, i, pt. ii, p. 207.
- J. G. Campbell, pp. 293-4. The book was in manuscript, and when last heard of was in the possession of the now-extinct Stewarts of Invernahyle.