Friday, May 25, 2007

Early Modern Sat-Nav

Captain James Hind was a highwayman and Royalist soldier, widely believed to have assisted in Charles II's escape after the Battle of Worcester. He was the subject of a spate of pamphlets after his capture and around the time of his execution. He has his own ODNB entry. The sympathetic accounts of his adventures make him into a Robin Hood figure. Supernatural elements creep in, this one to add to the entertainment and explain his many escapes and final arrest:

How Hind was Inchanted by a cunning woman, who after some discourse switched him with a Charmed Rod, not to be taken or harmed during the time this Charm should last; which was for Three years.

After Hind had robbed the High-way-men of their money; It was his chance to ride to Hatfield … as he rod along Hatfield, at the Towns end, an old Ill-favoured woman asked an Almes of him: his horse presently staid, and would go no further; Sir, said the old woman, I have something to say to you, and then you shal be gon; Hind not likeing her Countenance, puld out five shillings and gave her, thinking she would but like a Gipsee, tell his fortune: Said, good woman I am in hast: Sir, said she, I have staid all this morning to speak to you; and would you have me lose my labour: speak your mind, said Hind.

The old woman began thus:

Captain Hind, You ride and go in many dangers; wherefore by my poor Skill, I have thought on a way to preserve you, for the space of Three Years: but that time being past, you are no more then an ordinary man, and a mischance may fall on you, as well as another: but if you be in England, come to me, and I will renew the Vertue of this Charm again: in saying these words, she puld out of her bosom, a little box, almost like a Sun-Dyal, and gave it Capt in Hind, and said to him, When you are in any distress, open this, and which way you see the Star turn, ride or go that way, and you shall escape all dangers: so she switched him with a white Rod that was in her hand, and strook the horse on the buttocks, and bid him farwell: the horse presently leaped forward with such courage, that Hind could not turn him to give her thanks; but guessing it was her will it should be so, rod on his way. The time of this Charm was expired in Ireland about some two months before Youghall was surprised by the Inhabitants for the Commonwealth of England, where Hind was wounded: as hereafter you shall hear in his Voyage to Ireland.

Chapter 13 of George Fidge, The English Gusman; or The history of that unparallel'd thief James Hind. Wherein is related I. His education and manner of life; also a full relation of all the severall robberies, madd pranks, and handsom jests done by him. II. How at Hatfield he was enchanted by a witch for three years of space; and how she switch'd his horse with a white rod, and gave him a thing like a sun-dial, the point of which should direct him which way to take when persued. And III. His apprehension, examination at the councel of state, commitment to the gatehouse, and from thence to Newgate; his arraignment at the Old Baily; and the discourse betwext his father, his wife and himself in Newgate. With several cuts to illustrate the matter (1652).

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