Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A bad start to 1609 at the Sign of the Firebrand

A bloudy new-yeares gift, or A true declaration of the most cruell and bloudy murther, of maister Robert Heath, in his owne house at high Holbourne, being the signe of the fire-brand (1609) is a typical murder pamphlet: heavy on the moralizing, slow to probe motive, and generally content that someone has been made an example of on the gallows.

What is rather thrilling about the little book is the intense domestic detail the anonymous author supplies: read it, and you are back there in the early morning of January 1st 1609, in a crowded house that is utterly dark, utterly cold, and murderously divided.

Master Robert Heath was a cook, Rowland Cramphorne was his tapster, so the business obviously extended to a complete catering in food and drink. It is clear that Master Heath drank: he was one that ‘kept much companie’, and on the fatal night, he came home at about 9pm ‘somwhat disguised in drinke’ and fell asleep in front of the kitchen fire. His wife is all too used to this, and always has her maid put a table against their bedroom door. She tells the court that this would alert her to her husband coming into the room late at night, but it sounds more like her regular way of keeping him downstairs. Upstairs, at midnight, a gentleman lodger wakes up both cold and thirsty. He calls for Rowland, who alleges that there are no faggots left in the house. Briefly, they contemplate going out, even at this late hour, to find drink and a fire, but in the end the gentleman decides to make do and shiver on through the night.

At 2am, the maid retired upstairs to her mistress’s room, leaving Rowland and her master below. Rowland shares a bed in the house with a boy. The narrative asserts that he had made this boy drunk with ale and sack, the boy certainly doesn’t seem to know when Rowland retired or got up again. But in this chilly and drink-stupefied household, at some point in the night, ‘the devil prevailed so farre with him, to doe that horrible deed of darkness'. A candle the maid had left by her master was a quarter burned at the time of the murder, and extinguished upside down its holder.

Next door, a joiner, his wife and their lodger are huddled in one chamber: between two or three in the morning, they hear ‘a great noise in Master Heaths house, as it were the fall of stooles or Chaires’. Nobody in the Heath household seems to have heard this, and next door, they just decide that their neighbours are making an early start on their pie making for New Year’s Day. The room they are in is adjacent to Rowland’s, and the partition so thin that the late night opening and closing of his door shakes their bed.

At five am, a barber’s maid comes to the house for fire, but finds the main door shut, at 6am the maid descends, gropes about in the dark till she finds the candle on the dresser (how did she know that it had not burned down and gone out?) relights it, and discovers the body. She goes and wakes Rowland with the news that ‘he knew too well’.

The ‘outcry of this murder being made’, the Joiner, even then on his way to a morning lecture at Christs-Church (a sermon, of course), diverts into the house. Heath was not quite dead, but dies as they try to lift him upstairs.

Rowland, Heath’s wife and the maid all assert that they have no idea who did the murder: the house doors, they say, had been left wide open in the morning, as if the murderer had departed that way (they clearly hope to incriminate either the drinking companions who had returned to the house with Heath, or others who had been upstairs with the gentleman).

Under examination, though, Rowland is found to have in his pocket money with blood upon it. He claims that he was bloodied in lifting his master, but the pious joiner from next door denies that Rowland had helped. A ‘fire fork’ is found to have a drop of blood upon it (Rowland later confesses, rather, that he had hit his master with a 'double jug').

The narrative now shifts to immediate motive: the day before, Heath, out drinking, had sent home for more beer: but each time he asked, his tapster had denied him. Heath had even sent money back home to pay for the beer from his own business: Rowland had still refused. Rowland had reportedly been struck by his returning master (this would be on the morning of New Year’s Eve), and dismissed.

The Jury finds all this enough, Rowland was convicted, drawn on a hurdle to his own street, and hanged on a gibbet ‘set up at Graies-Inne lane end, somewhat neeere unto the house where the murder was committed’ (this was on the 21st February 1609).

Rowland’s behaviour at the gallows was interesting, to say the least: “where being by good and godly preachers dealt withal, to cleare his own conscience, & deliver the truth in so doubtfull a case, whether any other had hand or no with him in the action: he would heare no speeches concerning his mist[ress] or the maid, but cleared them [as?] much as he could, taking al upon himself: & loath to hear any further admonishment, which with love and much charity was laboured unto him: when he was willed to make no haste, but take time to his own liking, putting one legge beside the ladder, and they calling him yet to stay, yea, the hangman offering to holde him by the choler of his doublet, he desperately threw himselfe off, not willing to listen to any further good counsel.”

I take it that these suspicions were basically correct. A tapster surely would not have refused his own master drink, even with money offered, unless put up to it by his mistress. Heath and his cronies were drinking the profits, his wife was sick of his drunken returns to their bedroom. When the maid looks for and lights the candle she had left burning by her master the night before, she finds what she had half expected from the bangs in the night they had been careful not to hear, and knows who to go to. I suspect, too, that the two women distanced themselves from the man who had carried out the murder and took all the blame (even to the point of speeding his own death for fear that he might blab something out). For the little pamphlet begins with an odd, and unsubstantiated account of Rowland Cramphorne’s bad character, a tale of a girl (anonymous in an otherwise quite specific text) he had seduced and deserted, who had predicted that he would come to a bad end. ‘All these imputations now dye with him’ says the pamphleteer, who might just be trying to signal that there’s another story beside the officially accepted one, mentioning in passing ‘what hath bin said concerning his Mistresse’…

But cold, dark, crowded early modern London!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Francis Quarles and the nappy of his saviour.

Francis Quarles, who was (just about) the most popular poet of the first half of 17th century, and his wife Ursula Woodgate had eighteen children together. So when he came to write ‘On the Infancie of our Saviour’ in his Divine Fancies (1632), he knew a thing or two about babies and infants, and it is clear that he loved them:

Hayle blessed Virgin, full of heavenly Grace,
Blest above all that sprang from humane race;
Whose Heav’n-saluted Womb brought forth in One,
A blessed Saviour, and a blessed Son:
O! what a ravishment t’had beene, to see
Thy little Saviour perking on thy Knee!
To see him nuzzle in thy Virgin Brest!
His milke white body all unclad, undrest;

To see thy busie Fingers cloathe and wrappe
His spradling Limbs in thy indulgent Lappe!
To see his desprate Eyes, with Childish grace,
Smiling upon his smiling Mothers face!
And, when his forward strength began to bloome,
To see him diddle up and downe the Roome!
O, who would thinke, so sweet a Babe as this,
Should ere be slaine by a false-hearted kisse!
Had I a Ragge, if sure thy Body wore it,
Pardon sweet Babe, I thinke I should adore it,
Till then, O grant this Boone, (a boone far dearer)
The Weed not being, I may adore the Wearer.

The infant saviour perking, nuzzling, spradling and (best of all) diddling up and down the room isn’t without parallel, of course, in accentuating the word made flesh: but two of these words are first occurrences in the OED (‘diddle’ and ‘spradling’ under ‘spraddle’). Quarles is letting us in to see a baby-related vocabulary previously excluded from more restrained literature.

But, more radically still, it’s hard to avoid the thought that, when Quarles expresses the wish for one of the rags the baby Jesus had once worn, he really does mean one of the baby Jesus’ ‘tail clouts’, one of the divine nappies. Americans would say diaper.

I can imagine purported relics of the saviour’s infant clothes existed in the medieval period. Quarles writes, though, as a doting sentimentalist, and was far from being a Catholic. In a related poem in the same collection, he explains the curing of the woman with the issue of blood as a product of faith, not as coming from any miraculous property in the garment she touched:

‘On the Woman with the Issue.’

How could thy Soule, fond Woman, be assur’d
Thy long disease could be so eas’ly cur’d?
What? couldst thou think the touch of cloth was good
To dry the Fountaine of thy flowing Blood?
Or was't because our blessed Saviour wore it?
Or why? I read not, that thou didst adore it:
He nere so much as ownd thee, Woman: Sure,
Thy Faith, and not his Garments wrought the Cure.

‘Divine Fancies’ is entirely appropriate to Quarles’ religious poems: like ‘French Fancies’, they are sweet light cakes of poems, iced all over with fanciful designs, words and thoughts. Here he starts off on the Day of Judgement:

O When shall that time come, when the loud Trump
Shall wake my sleeping Ashes from the Dump
Of their sad Urne! That blessed Day, wherein
My glorifi’d, my metamorphiz’d Skin
Shall circumplexe and terminate that fresh
And new refined substance of this flesh!
When my transparent Flesh, dischargd from groans,
And paynes, shall hang upon new polisht Bones!
When as my Body shall re-entertaine
Her cleansed Soule, and never part againe! …

Who could resist the thought of resurrecting with newly polished bones? No wonder readers liked him: only Quarles could think of comparing the various kinds of sin to England’s various types of bad weather:

On severall Sinnes.

Grosse Sinne.

Is like a Show'r, which ere we can get in
Into our Conscience, wets us to the skin:

Sin of Infirmity.

Is like the falling of an April Shower;
'Tis often Raine, and Sun-shine, in an hower.

Sin of Custome.

Is a long Showre, beginning with the Light
Oft-times continuing till the Dead of Night.

Sin of Ignorance.

It is a hideous Mist, that wetts amaine,
Though it appeare not in the forme of Raine.

Crying Sin.

It is a sudden Showre, that teares in sunder
The Cope of Heav'n, & alway comes with Thunder.

Sin of Delight.

Is like a fethered showre of Snow, not felt,
But soakes to th' very skin, when ere it melt:

Sin of Presumption.

Does like a Showre of Hayle, both wet and wound
With sudden Death: or strikes us to the Ground.

The Sin of Sinnes.

It is a sulph'rous Shower, such as fell

On Sodom, strikes, and strikes to th' Pit of Hell.

My nativity scene is from Jeremy Taylor’s Antiquitates christianae, or, The history of the life and death of the holy Jesus (1675).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Herbert's dolphin

“O what a sight were Man, if his attires
Did alter with his minde;
And like a Dolphins skinne, his clothes combin'd
With his desires!”

A quatrain from George Herbert’s ‘Giddinesse’ which recently brought me to a halt. Editors rely on F E Hutchinson’s 1941 text, and the magisterial but un-footnoted footnote, “like a Dolphin skinne. Not the mammal like a porpoise, but the dorado (Coryphaena hippuris), popularly called a dolphin, a fish like a mackerel; its metallic colours undergo rapid changes on its being taken out of the water and about to die, but it cannot be inferred that the changes have any relation to its desires.”

Here’s a 17th century source to substantiate Hutchinson: “The Dorado, which the English confound with the Dolphin, is much like a Salmon, but incomparably more delicate, and hath smaller Scales”. This is from Adam Olearius, The voyages and travells of the ambassadors sent by Frederick, Duke of Holstein, to the Great Duke of Muscovy and the King of Persia begun in the year M.DC.XXXIII. … Whereto are added the Travels of John Albert de Mandelslo (a gentleman belonging to the embassy) from Persia into the East-Indies ... in III. books ... / written originally by Adam Olearius, secretary to the embassy ; faithfully rendered into English, by John Davies (1669).

But for all I know Hutchinson might have been, or talked to, a game-fisherman, for the dorado is still apparently referred to as the ‘dolphin fish’:

Henry Vaughan can be tracked tracking Herbert, in the characteristically more diffuse reference in his poem, ‘The World’, where he scorns the world by telling it:

Thou art not Truth; for he that tries
Shall find thee all deceit and lyes …
… And when not so, then always 'tis
A fadeing paint; the short-liv’d bliss
Of air and Humour: out and in
Like Colours in a Dolphin’s skin.
But must not live beyond one day,
Or Convenience; then away.

Vaughan makes the idea of rapidity of change more explicit than Herbert. Hutchinson says of these rapid alterations “it cannot be inferred that the changes have any relation to its desires.” The hidden relation, if we have to find one, must be that these changes are linked to death: the dorado loses its gilded coloration when hauled out of the water. Herbert’s perpetually altering humanity, pursuing desires so fatal to salvation, needs God to intervene to escape death. ‘Giddinesse’ ends with the prayer:

“Lord, mend or rather make us: one creation
Will not suffice our turn:
Except thou make us dayly, we shall spurn
Our own salvation.”

But I always tend to read Herbert looking for the satanic verses, for the poetry which responds secretly to the pleasures he spurns so dutifully. Dolphins and pleasures in such proximity suggest an echo of a far-greater piece of poetry, one in which the dolphin features as an ecstatic animal:

“His delights
Were dolphin like; they shew’d his back above
The element they liv’d in.”

Cleopatra’s tribute to Mark Anthony, humping along in the ocean of merriment: “O, such another sleep, that I might see / But such another man!” Her inimitable celebration of a man as ‘nature’s piece’ is the ideological opposite to Herbert’s principles. Anthony as marvelously unrestrained brings me to the source of my woodcut image, Thomas Combe’s, The Theater of Fine Devices (1614)] (Combe was translating Guillaume de La Perrière).

The emblem here is of intractability, and applied to women this time: dolphins are as unhappy about being taken from the water as women are if deprived of their will:

A wanton woman and a light,
Will not be tam'd by art nor might.

With greater ease the Dolphin is restrained,
Then wanton women bridled of their will,
Who from their purpose cannot be constrained.
They are so full of craft and subtle skill:
Well may they boast what guerdon they have gained,
That can subject their wives unto their will;
For oft the air of a woman’s smock,
Withstands alone the bonds of chaste wedlock.

This said, the last couple seems to circle back round to the intractability of male desires (a smell-smock seeks out other women: Platonick love! Say Plato kept a whore, / And lost his smell-smock nose by th' French disease” scoffed Nicholas Hooke).

But, revenons à nos moutons, that ‘dolphin’ in the woodcut looks far more fish than mammal, and illustrates the initial confusion of creatures. But I still wonder if the skin of the (mammalian) dolphin doesn’t change when it dies? Is George Barker really talking about a dorado here, for instance?

What I see, then, with
that cloud my witness is
not shapes of the mind or wind
like the slow rainbowings
of the dolphin’s skin as it dies
but, as though from the cloud
I saw my bone walk the shore,
the theology of all things.

George Barker, from ‘In Memory of David Archer’ (1973)

My photograph of the cruelly gaffed dorado comes from

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two dangerous pets from 'Zeno'

The last week of my teaching term, and while I have launched myself half-heartedly at EEBO’s selection of the pamphlets of Cotton Mather, I have no real zest to write anything about that strange and conflicted man.

But I did come across the German site,, with its many, many online, large format, images from early modern art. I have been looking at more graphic works by Hans Baldung Grien than I’d ever seen before. As parrot owner, I have selected his African Grey. With it, a very dangerous ‘cryptid’, as the always fascinating ‘TetZoo’ would call it:

a kind of walrus/iguana mashup, here ridden by an intrepid putto. Here's the TetZoo's closest match:

Hans Baldung drew just about anything: seals, armour, landscapes, post-coital lovers, and many studies of heads and faces. I was interested by the way that his children’s faces could have been drawn in the 20th century, yesterday really, while his studies of adult faces all seem to be of recognizably Northern Renaissance people.

Back to the point, which is to recommend the Zeno site:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The demoniac's jet ring

I have been re-reading Samuel Harsnett’s famous Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603). For all that he somehow became a bishop in the 17th century English church, Harsnett writes like a good modern journalist: worldly, scathing, and unhampered by piety in giving his astute account of just who was possessed, and by what unworthy feelings, amid the overheated goings-on in Denham, Buckinghamshire.

As Jesuits (and a fellow ‘demoniac’) circle – with very mixed motives - around poor abused Sara Williams (who is just 15), the man she actually seems to want in her life gets a surprise mention:

“Whilst she was in the priests hands at Denham, one Haines was suter unto her, and although Ma: Dibdale commaunded her in no sort to entertaine him, yet her sister bringing unto her a blacke Iet ring from him, as a token, she put the same upon her little finger, which being some-what too little, caused her finger to swell, as she now beleeveth: And there-upon this exam(inate) in her confession acknowledging that she had received that ring from Haines contrary to Ma: Dibdales commaundment they said it was the devil under the ring, that caused her finger to swell: and wetting her finger, and making crosses upon it, they pulled of(f) the ring little by little, and said, that it came of(f) by virtue of those crosses, the devil having no longer power to keepe it on” (pp. 186-7).

Sara Williams is one of the few 17th century recipients of a jet ring who seem happy to wear it without mocking comment on the poverty of the gift. Hopelessly trapped by Weston, Dibdale and the rest (when she says she wants to go home, they explain that her words are just the devil talking), Sara defiantly jams the undersized ring on her smallest finger. Perhaps it was spotted by the jealous Dibdale, who is so unhealthily preoccupied with the demon Maho and his residence in Sara’s ‘secretest parts’, and can’t bear to share her, or Sara herself was troubled by the finger swelling up. At confession, the full story of the jet ring comes out, and the priests manage to get it back off her finger, and then ignore their physical difficulties and practical solutions in doing so, to attribute this victory over the devil to the power of prayer.

Rings are so pervasively sexualized in 17th century literature that the episode seems expressive of the unacknowledged sexual rivalry between the exorcist and the suitor.

When Stephen loses his purse in Every Man in his Humour, he regrets the loss of just such a small token with callow bawdy:
Stephen. Oh, it's here: no, and it had beene lost, I had not car'd, but for a jet ring mistris Mary sent me.
Edward Knowell. A jet ring? oh, the poesie , the poesie ?
Stephen. Fine, ifaith! ‘Though fancie sleep, my loue is deepe’. Meaning that though I did not fancie her, yet shee loued me dearely.
Edward Knowell. Most excellent!
Stephen. And then, I sent her another, and my poesie was: ‘The deeper, the sweeter, Ile be iudg'd by St. Peter’.

The Duke of Newcastle’s play, The Triumphant Widow, has a scene modeled on the Autolycus scenes in The Winter’s Tale, in which jet rings are part of a pedlar’s pack, and are snapped up by country folk:
1 Man. Come, honest Pedler, up with your Pack, and follow us, we'l make you welcome i'faith. Gervas. We'l buy all his Trinkets to the last Jet Ring, or inch of Incle, we'l hamper him i'faith, we'l leave him nothing.
Footpad. Bless you, bless you till I complain.

I don’t think that, when I was annotating Donne, I had realized just how often jet rings had a ‘poesie’ inscribed; Donne’s speaker interrogates the meaning of the ring, and finds it in the shape and nature of the material, not in any engraved distich (‘A Jet Ring Sent’):

Thou art not so black, as my heart,
Nor halfe so brittle, as her heart, thou art;
What would'st thou say? shall both our properties by thee bee spoke,
Nothing more endlesse, nothing sooner broke?

Marriage rings are not of this stuffe;
Oh, why should ought lesse precious, or lesse tough
Figure our loves? Except in thy name thou have bid it say
I'am cheap, & nought but fashion, fling me'away.

Yet stay with mee since thou art come,
Circle this fingers top, which did'st her thombe.
Be justly proud, and gladly safe, that thou dost dwell with me,
She that, Oh, broke her faith, would soon breake thee.

How poignantly charged is that use of the ring as a measure of their different physical sizes! But, petite as she is, she has vanquished him.

My image is lifted from: I was told years ago that the residual veins of Whitby jet are all too thin to support production of any more jet rings, which have to be cut across the fine laminar grain to have any strength at all. These people own perhaps one of the last pieces thick enough to work that way. That's a pound coin in front of the sample: I'd measure one now, but happen to be light of purse. The vein looks to be about 3-4cms thick. What would a jet ring cost you now?

Jet rings do not seem to have survived very well, but this antique jewelry dealer recently sold a Victorian example:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Robert Crofts cites Donne as he gives up on love, 1641

My down-time reading this week has been Robert Crofts’ The way to happinesse on earth concerning riches, honour, conjugall love, eating, drinking / by R.C. (1641). I suppose I was interested in how this author would present his message in his puritanical times.

Crofts has the (admittedly faint) merits of being without any exceptional qualities as a writer. What he thinks, he gets from the culture round him. As he compiles his ‘own’ opinions, he gets into the usual difficulties of the 17th century minor writer who follows and diligently reproduces the diversity of views he finds available: that veering round from pro to contra, the uneasiness as, for instance, he expounds the merits of being in love, for fear that this section of the discourse might be taken for his settled opinion. “I could willingly turne backe, and teare those former Love discourses out of my booke, in contempt of your frailties and vanities, were it not for their sakes, who are indeed true-lovers”, he says to women at p.247, when he has completed the transition into the thundering denunciation of marriage and women that he was evidently itching to write all through his earlier section in praise of honest love and conjugality.

Those love discourses are interesting: for Crofts sketches out the type of thing he thinks his decent male wooers ought to say to their ladies. Anticipating Dryden on Donne, he thinks it “folly to study, sing and talke to them in high straines of wit, and figurative exornations, lest they be not understood, and so perchance laughed at. But in this respect a plaine, yet artificiall, pleasing, materiall, moving, and convincing way is best”. Having said that the male wooer must not ‘study’, within a few pages Crofts expounds on how his sex must “by often and serious meditation to imprint into our minds, the grounds and heads thereof, As Numbers, Particulars, Observations, Arguments, Examples, Comparisons, Contrarieties, Similitudes, Effects, Appendances, Circumstances, and the like, as perfectly as we doe our A, B, C … as Preachers doe especially take notice, and imprint into their minds, the heads, divisions, and grounds of their Sermons” (p.208).

This sounds like badly over-egging the cake, as the training of the University and Inn of Court is laboriously deployed to win fair Lady. Now Crofts tends to write as though he is happy just to keep on covering the pages, so there may not be much in it, but if you think of all those plays in which a male wooer is ridiculed either for being tongue-tied, or speaking in a manner that lacks decorum (fitness to the person addressed), well, maybe the pressure was on men to develop a wooing discourse – ‘and as for the form, in some form’, as the clown puts it in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Perhaps women too, starved of education, took some pleasure in being the recipients of such studied and rehearsed addresses, the compliment of a higher style.

Crofts offers the kind of reheated material he thinks suitable for when the lover gets onto the topic of time: “He tells her, that to enjoy such pleasure but one hour or a day, were enough to possess the heart with marvelous joy; yea, although that houre or day were halfe a yeare hence, yet the imagination of it in the meane time, is sufficient to possesse us with very sweet pleasures till then.”

Crofts, in writing his section on love discourse, often seems to have poems somewhere in the back of his mind. He quotes quite a few pieces of verse. I could not locate sources on LION, and didn’t look very hard, because I suspect that in most cases Crofts either quotes from memory or has rewritten the poem in simpler terms. On p. 107 he says how ‘the Poet hath a Song in his Comedy, which with some alteration of words, and to another tune thus it goes’: I think he offers his own very watered-down version of the song in Jonson’s The Devil is an Ass: “So soft, so delicious, / So dainty, so sweet, so fine, / As the honey from the Bee, / is not halfe so sweet to me, / As is one sweet kisse of thine”.

But Crofts makes just one attributed quotation, and it pleased me to find it, as I have just gone through my annual tangle with John Donne as a subject for undergraduate lectures. Crofts at this point is about to switch onto the boundless topic of misogamy, how it is ‘observable that many men are commonly more sullen, dull, sad, and pensive after marriage than they were before”, and say much about the joys of “we Batchelours” (p.219). In this context, at this very point of transition, he quotes Donne’s ‘The Triple Foole’. I have it in the page image above, but he says that he knows “some very wise men indeed have confessed it to be a folly to love, and to write thereof, &c. As one of the most famous of them saith in one of his Poems,

I am two fooles I know,

For loving, and for saying so,

In whining Poetry;

But where’s the wise man

That would not be I,

If she would not deny, &c”

And, to the side of the passage, “D. I. Donne”. It's interesting that Donne crops up here. The poet might, of course, have provided material for the discourse of love, or been cited against women, but Crofts places him just on the cusp, rueful self-reproach, an admission of still having a yearning.

After this, Crofts, up and running, denounces women and marriage, until the point when he gets onto ale-house libertines (who essentially have a cruder version of the same discourse, in a language of cuckoldry and cuckold-making) of which he then lengthily disapproves.

Maybe one day I will return to Crofts for his similarly mingled praise and dispraise of drinking, a precarious attempt to find a point of balance between condemnation and indulgence. And in the end, that's his interest to the reader: in 1641, a not very talented man felt impelled to try to argue for a middle way, a tempered epicureanism. But even as he does so, he ventures to all extremes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guess the phase of the moon from your cat's eyebrows...

‘Receit’ number XXXVII in John White’s A rich cabinet (1651, see my prior post), How to know both the Increase and Decrease of the Moone’.

White first tells us that, if you have one, you can look into a piece of Arabian selenite (‘within the bodie of this Stone the Moon sheweth her selfe’).

Or, more immediately available in the normal household:

“Our common house Cats also have this propertie by the subjection that the Moone hath over them; that their Eie-browes doe increase, or decrease each day, according to the course of the Moone and her aspects; which thing is dailie seene to him that pleaseth to note the experience thereof.”

While you run this fabulous assertion by your own range of experience with felines, my image is a composite one, showing some of the more feasible devices, tricks and gags described by the amiable Mr. White.

White is (rather winningly) interested in lying in bed but being able to know things: a small angled mirror in your window might, for instance, project a sun beam across your ceiling, where you have, by prior observation, drawn a dial of the hours. He thoroughly approved of the way King James (not everyone’s candidate to be quickly out of bed after a particularly heavy masque the night before) had a weathervane on the roof of Whitehall Palace, which connected by a shaft to a pointer that moved on a mariner’s compass rose painted on his royal bedroom ceiling.

The device top left explains itself really: you use a regular candle size and height as your night light, always set in the same place. The shadow it casts on your artful table of the hours up on the wall will give you a good idea of what time of the night it is, should you you wake up and want to know.

Below that, the confounding wonder of the cantilever, and a light lure for nocturnal fishing made with a candle in a floating urinal flask.

On the right hand, the chap in the top picture is able to read the cards he is holding above his hat brim because he has surreptitiously dropped a spot of drink on the table to act as a tiny mirror, and has the candle at the right angle. Than there’s a thermometer with coloured water and a suitably basic calibration of 12 different degrees (the higher up the tube, the colder it is), and a reading light like lace makers used.

A conjuring trick he mentions which you could try involves making the signature you have inked onto a piece of paper that is then burned to ashes reappear on your arm: sign your arm with a fresh pen inked with urine, let it dry, do the paper signing and burning, then rub the ashes on your arm to make the signature seem to reappear. More challenging to undertake is a stunt that involves washing your hands in boiling lead without any risk. Having anointed your hands with an ointment of quicksilver, bol armoniak, camphire and aqua vitae, you can, at the very least, dip your finger in, and no harm done…

There is some jolly early modern sport to be had in tormenting animals (top tricks to play on ducks here folks), and a splendid way to clean up your old oil paintings by bathing them in vinegar, then rubbing them hard with a pad of brick dust tied up in linen, finally leaving them outside in bright sunlight. Brings them up like new, apparently. Must recommend it to the curators of the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries projected for the V and A:

I was recently reading Roy Strong’s descriptions of portraits of Sir Walter Ralegh, where he considers none of the original paint surface to survive at all. No wonder, if this was how they scoured off old varnish.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Early modern fireworks

A composite image from the illustrations in the 1658 edition of John White’s A rich cabinet, with variety of inventions: unlock'd and open'd, for the recreation of ingenious spirits at their vacant hours Being receipts and conceits of several natures, and fit for those who are lovers of natural and artificial conclusions. As also variety of recreative fire-works both for land, air, and water. And fire-works of service for sea and shore. Whereunto is added divers experiments in drawing, painting, arithmetick, geometry, astronomy, and other parts of the mathematicks. Likewise directions for ringing the most usual peals, that belong to that art. Collected by J. W. a lover of artificial conclusions (editions from 1651).

(Who wouldn't be 'a lover of artificial conclusions'?)

These are all from John White's section, ‘The Schoole of Artificial Fire-works’, and show a dragon running along a fixed rope, a burst of silver or golden ‘snakes’ descending from the sky (the explosive mixture for these was packed into the thick end or calamus of goose quills), St George confronting the fiery dragon, a Catherine Wheel that rotates one way, and then the final rocket, on burning out, ignites the rockets on the other side, so that the wheel reverses, a fixed wheel for a mass launch of ‘fisgigs or serpents’, and rocket construction, launcher and payload.

The fireworks sound pretty good: for stars of a blue colour with red descending from your rocket: ‘of Salt-peter four ounces, and of Sulphur vive twelve ounces: meal these very fine, and mix them together with two ounces of Aqua vitae and half an ounce of the Oyl of Spike, and let it be dry before you use it.’ Nut-sized balls of the composition, wrapped in paper, are placed in the top cone of the rocket. Or, ‘If you will have a beautiful white Fire, take four ounces of Powder, twelve ounces of Salt peter, six ounces of Sulphur vive, and half an ounce of Camphire.’

“To make the golden Rain, you must get store of Goose-quils and cut them off next the feathers, and fill these quils hard with the same composition ... If it were possible to put a thousand of these quils upon the head of a Rocket, it were a dainty sight to see how pleasantly they spread themselves in the ayr, and come down like streams of gold much like the falling down of Snow.’

‘Oooh!’ and ‘Aaww!’ and ‘My thatched roof!’

Friday, October 31, 2008

Francis Bacon and the pickpocket

My story today concerns a brief and ignominious appearance in history, that made by John Selman, of Shoe Lane, who on Christmas Day 1611 got on his best working clothes (and Selman had no other line of work than one that involved trying to look respectable enough to work a crowd without being suspected), and then went to the royal chapel at Whitehall.

The King, Queen, and their children were present to take communion. Selman decided that his mark would be Leonard Barry, the manservant of Lord Harrington. Unfortunately for him, he had been recognised by one Edmund Doubleday, who had himself previously had Selman hover suspiciously close to him when in the ‘Cheker Chamber’ in Westminster Hall, had then suspected what his game was, and been vigilant enough to thwart him: Doubleday was sharp enough to know him again. Under Doubleday’s vigilant scrutiny, “after long hawking, and following of the foresaid Leonard Barry’, Selman took Barry’s purse, and exited the chapel.

Clearly Selman was not a purse-snatcher, for his mark has felt nothing, and Doubleday has not seen any sudden movement, for he goes and asks Barry if his purse is still in his possession. The servant thinks so, but checks his pockets, and it has gone. Doubleday tells Barry who has his purse, and they follow and detain him. The purse was still on his person, Selman didn’t have an accomplice to do a quick switch.

Selman was committed to prison, and then brought from the Marshalsea on New Year’s Eve, and charged with high formality: that being, “within the verge, our Soveraigne Lord the king, being then in his Royal Majesty, at White-hal aforesaid, with force and Arms did make an assault upon one Leonard Barrie, and one purse of the value of one halfe penny and forty shillings ready money in the same purse.”

Selman, caught red-handed, could only plead guilty. It is interesting (and rather pathetic) to see the limited mercy this realistically-minded thief begged for: Thomas Peter asks Selman “what he can say for himself, why sentence of death should not be pronounced against him: to which he answered not anything but prostrating himself on his knees submitted himself to the king’s mercy humbly praying, that after the law was executed, his body might be delivered to his wife to have Christian buriall, and that the goods which he had, (part of which was wel gotten, some otherwise) might not bee taken from her.”

Good enough, but not good enough for the King’s solicitor, Francis Bacon (no less), who says he can have mercy on proviso: “Upon your true Repentance, and revealing of those of your faculty and fraternity, who are still as ready to enter into the presence Chamber of the king, as you were to enter into the house of God.”

It is typical of Bacon to be so inexorable and clever-clever. Nevertheless, Selman nominates “one who was then in the hall, which could (if he would) do good service to the king, by revealing many of that profession, his name as I have heard is I.H.”

Who could this have been? Had some associate of Selman’s come to see his fellow diver into pockets face the inevitable? If so, his curiosity landed him in trouble. But there may be some other explanation.

Then came the great moment in poor Selman’s truncated existence, for even though he was only a pickpocket, he got some high grade Jacobean moralising levelled at him. The anonymous pamphleteer indicates that this is not Francis Bacon verbatim, but the gist of what was said:

“Sir Francis Bacon … proceeded to judgement, and looking on the prisoner, thus or to this effect, in some sort he spake: The first and greatest sinne that ever was committed was done in heaven. The second was done in paradise, being heaven on earth, and truly I cannot chuse but place this in the third ranke, in regard it was done in the house of God, where he by his own promise is always resident, as also for that the cause of that assembly was to celebrate the Feast of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus …

Thou shalt surely bee forgiven at Gods hands … thou shalt bee had from hence to the place from whence thou cammest, and from thence bee brought to the place of execution, which shall be between Charing Cross and the Court gate, and there be hanged by the necke till thou be dead, ad so the Lord have mercy upon thy soule.”

My image is of course the title page. It could be a standard woodcut, but I think it may be a genuine ‘wood block reportage’: Selman, with a purse, but in gentlemanly attire. Woodblock artists were adept at early modern photoshopping, and could re-work blocks with additional details to match the story. The pamphlet is very keen to report on just how this thief infiltrated this regal and divine sanctuary, and explains: “Now, gentle Readers, you must understand, that this Selman came into the kings Chappell in very good and seemely apparel, like unto a Gentleman, or Citizen: viz. a fair blacke cloake laced, and either lined through or faced with velvet. The rest of his apparel in reasionable maner being answerable thereunto. Which was the cause that he without resistance had free entrance into that holy and sanctified place.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Music for the unaccompanied parrot

I’ve been reading David Rothenberg’s Why Birds Sing (Allen Lane, 2005), and was charmed to learn of The Bird Fancyer’s Delight (1717): “Choice Observations and Directions Concerning ye Teaching of all Sorts of Singing-birds, after ye Flagelet and Flute, if rightly made as to Size & tome, with a Method of fixing ye wett Air, in a Spung or Cotton, with Lessons properly Composed, within ye Compass & faculty of each Bird, Viz. for ye Woodlark, Blackbird, Throustill, House-sparrow, Canary-bird, Black-thorn-linnet, Garden-Bull-Finch, and Starling”.

I cannot find this agreeable sounding and doubtless diverting book on the ECCO database, but I did ask a colleague if, as an 18th century specialist, she had heard of it. Not only had she heard of it, but down in her cellar, had an LP of performances by Richard and Theodora Schulze (recorders, sopranino), accompanied by a harpsichordist. Academics! – when you think you are being absurdly recondite, but there they are, way ahead of you, head full of knowledge, cellarage a latter day wonder cabinet.

I duly begged the loan of this venerable LP. It isn’t dated, but may be from the 60’s: Stereovox of New York:

for anyone unfamiliar with the technology. Apparently the 1717 collection of tunes for pet birds became important to the recorder player’s repertoire. Richard Schulze has added a second part and the harpsichord, but the original idea was that you played the music on your bird flageolet (they use a sopranino on the recording) until your bird had the tune off perfectly. You then might enter your bird in singing contests, etc.

As a parrot owner, I was especially pleased to find two tunes ‘for the parrot’. Now Barney, my African Grey (see him marking Renaissance Literature exam scripts for me here ) had a poor early upbringing. He can whistle ‘Half a pound of tuppenny rice’, but he then skips the boring bit, and seques straight into ‘Pop goes the weasel’.

Here, however, is a bird doing a very creditable Queen of the Night:

and here’s a rather less highbrow compilation of Leonard the parrot amid cries of ‘Exterminate!’ intermittently doing the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme and singing ‘Red Red What’ instead of UB40’s hit song, ‘Red Red Wine’:

Anyway, my MP3 is of the two tunes for parrot in The Bird Fancyer’s Delight, 1717. The first I recognize as ‘The Happy Clown’, which is such an appropriate choice. Like most birds, Barney has a syrinx rather than a larynx, and can make two sounds at once, but it will take a long time to get him up to this (and I think he’s out of his best learning age-range, which is closed in birds). I didn’t try to edit off all the pops and crackles, as they as so many, and they rather add to the parrotty ambience:

My image is ‘The Serinette’, the little hand-cranked barrel-organ people used to train their birds, with depicted in use by Jean-Siméon Chardin in 1751. I will have to get one of those, maybe.

To round off, here’s William Cowper’s ‘On the death of Mrs Throckmorton’s bullfinch’. A sad tale of the death of one of those trained birds – with a very apt moment of mock heroic in the final stanza:

‘On the death of Mrs Throckmorton’s bullfinch’

Ye Nymphs, if e’er your eyes were red
With tears o’er hapless favourites shed,
O, share Maria’s grief!
Her favourite, even in his cage,
(What will not hunger's cruel rage?)
Assassin'd by a thief.

Where Rhenus strays his vines among,
The egg was laid from which he sprung,
And though by nature mute,
Or only with a whistle bless’d,
Well-taught he all the sounds express’d
Of flageolet or flute.

The honours of his ebon poll
Were brighter than the sleekest mole,
His bosom of the hue
With which Aurora decks the skies,
When piping winds shall soon arise
To sweep away the dew.

Above, below, in all the house,
Dire foe alike of bird and mouse,
No cat had leave to dwell;
And Bully's cage supported stood

On props of smoothest-shaven wood,
Large built and latticed well.

Well latticed, - but the grate, alas!
Not rough with wire of steel or brass,
For Bully’s plumage sake,
But smooth with wands from Ouse’s side,
With which, when neatly peel’d and dried,
The swains their baskets make.

Night veil’d the pole: all seem’d secure:
When, led by instinct sharp and sure,
Subsistence to provide,
A beast forth sallied on the scout,
Long back’d, long tail’d, with whisker’d snout,
And badger-colour’d hide.

He, entering at the study door,
Its ample area 'gan explore;
And something in the wind
Conjectured, sniffing round and round,
Better than all the books he found,
Food chiefly for the mind.

Just then, by adverse fate impress'’d,
A dream disturb’d poor Bully's rest;
In sleep he seem’d to view
A rat fast clinging to the cage,
And, screaming at the sad presage,
Awoke and found it true.

For, aided both by ear and scent,
Right to his mark the monster went, -
Ah, Muse! forbear to speak
Minute the horrors that ensued;
His teeth were strong, the cage was wood, -
He left poor Bully’s beak.

O, had he made that too his prey!
That beak, whence issued many a lay
Of such mellifluous tone,
Might have repaid him well, I wote,
For silencing so sweet a throat,
Fast stuck within his own.

Maria weeps, - the Muses mourn; -
So, when by Bacchanalians torn,
On Thracian Hebrus’ side
The tree-enchanter Orpheus fell,
His head alone remain’d to tell
The cruel death he died.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Strange sights appearing sensibly unto men, 1605

I have been reading, as Shakespeare probably did in 1605, the anonymous translation of the first book of Pierre de Loyer’s A treatise of specters or straunge sights, visions and apparitions appearing sensibly vnto men. Well, Shakespeare got ideas for Macbeth out of it, while I get an obscure blog posting.

De Loyer’s main argument is about the power of the devil to delude: witches do not fly to sabbaths, nor do they transmute into animal form, the devil merely sends them into an ecstasy in which they believe these things have happened. Book one is a long lead-in to de Loyer’s main argument, and he scours all his considerable learning to come up with all kinds of examples of delusions and successful frauds upon the credulous (though he will insist that the devil is genuinely present and operating the most serious delusional states suffered by confessed witches).

But in this lighter part of his book, de Loyer is almost a sceptic, so many stories does he tell of merely human illusions which look like apparitions. I liked his story of how boys in France would fix candles to the backs of tortoises or crayfish, and set them staggering round graveyards to alarm the locals:

“It is a common trick of unhappy boyes to make especiall choice of Churchyardes, there to terrifie others … in those places they will sometimes set Crevises alive or Tortoyses, and putte a burning candle on their backes: and after will let them go, to the intent those that shall see them slowly marching or creeping neere about the sepulchers, may suppose them to be the soules of dead men” [sig. x1v].

A couple of pages later (sig. x3), Loyer gets onto other ‘haunted’ places:

“Next after Sepulchers and Churchyardes, the Gibets or common places of executions, are greatly feared of the vulgar sort, who do thinke, that spirits do haunt and frequent there also. And for that cause, such fooles doe never cease haunting such places, of purpose to feare and terrifie such as passe neere unto the same.

I remember me of a good jest which was once told me ….”

Loyer’s story following this promising start is of a ‘notorious thief and murderer’ who was hanged and gibbeted near Le Mans. Then, some days afterwards:

“a certaine man travelling that way … laid him down to rest under a tree not far from the Gibbet. But he was scarse well settled to his ease, when sodainly behold there commeth by, another traveler … and as he was right over against the gallowes where the dead body hanged, (whom the partie knew well when he was alive,) he called him by his name, and demanded of him, with an high and loud voice, (as jesting at him) if he would go with him to Mauns. The man that lay under the tree to rest him selfe, being to go to Mauns likewise, was very glad that he had found companie, and said unto the other; Stay for me a little, and I will goe with you. The other to whom he spake, thinking it was the dead theefe that spoke unto him, hasted him away as fast as he could possible. The man under the tree arising up, ran after him as fast, with a desire to overtake him, and still he cried, Stay for mee, stay for mee”.

A seventeenth century reader before me thought that this was a good one. My image is a composite of the two page images from the EEBO microfilm images. The early reader made a synoptic note of this. It has been cropped by some careless piece of re-binding, and I can only get the general drift by reconstructing (if I use lucuna marks, blogger goes crazy, taking them for html tags):

m?an by night under a gibbet, a traveler friend? of the man hang?ed and he jested(?) wheth?er he would go? with him …

But this reader obviously meant to fix so capital a story into his mind, so as to regale his friends with it later on. It would have made a good scene in a comedy (at least, to the robust taste of the time, when a dead body on a gibbet was just one of those things you saw). I wonder how Shakespeare failed to pick up on it. Macbeth really does lack for laughs, doesn’t it?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The witch-finder's accomplice

This blog entry I am writing for students on my ‘Witchcraft and Drama’ course, but also as part of my long term project to make some comment on each 17th century witchcraft pamphlet. Sterne was Matthew Hopkins’ fellow witch-finder, and has much to say about witches’ marks, and their familiar spirits.

The first thing you notice about John Sterne’s A confirmation and discovery of witchcraft …with the confessions of many of those executed since May 1645 (1648) is that, relative to the dozens of analogous texts ‘discovering’ witchcraft, this is a well produced book. The printer, William Wilson also did elite culture poetry, gardening books, royal epistles and books of divinity. His press produced Sterne’s work in an even roman type, with beautifully justified text - strictly in the typographical sense of the word.

Sterne’s document itself is a lot less sophisticated: we have that familiar tone of witchcraft texts, in which the convinced writer seems embattled by doubters, despite evidence which is to him overwhelming and unanswerable. It is clear that the author had not taken notes during his various interrogations, and he will say when he can’t quite remember if an incriminating detail came up precisely in the case he’s currently recapitulating. Everything has to come from his memory, and there were so many witches… But, to his bemusement, he finds that he has to say something to justify the actions he participated in: “what hath beene done, hath beene for the good of the common wealth, and we free from those aspersions cast upon us, and that I never favored any, or unjustly prosecuted others.”

Sterne does not write as a theorist of sorcery. After being involved in the hanging of ‘about two hundred’, he has finally “as my leasure hath permitted me … given my selfe to the reading of some approved relations touching the arraignement and condemnation of Witches” - hardly presenting himself, then, as a conscientious ideologist: do the executions first, read up on the demonology afterwards. Contemptuously characterizing Satan’s victims as “silly ignorant persons many of them”, he scarcely opens up much intellectual distance from them. Rather, he presents himself as having been a straightforward man involved in a partial local cleansing of a gigantic national stain. For Sterne, doubting or debating the very existence of witches is in the face of all the evidence. First, there’s all the witchcraft references he recollects from the Bible. Then, in his own immediate experience, the counties where he operated with Hopkins were simply seething with witches. The guilt of those witches was manifest by signs which he finds unambiguous – the ‘marks’ of the witches, and the spirit familiars which sucked at them. These reasons for confidence meant that he could go on with the methods necessary to produce the all-justifying confessions.

By his own account, Sterne has seen scores of witches’ marks, with multiple examples on most individuals accused. He confidently describes the typical witches’ mark in detail, and refutes other explanations of such pathologies that he has heard given: “some will say, These are Emrod-marks, and piles.” This is what he has to say about witches’ marks: “They are to be known by these tokens, as by the insensiblenesse of them, sometimes like a little teat or big, that is when it remains as the Imp or Familiar sucks thereof: if outward, then nothing to be discerned but as a little bit of skin, which may be extended and drawn out, and wrung, much like the finger of a glove, and is very limber, and hath no substance in it, except it be when their Imps have newly sucked them, and then it may be there may be a little watrish blood perceived, but may be known from natural marks several ways; for it hath no scar, but at the very top a little hole, where the blood cometh out.”

Sterne’s brutal forensic confidence about witches’ marks is bad enough. But inevitably the supernumerary teats could not be discovered on everybody brought before the two witch-finders. Sterne demonstrates the strategy evolved for coping with any failure in the accused person’s body to provide the sign that he and Hopkins sought: he tells his reader that, given a chance, witches will remove them. They will slip into their houses, protesting they must change before being searched for a third or fourth time, and put on some kind of magically concealing shift. They will hear that the Hopkins-Sterne team of ‘searchers’ is coming to town, and cut them off. Or they will pull them off with their finger nails: “Sometimes the flesh is sunk in a hollow, that is, when they pull them off, and pull them out with their nails, or otherwise cause them to be pulled off; as one of Over in Cambridgeshire confessed, it being so found and laid to her charge, that she heard of our coming to town, and plucked her marks off the night before.” “One Clarke of Keyston in Huntington-shire, a young man, who was so found, and set at liberty, expecting to have been searched another time, when he should not know of it; but he soon after confessed he had cut off his marks, saying they were fools that were found with the marks.”

It is the same story with the familiars, which Sterne classifies into the visible and the invisible. Experience and intuition helps him to know when a witch, even when under surveillance, is even then feeding an invisible familiar. Witches will also have the devil stand in as their body double, while they exit from a room, through holes however small, to feed their spirits (these people have kept it up for ten, fifteen, twenty years; in the related pamphlet A true relation of the araignment of eighteene vvitches. that were tried, convicted, and condemned, at a sessions holden at St. Edmunds-bury in Suffolk, the anonymous author (Sterne again?) has the witches “mightily perplexed and much tortured for want of his, her, or their sucking Impes”). When the familiars are reported in the confessions to have manifested as such a weird variety of lower animals (“One like a Dow, called Tib; One like a Miller called Tom; One like a Spider, or a Spinner called Ioane; and the other like a Waspe called Nann”), any living creature that’s seen in proximity to the witch is claimed to be the familiar in its visible form – a fly circling in the room becomes an object of horror and awe.

To get the initial confessions, Hopkins and Sterne used sleep deprivation (the suspect placed on a high stool at the centre of a room, sitting with her feet unable to reach the ground, and further kept awake by periodic ‘walking’. People even then objected, and Sterne has to justify the processes he had used (I break up a long paragraph):

“I desire to Answer one objection before I proceed further (that is) some say, and many will and doe say; But you watched them, and kept them from meat, drinke, or rest, and so made them say what you would. A very unnaturall part so to use Christians.

I answer so it were. But I never knew any deprived of meat, drinke or rest, but had what was fitting till they were carried before some Justice of Peace to be examined, and had provision to rest upon, as bolsters, pillowes, or Cushions, and such like, if they were kept where no beds were; yet I doe not deny but at first, some were kept two, three, or foure dayes, perchance somewhat baser, but then it hath been, either when no Justice of Peace was neere, or when the witnesses against them could not goe sooner, but then they have had beds.”

Here, he seems to allege that, after a confession induced by deliberately exhausting the accused, a softer regime was used. He goes on with an even more implausible assertion:

“and for other provision, I never knew any kept, of what ranke or quality soever, but that they had better provision, either meate or drinke, then at their own houses.”

After this incredible assertion, his main point: “For the watching, it is not to use violence, or extremity to force them to confesse, but onely the keeping is, first, to see whether any of their spirits, or familiars come to or neere them; for I have found, that if the time be come, the spirit or Impe so called should come, it will be either visible or invisible, if visible, then it may bee discerned by those in the Roome, if invisible, then by the party.”

Hopkins and Sterne were a peripatetic insanity vortex, strengthened by publicity, and by the customary sermons in these Puritan counties, dwelling always on the power of the devil. To them were drawn the crazed, the suicidal, and the formerly religious who had fallen into despair. In return for assent to their leading questions, lonely widows told the story of the devils that had come to their bed after the death of their husbands (able to have sex, but not to produce ‘nature’ – semen, these women tend to confirm to their interrogators). Those who had despaired of escaping the fires of hell so often drummed into them by their church sprang their pathetic (and fatal) counter-theologies of the devils who came and offered them, if not escape from hell itself, at least a remittance from hell fire and pains, in return for their souls.

I will conclude with Sterne’s account of Elizabeth Clarke of Manningtree, one of his most remarkable suspects. She was, for instance, virtually alone in being able to show Sterne and Hopkins ‘perfect money’ which she had been given by the devil (Sterne notes that in general these witches never acquired any wealth in return for their souls). After three days and nights of enforced wakefulness Bess Clarke was suddenly willing to display her ‘imps’ (I have modernized the spelling here):

“ ‘if you will stay, I will show you my Imps, for they bee ready to come’. Then said Mr. Hopkins Besse, will they doe us no harm?’ ‘no’ said she, ‘what? did you think I am afraid of my children? you shall sit down’, so wee did, where she appointed us … and so presently fell a smacking with her lips and called ‘Lought’ two or three times, which presently appeared to us eight (For there were six which were appointed to bee with her that night before we went) in the likeness of a Cat, as she had formerly told us; for she told us before what shapes they should come in, and so that presently vanished; then she called again as before, ‘Jermarah’, then appeared another, like a red or sandy spotted dog, with legs not so long as a finger (to our perceivance) but his back as broad as two dogs, or broader, of that bigness, and vanished, and so after that called more, as before, by their several names, which came in several shapes, One like a Greyhound, with legs as long as a Stag; Another like a Ferret; And one like a Rabbit, and so in several shapes they appeared to us, till there were some seven or eight seen; Some by some of us, and others by other some of us; then I asked her if they were not all come, for there were more come then she spoke of, she answered that they came double in several shapes, but said, one was still to come, which was to tear me in pieces, then I asked her why, she said, because I would have swum her, and told me that now she would bee even with me, and so told in what manner it should come, black, and like a Toad, and so afterward did come, as the rest averred that saw it”