« PreviousContinue »
Who for a little soap lick'd by my sow,
Enter ANN RATCLIFFE mad. Ann. See, see, see! the man i' the moon has built a new windmill, and what running there is from all quarters of the city to learn the art of grinding !
Saw. Ho, ho, ho! I thank thee, my sweet mongrel.
Ann. Hoyda! out on the Devil's false hopper! all the golden meal runs into the rich knaves' purses, and the poor have nothing but bran. Hey derry down! are not you mother Sawyer ?
Saw. No, I am a lawyer.
Ann. Art thou? I prithee let me scratch thy face; for thy pen has flay'd off a great many men's skins. You'll have brave doings in the vacation; for knaves and fools are at variance in every village. I'll sue mother Sawyer, and her own sow shall give in evidence against her.
Saw. Touch her. [To the Dog, who rubs against her,
Ann. Oh! my ribs are made of a paned hose, and they break.', There's a Lancashire hornpipe in my throat; hark, how it tickles it with doodle, doodle, doodle, doodle! welcome, sergeants! welcome, Devil ! hands, hands! hold hands, and dance around, around, around.
[Dancing Re-enter Old Banks, Cuddy, RATCLIFFE, and
Banks. Catch her fast, and have her into some close chamber, do; for she's as many wives are, stark mad.
1 Oh! my ribs are made of a paned hose, and they break.] Paned hose were composed of stripes (panels) of different coloured stuff stitched together, and therefore liable to break, or be seam-rent.-GIFFORD.
Cud. The witch! mother Sawyer, the witch, the devil ! Rat. Oh, my dear wife! help, sirs !
[She is carried off Banks. You see your work, mother Bumby.' Saw. My work ? should she and all you here run
mad, Is the work mine?
Cud. No, on my conscience, she would not hurt a devil of two years old.
Re-enter RATCLIFFE. How now? what's become of her?
Rat. Nothing; she's become nothing, but the miserable trunk of a wretched woman.
We were in her hands as reeds in a mighty tempest : spite of our strengths, away she brake ; and nothing in her mouth being heard, but “the devil, the witch, the witch, the devil !" she beat out her own brains, and Cud. It's any man's case, be he never so wise, to die when his brains go a wool-gathering.
1 You see your work, mother Bumby.) Farmer Banks is very familiar with the names of our old plays. Mother Bombie is the title of one of Lyly's comedies, of which she is the heroine; as is Gammer Gurtoit (as he calls the witch just below) of the farcical drama which takes its name from her and her necdle.--GIFFORD.
2 If high ecclesiastical authority may be believed, the wits of much higher persons than Nan Ratcliffe had been put in jeopardy by the praetices of the Mother Sawyers of the day. In a sermon preached before Queen Elizabeth in 1558, by Bishop Jewel, her majesty was told, “ It may please your grace to understand that witches and sorcerers, within these four last years, are mårvellously increased within your grace's realm. Your subjects pine away even unto death-their colour fadeth, their speech is benumbed, their senses are bereft; I pray God they never practise farther than upon the subject." That such language could have proceeded from such a man as Bishop Jewel will be incredible only to those who know not the terror which witchcraft had excited in England for whole centuries, or who are unacquainted with the numerous works on sorcery and witchcraft which came from the press during the reigns of Elizabeth and James, many of them drawn up by profound and elaborate scholars. To whichever of these two reigns the disgrace of theorising on this subject may most fairly be ascribed, the infamy of its practical consequences pre-eminently belongs to the Puritans and fanatics of the succeeding age. It was then that the notorious Hopkins, that monster of stupidity and blood, as the late editor of Ford
justly terms him, was let loose upon the public, and the land deluged with the blood of harmless creatures, whose greatest crimes were their
Banks. Masters, be ruled by me; let's all to à justice. Hag, thou hast done this, and thou shalt answer it.
Saw. Banks, I defy thee.
Banks. Get a warrant first to examine her, then ship her to Newgate ; here's enough, if all her other villanies were pardon'd, to burn her
for a witch. You have a spirit, they say, comes to you in the likeness of a dog; we shall see your cur at one time or other: if we do, unless it be the Devil himself, he shall go howling to the jail in one chain, and thou in another.
Dog. Bow, wow, wow, wow!
Cud. The voice of a dog ? so am I a dog : bow, wow, wow! It was I that bark'd so, father, to make coxcombs of these clowns.
Banks. However, we 'll be coxcomb'd no longer: away, therefore, to the justice for a warrant; and then, Gammer Gurton, have at your needle of witchcraft. Saw. And prick thine own eyes out. Go, peevish
fools! [Exeunt Banks, Rat. and Countrymen. Cud. Ningle, you had like to have spoil'd all with
age, their poverty, or their infirmity. Zachary Grey affirms, that he “had seen a list of those who suffered for witchcraft during the Presbyterian domination of the Long Parliament, amounting to more than three thousand names !" and from the manner' in which the transactions of the day are recorded by Whitelocke, the parliamentary commissioner, where the burning of a dozen or a score of witches is mentioned as an ordinary occurrence, exciting less emotion apparently in the writer's mind than the destruction of so many weasels, the statement of Grey would seem to be little, if any thing, exaggerated.-Since this note was written, the subject has passed into the hands of a writer (Scott), of whom it is difficult to say whether power or fecundity is the most remarkable property of his pen. To that volume the reader is referred for any further knowledge which may be required for ascertaining the opinions of our ancestors on the subject of witchcraft and demonology, and of seeing how far those opinions were checked or encouraged by the writers for the stage.
your bow-ings. I was glad to put them off with one of my dog-tricks, on a sudden; I am bewitched, little cost-me-naught, to love thee, out on't,—that morris makes me spit in thy mouth.–I dare not stay; farewell, ningle; farewell witch! [Exit.
Dog. Bow, wow, wow, wow.
Saw. Mind him not, he's not worth thy worrying; Run at a fairer game; that foul-mouth'd knight, Scurvy Sir Arthur, fly at him, my Tommy, And pluck out 's throat. Dog. No, there's a dog already biting,-his con
science. Saw. That's a sure bloodhound. Come let's home
and play ; Our black work ended, we'll make holyday.
A Bedroom in CARTER's House. Frank in a slumber.
Enter KATHERINE. Kath. Brother, brother! so sound asleep? that's
well. Frank. [Waking:] No, not I, sister; he that's
Kath. My good sweet brother (For now my sister must grow up in you), Though her loss strikes you through, and that I
Good love, sit up;
Frank. I'll do my best.
Kath. I thank you:
Frank. Nothing, nothing;
Kath. Dear heart, what?
Kath. Why do you talk so ? Would you were fast asleep.
Frank. No, no; I am not idle." But here's my meaning; being robb’d as I am, Why should my soul, which married was to hers, Live in divorce, and not fly after her ? Why should not I walk hand in hand with Death, To find my love out?
Kath. That were well, indeed, Your time being come; when Death is sent to call
you, No doubt you shall meet her.
Frank. Why should not I
Kath. Yes, brother, so you might;
Frank. 'Troth, sister, thou say'st true;
1 No, no, I am not idle,) i. e. wandering. He judges from Katherine's speech that she suspects him, as indeed she does, of being light-headed. GIFFORD,