When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children.
HAG, n. An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes called, also, a hen, or cat. Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were called hags from the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind of baleful lumination or nimbus --hag being the popular name of that peculiar electrical light sometimes observed in the hair. At one time hag was not a word of reproach: Drayton speaks of a "beautiful hag, all smiles," much as Shakespeare said, "sweet wench." It would not now be proper to call your sweetheart a hag --that compliment is reserved for the use of her grandchildren.
As records of courts and justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
Recalling some of the most spectacular horrors of history -- the burning of heretics and witches at the stake, the wholesale massacre of "heathens," and other no less repulsive manifestations of Christian civilization in Europe and elsewhere -- modern man is filled with pride in the "progress" accomplished, in one line at least, since the end of the dark ages of religious fanaticism.
They have, in essence, treated these articles as empty vessels to be filled with some witches' brew of charges.
Those Romans who perpetrated the rape of the Sabines, for example, did not work themselves up for the deed by screening Debbie Does Dallas, and the monkish types who burned a million or so witches in the Middle Ages had almost certainly not come across Boobs and Buns or related periodicals.
No true Witches today practice human sacrafice, torture, or any form of ritual murder.
Anyone who does is not a Witch, but a psychopath.
It is true ... that the English in general, and indeed most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly take this opportunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent compliment which so many that believe the Bible pay to those who do not believe it. I owe them no such service. I take knowledge that these are at the bottom of the outcry which has been raised, and with such insolence spread through the land, in direct opposition, not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage of the wisest and the best of men in all ages and nations. They well know (whether Christians know it or not) that the giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible. With my latest breath I will bear testimony against giving up to infidels one great proof of the invisible world; I mean that of witchcraft and apparitions, confirmed by the testimony of all ages.
For my part, I have ever believed, and do now know, that there are witches.
I should have no compassion on these witches; I should burn them all.
Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
But in the Middle Ages people were convinced there were witches. They looked for them and they certainly found them.
Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.