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Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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16
Damnable practises
Pepys, i, 132, B.L., two woodcuts, five columns. The left margin is mutilated, so that missing letters and words in the first column (stanzas 15) are restored within square brackets.
The book referred to at the end of the ballad is The Wonderful discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillippa Flower, 1619, of which a reprint was issued in 1838 (British Museum, C. 27. b. 35 and 8630. g. 16). Similar books are The Witches Of Northampton-Shire.. . Who were all executed at Northampton the 22. of July last. 1612 (Bodleian, Malone 709) and Thomas Potts's The Wonderfvll Discoverie Of Witches in The Covn-tie of Lan-caster (Bodleian, Wood B 18(2); Somers' Tracts, 1810, 111,95 ff.). The nobleman of the ballad was Francis Manners, sixth Earl of Rutland. His two sons died in infancy, supposedly from witchcraft, as the ballad describes; but his daughter Catherine survived to marry George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. The inscription on the monument of the Earl of Rutland at Bottesford, Leicestershire (which is given in full in Nichols's History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 11, 102; cf. William Hone's Every-Day Book, 1889, 11, 185-187) mentions the death of his two sons "by wicked practice and sorcerye"; the "two boys kneel at his feet holding sculls, and one a rose. At the head a daughter in a coronet," and so forth. Cf. Notestein's History of Witchcraft, pp. 132 ff.
The spells which the witches are represented as making against young Lord Ross are, of course, conventional in witchcraft and folk-lore (see, e.g., Jacob Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, translated by J. S. Stallybrass, 1888, iv, 1629, and W. J. Thorns, Anecdotes and Traditions, Camden Society, 1839, p. 101); they may even be found practised by fairly modern heroines in Mr Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native and in D. G. Rossetti's Sister Helen. The apparent judgment of God that caused Joan Flower's death could not do otherwise than convince Jacobeans of the truth of the charges made against her. Dozens of similar cases are vouched for by historians as well as by balladists. A somewhat remarkable judgment is chronicled in The Weekly Intelligencer for January 9, 1655:
One Pilson, a Bum Bayliff in Oldstreet came to arrest a Gentleman, who being secure in his Chamber, where the Bayliff could not arrest him, the Bayliff swore to him that if he would come to him, he would not arrest him, who opened the door, (yet the Bayliff contrary to his Oath) did arrest him, and was presendy by the hand of God struck dumb and stil continues, and cannot speak a word.
For the tune see Chappell's Popular Music, 1, 196.
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