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sake has a brass nail struck through it, which cost him about fifteen hours riding, carried him through half a dozen counties, killed him a brace of geldings, and lost above half his dogs.

This the Knight looks upon as one of the greatest exploits of 5 his life. The perverse widow, whom I have given some account

of, was the death of several foxes; for Sir ROGER has told me that in the course of his amours he patched the western door of his stable. Whenever the widow was cruel, the foxes were sure to pay for it. In proportion as his passion for the widow abated, and old age came on, he left his Fox-hunting ; but a Hare is not yet safe that sits within ten miles of his house.

There is no kind of exercise which I would so recommend to my Readers of both sexes as this of riding, as there is none

which so much conduces to health, and is every way accommo15 dated to the body, according to the idea which I have given

of it. Doctor Sydenham is very lavish in its praises; and if the English Reader would see the mechanical effects of it described at length, he may find them in a book published not many years since, under the title of the Medicina Gymnastica. For my own part, when I am in town, for want of these opportunities, I exercise my self an hour every morning upon a dumb bell that is placed in a corner of a room, and pleases me the more because it does every thing I require of it in the most

profound silence. My landlady and her daughters are so well 25 acquainted with my hours of exercise, that they never come

into my room to disturb me whilst I am ringing.

When I was some years younger than I am at present, I used to employ my self in a more laborious diversion, which

I learned from a Latin treatise of exercises, that is written 30 with great erudition : It is there called the oklopaxía, or the

fighting with a man's own shadow; and consists in the brandishing of two short sticks grasped in each hand, and loaden with plugs of lead at either end. This opens the chest, exercises the limbs, and gives a man all the pleasure of boxing, without



the blows. I could wish that several learned men would lay out that time which they employ in controversies and disputes about nothing, in this Method of fighting with their own shadows. It might conduce very much to evaporate the spleen, which makes them uneasie to the publick, as well as to themselves.

To conclude, as I am a compound of soul and body, I consider my self as obliged to a double scheme of duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the business of the day, when I do not thus employ the one in labour and exercise, as well as the other in study and contemplation.


N° 117. Saturday, July 14.

14. [1711.]

- Ipsi sibi somnia fingunt. Virg.

There are some opinions in which a man should stand neuter, without engaging his assent to one side or the other. Such a hovering faith as this, which refuses to settle upon any determination, is absolutely necessary in a mind that is careful to

15 avoid errors and prepossessions. When the arguments press equally on both sides in matters that are indifferent to us, the safest method is to give up our selves to neither.

It is with this temper of mind that I consider the subject of Witchcraft. When I hear the relations that are made from all parts of the world, not only from Norway and Lapland, from the East and West-Indies, but from every particular nation in Europe, I cannot forbear thinking that there is such an intercourse and commerce with evil Spirits, as that which we express by the name of Witchcraft. But when I consider that the igno- 25 rant and credulous parts of the world abound most in these relations, and that the persons among us who are supposed to engage in such an infernal commerce, are people of a weak



understanding and crazed imagination, and at the same time reflect upon the many impostures and delusions of this nature that have been detected in all ages, I endeavour to suspend

my belief till I hear more certain accounts than any which 5 have yet come to my knowledge. In short, when I consider

the question, Whether there are such persons in the world as those we call Witches? my mind is divided between two opposite opinions; or rather (to speak my thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been, such a thing as Witchcraft; but at the same time can give no credit to any particular instance of it.

I am engaged in this Speculation, by some occurrences that I met with yesterday, which I shall give my Reader an account

of at large. As I was walking with my friend Sir Roger by the 15 side of one of his woods, an old woman applied her self to me

for my charity. Her dress and figure put me in mind of the
following description in Otway.

In a close lane as I pursu'd my journey,
I spy'd a wrinkled Hag, with age grown double,
Picking dry sticks, and mumbling to her self.
Her eyes with scalding rheum were galld and red;
Cold palsy shook her head; her hands seem'd wither'd;
And on her crooked shoulders had she wrapp'd

The tatter'd remnants of an old striped hanging, 25 Which serv'd to keep her carcass from the cold.

So there was nothing of a piece about her.
Her lower weeds were all o'er coarsly patch'd
With diff'rent colour'd rags, black, red, white, yellow,

And seem'd to speak variety of wretchedness. 30 As I was musing on this description, and comparing it with the object before me, the Knight told me, that this very

old woman had the reputation of a Witch all over the country,

that her lips were observed to be always in motion, and that there was not a switch about her house which her neighbours did




not believe had carried her several hundreds of miles. If she chanced to stumble, they always found sticks or straws that lay in the figure of a Cross before her. If she made any mistake at church, and cryed Amen in a wrong place, they never failed to conclude that she was saying her prayers backwards. There was not a Maid in the parish that would take a pin of her, though she should offer a bag of money with it. She goes by the name of Moll White, and has made the country ring with several imaginary exploits which are palmed upon her. If the dairy-maid does not make her butter to come so soon as she would have it, Moll White is at the bottom of the churn. If a horse sweats in the stable, Moll White has been upon his back. If a hare makes an unexpected escape from the hounds, the Hunts-man curses Moll White. Nay, (says Sir Roger) I have known the Master of the pack, upon such an occasion, send one of his servants to see if Moll White had been out that morning.

This account raised my curiosity so far, that I begged my friend Sir ROGER to go with me into her hovel, which stood in a solitary corner under the side of the wood. Upon our first entering Sir ROGER winked to me, and pointed at something that stood behind the door, which upon looking that way I found to be an old broomstaff. At the same time he whispered me in the ear to take notice of a Tabby cat that sat in the chimney-corner, which, as the Knight told me, lay under as bad a report as Moll White her self; for besides that Moll is said often to accompany her in the same shape, the Cat is reported to have spoken twice or thrice in her life, and to have played several pranks above the capacity of an ordinary






I was secretly concerned to see humane nature in so much wretchedness and disgrace, but at the same time could not forbear smiling to hear Sir Roger, who is a little puzzled about the old woman, advising her as a Justice of Peace to avoid all


communication with the Devil, and never to hurt any of her neighbours cattle. We concluded our visit with a bounty, which was very acceptable.

In our return home Sir ROGER told me that old Moll had 5 been often brought before him for making children spit pins,

and giving maids the night-mare; and that the country people would be tossing her into a pond and trying experiments with her every day, if it was not for him and his Chaplain.

I have since found, upon enquiry, that Sir ROGER was several times staggered with the reports that had been brought him concerning this old woman, and would frequently have bound her over to the County Sessions, had not his Chaplain with much ado persuaded him to the contrary.

I have been the more particular in this account, because I 15 hear there is scarce a village in England that has not a Moll

White in it. When an old woman begins to doat, and grow chargeable to a parish, she is generally turned into a Witch, and fills the whole country with extravagant fancies, imaginary distempers, and terrifying dreams. In the mean time the poor wretch that is the innocent occasion of so many evils, begins to be frighted at her self, and sometimes confesses secret commerces and familiarities that her imagination forms in a delirious old age. This frequently cuts off Charity from the greatest

objects of compassion, and inspires people with a malevolence 25 towards those poor decrepid parts of our species, in whom

human nature is defaced by infirmity and dotage.


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