Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A nest of *cough* vipers. Well, more filth and bawdery, actually...

My recent post giving an excerpt from Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft (1665 edition) in which he outlined various instances of "filthy bawdery" proved to be *cough* unexpectedly popular. I am pleased therefore to offer an entire chapter from this fascinating work, on the topic of men whose virility, and indeed in some cases actual bodily members, have been stolen from them by witches. 
The James Sprenger referred to is the German theologian Jacob Sprenger, to whom the Malleus Maleficarum ("The hammer of the witches") is sometimes attributed; this is the M.Mal. referred to in the text. 
I particularly commend to you the anecdote at the end of the chapter, about the young man who climbed a tree to retrieve what he had lost. Certainly a more worthwhile occupation than stealing birds' eggs...


That the power of Generation is both outwardly and inwardly impeached by Witches, and of divers that had their genitals taken from them by Witches, and by the same means again restored.

They so affirm, That the virtue of Generation is impeached by Witches, both inwardly, and outwardly: for, intrinsically they repress the courage, and they stop the passage of the mans seed, so as it may not descend to the vessels of generation: also they hurt extrinsically, with images, hearbs, &c. And to prove this true, you shall hear certain stories out of M.Mal. worthy to be noted.
[1]A young priest at Mespurge, in the Diocess of Constance, was Bewitched, so as he had no power to occupy any other or mo women than one: and to be delivered out of that thralldom, sought to flee into another Countrey, where he might use that Priestly occupation more freely; but all in vain; for evermore he was brought as far backward by night, as he went forward in the day before; sometimes by land, sometimes in the air, as though he flew. And if this not be true, I am sure that James Sprenger doth lie.
For the further confirmation of our belief in Incubus, M.Mal. citeth a story of a notable matter executed at Ravenspurge, as true and as cleanly as the rest. A young man lying with a wench in that Town (saith he) was fain to leave his instruments of Venery behind him, by means of that prestigious art of Witchcraft, so as in that place nothing could be seen or felt but his plain body. This young man was willed by another Witch, to go to her whom he suspected, and by fair or foul means to require her help: who soon after meeting her, intreated her fair, but that was in vain; and therefore he caught her by the throat, and with a towel strangled her, saying, Restore me my tool, or thou shalt die for it: so as she being swoln and black in the face, and through his boisterous handling ready to die, said, Let me go, and I will help thee: and whilest he was losing the towel, she put her hand into his Cod-piece, and touched the place, saying, Now hast thou they desire: and even at that instant he felt himself restored.
[2]Item, a reverend Father, for his life, holiness and knowledge notorious, being a fryer of the order and company of Spire, reported, that a young man at Shrift made lamentable moan unto him for the like loss; but his gravity suffered him not to believe lightly any such reports, and therefore made the young man untruss his cod-piece-point, and saw the complaint to be true and just. Whereupon he advised, or rather enjoyned the youth to go to the Witch whom he suspected, and with flattering words to intreat her, to be so good unto him, as to restore him his instrument: which by that means he obtained, and soon after returned to shew himself thankful, and told the holy father of his good success in that behalf: but he so believed him, as he would needs be Oculatus testis, and made him pull down his Breeches, and so was satisfied of the truth and certainty thereof.
[3]Another young man being in that very taking, went to a Witch for the restitution thereof, who brought him to a tree, where she shewed him a nest, and bad him climb up and take it. And being in the top of the tree, he took out a mighty great one, and shewed the same to her, asking if he might not have the same. Nay (quoth she) that is our Parish Priests tool, but take any other which thou wilt. And it is there affirmed, That some have found 20 and some 30 of them in one nest, being there preserved with provender, as it were at the rack and manger, with this note, wherein there is no contradiction (for all must be true that is written against Witches) that if a Witch deprive one of his Privities, it is done only by prestigious means, so as the senses are but illuded. Marry, by the Devil it is really taken away, and in like sort restored. These are no jests, for they be written by them that were and are judges upon the lives and deaths of those persons.

[1] Mal.malef.cap.6.quae.par.2
[2] Ja.Sprenger in Mal.malef.par.2.quae.1.
[3] Mal.malef.cap.7.par.2.quae.1

1 comment:

  1. I always regale my students with stories of King James and his wimpiness about witches. Boy, a little penis threat and they run away.