What do you like about the ISE? What could we do better? Please tell us in this 10-minute survey!

Start Survey

Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures
  • Author: Samuel Harsnett
  • Editors: Michael Best, Sarah Milligan
  • Coordinating editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editors: Michael Best, Sarah Milligan
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures

    1Introduction

    Samuel Harsnett, at the time chaplain to the Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft, was commissioned to write a condemnation of the practice of exorcism as practiced by Catholic priests. During the 1580s there had been a series of well-publicized exorcisms in Denham, recorded in a work, now lost, The Book of Miracles. The book reported in detail the exorcisms that Harsnett so energetically debunks, and included statements by those who were "demoniacs"—thought to have been possessed by devils.

    In this witty, satirical, and outspoken work, Shakespeare would have found much to interest him, no matter what his personal beliefs. Harsnett offers a robust scepticism of the whole concept of demonic possession, and has a good deal of fun at the expense of the priests he targets, often using metaphors from hunting and the theater, suggesting that the exorcists were playing theatrical parts in order to persuade their audiences of the authenticity of their actions. Harsnett's sentences are long, but they read easily, rather like the dramatic prose Shakespeare puts into the mouths of some of his comic characters. Shakespeare's most striking use of Harsnett is in the names of the devils he puts into Edgar's mouth, all found in the reports of the confessions made by those being exorcised. Edgar's actions in several places also mimic the same kinds of actions recorded in Harsnett's accounts of the exorcisms.

    In this excerpt, those allegedly possessed were three women, Anne Smith, Sara Williams, and her sister Frideswide Williams, also called Fid; there were also three men, Richard Maynie, Nicholas Marwood, and William Trayford. The principal exorcist was Father William Weston, also known as Edmonds; Robert Dibdale, a priest, first decided that Sara Williams was possessed. Passages of particlar interest in terms of the names of the devils are the opening section, from Chapter 10, and the concluding examination of Sara Williams.

    The Declaration was published in 1603, shortly before Shakespeare began work on King Lear. The title page reads:

    A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures, to withdraw the hearts of her Majesty's subjects from their allegiance and from the truth of Christian religion professed in England, under the pretense of casting out devils. Practiced by Edmunds, alias Weston, a Jesuit, and divers Romish priests, his wicked associates. Whereunto are annexed the copies of the confessions, and examinations of the parties themselves, which were pretended to be possessed and dispossessed, taken upon oath before her Majesty's commissioners for causes ecclesiastical.

    This excerpt of Harsnett's work is taken from the fine edition by F. W. Brownlow (1993). The text is modernized and annotated. Most of the Latin quotations are translated by Harsnett himself in phrases immediately followint them; others are translated in the notes.

    Chapter 10

    The strange names of their devils.

    Now that I have acquainted you with the names of the master and his twelve disciples, the names of the places wherein, and the names of the persons upon whom these wonders were showed, it seems not incongruent that I relate unto you the names of the devils, whom in this glorious pageant they did dispossess. Wherein we may call unto Porphyrius, Proclus, Iamblicus, and Trismegistus, the old Platonical sect that conversed familiarly and kept company with devils, and desire their help to expound us these new devils' names, and to tell us at what solemn feast and meeting in hell these devils were dubbed and hallowed with these new strange names. It cannot be but our holy devil crew had surely met with Menippus, proclaiming himself new come out of hell, ad sum profoundo Tartari emissus specu; else they could never have been so deeply sighted, and acquainted with the muster-book of hell. Or else it may seem that our vagrant devils here did take their fashion of new names from our wandering Jesuits, who to dissemble themselves have always three or four odd conceited names in their budget. Or else they did so plague the poor devils with their holy charms and enchanted gear, and did so intoxicate them with their dreadful fumigations, as they made some so giddy-headed that they gave themselves giddy names, they wist not what. Or else there is a confederation between our wandering exorcists and these walking devils and they are agreed of certain uncouth non-significant names which go current amongst themselves, as the gypsies are of gibberish, which none but themselves can spell without a pair of spectacles. Howsoever it is, it is not amiss that you be acquainted with these extravagant names of devils, lest meeting them otherwise by chance you mistake them for the names of tapsters or jugglers.

    First then, to marshal them in as good order as such disorderly cattle will be brought into, you are to understand that there were in our possessed five captains, or commanders above the rest: Captain Pippin, Marwood's devil; Captain Philpot, Trayford's devil; Captain Maho, Sara's devil; Captain Modu, Maynie's devil; and Captain Soforce, Anne Smith's devil. These were not all of equal authority and place, but some had more, some fewer under their command. Pippin, Marwood's devil, was a captain—marry either cashiered for some part of bad service he had done, or else a malcontent standing upon his worth—like some of our high punctilios, scorned to sort himself with any of his rank, and therefore like a melancholic privado he affects Marwood to lie in the fields and to gape at the moon, and so of a Caesar's humor he reigns in Marwood alone.

    Captain Philpot, Trayford's devil, was a centurion, as himself tells you, and had an hundred under his charge. Marry, he was, as seems, but a white-livered devil, for he was so hasty to be gone out of Trayford for fear of the exorcist that he would scarce give him leave, being abed, to put on his breeches. The names of their puny spirits cast out of Trayford were these: Hilco, Smolkin, Hillio, Hiaclito, and Lustie huffe-cap; this last seems some swaggering puny devil dropped out of a tinker's budget. But Hiaclito may not be slipped over without your observation, for he, scorning a great while, as the author saith, to tell his name, at last he answered most proudly, "My name is Hiaclito, a Prince, and Monarch of the world." And being asked by the exorcist what fellows he had with him, he said that "he had no fellows, but two men, and an urchin boy." It was little beseeming his state, I wist, being so mighty a monarch, to come into our coasts so scurvily attended, except he came to see fashions in England, and so made himself private till the exorcist revealed him; or else that he was of the new court cut, affecting no other train [but] the two crazy fellows and an urchin butterfly boy.

    5Soforce, Anne Smith's possedent, was but a musty devil; there was neither mirth nor good fellowship with him, affecting so much sullenness as he would hardly speak. Yet as all melancholic creatures use to have, he had a resty trick with him. For whether Alexander the apothecary had put too much asafoetida in the fumigation for the devil, or had done the devil some other shrewd turn with his drugs, sure it is that Alexander the apothecary, riding one day towards London to fetch more priests to Denham, his horse fell a-plunging, and Alexander came down. And returning to Denham, he constantly affirmed that it was Anne Smith's devil that played the jade with him.

    Modu, Master Maynie's devil, was a grand commander, muster-master over the captains of the seven deadly sins: Cliton, Bernon, Hilo, Motubizanto, and the rest; himself a general of a kind and courteous disposition—so saith Sara Williams, touching this devil's acquaintance with Mistress Plater, and her sister Fid.

    Sara Williams had in her, at a bare word, "all the devils in hell." The exorcist asks Maho, Sara's devil, what company he had with him, and the devil makes no bones but tells him in flat terms, "all the devils in hell." Here was a goodly fat otium this; meanwhile in hell the poor souls there had good leave to play. Such a day was never seen since hell was hell; not a door-keeper left, but all must go a-maying to poor Sara's house. It was not kindly done of the devils to leave the poor souls behind, especially going to make merry amongst their friends. But what if the souls had fallen a-madding, or maying as fast as the devils and had gone a-roaming abroad amongst their good friends; had not this, trow we, made a pretty piece of work in hell?

    And if I miss not my marks, this dictator Modu saith he had been in Sara by the space of two years; then so long hell was clear and had not a devil to cast at a mad dog. And soothly I cannot much blame the devils for staying so long abroad; they had taken up an inn much sweeter than hell, and an hostess that wanted neither wit nor mirth to give them kind welcome.

    Here, if you please, you may take a survey of the whole regiment of hell, at least the chief leaders and officers, as we find them enrolled by their names.

    10First, Killico, Hob, and a third anonymous are booked down for three grand commanders, every one having under him 300 attendants.

    Colonel Portirichio had with him two captains and an hundred assistants, and this he affirms to be true upon his oath taken upon the blessed sacrament, and then you must believe him; an admirable new way to make the devil true and cock-sure of his word, to offer him an oath upon the blessed sacrament, and then dog with a fiddle. But the devil is like some other good fellows in the world that will not swear except he allow their commission that tenders him his oath. And commissioners for the devil are only holy exorcists, and then it must be the sacrament of the mass too, else I wist it is not all worth a bean.

    Frateretto, Fliberdigibbet, Hoberdidance, Tocobatto were four devils of the round or morris, whom Sara in her fits tuned together in measure and sweet cadence. And lest you should conceive that the devils had no music in hell, especially that they would go a-maying without their music, the fiddler comes in with his taber and pipe, and a whole morris after him, with motley vizards for their better grace. These four had forty assistants under them, as themselves do confess.

    Lusty Jolly Jenkin, another of Sara's captain devils' names, by his name should seem to be foreman of the motley morris. He had under him, saith himself, forty assistants; or rather, if I miss not, he had been by some old exorcist allowed for the master setter of catches, or rounds, used to be sung by tinkers as they sit by the fire with a pot of good ale between their legs: "Hey jolly Jenkin, I see a knave a drinking, etc."

    Delicat, another captain, or vicenary in Sara, having under him twenty assistants, seems by his English name to be yeoman of the sprucery, to see the devil's motley vizards after they were soiled with brimstone and sweat, to be brushed up and kept sweet, neat, and clean. These were the officers or commanders' names that had taken up their lodging in Sara Williams; now the many rascality or blackguard of hell were god knows how many in her, for all were there, tag and rag, cut and long-tail, yet divers of them it pleaseth the holy exorcist to command their names to do them some grace, others he lets go out, leaving no names but an ill savor behind them. The names of such as the exorcist thought good to favor were these, Puffe and Purre, the two fat devils that had been conjured up for money, anno 84, and would not home to hell again till good company came for them. Lusty Dickie, Cornered-cap, Nurre, Molkin, Wilkin, Helcmodion, Kellicocam. These were like the Sporades in via lactea, having neither office, order, nor rank. All these were Sara's devils.

    15Maho was general dictator of hell, and yet for good manner's sake he was contented of his good nature to make show that himself was under the check of Modu, the grand devil in Master Maynie. These were all in poor Sara at a chop; with these the poor soul travailed up and down full two years together, so as during those two years it had been all one to say, "One is gone to hell," or "He is gone to Sara Williams"; for she, poor wench, had all hell in her belly. And had had it still to this day for any thing we know if it had not pleased Father Weston and his twelve holy disciples to have delivered her of that devil-child.

    . . .

    Chapter 14

    Of the strange power of a Catholic Priest's breath, and of the admirable fire that is in a Priest's hands to burn the devil.

    Pliny in his Natural History, tells us of certain people, that do anhelitu oris enecare homines:// Kill men with the breath that comes from their mouths. Scaliger recounts a whole linage of men, that couldoculis fascinare:// bewitch with their eyes, though they did not touch. The Leno in the comedy is noted to be of so strong a breath that he had almost blown down the young gallant that stood in his way, but the poets tell us that hell hath a more deadly breathing then all; so as if a bird do by chance fly over the Stygian flood she is quelled with the smell and falls down stark dead. We have here to acquaint you with a breathing company of priests, that for potency of breath do put down Pliny, Scaliger, the bawd, hell, the devil and all. For the devil, who can well enough endure the loathsome odors, and evaporations of hell, is not able to endure the vapor issuing from the mouth of a priest, but had rather go to hell than abide his smell.

    Now what a monstrous coil would six or seven ignivomous priests keep in hell if they should let loose the full fury of their blasts, as Aeolus did upon the sea, and distend their holy bellows in consort amongst the poor ghosts; were it not a plain danger that they were likely to puff all the devils out of hell? Mengus, the canonist for hell, gives us a rule that if the devil be stubborn and will not obey the formidable exorcism of the priest, then that the priest shall os suum quam-proximè ad energumenum admouere:// bring his mouth as near to the possessed mouth as he can, and by that time the devil hath tasted on his breath, if there be any life in him, he will be glad to stir.

    Here now you see the reason why Trayford's devil rebounded at the dint of the priest's breath and was so glad to get him out at Trayford's right ear like a mouse, rather than he would come out jump against the priest's mouth. The little children were never so afraid of hell mouth in the old plays painted with great fang teeth, staring eyes, and a foul bottle nose, as the poor devils are scared with the hell mouth of a priest.

    Take an example from Sara Williams of the vigorousness of their breath. "She lay," saith the penner of their miracles, "past all sense in a trance, being utterly bereaved of all her senses at once. The priest no sooner came near her but she discerned him by the smell." Was not this, trow you, a jolly rank smell that was able to awake a poor wench out of a trance? Verily these do out-smell the devil by far. For though the devil hath, as is commonly reputed, a fele rank smell, yet I never heard of any that could discern a devil by his smell.

    20The like sovereign smell is in the sacrament of their mass, for Sara "could always" saith our author, "very exactly reckon up how many had communicated, by discerning them by their smell." But for this they may have an easy evasion; happily they had been so deep in the chalice as a quick-scented man might have savored them a far off without help of the devil. Their breath which is nothing but air exhaled from their lungs being, as you see, of this affrighting power over the devil, what may we deem of the power of their holy hands if they come once to be applied to the devil?

    First, their holy fingers had in them the same divine power, if not in an higher measure, that we read to have been in our Savior Christ. With a bare touch of their finger, without any other ceremony used by our blessed Savior in like case, they restored hearing and sight to their patients, being blind and deaf. So hath the miracle-master clearly set down that Sara, being bereaved of all her senses as in a trance, the exorcist toucheth her ears and eyes with his finger, and she sees and hears.

    This is but a flea-biting to that which Ignatius's great grand-child Edmunds exploited with his holy hand. Jupiter armed with his dreadful thunder never made hell so to crack. Hear it thorough the Jesuit's own trumpet, as himself hath proclaimed it to the world. Edmunds "had scarcely begun his adjuration, and laid his hand on Marwood's head, but he presently falls into a fury, stretches out his body, beats with his feet and hands, snatches at the priest's hand, makes all to ring with crying, swearing, and blaspheming." This was well roared of a young devil for a praeludium to the play, upon the bare touch of Edmunds's hand. But mark when the devil grew hot with the continuing of this holy trick, and of hell; Edmunds's hand on his head still, Sacerdos officium reparat manum in capite tenens, the priest falls afresh to his work, holding still his hand on the possessed's head. Now begins hell to work. "Here strange tragical exclamations filled all our ears. Devils why come ye not? And thou Pippin (which was the name of the tormenting devil) dost thou not revenge my quarrel? Is there no aid, no succor left in hell? Take me, miserable caitiff, and hurl me into the infernal flames. But if either you will not, or cannot, right this disgrace, then you lances, swords, and knives dash thorough me; fire, dogs, plague, mischief consume me; house fall upon me, earth swallow me, lightning from heaven devour me. Who can bear my burden? Who can endure my heat? Who can be thus torn in pieces, being rent with a thousand nails?" Who would not think that he heard Hercules furens, or Ajax flagellifer newly come from hell? Was ever Prometheus with his vulture, Sisyphus with his stone, Ixion with his wheel in such a case? Did ever the God-gastring giants, whom Jupiter overwhelmed with Pelion and Ossa, so complain of their load? Or Phaeton so bellow when he was burned with Jupiter's flames, as poor Marwood here bellows and roars under Edmunds's fiery flames—and all with the only touch of his head with his Ignatian hand? Was it not by divine oracle that his master's name should be Ignatius, when his disciple carried such an unsupportable weight of hell fire in his hand? Will not his hand be an excellent instrument for Lucifer in hell, to plague, broil, and torment his infernal fiends, that hath such a fiend-tormenting power here on earth? Now here pitiful Marwood go[es] on in his direful notes.

    "Apage inquit manum illam cum omnibus daemoniis. Take away that dreadful hand in the name of all the devils in hell.Ut me vexas et torques, nunquam sine cruciatibus sine incendio esse patiens? How dost thou vex, how dost thou wring me? Thou art never but plaguing me with torment and fire." Then cries he out of his head, his heart, his bowels, his bones. Manum tamen non dimittit sacerdos. Yet Edmunds would not be moved to remit his hand, but begins a new chase. In sequitur manu per tergum, et cet. He pursues the devil down along his back, his reins, his close parts, his thighs, his legs, usque ad talos, down to his ankle-bone. Thence he fetches him back again, with a Susurrare down his knee, his belly, his breast, his neck, and there grasps him round about the neck with both his holy hands, which cast the devil into so strange an agony and passion as Edmunds himself breaks forth into an exclamation: "Deus imortalis quanta tum ille passeus fuit? nec mille hominum linguas explicare posse existimo." "Good God! into what a passion was he then cast? Not the tongues of a thousand men, I imagine, can express it."

    A little taste of the inexplicable agony he gives us by this, that the sweat that flowed from Marwood's face was in such current streams as it was the office of one man to stand and dry them up. Digitus Ignatii est hic:// this was the finger of Ignatius devil indeed, to teach a young Popish rakehell so cunningly to act and feign the passions and agonies of the devil that the whole company of spectators shall by his false illusions be brought into such commiseration and compassion, as they shall all weep, cry, and exclaim as loud as the counterfeit devil; and the end andplauditeof the act must be this. Oh the Catholic faith, oh the faith Catholic, truly faith, holy, pure, powerful faith. Thou art terrible to devils, formidable to hell; troops submit to thee, legions of devils do tremble at thy voice; they fly from thy unresistable command; they quake and dare not abide thy sound. Now by that time Sara and her play-fellows be come upon the stage and have told you how they were burned and handled likewise I doubt not; but you will help theirplauditewith an "oh" too:O diabolicam fraudem! O fraudem diabolicam! O dirus actores! O ineptos spectatores!

    25Sara was content to play the she-devil, touching your presence and approach, and to grace you with an "Oh I burn, oh I cannot abide the presence of a Catholic." Marry, when you came nearer than in manhood you should offer, or she in modesty suffer, as to hunt her with your holy hot hands, she could in her womanhood have been content you would have forborne, but that way lay your game, and therefore there was no remedy but you would have your hunting sport. Your game being by hot chase embossed, did commonly take soil, and there you let him lodge and hunted him afresh upon the old foil, and counter too, which none but curs of an impure scent will do.

    Sara saith you began with your fiery hands at her foot, and so up all along her leg; so her knee, her thigh, and so along all parts of her body. And that you followed the chase so close, that it could neither double, nor squat, but you were ready to pinch.

    Was this a fair chase for holy anointed priests to make, especially with those holy hands that had instantly before celebrated the holy mass, blessed the chalice, made (as they suppose) a new god, elevated the host, handled and divided the very body of Christ; to bring the same holy hands piping hot from the altar to the chair where Sara sat at mass; to seize with the same hands upon her toe, slip them up along her leg, her knee, her thigh, and so along all parts of her body till you came near her neck; and by the way with the same holy hands to handle, pinch, and gripe, where the devil in his black modesty did forbear till you made her cry "oh," and then you to cry, "Oh, that, oh, is the devil"? Now the great devil pinch you all for me, and that I may say without malignity, for I well know he dares not. You are so devil-holy all over, head, heart, and hands, that the devil dares not come near you. And therefore you need not to care a rush for either devil or hell, for you will either with your holiness make holy both the devil and hell, or make him cry "oh," when you come there with your holy pinch.

    Fid Williams doth complain (look in their own confessions) that with your holy hot burning hands you did hunt the devil counter in her too. And did toe-burn, shin-burn, knee-burn her, and so forth, till you made her cry "oh," for they were the sweet pair of your holy devils that were always in chase.

    And here we see the cause why Trayford was soon dispatched of his devil after a bout or two, and was never devil-hunted from toe to top with your holy hot hands; nor Master Maynie was never troubled with this pinching sport. But Sara and Fid stuck long in your fingers, or your fingers about them; and ever and anon they were at the holy chair, and this dislodging, coursing, and pinching, the devil was still in their parks. Alack, the poor souls had no worse devils than Trayford and Maynie had, for Maynie had the sovereign dictator of hell in him; but their walk was fair for your course, their game pleasing, their suit hot, your scent fuller, and therefore no marvel, though your dogs being curs, did hunt riot so often after this fallow deer.

    30And here I must remember you that you were so fiery hot, and so sharp set upon this game, that you forgot your masters, Mengus, Thyraeus, Sprenger, Nider, and all; and did as schoolboys do when they have an otium to play: give a shout, and for haste of their sport, cast satchel, books, and paper behind at their heels. For in your grand probato, when Sara at my Lord Vaux his house was to receive her solemn grand exorcism and so be quit the court, this high day being held for her final quietus est, where you should have had special regard to have dignified and graced every holy engine in his due order and place, serviceable to this great work, as the amice, the alb, holy water, holy candle, the cross, Brian's bones, and your Master Mengus his formidable devil-whip above the rest; you, having Sara your game set fair in her form, for joy and shout of your sport, could not abstain, but like Lycurgus his hound, that having an hare and a kitchen pot set both before him left the hare and ran to the pot and thrust in his head up to the ears, so you, having in your hand your Master Mengus his dreadful book of exorcism, entitled worthily Fustis, fuga, flagellum daemonum: the cudgel, the whip, and the flight of the devil (lo the furious force of your fiery heat), threw Mengus your devil-whipper away, and ran unto Sara, and with your burning hands catched Sara by the foot and so fired the devil along, till you made him slip out where no man must name.

    Now a few questions I must assoil, and then I will proceed to your holy gear.

    1. It may be asked, how your hands came so holy as to shine at the top of your fingers, like unto the sun. Wherein you shall hear a piece of a dialogue between Fid and Master Maynie, their captain scholar, who, sitting by Fid his pew-fellow, and a priest hard by them, did affirm that "unto his sight the priest's finger, and thumb, did shine with brightness, especially on the inner sides." Whereunto the priest answered that "it might well be so, because," quoth he, "they were anointed with holy oil, when I was made priest." At which words Fid, laughing, and calling Master Maynie dissembling hypocrite, the priest said, "It was not Fid, but the devil, that did so laugh and rail." Here you see a plain reason how the priest's hand comes shining and holy, and hath this pinching holy quality in it, to cause a wench cry "oh," and he that will laugh at this reason may hap to catch a devil.

    2. If any curious merry head will demand what needs the amice, the alb, holy candle, holy cross, holy brimstone, Brian's bones, the sacrament, the cross, Salve Regina, Saint Barbara, Mengus his devil-whip, his devil-club, his fray-devil, and the rest of that infernal rabble, since the only holy hands of Edmunds the Jesuit alone hath power alone to rouse, hunt, chase, baffle, broil, and toast the devil, and to make him to roar that hell itself did quake and tremble, scud, and fly from his holy hand alone, more fearfully and ghastfully than ever poor mouse did tremble and fly from the sight of a glaring cat. To this I answer, that as all stars do not participate alike the light of the sun, so all holy priests do not receive alike the influence of this hell-tormenting fire, but as they come nearer to that Fons caloris, Origo luminis, Oculus caeli Ignatius, the fountain of this holy-devil-driving heat, as his name doth import (as Edmunds his grand-child did), so are there more potent and abundant beams of that miraculous fire communicated unto them, able to fry and broil all the devils in hell. And as they stand farther off from the pure rays of his hell-firing face, so they are as the moon, but spotted and sprinkled with this satanical flame.

    3. If this will not content you, but you will pursue me with questions still, and know why Edmunds, Dibdale, and some other[s] who had the devil's plenty of this devil-frying heat in their holy hands did not dispatch the devil quite and fire him out of his den at once with their holy hands alone, but elongated their work, and took in the alb, the amice, holy candle, holy host, and all the lousy holy wardrobe to assist in the holy work. I answer, this was their good nature, to take in those petty implements and to do them some grace, that their mother Holy Church, whose hangings they are, may thank them for their labor, especially considering they grow nowadays somewhat sullied for want of clean use. And lastly, if they should have dispatched hastily, much good hunting sport had been lost, the pleasure had been short, the action by facility would not have been so admirably esteemed, the holy Church had lost their applause, and the grace of the action by sudden quick passage would have received much eclipse and diminution. And so I proceed to view their holy implements.

    35Chapter 15.

    Of the admirable power in a Priest's gloves, his hose, his girdle, his shirt, to scorch the devil.

    Gentle reader, thou must not marvel to hear those supernatural powers, spoken of before, to have been lodged in the bodies of holy priests, considering that as the plague doth infect and hang in implements and garments, and the leprosy upon walls and beams of houses, so we find those powerful virtues which showed themselves apparently in the constitution of the priests to transfuse themselves and inhere as effectually in the priests' gloves, their hose, their girdle, their shirts, their rags, their patches, yea in the water that some of their powerful hands had been washed withal. So as these holy companions, if they had been metamorphosed into fishes, as Ulysses's followers were turned into swine, they would have proved notable good codfish, of whom the fishermen report there is no part within them, nor without, that is bad.

    A little I doubt me old Thyraeus is to blame, who painting a whole chapter with the glorious parts and qualities of an exorcist, entitling his discourse De conditionibus exorcistarum, he is silent in this master-quality infixed in the temper and mold of a Priest, or received from his splendent unction, that he should have this dreadful fire to burn out a devil, and so by convivency doth smother it in his garments, and implements too. Thyraeus was of some watery and earthy constitution, and likely doth cantle all exorcists by himself. Sure I am, we find them as lively, quick, and mighty in operation in their exterior ornaments as in their interior complexion, and therefore we must not do them that wrong to bury them in oblivion.

    Maho, Sara's chief devil, with much ado was compelled to tell his name, and the first word he spake was out of Sara's hand; then was one of the priest's gloves taken and put upon her hand; Maho durst not abide it, but went his way straight, and he was so scared as we do not find that ever he came there after. It seems he had stepped thither only to grace the priest's gloves, for you have observed that her hand was none of his ordinary haunt. Or else, if he could not endure the glove by reason of some scenting quality the priest's hand had left behind him, we may imagine the priest had been using his hand holily and well, when it savored so strongly that the devil could not abide it. And now it is not without great cause, as you may see, that our Catholic gentlewomen here in England do hold in such dear esteem our wandering Catholic priests, enriching them with gilt rapiers, hangings, girdles, jerkins, and coifs more beseeming a noble man than a juggling impostor to wear. If they receive no other possessive kindness, whereof we all see they be no niggards of their store, yet this recompense at their pleasure they may entertain, to have a precious pair of priested gloves so sprightly perfumed with the pure odor-spicing from the hands of a hot ghostly father as they may use for a sure preservative against any sparrow-blasting, or sprite-blasting of the devil. This precious odor against a devil that doth continually issue from their anointed complexion doth not only ascend into their upper, and extend itself into their utter ornaments, as into their gloves, but it descends also, and distils into their inferior habit, and, for want of a fit receptacle, is ready many times to drop out at their heels. Dibdale, Sara's ghostly father, had of his fatherly kindness lent his ghostly child a pair of his old stockings that happily had seen Venice and Rome; she, as a spiritual token of his carnal kindness, doth wear them on her legs. See this odoriferous virtue, in what exceeding measure it had descended down and filled the very seams of Dibdale's hose. Sara's devil had been very turbulent and stirring in her body, and was to be delivered down to his baser lodge; he passed quietly down till he came at her knee, and coming down hill too fast slipped ere he was aware into Sara's leg, where, finding himself caught within the priest's hose being on her leg, he plunges and tumbles like a salmon taken in a net, and cries "Barro ho, out, alas! Pull off, pull off." Off in all haste with the priest's hose, or else he must mar all, for there he could not stay, and all haste was made accordingly to ease the poor devil of his pain and let him lie at his repose. And was not this a goodly gin to catch a woodcock withal, and cause him to shoot out his long bill, and cry, "O the virtue of the priesthood, O the power of the Catholic Church," when they saw with their own eyes the hose hastily snatched off, heard with their own long ears Sara's devil cry "Oh," beheld her leg quiet when it was bare without the hose, and observed how reverently the priests touched, handled, and bestowed the hose, when it was off, and with what elevation of their eyes to heaven, they finished the wonder.

    [From chapter 19]

    Hear the Miraclist reports it, who himself was an actor: "The priest, having placed Sara in a chair, he commandeth the devil to tell his name. The devil answered "bonjour" and began to make a show of speaking French; the exorcist then, reviling the devil and calling him ass in the French tongue, he said, 'I am no Ass. I will not be mocked.'" This was a sober reply to the ass, without much ado. But when Maho trifled and mocked the priest in Sara, and would by no dint of adjuration be brought to tell his name, hear the Miracle-teller again: "The exorcist, seeing the devil thus to trifle, and that he would not tell his name for abating his pride, caused to be drawn upon a piece of paper the picture of a Vice in a play, and the same to be burned with hallowed brimstone, whereat the devil cried out as being grievously tormented." No marvel, when he had a pair of vice's ears clapped red hot to his head with the solder of holy brimstone. . . .

    40It was a pretty part in the old church plays when the nimble Vice would skip up nimbly like a jackanapes onto the devil's neck and ride the devil a course, and belabor him with his wooden dagger till he made him roar, whereat the people would laugh to see the devil so vice-haunted. This action and passion had some semblance, by reason the devil looked like a patible old Corydon, with a pair of horns on his head and a cow's tail at his breech; but for a devil to be so vice-haunted as that he should roar at the picture of a vice burnt in a piece of paper, especially being without his horns and tail, is a passion exceeding all apprehension, but that our old dear mother the Romish Church doth warrant it by canon. Her devils be surely some of those old vice-haunted cashiered wooden-beaten devils, that were wont to frequent the stages, and have had their horns beaten off with Mengus his club and their tails cut off with a smart lash of his stinging whip, who are so scared with the Idaea of a vice and a dagger as they durst never since look a paper-vice in the face.

    The examination of Sara Williams

    The examination of Sara Williams, taken upon her oath, the 24 of April 1602. before the Lord Bishop of London, Master Doctor Andrews, Dean of Westminster, Master Doctor Stanhop, and Master Doctor Mountford.

    Also she saith that it is likewise very false that is written of her, as that she should upon the 30 of October "see the likeness of a wren upon the top of the priests fingers." This examinate further hearing the report out of the book how it is said that "she was troubled upon All Saints' Day," she saith she doth not remember the particular times when they bound her in the chair and applied their relics unto her. But addeth that they troubled her very often, praying God to forgive them, and saying that when she came to the chair she was so used as that every time; if she might have had her choice, she would rather have chosen to have ended her life than to have gone into it.

    And concerning her dumbness and coldness, that "she could not speak till they had signed her throat with the sign of the cross and applied holy relics unto it." She saith that she doth not remember any such thing, but thinketh it is altogether untrue. At the least, if at any time she were past the use of her senses, it was by reason of such waters and drinks as they compelled her to take, and that if she were at any time silent and did afterwards speak, it was not because they had signed her throat with the sign of the cross or applied holy relics unto it; albeit she confesseth that whatsoever she did or spake they would ever expound it as they list themselves, and say it was done or spoken by virtue of holy water and other consecrated things.

    Further, touching the report of that which is pretended to have been seen and spoken of by this examinate upon All Souls' Day after dinner, she saith she is ashamed to hear such things to be written, God almighty knowing that they are very false. And this she affirmeth, she saith, as in the sight of almighty God, and would so say if all the priests that were there were here present. And she further affirmeth that she is well advised that she never saw any devil in the form of a man that should depart from her, when she used these words as is pretended, Credo sanctum ecclesiam Catholicam, Almighty God forgive them.

    . . .

    45Thus much also of Hobberdidaunce, as it is in the book, she well remembereth, and saith that her mistress, as they were at work, had told them a merry tale of Hobberdidaunce that used his cunning to make a lady laugh, which tale she this examinate doth very well yet remember, and therefore is fully persuaded that when the priests did pretend that the spirit was gone out of her and urged her to tell what name it had, she affirmed it to be called Hobberdidaunce.

    There being read to this examinate out of the same book the pretended names of divers spirits which the priests gave out that they cast out of her, and that the said priests delivered whilst they were in her, as Lustie Dick, Killico, Hob, Cornercap, Puff, Purr, Frateretto, Fliberdigibet, Haberdicut Cocobatto, Maho, Kellicocam, Wilkin, Smolkin, Nur, Lusty Jolly Jenkin, Portericho, Pudding of Thame, Pour-dieu, Boniour, Motubizanto, Bernon, Delicate. This examinate saith that there were very strange names written upon the walls at Sir George Peckham's house, under the hangings, which they said were names of spirits. And addeth that she, perceiving still that when they said it was the devil that spake in her and that they would needs have her from time to time to give it some name, she, to content them, did always devise one name or other, and verily thinketh that she came near sometimes to some of the names which were written upon the wall because she had often heard them, and saith that they run then in her head. And she further thinketh that the priests themselves did set them down in better order than she did utter them. But amongst the rest, she saith that the name of Maho came into her mind, for that she had heard before her uncle read the same out of a book, there being a tale therein of Maho.