In an old-fashioned treatise upon Rat-catching, I find mentioned a means of alluring "of very material efficacy, which is, the use of oil of Rhodium, which, like the marumlyriacum, in the case of Cats, has a very extraordinary fascinating power on these animals."

Among the sympathetic secrets in occult philosophy, published in the Conjurors' Magazine, in 1791, I find a recipe "to draw Cats together, and fascinate them," which is as follows: "In the new moon, gather the herb Nepe, and dry it in the heat of the sun, when it is temperately hot: gather vervain in the hour ♀, and only expose it to the air while is under the earth. Hang these together in a net, in a convenient place, and when one of them has scented it, her cry will soon call those about her that are within hearing; and they will rant and run about, leaping and capering to get at the net, which must be hung or placed so that they cannot easily accomplish it, for they will certainly tear it to pieces. Near Bristol there is a field that goes by the appellation of the 'Field of Cats,' from a large number of these animals being drawn together there by this contrivance."

One of the frauds of witchcraft was the witch pretending to transform herself into a Cat, and this led to the Cat being tormented by the ignorant vulgar.

In 1618, Margaret and Philip Flower were executed at Lincoln; their mother was also accused, dying in goal before (probably of fright, added to old age and infirmity). It was asserted that they had procured the death of the Lord Henry Mosse, eldest son of the Earl of Rutland, by procuring his right-hand glove, which, after being rubbed on the back of their imp, named "Rutterkin," and which lived with them in the form of a Cat, was plunged into boiling water, pricked with a knife, and buried in a dung-hill, so that, as that rotted, the liver of the young man might rot also, which was affirmed to have come to pass.

Those were dreadful times for the ill-looking old ladies, and the more so if they were unfortunate enough to have an affection for the feline race.

"A wrinkled hag, of wicked fame, Beside a little smoky flame, Sat hovering, pinched with age and frost, Her shrivelled hands with veins embossed. Upon her knees her weight sustains, While palsy shook her crazy brains; She mumbles forth her backward prayer - An untamed scold of fourscore year. About her swarmed a numerous brood Of Cats, who, lank with hunger, mewed; Teased with their cries, her choler grew, And thus she sputtered - 'Hence, ye crew! Fool that I was to entertain Such imps, such fiends - a hellish train; Had ye been never housed and nursed, I for a witch had n'er been cursed; To you I owe that crowd of boys Worry me with eternal noise;-Straws laid across, my pace retard; The horse-shoes nailed (each threshold's guard The stunted broom the wenches hide, For fear that I should up and ride.'"

The belief in witchcraft is a very ancient and deep-rooted one. From the earliest times, we can trace records of supposed acts of witchcraft, and their punishment. Pope Innocent VIII., in 1484, issued a bull, empowering the Inquisition to search for witches and burn them. From the time of this superstitious act, the executions for witchcraft increased. The pope had given sanction to the belief in this demoniacal power, and had asserted their possession of it. In 1485, forty-one poor women were burnt as witches in Germany; an inquisitor in Piedmont burnt a hundred more, and was proceeding so fast with others daily, that the people rose en masse, and chased him out of the country. About the same time, five hundred witches were executed at Geneva, in the course of three months.

Among the many who counterfeited possession by the devil, for the purpose of attracting pity or obtaining money, were Agnes Bridges and Rachel Pinder, who had counterfeited to be possessed by the devil, and vomited pins and rags; but were detected, and stood before the preacher at St. Paul's Cross, and acknowledged their hypocritical counterfeiting: this happened in 1574.

In fifteen years, from 1580 to 1595, Remigius burnt nine hundred reputed witches in Lorraine. In Germany, they tortured and burnt them daily, until many unfortunates destroyed themselves for fear of a death by torment, and others fled the country.

Ludovicus Paramo states, that the Inquisition, within the space of 150 years, had burnt thirty thousand of these reputed witches.

The superstition continued on the increase, and reached its culmination in the Puritanic time of the Commonwealth, when persons more cunning and wicked than the rest, gained a subsistence by discovering witches (by pretended marks and trials they used), and denouncing them to death. The chief of these persons was Mathew HOPKINS, Witch Finder General, as he termed himself. He was a native of Manningtree, in Essex, and he devoted his pretended powers so zealously in the service of his country, that in 1644, sixteen witches, discovered by him, were burnt at Yarmouth; fifteen were condemned at Chelmsford, and hanged in that town and at Manningtree. Many more at Bury St. Edmunds, in 1645 and 1646, amounting to nearly forty in all at the several places of execution, and as many more in the country as made up threescore.

In this work he was aided by one John Stern, and a woman, who with the rest, pretended to have secret means of testing witchcraft; nor was their zeal unrewarded by the weak and superstitious parliament. Mr. Hopkins, in a book published in 1647, owns that he had twenty shillings for each town he visited to discover witches, and owns that he punished many: testing them by a water ordeal, to see if they would sink or swin. He says that he swam many, and watched them for four nights together, keeping them standing or walking till their feet were blistered; "the reason" as he says, "was to prevent their couching down; for indeed, when they be suffered to couch, immediately come their familiars in the room, and scareth the watchers, and heartneth (encourageth) the witch."