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My soule into eternall night,
Where itt shall ne're behold bright day. O doe not frowne; thy angry
looke Hath all my soule with horror shooke.'
But, woe is me! all is in vaine,
crye; Time will not be recalled againe,
Nor thou surcease before I dye.
But seeing thou obdurate art,
And wilt no pittye on me show,
And left unpaid what I did owe :
And thus, as one being in a trance,
A multitude of uglye feinds
Ver. 120. MS. Hath made my breath my life forbooke.
THE WITCHES' SONG
From Ben Jonson's Masque of Queens, presented at Whitehall, Feb. 2, 1609.
The Editor thought it incumbent on him to insert some old pieces on the popular superstition concerning witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and ghosts. The last of these make their appearance in most of the tragical ballads; and in the following songs will be found some description of the former.
It is true, this song of the Witches, falling from the learned pen of Ben Jonson, is rather an extract from the various incantations of classical antiquity, than a display of the opinions of our own vulgar. But let it be observed, that a parcel of learned wiseacres had just before busied themselves on this subject, in compliment to King James I. whose weakness on this head is well known: and these had so ransacked all writers, ancient and modern, and so blended and kneaded together the several superstitions of different times and nations, that those of genuine English growth could no longer be traced out and distinguished.
By good luck the whimsical belief of fairies and goblins could furnish no pretences for torturing our fellow-creatures, and therefore we have this handed down to us pure and unsophisticated.
6 WITCH. I had a dagger : what did I with that? Killed an infant to have his fat. A piper it got at a church-ale. ! bade him again blow wind i' the tąile.
7 WITCH 25
8 WITCH. The scrich-owles egges and the feathers blacke, The bloud of the frogge, and the bone in his backe 30 I have been getting; and made of his skin A purset, to keepe sir Cranion in.