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On Saturday, the 2d of February, 1799, Elizabeth Woodcock, aged forty-two years, went on horseback from Impington to Cambridge; on her return, between six and seven o'clock in the evening, being about half a mile from her own home, her horse started at a sudden light, probably from a meteor, which, at this season of the year, frequently happens. She exclaimed, " Good God! what can this be?" It was a very inclement, stormy night; a bleak wind blew boisterously from the N. E.; the ground was covered by great quantities of snow that had fallen during the day. Many of the deepest ditches were filled up, whilst in the open fields there was but a thin covering; but in roads and lanes, and in narrow and enclosed parts, it had so accumulated as to retard the traveller. The horse ran backwards to the brink of a ditch, and fearing lest the animal should plunge into it, she dismounted, intending to lead the animal home; but he started again, and broke from her. She attempted to regain the bridle; but the horse turned suddenly out of the road, over a common field, and she followed him. Having lost one of her shoes in the snow, and wearied by the exertion she had made, and by a heavy basket on her arm, her pursuit of the horse was greatly impeded; she however persisted, and having overtaken him about a quarter of a mile from whence the alighted, she gained the bridle, and made another attempt to lead him home. But on retracing her steps to a thicket contiguous to the road, she became so much fatigued, and her left foot, which was without a shoe, was so much benumbed, that she was unable to proceed farther. Sitting down upon the ground in this state, and letting go the bridle, "Tinker," she said, calling the horse by his name, " I am too much tired to go any farther; you must go home without me:" and exclaimed, "Lord have mercy upon me! what will become of me 1" The ground on which she sat was upon a *vel with the common field, close under the thicket on the south-west. She well knew its situation, and its distance from her own house. There was then only a small quantity of snow drifted near her; but it accumulated so rapidly, that when
Chesterton bell rang at eight o'clock, she was completely hemmed in by it. The depth of the snow in which she was enveloped was about six feet in a perpendicular direction, and over her head between two and three. She was incapable of any effectual attempt to extricate herself, and, in addition to her fatigue and cold, her clothes were stiffened by the fiost; and tlieiefore, resigning herself to the necessity of her situation, she sat awaiting the dawn of the following day. To the best of her recollection, she slept very little during the night.. In the morning, observing before her a circular hole in the snow, about two feet in length, and half a foot in diameter, running obliquely upwards, she broke off a branch of a bush which was close to her, and with it thrust her handkerchief through the hole, and hung it, as a signal of distress, upon one of the uppermost twigs that remained uncovered. She bethought herself that the change of the moon was near, and having an almanac in her pocket, took it out, though with great difficulty, and found that there would be a new moon the next day, February the 4th. Her difficulty in getting the almanac from her pocket arose, in a great measure, from the stiffness of her frozen clothes; the trouble, however, was compensated by the consolation which the prospect of so near a change in her favour afforded. Here, however, she remained day after day, and night after night, perfectly distinguishing the alterations of day and night, hearing the bells of her own and the neighbouring villages, particularly that of Chesterton, which was about two miles distant from the spot, and rung in winter time at eight in the evening and four in the morning, Sundays excepted; she was sensible to the sound of carriages upon the road, the bleating of sheep and lambs, and the barking of dogs. One day she oveiheard a conversation between two gipsies, relative to an ass they had lost. She recollected having pulled out her snuff-box, and taken two pinches of snuff, but felt so little gratification from it, that she never repeated it. Possibly, the cold might have so far blunted ber
flowers of sensation, that the snuff no onger retained its stimulus. Finding her left hand beginning to swell, in consequence of her reclining on that arm, she took two rings, the tokens of her nuptial vows twice pledged, from her finger, and put them, together with a little money from her pocket, into a small box, judging that, should she not be found alive, the rings and money, being thus deposited, were less likely to be overlooked by the discoverers of her breathless corpse. She frequently shouted, in hopes that her vociferations might reach any that chanced to pass, but the snow prevented the transmission of her voice. The gipsies, who approached her nearer than any other persons, were not sensible of any sound, though she particularly endeavoured to attract their attention. A thaw took place on the Friday after the commencement of her misfortunes; she felt uncommonly faint and languid; her clothes were wetted quite through by the melted snow; the aperture before mentioned became considerably enlarged, and she attempted to make an effort to release herself; but her strength was too much impaired; her feet and legs were no longer obedient to her will, and her clothes were become much heavier by the water which they had imbibed. She now, for the first time, began to despair of being discovered alive; and declared, that, all things considered, she could not have survived twenty-four hours longer This was the morning of her emancipation. The apartment or cave of snow formed around her was sufficiently large to afford her space to move herself about three or four inches in any ditection, but not to stand upright, it being only about three feet and a half in height, and about two in the broadest part. Her sufferings had now increased; she sat with one of her hands spread ovet her face, and fetched very deep sighs; her breath was short and difficult, and symptoms of approaching dissolution became hourly more npparent. On that day, Sunday, the 10th of February, Joseph Muncey, a young farmer, in his way home from Cambridge, about half-past twelve o'clock, passed very near the spot where the woman was. Her handkerchief,hanging upon the twigs, where she had suspended it, caught his eye; he walked up to the place, and saw the opening in the snow, and heard a sound issue from it similar to that of a person breathing hard and with difficulty. He looked in, and saw the woman who had been so long missing. He did
not speak to her, but, seeing another young farmer and a shepherd at a little distance, communicated to them the discovery he had made; upon which, though they scarcely credited his report, they went to the spot. The shepherd called out, " Are you there, Elizabeth Woodcock?" She replied, in a faint and feeble accent, "Dear John Stittle, I know your voice; for God's sake, help me out of this place I" Stittle immediately made his way through the snow till he was able to reach her; she eagerly grasped his hand, and implored him not to leave her. "I have been here a long time," she observed. "Yes," answered the man, "ever since Saturday." — " Ay, Saturday week," she replied; "I have heard the bells go two Sundays for church." Her husband was immediately acquainted with the discovery, and proper means were taken for conveying her home. Her husband and some neighbours brought a horse and chaise-cart, with blankets to wrap her in. The snow being somewhat cleared away, she asked for a piece of biscuit and a small quantity of brandy, from taking which she found herself greatly recruited. As a person took her up to put her into the chaise, the stocking of the left leg, adhering to the ground, came off, and she fainted. Nature was greatly exhausted, and the motion, added to the sight of her husband and neighbours,was too much for her strength and spirits. When she recovered, she was laid gently in the carriage, covered well over with the blankets, and conveyed without delay to her own house.
It appears that when the horse came home, her husband and another person set out on the road with a lantem, and went quite to Cambridge, where they only learnt that she left the inn at six that evening. They explored the road afresh that night, and for four succeeding days, and searched the huts of the gipsies, whom they suspected might have robbed and murdered her, till she was unexpectedly discovered in the manner already mentinned.
Mr. Okes, a surgeon, first saw her in the cart, as she was removing home. She spoke to him with a voice tolerably strong, but rather hoarse; her hands and arms were sodden, but not very cold though her legs and feet were. She was put to bed, and weak broth given her occasionally. From the time of her being lost she had eaten only snow, and believed ■lie had not slept till Friday the 8th. The hurry of spirits, occasioned by too many visitors, rendered her feverish; and hfli feet were found to be completely mortified. The cold had extended its violent effects from the end of the toes to the middle of the instep, including more than an inch above the heels, and all the bottom of the feet, insomuch, that she lost all her toes with the integuments from the bottom of one foot. Her life was saved, but the mutilated state in which she was left, without even a chance of ever being able to attend to the duties of her family, was almost worse than death itself. She lingered until the 13th of July, 1799, when she expired, after a lapse of five months from the period of her discovery.
Naturalists' Calendar. Mean Temperature... 40 • 37.
The necessity for instruction is powerfully exemplified by the following narrative. Some who reflect upon it, and discover that there are other and worse consequences to be apprehended from ignorance than those related below, will consult their own safety, by providing education for the children of labouring people, and influencing their attendance where they may gain the means of distinguishing right from wrong.
In February, 1808, at Great Paxton, in Huntingdonshire, Alice Brown, crossing the ice on the river Ouse, fell into the water, and narrowly escaped drowning, in the sight of her friend, Fanny Amey, a poor epileptic girl, who, in great terror, witnessed the accident. Alice arrived at her father's house shivering with cold, and, probably from sympathetic affection, was herself seized with epilepsy. The fits returning frequently, she became emaciated, and incapable of labour. In April following, the rev. Isaac Nicholson, curate of the parish, inquiring after her health, was astonished by her brother informing h:m that her fits and debility were the
effect of witchcraft. "She b under an evil tongue," said the youth. "As sure as you are alive, sir," continued a stamlerby, " she is bewitched, and so are two other young girls that live near her." The boor related, that at the town he came from in Bedfordshire, a man had been exactly in the same way; but, by a charm, he discovered the witch to be an old woman in the same parish, and that her reign would soon be over; which happened accordingly, for she died in a few days, and the man recovered. "Thomas Brown tried this charm last night for his daughter, but it did not succeed according to our wishes; so they have not at present found out who it is that does all the mischief."
Mr. Nicholson was greatly shocked at the general opinion of the people that Alice Brown, Fanny Amey, and Mary Fox were certainly bewitched by some person who had bought a familiar or an evil spirit of the devil at the expense of the buyer's soul, and that various charms had been tried to discover who the buyer was. It was utterly out of his power to remove or diminish the impressions of his parishioners as to the enchantment; and on the following Sunday, a few minutes before he went to church, Ann Tzzard, a poor woman about sixty years old, little, but not ill-looking, the mother of eight children, five of whom were living, requested leave to speak to him. In tears and greatly agitated, she told him her neighbours pretended, that, by means of certain charms, they had discovered that the was the witch. She said they abused her children, and by their violent threats frightened her so much that she frequently dropped down to the ground in fainting-fits. She concluded by asserting her innocence in these words: "I am not a witch, and am willing to prove it by being weighed against the church bible." After the sermon, he addressed his flock on the folly of their opinions, and fatal consequences of brooding over them. It appears, however, that his arguments, explanations, and remonstrances were in vain. On Thursday, the 5th of May, Ann Izzard was at St. Neot's market, and her son, about sixteen years old, was sent there by his master for a load of corn: his mother and another woman, a shopkeeper in the parish, accompanied him home; but, contrary tc the mother's advice, the woman put a basket of grocery on the sacks of corn
One of the horses, in going down bill, became restive, and overturned the cart; and by this accident the grocery was much damaged. Because Ann Iuard had advised her neighbour against putting it in the cart, she charged her with upsetting it by the black art, on purpose to spoil the goods. In an hour, the whole village was in an uproar. "She has just overturned a loaded cart with as much ease as if it had been a spinning-wheel: this is positive proof; it speaks for itself; she is the person that does all the mischief; and if something is not done to put a stop to her baseness, there will be no living in the place." As it grew dark, on the following Sunday, these brutal creatures assembled together, and at ten o'clock, taking with them the young women supposed to be bewitched, they proceeded to Wright Izzard's cottage, which stood in a solitary soot at some distance from the bodjr or tne village; they broke into the poor man's house, dragged his wife naked from her bed into the yard, dashed her head against the large stones of the causeway, tore her arms with pins, and beat her on the face, breast, and stomach with the wooden bar of the door. When the inob had dispersed, the abused and helpless woman crawled into her dwelling, put her clothes on, and went to the constable,who said he could not protect her for he had not been sworn in. One Alice Russell, a compassionate widow, unlocked her door to her at the first call, comforted her, bound up her wounds, and put her to bed. In the evening of the next day she was again dragged forth and her arms torn till they streamed afresh with blood. Alive the following morning, and apparently likely to survive this attack also, her enemies resolved to duck her as soon as the labourof the day was over. On hearing this she fled to Little Paxton, and hastily took refuge in the house of Mr. Nicholson.who effectually secured her from the cruelty of his ignorant flock, and had the mortification to learn that his own neighbours condemned him for " harbouring such a wretch."
The kindness and affection of the widow Ruisel went the means of shortening her days. The infatuated populace cried, "The protectors of a witch are just as bad as the witch, and deserve the same treatment." She neither ate nor slept again from anxiety and fear; but died a martyr to her humanity in twelve days after her home became the asylum,
for a few hours, of the unhappy Alice lizard.
At the Huntingdon assizes in the August following, true bills of indictment were found by the grand jury against nine of these ignorant, infuriated wretches, for assaults on Wright Izzard and Ann Izzard, which were traversed to the following assizes.* It does not appear how they were disposed of.
Captain Burt, an officer of engineers, who, about the year 1730, was sent into the north of Scotland on government service, relates the following particulars of an interview between himself and a minister, whom he met at the house of a nobleman.
After the minister had said a good deal concerning the wickedness of such a diabolical practice as sorcery; and that I, in my turn, had declared my opinion of it, which you knew many years ago; he undertook to convince me of the reality of it by an example, which is as follows:
A certain Highland laird had found himself at several times deprived of some part of his wine, and having as often examined his servants about it, and none of them confessing, but all denying it with asseverations, he was induced to conclude they were innocent.
The next thing to consider was, how this could happen. Rats there were none to father the theft. Those, you know, according to your philosophical next-door neighbour, might have drawn out the corks with their teeth, and then put in their tails, which, being long and spongeous, would imbibe a good quantity of liquor. This they might suck out again, and so on, till they had emptied as many bottles as were sufficient for their numbers and the strength of their heads. But to be more serious :—I say there was no suspicion of rats, and it was concluded it could be done by none but witches.
Here the new inquisition was set on foot, and who they were was the question; but how should that be discovered? To go the shortest way to work, the laird made choice of one night, and an hour when he thought it might be wateringtime with the hags; and went to his cellar
• Sermon afrainat Witchcraft,preached at Great Pa*ton, JolT 1Tj 180S b tt £M , NiehoKon, •vo. ^