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62 Or paughlet wi’ a tu’ commission, To pour her vengeance on the men, That tantalises her condition.’ Belfast Newsletter, 10 December 1833, Witch-Finding in County Down . In a country parish not quite fifty miles from the “flourishing city” called Saintfield the inspiring theme of many a village lay, lived, or rather lives an honest farmer whose cow had got herself bewitched, as was supposed for the “guid wife” – “wi’ toil and pain Might plunge an’ plunge the kirn in vain For oh, the yellow treasure’s ta’en By witching skill An’ dawitt twal-pint Hawkie’s gaen As yell’s the bill” This was a state of things not to be endured and accordingly, after a solemn family council had been held on the subject, it was resolved that the dreadful ceremony should be resorted to for compelling the witch or warlock to make his or her appearance and to take the fatal spell off poor “Hawkie”. This design was communicated to a number of friends who agreed to attend, some through curiosity and others from a hearty wish to have a knock at the witch. The party first rendered themselves in some degree spirit-proof by a decent infusion of spirits inwardly, conformably to the ancient approves practices in similar cases. After a reasonable libation, therefore, of pure “unchristened” native, operations were begun – the goodwife and children were sent to bed – even the cat and dog were removed lest the sound of human or beastly voice should mar the efficacy of the charm. The chimney was closely covered with a green “scrow”, the windows were firmly stuffed so as to exclude even the faintest glimmer of the moon’s “pale beams” on which an elf might ride and perchance intrude its little essence within the consecrated circle. A rousing fore was put on which would have boiled in half an hour as many potatoes which would have served Fionn Mac Cumhal and a troop of his Devil-daring Fenians after a week’s starvation. We forgot to mention that 49 In English witchcraft belief in particular, witches were believed to own familiars, which were in actuality personal demons who harmed and destroyed at their bidding.

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