Many "Witch" Cases Never "Ripen."--While we have not recorded the complete history of witchcraft in Pennsylvania by any means, the reader will surely have attained some new slants on this vague subject. We cannot prove the existence, or non-existence, of either angels, or witches--neither can you!
Neither time, nor space, in a paper of this kind, will permit going into the highways and byways for all the rich, original accounts of past and present-day evidence of practices coming under this head. But we can offer just one or so, that have made their way to our "sanctum santorum."
Our Prize is from Dauphin County.--There is the Millersburg case. It is one of an old man who wanted to purchase a book, which he said would "break the spell on me." Claiming he already had several books which "could be used to break spells," none of them would work for him, and could we help him by providing the one he wanted? (Since we write, publish and sell books, it was a legitimate question). Perhaps we could, but first, "what seems to be the main trouble?" we inquired.
He told us he was "highly bewitched;" that "if she doesn't leave me alone I'll kill the son-of-a-----!"
We disliked seeing any person killed for no valid reason, yet set forth, worthy of death, so we inquired as to "Why do you want to kill some one--who is it?"
We could get no more out of him than the information that some woman, about middle age, was responsible for his "bewitchment."
We surmised he was a bachelor, and that he lived alone, which he subsequently confirmed; further, we deduced that the old fellow had not had much of nature's mating privileges. We had a "hunch" that he, being sex-starved, had "notions" concerning the woman, who was a widow; that, under the line of reasoning used by Benjamin Franklin, he was hopeful, she might, in her declining years prove more friendly, and eventually yield; failing to gain his point, his friendship turned to hate.
At long last we suggested we "might have" the right book, (which he seemed so anxious to own), if he would confide to us the nature of his complaint.
To the writer it seemed as if he was weighing our offer, and so in a few moments he bluntly replied: "Well, the old witch has me so fixed that I can't s----- (defecate) on Sundays and holidays!"
The reply was the "best" we had heard in a long while, but too good to laugh at, in his presence.
Assuming a rather "professional look," then a sort of secretive one, we said we could sympathize with him under such circumstances. He was serious, very serious, and we felt that he should be treated accordingly. Had we felt as he did (or had you), we would have wanted sympathy and--what he eventually got!
To sell him a book would have been the average dealer's plan, but not our's--not with a story like that to "tell around."
We proceeded to give him his "money's worth," without taking it from him. We made him promise, in the event that we suggested a cure, that he would never tell either a doctor, or a lawyer, since either or both might seek to prosecute us on the grounds of having violated the "medical practices act."
Then we told him seriously, that on Saturday nights before retiring, or on the night preceding a holiday, at which time he suspected the "witch" might cause him trouble, he should take an average-size waterglass, fill it to within an inch from the top with castor oil, retire and let the "old witch" do her damndest--and to let nature take its course!
We suspected he was too old, or too lazy to get much exercise; that on Sundays and holidays he just loafed, failing to induce the proper action; thereupon we "sympathized and agreed" with him, and ordered the "prescription" accordingly!
Up to this time, years later, we have neither heard of a "witch murder" in the upper end of Dauphin county, nor have we thus far been prosecuted for our "violation" of the medical practices act. The "case" apparently was well "attended to."
Doctors tell us the dosage was just about right!
Lawyers just laugh about the matter!
Judges, too, wink their eye, and laugh out aloud!
Wherever we've told it, the public likes it . . .
Yet, in spite of it's humor, it is all too true . . .