Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > The Advent of Modern Thought in Popular Literature > William Perkin’s Art of Witch craft
  King James’s Daemonologie Witch-hunting  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XVI. The Advent of Modern Thought in Popular Literature.

§ 5. William Perkin’s Art of Witch craft.

The next few treatises on witchcraft add but little to the theories of Gifford and king James. William Perkins, in his Discoverie of the damned Art of Witch craft (1608), is, perhaps, the most typical. Perkins is oppressed with the spectacle of human error: he sees that men have the instinct to worship some god and that, in hours of great danger or superhuman effort, they turn for help to some higher power. But the true God has placed a limit to the knowledge and power of men, and many ambitious mortals are blind to these restrictions and endeavour to pass the goal of ordinance. When an author had taken this condemnatory view of men’s struggle for knowledge and power, he could hardly refuse to believe that the devil was ready to help them. So he follows the authority and example of king James, describing Satan’s well-organised kingdom and the illusory signs and wonders he works for those in his service. But, though he follows his predecessors by demanding the sentence of death against those convicted, he is one of the first to discountenance 20  the old-fashioned tests by hot iron, water or scratching, and to urge the necessity of carefully sifting circumstantial evidence.   11

Note 20. Chap. VI, “The Application of the Doctrine of Witchcraft to our Times.” [ back ]

  King James’s Daemonologie Witch-hunting  

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