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THE BOOK OF WITCHES
BY
OLIVER MADOX HUEFFER
Author of "ln Arcady and Out," & c.
EVELEIGH NASH
FAWSIDE HOUSE
LONDON
1908


CONTENTS
 

FOREWORD

 

LEST any reader should open this volume expecting to read an exhaustive treatise on witches and witchcraft, treated scientifically, historically, and so forth, let me disarm him before-hand by telling him that he will be disappointed. 

The witch occupies so large a place in the story of mankind that to include all the detail of her natural history within the limits of one volume would need the powers of a magician no less potent than was he who confined the Eastern Djinn in a bottle. I have attempted nothing so ambitious as a large-scale Ordnance Map of Witchland; rather I have endeavoured to produce a picture from which a general impression may be gained. I have chosen, that is to say, from the enormous mass of material only so much as seemed necessary for my immediate purpose, and on my lack of judgment be the blame for any undesirable hiatus. I have sought, again, to show whence the witch came and why, as well as what she was and is; to point out, further, how necessary she is and must be to the happiness of mankind, and how great the responsibility of those who, disbelieving in her themselves, seek to infect others with their scepticism. We have few picturesque excrescences left upon this age of smoothly-running machine-wheels, certainly we cannot spare one of the most time-honoured and romantic of any. And if anything I have written about her seem incompatible with sense or fact, I would plead in extenuation that neither is essential to the firm believer in witchcraft, and that to be able to enter thoroughly into the subject it is above all things necessary to cast aside such nineteenth-century shibboleths. 

I would here express my gratitude to the many friends who have assisted me with material, and especially to Miss Muriel Harris, whose valuable help has done much to lighten my task. 

LONDON, September, 1908.