Witch Stories by E. Lynn Linton
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In offering the following collection of witch stories to the public, I do not profess to have exhausted the subject, or to have made so complete a summary as I might have done, had I been admitted into certain private libraries, which contain, I believe, many concealed riches. But I had no means of introduction to them, and was obliged to be content with such authorities as I found in the British Museum, and the other public libraries to which I had access. I do not think that I have left much untold; but there must be, scattered about England, old MSS. and unique copies of records concerning which I can find only meagre allusions, or the mere names of the victims, without a distinctive fact to mark their special history. Should this book come to a second edition, any help from the possessors of these hitherto unpublished documents would be a gain to the public, and a privilege which I trust may be afforded me.
Neither have I attempted to enter into the philosophy of the subject. It is far too wide and deep to be discussed in a few hasty words; and to sift such evidence as is left us-to determine what was fraud, what self-deception, what actual disease, and what the exaggeration of the narrator-would have swelled my book into a far more important and bulky work than I intended or wished. As a general rule, I think we may apply all the four conditions to every case reported; in what proportion, each reader must judge for himself.