“Thou art to be hanged and then burned over a basket of living cats.” (Warlock)

34. Witchfinder General: The Biography of Matthew Hopkins – Craig Cabell

It took me a very long time to finish this because it includes full representations of pamphlets from the time period which are extremely hard to get through. So little punctuation, so many block paragraphs…I will be forever grateful for the invention of indentation. One of those pamphlets, the short one, is by the subject, who is listed in the Dramatis Personae (yep, that’s how he put it) as “Matthew Hopkins, Son of James Hopkins: shipping clerk and witchfinder.” Nice dig, Cabell.

The longest pamphlet is by Hopkins’ assistant John Stearne and it is all about teats. Seriously. Teats- it could have a protrusion, but it could not have too much of one, or there could be a dark circle in it or a pinprick, but it might not be too obvious because they can like suck them back in after their Imps suck blood out of them and it might have a darker circle around it and it could be anywhere – anywhere – on their body. His pamphlet was endless and the reason why I put the book down for months at a time. All block paragraphs, half-teat coverage, half half-assed justification and confessions. He’s like the toady of the head dickface who wants you to think he’s a nice guy (TM) while he cops a feel checking for “teats.” If fedoras had existed in that time, he’d have been wearing one. Matthew was wearing the most ostentatious hat, after all, like Mystery on the Pick Up Artist reality show formerly on VH1.

The weirdest element of the witchfinder situation to me is that he only worked for a few years – 1645-7 – and he “sent over 200 people, mainly women, to their death for the crime of witchcraft.” That’s a hell of an impact. By the way, only one was burned. One. Her name was Mary Lakeland, of Ipswich, and apparently she was also a Royalist agent.

He also died at age 28, of consumption, which is the most inaccurate part of the film starring Vincent Price. Apparently the whole depiction of “accusation, torture, and forced confession” is pretty accurate; also, the film was shot in the original locations. It definitely added more authority to have Vincent Price as opposed to your average peacocking 26 year old “wallowing in his own self-glorification” for a fee. Thankfully he did get to experience at least one of his own torture methods before he died – the “swim test,” he was proven to be a witch based on his own ideas about water and witches. Why there’s no statue of him in his home town that’s just labeled “Total dick” for people to spit on I will never know. It might help future generations as we go backward through time morally.

Yes, Pere and Merri, we would all be hanged as witches if we lived then…fun. Hopefully before we had to hear a witchfinder say the word “fleshie,” which was an overused teat-description in the pamphlets.

 

Salem’s version is a lot cuter and maybe more sassy too.

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