Saturday, March 16, 2013

Witches and Witchcraft in Samuel Collins' "The Present State of Russia", 1671

Below are two excerps from:

The Present State of Russia
In a Letter to a Friend at London; 

Written by an Eminent Person residing at the Great Czars
Court at Mosco for the space of nine years.
London, 1671.
Samuel Collins
"Seldom a Wedding passes without some Witch-craft (if people of quality marry) chiefly acted as tis thought by Nuns, whose prime devotion tends that way. I saw a fellow coming out of the Bride-chamber, tearing his hair as though he had been mad, and being demanded the reason why he did so, he cry'd out: I am undone: I am bewitch'd: The remedy they use, is to address themselves to a white Witch, who for money will unveil the Charm, and untie the Codpiece-point, which was this young mans case; it seems some old Woman had tyed up his Codpiece-point."
[from Chapter II] 

 "Now we are in Chichass Land, it will not be amiss to tell you what people they are, viz. A kind of Tartars, a rude swarthy look'd people; their Women are very unhandsome, gross, and grosly given to drinking; so that at an Entertainment they will be drunk before meat comes on the Table, and with eating recover themselves, and after Dinner be drunk again, and then recover themselves by Dancing, which they love so much, that they count him a mean man who does not keep a Fidler in his house. Their Government is perfectly Anarchical, for upon an Insurreciton they destroy'd all their Nobility and Gentry, and are now govern'd by Collonels of their own chusing, with whom the meanest is Hail Fellow well met Souldiers they call in their Language, Cossacks, which makes some mistake, and think them to be a Nation. These people are much devoted to Witch-craft, and count it an extraordinary piece of learning practiced by the chief Women in the Countrey. They are more hospitable to Strangers than the Russians and their Countrey or Land is better and warmer."
[From Chapter X, Of the Chircasses]
Full text online in pdf format:

"Night Witches", aka Ночные ведьмы, aka Nachthexen. Google it.

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