The Lining of the Patch-Work Screen, by Jane Barker

The Story of Succubella

Related by Malhurissa.

There was a rich Merchant at Rohan, who had but one Child, a Daughter; whose Mother being dead, the good Father endeavour'd to find out a fit Person to attend her in the Quality of a Governess. This Woman seem'd very prudent, vertuous and just in all her Actions, and educated the young Gentlewoman accordingly, that she appear'd a fine well behav'd Creature, dutiful to her Father, respectful to her Betters, obliging to her Equals, civil to her Inferiours, charitable and compassionate to the Poor: She was assiduous in her Devotions to Heaven, and regular in all her Actions; in particular, she had a great Tendency towards the Capuchins Order, and their extream Mortifications took with her; so that her Father's House being pretty near their Cloyster, she went thither daily to Prayers, and the Superiour, of the House was her Ghostly Father.

Thus had the Governante form'd this young Gentlewoman towards God and the World; by which she gain'd the Esteem and Commendations of every body: But now, behold, what a Snake lay hid in the Grass.

The Governante having one night got her Pupil to Bed, as usual; she did not immediately fall asleep; but lay quiet, and observed the Governante, who instead of undressing her self, in order to come to bed, seem'd to accommodate her Person, as if she was going a visiting; which the Girl wondered at, but said nothing: At length she saw her take something out of her Cabinet, and with it smear'd her self; and then immediately ran up the Chimney. The Girl was greatly amaz'd hereat, it being to her an unconceivable Mystery. However, between Thoughtfulness and Sleep, she pass'd the Night; and when she wak'd in the Morning found her Governante in Bed with her, according to Custom. She was amaz'd, remembring what she had seen over Night, and ask'd her, whether she went, and what made her go up the Chimney: She shuffled and fumbled at first, but her young Mistress pressing the thing home, she said, Hush, Miss; this is a Secret to Girls; but when you are a Woman I will let you know.

Miss was forced to be satisfied with this Answer for a while; but afterwards began to press her about this Secret; still she put her off from time to time with divers Evasions. At last, the Girl being impatient, told her Governantethat she should not pretend to keep her a Child always; therefore she would know this Secret. The Governante,perhaps, thinking that if she did not gratifie her, she would tell her Father, or ask some body else: Wherefore, she told her, if she wou'd promise to be very secret, she would let her know all, and she should go with her to a Place where she would meet with good Company, Mirth, Feasting, Musick, and Dancing, &c. So the Girl promis'd Secrecy, and the next Night agreed to go together; which accordingly they did; the Governante and she, anointing themselves, utter'd some Words, and so both went up the Chimney; but flying over the Capuchins Cloyster, the Clock struck Twelve; and then Miss, according to custom, made the sign of the Cross in the Name of the Trinity, and down she fell in the midst of the Cloyster. The Religious getting up at that Hour, going through the Cloyster to their Church, to chaunt Mattins, they found this young Gentlewoman sprawling in the midst of the Cloyster, almost dead with the Fall: They took her up, and put her into a warm Bed, let her blood, and apply'd all other Necessaries on such an occasion; so that she came to her self, though greatly bruised.

In the Morning the Superiour came to the Merchant's House, where he was kindly received by him; but the good Father told him, that he came that morning to visit Miss, his young Penitent. The Merchant knowing nothing of what had happened, told him merrily, that his Daughter was so ill an Huswise, that she was not up yet; so he sent to the Governante to tell his Daughter, that the Father Superiour was come to visit her this morning; the Governante sent word, that Miss had not rested well in the Night so was asleep this morning, and she was loth to awake her yet. In the mean time, the Wicked Succubella, the Governante, was preparing for her escape: But the Father Superiour hearing this Answer, ask'd the Merchant, if he was sure his Daughter was in his House that Night. Which put him to a stand; the good Father added, that he was sure she was not, and desired the Merchant to go up with him into his Daughter's Chamber and assure himself of the Truth he told him; for said he, your Daughter is in our Cloyster at this time: whereupon they both went up into the young Gentlewoman's Chamber; where missing her, they immediately seiz'd on Succubella, the wicked Governante, committed her into the Hands of Justice, upon which her Process was made, and she confess'd the whole Fact, succinctly, just as as the young Gentlewoman had told the Capuchins; so she had the Reward of her Sorcery, at a Stake where she was burnt alive; and is upon record, a miserable Example, of the extreamest Wickedness.

This Story, said Galecia, is very extraordinary, and seems, to oppose those who will not allow any possibility of Mortals having Commerce with Spirits, so as to give them power to move them at their pleasure; to make 'em run up a Chimney, fly into the Air, enabled to do mischief, and the like; the truth is, I am not Philosopher enough, to argue the point; I can only refer my opinion, to an old Proverb,

Needs must, when the Devil drives.

'Tis true, indeed, said Malhurissa, when I was at Rohan, there arose a Dispute amongst the Company, of the Impossibility of the Devil's having power to raise Spirits; and from one thing to another, the Case of the Witch of Endor was cited; which caused great Disputes to arise, which would, I think, have been almost endless, but that a Gentlewoman produc'd a few Verses of her own Composing, which the Company lik'd; and tho' I did not understand English, I beg'd a Copy, in hopes I should learn, being just coming for England: They are as follows.

The Inchantment.

In guilty Night, and hid in false Disguise,
Forsaken Saul to Endor comes, and cries,
Woman, arise, call pow'rful Arts together,
And raise the Soul that I shall name, up hither.
Witch. Whom shall I raise, or call? I'll make him hear.
Saul. Samuel alone, let him to me appear.
Methinks, thou'rt frighted: Tell, what dost thou fear?
Witch.Nothing I fear but thee
For thou art Saul, and hast beguiled me.
Saul. Peace, and go on; what thou seest let me know.
Witch. I see the Gods ascending from below.
Saul. Who's that, that comes?
Witch.An old Man mantled o'er.
Saul. O, that is he, let me his Ghost adore.
Samuel. Why hast thou rob'd me of my Rest, to see
That which I hate, this wicked World, and Thee?
Saul. O, I am much distrest, and vixed sore;
God hath me left, and answers me no more.
Opprest with War, and inward Terrors too,

For Pity sake, tell me what I shall do.
Samuel. Art thou forlorn of God, and com'st to me?
What can I show thee then, but Misery?
Thy Kingdom's gone into thy Neighbour's Race;
Thy Host shall fall by Sword before thy Face.
Farewel, and think upon these Words with sorrow:
Thou, and thy Sons shall be with me to Morrow.

They had just finish'd reading the Verses, when the Gentleman, Malhurissa's Friend, came to call her away to the Lodging he had hired for her. They had no sooner taken their leave, but Galecia casting her Eye on the Window, saw there a Book, which a little Miss of her acquaintance had left; and found it to be written by the ingenious Mr. Dyke: In it she read the following Considerations.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51