Two frequent features of demonological literature are the repeating of stories from one teller to another and the turning of folk tales into factual accounts of devil worship. Both occur in this example from Nathaniel Crouch, The Kingdom of Darkness (London, 1688). His immediate source is Henry More, the Cambridge Platonist, whose source was Nicolas Rémy, Daemonolatreiae (1595), Book 1, Chapter 14.
Fairytales to devilry?
"I find the learned Dr. Hen. Moore writes, that
it may be very proper to inquire into the nature of those large dark Rings
in the Grass which they call Fairy Circles, whether they be the Randezvouz
of Witches, or the dancing places of those little Puppet Spirits which
they call Elves or Fairies, and prefixes a Relation before this discourse
very proper for our present purpose. I shall relate faith he, a memorable
story out of Remigius which is this.
One Nicolea Langbernhard while she was going toward Assenunturia in Germany, along a hedge side, spied in the next field about noon a company of men and women dancing in a Ring, and the postures of their bodies being strange and unusual made her review them more attentively, whereby she discerned some of them to have cloven feet like Oxen or Goats (it should seem they were Spirits in the shape of lusty Satyrs) she being astonished with fear cries out; Jesus help me and send me well home; She had no sooner said so but they all vanished save only one Peter Grospetter whom a little after she saw snatched up into the air and to let fall his staff, and her self was also driven so forcibly by the wind that it made her almost lose her breath, and was fain to keep her bed three days after; This Peter though at first he would have sued Nicolea at Law for slandering him, yet afterward freely confessed and discovered others of his Companions, as Barbelia the wife of John Latomus, and Margetta the wife of Laurentius who confessed she danced with those cloven footed creatures and Peter was among them; And for further evidence of the business John Michael a Herdsman did confess that while they thus danced he play'd upon his crooked staff, and struck on it with his fingers as if it had been a pipe sitting upon an high bough of an Oak, and that so soon as Nicolea called upon the name of Jesus he tumbled down headlong to the ground, but was presently catched up again with a whirl-wind and carried to Weiller Meadows, where he had lest his Herds a little before; Add to all this that there was found in the place where they danced a round circle, with the manifest marks of the treading of cloven feet, which was seen from the day after Nicolea had discovered the business till the next Winter that the Plough cut them out. These things happened in the year 1590. Antid. against Atheism. p. 120."
Assault to transmutation?
The next story is attributed by Crouch to "Hist.Spect.", presumably either the treatise by Pierre le Loyer, translated in the early seventeenth century, or Thomas Bromhall's work of the 1650s. I have not had the opportunity to check this yet. There would appear to be rather more to this than meets the eye.
"Though we have already declared that it seems hard to
believe Inchanters or Witches can transform themselves into other Shapes,
yet Dr. Henry More, in vindication of Bodinus endeavours
to demonstrate that nothing material is urged to the contrary, since they
acknowledge they find themselves very weary, and sometimes wounded which
he says cannot be a more delusion of fancy; I shall not positively assert
nor deny any thing, but having met with a story to this purpose shall here
insert it. In a Town in Germany, one whose name saith my Author
for modesty I conceal, had at his House one of his Tennants cutting Wood,
whom a Cat of a vast bigness set upon unawares, and when with blows he
had driven it away, another more fierce than the former joins to it, against
whom while he more sharply contends a third comes in, so that he was hard
put to it, and obliged to use his utmost strength and courage against three
such cruel overgrown Cats, neither could he subdue them nor free himself
from their teeth and claws without giving and receiving many hurts and
wounds; Having at length vanquished and driven them away, the man falls
again to his work and presently 2 Officers seize him and carry him before
a Judge, who being much moved with fury and rage commands him to be instantly
cast into a dark loathsom dungeon; His Protestations, sighs and groans
nothing availing to clear him, or manifest his innocency; The Judges anger
increased, who exclaimed against him as an impudent fellow in so obstinately
denying the committing that Villany wherewith he was charged.
After three days the Judge being continually importuned to execute Justice upon him, sends for him to be brought publickly into the Court of Justice there to receive his Sentence in the presence of the other Judges; When he appeared the inraged Judge could not look upon him with patience, who poor man falling on his knees humbly begged he might speak for himself. The Judge then laid it heavily to his charge that like a wicked bloudy wretch, he had desperately wounded three of the chief Matrons of the Town within a few days past, and yet had the confidence to deny his knowledge of it; The poor wretch hearing this terrible accusation replied, That he never hurt any woman in his life. The Judge on the other side thundred out, That it was notoriously known he had so abused these three Gentlewomen that they were forced to keep their beds, their limbs and several parts of their bodys being so out of joint and beaten that they were not able to turn themselves; The fellow persists that he never hurt nor ever saw any such Gentlewomen, but saies he, I very well remember that on the day wherein I was apprehended and cast into prison, I was set upon by three huge fierce Cats, and used all the strength I had to defend my self against them, and yet had much ado to drive them away; These words amazed all that were present, and then he declared all the particulars in order; The truth being thus discovered the Judges do their utmost to conceal the business, and save the reputation of the Matrons. Ibidem. p. 120."