‘Tis all one to be a witch as to be counted one

From The Witch of Edmonton, a 1621 play by Thomas Dekker, John Ford, and William Rowley based on the story of the ‘witch’ Elizabeth Sawyer, largely as told by Henry Goodcole in a pamphlet from the same year (online here but in poor format). The most interesting departure from the source is in Sawyer’s starting point – the play giving her the surprisingly sensitive ‘they called me a monster so I made myself one’ psychology sequence. Here are her introductory speeches from 2.1.1-15 and 2.1.114-135

And why on me? Why should the envious world
Throw all their scandalous malice upon me?
‘Cause I am poor, deformed and ignorant,
And like a bow buckled and bent together
By some more strong in mischiefs than myself,
Must I for that be made a common sink
For all the filth and rubbish of men’s tongues
To fall and run into? Some call me ‘witch’,
And being ignorant of myself they go
About to teach me how to be one, urging
That my bad tongue – by their bad usage made so –
Forspeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn,
Themselves, their servants, and their babes at nurse.
This they enforce upon me, and in part
Make me to credit it.
…..
Still vexed? Still tortured? That curmudgeon Banks
Is ground of all my scandal. I am shunned
And hated like a sickness, made a scorn
To all degrees and sexes. I have heard old beldams
Talk of familiars in the shape of mice,
Rats, ferrets, weasels and I wot not what,
That have appeared and sucked, some say, their blood.
I’m now ignorant. Would some power good or bad
Instruct me which way I might be revenged
Upon this churl, I’d go out of myself
And give this Fury leave to dwell within
This ruined cottage, ready to fall with age,
Abjure all goodness, be at hate with prayer
And study curses, imprecations,
Blasphemous speeches, oaths, detested oaths,
Or anything that’s ill, so I might work
Revenge upon this miser, this black cur
That barks and bites and sucks the very blood
Of me and of my credit. ‘Tis all one
To be a witch as to be counted one.
Vengeance, shame, ruin light upon that canker!

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