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Popular Superstitions of the Highlands
Origin and History of Witchcraft

Of the Personal Simiitude of the Agents or Members of the Craft.

IT is well known, that no sooner do men or women enter on this profession, than there is a striking change in their personal appearance. Their countenances are no longer the emblems of human nature, but the sign-posts of malice and bad luck. "Looking like a witch" is a proverb that has been always descriptive of the most exquisite ugliness; and whoever has seen the frontispiece of a Highland witch will be satisfied with its force and propriety.

The face is so wrinkled, that it commonly resembles the channels of dried waters, and the colour of it resembles nothing so much as a piece of rough tanned leather. The eyes are small and piercing, sunk into the forehead, like the expiring remains of a candle in a socket. The nose is large, prominent, and sharp, forming a bridge to the contacting chin. These are represented as the amiable features of a witch. The wizardís appearance differs very little from that of his amiable sister the witch, only that his face is covered over with a preternatural redundance of hair, and that he wears beneath his chin a bunch of hair in the manner of a goat.

It has been long a subject of tough controversy to what cause this striking deformity is justly to be ascribed. Some logicians rationally enough maintain, that the characteristic deformity of the order arises from their frequent interviews with Satan. That the tremor of the limbs, the horror of the aspect, and stare of the eyes, with which they are always seized during the season of their noviciation, is rendered habitual to them by the force of custom, which is justly called a second nature. And, in support of this doctrine, we are told it is a fact, that, whenever we behold a ghost, or any other uncanny being, our features become contracted exactly the same way. But, be this as it may, it is an acknowledged fact, that ugliness was, from the beginning of their cast, their distinguishing characteristic.

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