SCOT, Reginald (1538?-1599). The Discoverie of Witchcraft, wherin the lewde dealings of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of conjurors, the impietie of inchantors .... London: William Broome, 1584.
4° in 8's (182 x 130mm). Black letter, with some roman and italic. Title with woodcut headpiece, woodcut illustrations including 4 full-page cuts on *1-2, large floral and historiated initials and other woodcut ornaments. (Title soiled at margin, small repair to outer margin of title and following leaf, preliminaries a little stained, some marginal soiling and waterstaining in later quires, 2D1 holed with slight loss, 2I1 with repair to lower corner, small rust hole in 2M8.) Brown morocco gilt by Rivière, sides with central lozenge and corner-pieces within double gilt fillets, spine compartments directly lettered and simply tooled, blind and gilt ruling on bands, gilt edges. Provenance: early marginalia in several hands (cropped by the binder); James Falconer and James Comerford (armorial bookplates preserved from an earlier binding); Alfred Henry Huth (morocco label); L. F. Aubone Nare (ownership label).
FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION.cot's other book, the Perfect Platform of a Hop-Garden, appeared in 1574, and indicates how his time was chiefly passed as a country gentleman in Kent. The Discovery of Witchcraft, attractively printed by William Brome, is divided into 16 books followed by a 'A Treatise upon the Nature and Substance of Spirits and Devils'. In demonstrating that belief in witchcraft and magic had no rational or religious basis, Scot lists 212 authors whose Latin works he consulted, and 23 authors in English. But his work is also founded on a knowledge of courts of law in country districts where prosecutions occured so frequently, and on familiarity with village folklore. Apart from witchcraft, it has great relevance to the history of conjuring, books 13 and 14 being largely an exposure of ancient conjuring tricks, magical illusions and various cozening devices. James VI of Scotland referred scathingly to Scot in his Daemonologie (1597) as 'an Englishman, who is not ashamed in publike print to denie that here can be such a thing as witchcraft,' and after coming to the English throne ordered all copies to be burnt. The climate of controversy may well have affected Shakespeare's treatment of the witches in Macbeth, first performed in 1606. Bartlett 230; Norman 1915; STC 21864.