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  • Grow a Tree Trick and Poltergeist Wood Chips May 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    cutting a tree

    This was one that really whets the curiosity. We are brought back to London in the early seventeenth-century, whereas this is being remembered in the later 1600s. What the hell is going on here?

    Dr Lamb, who was killed by the Mob for a conjurer, about 1640,* met one Morning Sir Miles Sands and Mr Barbor** in the Street, and invited them to go and drink their Morning Draught at his House: Discoursing about his Art, he told them, if they would hold their Tongues, and their Hands from medling with any thing, he would shew them some Sport. So falling to his Practice, in the middle of the Room springs up a Tree; soon after appeared three little Fellows with Axes on their Shoulders and Baskets in their Hands, who presently fell to work, cut down the Tree, and carried all away.

    So a strange illusion, a Cockney version of the Indian rope trick? Perhaps until the wood chips start flying everywhere…

    But Mr Barbor observing one Chip to fall on his Velvet Coat, he slips it into his Pocket. That Night when he and his Family were in Bed, and asleep, all the Doors and Windows in the House opened and clattered, so as to awaken and affright them all. His Wife said Husband you told me you was at Dr. Lamb’s this Day and I fear you meddled with something. He replied I put a chip into my pocket. I pray you, said she, fling it out, or we shall have no quiet. He did so, and all the Windows and Doors were presently shut, and all quiet, so they went to sleep.

    Any parallels to this particularly bizarre parlour trick? Drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com The little men ring a very vague bell in early modern magic.

    Source: Richard Baxter, The Certainty of the World of Spirits (London 1691), 155-156

    *John Lambe was lynched in 1628: the link leads to ‘ExecutedToday’s’ excellent page on the murder. An interesting case.

    **This was a relation by marriage of the author. ‘Dr. Barbor and Major John Barbor, who married my only Sister, told me this relation, who had it again and again from their Father and Mother [i.e. the husband and the wife annoyed by the clattering of the windows]; and I know no reason to doubt the truth of it. This Mr. Barbor laid the first Stone in the building of Covent Garden.’

    30 May 2016: Brian sends in another little men with axes link,