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that was fearful of a wide variety of real and imagined threats to itself: a revealing phrase used by Elizabeth’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, held that ‘there is less danger in fearing too much than too little’.9 No threat to the Queen herself could be ignored. Before the Act against witchcraft had been passed, and perhaps afterwards too, many people may not have felt that magic was 4 James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in England, 1550–1750 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996), p. 109.These figures cover the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681