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LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS:

OR
AN ACCOUNT OF THE MOST EMINENT PERSONS IN SUCCESSIVE AGES, WHO HAVE CLAIMED FOR THEMSELVES, OR TO WHOM HAS BEEN IMPUTED BY OTHERS,
THE
EXERCISE OF MAGICAL POWER.

BY WILLIAM GODWIN.

LONDON

Frederick J Mason, 444, West Strand

1834

PREFACE.

The main purpose of this book is to exhibit a fair delineation of the credulity of the human mind. Such an exhibition cannot fail to be productive of the most salutary lessons.

One view of the subject will teach us a useful pride in the abundance of our faculties. Without pride man is in reality of little value. It is pride that stimulates us to all our great undertakings. Without pride, and the secret persuasion of extraordinary talents, what man would take up the pen with a view to produce an important work, whether of imagination and poetry, or of profound science, or of acute and subtle reasoning and intellectual anatomy? It is pride in this sense that makes the great general and the consummate legislator, that animates us to tasks the most laborious, and causes us to shrink from no difficulty, and to be confounded and overwhelmed with no obstacle that can be interposed in our path.

Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between man and the inferior animals. The latter live only for the day, and see for the most part only what is immediately before them. But man lives in the past and the future. He reasons upon and improves by the past; he records the acts of a long series of generations: and he looks into future time, lays down plans which he shall be months and years in bringing to maturity, and contrives machines and delineates systems of education and government, which may gradually add to the accommodations of all, and raise the species generally into a nobler and more honourable character than our ancestors were capable of sustaining.

Man looks through nature, and is able to reduce its parts into a great whole. He classes the beings which are found in it, both animate and inanimate, delineates and describes them, investigates their properties, and records their capacities, their good and evil qualities, their dangers and their uses.

Nor does he only see all that is; but he also images all that is not. He takes to pieces the substances that are, and combines their parts into new arrangements. He peoples all the elements from the world of his imagination. It is here that he is most extraordinary and wonderful. The record of what actually is, and has happened in the series of human events, is perhaps the smallest part of human history. If we would know man in all his subtleties, we must deviate into the world of miracles and sorcery. To know the things that are not, and cannot be, but have been imagined and believed, is the most curious chapter in the annals of man. To observe the actual results of these imaginary phenomena, and the crimes and cruelties they have caused us to commit, is one of the most instructive studies in which we can possibly be engaged. It is here that man is most astonishing, and that we contemplate with most admiration the discursive and unbounded nature of his faculties.

But, if a recollection of the examples of the credulity of the human mind may in one view supply nourishment to our pride, it still more obviously tends to teach us sobriety and humiliation. Man in his genuine and direct sphere is the disciple of reason; it is by this faculty that he draws inferences, exerts his prudence, and displays the ingenuity of machinery, and the subtlety of system both in natural and moral philosophy. Yet what so irrational as man? Not contented with making use of the powers we possess, for the purpose of conducing to our accommodation and well being, we with a daring spirit inquire into the invisible causes of what we see, and people all nature with Gods "of every shape and size" and angels, with principalities and powers, with beneficent beings who "take charge concerning us lest at any time we dash our foot against a stone," and with devils who are perpetually on the watch to perplex us and do us injury. And, having familiarised our minds with the conceptions of these beings, we immediately aspire to hold communion with them. We represent to ourselves God, as "walking in the garden with us in the cool of the day," and teach ourselves "not to forget to entertain strangers, lest by so doing we should repel angels unawares."

No sooner are we, even in a slight degree, acquainted with the laws of nature, than we frame to ourselves the idea, by the aid of some invisible ally, of suspending their operation, of calling out meteors in the sky, of commanding storms and tempests, of arresting the motion of the heavenly bodies, of producing miraculous cures upon the bodies of our fellow-men, or afflicting them with disease and death, of calling up the deceased from the silence of the grave, and compelling them to disclose "the secrets of the world unknown."

But, what is most deplorable, we are not contented to endeavour to secure the aid of God and good angels, but we also aspire to enter into alliance with devils, and beings destined for their rebellion to suffer eternally the pains of hell. As they are supposed to be of a character perverted and depraved, we of course apply to them principally for purposes of wantonness, or of malice and revenge. And, in the instances which have occurred only a few centuries back, the most common idea has been of a compact entered into by an unprincipled and impious human being with the sworn enemy of God and man, in the result of which the devil engages to serve the capricious will and perform the behests of his blasphemous votary for a certain number of years, while the deluded wretch in return engages to renounce his God and Saviour, and surrender himself body and soul to the pains of hell from the end of that term to all eternity. No sooner do we imagine human beings invested with these wonderful powers, and conceive them as called into action for the most malignant purposes, than we become the passive and terrified slaves of the creatures of our own imaginations, and fear to be assailed at every moment by beings to whose power we can set no limit, and whose modes of hostility no human sagacity can anticipate and provide against. But, what is still more extraordinary, the human creatures that pretend to these powers have often been found as completely the dupes of this supernatural machinery, as the most timid wretch that stands in terror at its expected operation; and no phenomenon has been more common than the confession of these allies of hell, that they have verily and indeed held commerce and formed plots and conspiracies with Satan.

The consequence of this state of things has been, that criminal jurisprudence and the last severities of the law have been called forth to an amazing extent to exterminate witches and witchcraft. More especially in the sixteenth century hundreds and thousands were burned alive within the compass of a small territory; and judges, the directors of the scene, a Nicholas Remi, a De Lancre, and many others, have published copious volumes, entering into a minute detail of the system and fashion of the witchcraft of the professors, whom they sent in multitudes to expiate their depravity at the gallows and the stake.

One useful lesson which we may derive from the detail of these particulars, is the folly in most cases of imputing pure and unmingled hypocrisy to man. The human mind is of so ductile a character that, like what is affirmed of charity by the apostle, it "believeth all things, and endureth all things." We are not at liberty to trifle with the sacredness of truth. While we persuade others, we begin to deceive ourselves. Human life is a drama of that sort, that, while we act our part, and endeavour to do justice to the sentiments which are put down for us, we begin to believe we are the thing we would represent.

To shew however the modes in which the delusion acts upon the person through whom it operates, is not properly the scope of this book. Here and there I have suggested hints to this purpose, which the curious reader may follow to their furthest extent, and discover how with perfect good faith the artist may bring himself to swallow the grossest impossibilities. But the work I have written is not a treatise of natural magic. It rather proposes to display the immense wealth of the faculty of imagination, and to shew the extravagances of which the man may be guilty who surrenders himself to its guidance.

It is fit however that the reader should bear in mind, that what is put down in this book is but a small part and scantling of the acts of sorcery and witchcraft which have existed in human society. They have been found in all ages and countries. The torrid zone and the frozen north have neither of them escaped from a fruitful harvest of this sort of offspring. In ages of ignorance they have been especially at home; and the races of men that have left no records behind them to tell almost that they existed, have been most of all rife in deeds of darkness, and those marvellous incidents which especially astonish the spectator, and throw back the infant reason of man into those shades and that obscurity from which it had so recently endeavoured to escape.

I wind up for the present my literary labours with the production of this book. Nor let any reader imagine that I here put into his hands a mere work of idle recreation. It will be found pregnant with deeper uses. The wildest extravagances of human fancy, the most deplorable perversion of human faculties, and the most horrible distortions of jurisprudence, may occasionally afford us a salutary lesson. I love in the foremost place to contemplate man in all his honours and in all the exaltation of wisdom and virtue; but it will also be occasionally of service to us to look into his obliquities, and distinctly to remark how great and portentous have been his absurdities and his follies.

May 29, 1834.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

AMBITIOUS NATURE OF MAN HIS DESIRE TO PENETRATE INTO FUTURITY DIVINATION AUGURY CHIROMANCY PHYSIOGNOMY INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS CASTING OF LOTS ASTROLOGY ORACLES DELPHI THE DESIRE TO COMMAND AND CONTROL FUTURE EVENTS COMMERCE WITH THE INVISIBLE WORLD SORCERY AND ENCHANTMENT WITCHCRAFT COMPACTS WITH THE DEVIL IMPS TALISMANS AND AMULETS NECROMANCY ALCHEMY FAIRIES ROSICRUCIANS SYLPHS AND GNOMES, SALAMANDERS AND UNDINES
EXAMPLES OF NECROMANCY AND WITCHCRAFT FROM THE BIBLE THE MAGI, OR WISE MEN OF THE EAST EGYPT STATUE OF MEMNON TEMPLE OF JUPITER AMMON: ITS ORACLES CHALDEA AND BABYLON ZOROASTER
GREECE DEITIES OF GREECE DEMIGODS DAEDALUS THE ARGONAUTS MEDEA CIRCE ORPHEUS AMPHION TIRESIAS ABARIS PYTHAGORAS EPIMENIDES EMPEDOCLES ARISTEAS HERMOTIMUS THE MOTHER OF DEMARATUS, KING OF SPARTA ORACLES INVASION OF XERXES INTO GREECE DEMOCRITUS SOCRATES
ROME VIRGIL POLYDORUS DIDO ROMULUS NUMA TULLUS HOSTILIUS ACCIUS NAVIUS SERVIUS TULLIUS THE SORCERESS OF VIRGIL CANIDIA ERICHTHO SERTORIUS CASTING OUT DEVILS SIMON MAGUS ELYMAS, THE SORCERER NERO VESPASIAN APOLLONIUS OF TYANA APULEIUS ALEXANDER THE PAPHLAGONIAN
REVOLUTION PRODUCED IN THE HISTORY OF NECROMANCY AND WITCHCRAFT UPON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY MAGICAL CONSULTATIONS RESPECTING THE LIFE OF THE EMPEROR
HISTORY OF NECROMANCY IN THE EAST GENERAL SILENCE OF THE EAST RESPECTING INDIVIDUAL NECROMANCERS ROCAIL HAKEM, OTHERWISE MACANNA ARABIAN NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS PERSIAN TALES STORY OF A GOULE ARABIAN NIGHTS RESEMBLANCE OF THE TALES OF THE EAST AND OF EUROPE CAUSES OF HUMAN CREDULITY
DARK AGES OF EUROPE MERLIN ST. DUNSTAN
COMMUNICATION OF EUROPE AND THE SARACENS GERBERT, POPE SILVESTER II BENEDICT THE NINTH GREGORY THE SEVENTH DUFF, KING OF SCOTLAND MACBETH VIRGIL ROBERT OF LINCOLN MICHAEL SCOT THE DEAN OF BADAJOZ MIRACLE OF THE TUB OF WATER INSTITUTION OF FRIARS ALBERTUS MAGNUS ROGER BACON THOMAS AQUINAS PETER OF APONO ENGLISH LAW OF HIGH TREASON ZIITO TRANSMUTATION OF METALS ARTEPHIUS RAYMOND LULLI ARNOLD OF VILLENEUVE ENGLISH LAWS RESPECTING TRANSMUTATION
REVIVAL OF LETTERS JOAN OF ARC ELEANOR COBHAM, DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER RICHARD III
SANGUINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST WITCHCRAFT SAVONAROLA TRITHEMIUS LUTHER CORNELIUS AGRIPPA FAUSTUS SABELLICUS PARACELSUS CARDAN QUACKS, WHO IN COOL BLOOD UNDERTOOK TO OVERREACH MANKIND BENVENUTO CELLINI NOSTRADAMUS DOCTOR DEE EARL OF DERBY KING JAMES'S VOYAGE TO NORWAY JOHN FIAN KING JAMES'S DEMONOLOGY STATUTE, 1 JAMES I FORMAN AND OTHERS LATEST IDEAS OF JAMES ON THE SUBJECT LANCASHIRE WITCHES LADY DAVIES EDWARD FAIRFAX DOCTOR LAMB URBAIN GRANDIER ASTROLOGY WILLIAM LILLY MATTHEW HOPKINS CROMWEL DOROTHY MATELEY WITCHES HANGED BY SIR MATTHEW HALE WITCHCRAFT IN SWEDEN WITCHCRAFT IN NEW ENGLAND
CONCLUSION

LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS

The improvements that have been effected in natural philosophy have by degrees convinced the enlightened part of mankind that the material universe is every where subject to laws, fixed in their weight, measure and duration, capable of the most exact calculation, and which in no case admit of variation and exception. Whatever is not thus to be accounted for is of mind, and springs from the volition of some being, of which the material form is subjected to our senses, and the action of which is in like manner regulated by the laws of matter. Beside this, mind, as well as matter, is subject to fixed laws; and thus every phenomenon and occurrence around us is rendered a topic for the speculations of sagacity and foresight. Such is the creed which science has universally prescribed to the judicious and reflecting among us.

It was otherwise in the infancy and less mature state of human knowledge. The chain of causes and consequences was yet unrecognized; and events perpetually occurred, for which no sagacity that was then in being was able to assign an original. Hence men felt themselves habitually disposed to refer many of the appearances with which they were conversant to the agency of invisible intelligences; sometimes under the influence of a benignant disposition, sometimes of malice, and sometimes perhaps from an inclination to make themselves sport of the wonder and astonishment of ignorant mortals. Omens and portents told these men of some piece of good or ill fortune speedily to befal them. The flight of birds was watched by them, as foretokening somewhat important. Thunder excited in them a feeling of supernatural terror. Eclipses with fear of change perplexed the nations. The phenomena of the heavens, regular and irregular, were anxiously remarked from the same principle. During the hours of darkness men were apt to see a supernatural being in every bush; and they could not cross a receptacle for the dead, without expecting to encounter some one of the departed uneasily wandering among graves, or commissioned to reveal somewhat momentous and deeply affecting to the survivors. Fairies danced in the moonlight glade; and something preternatural perpetually occurred to fill the living with admiration and awe.

All this gradually reduced itself into a system. Mankind, particularly in the dark and ignorant ages, were divided into the strong and the weak; the strong and weak of animal frame, when corporeal strength more decidedly bore sway than in a period of greater cultivation; and the strong and weak in reference to intellect; those who were bold, audacious and enterprising in acquiring an ascendancy over their fellow-men, and those who truckled, submitted, and were acted upon, from an innate consciousness of inferiority, and a superstitious looking up to such as were of greater natural or acquired endowments than themselves. The strong in intellect were eager to avail themselves of their superiority, by means that escaped the penetration of the multitude, and had recourse to various artifices to effect their ends. Beside this, they became the dupes of their own practices. They set out at first in their conception of things from the level of the vulgar. They applied themselves diligently to the unravelling of what was unknown; wonder mingled with their contemplation; they abstracted their minds from things of ordinary occurrence, and, as we may denominate it, of real life, till at length they lost their true balance amidst the astonishment they sought to produce in their inferiors. They felt a vocation to things extraordinary; and they willingly gave scope and line without limit to that which engendered in themselves the most gratifying sensations, at the same time that it answered the purposes of their ambition.

As these principles in the two parties, the more refined and the vulgar, are universal, and derive their origin from the nature of man, it has necessarily happened that this faith in extraordinary events, and superstitious fear of what is supernatural, has diffused itself through every climate of the world, in a certain stage of human intellect, and while refinement had not yet got the better of barbarism. The Celts of antiquity had their Druids, a branch of whose special profession was the exercise of magic. The Chaldeans and Egyptians had their wise men, their magicians and their sorcerers. The negroes have their foretellers of events, their amulets, and their reporters and believers of miraculous occurrences. A similar race of men was found by Columbus and the other discoverers of the New World in America; and facts of a parallel nature are attested to us in the islands of the South Seas. And, as phenomena of this sort were universal in their nature, without distinction of climate, whether torrid or frozen, and independently of the discordant manners and customs of different countries, so have they been very slow and recent in their disappearing. Queen Elizabeth sent to consult Dr. John Dee, the astrologer, respecting a lucky day for her coronation; King James the First employed much of his learned leisure upon questions of witchcraft and demonology, in which he fully believed and sir Matthew Hale in the year 1664 caused two old women to be hanged upon a charge of unlawful communion with infernal agents.

The history of mankind therefore will be very imperfect, and our knowledge of the operations and eccentricities of the mind lamentably deficient, unless we take into our view what has occurred under this head. The supernatural appearances with which our ancestors conceived themselves perpetually surrounded must have had a strong tendency to cherish and keep alive the powers of the imagination, and to penetrate those who witnessed or expected such things with an extraordinary sensitiveness. As the course of events appears to us at present, there is much, though abstractedly within the compass of human sagacity to foresee, which yet the actors on the scene do not foresee: but the blindness and perplexity of short-sighted mortals must have been wonderfully increased, when ghosts and extraordinary appearances were conceived liable to cross the steps and confound the projects of men at every turn, and a malicious wizard or a powerful enchanter might involve his unfortunate victim in a chain of calamities, which no prudence could disarm, and no virtue could deliver him from. They were the slaves of an uncontrolable destiny, and must therefore have been eminently deficient in the perseverance and moral courage, which may justly be required of us in a more enlightened age. And the men (but these were few compared with the great majority of mankind), who believed themselves gifted with supernatural endowments, must have felt exempt and privileged from common rules, somewhat in the same way as the persons whom fiction has delighted to pourtray as endowed with immeasurable wealth, or with the power of rendering themselves impassive or invisible. But, whatever were their advantages or disadvantages, at any rate it is good for us to call up in review things, which are now passed away, but which once occupied so large a share of the thoughts and attention of mankind, and in a great degree tended to modify their characters and dictate their resolutions.

As has already been said, numbers of those who were endowed with the highest powers of human intellect, such as, if they had lived in these times, would have aspired to eminence in the exact sciences, to the loftiest flights of imagination, or to the discovery of means by which the institutions of men in society might be rendered more beneficial and faultless, at that time wasted the midnight oil in endeavouring to trace the occult qualities and virtues of things, to render invisible spirits subject to their command, and to effect those wonders, of which they deemed themselves to have a dim conception, but which more rational views of nature have taught us to regard as beyond our power to effect. These sublime wanderings of the mind are well entitled to our labour to trace and investigate. The errors of man are worthy to be recorded, not only as beacons to warn us from the shelves where our ancestors have made shipwreck, but even as something honourable to our nature, to show how high a generous ambition could sour, though in forbidden paths, and in things too wonderful for us.

Nor only is this subject inexpressibly interesting, as setting before us how the loftiest and most enterprising minds of ancient days formerly busied themselves. It is also of the highest importance to an ingenuous curiosity, inasmuch as it vitally affected the fortunes of so considerable a portion of the mass of mankind. The legislatures of remote ages bent all their severity at different periods against what they deemed the unhallowed arts of the sons and daughters of reprobation. Multitudes of human creatures have been sacrificed in different ages and countries, upon the accusation of having exercised arts of the most immoral and sacrilegious character. They were supposed to have formed a contract with a mighty and invisible spirit, the great enemy of man, and to have sold themselves, body and soul, to everlasting perdition, for the sake of gratifying, for a short term of years, their malignant passions against those who had been so unfortunate as to give them cause of offence. If there were any persons who imagined they had entered into such a contract, however erroneous was their belief, they must of necessity have been greatly depraved. And it was but natural that such as believed in this crime, must have considered it as atrocious beyond all others, and have regarded those who were supposed guilty of it with inexpressible abhorrence. There are many instances on record, where the persons accused of it, either from the depth of their delusion, or, which is more probable, harassed by persecution, by the hatred of their fellow-creatures directed against them, or by torture, actually confessed themselves guilty. These instances are too numerous, not to constitute an important chapter in the legislation of past ages. And, now that the illusion has in a manner passed away from the face of the earth, we are on that account the better qualified to investigate this error in its causes and consequences, and to look back on the tempest and hurricane from which we have escaped, with chastened feelings, and a sounder estimate of its nature, its reign, and its effects.

AMBITIOUS NATURE OF MAN

Man is a creature of boundless ambition.

It is probably our natural wants that first awaken us from that lethargy and indifference in which man may be supposed to be plunged previously to the impulse of any motive, or the accession of any uneasiness. One of our earliest wants may be conceived to be hunger, or the desire of food.

From this simple beginning the history of man in all its complex varieties may be regarded as proceeding.

Man in a state of society, more especially where there is an inequality of condition and rank, is very often the creature of leisure. He finds in himself, either from internal or external impulse, a certain activity. He finds himself at one time engaged in the accomplishment of his obvious and immediate desires, and at another in a state in which these desires have for the present been fulfilled, and he has no present occasion to repeat those exertions which led to their fulfilment. This is the period of contemplation. This is the state which most eminently distinguishes us from the brutes. Here it is that the history of man, in its exclusive sense, may be considered as taking its beginning.

Here it is that he specially recognises in himself the sense of power. Power in its simplest acceptation, may be exerted in either of two ways, either in his procuring for himself an ample field for more refined accommodations, or in the exercise of compulsion and authority over other living creatures. In the pursuit of either of these, and especially the first, he is led to the attainment of skill and superior adroitness in the use of his faculties.

No sooner has man reached to this degree of improvement, than now, if not indeed earlier, he is induced to remark the extreme limitedness of his faculties in respect to the future; and he is led, first earnestly to desire a clearer insight into the future, and next a power of commanding those external causes upon which the events of the future depend. The first of these desires is the parent of divination, augury, chiromancy, astrology, and the consultation of oracles; and the second has been the prolific source of enchantment, witchcraft, sorcery, magic, necromancy, and alchemy, in its two branches, the unlimited prolongation of human life, and the art of converting less precious metals into gold.

HIS DESIRE TO PENETRATE INTO FUTURITY.

DIVINATION.

AUGURY.

CHIROMANCY.

PHYSIOGNOMY.

INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS.

CASTING OF LOTS.

ASTROLOGY.

ORACLES.

DELPHI.

THE DESIRE TO COMMAND AND CONTROL FUTURE EVENTS.

COMMERCE WITH THE INVISIBLE WORLD.

SORCERY AND ENCHANTMENT.

WITCHCRAFT.

COMPACTS WITH THE DEVIL.

IMPS.

TALISMANS AND AMULETS.

NECROMANCY.

ALCHEMY.

FAIRIES.

ROSICRUCIANS.

SYLPHS AND GNOMES, SALAMANDERS AND UNDINES.

EXAMPLES OF NECROMANCY AND WITCHCRAFT FROM THE BIBLE.

The oldest and most authentic record from which we can derive our ideas on the subject of necromancy and witchcraft, unquestionably is the Bible. The Egyptians and Chaldeans were early distinguished for their supposed proficiency in magic, in the production of supernatural phenomena, and in penetrating into the secrets of future time. The first appearance of men thus extraordinarily gifted, or advancing pretensions of this sort, recorded in Scripture, is on occasion of Pharoah's dream of the seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. At that period the king "sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all the wise men; but they could not interpret the dream," [5] which Joseph afterwards expounded.

Their second appearance was upon a most memorable occasion, when Moses and Aaron, armed with miraculous powers, came to a subsequent king of Egypt, to demand from him that their countrymen might be permitted to depart to another tract of the world. They produced a miracle as the evidence of their divine mission: and the king, who was also named Pharoah, "called before him the wise men and the sorcerers of Egypt, who with their enchantments did in like manner" as Moses had done; till, after some experiments in which they were apparently successful, they at length were compelled to allow themselves overcome, and fairly to confess to their master, "This is the finger of God!" [6]

The spirit of the Jewish history loudly affirms, that the Creator of heaven and earth had adopted this nation for his chosen people, and therefore demanded their exclusive homage, and that they should acknowledge no other God. It is on this principle that it is made one of his early commands to them, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." [7] And elsewhere the meaning of this prohibition is more fully explained: "There shall not be found among you any one that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer: [8] these shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones." [9]

The character of an enchanter is elsewhere more fully illustrated in the case of Balaam, the soothsayer, who was sent for by Balak, the king of Moab, that he might "curse the people of Israel. The messengers of the king came to Balaam with the rewards of divination in their hand;" [10] but the soothsayer was restrained from his purpose by the God of the Jews, and, where he came to curse, was compelled to bless. He therefore "did not go, as at other times, to seek for enchantments," [11] but took up his discourse, and began, saying, "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel!" [12]

Another example of necromantic power or pretension is to be found in the story of Saul and the witch of Endor. Saul, the first king of the Jews, being rejected by God, and obtaining "no answer to his enquiries, either by dreams, or by prophets, said to his servants, seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit. And his servants, said, Lo, there is a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor." Saul accordingly had recourse to her. But, previously to this time, in conformity to the law of God, he "had cut off those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards out of the land;" and the woman therefore was terrified at his present application. Saul re-assured her; and in consequence the woman consented to call up the person he should name. Saul demanded of her to bring up the ghost of Samuel. The ghost, whether by her enchantments or through divine interposition we are not told, appeared, and prophesied to Saul, that he and his son should fall in battle on the succeeding day, [13] which accordingly came to pass.

Manasseh, a subsequent king in Jerusalem, "observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards, and so provoked God to anger." [14]

It appears plainly from the same authority, that there were good spirits and evil spirits, "The Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up, and fall before Ramoth Gilead? And there came a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him: I will go forth, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shall persuade him." [15]

In like manner, we are told, "Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number the people; and God was displeased with the thing, and smote Israel, so that there fell of the people seventy thousand men." [16]

Satan also, in the Book of Job, presented himself before the Lord among the Sons of God, and asked and obtained leave to try the faithfulness of Job by "putting forth his hand," and despoiling the patriarch of "all that he had."

Taking these things into consideration, there can be no reasonable doubt, though the devil and Satan are not mentioned in the story, that the serpent who in so crafty a way beguiled Eve, was in reality no other than the malevolent enemy of mankind under that disguise.

We are in the same manner informed of the oracles of the false Gods; and an example occurs of a king of Samaria, who fell sick, and who "sent messengers, and said to them, Go, and enquire of Baalzebub, the God of Ekron, whether I shall recover of this disease." At which proceeding the God of the Jews was displeased, and sent Elijah to the messengers to say, "Is it because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to enquire of Baalzebub, the God of Ekron? Because the king has done this, he shall not recover; he shall surely die." [17]

The appearance of the Wise Men of the East again occurs in considerable detail in the Prophecy of Daniel, though they are only brought forward there, as discoverers of hidden things, and interpreters of dreams. Twice, on occasion of dreams that troubled him, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, "commanded to be called to him the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans" of his kingdom, and each time with similar success. They confessed their incapacity; and Daniel, the prophet of the Jews, expounded to the king that in which they had failed. Nebuchadnezzar in consequence promoted Daniel to be master of the magicians. A similar scene occurred in the court of Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, in the case of the hand-writing on the wall.

It is probable that the Jews considered the Gods of the nations around them as so many of the fallen angels, or spirits of hell, since, among other arguments, the coincidence of the name of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, [18] with Baalzebub, the God of Ekron, could scarcely have fallen out by chance.

It seemed necessary to enter into these particulars, as they occur in the oldest and most authentic records from which we can derive our ideas on the subject of necromancy, witchcraft, and the claims that were set up in ancient times to the exercise of magcial power. Among these examples there is only one, that of the contention for superiority between Moses and the Wise Men of Egypt in which we are presented with their pretensions to a visible exhibition of supernatural effects.

THE MAGI, OR WISE MEN OF THE EAST.

EGYPT.

STATUE OF MEMNON.

TEMPLE OF JUPITER AMMON: ITS ORACLES.

CHALDEA AND BABYLON.

ZOROASTER.

GREECE.

Thus obscure and general is our information respecting the Babylonians. But it was far otherwise with the Greeks. Long before the period, when, by their successful resistance to the Persian invasion, they had rendered themselves of paramount importance in the history of the civilised world, they had their poets and annalists, who preserved to future time the memory of their tastes, their manners and superstitions, their strength, and their weakness. Homer in particular had already composed his two great poems, rendering the peculiarities of his countrymen familiar to the latest posterity. The consequence of this is, that the wonderful things of early Greece are even more frequent than the record of its sober facts. As men advance in observation and experience, they are compelled more and more to perceive that all the phenomena of nature are one vast chain of uninterrupted causes and consequences: but to the eye of uninstructed ignorance every thing is astonishing, every thing is unexpected. The remote generations of mankind are in all cases full of prodigies: but it is the fortune of Greece to have preserved its early adventures, so as to render the beginning pages of its history one mass of impossible falsehoods.

DEITIES OF GREECE.

DEMIGODS.

DAEDALUS.

THE ARGONAUTS.

MEDEA.

CIRCE.

ORPHEUS.

AMPHION.

TIRESIAS.

ABARIS.

PYTHAGORAS.

EPIMENIDES.

EMPEDOCLES.

ARISTEAS.

HERMOTIMUS.

THE MOTHER OF DEMARATUS, KING OF SPARTA.

ORACLES.

INVASION OF XERXES INTO GREECE.

DEMOCRITUS.

SOCRATES.

ROME.

VIRGIL.

POLYDORUS.

DIDO.

ROMULUS.

NUMA.

TULLUS HOSTILIUS.

ACCIUS NAVIUS.

SERVIUS TULLIUS.

THE SORCERESS OF VIRGIL.

CANIDIA.

ERICHTHO.

SERTORIUS.

CASTING OUT DEVILS.

SIMON MAGUS.

ELYMAS, THE SORCERER.

NERO.

VESPASIAN.

APOLLONIUS OF TYANA.

APULEIUS.

ALEXANDER THE PAPHLAGONIAN.

REVOLUTION PRODUCED IN THE HISTORY OF NECROMANCY AND WITCHCRAFT UPON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY.

It is necessary here to take notice of the great revolution that took place under Constantine, nearly three hundred years after the death of Christ, when Christianity became the established religion of the Roman empire. This was a period which produced a new era in the history of necromancy and witchcraft. Under the reign of polytheism, devotion was wholly unrestrained in every direction it might chance to assume. Gods known and unknown, the spirits of departed heroes, the Gods of heaven and hell, abstractions of virtue or vice, might unblamed be made the objects of religious worship. Witchcraft therefore, and the invocation of the spirits of the dead, might be practised with toleration; or at all events were not regarded otherwise than as venial deviations from the religion of the state.

It is true, there must always have been a horror of secret arts, especially of such as were of a maleficent nature. At all times men dreaded the mysterious power of spells and incantations, of potent herbs and nameless rites, which were able to control the eternal order of the planets, and the voluntary operations of mind, which could extinguish or recal life, inflame the passions of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from invisible beings and the dead the secrets of futurity. But under the creed of the unity of the divine nature the case was exceedingly different. Idolatry, and the worship of other Gods than one, were held to be crimes worthy of the utmost abhorrence and the severest punishment. There was no medium between the worship of heaven and hell. All adoration was to be directed to God the Creator through the mediation of his only begotten Son; or, if prayers were addressed to inferior beings, and the glorified spirits of his saints, at least they terminated in the Most High, were a deprecation of his wrath, a soliciting his favour, and a homage to his omnipotence. On the other hand sorcery and witchcraft were sins of the blackest dye. In opposition to the one only God, the creator of heaven and earth, was the "prince of darkness," the "prince of the power of the air," who contended perpetually against the Almighty, and sought to seduce his creatures and his subjects from their due allegiance. Sorcerers and witches were supposed to do homage and sell themselves to the devil, than which it was not in the mind of man to conceive a greater enormity, or a crime more worthy to cause its perpetrators to be exterminated from the face of the earth. The thought of it was of power to cause the flesh of man to creep and tingle with horror: and such as were prone to indulge their imaginations to the utmost extent of the terrible, found a perverse delight in conceiving this depravity, and were but too much disposed to fasten it upon their fellow-creatures.

MAGICAL CONSULTATIONS RESPECTING THE LIFE OF THE EMPEROR.

HISTORY OF NECROMANCY IN THE EAST.

From the countries best known in what is usually styled ancient history, in other words from Greece and Rome, and the regions into which the spirit of conquest led the people of Rome and Greece, it is time we should turn to the East, and those remoter divisions of the world, which to them were comparatively unknown.

With what has been called the religion of the Magi, of Egypt, Persia and Chaldea, they were indeed superficially acquainted; but for a more familiar and accurate knowledge of the East we are chiefly indebted to certain events of modern history; to the conquests of the Saracens, when they possessed themselves of the North of Africa, made themselves masters of Spain, and threatened in their victorious career to subject France to their standard; to the crusades; to the spirit of nautical discovery which broke out in the close of the fifteenth century; and more recently to the extensive conquests and mighty augmentation of territory which have been realised by the English East India Company.

The religion of Persia was that of Zoroaster and the Magi. When Ardshir, or Artaxerxes, the founder of the race of the Sassanides, restored the throne of Persia in the year of Christ 226, he called together an assembly of the Magi from all parts of his dominions, and they are said to have met to the number of eighty thousand. [143] These priests, from a remote antiquity, had to a great degree preserved their popularity, and had remarkably adhered to their ancient institutions.

They seem at all times to have laid claim to the power of suspending the course of nature, and producing miraculous phenomena. But in so numerous a body there must have been some whose pretensions were of a more moderate nature, and others who displayed a loftier aspiration. The more ambitious we find designated in their native language by the name of Jogees, [144] of the same signification as the Latin juncti.

Their notions of the Supreme Being are said to have been of the highest and abstrusest character, as comprehending every possible perfection of power, wisdom and goodness, as purely spiritual in his essence, and incapable of the smallest variation and change, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Such as they apprehended him to be, such the most perfect of their priests aspired to make themselves. They were to put off all human weakness and frailty; and, in proportion as they assimilated, or rather became one with the Deity, they supposed themselves to partake of his attributes, to become infinitely wise and powerful and good. Hence their claim to suspend the course of nature, and to produce miraculous phenomena. For this purpose it was necessary that they should abstract themselves from every thing mortal, have no human passions or partialities, and divest themselves as much as possible of all the wants and demands of our material frame. Zoroaster appears indeed to have preferred morality to devotion, to have condemned celibacy and fasting, and to have pronounced, that "he who sows the ground with diligence and care, acquires a greater stock of religious merit than he who should repeat ten thousand prayers." But his followers at least did not abide by this decision. They found it more practicable to secure to themselves an elevated reputation by severe observances, rigid self-denial, and the practice of the most inconceivable mortifications. This excited wonder and reverence and a sort of worship from the bystander, which industry and benevolence do not so assuredly secure. They therefore in frequent instances lacerated their flesh, and submitted to incredible hardships. They scourged themselves without mercy, wounded their bodies with lancets and nails, [145] and condemned themselves to remain for days and years unmoved in the most painful attitudes. It was no unprecedented thing for them to take their station upon the top of a high pillar; and some are said to have continued in this position, without ever coming down from it, for thirty years. The more they trampled under foot the universal instincts of our nature, and shewed themselves superior to its infirmities, the nearer they approached to the divine essence, and to the becoming one with the Omnipresent. They were of consequence the more sinless and perfect; their will became the will of the Deity, and they were in a sense invested with, and became the mediums of the acts of, his power. The result of all this is, that they who exercised the art of magic in its genuine and unadulterated form, at all times applied it to purposes of goodness and benevolence, and that their interference was uniformly the signal of some unequivocal benefit, either to mankind in general, or to those individuals of mankind who were best entitled to their aid. It was theirs to succour virtue in distress, and to interpose the divine assistance in cases that most loudly and unquestionably called for it.

Such, we are told, was the character of the pure and primitive magic, as it was handed down from the founder of their religion. It was called into action by the Jogees, men who, by an extraordinary merit of whatever sort, had in a certain sense rendered themselves one with the Deity. But the exercise of magical power was too tempting an endowment, not in some cases to be liable to abuse. Even as we read of the angels in heaven, that not all of them stood, and persevered in their original sinlessness and integrity, so of the Jogees some, partaking of the divine power, were also under the direction of a will celestial and divine, while others, having derived, we must suppose, a mighty and miraculous power from the gift of God, afterwards abused it by applying it to capricious, or, as it should seem, to malignant purposes. This appears to have been every where essential to the history of magic. If those who were supposed to possess it in its widest extent and most astonishing degree, had uniformly employed it only in behalf of justice and virtue, they would indeed have been regarded as benefactors, and been entitled to the reverence and love of mankind. But the human mind is always prone to delight in the terrible. No sooner did men entertain the idea of what was supernatural and uncontrolable, than they began to fear it and to deprecate its hostility. They apprehended they knew not what, of the dead returning to life, of invisible beings armed with the power and intention of executing mischief, and of human creatures endowed with the prerogative of bringing down pestilence and slaughter, of dispensing wealth and poverty, prosperity and calamity at their pleasure, of causing health and life to waste away by insensible, but sure degrees, of producing lingering torments, and death in its most fearful form. Accordingly it appears that, as there were certain magicians who were as Gods dispensing benefits to those who best deserved it, so there were others, whose only principle of action was caprice, and against whose malice no innocence and no degree of virtue would prove a defence. As the former sort of magicians were styled Jogees, and were held to be the deputies and instruments of infinite goodness, so the other sort were named Ku-Jogees, that is, persons who possessing the same species of ascendancy over the powers of nature, employed it only in deeds of malice and wickedness.

In the mean time these magicians appear to have produced the wonderful effects which drew to them the reverence of the vulgar, very frequently by the intervention of certain beings of a nature superior to the human, who should seem, though ordinarily invisible, to have had the faculty of rendering themselves visible when they thought proper, and assuming what shape they pleased. These are principally known by the names of Peris, Dives, [146] and Gins, or Genii. Richardson, in the preface to his Persian Dictionary, from which our account will principally be taken, refers us to what he calls a romance, but from which he, appears to derive the outline of his Persian mythology. In this romance Kahraman, a mortal, is introduced in conversation with Simurgh, a creature partaking of the nature of a bird and a griffon, who reveals to him the secrets of the past history of the earth. She tells him that she has lived to see the world seven times peopled with inhabitants of so many different natures, and seven times depopulated, the former inhabitants having been so often removed, and giving place to their successors. The beings who occupied the earth previously to man, were distinguished into the Peris and the Dives; and, when they no longer possessed the earth in chief, they were, as it should seem, still permitted, in an airy and unsubstantial form, and for the most part invisibly, to interfere in the affairs of the human race. These beings ruled the earth during seventy-two generations. The last monarch, named Jan bin Jan, conducted himself so ill, that God sent the angel Haris to chastise him. Haris however became intoxicated with power, and employed his prerogative in the most reprehensible manner. God therefore at length created Adam, the first of men, crowning him with glory and honour, and giving him dominion over all other earthly beings. He commanded the angels to obey him; but Haris refused, and the Dives followed his example. The rebels were for the most part sent to hell for their contumacy; but a part of the Dives, whose disobedience had been less flagrant, were reserved, and allowed for a certain term to walk the earth, and by their temptations to put the virtue and constancy of man to trial. Henceforth the human race was secretly surrounded by invisible beings of two species, the Peris, who were friendly to man, and the Dives, who exercised their ingenuity in involving them in error and guilt. The Peris were beautiful and benevolent, but imperfect and offending beings; they are supposed to have borne a considerable resemblance to the Fairies of the western world. The Dives were hideous in form, and of a malignant disposition. The Peris subsist wholly on perfumes, which the Dives, being of a grosser nature, hold in abhorrence. This mythology is said to have been unknown in Arabia till long after Mahomet: the only invisible beings we read of in their early traditions are the Gins, which term, though now used for the most part as synonimous with Dives, originally signified nothing more than certain infernal fiends of stupendous power, whose agency was hostile to man.

There was perpetual war between the Peris and the Dives, whose proper habitation was Kaf, or Caucasus, a line of mountains which was supposed to reach round the globe. In these wars the Peris generally came off with the worst; and in that case they are represented in the traditional tales of the East, as applying to some gallant and heroic mortal to reinforce their exertions. The warriors who figure in these narratives appear all to have been ancient Persian kings. Tahmuras, one of the most celebrated of them, is spoken of as mounting upon Simurgh, surrounded with talismans and enchanted armour, and furnished with a sword the dint of which nothing could resist. He proceeds to Kaf, or Ginnistan, and defeats Arzshank, the chief of the Dives, but is defeated in turn by a more formidable competitor. The war appears to be carried on for successive ages with alternate advantage and disadvantage, till after the lapse of centuries Rustan kills Arzshank, and finally reduces the Dives to a subject and tributary condition. In all this there is a great resemblance to the fables of Scandinavia; and the Northern and the Eastern world seem emulously to have contributed their quota of chivalry and romance, of heroic achievements and miraculous events, of monsters and dragons, of amulets and enchantment, and all those incidents which most rouse the imagination, and are calculated to instil into generous and enterprising youth a courage the most undaunted and invincible.

GENERAL SILENCE OF THE EAST RESPECTING INDIVIDUAL NECROMANCERS.

ROCAIL.

HAKEM, OTHERWISE MOCANNA.

ARABIAN NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS.

PERSIAN TALES.

STORY OF A GOULE.

ARABIAN NIGHTS.

RESEMBLANCE OF THE TALES OF THE EAST AND OF EUROPE.

CAUSES OF HUMAN CREDULITY.

DARK AGES OF EUROPE

MERLIN.

ST. DUNSTAN.

COMMUNICATION OF EUROPE AND THE SARACENS

It appears to have been about the close of the tenth century that the more curious and inquisitive spirits of Europe first had recourse to the East as a source of such information and art, as they found most glaringly deficient among their countrymen. We have seen that in Persia there was an uninterrupted succession of professors in the art of magic: and, when the followers of Mahomet by their prowess had gained the superiority over the greater part of Asia, over all that was known of Africa, and a considerable tract of Europe, they gradually became awake to the desire of cultivating the sciences, and in particular of making themselves masters of whatever was most liberal and eminent among the disciples of Zoroaster. To this they added a curiosity respecting Greek learning, especially as it related to medicine and the investigation of the powers of physical nature. Bagdad became an eminent seat of learning; and perhaps, next to Bagdad, Spain under the Saracens, or Moors, was a principal abode for the professors of ingenuity and literature.

GERBERT, POPE SILVESTER II.

BENEDICT THE NINTH.

GREGORY THE SEVENTH.

DUFF, KING OF SCOTLAND.

MACBETH.

VIRGIL.

ROBERT OF LINCOLN.

MICHAEL SCOT.

THE DEAN OF BADAJOZ.

MIRACLE OF THE TUB OF WATER.

INSTITUTION OF FRIARS.

ALBERTUS MAGNUS.

ROGER BACON.

THOMAS AQUINAS.

PETER OF APONO.

ENGLISH LAW OF HIGH TREASON.

ZIITO.

TRANSMUTATION OF METALS.

ARTEPHIUS.

RAYMOND LULLI.

ARNOLD OF VILLENEUVE.

ENGLISH LAWS RESPECTING TRANSMUTATION.

REVIVAL OF LETTERS.

While these things were going on in Europe, the period was gradually approaching, when the energies of the human mind were to loosen its shackles, and its independence was ultimately to extinguish those delusions and that superstition which had so long enslaved it. Petrarch, born in the year 1304, was deeply impregnated with a passion for classical lore, was smitten with the love of republican institutions, and especially distinguished himself for an adoration of Homer. Dante, a more sublime and original genius than Petrarch, was his contemporary. About the same time Boccaccio in his Decamerone gave at once to Italian prose that purity and grace, which none of his successors in the career of literature have ever been able to excel. And in our own island Chaucer with a daring hand redeemed his native tongue from the disuse and ignominy into which it had fallen, and poured out the immortal strains that the genuine lovers of the English tongue have ever since perused with delight, while those who are discouraged by its apparent crabbedness, have yet grown familiar with his thoughts in the smoother and more modern versification of Dryden and Pope. From that time the principles of true taste have been more or less cultivated, while with equal career independence of thought and an ardent spirit of discovery have continually proceeded, and made a rapid advance towards the perfect day.

But the dawn of literature and intellectual freedom were still a long time ere they produced their full effect. The remnant of the old woman clung to the heart with a tenacious embrace. Three or four centuries elapsed, while yet the belief in sorcery and witchcraft was alive in certain classes of society. And then, as is apt to occur in such cases, the expiring folly occasionally gave tokens of its existence with a convulsive vehemence, and became only the more picturesque and impressive through the strong contrast of lights and shadows that attended its manifestations.

JOAN OF ARC.

ELEANOR COBHAM, DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER.

RICHARD III.

SANGUINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST WITCHCRAFT.

I am now led to the most painful part of my subject, but which does not the less constitute one of its integral members, and which, though painful, is deeply instructive, and constitutes a most essential branch in the science of human nature. Wherever I could, I have endeavoured to render the topics which offered themselves to my examination, entertaining. When men pretended to invert the known laws of nature, "murdering impossibility; to make what cannot be, slight work;" I have been willing to consider the whole as an ingenious fiction, and merely serving as an example how far credulity could go in setting aside the deductions of our reason, and the evidence of sense. The artists in these cases did not fail to excite admiration, and gain some sort of applause from their contemporaries, though still with a tingling feeling that all was not exactly as it should be, and with a confession that the professors were exercising unhallowed arts. It was like what has been known of the art of acting; those who employed it were caressed and made every where welcome, but were not allowed the distinction of Christian burial.

But, particularly in the fifteenth century, things took a new turn. In the dawn of the day of good sense, and when historical evidence at length began to be weighed in the scales of judgment, men became less careless of truth, and regarded prodigies and miracles with a different temper. And, as it often happens, the crisis, the precise passage from ill to better, shewed itself more calamitous, and more full of enormities and atrocity, than the period when the understanding was completely hood-winked, and men digested absurdities and impossibility with as much ease as their every day food. They would not now forgive the tampering with the axioms of eternal truth; they regarded cheat and imposture with a very different eye; and they had recourse to the stake and the faggot, for the purpose of proving that they would no longer be trifled with. They treated the offenders as the most atrocious of criminals, and thus, though by a very indirect and circuitous method, led the way to the total dispersion of those clouds, which hung, with most uneasy operation, on the human understanding.

The university of Paris in the year 1398 promulgated an edict, in which they complained that the practice of witchcraft was become more frequent and general than at any former period. [190]

A stratagem was at this time framed by the ecclesiastical persecutors, of confounding together the crimes of heresy and witchcraft. The first of these might seem to be enough in the days of bigotry and implicit faith, to excite the horror of the vulgar; but the advocates of religious uniformity held that they should be still more secure of their object, if they could combine the sin of holding cheap the authority of the recognised heads of Christian faith, with that of men's enlisting under the banners of Satan, and becoming the avowed and sworn vassals of his infernal empire. They accordingly seem to have invented the ideas of a sabbath of witches, a numerous assembly of persons who had cast off all sense of shame, and all regard for those things which the rest of the human species held most sacred, where the devil appeared among them in his most forbidding form, and, by rites equally ridiculous and obscene, the persons present acknowledged themselves his subjects. And, having invented this scene, these cunning and mischievous persecutors found means, as we shall presently see, of compelling their unfortunate victims to confess that they had personally assisted at the ceremony, and performed all the degrading offices which should consign them in the world to come to everlasting fire.

While I express myself thus, I by no means intend to encourage the idea that the ecclesiastical authorities of these times were generally hypocrites. They fully partook of the narrowness of thought of the period in which they lived. They believed that the sin of heretical pravity was "as the sin of witchcraft;" [191] they regarded them alike with horror, and were persuaded that there was a natural consent and alliance between them. Fully impressed with this conception, they employed means from which our genuine and undebauched nature revolts, to extort from their deluded victims a confession of what their examiners apprehended to be true; they asked them leading questions; they suggested the answers they desired to receive; and led the ignorant and friendless to imagine that, if these answers were adopted, they might expect immediately to be relieved from insupportable tortures. The delusion went round. These unhappy wretches, finding themselves the objects of universal abhorrence, and the hatred of mankind, at length many of them believed that they had entered into a league with the devil, that they had been transported by him through the air to an assembly of souls consigned to everlasting reprobation, that they had bound themselves in acts of fealty to their infernal taskmasters [Errata: read taskmaster], and had received from him in return the gift of performing superhuman and supernatural feats. This is a tremendous state of degradation of what Milton called the "the faultless proprieties of nature," [192] which cooler thinking and more enlightened times would lead us to regard as impossible, but to which the uncontradicted and authentic voice of history compels us to subscribe.

The Albigenses and Waldenses were a set of men, who, in the flourishing provinces of Languedoc, in the darkest ages, and when the understandings of human creatures by a force not less memorable than that of Procrustes were reduced to an uniform stature, shook off by some strange and unaccountable freak, the chains that were universally imposed, and arrived at a boldness of thinking similar to that which Luther and Calvin after a lapse of centuries advocated with happier auspices. With these manly and generous sentiments however they combined a considerable portion of wild enthusiasm. They preached the necessity of a community of goods, taught that it was necessary to wear sandals, because sandals only had been worn by the apostles, and devoted themselves to lives of rigorous abstinence and the most severe self-denial.

The Catholic church knew no other way in those days of converting heretics, but by fire and sword; and accordingly pope Innocent the Third published a crusade against them. The inquisition was expressly appointed in its origin to bring back these stray sheep into the flock of Christ; and, to support this institution in its operations, Simon Montfort marched a numerous army for the extermination of the offenders. One hundred thousand are said to have perished. They disappeared from the country which had witnessed their commencement, and dispersed themselves in the vallies of Piedmont, in Artois, and in various other places. This crusade occurred in the commencement of the thirteenth century; and they do not again attract the notice of history till the middle of the fifteenth.

Monstrelet, in his Chronicle, gives one of the earliest accounts of the proceedings at this time instituted against these unfortunate people, under the date of the year 1459. "In this year," says he, "in the town of Arras, there occurred a miserable and inhuman scene, to which, I know not why, was given the name of Vaudoisie. There were taken up and imprisoned a number of considerable persons inhabitants of this town, and others of a very inferior class. These latter were so cruelly put to the torture, that they confessed, that they had been transported by supernatural means to a solitary place among woods, where the devil appeared before them in the form of a man, though they saw not his face. He instructed them in the way in which they should do his bidding, and exacted from them acts of homage and obedience. He feasted them, and after, having put out the lights, they proceeded to acts of the grossest licentiousness." These accounts, according to Monstrelet, were dictated to the victims by their tormentors; and they then added, under the same suggestion, the names of divers lords, prelates, and governors of towns and bailliages, whom they affirmed they had seen at these meetings, and who joined in the same unholy ceremonies. The historian adds, that it cannot be concealed that these accusations were brought by certain malicious persons, either to gratify an ancient hatred, or to extort from the rich sums of money, by means of which they might purchase their escape from further prosecution. The persons apprehended were many of them put to the torture so severely, and for so long a time, and were tortured again and again, that they were obliged to confess what was laid to their charge. Some however shewed so great constancy, that they could by no means be induced to depart from the protestation of their innocence. In fine, many of the poorer victims were inhumanly burned; while the richer with great sums of money procured their discharge, but at the same time were compelled to banish themselves to distant places, remote from the scene of this cruel outrage.—Balduinus of Artois gives a similar account, and adds that the sentence of the judges was brought, by appeal under the revision of the parliament of Paris, and was reversed by that judicature in the year 1491. [193]

I have not succeeded in tracing to my satisfaction from the original authorities the dates of the following examples, and therefore shall refer them to the periods assigned them in Hutchinson on Witchcraft. The facts themselves rest for the most part on the most unquestionable authority.

Innocent VIII published about the year 1484 a bull, in which he affirms: "It has come to our ears, that numbers of both sexes do not avoid to have intercourse with the infernal fiends, and that by their sorceries they afflict both man and beast; they blight the marriage-bed, destroy the births of women, and the increase of cattle; they blast the corn on the ground, the grapes of the vineyard, the fruits of the trees, and the grass and herbs of the field." For these reasons he arms the inquisitors with apostolic power to "imprison, convict and punish" all such as may be charged with these offences.—The consequences of this edict were dreadful all over the continent, particularly in Italy, Germany and France.

Alciatus, an eminent lawyer of this period, relates, that a certain inquisitor came about this time into the vallies of the Alps, being commissioned to enquire out and proceed against heretical women with whom those parts were infested. He accordingly consigned more than one hundred to the flames, every day, like a new holocaust, sacrificing such persons to Vulcan, as, in the judgment of the historian, were subjects demanding rather hellebore than fire; till at length the peasantry of the vicinity rose in arms, and drove the merciless judge out of the country. The culprits were accused of having dishonoured the crucifix, and denying Christ for their God. They were asserted to have solemnised after a detestable way the devil's sabbath, in which the fiend appeared personally among them, and instructed them in the ceremonies of his worship. Meanwhile a question was raised whether they personally assisted on the occasion, or only saw the solemnities in a vision, credible witnesses having sworn that they were at home in their beds, at the very time that they were accused of having taken part in these blasphemies. [194]

In 1515, more than five hundred persons are said to have suffered capitally for the crime of witchcraft in the city of Geneva in the course of three months. [195]

In 1524, one thousand persons were burned on this accusation in the territory of Como, and one hundred per annum for several year after. [196]

Danaeus commences his Dialogue of Witches with this observation. "Within three months of the present time (1575) an almost infinite number of witches have been taken, on whom the parliament of Paris has passed judgment: and the same tribunal fails not to sit daily, as malefactors accused of this crime are continually brought before them out of all the provinces."

In the year 1595 Nicholas Remi, otherwise Remigius, printed a very curious work, entitled Demonolatreia, in which he elaborately expounds the principles of the compact into which the devil enters with his mortal allies, and the modes of conduct specially observed by both parties. He boasts that his exposition is founded on an exact observation of the judicial proceedings which had taken place under his eye in the duchy of Lorraine, where for the preceding fifteen years nine hundred persons, more or less, had suffered the extreme penalty of the law for the crime of sorcery. Most of the persons tried seem to have been sufficiently communicative as to the different kinds of menace and compulsion by which the devil had brought them into his terms, and the various appearances he had exhibited, and feats he had performed: but others, says the author, had, "by preserving an obstinate silence, shewn themselves invincible to every species of torture that could be inflicted on them."

But the most memorable record that remains to us on the subject of witchcraft, is contained in an ample quarto volume, entitled A Representation (Tableau) of the Ill Faith of Evil Spirits and Demons, by Pierre De Lancre, Royal Counsellor in the Parliament of Bordeaux. This man was appointed with one coadjutor, to enquire into certain acts of sorcery, reported to have been committed in the district of Labourt, near the foot of the Pyrenees; and his commission bears date in May, 1609, and by consequence twelve months before the death of Henry the Fourth.

The book is dedicated to M. de Silleri, chancellor of France; and in the dedication the author observes, that formerly those who practised sorcery were well known for persons of obscure station and narrow intellect; but that now the sorcerers who confess their misdemeanours, depose, that there are seen in the customary meetings held by such persons a great number of individuals of quality, whom Satan keeps veiled from ordinary gaze, and who are allowed to approach near to him, while those of a poorer and more vulgar class are thrust back to the furthest part of the assembly. The whole narrative assumes the form of a regular warfare between Satan on the one side, and the royal commissioners on the other.

At first the devil endeavoured to supply the accused with strength to support the tortures by which it was sought to extort confession from them, insomuch that, in an intermission of the torture, the wretches declared that, presently falling asleep, they seemed to be in paradise, and to enjoy the most beautiful visions. The commissioners however, observing this, took care to grant them scarcely any remission, till they had drawn from them, if possible, an ample confession. The devil next proceeded to stop the mouths of the accused that they might not confess. He leaped on their throats, and evidently caused an obstruction of the organs of speech, so that in vain they endeavoured to relieve themselves by disclosing all that was demanded of them.

The historian proceeds to say that, at these sacrilegious assemblings, they now began to murmur against the devil, as wanting power to relieve them in their extremity. The children, the daughters, and other relatives of the victims reproached him, not scrupling to say, "Out upon you! you promised that our mothers who were prisoners should not die; and look how you have kept your word with us! They have been burned, and are a heap of ashes." In answer to this charge the devil stoutly affirmed, that their parents, who seemed to have suffered, were not dead, but were safe in a foreign country, assuring the malcontents that, if they called on them, they would receive an answer. The children called accordingly, and by an infernal illusion an answer came, exactly in the several voices of the deceased, declaring that they were in a state of happiness and security.

Further to satisfy the complainers, the devil produced illusory fires, and encouraged the dissatisfied to walk through them, assuring them that the fires lighted by a judicial decree were as harmless and inoffensive as these. The demon further threatened that he would cause the prosecutors to be burned in their own fire, and even proceeded to make them in semblance hover and alight on the branches of the neighbouring trees. He further caused a swarm of toads to appear like a garland to crown the heads of the sufferers, at which when in one instance the bystanders threw stones to drive them away, one monstrous black toad remained to the last uninjured, and finally mounted aloft, and vanished from sight. De Lancre goes on to describe the ceremonies of the sabbath of the devil; and a plate is inserted, presenting the assembly in the midst of their solemnities. He describes in several chapters the sort of contract entered into between the devil and the sorcerers, the marks by which they may be known, the feast with which the demon regaled them, their distorted and monstrous dance, the copulation between the fiend and the witch, and its issue.—It is easy to imagine with what sort of fairness the trials were conducted, when such is the description the judge affords us of what passed at these assemblies. Six hundred were burned under this prosecution.

The last chapter is devoted to an accurate account of what took place at an auto da fe in the month of November 1610 at Logrogno on the Ebro in Spain, the victims being for the greater part the unhappy wretches, who had escaped through the Pyrenees from the merciless prosecution that had been exercised against them by the historian of the whole.

SAVONAROLA.

TRITHEMIUS.

LUTHER.

CORNELIUS AGRIPPA.

FAUSTUS.

SABELLICUS.

PARACELSUS

CARDAN.

QUACKS, WHO IN COOL BLOOD UNDERTOOK TO OVERREACH MANKIND.

BENVENUTO CELLINI.

NOSTRADAMUS.

DOCTOR DEE.

EARL OF DERBY.

KING JAMES'S VOYAGE TO NORWAY.

JOHN FIAN.

KING JAMES'S DEMONOLOGY.

STATUTE, 1 JAMES I.

FORMAN AND OTHERS.

LATEST IDEAS OF JAMES ON THE SUBJECT.

LANCASHIRE WITCHES.

LADY DAVIES.

EDWARD FAIRFAX.

DOCTOR LAMB.

URBAIN GRANDIER.

ASTROLOGY.

WILLIAM LILLY.

MATTHEW HOPKINS.

CROMWEL.

DOROTHY MATELEY.

WITCHES HANGED BY SIR MATTHEW HALE.

WITCHCRAFT IN SWEDEN.

WITCHCRAFT IN NEW ENGLAND.

CONCLUSION.

The volume of records of supposed necromancy and witchcraft is sufficiently copious, without its being in any way necessary to trace it through its latest relics and fragments. Superstition is so congenial to the mind of man, that, even in the early years of the author of the present volume, scarcely a village was unfurnished with an old man or woman who laboured under an ill repute on this score; and I doubt not many remain to this very day. I remember, when a child, that I had an old woman pointed out to me by an ignorant servant-maid, as being unquestionably possessed of the ominous gift of the "evil eye," and that my impulse was to remove myself as quickly as might be from the range of her observation.

But witchcraft, as it appears to me, is by no means so desirable a subject as to make one unwilling to drop it. It has its uses. It is perhaps right that we should be somewhat acquainted with this repulsive chapter in the annals of human nature. As the wise man says in the Bible, "It is good for us to resort to the house of those that mourn;" for there is a melancholy which is attended with beneficial effects, and "by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." But I feel no propensity to linger in these dreary abodes, and would rather make a speedy exchange for the dwellings of healthfulness and a certain hilarity. We will therefore with the reader's permission at length shut the book, and say, "Lo, it is enough."

There is no time perhaps at which we can more fairly quit the subject, than when the more enlightened governments of Europe have called for the code of their laws, and have obliterated the statute which annexed the penalty of death to this imaginary crime.

So early as the year 1672, Louis XIV promulgated an order of the council of state, forbidding the tribunals from proceeding to judgment in cases where the accusation was of sorcery only. [228]

In England we paid a much later tribute to the progress of illumination and knowledge; and it was not till the year 1736 that a statute was passed, repealing the law made in the first year of James I, and enacting that no capital prosecution should for the future take place for conjuration, sorcery and enchantment, but restricting the punishment of persons pretending to tell fortunes and discover stolen goods by witchcraft, to that appertaining to a misdemeanour.

As long as death could by law be awarded against those who were charged with a commerce with evil spirits, and by their means inflicting mischief on their species, it is a subject not unworthy of grave argument and true philanthropy, to endeavour to detect the fallacy of such pretences, and expose the incalculable evils and the dreadful tragedies that have grown out of accusations and prosecutions for such imaginary crimes. But the effect of perpetuating the silly and superstitious tales that have survived this mortal blow, is exactly opposite. It only serves to keep alive the lingering folly of imbecile minds, and still to feed with pestiferous clouds the thoughts of the ignorant. Let us rather hail with heart-felt gladness the light which has, though late, broken in upon us, and weep over the calamity of our forefathers, who, in addition to the inevitable ills of our sublunary state, were harassed with imaginary terrors, and haunted by suggestions,

  Whose horrid image did unfix their hair,
  And make their seated hearts knock at their ribs,
  Against the use of nature.

THE END.

FOOTNOTES