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Of this we had ocular proof during the great eclipse of the sun, on the 4th of this month, which was almost total, and occasioned, for some minutes, a gloomy darkness, resembling that of midnight. The beginning of the eclipse was seen at Tripoli, at half past seven in the morning; at half past eight, when it was at the height, the fice of nature was changed from day to night. The screech-owl, not long retired to its rest, re-appeared, and disturbed the morning with its shrieks. Lizards and serpents were seen prowling about the terraces, and flights of evening birds, here called maraba's, and held sacred by the Moors, flew about in great numbers, and increased the darkness. The noisy flitting of their wings roused the Moor, who had been stupified by fear; and, when one of these heavy birds (which of en drop to the ground by coming in contact with each other) chanced to fall at his feet, the African would start aghast, look at it with horror, and set up a hideous howl. About eight o'clock, when the lustre of the morning was completely faded, the common Moors were seen assembling in clusters in the streets, gazing wildly at the sun, and conversing very earnestly. When the eclipse was at its height, they ran about distracted, in companies, firing volleys of muskets at the sun, to frighten away the monster or dragon, as they called it, by which they supposed it was being devoured. At that moment, the Moorish song of death and walliah-woo, or the howl they make for the dead, not only resounded from the mountains and valleys of Tripoli, but was undoubtedly re-echoed throughout the continent of Africa. The women brought into the streets all the brass pans, kettles, and iron utensils, they could collect; and, striking on them with all their force, and screaming at the same time, occasioned a horrid noise, that was heard for miles. Many of these women, owing to their exertions and fears, fell into fits, or fainted. The distress and terror of the Moors did not in the least abate, till near nine o'clock, when the sun assured them, by his refulgent beams, that •ll his dangers were passed. “During the morning and the day, the anosphere was uncommonly clear, even for a Barbary sky, which rendered the effects of this great •clipse more striking. We learned, from Hadgi Abderrahman, who paid us a visit when it was over, that the first ladies in the place had trembled at the event, and several were seriously ill. The ladies of his own family, he said had suffered much less at the appearance of th eclipse, from the circumstance of his being at home with them; for, though he considered it would be useless to enter into a philosophical account of it to them, yet he assured them that the moon went occasionally to see the sun; and when they met, by their being so close together, the moon always interrupted more or less of his light. This account, he said, the truth of which they were con
vinced of by his great earnestness, considerably abated their fears. To the ambassador it was a serious case, as Lilla Amnani is in a very delicate state of health; but the account he gave her of the phenomenon entirely pacified her.”
The above description presents a melancnoly picture of the gross ignorance even of the ladies of modern Barbary, and of the consequent shallowness of their understandings; since their fathers and husbands considered it useless to enter into a rational account of the phenomenon, and since they were pleased with such an absurd and extravagant explanation of it. And, since the higher ranks, in that country, are so grossly ignorant of the order of nature, and of the causes of so common phenomena, in what a state of mental darkness must the lower classes of society be placed! Nor is Barbary the only country in which such ignorance prevails. Among the middling and lower ranks, in many European countries, supposed to be in a moderate state of civilization, a similar degree of intellectual debasement will be sound to exist. The Croatians, who inhabit a certain district of the Austrian empire, make the whole of their religion consist in the hearing osmass and the observance of Lent; and robbery or murder are considered as more venial crimes. than to eat, during Lent, with a spoon that has been dipped in broth. The Morlacchi, who occupy another district of the same empire, are described by geographers, as extremely superstitious in their religious opinions, and as firmly believing in ghosts and witches, in sorceries and enchantments, and in every species of supernatural agency, while they are ignorant of the causes of the most common phenomena of nature.
No. III.-Absurdities of Astrology. P. 19, &c.
Mr. Varley's “Zodiacal Physiognomy,” referred to in a note, p. 19, pretends to decide, that the various signs of the zodiac create a great diversity in the features and complexions of human beings; and have, in fact, such influence over *he destinies of the human race, that the system may be fairly styled, “the phrenology of the skies.” The following extracts exhibit a few specimens of the positions maintained by this profound and erudite writer. “It has been discovered,” says Mr. Varley, “that each sign confers a specific style of countenance, feature, and complexion, by which appearances, alone, the sign which was rising at the east, at birth, can, ofen without any other help, be ascertained.”— “The fiery trigon, consisting of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, contains the spirited, generous, magnanimous, and princely natures. The earthy trigon, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, contain the careful, sordid, and pernicious qualities; the aerial trigon, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, contain the humane, harmonious, and courteous principles; and the watery trigon, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, the cold, prolific, cautious, und severe qualities.” “Sagittarius, the house of Jupiter, is the only sign under which no persons are born having black or dark hair, eyes, and eye-brows.” “I have always uniformly found,” says the author, “those born under Sagittarius, to be very fair, with gray eyes, and, in general, of a lively, forgiving-hearted, and free dispositions.” Again, “Five minutes' difference of the time of their birth, renders the members of the same family red-haired, or black-haired, blue-eyed or black-eyed, sordid or generous.” —“Saturn, at any period of life, passing through the ascendant, which he does every thirty years, causes dulness or melancholy, for a few weeks, to the native, and when Jupiter passes over it, the party feels cheerful and healthy and should a party of antiquarians, hundreds of years after a person's death, discover his grave, there must be some planet or the sun in conjunction, or some other aspect with his ascendant.”—“Jupiter in the third house gives safe inland journeys, and agreeable neighbours or kindred. The moon in this house will give constant trudging from one place to another, and is often so posited in the nativities of postmen and travellers. Jupiter in the fourth, with Venus, gives fixed or landed property, and a house ornamented with matters of taste, or of the fine arts. Jupiter in the fifth, gives a family of good or clever children,and much pleasure in life and its amusements. In the sixth, he signifies good servants and assistants, good health, and that the native will be fortunate in small cattle and animals. Jupiter in the seventh, signifies a good wife or husband, and agreeable dealings with mankind in making good bargains,” &c. “Children born under Mars have well formed chins,—under Aquarius, are fair and amiable,_under Scorpio, are dark with aquiline noses, and greenish or gray eyes.” “Lord Byron, who was born under Scorpio, received enough of the reflected Taurus principle to prevent his nose from being aquiline, and to give to his character a degree of perverseness or eccentricity.” “Persons born under Aries, with Jupiter in the first house, are likely to succeed and be appreciated in England: If he be posited in Taurus, the native is likely to succeed well in Ireland; if in Gemini, in London, of which this sign is the significator. Jupiter in Cancer will give him success in Scotland or Holland, or concerns connected with the water, unless Jupiter should be asflicted by any malevolent planet, or be in combustion by being too near the sun.” By this time the reader will be sufficiently satiated with the sage doctrines of Mr. John Varley, in relation to “Zodiacal Physiognomy” and the Phrenology of the heavens. If he has a desire to pick up any more of such precious fragments of wisdom, he will be abundantly gratified in perusing the work itself, where, among
other unique and precious relics, he will be presented with an engraving of the Ghost of a Flea. together with an account of the manner in which it appeared to Mr. Blake the artist, who drew it, and of its astrological correspondency and signification. That such absurdities should be published by the first bookselling establishment in London, in the twenty-eighth year of the nineteenth century, and be purchased by hundreds, perhaps by thousands, is a proof, that strong efforts are still requisite to extirpate the superstitions of astrology fivm the minds of many of our countrymen.
No. IV.-Proofs of the belief which is still attached to the doctrines of Astrology, and of the pernicious affects it produces. P. 19,
That the predictions of astrologers are still believed by many of our countrymen in the middling ranks of life, appears from the following recent occurrences.
On the 2d September, 1829, Joseph Hyatt, a journeyman printer, was summoned before Sir Peter Laurie, at the Guildhall, London, charged with assaulting his wife, Philips, on the preceding Saturday. In his defence, Hyatt declared, that all their unhappiness proceeded from his wise (a pretty young woman of eighteen years,) continually haunting the fortune-tellers, and paying attention to their predictions. He produced a paper he had recently found, written by an astrologer, to whom his wife had applied. After laying down the position of the planets on the third of June, at the moment she applied to him, the astrologer proceeds, “The querant must not expect any thing to be very kind to her until late in this year, say October next. This day will not prove any thing kind or pleasant. The 28th day of this month also will not be friendly. July 2d, mind your phunny, and take no journey, and trust to no relative. The eighth day will not be unkind I hope. Look to it. The thirteenth day also promises you pleasure and also profit. Attend it ; and avoid all dark sallow persons. (Her husband nearly answered this description.) From such your disappointments must come. August 2, 6, 23, avoid them days—may be qualified to give you vexation,-avoid them. Sept. 1, 6, will be unkind, but pray avoid 15, 20. October 4, avoid it, may be vexatious. The 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 30, will be more kind, pray attend to them and make good use of them, they will not be unkind.” The husband said, this fellow had predicted their separation for three months; what other things he had put in her head he did not know, but he led a miserable life with her.—JMorning Chronicle, Sept. Sal, 1829.
On the same day as above stated, (Sept. 2 1829) Ann Wheeler, a servant girl, was brought to the Munsion house, charged with having at tempted to enter the house of her master, at two c’clock in the morning, over the rails. She was exquisitely dressed, and wore an elegant satin oonnet, which belonged to her mistress, and put on her curls and finery, in order to attend a “hop” in the neighbourhood, and acknowledged that she had been walking for an hour or two up and down the streets in conversation with her friend. In the course of the investigation it was stated, that there was found in the corner of her box, wrapped up carefully, a document which might have led to those unseasonable and unfortunate assignations, which at last terminated in her being brought to the watch-house. A paper was handed to the Lord Mayor, in which was folded a card, on which was written the following words,
“Mrs. Smith, No. 49, Wentworth Street, Dress Maker.”
“Lawful questions resolved.” The paper was an answer to the question, “What sort of a husband shall I have, and how soon shall I have him 7” It stated, that the “interrogator should have a nice respectable tradesman, who should be a most tender husband, and be the father of six children, of which she should be the happy mother;-that certain planets were visible at their birth, and, in conjunction at the time, a symptom that betokened felicity, and that the union should take place as surely as he or she (the person who wrote the paper) had the power of predicting.”—Morning Chronicle, Sept. 3d, 1829.
The above are only specimens of many similar occurrences which are occasionally recorded in the daily papers. The pernicious tendency of astrological predictions on those who are weak enough to give them credit, is sufficiently apparent in the cases now stated ; having in the one case alienated the affections of a young woman from her h., “and, and produced contention and family discora, and in the other, tantalized a vain young female, and brought her into suspicious and disgraceful circumstances, which may lay the soundation of her ruin, and render her miserable for life.
No. V.—Illustrations of some of the opinions and practices of our ancestors in relation to witchcraft. P. 22.
By witchcraft was generally understood, a supernatural power, of which persons were supposed to obtain the possession. by entering into a compact with the devil. They gave themselves up to him, body and soul : and he engaged that they should want for nothing, and that he would avenge them upon all their enemies. As soon as the bargain was concluded, the devil delivered to the witch an imp, or familiar spirit, to be ready at a call, and to do whatever it was directed. By the assistance of this imp, and of the devil together, the witch, who was almost always an old woman, was enabled to transport
herself through the air, on a broomstick, or a spot. to distant places to attend the meetings of the witches. At these meetings the devil always presided. They were enabled also to transform themselves into various shapes, particularly to assume the forms of cats and hares, in which they most delighted ; to inflict diseases on whomsoever they thought proper, and to punish their enemies in a variety of ways. Witchcraft was universally believed in Europe, till the sixteenth century, and maintained its ground with tolerable firmness till the middle of the seventeenth, nay, in some countries on the continent, till the middle of the eighteenth century. Vast numbers of reputed witches were convicted and condemned to be burnt every year. The methods of discovering them were various. One was to weigh the supposed criminal against the church Bible, which, if she was guilty, would preponderate; another, by making her attempt to say the Lord's Prayer, this no witch was able to repeat entirely, but would omit some part, or sentence thereof. It is remarkable, that all witches did not hesitate at the same part-some leaving out one part, and some another. Teats, through which the imps sucked, were indubitable marks of a witch; these were always raw, and also insensible, and, if squeezed, sometimes yielded a drop of blood. A witch could not weep more than three tears, and that only out of the left eye. This want of tears was, by the witch-finders, and, even by some judges, considered as a very substantial proof of guilt. Swimming a witch was another kind of popular ordeal generally practised. For this she was stripped naked, and cross-bound,—the right thumb to the left toe, and the left thumb to the right toe. Thus prepared, she was thrown into a pond or river, in which, if guilty, she could not sink; for having, by her compact with the devil, renounced the benefit of the water of baptism, that element, in its turn, renounced her, and refused to receive her into its bosom. There were two other ordeals by fire, by which witches were discovered ; the first by burning the thatch of the house of the suspected witch,-the other, by burning any animal supposed to be bewitched by her, as a hog or an ox. These, it was held, would force a witch to confess. The trial by the stool was another method used for the detection of witches. It was thus managed:—Having taken the suspected witch, she was placed in the middle of a room, upon a stool, or table, cross-legged, or in some other uneasy posture; to which, if she did not submit, she was then bound with cords,-there she was watched, and kept without meat or sleep for twenty-four hours, (sor, they said, that within that time they should see her imp come and suck.) A little hole was likewise made in the door for imps to come in at, and, lest it should come in some less discernible shape, they that watched were taught to be ever and anon sweeping the room, and, if they saw any spiders or flies, to kill them,--if they could not kill them, then they might be sure they were imps. If witches, under examination or torture, would not confess, all their apparel was changed, and every hair of their body shaven off with a sharp razor, lest they should secret magical charms to prevent their consessing. It was a maxim, too, in these proceedings, that witches were most apt to confoss on Fridays. By such trials as these, and by the accusations of children, old women, and fools, were thousands of unhappy women, condemned for witchcraft, and burned at the stake. A work, written by JM Thoest, was published a few years ago at Mentz, entitled, “The History of Magic, Demons, Sorcerers,” &c. which contains an affecting narrative of the numbers that have suffered for the pretended crime of magic and witchcraft. The cases enumerated are proved from unequivocal authority. In these excesses of the magistrates, it appears, that female sorcerers have been the greatest sufferers. Among other curious articles in the collection, we learn, that Christopher de Runtzow, a gentleman of Holstein, whose heated imagination had misled his understanding, consigned eighteen persons to the fames at one time, the victims of a merciless superstition. In a village called J.indheim, containing about six hundred inhabitants, not less than thirty were destroyed by fire, in the narrow interval between the years 1661 and 1665, making a twentieth part of the whole population consumed in four years. In this inhuman conduct towards an unhappy class of persons, the author points out Wurzburg as having frequently been subject to well-merited reproach. It appears #om the Acta .N1agica of Naubers, that between the years 1627 and 1629, one hundred and twenty-seven individuals perished in similar instances of cruelty practised by their brother men. The principal objects of such nefarious dealings were old women, or travellers, and frequently poor children, from nine to ten years of age. Occasionally such outrages have been perpetrated on persons of some consequence,—proficients in knowledge above the general standard of the age, or such as had acquired property by their industry and genius. Among many others in these shocking details, are the respectable names of fourteen vicars, two young gentlemen, some counsellors, the largest or most corpulent man in Wurtzburg and his wise, the handsomest woman in the city, and a student or scholar engaged in the study of foreign languages. Those innocent sufferers were frequently put to the torture. But what must our feelings and principles incline us to think of an enormity here orought to our recollection, in the instance of a poor girl, Maria Renata, who suffered so late as n the year 1249 : The extent of the judicial murders for witch
craft is far greater than most persons, who have not studied the history of demonology, can form any idea. From the period in which Pope Innocent VIII. in 1484, issued his bull against witchcraft, to the middle of the seventeenth century, if we believe the testimonies of contemporary historians, Europe was little better than a large suburb or outwork of Pandemonium, one half of the population being either bewitching or bewitched. Delrio tells us, that five hundred witches were executed in Geneva, in three months, about the year 1515. “A thousand,” says Bartholomeus de Spina, “were executed in one year, in the diocese of Como, and they went on burning at the rate of a hundred per annum for some time after. In Lorraine, from 1580 to 1595, Remigius boasts of having burnt nine hundred. In France, the executions for the same crime were fifteen hundred and twenty. In Wurzburg and Treves, the amount of executions in the course of the century preceding 1628, is reckoned to be 15,700. It has been calculated that in Germany alone, the number of victims that perished, from the date of Innocent's bull to the eighteenth century, considerably exceeds one hundred thousand. The executions were at first confined to crazed old women, or unhappy foreigners, but at length the witchcraft phrenzy rose to such a pitch, and spread so extensively, that the lives of more exalted victims were threatened. Noblemen and abbots, presidents of courts and professors, began to swell the catalogue, and no man felt secure that he might not suddenly be compelled, by torture, to bear witness against his own innocent wife and children. In the Catholic canton of Glarus, in Switzerland, it is said, that a witch was burnt, even so late as the year 1786 ' It is impossible for any rational and humane mind to “ruse such a list as the above, without shu” ...,ng and horror. How dreadful the results to which ignorance and superstition have led !—and how astonishing the consideration,--that judges, lawyers, ministers of religion, nobles, and persons of all ranks should have given their sanction, without the least remorse, to such cruelties and legalized murders' In Pitcairn's “Criminal Trials,” referred to in the text, a variety of curious documents is contained, respecting the proceedings of the Justiciary Court in Scotland against witchcraft, sorcery, and incantation. One of these trials relates to a gentleman of family, Mr. Hector Monro of Fowies, who was “indylit and accusit” of “sorcerie, incantationnis, or wichecraft.” This trial contains a complete specimen of the superstition of the age. Mr. Hector, it would appear, had sent for “Johne M'Connielly-gar and his wyffes, and Johne É. wyffe, in Lytel. Alteis, thre notorious and commoune witches.” They had been sent for to assist in restoring the health of Robert Monro, a brother of the said Mr. Hector, who entertained them for five days. It is said in the indictment, that they “poillit the hair of Robert Monro, his brotheris head, and plait the naillis of his fingeris and tais,” and “socht be thair develisch meanes to have cureit him of his sickness;” but it would appear, that the weird sisters were by no means successful, and were compelled to decamp, for “they wald haif vsit furth the rest of thair develisch craft was rocht they serit to tarie with him (Hector Monro) be ressone of his fader, quha wald haif apprehendit thane; and they declarit to him that he was owre lang in sending for thame, swa that they cald do na guid to the said Robert Monro.” Mr. Hector, however, fell sick himself, and had recourse to the hags for a cure; and as he had an eye to the patrimony of his father, to which he could not succeed as he was a younger son, he began some incantations, in concert with the hags, to deprive his elder brother, George Monro, of life, and for this he was “delatit,” also of “slaughter.” The indict*.ient, which is a most remarkable document, is too long for insertion. Jonett Grant, Jonett Clark, and Bessie Roy, nurse to the “Laird of Boquhave,” are the three next ladies who were called to account for being “sylit” of witchcraft. The two Jonetts seem to have been in partnership ; and if the indictments are to be credited, they were guilty of no fewer than six “crewal murthers,” by witchcraft, of the “slavchter and destructionne of saxtene heid of nolt, of raising the devil, of making men eunuchs by witchcraft,” &c. For such hardened sinners as the two Jonetts, no mercy was to be expected, and accordingly they were condemned to be “tane to the Castle hill of Edinburg, and there werriet at ane staik, and their body to be burnt to assis.” Bessie Roy, however, came off with flying colours, although she was also indicted as “ane commoune thief,” by means of the “enchantment and slicht of the diuill.”—The following is the title of a pamphlet republished by Mr. Pitcairn, containing a most extraordinary narrative. “Newes from Scotland, declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fean, a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edinburg in Janurie inst, 1591, which doctor was register to the deuill, that sundrie times preached at North Barricke kirk, to a number of notorious witches,” &c. The poor wo— man who was most cruelly treated was Euphane Mackalsane, a notable witch, who appears to have been so notorious as to be “bound to ane staik, and brunt to assis, quick to the death.” “This,” says Mr. Pitcairn, “was the severest sentence ever pronounced by the court, even in the most atrocious cases,” but poor Euphane died, nevertheless, with all the heroism and devotedness of a martyr. See Edin. Lit. Gaz. July 1829. To attempt a serious refutation of the doctrines of witchcraft, would be altogether superflu
ous and even ridiculous. That there ever were witches, that is, persons endowed with such powers as are usually ascribed to witches, is what no rational and enlightened mind can for a moment admit. The actions imputed to them are either absurd or impossible. To suppose an ignorant old woman, or indeed any human being, capable of transforming herself into a cat or a hare, is to suppose her capable of counteracting the laws of nature, which is competent to none but the Supreme Ruler of the world. We might almost as soon believe that such a being : is capable of creating the universe. It presents a most humiliating picture of the imbecility of the human mind, that such absurdities should ever have been believed; and certainly conveys no very favourable idea of the humanity of our ancestors, when they inflicted, without remorse, so many shocking cruelties, especially on the tender sex, for such sancied crimes. Yet, absurd as the doctrine of witchcraft certainly is, it is a lamentable fact, that vast multitudes of our fellowmen, both in our own country and in other lands, are still believers in sorcery and witchcraft, of which an instance or two is stated in the following note.
No. VI.—Proofs that the belief in witchcraft is still prevalent among certain classes of society.
Notwithstanding the degree of information which prevails in the nineteenth century, it is a melancholy consideration that superstition, and a belief in the efficacy of certain incantations, still prevail to a considerable extent, even in the most enlightened countries. The following recent occurrences will tend to corroborate this position, and at the same time show the pernicious consequences which frequently result from such a belief.
On the 2d September 1829, Laurent Raimboult, a farmer in the hamlet of Redoire, Commune of Champtre, in France, spent the day in measuring wheat at the house of Poirier, his brother-in-law. About eight o'clock in the evening, he left to go to his own house, which was about half a league from Poirier's house. He carried a bag containing the measure he had been using, and a box holding his dinner, which he had not opened; for he had stated his intention not to eat till he returned home. The next morning his corpse was sound in a meadow, bordered by a wood, and not very far from his own house. His body was horribly mutilated, his clothes stained with blood, and there was a large wound on the back part of his head. All the wounds showed that he had been struck by several persons armed with contusive weapons. Near him the ground had not been trod upon ; his bag and the things it contained were carefully laid by his side: all proved that he had not been robbed. Poirier, who has always had a good