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character in that part of the country, was on very bad terms with Raimboult, who passed for a sorcerer. Some time ago, the wise of Poirier had fallen sick, as well as several of his cattle. Poirier did not doubt for aninstant, that these sicknesses were the effect of sorcery. He came to Angers, and consulted a pretended diviner, a miserable victim of monomania, who gave him a full water-bottle, and told him to take it home with him, and put it in the very best place of his house. “At such an hour,” said the diviner, “you should recite such and such prayers before my water-bottle, and then you will see in the water it contains, the likeness of him who has bewitched your wife and your cattle.” Poirier followed these orders precisely; and it is only too probable that his imagination being pre-occupied with the idea, this wretched man fancied he saw his brother-in-law in the water-bottle of the guilty diviner, and thought he was doing a service to his country in delivering it from a being whom he regarded as the friend and favourite of the devil.—Copied from a Paris paper, in J}sorning Chron. Sept. 23, 1829. The following occurrence, in another Department of France, happened nearly about the same time as the preceding. “. It appears that in the department of Lot and Garonne, and particularly in some of the communes of the district of Marmande, the belief of sorcery is common among the people. John Sabathe, a peasant, with plenty of money, living in the vicinity of Clairac, had a sick daughter: medicine had failed, which is nothing extraordinary; but there remained magic, and Sabathe greatly relied upon it. He applied to Rose Peres, who enjoyed the reputation of being a witch. He stated the condition of his daughter;-the witch replied, she would go and visit her. She went the next morning to Sabathe's residence, saw the sick girl, and declared she was bewitched. [Perhaps she was not so far wrong either, for some witnesses, who were no doubt very spiteful, gave it as their opinion that love had entered a little into this affair.] Whatever was the cause of her illness, the witch promised to relieve her, and said, that the thing was not without a remedy. She told them to light a great fire, and they would see why afterwards. Little as we are initiated into the secrets of magic, we know that odd numbers, especially the number three, have singular virtues; therefore 3 multiplied by 3 must be a number prodigiously powerful. It was apparently for this cason that the witch required nine large pebble stones, which she put into the fire, and kept there till they were red hot: she then threw them into a kettle full of water, and the mysterious vapour that arose served to perfume the patient that was ying over it. But this was only the preamble of ceremonies much more important. She had a table brought to her; it was covered with a
cloth, ard two lighted candles placed on it; thers was even an end of wax that had been used in the church; a hammer was placed symmerically between the two candles, and on one side of the table the witch laid, with a grave and mysterious air, the formidable book of magic, so well known by the name of Little Albert. She still wanted one thing; it was a plate filled with water, in which a sum of 400 francs (16l. sterling) was to be deposited. The plate was brought —as to the sum, we may remark, how difficult magic must be to practise, and what attention is requisite to its details. Crown pieces of six francs were about to be put into the water, when the witch called out, 'Take care what you are doing; it is crown pieces of five francs that are wanted.” She was instantly obeyed,—the crowns of five francs are at the bottom of the plate. “Things being in this state, every body left the house. The witch remained alone sor about half an hour; she then re-opened the doors, and said they might re-enter. She added, that all had succeeded, but that the malignant spirit that had appeared had carried away the 400 francs on withdrawing. The witch's husband then arrived; his wife told him that the assembly was made. “It’s all well,” said he “but thy sister is at thy house, and she wants to see you, and we must go there. They went accordingly ; Sabathe and his samily a little stupified, and the patient in the same state as besore.—These were the facts which were made known to the Court by indirect evidence, for these good folks took care to make no complaint,for fear of the witches. The Court sentenced her to imprisonment for three years, and a fine of fifty francs. She had been charged before the Royal Court of Agen for swindling, under pretence of practising witchcraft. —Some years ago, the same Court sentenced to close imprisonment three or four women, living in the neighbourhood of Villereal, for having put on the fire and half-burned a pretended witch, who would not cure them of a disease she had given them.”—Gazette des Tribunaur, as quoted in Morn. Chron. Sept. 28,1829. In both the above cases we perceive an implicit belief in the powers of divination and sorcery, a belief which appears to be general among the lower ranks of society; and it would appear that the profession of witch or sorcerer is pretty common in the principal towns in France. In the one instance this belief led to a most atrocious murder, and in the other to a dexterous robbery; and, in this latter case, it would seem, that. notwithstanding the palpable imposture that was practised on Sabathe and his family, these simple people still believed in the supernatural powers of the sorceress who had so barefacedly robbed them, for “they took care to make no comiplaint, for fear of the witches.”—Nearly akin to the notions under consideration, is the following superstition relating to bees.
mistress, &c. (as the case inay be) is dead! Mr. Loudon says, when in Bedfordshire lately, we were informed of an old man who sung a psalm last year in front of some hives which were not doing well, but which, he said, would thrive in consequence of that ceremony.— Magazine of Nat. Hist. for 1828. The Constitutionnel (January 1828) states, that under the influence of the Jesuits, and with the countenance of the authorities, &c. the most brutifying tales of superstition and fanaticism are printed and circulated in the provinces of France. One of the ridiculous narratives to which it alludes, details the fate of a blaspheming baker, who, being infected with the heresies of the Revolution, had addicted himself to the commission of every kind of impiety. While his oven one day was heated, and he was about to put the bread into it, he vented his usual oaths in the presence of two neighbours; when, lo! the dough miraculously refused to enter, and the baker was seized with a cold shivering, of which he died in two days. In his will he left 600 francs to the church, confessed his enormities, and besought the prayers of his friends.-In another, we are told of the discovery of a miraculous image, which will be a permanent source of ecclesiastical revenue. This image is that of a saint, which has been for the last two centuries concealed in a rock. It was discovered by means of a little white hird perched upon a brilliant crucifix, which guarded the spot. Since the discovery, the lame walk, the sick are healed, and the blind recover their sight, by resorting to the consecrated ground. It is not above fifteen or sixteen years ago since the late Alexander Davidson, A. M., lecturer on experimental philosophy and chemistry, when in Ireland, was much annoyed by the superstitious belief in necromancy and infernal agency which still prevails among a large portion of the lower orders in that country. When delivering a course of lectures in a small town not far from Londonderry, the rumour of the experiments he performed spread among the body of the people, many of whom had listened at the outside of the hall in which he lectured, to the loud detonations produced by electrical and other experiments, particularly the explosions of hydrogen gas. The great majority of the inhabitants believed he was an astrologer and necromancer, and considered
it dangerous to have the slightest intercourse with his family, even in the way of buying and selling. One morning his servant-maid was sent out for bread and groceries for breakfast. After a considerable time, she returned with a pitiful countenance and a heavy heart, and declared that not an article of any description could be obtained. “What,” says Mr. D., “is there no tea, sugar, or bread in the whole village?” “O yes,” replied the maid, “there is plenty of every thing we want, but nobody will sell us an article: they say we are all witches and wizards and necromancers, and it's no canny to tak ony o' your money.” Mr. Davidson and family, in this case, might have starved, had he not bethought himself of employing the servant of an acquaintance, who was one of his auditors, to procure, in her master's name, the requisite provisions; and this plan he was obliged to adopt during the remainder of his stay in that place. At another time his boots required to be repaired: the servant took them to a shoemaker, and they were received by one of the female branches of his family; but when the shoemaker understood to whom they
belonged, he stormed, and was indignant at their
receiving any thing from such a dangerous individual. The servant soon after returned to inquire if the boots were repaired. “Is the astrologer's boots mendit 2" one of the family vociferated. “No,” was the reply, “they are not mendit, nor do we intend to mend them, or have any thing to do with them.” The shoemaker's wise desired the servant to come in, and lift the boots herself; “for,” said she, “I will not touch them;” and it appears that both the shoemaker and his family had been afraid even to put their fingers upon them, and doubtless imagined that the very circumstance of their having been received into the house would opernte as an evil omen.—On the day previous to his leaving that place, he sent his servant to engage a chaise to carry them to the next town. The servant told the landlady of the inn (which was the only one from which a carriage could be procured) that her master wished to hire a chaise for to-morrow to carry them to N–. The landlady told her it could not be granted. “For what reason?” said the maid. “You know very well what is the reason,” said the landlady, in a very emphatical tone. After the servant returned with this reply, Mr. Davidson himself went to the inn, when the following dialogue took place between him and the lan lady:—“Well,madam, can you give me a chaise to-morrow to carry mc to Newry?” “No; for our horses are very tired, as they have been out all day, and they cannot go to-morrow.” “O dear, madam, is that the only reason 7 You know very well I can make them go.” The landlady, putting on a grave countenance, replied with emphasis, “We all know that very well. We know that you could sink the town, if you chose to do it. But I shall give you the chaise, to carry you out of the place, and make the town rid of you : butit is more for fear of you than love to you that Iconsent to grani you my chaise.”—Such were the absurd and superstitious notions prevalent among the lower class of the Irish in 1814 or 1815; and these were not the only instances in which they were inanifested, but only specimens of what frequently occurred in other parts of that country. However clearly persons of education and intelligence may perceive the absurdity and futility of the superstitious notions and practices to which I have now referred,—it is a fact, well known to those who have been conversant among the lower orders of society, that they still prevail to a very considerable extent among the untutored ranks, even of our own country. Nothing but a more assiduous cultivation of the rational powers, and a universal diffusion of useful knowledge among the inferior classes of society, can be expected thoroughly to undermine and eradicate such opinions, and to prevent the banesul and pernicious consequences to which they lead.
No. VII.-Circumstances which have occasionally led to the belief of Spectres and Apparitions. P. 23.
It is certain, that indistinct vision and optical illusions have, in many instances, been the sources of terror, and have produced a belief of supernatural appearances. When we have no other mode of judging of an unknown object but by the angle it forms in the eye, its magnitude will uniformly increase in proportion to its nearness. If it appears, when at the distance of forty or fifty paces, to be only a sew feet high, its height, when within three or four feet of the eye, will appear to be above sorty times greater, or many fathoms in dimension. An object of this kind, must naturally excite terror and astonishment in the spectator, till he approaches and recognises it by actual feeling; for the moment a man knows an object, the gigantic appearance it assumed in the eye, instantly diminishes, and its apparent magnitude is reduced to its real dimensions. But if, instead of approaching such an object, the spectator flies srom it, he can have no other idea of it, but from the image which it formed in the eye; and in this case, he may asfirm with truth, that he saw an object terrible in its aspect, and enormous in its size. Such illusions frequently occur, when persons are walking through desert and unfrequented tracts of country, surrounded with a fog, or in the dusk of the evening, when a solitary tree, a bush, an old wall, a cairn of stones, a sheep or a cow, may appear as phantoms of a monstrous size. The writer of an article in the “Encyclopædia Britannica,” states, that “he was passing the Frith of Forth at Queensferry, one morning which was extremely soggy. Though the water is only two miles broad the boat did not get within sight of
the southern shore, till it approached very near it he then saw to his great surprise, a large perpendicular rock, where he knew the shore was low and almost flat. As the boat advanced a little nearer, the rock seemed to split perpendicularly into portions, which separated at little distances from one another; he next saw these perpendicular divisions move, and upon approaching a little nearer, found it was a number of people standing on the beach, waiting the arrival of the ferry boat.” Spectres are frequently occasioned by opium. Gassendi, the philosopher, sound a ber of people going to put a man to death for having intercourse with the devil, a crime which the poor wretch readily acknowledged. Gassendi begged of the people, that they would permit him first to examine the wizard, before pu ting him to death. They did so, and Gassendi, upon examination, found, that the man firmly believed himself guilty of this impossible crime; he even offered to Gassendi to introduce him to the devil. The philosopher agreed, and when midnight came, the mail gave him a pill, which he said it was necessary to swallow before setting off. Gassendi took the pill, but gave it to his dog: The man having swallowed his, fell into a profound sleep, during which he seemed much agitated by dreams; the dog was affected in a similar manner. When the man awoke he congratulated Gassendi on the favourable reception he had met with from his sable highness. It was with difficulty Gassendi convinced him that the whole was a dream, the effect of soporific medicines, and that he had never stirred from one spot during the whole night. Drunkenness has also the power of creating apparitions. Drunkenness seldom or never excites fear; and, therefore, it may at first sight seem strange, that persons should imagine they see ghosts when under the influence of intoxication. But it is observable, that the ghosts which the drunkard imagines he sees, he beholds not with the same terror and alarm, as men that are sober; he is not afraid of them; he has the courage to converse with them, and even to fight them, if they give him provocation. Like Burns’ “Tam o'Shanter,” give him “fair play—he cares na’ de'ils a bodle.” A man returning home intoxicated, affirmed, that he had met with the devil; and that, after a severe encounter, he had vanquished him, and brought him to the ground, to which he had nailed him fast, by driving his staff through' his body. Next morning, the staff was found stuck with great violence into a heap of turfs' Dreams may be considered as another source of apparitions. While the mind is under the influence of a dream, it considers it as much a reality, as it does any particular action when awake: and, therefore, if a person of a weak superstitious mind should have a very lively dream which interests his passions, it ma", make so deep an im
pression, that he may be firmly convinced he has actually seen with his eyes, what has only passed before his inagination; especially when we consider, that there are times of slumber when we are not sensible of being asleep. On this principle, some have endeavoured to account for the spectre which is said to have appeared to Brutus. It is related, that at Philippi, the night before he gave battle to Augustus Cæsar, he saw a fearful apparition; it was in the dead of night, when the whole camp was perfectly quiet, that Brutus was employed in his tent, in reading by a lamp that was just expiring; on a sudden he thought he heard a noise as if somebody entered, and looking towards the door, he perceived it open; a gigantic figure with a frightful aspect, stood before him, and continued to gaze upon him with silent severity. At last, Brutus had courage to speak to it: “Art thou a demon or a mortal man 2 and why comest thou to me?” The phantom is said to have replied, “Brutus, I am thy evil genius, thou shalt see me again at Philippi.” “Well then,” answered Brutus, without being discomposed, “we shall meet again;” upon which the phantom vanished, and Brutus, calling to his servants, asked them if they had seen any thing ; to which replying in the negative, he again resumed his studies. This circumstance is related by historians as a vision, but considering the circumstances, one may easily judge it to have "een but a short dream; for, sitting in his ten.,,. - 've and troubled with the horror of his late rash act, it was not hard for him, slumbering in the cold, to dream of that which most affrighted him; which fear, as by degrees it made him wake, so it inust have made the apparition by degrees to vanish ; and having no assurance that he slept, he could have no cause to think it a dream, or any thing else than a vision. Whatever may be said as to this solution of the case, certain it is, that vivid dreams in certain states of mind, have been mistaken for real apparitions, of which various instances could be adduced, did our limits permit.
Fear is another fertile source of Spectres. As partial darkness and obscurity are the most common circumstances by which the sight is deceived, so night is the season in which apparitions are most frequently said to be seen. The state of the mind at that time, especially when a person is alone, prepares it for the admission of such delusions of the imagination. The fear and caution which night naturally inspires, the opportunity it affords for ambuscades, robberies, and assassinations, the deprivation of social intercourse, and the interruption of many pleasing trains of ideas which objects in the light never fail to produce, are all circumstances of terror, and favourable to the illusions of a timid imagination; and therefore, it is by no means strange, that an ignorant person with a mind uncultivated and uninformed, and with all the prejudices of the nursery
about him, should imagine he sees ghosts in those places where he believes they hover, especially at the hour of midnight, when the slightest aid of the imagination can transform a cow into a monstrous phantoin, and the reflection of the beams of the moon from a little water into a ghost with a winding-sheet; or a sound which is near, such as the rustling of the leaves of a tree, the noise of falling waters, or the screams of animals, when referred to a great distance, may be magnified into horrid and unearthly voices; for, in such cases, a timid and untutored mind seldom stops to inquire into the cause of its alarms. The celebrated historian De Thou, had a very singular adventure at Sannur, in the year 1598, which shows the happy effects of a calm inquiry into the cause of any alarming or extraordinary appearance. One night, having retired to rest very much fatigued, while he was enjoying a sound sleep, he felt a very extraordinary weight upon his feet, which, having made him turn suddenly, fell down and awakened him. At first he imagined that it had been only a dream, but hearing soon after some noise in his chatmber, he drew aside the curtains, and saw, by the help of the moon, which at that time shone very bright, a large white figure walking up and down, and at the same time observed upon a chair some rags, which he thought belonged to thieves who had come to rob him. The figure then approaching his bed, he had the courage to ask it what it was. “I am (said the figure)the Queen of Heaven.” Had such a figure appeared to any credulous ignorant man, he would, doubtless, have trembled with fear, and frightened the whole neighbourhood with a marvellous description of it. But De Thou had too much understanding to be so imposed upon. On hearing the words which dropped from the figure, he immediately concluded that it was some mad woman, got up, called his servants, and ordered them to turn her out of doors; after which he returned to bed and fell asleep. Next morning, he sound that he had not been deceived in his conjecture, and that having forgot to shut his door, this female figure had escaped from her keepers, and entered his apartment. The brave Schomberg, to whom De Thou related his adventure some days after, confessed that in such a case he would not have shown so much courage. The King likewise, who was informed of it by Schomberg, made the same acknowledgment.—See Ency, Brit., Art. Spectre.
The following relation contains a description of an apparition of a different kind, no less appalling. Mr. Schmidt, mathematical teacher at the school of Pforte, near Naumburg, which had formerly been a cloister, once happened to awake suddenly as the morning began to dawn. On opening his eyes, he beheld with astonishment a monk standing at the foot of his bed. Looking at him steadfastly, he appeared to be well-led; and his head, far from small, was sunk a little between a pair of very broad shoulders. The chamber was sufficiently secured ; Mr. Schmidt alone slept in it; and he was very certain that no one would attempt to put a trick upon him in est. He knew also, that no part of his clothes or any thing else was hanging at his bed's foot. The figure exactly resembled that of a monk, clothed in a white surplice, the falling folds of which were very clearly to be distinguished. Had an ignorant and timid man beheld this appearance, he would probably have covered himself up with the bed clothes, and firmly maintained that the ghost of a monk had appeared to him. As the school had formerly been a cloister, many monks had been buried both in the church and church-yard, and it was currently reported among the vulgar that the place was haunted. Mr. Schmidt, however, was neither ignorant nor timid, and he immediately conjectured that his eyes were deceived, though he could not imagine in what manner. He raised himself up a little in his bed, but t e apparition did not move, he only saw somewhat more of it, and the folds of the surplice were still more conspicuous. After a little while he moved towards the right, yet the apparition remained, and he seemed to have in part a side view of it; but as soon as he had moved his head so far as to have a slight glimpse of the bed's foot, the apparition retreated backward, though still with its face to the bed. Following the apparition quickly with his eyes, it retreated with speed, swelled as it retreated to a gigantic form, a rustling noise was heard, and at once the apparition was changed into the gothic window with white curtains which was opposite the bed's foot, and about six or seven feet distance from it. Several times after this Mr. Schinidt endeavoured when he awoke to see the same appearance, but to no purpose, the window always looking like a window only. Some weeks after, however, on awakening, as the day began to dawn, he again perceived the monk's apparition at the bed's foot. Being now aware what occasioned it, he examined it narrowly. The great arch of the window formed the monk's shoulders, a smaller arch, in the centre of this, his head, and the curtains the surplice. The folds of these appeared much stronger than they did at the same distance by day-light. Thus the figure of the monk appeared plainer, nearer, and smaller, than the window would have done. This apparition, therefore, like hundreds of others, was inerely an optical deception. The reader will find a more particular description of it, with an optical and mathematical explanation of the phenomenon, in vol. i. of “The Pleasing Preceptor,” translated from the German of Gerhard Ulrich Anthony Vieth. Another cause of apparitions, and of the belief in supernatural appearances, is to be found in the artisices and collusions of impostors, and the tricks of the waggish. Dr. Plot, in his Natural
History of Oxfordshire, relates a marvellous soor
which will illustrate this position. Soon after the murder of King Charles I., a commission was appointed to survey the King's house at Woodstock, with the manor, park, woods, and other demesnes belonging to that manor. One Coilins, under a feigned name, hired himself as secretary to the commissioners, who, upon the 13th October 1649, met, and took up their res.dence in the King's own rooms. His majesty s bed-chamber they made their kitchen, the council-hall their pantry, and the presence-chamber was the place where they met for the despatch ot business. His majesty's dining-room they made their wood-yard, and stored it with the wood of the famous royal oak from the High Park, which, that nothing might be left with the name of King about it, they had dug up by the roots. and split and bundled up into fagots for their firing. Things being thus prepared, they sat on the 16th for the despatch of business; and, in the midst of their first debate, there entered a large black dog (as they thought) which made a dreadsul bowling, overturned two or three of their chairs, and then crept under a bed and vanished. This gave them the greater surprise, as the doors were kept constan'' ' ., so that no real dog could get in or out. , ne next day their surprise was increased, when sitting at dinner in a lower room, they heard plainly the noise of persons walking over their heads, though they well knew the doors were all locked, and there could be nobody there. Presently after, they heard also all the wood of the King's oak brought by parcels from the dining-room, and thrown with great violence into the presence chamber, as also all the chairs, stools, tables, and other surniture sorcibly hurled about the room; their papers, containing the minutes of their transactions, were torn, and the ink-glass broken. When all this noise had ceased, Giles Sharp, their secretary, proposed to enter first into these rooms; and in presence of the commissioners, irom whom he received the key, he opened the doors, and sound the wood spread about the room, the chairs tossed about and broken, the papers torn, but not the least track of any human creature, nor the least reason to suspect one, as the doors were all fast, and the keys in the custody of the commissioners. It was therefore unanimously agreed that the power that did this mischief must have entered at the key-hole. The night following, Sharp, the secretary, with two of the commissioners' servants, as they were in bed in the same room, which room was contiguous to that where the commissioners lay, had their beds' feet lified up so much higher than their heads, that they expected to have their necks broken, and then they were let fall at once with so much violence as shook the whole mouse, and more trian ever terrified the commissioners. C, the night of the 19th, a
they were all . .ed in the the same room for