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serves, in his preface, “Of the letters from different correspondents found among Locke's papers, the whole of those from Newton, and the greater part of those from Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Peterborough, are now printed. Of the remainder, nearly one hundred are from Limborch; perhaps double that number from M. Toinard, containing the scientific news from Paris from 1679 for several years following ; many from Le Clerc; from Guenelon, of Amsterdam ; from Lord Ashley, third Earl of Shaftesbury ; from Mr. Tyrrel and Dr. Thomas, Mr. Clark of Chipstead, to whom the 'Thoughts on Education' were addressed ; and from A. Collins, &c. &c. amounting altogether to some thousands in number. The desire of keeping this publication within reasonable bounds, has prevented the publication of more than a very few of these letters.”
"I hope here be truths.”_SHAKSPEARE. The love of the marvellous has pervaded all nations and ages ; has supplied its most powerful auxiliary to superstition, and polluted the pure fountain of truth. There is in the human mind some mute but active principle, which pushes its inquiries beyond the narrow limits of reason ; which loves to grapple with mystery, and revel in all the fanciful creations of a wayward thought. Hence sprang the lying oracles of the heathen world. Hence, the belief in ghostly appearances has been supplied with its most efficient champion ; and sorcery and astrology, with their most fiery zealots. None propagate errors so strenuously as those who have been the victims of error: none believe so heartily, as they whose credulity has been matured by interest. So circumstanced are all the ministers of supposititious creeds. Deceived themselves, they have often a malicious pleasure in deceiving others; and finding advantage in falsehood, they adopt it without investigation, and with unscrupulous ardour. If the truth be too dazzling for their willing cecity, they are protected by remembering all the gain of falsehood; and in time, are able to digest without difficulty, what, at first, they found too monstrous to swallow. Memories are treacherous ; and that which has imbibed the tarnish of age, becomes hallowed for its antiquity, and venerated as an early friend. It impresses itself, magnified and sublimed by distance, upon the understanding; and there remains with unshaken firmness and unquestioned plausibility. . As Richard shrewdly hints to Matthew, in the “ Alma” of Prior, : .
“ Atoms you cut, and forms you measure,
To gratify your private pleasure;
You fancy first, and then assert.” The belief in sorcery and in spiritual appearances was once as undisputed as the being of a God; and British Judges were among the last to be convinced of their non-entity. Ignorance and imagination combined, will always, in a greater or a less degree, arouse the principles of superstition; and led by habit, and an internal, unrepressible appre
hension, even they whose reason laughs at supernatural influence, will
sometimes be overpowered by an instinctive shudder, and unacknow· ledged prejudice. Perhaps the belief in spirits will never be extinct ; and dreams will still hold a mighty sway on certain minds, and under the effect of certain feelings. But sorcery was for the ignorance and imagination of remoter times. It was enforced by the reasonings of fancy, and pressed with immoderate power, by that secret source of credulity which revels at pleasure in the airy regions of its own morbid creation.
In confirmation of witches and diabolical contracts, writes a Member of the Royal Society to the much honoured Robert Hunt, Esq. “ we have the attestation of thousands of eye and ear-witnesses, and those not of the easily deceivable vulgar only, but of wise and grave discerners, and that, when no interest could oblige them to agree together in a common lie."* The Member of the Royal Society argues that if the belief of witches be absurd, it is equally absurd to believe that there are spirits. If there be no spirits, then there is no soul; and if no soul, then no God. This is a style of ratiocination well suited to a lover of the marvellous! Secondly, he says, that judging by the analogy of nature, as every part of the earth is inhabited, it is weakness to think that the vast spaces above, and the hollows below the ground, are not also inhabited by beings proper to such habitations. That the more absurd and unaccountable relations seem, the more likely they are to be true. “For the contrivers of fictions use to form them as near as they can conformably to the most unsuspected realities, endeavouring to make them look as like truth as it is possible in the main supposals, though, withal, they make them strange in circumstance. None but a fool or a madman would relate, with a purpose of having it believed, that he saw in Ireland men with hoofs on their heads, and eyes in their posteriors; or, if any should be so ridiculously vain 'as to be serious in such incredible romances, it cannot be supposed that all travellers that come into those parts after him, should tell the same story.”+ We shall show presently what it is that travellers can do what gentle readers can credit, and what succeeding travellers can confirm. Our philosophical inquirer goes on to observe, that there is no difficulty in believing that spirits may transport the witch through the air to the place of general rendezvous. For the soul leaving its gross and sluggish body behind, (an article of belief, he assures us, among all true philosophers,) may be clothed only with its immediate vehicle of air, or by more subtle matter; and thus may be conducted where it would. Nor is it the actual separation of the soul from the body which constitutes death; but the indisposition and unfitness of the body for vital union. So that the anointing of witches preparatory to their flight, may perhaps serve to keep the body tenantable, and in proper disposition to receive the spirit at its return. And the Apostle's expression “ Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell," proves, as he surmises, that the soul may for a time be absent from the body without occasioning death. Then, the transformation of witches is conceivable ; be
*" A philosophical endeavour towards the defence of the being of Witches and Apparitions," p. 10, 1666. . iii.t Ibid. p. 10, 11.
We subjoin Hammond's commentary on this passage, which for us is quite cause it is possible that imagination may more easily form those passive and pliable vehicles of air into such shapes, than that the fancy of the mother can form the fætus into those monstrous births and singularities which are often thus produced.* And for raising storms and tempests, they do it not by their own power, but by that of the Prince of Air. Lastly, that they are sucked by a familiar, is not improbable. For the familiar not only sucks the witch, but in the action infuses some poisonous ferment into her, that gives the imagination and spirits a magical tincture.
Spirits, he continues, are embodied. For all sense is caused and excited by motion made in matter. And when those motions which convey sensible impressions to the brain are intercepted, sense is destroyed. Therefore, if spirits be disjoined from matter, it is inconceivable how they can have the sense of any thing: how they can perceive material objects without vital union with matter. In nature, there is a gradual scale of beings and things : if, then, there were no order of existence between the gross earthly bodies of men, and the pure ethereal and unbodied spirit, there would be a solecism in nature. Therefore, spirits are embodied. And this accounts for their rare appearance on earth; since the frame and temper of their senses and bodies must be unsuited to a constant or frequent intercourse.
The ingenuity with which the ideas of childhood are sometimes defended in maturer years, proves the depth at which they are rooted,
It is in the nursery that such weaknesses are commonly acquired ; and imagination once aroused, eagerly demands its own peculiar aliment. Saturated at length with nursery lore, it seeks for subsistence amongst the more sublime, but not less crude conceptions of invisible worlds.
effort to open a communication with them; to create aerial forms, and to endụe the terra incognita of fancy with all the vast and appalling phantoms of a heated brain. It was in such moments, no doubt, that stars," the poetry of heaven," became the subjects of intense observation; that talisınans were imagined, that sympathetic powder, and the elixir of life, rose upon men's faith with a tenacity that ages of manifest delusion were scarcely able to abate. We are in possession of a little volume, published at Paris during the latter part of the seventeenth century, which conveys the sentiments of this once numerous sect, with all the impetuous zeal of a martyr. We translate a few passages, not only as curious in themselves, but as illustrative of the position we have taken with regard to the course of human weakness in estimating things of wonder.
"A talisman,” says the author, (the Abbé D. B.) “is nothing but the seal, figure, character, or image of a celestial sign, planet, or constellation ; made, impressed, engraved, or chiselled on a sympathetic stone; or on a metal corresponding with a star, by a workman who has a mind resolved and fixed upon the work, and upon the end of the
satisfactory :-" That is, I am not able to say, whether I were bodily reinoved and carried to the third heaven, the place of God's glorious residence ; or whether only in a vision such representations were made to me, remaining upon the earth.”
* The power of imagination upon the foetu's has always been insisted on, in arguments for the support of talismanic properties.
Aug.-VOL. XXVI. NO. CIV.
work, without being drawn aside or confused by thoughts foreign to the matter : corresponding, also, with the day and hour of the planetin a fortunate place, in beautiful and serene weather, and when the heaven is in the best disposition that may be, in order to draw more strongly its influences, for an effect depending upon the same power, and possessing the virtue of its influences.
“By this definition or description, it would appear, that in the composition of talismans, many things are to be considered: to wit, the matter, the form, the end, the effects, the workman, and the different circumstances thereunto appertaining. These being examined through the medium of reason, we shall easily acknowledge that talismans are natural, and neither magical nor superstitious.
“First, the matter is a stone or metal, with which nature furnishes us, and which has not been fabricated in hell. The form is a figure, image, or character, which does not represent a demon, but a man, or some animal. The workman is an engraver, who does not employ himself in conjurations ; and if he ought to be decply engaged in his work, it is a condition necessary to all workmen who would labour happily. The end is, to attract the influences of the planets, which all parties admit to be possible. The effect is, to enjoy the virtue of such influences, which is natural: since in possessing the cause, nothing can prevent us froin possessing the effect. The circumstances are not vicious, inasmuch as they are all conformable to the end of the operation. In reality, since the end of the talisman is to attract the influences of superior bodies for particular effects, it is very natural that we should observe, from point to point, what is above us -so that all there be innocent.
“But to proceed more clearly and methodically. We see, in the first place, that the influences of superior bodies descend below. Secondly, that we may draw them abundantly and powerfully, as will be demonstrated presently, by means of a stone or metal, symbolical, or conformable to the planet or character, at the period of its most favourable aspect. And connecting it with the other circumstances detailed above, we shall find it easy to conclude that talismanic figures are innocent and natural.
“As to what regards the first proposition, it is unnecessary to dwell long upon the proof. For it must be manifest to all who have eyes, that the sun, moon, stars, and other superior bodies, continually emit their virtues here below; and that if they ceased one moment to communicate them, there would be a general corruption of nature. The matter of all that which composes inferior nature, is derived from the elements; but the form is given by the sun and stars. And we may say, that these great superior bodies, lords of the universe, are the fathers, mothers, and nurses, which form, rear, and support them. Wherefore, if the stars concur in our production, they are necessary for our preservation ; preservation being nothing but a continued production of existence. Thus be who would deny the influences of the stars on the earth, would destroy it entirely. Because being informed and enriched only by their virtues, it must perish with all its rarities, if it were not nourished by the same aliments that have rendered it fruitful. This point cannot contain any difficulty ; and the very school which has shown itself especially hostile to talismans, allows the influences of the planets. But thongh it be not so easy for us to believe that influences may be attracted in a potent and abundant degree by means of art, to a subject chosen for that purpose, yet I think sufficient proofs of it are not difficult to adduce. Experience shows us, that by the burning-glass we draw the solar rays, the vehicles of the sun's influences; and introduce them into tow, or other combustible matter, which thus becomes ignited, because of a disposition in the matter to receive the flame. If ihis, therefore, may be effected with respect to the sun, it may also be effected with respect to other planets in the same way. For their influence extends to the earth, as the sun's does, and may be attracted by him who shall understand the means and the matter proper to receive them.
“ If then, in the first place, the influences descend ; if, in the second, they may be attracted powerfully and abundantly by some art upon certain matter, as experience sufficiently demonstrates we have only to note, and collect from thence, that talismans are natural in all the circumstances which attend their composition."*
After expatiating some time upon the prejudices of men in general against the light of science, the same author proceeds to the composition of sympathetic powder, which we transcribe, in the hope of ridding the world of “ tribes of ignoramuses, disguised like doctors; persons, who assume the character of scientific men, in consequence of a few Greek or Latin words muttered like parrots, and dispute and quarrel comme des femmelettes.”+ To compose this extraordinary powder, he instructs you to “ take Roman vitriol, or rather the universal Catholic vitriol. Even the common vitriol may be used; which, bearing the name, and one of the characters of the universal, approaches nearer to its nature, and has received its virtues more than all the other bodies of this lower region. Expose it to the sun during the dog-days; and being regarded kindly and watered, as it were, by this source of light, it becomes gently changed, dried, and reduced to a calx : it whitens, and-behold all the art and mystery of our wonderful powder. It must be used in the following manner.
“Soak a linen cloth in the blood or matter of the wound ; put a little of this powder upon the blood, and lay it in a temperate situation. Repeat this process five or six days successively, sometimes more, sometimes less ; and the divided parts will re-unite, the wound will close, and the wounded person become sound, although removed farther than a thousand leagues from the linen to which the powder is applied.”'t
It was while such feelings were at their height, that the most gross and marvellous tales were propagated by travellers abroad, and believed and repeated by domestic circles at home. For what could bound credulity when imagination assumed the part of judgmentwhen the anointed witch bestrode a broom, and winged her passage through the air—when spirits walked, and the powder of sympathy and the philosopher's stone were deemed objects of possible attainment ? On such suppositions every lie was credible, every prodigy within the compass of truth. And while wonders were so current in Europe, the