Page images

The Count de la Puebla, to retain the people of Arragon in subjection as long as possible, and by that means to retard the progress of the Duke of Orleans, persuaded the inhabitants of Saragossa that the reports of the march of a fresh army from Navarre were false; and even that the camp which they saw was nothing real, but only a phantom produced by magic; in consequence of which the clergy made a procession on the ramparts, and from thence exorcised the pretended apparitions. It is astonishing that the people were so credulous as to entertain this fancy, from which they were not undeceived till the next day, when the Duke of Orleans' light horse, having pursued a guard of horse of Puebla's briskly to the very gates of the city, cut off several of their heads there. Then indeed the citizens were alarmed, and the magistrates appeared, to make their submission to his Royal Highness. I could not have believed what I have related, if I had not been assured of its truth at Saragossa by the principal people of the city.”

A similar notion of the devil's power to raise apparitions was even a superstition in the Highlands, which was supposed to account for some of the phenomena of second sight.-“ A woman of Stornbay,” says Martin, “ had a maid who saw visions, and often fell into a swoon; her mistress was very much concerned about her, but could not find out any means to


* This extract from the “ Memoires de Berwick” I quote from Dr Ferrier's translation of it, which is given in his excellent paper

on Popular Illusions.” See Memoirs of the Philosophical Society of Manchester, vol. iii. p. 79.

prevent her seeing those things; at last she resolved to pour some of the water used in baptism on her maid's face, believing this would prevent her seeing any more sights of this kind. And accordingly she carried her maid with her next Lord's day, and both of them sat near the basin in which the water stood, and after baptism, before the minister had concluded the last prayer, she put her hand in the basin, took up as much water as she could, and threw it on the maid's face ; at which strange action the minister and the congregation were equally surprised. After prayer, the minister inquired of the woman the meaning of such an unbecoming and distracted action; she told him, it was to prevent her maid's seeing visions; and it fell out accordingly, for from that time she never once more saw a vision of any kind. This account was given me by Mr Morison, minister of the place, bem fore several of his parishioners, who knew the truth of it. I submit the matter of fact to the censure of the learned ; but, for my own part, I think it to have been one of Satan's devices, to make credulous people have an esteem for holy water."*

There were again other views taken of Satan's inAuence. It was supposed that the devil was a great natural philosopher. “Summus opticus et physicus” [est,] says Hoffman, “propter diuturnam experientiam.”+ But no one so well as Dr Bekker, in his

* Martin's Description of the Western Isles of Scotland. +

" Di Diabole Potentia in Corpora.”

Monde Enchanté, has shewn what the devil can do by dint of his knowledge of the laws of nature.

I mean to speak of illusions, which Schottus, together with Delrio and Molina, declares to be of three sorts; those that are made by the change of the objects, those that are made by the change of the air, and those that happen by the change of the organs of the senses.

First, Illusions are made by the change of the object, when one thing is substituted instead of another that has been suddenly and imperceptibly snatched away; or when an object is presented to the eyes, in such a state and manner as that it produces a false vision ; or when any object made up of air, or of some other element, offers itself to the sight; or, lastly, when there appears any thing composed of different matters mingled together, and so skilfully prepared, that what existed before receives thereby another form and figure.

Second, The change of the air is made by these ways, when the devil hinders, lest the object should pass through the air and hit our eyes; when he disposes the air that is betwixt the object and the eye in such a manner that the object appears in another figure than really it is; when he thickens the air to make the object appear greater than it is, and to hinder it from being seen in other places but the place he designs ; when he moves the air in the place through which the object is to hit the eye, that the object, going through that part of the air, may also be moved, and that its figure may be presented to the eye otherwise than it is; and, lastly, when he mingles and confounds together several different figures, in order that in one only object there may appear many together.

Third, The organs of the senses are changed ; when they are either transferred from their places and altered; when their humours and active particles are corrupted and thickened; or when such a shining brightness passes before the eyes, that they are dazzled, so that it seems that a man raves waking.”.

Such was the hypothesis of learned demonologists. Satan was considered as deeply versed in all material and vital phenomena, and as inducing spectral impressions by the application of those laws which he so well comprehended.—Hence the compliment which Hoffman and others have paid to his great talents and learning. But as divers moral reasons prevent me from joining in this eulogium, I shall pay no farther tribute to so distinguished a character, than by presenting to the gentle reader as faithful a portrait of him as I have been able to procure. It is from an . ancient grotesque sculpture of the 16th century, which still graces the oaken pannels of the ancient seat of the Prestwiches of Lancashire,--an unfortunate family, whose property fell a sacrifice to their steady perseverance in the cause of the royalists. A drawing of this curious design was very kindly undertaken for me by a friend, whose accurate and elegant sketches of the relics of past times have been frequently acknowledged by the antiquary. To “ those gentle ones," therefore, that, in the language of our great bard, “ will use the devil himself with courtesy,”

the subjoined sketch is respectfully submitted. A more philosophical devil was perhaps never depicted: he not only appears to be well versed in the abstruse metaphysics of the period in which he sat for his portrait, but seems to be in the very act of expounding them ; and, since he has been regarded by very good authority as the efficient cause of all the phenomena in which we have been so seriously engaged, there cannot, surely, be any material impropriety in allowing him to grace the conclusion of the first part of these laborious lucubrations.

[merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »