without the balsamic medicine of the anti-conjuror. If a person happens to be deprived of his senses, the deranged cells of the brains must be adjusted by the magic charms of the anti-conjuror. If a farmer loses his cattle, the houses must be purified with water sprinkled by him. In searching for the latent mischief, this gentleman never fails to find little parcels of heterogeneous ingredients lurking in the walls, consisting of the legs of mice and the wings of bats; all the work of the witches. Few things seem too arduous for his abilities; and though, like Paracelsus, he has not as yet boasted of having discovered the philosopher's stone, yet, by the power of his occult science, he still attracts a little of their gold from the pockets where it lodges, and in this way makes a shift to acquire subsistence for himself and family."

There is a folio sheet, printed at London, 1561, preserved in a collection of Miscellanies in the archives of the Society of Antiquaries of London, lettered Miscel. Q. Eliz. No. 7, entitled, "The unfained retractation of Fraunces Cox, which he uttered at the pillery in Chepesyde and elsewhere, accordyng to the counsels commaundement anno 1561, 25th of June, beying accused for the use of certayne sinistral and divelysh artes.' In this he says that from a child he began "to practise the most divelish and supersticious knowledge of necromancie, and invocations of spirites, and curious astrology. He now utterly renounces and forsakes all such divelish sciences, wherein the name of God is most horribly abused, and society or pact with wicked spirits most detestably practised, as necromancie, geomancie, and that curious part of astrology wherein is contained the calculating of nativities or casting of nativities, with all the other magikes."

[ocr errors]

[WITCHCRAFT IN GUERNSEY.-A little, bent, decrepit old man, apparently between 70 and 80 years of age, named John Laine, of Anneville, Vale parish, was placed at the bar of the court, under a charge of having practised the art of necromancy, and induced many persons in the country parishes to believe they were bewitched, or under the influence of the devil; and that by boiling herbs to produce a certain perfume, not at all grateful to the olfactory nerves of demons, by the burning of calves' hearts, and the sprinkling of celestial water, he would drive out of the bodies of the insane all visitants from the nether regions, and effectually cure all who

were afflicted of the devil. It appeared in evidence that the accused had the reputation of professing to be a necromancer -that he had enjoyed it for the last twenty years at least; but of his having actually practised there was no complete proof brought before the court, except in relation to a recent case, wherein he was called upon to eject a proud devil that was supposed to have taken possession of an ignorant farmer, who not long since was elevated to the rank of Douzenier, and, therefore, legislator of Little Athens-the truth being that the very dizzy altitude to which he had been raised had completely turned the poor man's brains. The court severely denounced the conduct of the accused, and openly declared that the ignorance and superstition prevailing in the country parts of the island-those parts, they might have said, which claim and exercise the right of legislating for the town-and among respectable families too, were at once lamentable and disgraceful. They, however, would not, merely upon the evidence before them, either commit Laine for trial, nor yet send him to prison, but gave him a sharp reprimand, and forbade him, on pain of corporal punishment, ever again to practise upon the credulity of the people.-Guernsey Star.]


"A GHOST," according to Grose, "is supposed to be the spirit of a person deceased, who is either commissioned to return for some especial errand, such as the discovery of a murder, to procure restitution of lands or money unjustly withheld from an orphan or widow, or, having committed some injustice whilst living, cannot rest till that is redressed. Sometimes the occasion of spirits revisiting this world is to inform their heir in what secret place, or private drawer in an old trunk, they had hidden the title deeds of the estate; or where, in troublesome times, they buried their money or plate. Some ghosts of murdered persons, whose bodies have been secretly buried, cannot be at ease till their bones have been taken up, and deposited in consecrated ground, with all the rites of Christian burial. This idea is the remain of a

very old piece of heathen superstition: the ancients believed that Charon was not permitted to ferry over the ghosts of unburied persons, but that they wandered up and down the banks of the river Styx for an hundred years, after which they were admitted to a passage. This is mentioned by


Hæc omnis quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est:
Portitor ille, Charon; hi quos vehit unda, sepulti.
Nec ripas datur horrendas, nec rauca fluenta,
Transportare prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt.
Centum errant annos, volitantque hæc littora circum:
Tum, demum admissi, stagna exoptata revisunt.'

"Sometimes ghosts appear in consequence of an agreement made, whilst living, with some particular friend, that he who first died should appear to the survivor. Glanvil tells us of the ghost of a person who had lived but a disorderly kind of life, for which it was condemned to wander up and down the earth, in the company of evil spirits, till the day of judgment. In most of the relations of ghosts they are supposed to be mere aerial beings, without substance, and that they can pass through walls and other solid bodies at pleasure. A particular instance of this is given in Relation the 27th in Glanvil's Collection, where one David Hunter, neatherd to the Bishop of Down and Connor, was for a long time haunted by the apparition of an old woman, whom he was by a secret impulse obliged to follow whenever she appeared, which he says he did for a considerable time, even if in bed with his wife and because his wife could not hold him in his bed, she would go too, and walk after him till day, though she saw nothing; but his little dog was so well acquainted with the apparition, that he would follow it as well as his master. If a tree stood in her walk, he observed her always to go through it. Notwithstanding this seeming immateriality, this very ghost was not without some substance; for, having performed her errand, she desired Hunter to lift her from the ground, in the doing of which, he says, she felt just like a bag of feathers. We sometimes also read of ghosts striking violent blows; and that, if not made way for, they overturn all impediment, like a furious whirlwind. Glanvil mentions an instance of this, in Relation 17th, of a Dutch lieutenant who had the faculty of seeing ghosts; and who, being prevented making way for one which

[ocr errors]

he mentioned to some friends as coming towards them, was, with his companions, violently thrown down, and sorely bruised. We further learn, by Relation 16th, that the hand of a ghost is 'as cold as a clod.'

"The usual time at which ghosts make their appearance is midnight, and seldom before it is dark; though some audacious spirits have been said to appear even by daylight: but of this there are few instances, and those mostly ghosts who have been laid, perhaps in the Red Sea (of which more hereafter), and whose times of confinement were expired: these, like felons confined to the lighters, are said to return more troublesome and daring than before. No ghosts can appear on Christmas Eve; this Shakspeare has put into the mouth of one of his characters in 'Hamlet.'

"Ghosts," adds Grose, "commonly appear in the same dress they usually wore whilst living; though they are sometimes clothed all in white; but that is chiefly the churchyard ghosts, who have no particular business, but seem to appear pro bono publico, or to scare drunken rustics from tumbling over their graves. I cannot learn that ghosts carry tapers in their hands, as they are sometimes depicted, though the room in which they appear, if without fire or candle, is frequently said to be as light as day. Dragging chains is not the fashion of English ghosts; chains and black vestments being chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres, seen in arbitrary governments: dead or alive, English spirits are free. One instance, however, of an English ghost dressed in black is found in the celebrated ballad of William and Margaret,' in the following lines:


And clay-cold was her lily hand
That held her sable shrowd.'

This, however, may be considered as a poetical license, used, in all likelihood, for the sake of the opposition of lily to sable.

"If, during the time of an apparition, there is a lighted candle in the room, it will burn extremely blue: this is so universally acknowledged, that many eminent philosophers have busied themselves in accounting for it, without once doubting the truth of the fact. Dogs, too, have the faculty of seeing spirits, as is instanced in David Hunter's relation, above quoted; but in that case they usually show signs of

terror, by whining and creeping to their master for protection: and it is generally supposed that they often see things of this nature when their owner cannot; there being some persons, particularly those born on a Christmas eve, who cannot see spirits.

"The coming of a spirit is announced some time before its appearance by a variety of loud and dreadful noises; sometimes rattling in the old hall like a coach and six, and rumbling up and down the staircase like the trundling of bowls or cannon-balls. At length the door flies open, and the spectre stalks slowly up to the bed's foot, and opening the curtains, looks steadfastly at the person in bed by whom it is seen; a ghost being very rarely visible to more than one person, although there are several in company. It is here necessary to observe, that it has been universally found by experience, as well as affirmed by divers apparitions themselves, that a ghost has not the power to speak till it has been first spoken to: so that, notwithstanding the urgency of the business on which it may come, everything must stand still till the person visited can find sufficient courage to speak to it: an event that sometimes does not take place for many years. It has not been found that female ghosts are more loquacious than those of the male sex, both being equally restrained by this law.

"The mode of addressing a ghost is by commanding it, in the name of the three persons of the Trinity, to tell you who it is, and what is its business: this it may be necessary to repeat three times; after which it will, in a low and hollow voice, declare its satisfaction at being spoken to, and desire the party addressing it not to be afraid, for it will do him no harm. This being premised, it commonly enters its narrative, which being completed, and its requests or commands given, with injunctions that they be immediately executed, it vanishes away, frequently in a flash of light; in which case, some ghosts have been so considerate as to desire the party to whom they appeared to shut their eyes. Sometimes its departure is attended with delightful music. During the narration of its business, a ghost must by no means be interrupted by questions of any kind; so doing is extremely dangerous: if any doubts arise, they must be stated after the spirit has done its tale. Questions respecting its state, or the state of any of

« VorigeDoorgaan »