« VorigeDoorgaan »
But whilst the translator has attempted to deprive them of their original impurity, he trusts that enough of ancient belief and superstition has been left to attract attention to a very curious work; and that its adaptation to present society, by anecdotes and illusions to the existing state of society, will ensure it as favourable a reception with the British public, as the original papers met with in Madras.
Some alterations and additions have been made since it appeared in print; and the translator trusts that it will command a fair share of public attention.
Being in India, whilst the work is reprinted. in England, he trusts that all errors of the Press will be kindly excused.
Briefly remarking that most of the additions are from other sources than Dr. Bräuner, the
translator commits the volume to take its chance.
Of Gnomes, Satyrs, Fauns, Dryads,
Of the Will-o'-the-Wisp, or Ignis Fatuus
Since the subject of Demonology and Witchcraft has been treated of by no less a person than the late Sir Walter Scott, it may appear superfluous, if not presumptuous, for another writer to enter upon a field which has already been traversed by so great an authority. But we do so, because we believe that the matter which we shall adduce will be entirely new. We have not the work of Sir Walter Scott by to refer to; but, as the materials from which we propose to draw the substance of the following pages, are to be found in an exceedingly rare and scarce old German work, of the year
1747, which fell by mere chance into our hands, we have reason to believe that the present generation is either wholly, or very nearly so, unacquainted with it.
Whether, however, there are, or not, any parts of it, which the mere English reader may have met with before, we have a further object in view, and that is, to endeavour to impress upon these times a sense of the debt of gratitude due unto the Reformation for having dispersed the clouds of error and superstition which so long darkened the human intellect. We shall perceive in the author, Dr. Jacob Bräuner, from whom we draw our illustrations, the newly imparted light of Revelation struggling against the Romish superstitions, which still lingered in the world, even after the grosser parts of that ritual had fallen before the word of God.
We shall see him half doubting whether the instances of Satanic influence, which he brings forward, may not after all have something solid to rest upon, whilst at other times he inclines to the belief that the individuals who have been the subject of them, are under the power of strong mental delusions; exhibiting a mind not wholly set free from those prejudices, which, in the preceding ages, had taken such deep hold of the church.