The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
by Augustin Calmet
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IX. It is proper to notice here that it is not so great a novelty as is generally believed, to make a distinction between witches and magicians. Nearly two hundred years ago James Wier, a doctor by profession, had already said the same thing. Never did an author write more at length upon this matter; you may consult the sixth edition of his book, De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus, published at Basle. He there proves that witches ought not to be condemned to death, because they are women whose brain is disturbed; because all the crimes that are imputed to them are imaginary, having no reality but in their ill will, and none at all in the execution; lastly, because, according to the rules of the soundest jurisprudence, the confession of having done impossible things is of no weight, and cannot serve as the foundation of condemnation. He shows how these foolish old women come to believe that they have held intercourse with some evil spirit, or been carried through the air; so far nothing can be better; but otherwise, being persuaded that there are really magic wonders,[678] and thinking that he has himself experienced something of the kind, he will have magicians severely punished. He says,[679] "that very often they are learned men, who, to acquire this diabolical art, have traveled a great deal; and who, learned[680] in Goesy and Theurgy,[681] whether through the demon or through study,[682] make use of strange terms, characters, exorcisms, and imprecations;" employ "sacred words and divine names, and neglect nothing which can render them skillful in the black art;"[683] which makes them deserving of the punishment of death.[684] "But," according to him, "there is a great difference between magicians and witches, inasmuch as these latter[685] make use neither of books, nor exorcisms, nor characters, but have only their mind and imagination corrupted by the demon." He calls witches "those women who pass for doing a great deal of harm, either by virtue[686] of some imaginary compact, or by their own will, or some diabolical instinct;" and who, having their brain deranged, confess they have done many things, which they never have nor could have performed. "Magicians,"[687] he says, "are led of themselves, and by their own inclination, to learn this forbidden art, and seek masters who can instruct them in it; wizards, on the contrary, seek neither masters nor instructions; but the devil takes possession of those women," whom he thinks the most likely to be deceived, "on account of their old age, of their melancholy temperament, or their poverty and misery." Everybody must see, and I have sufficiently shown it already, to how many difficulties and contradictions all this doctrine is subject; what we must conclude from it is, that wizards as well as magicians have equally recourse to the demon, and place their hope in him, without either of them ever obtaining what they wish. The author sometimes believes he renders what he says of the power of magic, and in short reduces it to nothing, by saying, that all the wonderful effects attributed to it have no reality, and are but illusions and vain phantoms; but he does not remark that it is even miraculous to cause to appear that which is not. Whether the wands of Pharaoh's magicians were really metamorphosed into serpents, or that they appeared to be thus changed to the eyes of the beholders, would either of them equally surpass all the power and industry of men. I shall not amuse myself with discussing largely many inutilities which may be found in this work; for instance, he does not fail to relate the impertinent story of the pretended magic of Sylvester II., which, as Panvinius has shown, had no other foundation than this pope's being much given to the study of mathematics and philosophy.

X. It is owned in the new book, that it is very likely some woman may be found "who, with the help of the demon, may be capable of performing a great many things even hurtful to mankind," and that by virtue "of a compact, express or tacit;" and it is added, that it cannot be denied that it may be, without absolutely denying the reality of magic. But when, so far from denying it, every effort on the contrary is made to establish it; when it is loudly maintained that persons may be found who, with the assistance of the demon, are able to produce real effects, even of doing harm to people; how, after that, can it be denied that there are witches, since, according to the common opinion, witchcraft is nothing else? Let them, if they will, regard as a fable what is said of their journeys through the air to repair to their nocturnal meetings; what will he gain by that, if, notwithstanding that, he believes that they possess the power to kill children by their spells, to send the devil into the body of the first person who presents himself, and a hundred other things of the same kind? He says, that "to render the presents which he makes more precious and estimable, and the more to be desired, the demon sells them very dear, as if he could not be excited to act otherwise than by employing powerful means, and making use of a most mysterious and very hidden art," which, doubtless, he would have witches ignorant of, and known only to magicians. But then they pretend that this art can be learned only from the devil, and to obtain it from him they say that he must be invoked and worshiped. Now, as there is hardly an impious character, who, having taken it into his head to operate something important by his charms or spells, would not be disposed to go to that shocking extreme, we cannot see why one should succeed in what he wishes, whilst the other does not succeed; nor what distinction can be made between rascals and madmen, who are precisely of a kind. I hold even, that if the reality and power of magic are granted, we could not without great difficulty refuse to those who profess it the power of entering places shut up, and of going through the air to their nocturnal assemblies. It will, doubtless, be said that that is impossible, and surpasses the power of man; but who can affirm it, since we know not how far the power of the rebel angels extends?

I remember to have formerly heard some persons at Rome reason very sensibly on the difficulty there is sometimes of deciding upon the truth of a miracle, which difficulty is founded on our ignorance of the extent of the powers of nature.

[[688] It is true that it would be dangerous to carry this principle too far; doubtless, we are not to deduce from it that nothing ever happens but what is natural, as if the Sovereign Author of all had in some measure bound his hands, and had not reserved unto himself the liberty to comply with the wishes and prayers of his servants—of sometimes according favors which manifestly surpass the powers he has granted to nature. It may often happen that we doubt whether an effect is natural or supernatural; but also how many effects do we see on which no sensible and rational person can form a doubt, good sense concurring with the soundest philosophy to teach us that certain wonders can only happen by a secret and divine virtue? One of the most certain proofs which can be had of this is the sudden and durable cure of certain long and cruel maladies. I know that simple and pious persons have sometimes attributed to a miracle cures which might very well be looked upon as purely natural; but what can be opposed to certain extraordinary facts which have sometimes happened to very wise and wide-awake persons, in the presence of sensible and judicious witnesses who have attested them, and confirmed by the report of the cleverest physicians, who have shown their astonishment at them? In this city of Verona, where I live, an event of this kind happened very recently, and it has excited the wonder of every one; but as the truth of it is not yet juridically attested I abstain from relating it. But such is not the case with a similar fact, verified, ten years ago, after the strictest examination. I speak of the miraculous cure of Dame Victoire Buri, of the monastery of St. Daniel, who after a chronic ague of nearly five years' duration, after having been tortured for several days with a stitch in her side, or acute pain, and with violent colics—having, in short, lost her voice, and fallen into a languid state, received the holy viaticum on the day of the fete of St. Louis de Gonzaga. In this condition, having fervently recommended herself to the intercession of the saint, she in one moment felt her strength return, her pains ceased, and she began to cry out that she was cured. At these cries the abbess and the nuns ran to her; she dressed herself, went up the stairs alone and without assistance, and repaired to the choir with the others to render thanks to God for her recovery. I had the curiosity to wish to inform myself personally of the fact and of these circumstances, and after having interrogated the lady herself, those who had witnessed her cure, and the physicians who had attended her, I remained fully convinced of the truth of the fact. I, I repeat, whose defect is not that of being too credulous, as it sufficiently appears by what I write here.

Again, I may say, that finding myself fourteen years ago at Florence, I was in that city acquainted with a young girl, named Sister Catherine Biondi, of the third order of St. Francis; through her prayers a lady was cured in a moment and for ever of a very painful dislocation. This circumstance was known by everybody, and I have no doubt that it will one day be juridically attested. For myself, I believe I obtained several singular favors of God through the intercession of this holy maiden, to whose intercession I have recommended myself several times since her death. The wise and learned father Pellicioni, abbot of the order of St. Benedict, her confessor, said that if we knew the life and family arrangements of this inferior sister, we should soon be delivered from all sorts of temptations against faith.

In effect, what things we are taught by these facts, which remain as if buried in oblivion! What subtile questions are cleared up by them in a very short time! Why do not the learned, who shine in other communions, give themselves the trouble to assure themselves of only one of these facts, as it would be very easy for them to do? One alone suffices to render evident the truth of the catholic dogmas. There is not one article of controversy for the defence of which it would not be necessary to compose a folio; whereas, only one of these facts decides them all instantly. We advance but little by disputation, because each one seeks only to show forth his own wit and erudition, and no one will give up a point; while by this method all becomes so evident that no reply remains in answer to it. And who could imagine that among so many miracles verified on the spot, in different places, and reported in the strictest examinations made for the canonization of saints, there would not be one which was true? To do so, we must refuse to believe anything at all, and to make use of one's reason. But when one of these facts becomes so notorious that there is no longer room to doubt it, if after that some difficulty presents itself to our feeble mind, which, so far from grasping the infinite, has only most confused knowledge of material bodies, will not any one who wishes to reason upon them be obliged to decide them suddenly by saying, "I do not understand it at all, but I believe the whole?" Those also, who, through the high opinion they have of their own knowledge, laugh at all which is above them; what can these men oppose to facts, in which Divine Providence shines forth in a manner so evident not only to the mind but to the eyes? In regard to those who, from the bad education which they have received, or from the idle and voluptuous life which they lead, stagnate in gross ignorance; with what facility would not one of these well-proved facts instruct them in what they most require to know, and enlighten them in a moment on every subject?]

To return to my subject. If it is sometimes difficult to decide on the truth of a miracle, how much more difficulty would there be in observing all the qualities which suit the superior and spiritual nature, and prescribing limits to it. In regard to the penalties which the author would have them inflict on magicians and witches, pretending that the former are to be treated with rigor, while, on the contrary, we must be indulgent to the latter, I do not see any foundation for it. Charity would certainly have us begin by instructing an old fool, who, having her fancy distorted, or her heart perverted, from having read, or heard related, certain things, will condemn herself, by avowing crimes which she has not committed. But if we are told, for instance, that, after having made a little image, an ignoramus has pierced it several times, muttering some ridiculous words, how can we distinguish whether this charm is to be attributed to sorcery or magic? and consequently, how can we know whether it ought to be punished leniently or rigorously? However it may be done, no effect will follow it, as has often been proved; and whether the spell is the work of a magician or a wizard, the person aimed at by it will not be in worse health. We must only remark, that although ineffectual, the attempt of such wizards is not less a crime, since to arrive at that point, "they must have renounced all their duty to God, and have made themselves the slaves of the demon:" also do they avow that to cast their spells they must "give up Jesus Christ, and renounce the baptismal rite." It is commonly held that "the demons appear to them, and cause themselves to be worshiped by them." This is certainly not the case; but if it were so, why should witches have less power than magicians? and on what foundation can it be asserted that they are less criminal?

XI. Now, then, let us come to the point, which has deceived many, and which still deludes some. Because in the Scripture, in the Old Testament, magic is often spoken of as it then was, they conclude that it still exists, and is on the same footing at this day. To that a reply is easy. Before the advent of the Saviour, the demon had that power; but he no longer possesses it, since Jesus Christ by his death consummated the great work of our redemption. It is what St. John clearly teaches in the Apocalypse, when he says[689]—"I saw an angel descend from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the well of the abyss, and a long chain with which he enchained the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and he bound him for a thousand years." The Evangelist here makes use of the term "a thousand years" to designate a period both very long and indeterminate, since we read, a little lower down, that the demon shall be unbound at the coming of Antichrist.[2] And "after a thousand years," says St. John, "Satan shall be unbound, and shall come out of his prison." Whence it happens, that in the time of Antichrist all the wonders of magic shall be renewed, as the apostle tells us, when he says[691] that his arrival shall be marked with the greatest wonders that Satan is capable of working, and by all sorts of signs and lying prodigies. But till then, "the prince of this world," that is to say, the demon, "will be cast out." Which made St. Peter say, that in ascending to heaven, Jesus Christ has subjugated "the angels, the powers, and the virtues;" and St. Paul says, that "he has enriched himself with the spoils of principalities and powers;" and that "when he shall give up the kingdom to God even the Father, and destroyed all principalities, and powers, and rule." These various names indicate the different orders of reprobate spirits, as we learn from different parts of the New Testament. Now, to understand that the might and power which the demon has been deprived of by the Saviour, is precisely that which he had enjoyed until then of deceiving the world by magical practices, it is proper to observe, that until the coming of Jesus Christ there were three ways or means by which the reprobate spirits exercised their power and malice upon men:—1. By tempting them and leading them to do evil. 2. By entering into their bodies and possessing them. 3. By seconding magical operations, and sometimes working wonders, to wrest the worship which was due to Him. At this day, of these three kinds of power, the demon has certainly not lost the first by the coming of the Saviour, since we know with what determination he has continued since then, and daily does continue, to tempt us. Neither has he been deprived of the second, since we still find persons who are possessed; and it cannot be denied, that even since Jesus Christ, God has often permitted this kind of possession to chastise mankind, and serve as a warning. Thence it remains, that the demon has only been absolutely despoiled of the third; and that it is in this sense we must understand what St. Paul says, "that Satan has been enchained." Thence it comes, that since the death of our Saviour all these diabolical _ having no longer the same success as before, those who until then had made a profession of them, brought their books to the apostles' feet, and burned them in their presence." For that these books treated principally of magic, we learn from St. Athanasius, who alludes to this part of the Scripture, when he says, that "those who had been celebrated for this art burned their books." It is not that, even in the most distant time, braggarts and impostors have been wanting who falsely boasted of what they could not perform. Thus we read in Ecclesiasticus—"Who will pity the enchanter that is bitten by the serpent?" In the time of St. Paul, some exorcists, who were Jews, ran about the country, vainly endeavoring to expel demons; this was the case with seven sons of one of the chief priests at Ephesus. It is this prejudice which made Josephus believe[692] that in the presence of Vespasian and all his court attendants, a Jew had expelled demons from the bodies of the possessed by piercing their nose with a ring, in which had been encased a root pointed out by Solomon. In his narrative of this event, we may see, in truth, that the demons were obliged to give some sign of their exit; but who does not perceive that what he relates can proceed only from one who has suffered himself to be deceived, or who seeks to deceive others?

XII. From what I have said, it is obvious, that if in the Old Testament the magic power, and the prodigies worked by magic, are often spoken of, there is in return no mention made of it in the New. It is true, that as the world was never wanting in impostors, who sought to appropriate to themselves the name and reputation of magician, we find two of these seducers named in the Acts of the Apostles. The one is Elymas,[693] who, in the isle of Cyprus, wished to turn the attention of the Roman proconsul from listening to the preaching of the apostles, and for that was punished with blindness. The other is Simon, who for a long time preaching in Samaria that he was something great, had misled all the people of that city, so that he was generally regarded there as a sort of divine man, because "through the effect of his magic he had for a long time turned the heads of all the inhabitants;" that is to say, he had seduced and dazzled them by his knaveries, as has often happened in many other places. For it is evidently shown that he could never succeed in working any wonder, not only by the silence of the Scripture on that point, but also on seeing the miracles of St. Philip he was so surprised at them, and so filled with admiration, that he directly asked to be baptized, and never after quitted this apostle. But having offered some money to St. Peter, in order to obtain from him the apostolical gift, he was severely reprimanded by him, and threatened with the most terrible punishments, to which he made no other reply than to entreat the apostles to intercede for him themselves with Jesus Christ, that nothing of the kind might happen to him. This is all we have that is certain and authentic on the subject of Simon the magician. But in times nearer to the apostles, the authors of apocryphal books and stories invented at pleasure, profited well by the profession of magic, which Simon had for a long time skillfully practiced; and because the magic art is fruitful in wonders, which certainly render a narrative agreeable and amusing, they attributed endless prodigies to him; amongst others they imagined that, in a sort of public discussion between him and St. Peter, he raised himself into the air, and was precipitated from thence to the ground at the prayers of that apostle. Sigebert mentions this, and, if I mistake not, it has appeared in print at Florence. The most ancient apocryphal works which remain to us, are the Recognitions of St. Clement, and the Apostolical Constitutions. In the first, they make Simon say that he can render himself invisible, traverse the most frightful precipices, fall from a great height without hurting himself, bind with his own bonds those who enchained him, open fastened doors, animate statues, pass through fire without burning himself, change his form, metamorphose himself into a goat or a sheep, fly in the air, &c. In the second they make St. Peter say, that Simon being at Rome, and gone to the theatre about noon, he ordered the people to go back and make room for him, promising them that he would rise up into the air. It is added, that he did in effect rise up into the air, carried by the demons, saying he was ascending to heaven, at which all the people applauded; but at that moment St. Peter's prayers were successful, and Simon was hurled down, after he had spoken beforehand to him, as if they had been close to each other. You can read the whole story, which is evidently false and ill-imagined. It is true that these old writings, and a few others of the same kind, have served to deceive some of the fathers and ecclesiastical authors, who, without examining into the truth, have permitted themselves to go with the stream, and have followed the public opinion, upon which many things might be said did time allow. How, for instance, can any one unhesitatingly believe that St. Jerome could ever have written that St. Peter went to Rome, not to plant the faith in that capital, and establish therein the first seat of Christianity, but to expel from thence Simon the magician? Is there not, on the contrary, reason to suspect that these few words have passed in ancient times, from a note inadvertently placed in the margin, into the text itself? But to confine myself within the limits of my subject, I say that it suffices to pay attention to the impure source of so many doubtful books, published under feigned names, by the diversity and contradiction which predominate amongst them relatively to the circumstance in question, by the silence, in short, of the sovereign pontiffs and other writers upon the same, even of the profane authors who ought principally to speak of it, to remain convinced that all that is said of it, as well as all the other prodigies ascribed to the magic power of Simon, is but a fable founded solely on public report. Is there not even an ancient inscription, which is thought to be still in existence, and which, according to the copy that I formerly took of it at Rome, bears: "Sanco Sancto Semoni Deo Filio," which upon the equivoque of the name, has been applied to Simon the magician by St. Justin, and upon his authority by some other writers, which occasioned P. Pagi to say on the year 42, "That St. Justin was deceived either by a resemblance of name, or by some unfaithful relation;" but that which must above all decide this matter is the testimony of Origen, who says that indeed Simon could deceive some persons in his time by magic, but that soon after he lost his credit so much, that there were not in all the world thirty persons of his sect to be found, and that only in Palestine, his name never having been known elsewhere; so far was it from true that he had been to Rome, worked miracles there, and had statues raised to him in that capital of the world! Origen concludes by saying, that where the name of Simon was known, it was so only by the Acts of the Apostles, and that the truth of the circumstances evidently shows that there was nothing divine in this man, that is to say, nothing miraculous or extraordinary. In a word, the Acts of the Apostles relate no wonder of him, because the Saviour had destroyed all the power of magic.

XIII. To render this principle more solid still, after having based it upon the Scripture, I am going to establish again with my usual frankness, upon tradition, and show that it is truly in this sense the passages in the fathers, and ancient ecclesiastical writers, must be understood. I begin with St. Ignatius the Martyr, bishop, and successor of the apostles in the pulpit of Antioch. This father, in the first of the Epistles which are really his, speaking of the birth of the Saviour, and of the star which then appeared, adds, "Because all the power of magic vanished, all the bonds of malice were broken, ignorance was abolished, and the old kingdom of Satan destroyed;" on which the learned Cotelerius makes this remark: "It was also at that time that all the illusions of magic ceased, as is attested by so many celebrated authors." Tertullian, in the book which he has written on Idolatry, says, "We know the strict union there is between magic and astrology. God permitted that science to reign on the earth till the time of the Gospel, in order that after the birth of Jesus Christ no one might be found who should undertake to read in the heavens the happiness or misfortunes of any person whomsoever." A little after, he adds: "It is thus that, till the time of the Gospel, God tolerated on the earth that other kind of magic which performs wonders, and dared even to enter into rivalry with Moses."

Origen, in his books against Celsus, speaking of the three magi, and the star which appeared to them, says that then the power of magic extended so far, that there was no art more powerful and more divine; but at the birth of the Saviour hell was disconcerted, the demons lost their power, all their spells were destroyed, and their might passed away. The magi wishing them to perform their enchantments and their usual works, and not being able to succeed, sought the reason; and having seen that new star appear in the heavens, they conjectured that "He who was to command all spirits was born," which decided them to go and adore him.

St. Athanasius, in his treatise on the Incarnation, teaches that the Saviour has delivered all creatures from the deceits and illusions of Satan, and that he has enriched himself, as St. Paul says, with the spoils of principalities and powers. "When is it," he says afterwards, "that the oracles have ceased to reply throughout all Greece, but since the advent of the Saviour on earth? When did they begin to despise the magic art? Is it not since mankind began to enjoy the divine presence of the Word? Formerly," he continues, "the demons deluded men by divers phantoms, and attaching themselves to rivers and fountains, stones and wood, they drew by their allusions the admiration of weak mortals; but since the advent of the Divine Word, all their stratagems have passed away." A little while after, he adds, "But what shall we say of that magic they held in such admiration? Before the incarnation of the Word, it was in honor among the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Indians, and won the admiration of those nations by prodigies; but since the Truth has come down to earth, and the Word has shown himself amongst men, this power has been destroyed, and is itself fallen into oblivion." In another place, refuting the Gentiles, who ascribed the miracles of the Saviour to magic, "They call him a magician," says he, "but can they say that a magician would destroy all sorts of magic, instead of working to establish it?"

In his Commentary on Isaiah, St. Jerome joins this interpretation to several passages in the prophet—"Since the advent of the Saviour, all that must be understood in an allegorical sense; for all the error of the waters of Egypt, and all the pernicious arts which deluded the nations who suffered themselves to be infatuated by them, have been destroyed by the coming of Jesus Christ." A little after, he adds—"That Memphis was also strongly addicted to magic, the vestiges which subsist at this day of her ancient superstitions allow us not to doubt." Now this informs us in a few words, or in the approach of the desolation of Babylon, that all the projects of the magicians, and of those who promise to unveil the future, are a pure folly, and dissolve like smoke at the presence of Jesus Christ. Again, he says elsewhere, that "Jesus Christ being come into the world, all kinds of divination, and all the deceits of idolatry, lost their efficacy; so that the Eastern magi understanding that a Son of God was born who had destroyed all the power of their art, came to Bethlehem."

Theophilus of Alexandria, in his Paschal Letter addressed to the bishops of Egypt, and after him St. Jerome, who has given us a Latin translation of this letter, says that Jesus Christ by his coming has destroyed all the illusions of magic. They add, "Jesus Christ by his presence having destroyed idolatry, it follows that magic, which is its mother, has been destroyed likewise." They call magic the mother of idolatry, because it transfers to another the confidence and submission which are due to God alone. St. Ambrose says, "The magician perceives the inutility of his art, and you do not yet understand that the promised Redeemer is come." I could bring forward here many other passages from the fathers if I had the books at hand, or if time allowed me to select them.

XIV. But why amuse ourselves with fruitless researches? What I have said will suffice to show that this opinion has been that of not only one or two of the fathers, which would prove nothing, but of the greater number of those among them who have discoursed of this matter, which constitutes the greater number. After that it is of little import if in after and darker ages a thousand stories were spread on the subject of witchcraft and enchantments, and that those tales may have gained credit with the people in proportion to their rudeness and ignorance. You may read, if you have any curiosity on the subject, a hundred stories of that kind, related by Saxo Grammaticus and Olaus Magnus. You will find also in Lucian and in Apuleius, how, even in their time, those who wished to be carried through the air, or to be metamorphosed into beasts, began by stripping themselves, and then anointing themselves with certain oils from head to foot; there were then found impostors, who promised as of old to perform by means of magic all kinds of prodigies, and still continued the same extravagances as ever.

A great many persons feel a certain repugnance to refusing belief in all that is said of the prodigies of magic, as if it was denying the truth of miracles, and the existence of the devil; and on this subject they fail not to allege, that amongst the orders in the church is found that of exorcists, and that the rituals are full of prayers and blessings against the malice and the snares of Satan. But we must not here confound two very different things. So far from the miracles and wonders performed by Divine power leading us to believe the truth of those which are ascribed to the demon, they teach us on the contrary that God has reserved this power to himself alone. We experience but too often that there are truly evil spirits, who do not cease to tempt us. In respect to the order of Exorcists, we know that it was established in the church in the first ages of Christianity; the most ancient fathers make mention of them; but from none of them do we learn that their order was instituted against witchcraft and other knaveries of the same kind, but only as at this day, to deliver those possessed; "to expel demons from the bodies of the possessed;" says the Manual of the Ordination. It is not, then, denied, that for reasons which it belongs not to us to examine, God sometimes allows the demon to take hold of some one and to torment him; we only deny that the spirit of darkness can ever arrive at that to please a wretched woman of the dregs of the people. We do not deny that to punish the sins of mankind, the Almighty may not sometimes make use in different ways of the ministry of evil spirits; for, as St. Jerome says,[694] "God makes men feel his anger and fury by the ministry of rebel angels;" but we do deny that it ever happens by virtue of certain figures, certain words, and certain signs, made by ignoramuses or scoundrels, or some wretched females, or old mad women, or by any authority they have over the demon. The sovereign pontiff who at this day governs the church with so much glory, discourses very fully[695] in his excellent works on the wonders worked by the demon and related in the Old Testament, but he nowhere speaks of any effect produced by magic or by sorcery since the coming of Jesus Christ. In the Roman ritual we have prayers and orisons for all occasions; we find there conjurations and exorcisms against demons; but nowhere, if the text is not corrupted, is there mention made either of persons or things bewitched, and if they are mentioned therein, it is only in after additions made by private individuals. We know, on the contrary, that many books treating of this subject, and containing prayers newly composed by some individuals, have been prohibited. Thus they have forbidden the book entitled Circulus Aureus, in which are set down the conjurations necessary for "invoking demons of all kinds, of the sky, of hell, the earth, fire, air, and water," to destroy all sorts of "enchantments, charms, spells, and snares," in whatever place they may be hidden, and of whatever matter they may be composed, whether male or female, magician or witch, who may have made or given them, and notwithstanding "all compacts and all conventions made between them." Ought not the fact that the church forbids any one to read or to keep these kind of books, to be sufficient to convince us of the falsehood of what they imagine, and to teach us how contrary they are to true religion and sound devotion. Three years ago they printed in this town a little book, of which the author, however, was not of Verona, in which they promised to teach the way "to deliver the possessed, and to break all kinds of spells." We read in it that "those over whom a malignant spell has been cast, lead such a wretched life that it ought rather to be called a long death, like the corpse of a man who had just died," &c. That is not all, for "almost all die of it," and if they are children, "they hardly ever live." See now the power which simple people ascribe, not only to the devil, but to the vilest of men, whom they really believe to be connected with, and to hold commerce with him. They say afterwards in this same book[696] that the signs which denote a malignant spell are parings, herbs, feathers, bones, nails, and hairs; but they give notice that the feathers prove that there is witchcraft "only when they are intermingled in the form of a circle or nearly so." And, again, you must take care that some woman has not given you something to eat, some flowers to smell, or if she has touched the shoulder of the person on whom the spell is cast. We have an excellent preservative against these simplicities in the vast selection of Dom Martenus, entitled De Antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, in which we see that amidst an infinity of prayers, orisons and exorcisms used at all times throughout Christendom, there is not a passage in which mention is made of spells, sorcery, or magic, or magical operations. They therein command the demon in the name of Jesus Christ to come out and go away—they therein implore the divine protection, to be delivered from his power, to which we are all born subject by the stain of original sin; they therein teach that holy water, salt, and incense sanctified by the prayers of the church may drive away the enemy; that we may not fall into his toils, and that we may have nothing to dread from the attacks of evil spirits; but in no part does it say that spells have power over them, neither do they anywhere pray God to deliver us from them, or to heal us. It is so far from being true that we ought to believe the fables spread abroad on this subject, that I perfectly well remember having read a long time ago in the old casuists, that we ought to class in the number of grievous sins the believing that magic can really work the wonders related of it. I shall remark, on this occasion, that I know not how the author of the book in question can have committed the oversight of twice citing a certain manuscript as to be found in any other cabinet than mine, when it is a well known fact that I formerly purchased it very dear, not knowing that the most important and curious part was wanting. What I have said of it may be seen in the Opuscules which I have joined to the "History of Theology."[697] For the present, it suffices to remember that in the famous canon Episcopi, related first by Reginon,[698] we read these remarkable words—"An infinite number of people, deceived by this false prejudice, believe all that to be true, and in believing it stray from the true faith into the superstition of the heathen, imagining that they can find elsewhere than in God any divinity, or any supernatural power."

XV. From all I have hitherto said, it appears how far from truth is all that is commonly said of this pretended magic; how contrary to all the maxims of the church, and in opposition to the most venerated authority, and what harm might be done to sound doctrine and true piety by entertaining and favoring such extravagant opinions. We read, in the author I am combating, "What shall we say of the fairies, a prodigy so notorious and so common?" It is marvelous that it should be a prodigy and at the same time common. He adds, "There is not a town, not to say a village, which cannot furnish several instances concerning them." For my part, I have seen a great many places; I am seventy-four years of age, and I have perhaps been only too curious on this head; and I own that I have never happened to meet with any prodigy of that kind. I may even add that several inquisitors, very sensible men, after having exercised that duty a long time, have assured me that they also never knew such a thing. It is not often that fairies of all kinds of shapes and different faces have passed through my hands, but I have always discovered and shown that this was nothing but fancy and reverie. On one side, it is affirmed that there is a malicious species among them, who were amorous of beautiful girls; and on the other, they will have it, on the contrary, that all witches are old and ugly. How desirable it would be, if the people could be once undeceived in respect to all these follies, which accord so little with sound doctrine and true piety! Are they not still, in our days, infatuated with what is said of charms which render invulnerable rings in which fairies are enclosed, billets which cure the quartan ague, words which lead you to guess the number to which the lot will fall; of the pas key, which is made to turn to find out a thief; of the cabala, which by means of certain verses and certain answers, which are falsely supposed to contain a certain number of words, unveils the most secret things? Are there not still to be found people who are so simple, or who have so little religion, as to buy these trifles very dear? For the world at this day is not wanting in those prophets spoken of by Micah,[699] whom money inspired and rendered learned. Have we not again calendars in which are marked the lucky and unlucky days, as has been done during a time, under the name of Egyptians? Do they not prevent people from inhabiting certain houses, under pretence of their being haunted? that is to say, that in the night spectres are seen in them, and a great noise of chains is heard, some saying that it is devils who cause all this, and others the spirits of the dead who make all this clang; which is surprising enough that it should be spirits or devils, and that they should only have the power to make themselves perceived in the night. And how many times have we seen the most fatal quarrels occur, principally amongst the peasants, because one amongst them has accused others of sorcery? But what shall we say of spirits incube and succube, of which, notwithstanding the impossibility of the thing, the existence and reality is maintained? M. Muratori, in that part where he treats of imagination, places the tales on this subject in the same line with what is said of the witches' sabbath; and he says[700] "that these extravagant opinions are at this day so discredited, that it is only the rudest and most ignorant who suffer themselves to be amused by them." One of my friends made me laugh the other day, when, speaking of the pretended incubuses, he said that those who believed in them were not wise to marry. Again, what shall we say of those tacit compacts so often mentioned by the author, and which he supposes to be real? Can we not see that such an opinion is making a god of the devil? For that any one, for example, living three or four hundred leagues off, may have made a compact with the devil, that every time a pendulum shall be suspended above a glass it shall mark the hour as regularly as the most exact clock. According to this idea, that same marvel will happen equally, and at the same moment, not only in this town where we are, but all over the earth, and will be repeated as often as they may wish to make the experiment. Now this is quite another thing from carrying a witch to the sabbath through the air, which the author asserts is beyond the power of the demon; it is attributing to this malicious spirit a kind of almightiness and immensity. But what would happen if some one, having made a compact with a demon for fine weather, another on his part shall have made a compact with the demon for bad weather? Good Father Le Brun wishes us to ascribe to tacit compacts all those effects which we cannot explain by natural causes. If it be so, what a number of tacit compacts there must be in the world! He believes in the stories about the divining rod, and the virtue ascribed to it of finding out robbers and murderers; although all France has since acknowledged that the first author of this fable was a knave, who having been summoned to Paris, could never show there any of those effects he had boasted of. Let any one have the least idea of the invisible atoms scattered abroad throughout the world, of their continually issuing from natural bodies, and the hidden and wonderful effects which they produce, one can never be astonished that at a moderate distance water and metals should operate on certain kinds of wood. The same author sincerely believes what was said, that the contagion and mortality spread amongst the cattle proceeded from a spell; like the man who affirmed that his father and mother remained impotent for seven years, and this ceased only when an old woman had broken the spell. On this subject, he cites a ritual of which Father Martenus does not speak at all, whence it follows that he did not recognize it for authentic. To give an idea of the credulity of this writer, it will suffice to read the story he relates of one Damis. But we find, above all, an incomparable abridgment of those extravagant wonders in a little book dedicated to the Cardinal Horace Maffei, entitled, "Compendium Melificarum," or the "Abridgment of Witches," printed at Milan in 1608.

XVI. In a word, it is of no little importance to destroy the popular errors which attack the unalterable attributes of the Supreme Being, as if he had laid it down as a law to himself that he would condescend to all the impious and fantastic wishes of malignant spirits, and of the madman who had recourse to them, by seconding them, and permitting the wonderful effects that they desire to produce. Do reason and good sense allow us to imagine that the Sovereign Master of all things, who for reasons which we are not permitted to examine, refuses so often to grant our most ardent prayers for what we need, whether it be public or private, can be so prompt to lend an ear to the requests of the vilest and most wicked, by allowing that which they desire to happen? So long as they believe in the reality of magic, that it is able to work wonders, and that by means of it man can force the demon to obey, it will be in vain to preach against the superstition, impiety, and folly of wizards. There will always be found too many people who will try to succeed in it, and will even fancy they have succeeded in it in fact. To uproot this pest we must begin by making men clearly understand that it is useless in them to be guilty of this horrible crime; that in this way they never obtain anything they wish for, and that all that is said on this subject is fabulous and chimerical. It will not be difficult to persuade any sensible person of this truth, by only leading him to pay attention, and mark if it be possible that all these pretended miracles can be true, whilst it is proved that magic has never possessed the power to enrich those who professed it, which would be much more easy. How could this wonderful art send maladies to those who were in good health, render a married couple impotent, or make any one invisible or invulnerable, whilst it has never been able to bring a hundred crowns, which another would keep locked up in his strong box? And why do we not make any use of so wonderful an art in armies? Why is it so little sought after by princes and their ministers? The most efficacious means for dissipating all these vain fancies would be never to speak of them, and to bury them in silence and oblivion. In any place where for time immemorial no one has ever been suspected of witchcraft, let them only hear that a monk is arrived to take cognizance of this crime and punish it, and directly you will see troops of green-sick girls, and hypochondriacal men; crowds of children will be brought to him ill with unknown maladies; and it will not fail to be affirmed that these things are caused by spells cast over them, and even when and how the thing happened. It is certainly a wrong way of proceeding, whether in sermons, or in the works published against witches, to amuse themselves with giving the history of all these mad-headed people boast of, of the circumstances in which they have taken a part, and the way in which they happened. It is in vain then to declaim against them, for you may be assured that people are not wanting who suffer themselves to be dazzled by these pretended miracles, who become smitten with these effects, so extraordinary and so wonderful, and try by every means to succeed in them by the very method which has just been taught them, and forget nothing which can place them in the number of this imaginary society. It is then with reason that the author says in his book, that punishment even sometimes serves to render crime more common, and "that there are never more witches than in those places where they are most persecuted." I am delighted to be able to finish with this eulogium, in order that it may be the more clearly seen that if I have herein attacked magic, it is only with upright intentions.

XVII. The eagerness with which I have written this letter has made me forget several things which might very well have a place in it. The greatest difficulty which can be opposed to my argument is that we sometimes find, even amongst people who possess a certain degree of knowledge and good sense, some persons who will say to you, "But I have seen this, or that; such and such things have happened to myself." Upon which it is proper, first of all, to pay attention to the wonderful tricks of certain jugglers, who, by practice and address, succeed in deceiving even the most clear-sighted and sensible persons. It must next be considered that the most natural effects may sometimes appear beyond the power of nature, when cleverly presented in the most favorable point of view. I formerly saw a charlatan who, having driven a nail or a large pin into the head of a chicken, with that nailed it to a table, so that it appeared dead, and was believed to be so by all present; after that, the charlatan having taken out the nail and played some apish tricks, the chicken came to life again and walked about the room. The secret of all this is that these birds have in the forepart of the head two bones, joined in such a way that if anything is driven through with address, though it causes them pain, yet they do not die of it. You may run large pins into a man's leg without wounding or hurting him, or but very slightly, just like a prick which is felt when the pin first enters; which has sometimes served as a pastime for jokers. In my garden, which, thanks to the care of M. Seguier, is become quite a botanic garden, I have a plant called the onagra,[701] which rises to the height of a man, and bears very beautiful flowers; but they remain closed all day, and only open towards sunset, and that not by degrees, as with all other night plants, but in budding all at once, and showing themselves in a moment in all their beauty. A little before their chalice bursts open, it swells and becomes a little inflated. Now, if any one, profiting by the last-named peculiarity, which is but little known, wished to persuade any simple persons that by the help of some magical words he could, when he would, cause a beautiful flower to bloom, is it not certain that he would find plenty of people disposed to believe him? The common people in our days leave nothing undone to find out the secret of making themselves invulnerable; by which they show that they ascribe to magic more power than was granted to it by the ancients, who believed it very capable of doing harm, but not of doing good. So, when the greater number of the Jews attributed the miracles wrought by the Saviour to the devil, some of the more sensible and reasonable among them asked, "Can the devil restore sight to the blind?"[702] At this day, there are more ways than ever of making simple and ignorant persons believe in magic. For instance, would it be very difficult for a man to pass himself off as a magician, if he said to those who were present, "I can, at my will, either send the bullet in this pistol through this board, or make it simply touch it and fall down at our feet without piercing it?" Nevertheless, nothing is easier; it only requires when the pistol is loaded, that instead of pressing the wadding immediately upon the bullet as is customary, to put it, on the contrary, at the mouth of the barrel. That being done, when they fire, if the end of the pistol is raised, the ball, which is not displaced, will produce the usual effect; but if, on the contrary, the pistol is lowered, so that the ball runs into the barrel and joins the wadding, it will fall on the ground from the board without having penetrated it. It seems to me that something like this may be found in the "Natural Experiments" of Redi, which I have not at hand just now. But on this subject, you can consult Jean Baptista, Porta, and others. We must not, however, place amongst the effects of this kind of magic, what a friend jokingly observed to me in a very polite letter which he wrote to me two months ago:—A noisy exhalation having ignited in a house, and not having been perceived by him who was in the spot adjoining, nor in any other place, he writes me word that those who, according to the vulgar prejudice, persisted in believing that these kinds of fire came from the sky and the clouds, were necessarily forced to attribute this effect to real magic. I shall again add, on the subject of electrical phenomena, that those who think to explain them by means of two electrical fluids, the one hidden in bodies, and the other circulating around them, would perhaps say something less strange and surprising, if they ascribed them to magic. I have endeavored, in the last letter which is joined to that I wrote upon the subject of exhalations, to give some explanation of these wonders; and I have done so, at least, without being obliged to invent from my own head, and without any foundation, to universal electrical matters which circulate within bodies and without them. Certainly, the ancient philosophers, who reasoned so much on the magnet, would have spared themselves a great deal of trouble, if they had believed it possible to attribute its admirable properties to a magnetic spirit which proceeded from it. But the pleasure I should find in arguing with them, might perhaps engage me in other matters; for which reason I now end my letter.


[672] The author here alludes to the hypogryphe, a winged horse, invented by Ariosto, that carried the Paladins through the air.

[673] Magicus Vanitates.

[674] Plin. lib. xxx. c. 1.

[675] "Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas, Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala rides?" HORAT. lib. ii. Ep. 2.

[676] Inexpugnabili magicae disciplinae potestate, &c.—Lib. iii.

[677] Delle magiche frodi seppe il Givoco.—Dante, Inf. c. 20.

[678] Pp. 139 and 145.

[679] P. 9.

[680] P. 144.

[681] Goesy, or Goesia, is said to be a kind of magic. It is asserted that those who profess it repair at night to the tombs, where they invoke the demon and evil genii by lamentations and complaints.

In regard to Theurgy, the ancients gave this name to that part of magic which is called white magic. The word Theurgy signifies the art of doing divine things, or such as God only can perform—the power of producing wonderful and supernatural effects by licit means, in invoking the aid of God and angels. Theurgy differs from natural magic, which is performed by the powers of nature; and from necromancy, which is operated only by the invocation of the demons.

[682] P. 170.

[683] P. 654.

[684] P. 749.

[685] P. 9.

[686] P. 30, de Lam.

[687] P. 94.

[688] What is enclosed between the brackets is a long addition sent by the author to the printer whilst they were working at a second edition of his letter.

[689] Et vidi angelum descendentem de coelo habentem clavem abyssi et catenam magnam in manu sua; et appehendit draconem, serpentem, antiquum, qui est Diabolus et Satanas, et ligavit eum per annos mille.—Apoc. xx. 1.

[690] Et cum consummati fuerint mille anni, solvetur Satanas de carcere suo.—Apoc. v. 7.

[691] Cujus est adventus secundum operationem Satanae in omni virtute et signis et prodigiis mendacibus.—2 Thess. ii. 9.

[692] Joseph. Antiq. lib. viii. c. 2.

[693] Acts viii. 6.

[694] Mittet siquidem Dominus in iram et furorem suum per angelos pessimos. Hier. ad Eph. i. 7. p. 574.

[695] Vid. de Beatif. lib. iv. p. i. c. 3.

[696] Pp. 67, 75.

[697] P. 243.

[698] Lib. ii. p. 364.

[699] In pecunia divinabunt.—Mich. iii. 11.

[700] P. 127.

[701] Now well known as the evening primrose.

[702] Numquid daemonium potest coecorum oculos asperire? Joan. ix, 21.


From the REVEREND FATHER DOM. AUGUSTINE CALMET, Abbot of Senones, to M. DE BURE SENIOR, Librarian at Paris.

SIR—I have received The Historical and Dogmatical Treatise on Apparitions, Visions, and particular Revelations, with Observations on the Dissertations of the Reverend Father Dom. Calmet, Abbot of Senones, on Apparitions and Ghosts. At Avignon, 1751. By the Abbe Lenglet du Frenoy.

I have looked over this work with pleasure. M. du Frenoy wished to turn to account therein what he wrote fifty-five years ago, as he says himself, on the subject of visions, and the life of Maria d'Agreda, of whom they spoke then, and of whom they still speak even now in so undecided a manner. M. du Frenoy had undertaken at that time to examine the affair thoroughly and to show the illusions of it; there is yet time for him to give his opinion upon it, since the Church has not declared herself upon the work, on the life and visions of that famous Spanish abbess.

It is only accidentally that he composed his remarks on my Dissertations on Apparitions and Vampires. I have no reason to complain of him; he has observed towards me the rules of politeness and good breeding, and I shall try to imitate him in what I say in my own defence. But if he had read the second edition of my work, printed at Einsidlen in Switzerland, in 1749; the third, printed in Germany at Augsburg, in 1750; and the fourth, on which you are now actually engaged; he might have spared himself the trouble of censuring several passages which I have corrected, reformed, suppressed, or explained myself.

If I had wished to swell my work, I could have added to it some rules, remarks, and reflections, with a vast number of circumstances. But by that means I should have fallen into the same error which he seems to have acknowledged himself, when he says that he has perhaps placed in his works too many such rules and remarks: and I am persuaded that it is, in fact, the part that will be least read and least used.[703]

People will be much more struck with stories squeamishly extracted from Thomas de Cantimpre and Cesarius, whose works are everywhere decried, and that one dare no longer cite openly without exposing them to mockery. They will read, with only too much pleasure, what he relates of the apparitions of Jesus Christ to St. Francis d'Assis, on the Indulgence of the Partionculus, and the particularities of the establishment of the Carmelite Fathers, and of the Brotherhood of the Scapulary, by Simon Stock, to whom the Holy Virgin herself gave the Scapulary of the order. It will be seen in his work that there are few religious establishments or societies which are not founded on some vision or revelation. It seemed even as if it was necessary for the propagation of certain orders and certain congregations; so that these kind of revelations were, as it were, taken by storm; and there seems to have been a competition as to who should produce the greatest number of them, and the most extraordinary, to have them believed. I could not persuade myself that he related seriously the pretended apparition of St. Francis to Erasmus. It is easy to comprehend that it was a joke of Erasmus, who wished to divert himself at the expense of the Cordeliers. But one cannot help being pained at the way in which he treats several fathers of the church, as St. Gregory the Great, St. Gregory of Tours, St. Sulpicius Severus, Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Clugny, St. Anselm, Cardinal Pierre Damien, St. Athanasius even, and St. Ambrose,[704] in regard to their credulity, and the account they have given us of several apparitions and visions, which are little thought of at this day. I say the same of what he relates of the visions of St. Elizabeth of Schonau, of St. Hildegrade, of St. Gertrude, of St. Mecthelda, of St. Bridget, of St. Catherine of Sienna, and hardly does he show any favor to those of St. Theresa.

Would it not have been better to leave the world in this respect as it is,[705] rather than disturb the ashes of so many holy personages and saintly nuns, whose lives are held blessed by the church, and whose writings and revelations have so little influence over the salvation and the morals of the faithful in general. What service does it render the church to speak disparagingly of the works of the contemplatives, of the Thaulers, the Rushbrooks, the Bartholomews of Pisa, of St. Vincent Ferrier, of St. Bernardine of Sienna, of Henry Harphius, of Pierre de Natalibus, of Bernardine de Bustis, of Ludolf the Chartreux, and other authors of that kind, whose writings are so little read and so little known, whose sectaries are so few in number, and have so little weight in the world, and even in the church?

The Abbe du Frenoy acknowledges the visions and revelations which are clearly marked in Scripture; but is there not reason to fear that certain persons may apply the rules of criticism which he employs against the visions of the male and female saints of whom he speaks in his work, and that they may say, for instance, that Jeremiah yielded to his melancholy humor, and Ezekiel to his caustic disposition, to predict sad and disagreeable things to the Jewish people?[706]

We know how many vexations the prophets endured from the Jews, and that in particular[707] those of Anathoth had resolved to put their countryman Jeremiah to death, to prevent him from prophesying in the name of the Lord. To what persecutions were not himself and Baruch his disciple exposed for having spoken in the name of the Lord? Did not King Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, throw the book of Baruch into the fire,[708] after having hacked it with a penknife, in hatred of the truths which it announced to him?

The Jews sometimes went so far as to insult them in their dwellings, and even to say to them,[709] Ubi est verbum Domini? veniat; and elsewhere, "Let us plot against Jeremiah; for the priests will not fail to cite the law, and the prophets will not fail to allege the words of the Lord: come, let us attack him with derision, and pay no regard to his discourse."

Isaiah did not endure less vexation and insult, the libertine Jews having gone even into his house, and said to him insolently[710]—Manda, remanda; expecta, re-expecta; modicum ibi, et modicum ibi, as if to mock at his threats.

But all that has not prevailed, nor ever will prevail, against the truth and word of God; the faithful and exact execution of the threats of the Lord has justified, and ever will justify, the predictions and visions of the prophets. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Christian church, and the word of God will triumph over the malice of hell, the artifice of corrupt men, of libertines, and over all the subtlety of pretended freethinkers. True and real visions, revelations, and apparitions will always bear in themselves a character of truth, and will serve to destroy those which are false, and proceed from the spirit of error and delusion. And coming now to what regards myself in particular, M. du Frenoy says, that the public have been surprised that instead of placing my proofs before the circumstances of my apparitions, I have given them afterwards, and that I have not entered fully enough into the subject of these proofs.

I am going to give the public an account of my method and design. Having proposed to myself to prove the truth, the reality, and consequently the possibility of apparitions, I have related a great many authentic instances, derived from the Old and New Testament, which forms a complete proof of my opinion, for the certainty of the facts carries with it here the certainty of the dogma.

After that I have related instances and opinions taken from the Hebrews, Mahometans, Greeks, and Latins, to assure the same truth. I have been careful not to draw any parallel between these testimonies and the scriptural ones which preceded. My object in this was to demonstrate that in every age, and in all civilized nations, the idea of the immortality of the soul, of its existence after death, of its return and appearance, is one of those truths which the length of ages has never been able to efface from the mind of nations.

I draw the same inference from the instances which I have related, and of which I do not pretend to guarantee either the truth or the certainty. I willingly yield all the circumstances that are not revealed to censure and criticism; I only esteem as true that which is so in fact.

M. du Frenoy finds that the proof of the immortality of the soul which I infer from the apparition of the spirit after death, is not sufficiently solid; but it is certainly one of the most palpable and most easy of comprehension to the generality of mankind; it would make more impression upon them than arguments drawn from philosophy and metaphysics. I do not intend for that reason to attack any other proofs of the same truth, or to weaken a dogma so essential to religion.

He endeavors to prove, at great length,[711] that the salvation of the Emperor Trajan is not a thing which the Christian religion can confirm. I agree with him; and it was useless to take any trouble to demonstrate it.[712]

He speaks of the young man of Delme,[713] who having fallen into a swoon remained in it some days; they brought him back to life, and a languor remained upon him which at last led to his death at the end of the year. It is thus he arranges that story.

M. du Frenoy disguises the affair a little; and although I do not believe that the devil could restore the youth to life, nevertheless the original and cotemporaneous authors whom I have quoted maintain that the demon had much to do with this event.[714]

What has principally prevented me from giving rules and prescribing a method for discerning true and false apparitions is, that I am quite persuaded that the way in which they occur is absolutely unknown to us; that it contains insurmountable difficulties; and that consulting only the rules of philosophy, I should be more disposed to believe them impossible than to affirm their truth and possibility. But I am restrained by respect for the Holy Scriptures, by the testimony of all antiquity and by the tradition of the Church.

"I am, sir, Your very humble and very obedient servant, D. A. CALMET, Abbot of Senones."


[703] Dom. Calmet has a very bad opinion of the public, to believe that it values so little what is, perhaps, the best and most sensible part of the book. Wise people think quite differently from himself.

[704] Neither Gregory of Tours, nor Sulpicius Severus, nor Peter the Venerable, nor Pierre Damien, have ever been placed in a parallel line with the fathers of the Church. In regard to the latter, it has always been allowable, without failing in the respect which is due to them, to remark certain weaknesses in their works, sometimes even errors, as the Church has done in condemning the Millenaries, &c.

[705] An excellent maxim for fomenting credulity and nourishing superstition.

[706] What a parallel! how could any one make it without renouncing common sense?

[707] Jeremiah xxi. 21.

[708] Jerem. xxxvi.

[709] Jerem. xvii. 15.

[710] Isai. xxviii. 10.

[711] Tom. ii. p. 92 et seq.

[712] It is true that what Dom. Calmet had said of this in his first edition, the only one M. Lenglet has seen, has been corrected in the following ones.

[713] P. 155.

[714] A bad foundation; credulous or interested authors.


Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics indicated by underscore italics.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these letters have been replaced with transliterations set off by [Greek: ] tags.

The original text includes several blank spaces. These are represented by ___ in this text version.

Footnote punctuation has been standardized for consistency.

Misprints corrected: "Corpernican" corrected to "Copernican" (page vii) "destitue" corrected to "destitute" (page xvii) "superstit on" corrected to "superstition" (page xx) "Apocalapse" corrected to "Apocalypse" (page 40) "for" corrected to "fro" (page 55) "thousands" corrected to "thousand" (page 57) "predjudices" corrected to "prejudices" (page 61) "repentence" corrected to "repentance" (page 87) "sorcerors" corrected to "sorcerers" (page 100) "subtil" corrected to "subtile" (page 112) "Loudon" corrected to "Loudun" (page 128) "Gassendy" corrected to "Gassendi" (page 146) "statue" corrected to "stature" (page 161) "testiomony" corrected to "testimony" (page 179) "Ratzival" corrected to "Ratzivil" (page 204) "embarrasment" corrected to "embarrassment" (page 220) "Mohometans" corrected to "Mahometans" (page 222) "ancesters" corrected to "ancestors" (page 231) "cf" corrected to "of" (page 238) "Other" corrected to "Others" (page 248) "treaties" corrected to "treatise" (page 254) "Spiridon" corrected to "Spiridion" (page 258) "not not" corrected to "not" (page 262) "drangement" corrected to "derangement" (page 278) "neigborhood" corrected to "neighborhood" (page 282) "d'Englebert" corrected to "d'Engelbert" (page 286) "obervations" corrected to "observations" (page 305) "of" corrected to "off" (page 326) "corpuscules" corrected to "corpuscles" (page 329) "or" corrected to "for" (page 342) "our" corrected to "out" (page 349) "childen" corrected to "children" (page 360) "her her" corrected to "her" (page 372) "abe" corrected to "able" (page 386) "or" corrected to "on" (page 390) Missing text "III." added (page 411) "permittted" corrected to "permitted" (page 412) "One" corrected to "On" (page 434)

Some quotes are opened with marks but are not closed. Obvious errors have been silently closed, while those requiring interpretation have been left open.

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

All other spelling and punctuation is presented as in the original.

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