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The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
by Augustin Calmet
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After all the details concerning the exorcisms, marks of possession, questions and answers of the possessed, M. Pichard reports the authentic testimony of the theologians, physicians, of the bishops Eric of Lorraine, and Charles of Lorraine, Bishop of Verdun, of several monks of every order, who attest the said possession to be real and veritable; and lastly, a letter from the Rev. Father Cotton, a Jesuit, who certifies the same thing. The said letter bears date the 5th of June, 1621, and is in reply to the one which the Prince Eric of Lorraine had written to him.

I have omitted a great many particulars related in the recital of the exorcisms, and the proofs of the possession of Mademoiselle de Ranfaing. I think I have said enough to convince any persons who are sincere and unprejudiced that her possession is as certain as these things can be. The affair occurred at Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, in the presence of a great number of enlightened persons, two of whom were of the house of Lorraine, both bishops, and well informed; in presence and by the orders of my Lord de Porcelets, Bishop of Toul, a most enlightened man, and of distinguished merit; of two doctors of the Sorbonne, called thither expressly to judge of the reality of the possession; in presence of people of the so-called Reformed religion, and much on their guard against things of this kind. It has been seen how far Father Pithoy carried his temerity against the possession in question; he has been reprimanded by his diocesan and his superiors, who have imposed silence on him.

Mademoiselle de Ranfaing is known to be personally a woman of extraordinary virtue, prudence, and merit. No reason can be imagined for her feigning a possession which has pained her in a thousand ways. The consequence of this terrible trial has been the establishment of a kind of religious order, from which the church has received much edification, and from which God has providentially derived glory.

M. Nicolas de Harlay Sancy and M. Viardin are persons highly to be respected both for their personal merit, their talent, and the high offices they have filled; the first having been French ambassador at Constantinople, and the other resident of the good Duke Henry at the Court of Rome; so that I do not think I could have given an instance more fit to convince you of there being real and veritable possessions than this of Mademoiselle de Ranfaing.

I do not relate that of the nuns of Loudun, on which such various opinions have been given, the reality of which was doubted at the very time, and is very problematical to this day. Those who are curious to know the history of that affair will find it very well detailed in a book I have already cited, entitled, "Examen et Discussion Critique de l'Histoire des Diables de Loudun, &c., par M. de la Menardaye," a Paris, chez de Bure Aine, 1749.



CHAPTER XXVII.

OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE OBSESSIONS AND POSSESSIONS OF THE DEMON—REPLY TO THE OBJECTIONS.

Several objections may be raised against the obsessions and possessions of demons; nothing is subject to greater difficulties than this matter, but Providence constantly and uniformly permits the clearest and most certain truths of religion to remain enveloped in some degree of obscurity; that facts the best averred and the most indubitable should be subject to doubts and contradictions; that the most evident miracles should be disputed by some incredulous persons on account of circumstances which appear to them doubtful and disputable.

All religion has its lights and shadows; God has permitted it to be so in order that the just may have somewhat to exercise their faith in believing, and the impious and incredulous persist in their wilful impiety and incredulity. The greatest mysteries of Christianity are to the one subjects of scandal, and to the others means of salvation; the one regarding the mystery of the cross as folly, and the others as the work of sublimest wisdom, and of the most admirable power of God. Pharaoh hardened his heart when he saw the wonders wrought by Moses; but the magicians of Egypt were at last obliged to recognize in them the hand of God. The Hebrews on sight of these wonders take confidence in Moses and Aaron, and yield themselves to their guidance, without fearing the dangers to which they may be exposed.

We have already remarked that the demon often seems to act against his own interest, and destroy his own empire, by saying that everything which is related of the return of spirits, the obsessions and possessions of the demon, of spells, magic, and sorcery, are only tales wherewith to frighten children; that they all have no existence except in weak and prejudiced minds. How can it serve the demon to maintain this, and destroy the general opinion of nations on all these things? If in all there is only falsehood and illusion, what does he gain by undeceiving people? and if there is any truth in them, why decry his own work, and take away the credit of his subordinates and his own operations?

Jesus Christ in the Gospel refutes those who said that he expelled devils in the name of Beelzebub;[260] he maintains that the accusation is unfounded, because it was incredible that Satan should destroy his own work and his own empire. The reasoning is doubtless solid and conclusive, above all to the Jews, who thought that Jesus Christ did not differ from other exorcists who expelled demons, unless it was that he commanded the prince of devils, while the others commanded only the subaltern demons. Now, on this supposition, the prince of the demons could not expel his subalterns without destroying his own empire, without decrying himself, and without ruining the reputation of those who only acted by his orders.

It may be objected to this argument, that Jesus Christ supposed, as did the Jews, that the demons whom he expelled really possessed those whom he cured, in whatever manner he might cure them; and consequently that the empire of the demons subsisted, both in Beelzebub, the prince of the demons, and in the other demons who were subordinate to him, and who obeyed his orders; thus, his empire was not entirely destroyed, supposing that Jesus Christ expelled them in the name of Beelzebub; that subordination, on the contrary, supposed that power or empire of the prince of the demons, and strengthened it.

But Jesus Christ not only expelled demons by his own authority, without ever making mention of Beelzebub; he expelled them in spite of themselves, and sometimes they loudly complained that he was come to torment them before the time.[261] There was neither collusion between him and them, nor subordination similar to that which might be supposed to exist between Beelzebub and the other demons.

The Lord pursued them, not only in expelling them from bodies, but also in overthrowing their bad maxims, by establishing doctrines and maxims quite contrary to their own; he made war upon every vice, error, and falsehood; he attacked the demon face to face, everywhere, unflinchingly; thus, it cannot be said that he spared him, or was in collusion with him. If the devil will sometimes pass off as chimeras and illusions all that is said of apparitions, obsessions and possessions, magic and sorcery; and if he appears so absolutely to overthrow his reign, even so far as to deny the most marked and palpable effects of his own power and presence, and impute them to the weakness of mind of men and their foolish prejudices; in all this he can only gain advantage for himself: for, if he can persuade people of the truth of what he advances, his power will only be more solidly confirmed by it, since it will no longer be attacked, and he will be left to enjoy his conquests in peace, and the ecclesiastical and secular powers interested in repressing the effects of his malice and cruelty will no longer take the trouble to make war upon him, and caution or put the nations on their guard against his stratagems and ambuscades. It will close the mouth of parliaments, and stay the hand of judges and powers; and the simple people will become the sport of the demon, who will not cease continuing to tempt, persecute, corrupt, deceive, and cause the perdition of those who shall no longer mistrust his snares and his malice. The world will relapse into the same state as when under paganism, given up to error, to the most shameful passions, and will even deny or doubt those truths which shall be the best attested, and the most necessary to our salvation.

Moses in the Old Testament well foresaw that the evil spirit would set every spring to work, to lead the Israelites into error and unruly conduct; he foresaw that in the midst of the chosen people he would instigate seducers, who would predict to them the hidden future, which predictions would come true and be followed up. He always forbids their listening to any prophet or diviners who wished to mislead them to impiety or idolatry.

Tertullian, speaking of the delusions performed by demons, and the foresight they have of certain events, says,[262] that being spiritual in their nature, they find themselves in a moment in any place they may wish, and announce at a distance what they have seen and heard. All this is attributed to the Divinity, because neither the cause nor the manner is known; often, also, they boast of causing events, which they do but announce; and it is true that often they are themselves the authors of the evils they predict, but never of any good. Sometimes they make use of the knowledge they have derived from the predictions of the prophets respecting the designs of God, and they utter them as coming from themselves. As they are spread abroad in the air, they see in the clouds what must happen, and thus foretell the rain which they were aware of before it had been felt upon earth. As to maladies, if they cure them, it is because they have occasioned them; they prescribe remedies which produce effect, and it is believed that they have cured maladies simply because they have not continued them. Quia desinunt laedere, curasse credentur.

The demon can then foresee the future and what is hidden, and discover them by means of his votaries; he can also doubtlessly do wonderful things which surpass the usual and known powers of nature; but it is never done except to deceive us, and lead us into disorder and impiety. And even should he wear the semblance of leading to virtue and practising those things which are praiseworthy and useful to salvation, it would only be to win the confidence of such as would listen to his suggestions, to make them afterward fall into misfortune, and engage them in some sin of presumption or vanity: for as he is a spirit of malice and lies, it little imports to him by what means he surprises us, and establishes his reign among us.

But he is very far from always foreseeing the future, or succeeding always in misleading us; God has set bounds to his malice. He often deceives himself, and often makes use of disguise and perversion, that he may not appear to be ignorant of what he is ignorant of, or he will appear unwilling to do what God will not allow him to do; his power is always bounded, and his knowledge limited. Often, also, he will mislead and deceive through malice, because he is the father of falsehood. He deceives men, and rejoices when he sees them doing wrong; but not to lose his credit amongst those who consult him directly or indirectly, he lays the fault on those who undertake to interpret his words, or the equivocal signs which he has given. For instance, if he is consulted whether to begin an enterprise, or give battle, or set off on a journey, if the thing succeeds, he takes all the glory and merit to himself; if it does not succeed, he imputes it to the men who have not well understood the sense of his oracle, or to the aruspices, who have made mistakes in consulting the entrails of the immolated animals, or the flight of birds, &c.

We must not, then, be surprised to find so many contradictions, doubts, and difficulties, in the matter of apparitions, angels, demons, and spirits. Man naturally loves to distinguish himself from the common herd, and rise above the opinions of the people; it is a sort of fashion not to suffer one's self to be drawn along by the torrent, and to desire to sound and examine everything. We know that there is an infinity of prejudices, errors, vulgar opinions, false miracles, illusions, and seductions in the world; we know that many things are attributed to the devil which are purely natural, or that a thousand apocryphal stories are related. It is then right to hold one's self on one's guard, in order not to be deceived. It is very important for religion to distinguish between true and false miracles, certain or uncertain events, and works wrought by the hand of God, from those which are the work of the seducing spirit.

In all that he does, the demon mixes up a great many illusions amid some truths, in order that the difficulty of discerning the true from the false may make mankind take the side which pleases them most, and that the incredulous may always have some points to maintain them in their incredulity. Although the apparitions of spirits, angels, and demons, and their operations, may not, perhaps, always be miraculous, nevertheless, as the greater part appear above the common course of nature, many of the persons of whom we have just spoken, without giving themselves the trouble to examine the things, and seek for the causes of them, the authors, and the circumstances, boldly take upon themselves to deny them all. It is the shortest way, but neither the most sensible nor the most rational; for in what is said on this subject, there are effects which can be reasonably attributed to the Almighty power of God alone, who acts immediately, or makes secondary causes act to his glory, for the advancement of religion, and the manifestation of the truth; and other effects there are, which bear visibly the character of illusion, impiety, and seduction, and in which it would seem that, instead of the finger of God, we can observe only the marks of the spirit of deceit and falsehood.

Footnotes:

[260] Matt. xii. 24-27. Luke xi. 15-18.

[261] Matt. viii. 29.

[262] Tertullian does not say so much in the passage cited; on the contrary, he affirms that we are ignorant of their nature: substantia ignoratur.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

CONTINUATION OF OBJECTIONS AGAINST POSSESSIONS, AND SOME REPLIES TO THOSE OBJECTIONS.

We read in works, published and printed, composed by Catholic authors of our days,[263] that it is proved by reason, that possessions of the demon are naturally impossible, and that it is not true, in regard to ourselves and our ideas, that the demon can have any natural power over the corporeal world; that as soon as we admit in the created wills a power to act upon bodies, and to move them, it is impossible to set bounds to it, and that this power is truly infinite.

They maintain that the demon can act upon our souls simply by means of suggestion; that it is impossible the demon should be the physical cause of the least external effect; that all the Scripture tells us of the snares and stratagems of Satan signifies nothing more than the temptations of the flesh and concupiscence; and that to seduce us, the demon requires only mental suggestions. His is a moral, not a physical power; in a word, that the demon can do neither good nor harm; that his might is nought; that we do not know if God has given to any other spirit than the soul of man the power to move the body; that, on the contrary, we ought to presume that the wisdom of God has willed that pure spirits should have no commerce with the body; they maintain moreover that the pagans never knew what we call bad angels and demons.

All these propositions are certainly contrary to Scripture, to the opinions of the Fathers, and to the tradition of the Catholic Church. But these gentlemen do not trouble themselves about that; they affirm that the sacred writers have often expressed themselves according to the opinions of their time, whether because the necessity of making themselves understood forced them to conform to it, or that they themselves had adopted those opinions. There is, say they, more likelihood that several infirmities which the Scripture has ascribed to the demon had simply a natural cause; that in these places the sacred authors have spoken according to vulgar opinions; the error of this language is of no importance.

The prophets of Saul, and Saul himself, were never what are properly termed Prophets; they might be attacked with those (fits) which the pagans call sacred. You must be asleep when you read, not to see that the temptation of Eve is only an allegory. It is the same with the permission given by God to Satan to tempt Job. Why wish to explain the whole book of Job literally, and as a true history, since its beginning is only a fiction? It is anything but certain that Jesus Christ was transported by the demon to the highest pinnacle of the temple.

The Fathers were prepossessed on one side by the reigning ideas of the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato on the influences of mean intelligences, and on the other hand by the language of the holy books, which to conform to popular opinions often ascribed to the demon effects which were purely natural. We must then return to the doctrine of reason to decide on the submission which we ought to pay to the authority of the Scriptures and the Fathers concerning the power of the demons.

The uniform method of the Holy Fathers in the interpretations of the Old Testament is human opinion, whence one can appeal to the tribunal of reason. They go so far as to say that the sacred authors were informed of the Metempsychosis, as the author of the Book of Wisdom, chap. viii. 19, 20: "I was an innocent child, and I received a good spirit; and as I was already good, I entered into an uncorrupted body."

Persons of this temper will certainly not read this work of ours, or, if they do read it, it will be with contempt or pity. I do not think it necessary to refute those paradoxes here; the Bishop of Senez has done it with his usual erudition and zeal, in a long letter printed at Utrecht in 1736. I do not deny that the sacred writers may sometimes have spoken in a popular manner, and in accordance with the prejudice of the people. But it is carrying things too far to reduce the power of the demon to being able to act upon us only by means of suggestion; and it is a presumption unworthy of a philosopher to decide on the power of spirits over bodies, having no knowledge, either by revelation or by reason, of the extent of the power of angels and demons over matter and human bodies. We may exceed due measure by granting them excessive power, as well as in not according them enough. But it is of infinite importance to Religion to discern justly between what is natural, or supernatural, in the operations of angels and demons, that the simple may not be left in error, nor the wicked triumph over the truth, and make a bad use of their own wit and knowledge, to render doubtful what is certain, and deceiving both themselves and others by ascribing to chance or illusion of the senses, or a vain prepossession of the mind, what is said of the apparitions of angels, demons, and deceased persons; since it is certain that several of these apparitions are quite true, although there may be a great number of others that are very uncertain, and even manifestly false.

I shall therefore make no difficulty in owning that even miracles, at least things that appear such, the prediction of future events, movements of the body which appear beyond the usual powers of nature, to speak and understand foreign languages unknown before, to penetrate the thoughts, discover concealed things, to be raised up, and transported in a moment from one place to another, to announce truths, lead a good life externally, preach Jesus Christ, decry magic and sorcery, make an outward profession of virtue; I readily own that all these things may not prove invincibly that all who perform them are sent by God, or that these operations are real miracles; yet we cannot reasonably suppose the demon to be mixed up in them by God's permission, or that the demons or the angels do not act upon those persons who perform prodigies, and foretell things to come, or who can penetrate the thoughts of the heart, or that God himself does not produce these effects by the immediate action of his justice or his might.

The examples which have been cited, or which may be cited hereafter, will never prove that man can of himself penetrate the sentiments of another, or discover his secret thoughts. The wonders worked by the magicians of Pharaoh were only illusion; they appeared, however, to be true miracles, and passed for such in the eyes of the King of Egypt and all his court. Balaam, the son of Beor, was a true Prophet, although a man whose morals were very corrupt.

Pomponatius writes that the wife of Francis Maigret, savetier of Mantua, spoke divers languages, and was cured by Calderon, a physician, famous in his time, who gave her a potion of Hellebore. Erasmus says also[264] that he had seen an Italian, a native of Spoletta, who spoke German very well, although he had never been in Germany; they gave him a medicine which caused him to eject a quantity of worms, and he was cured so as not to speak German any more.

Le Loyer, in his Book of Spectres,[265] avows that all those things appear to him much to be doubted. He rather believes Fernel, one of the gravest physicians of his age, who maintains[266] that there is not such power in medicine, and brings forward as an instance the history of a young gentleman, the son of a Knight of the Order, who being seized upon by the demon, could be cured neither by potions, by medicines, nor by diet (i. e. fasting), but who was cured by the conjurations and exorcisms of the church.

As to the reality of the return of souls, or spirits, and their apparitions, the Sorbonne, the most celebrated school of theology in France, has always believed that the spirits of the defunct returned sometimes, either by the order and power of God, or by his permission. The Sorbonne confessed this in its decisions of the year 1518, and still more positively the 23d of January, 1724. Nos respondemus vestrae petitioni animas defunctorum divinitus, seu divina virtute, ordinatione aut permissione interdum ad vivas redire exploratum esse. Several jurisconsults and several sovereign companies have decreed that the apparition of a deceased person in a house could suffice to break up the lease. We may count it for much, to have proved to certain persons that there is a God whose providence extends over all things past, present, and to come; that there is another life, that there are good and bad spirits, rewards for good works, and punishments after this life for sins; that Jesus Christ has ruined the power of Satan; that he exercised in himself, in his apostles, and continues to exercise in the ministers of his church, an absolute empire over the infernal powers; that the devil is now chained; he may bark and threaten, but he can bite only those who approach him, and voluntarily give themselves up to him.

We have seen in these parts a woman who followed a band of mountebanks and jugglers, who stretched out her legs in such an extraordinary manner, and raised up her feet to her head, before and behind, with as much suppleness as if she had neither nerves nor joints. There was nothing supernatural in all that; she had exercised herself from extreme youth in these movements, and had contracted the habit of performing them.

St. Augustine[267] speaks of a soothsayer whom he had known at Carthage, an illiterate man, who could discover the secrets of the heart, and replied to those who consulted him on secret and unknown affairs. He had himself made an experiment on him, and took to witness St. Alypius, Licentius, and Trygnius, his interlocutors, in his dialogue against the Academicians. They, like him, had consulted Albicerius, and had admired the certainty of his replies. He gives us an instance—a spoon which had been lost. They told him that some one had lost something; and he instantly, without hesitation, replied that such a thing was lost, that such a one had taken it, and had hid it in such a place, which was found to be quite true.

They sent him a certain quantity of pieces of silver; he who was charged to carry them had taken away some of them. He made the person return them, and perceived the theft before the money had been shown to him. St. Augustine was present. A learned and distinguished man, named Flaccianus, wishing to buy a field, consulted the soothsayer, who declared to him the name of the land, which was very extraordinary, and gave him all the details of the affair in question. A young student, wishing to prove Albicerius, begged of him to declare to him what he was thinking of; he told him he was thinking of a verse of Virgil; and, as he then asked him which verse it was, the diviner repeated it instantly, though he had never studied the Latin language.

This Albicerius was a scoundrel, as St. Augustine says, who calls him flagitiosum hominem. The knowledge which he had of hidden things was not, doubtless, a gift of heaven, any more than the Pythonic spirit which animated that maid in the Acts of the Apostles whom St. Paul obliged to keep silence.[268] It was then the work of the evil spirit.

The gift of tongues, the knowledge of the future, and power to divine the thoughts of others, are always adduced, and with reason, as solid proofs of the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit; but if the demon can sometimes perform the same things, he does it to mislead and induce sin, or simply to render true prophecies doubtful; but never to lead to truth, the fear and love of God, and the edification of those around. God may allow such corrupt men as Balaam, and such rascals as Albicerius, to have some knowledge of the future, and secret things, and even of the hidden thoughts of men; but he never permits their criminality to remain unrevealed to the end, and so become a stumbling-block for simple or worthy people. The malice of these hypocritical and corrupt men will be made manifest sooner or later by some means; their malice and depravity will be found out, by which it will be judged, either that they are inspired only by the evil spirit, or that the Holy Spirit makes use of their agency to foretell some truth, as he prophesied by Balaam, and by Caiphas. Their morals and their conduct will throw discredit on them, and oblige us to be careful in discerning between their true predictions and their bad example. We have seen hypocrites who died with the reputation of being worthy people, and who at bottom were scoundrels—as for instance, that cure, the director of the nuns of Louviers, whose possession was so much talked of.

Jesus Christ, in the Gospel, tells us to be on our guard against wolves in sheep's clothing; and, elsewhere, he tells us that there will be false Christs and false prophets, who will prophesy in his name, and perform wonders capable of deceiving the very elect themselves, were it possible. But he refers us to their works to distinguish them.

To apply all these things to the possessed nuns of Loudun, and to Mademoiselle de Ranfaing, even to that girl whose hypocrisy was unmasked by Mademoiselle Acarie, I appeal to their works, and their conduct both before and after.

* * * * *

God will not allow those who sincerely seek the truth to be deceived.

A juggler will guess which card you have touched, or even simply thought of; but it is known that there is nothing supernatural in that, and that it is done by the combination of the cards according to mathematical rules. We have seen a deaf man who understood what they wished to say to him by simply observing the motion of the lips of those who spoke. There is nothing more miraculous in this than in two persons conversing together by signs upon which they have agreed.

Footnotes:

[263] See the letter of the Bishop of Senez, printed at Utrecht, in 1736, and the works that he therein cites and refutes.

[264] Erasm. Orat. de laudibus Medicinae.

[265] Le Loyer, lib. de Spec. cap. ii. p. 288.

[266] Fernel, de abditis Rerum Causis, lib. ii. c. 26.

[267] August. contra Academic. lib. ii. art. 17, 18.

[268] Acts xvi. 16.



CHAPTER XXIX.

OF FAMILIAR SPIRITS.

If all that is related of spirits which are perceived in houses, in the cavities of mountains, and in mines, is certain, we cannot disavow that they also must be placed in the rank of apparitions of the evil spirit; for, although they usually do neither wrong nor violence to any one, unless they are irritated or receive abusive words; nevertheless we do not read that they lead to the love or fear of God, to prayer, piety, or acts of devotion; it is known, on the contrary, that they show a distaste to those things, so that we shall place them in earnest among the spirits of darkness.

I do not find that the ancient Hebrews knew anything of what we call esprits follets, or familiar spirits, which infest houses, or attach themselves to certain persons, to serve them, watch over and warn them, and guard them from danger; such as the demon of Socrates, who warned him to avoid certain misfortunes. Some other examples are also related of persons who said they had similar genii attached to their persons.

The Jews and Christians confess that every one of us has his good angel, who guides him from his early youth.[269] Several of the ancients have thought that we have also our evil angel, who leads us into error. The Psalmist[270] says distinctly that God has commanded his angels to guide us in all our ways. But this is not what we understand here under the name of esprits follets.

The prophets in some places speak of fauns, or hairy men, or satyrs, who have some resemblance to our elves.

Isaiah,[271] speaking of the state to which Babylon shall be reduced after her destruction, says that the ostriches shall make it their dwelling, and that the hairy men, pilosi, the satyrs, and goats, shall dance there. And elsewhere the same prophet says,[272] Occurrent daemonia onocentauris et pilosus clamabit alter ad alterum, by which clever interpreters understand spectres which appear in the shape of goats. Jeremiah calls them fauns—the dragons with the fauns, which feed upon figs. But this is not the place for us to go more fully into the signification of the terms of the original; it suffices for us to show that in the Scripture, at least in the Vulgate, are found the names of lamiae, fauns, and satyrs, which have some resemblance to esprits follets.

Cassian,[273] who had studied deeply the lives of the fathers of the desert, and who had been much with the hermits or anchorites of Egypt, speaking of divers sorts of demons, mentions some which they commonly called fauns or satyrs, which the pagans regard as kinds of divinities of the fields or groves, who delighted, not so much in tormenting or doing harm to mankind, as in deceiving and fatiguing them, diverting themselves at their expense, and sporting with their simplicity.[274]

Pliny[275] the younger had a freed-man named Marcus, a man of letters, who slept in the same bed with his brother, who was younger than himself. It seemed to him that he saw a person sitting on the same bed, who was cutting off his hair from the crown of his head. When he awoke, he found his head shorn of hair, and his hair thrown on the ground in the middle of the chamber. A little time after, the same thing happened to a youth who slept with several others at a school. This one saw two men dressed in white come in at the window, who cut off his hair as he slept, and then went out by the same window: on awaking, he found his hair scattered about on the floor. To what can these things be attributed, if not to an elf?

Plotinus,[276] a Platonic philosopher, had, it is said, a familiar demon, who obeyed him from the moment he called him, and was superior in his nature to the common genii; he was of the order of gods, and Plotinus paid continual attention to this divine guardian. This it was which led him to undertake a work on the demon which belongs to each of us in particular. He endeavors to explain the difference between the genii which watch over men.

Trithemius, in his Chronicon Hirsauginse,[277] under the year 1130, relates that in the diocese of Hildesheim, in Saxony, they saw for some time a spirit which they called in German heidekind, as if they would say rural genius, heide signifying vast country, kind, child (or boy). He appeared sometimes in one form, sometimes in another; and sometimes, without appearing at all, he did several things by which he proved both his presence and his power. He chose sometimes to give very important advice to those in power; and often he has been seen in the bishop's kitchen, helping the cooks and doing sundry jobs.

A young scullion, who had grown familiar with him, having offered him some insults, he warned the head cook of it, who made light of it, or thought nothing about it; but the spirit avenged himself cruelly. This youth having fallen asleep in the kitchen, the spirit stifled him, tore him to pieces, and roasted him. He carried his fury still further against the officers of the kitchen, and the other officers of the prince. The thing went on to such a point that they were obliged to proceed against him by (ecclesiastical) censures, and to constrain him by exorcisms to go out of the country.

I think I may put amongst the number of elves the spirits which are seen, they say, in mines and mountain caves. They appear clad like the miners, run here and there, appear in haste as if to work and seek the veins of mineral ore, lay it in heaps, draw it out, turning the wheel of the crane; they seem to be very busy helping the workmen, and at the same time they do nothing at all.

These spirits are not mischievous, unless they are insulted and laughed at; for then they fall into an ill humor, and throw things at those who offend them. One of these genii, who had been addressed in injurious terms by a miner, twisted his neck and placed his head the hind part before. The miner did not die, but remained all his life with his neck twisted and awry.

George Agricola,[278] who has treated very learnedly on mines, metals, and the manner of extracting them from the bowels of the earth, mentions two or three sorts of spirits which appear in mines. Some are very small, and resemble dwarfs or pygmies; the others are like old men dressed like miners, having their shirts tucked up, and a leathern apron round their loins; others perform, or seem to perform, what they see others do, are very gay, do no harm to any one, but from all their labors nothing real results.

In other mines are seen dangerous spirits, who ill-use the workmen, hunt them away, and sometimes kill them, and thus constrain them to forsake mines which are very rich and abundant. For instance, at Anneberg, in a mine called Crown of Rose, a spirit in the shape of a spirited, snorting horse, killed twelve miners, and obliged those who worked the mine to abandon the undertaking, though it brought them in a great deal. In another mine, called St. Gregory, in Siveberg, there appeared a spirit whose head was covered with a black hood, and he seized a miner, raised him up to a considerable height, then let him fall, and hurt him extremely.

Olaus Magnus[279] says that, in Sweden and other northern countries, they saw formerly familiar spirits, which, under the form of men or women, waited on certain persons. He speaks of certain nymphs dwelling in caverns and in the depths of the forest, who announce things to come; some are good, others bad; they appear and speak to those who consult them. Travelers and shepherds also often see during the night divers phantoms which burn the spot where they appear, so that henceforward neither grass nor verdure are seen there.

He says that the people of Finland, before their conversion to Christianity, sold the winds to sailors, giving them a string with three knots, and warning them that by untying the first knot they would have a gentle and favorable wind, at the second knot a stronger wind, and at the third knot a violent and dangerous gale. He says, moreover, that the Bothnians, striking on an anvil hard blows with a hammer, upon a frog or a serpent of brass, fall down in a swoon, and during this swoon they learn what passes in very distant places.

But all those things have more relation to magic than to familiar spirits; and if what is said about them be true, it must be ascribed to the evil spirit.

The same Olaus Magnus[280] says that in mines, above all in silver mines, from which great profit may be expected, six sorts of demons may be seen, who under divers forms labor at breaking the rocks, drawing the buckets, and turning the wheels; who sometimes burst into laughter, and play different tricks; all of which are merely to deceive the miners, whom they crush under the rocks, or expose to the most imminent dangers, to make them utter blasphemy, and swear and curse. Several very rich mines have been obliged to be disused through fear of these dangerous spirits.

Notwithstanding all that we have just related, I doubt very much if there are any spirits in mountain caves or in mines. I have interrogated on the subject people of the trade and miners by profession, of whom there is a great number in our mountains, the Vosges, who have assured me that all which is related on that point is fabulous; that if sometimes they see these elves or grotesque figures, it must be attributed to a heated and prepossessed imagination; or else that the circumstance is so rare that it ought not to be repeated as something usual or common.

A new "Traveler in the Northern Countries," printed at Amsterdam, in 1708, says that the people of Iceland are almost all conjurers or sorcerers; that they have familiar demons, whom they call troles, who wait upon them as servants, and warn them of the accidents or illnesses which are to happen to them; they awake them to go a-fishing when the season is favorable, and if they go for that purpose without the advice of these genii, they do not succeed. There are some persons among these people who evoke the dead, and make them appear to those who wish to consult them: they also conjure up the appearance of the absent far from the spot where they dwell.

Father Vadingue relates, after an old manuscript legend, that a lady named Lupa had had during thirteen years a familiar demon, who served her as a waiting-woman, and led her into many secret irregularities, and induced her to treat her servants with inhumanity. God gave her grace to see her fault, and to do penance for it, by the intercession of St. Francois d'Assise and St. Anthony of Padua, to whom she had always felt particular devotion.

Cardan speaks of a bearded demon of Niphus, who gave him lessons of philosophy.

Agrippa had a demon who waited upon him in the shape of a dog. This dog, says Paulus Jovius, seeing his master about to expire, threw himself into the Rhone.

Much is said of certain spirits[281] which are kept confined in rings, that are bought, sold, or exchanged. They speak also of a crystal ring, in which the demon represented the objects desired to be seen.

Some also speak highly of those enchanted mirrors,[282] in which children see the face of a robber who is sought for; others will see it in their nails; all which can only be diabolical illusions.

Le Loyer relates[283] that when he was studying the law at Thoulouse, he was lodged near a house where an elf never ceased all the night to draw water from the well, making the pulley creak all the while; at other times, he seemed to drag something heavy up the stairs; but he very rarely entered the rooms, and then he made but little noise.

Footnotes:

[269] Matt. xviii. 10.

[270] Psalm xc. 11.

[271] Isai. xiii. 22. Pilosi saltabunt ibi.

[272] Isai. xxxiv. 15.

[273] Cassian, Collat. vii. c. 23.

[274] "Quos seductores et joculatores esse manifestum est, cum nequaquam tormentis eorum, quos praetereuntes potuerint decipere, oblectentur, sed de risu tantum modo et illusione contenti, fatigare potius, studeant, quam nocere."

[275] Plin. i. 7. Epist. 27, suiv.

[276] Life of Plotin. art. x.

[277] Chron. Hirsaug. ad ann. 1130.

[278] Geo. Agricola, de Mineral. Subterran. p. 504.

[279] Olaus Mag. lib. iii. Hist. 5, 9-14.

[280] Olaus Mag. lib. vi. c. 9.

[281] Le Loyer, p. 474.

[282] Ibid. liv. ii. p. 258.

[283] Ibid, p. 550.



CHAPTER XXX.

SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF ELVES.

On the 25th of August, 1746, I received a letter from a very worthy man, the cure of the parish of Walsche, a village situated in the mountains of Vosges, in the county of Dabo, or Dasburg, in Lower Alsatia, Diocese of Metz. In this letter, he tells me that the 10th of June, 1740, at eight o'clock in the morning, he being in his kitchen, with his niece and the servant, he saw on a sudden an iron pot that was placed on the ground turn round three or four times, without its being set in motion by any one. A moment after, a stone, weighing about a pound, was thrown from the next room into the same kitchen, in presence of the same persons, without their seeing the hand which threw it. The next day, at nine o'clock in the morning, some panes of glass were broken, and through these panes were thrown some stones, with what appeared to them supernatural dexterity. The spirit never hurt anybody, and never did anything in the night time, but always during the day. The cure employed the prayers marked out in the ritual to bless his house, and thenceforth the genius broke no more panes of glass; but he continued to throw stones at the cure's people, without hurting them, however. If they fetched water from the fountain, he threw stones into the bucket; and afterwards he began to serve in the kitchen. One day, as the servant was planting some cabbages in the garden, he pulled them up as fast as she planted them, and laid them in a heap. It was in vain that she stormed, threatened, and swore in the German style; the genius continued to play his tricks.

One day, when a bed in the garden had been dug and prepared, the spade was found thrust two feet deep into the ground, without any trace being seen of him who had thus stuck it in; but they observed that on the spade was a riband, and by the spade were two pieces of two soles, which the girl had locked up the evening before in a little box. Sometimes he took pleasure in displacing the earthenware and pewter, and putting it either all round the kitchen, or in the porch, or even in the cemetery, and always in broad daylight. One day he filled an iron pot with wild herbs, bran, and leaves of trees, and, having put some water in it, carried it to the ally or walk in the garden; another time he suspended it to the pot-hook over the fire. The servant having broken two eggs into a little dish for the cure's supper, the genius broke two more into it in his presence, the maid having merely turned to get some salt. The cure having gone to say mass, on his return found all his earthenware, furniture, linen, bread, milk, and other things scattered about over the house.

Sometimes the spirit would form circles on the paved floor, at one time with stones, at another with corn or leaves, and in a moment, before the eyes of all present, all was overturned and deranged. Tired with these games, the cure sent for the mayor of the place, and told him he was resolved to quit the parsonage house. Whilst this was passing, the cure's niece came in, and told them that the genius had torn up the cabbages in the garden, and had put some money in a hole in the ground. They went there, and found things exactly as she had said. They picked up the money, which what the cure had put away in a place not locked up; and in a moment after they found it anew, with some liards, two by two, scattered about the kitchen.

The agents of the Count de Linange being arrived at Walsche, went to the cure's house, and persuaded him that it was all the effect of a spell; they told him to take two pistols, and fire them off at the place where he might observe there were any movements. The genius at the same moment threw out of the pocket of one of these officers two pieces of silver; and from that time he was no longer perceived in the house.

The circumstances of two pistols terminating the scenes with which the elf had disturbed the good cure, made him believe that this tormenting imp was no other than a certain bad parishioner, whom the cure had been obliged to send away from his parish, and who to revenge himself had done all that we have related. If that be the case, he had rendered himself invisible, or he had had credit enough to send in his stead a familiar genius who puzzled the cure for some weeks; for, if he were not bodily in this house, what had he to fear from any pistol shot which might have been fired at him? And if he was there bodily, how could he render himself invisible?

I have been told several times that a monk of the Cistercian order had a familiar genius who attended upon him, arranged his chamber, and prepared everything ready for him when he was coming back from the country. They were so accustomed to this, that they expected him home by these signs, and he always arrived. It is affirmed of another monk of the same order that he had a familiar spirit, who warned him, not only of what passed in the house, but also of what happened out of it; and one day he was awakened three times, and warned that some monks were quarreling, and were ready to come to blows; he ran to the spot, and put an end to the dispute.

St. Sulpicius Severus[284] relates that St. Martin often had conversations with the Holy Virgin, and other saints, and even with the demons and false gods of paganism; he talked with them, and learned from them many secret things. One day, when a council was being held at Nimes, where he had not thought proper to be present, but the decisions of which he desired to know, being in a boat with St. Sulpicius, but apart from others, as usual with him, an angel appeared, and informed him what had passed in this assembly of bishops. Inquiry was made as to the day and hour when the council was held, and it was found to be at the same hour at which the angel had appeared to Martin.

We have been told several times that a young ecclesiastic, in a seminary at Paris, had a genius who waited upon him, and arranged his room and his clothes. One day, when the superior was passing by the chamber of the seminarist, he heard him talking with some one; he entered, and asked who he was conversing with. The youth affirmed that there was no one in his room, and, in fact, the superior could neither see nor discover any one there. Nevertheless, as he had heard their conversation, the young man owned that for some years he had been attended by a familiar genius, who rendered him every service that a domestic could have done, and had promised him great advantages in the ecclesiastical profession. The superior pressed him to give some proofs of what he said. He ordered the genius to set a chair for the superior; the genius obeyed. Information of this was sent to the archbishop, who did not think proper to give it publicity. The young clerk was sent away, and this singular adventure was buried in silence.

Bodin[285] speaks of a person of his acquaintance who was still living at the time he wrote, which was in 1588. This person had a familiar who from the age of thirty-seven had given him good advice respecting his conduct, sometimes to correct his faults, sometimes to make him practice virtue, or to assist him; resolving the difficulties which he might find in reading holy books, or giving him good counsel upon his own affairs. He usually rapped at his door at three or four o'clock in the morning to awaken him; and as that person mistrusted all these things, fearing that it might be an evil angel, the spirit showed himself in broad day, striking gently on a glass bowl, and then upon a bench. When he desired to do anything good and useful, the spirit touched his right ear; but if it was anything wrong and dangerous, he touched his left ear; so that from that time nothing occurred to him of which he was not warned beforehand. Sometimes he heard his voice; and one day, when he found his life in imminent danger, he saw his genius, under the form of a child of extraordinary beauty, who saved him from it.

William, Bishop of Paris,[286] says that he knew a rope-dancer who had a familiar spirit which played and joked with him, and prevented him from sleeping, throwing something against the wall, dragging off the bed-clothes, or pulling him about when he was in bed. We know by the account of a very sensible person that it has happened to him in the open country, and in the day time, to feel his cloak and boots pulled at, and his hat thrown down; then he heard the bursts of laughter and the voice of a person deceased and well known to him, who seemed to rejoice at it.

The discovery of things hidden or unknown, which is made in dreams, or otherwise, can hardly be ascribed to anything but to familiar spirits. A man who did not know a word of Greek came to M. de Saumaise, senior, a counselor of the Parliament of Dijon, and showed him these words, which he had heard in the night, as he slept, and which he wrote down in French characters on awaking: "Apithi ouc osphraine ten sen apsychian." He asked him what that meant. M. de Saumaise told him it meant, "Save yourself; do you not perceive the death with which you are threatened?" Upon this hint, the man removed, and left his house, which fell down the following night.[287]

The same story is related, with a little difference, by another author, who says that the circumstance happened at Paris;[288] that the genius spoke in Syriac, and that M. de Saumaise being consulted, replied, "Go out of your house, for it will fall in ruins to-day, at nine o'clock in the evening." It is but too much the custom in reciting stories of this kind to add a few circumstances by way of embellishment.

Gassendi, in the Life of M. Peiresch, relates that M. Peiresch, going one day to Nismes, with one of his friends, named M. Rainier, the latter, having heard Peiresch talking in his sleep in the night, waked him, and asked him what he said. Peiresch answered him, "I dreamed that, being at Nismes, a jeweler had offered me a medal of Julius Caesar, for which he asked four crowns, and as I was going to count him down his money, you waked me, to my great regret." They arrived at Nismes, and going about the town, Peiresch recognized the goldsmith whom he had seen in his dream; and on his asking him if he had nothing curious, the goldsmith told him he had a gold medal, or coin, of Julius Caesar. Peiresch asked him how much he esteemed it worth; he replied, four crowns. Peiresch paid them, and was delighted to see his dream so happily accomplished.

Here is a dream much more singular than the preceding, although a little in the same style.[289] A learned man of Dijon, after having wearied himself all day with an important passage in a Greek poet, without being able to comprehend it at all, went to bed thinking of this difficulty. During his sleep, his genius transported him in spirit to Stockholm, introduced him into the palace of Queen Christina, conducted him into the library, and showed him a small volume, which was precisely what he sought. He opened it, read in it ten or twelve Greek verses, which absolutely cleared up the difficulty which had so long beset him; he awoke, and wrote down the verses he had seen at Stockholm. On the morrow, he wrote to M. Descartes, who was then in Sweden, and begged of him to look in such a place, and in such a division of the library, if the book, of which he sent him the description, were there, and if the Greek verses which he sent him were to be read in it.

M. Descartes replied that he had found the book in question; and also the verses he had sent were in the place he pointed out; that one of his friends had promised him a copy of that work, and he would send it him by the first opportunity.

We have already said something of the spirit, or familiar genius of Socrates, which prevented him from doing certain things, but did not lead him to do others. It is asserted[290] that, after the defeat of the Athenian army, commanded by Laches, Socrates, flying like the others, with this Athenian general, and being arrived at a spot where several roads met, Socrates would not follow the road taken by the other fugitives; and when they asked him the reason, he replied, because his genius drew him away from it. The event justified his foresight. All those who had taken the other road were either killed or made prisoners by the enemy's cavalry.

It is doubtful whether the elves, of which so many things are related, are good or bad spirits; for the faith of the church admits nothing between these two kinds of genii. Every genius is either good or bad; but as there are in heaven many mansions, as the Gospel says,[291] and as there are among the blessed, various degrees of glory, differing from each other, so we may believe that there are in hell various degrees of pain and punishment for the damned and the demons.

But are they not rather magicians, who render themselves invisible, and divert themselves in disquieting the living? Why do they attach themselves to certain spots, and certain persons, rather than to others? Why do they make themselves perceptible only during a certain time, and that sometimes a short space?

I could willingly conclude that what is said of them is mere fancy and prejudice; but their reality has been so often experienced by the discourse they have held, and the actions they have performed in the presence of many wise and enlightened persons, that I cannot persuade myself that among the great number of stories related of them there are not at least some of them true.

It may be remarked that these elves never lead one to anything good, to prayer, or piety, to the love of God, or to godly and serious actions. If they do no other harm, they leave hurtful doubts about the punishments of the damned, on the efficacy of prayer and exorcisms; if they hurt not those men or animals which are found on the spot where they may be perceived, it is because God sets bounds to their malice and power. The demon has a thousand ways of deceiving us. All those to whom these genii attach themselves have a horror of them, mistrust and fear them; and it rarely happens that these familiar demons do not lead them to a dangerous end, unless they deliver themselves from them by grave acts of religion and penance.

There is the story of a spirit, "which," says he who wrote it to me, "I no more doubt the truth of than if I had been a witness of it." Count Despilliers, the father, being a young man, and captain of cuirassiers, was in winter quarters in Flanders. One of his men came to him one day to beg that he would change his landlord, saying that every night there came into his bed-room a spirit, which would not allow him to sleep. The Count Despilliers sent him away, and laughed at his simplicity. Some days after, the same horseman came back and made the same request to him; the only reply of the captain would have been a volley of blows with a stick, had not the soldier avoided them by a prompt flight. At last, he returned a third time to the charge, and protested to his captain that he could bear it no longer, and should be obliged to desert if his lodgings were not changed. Despilliers, who knew the soldier to be brave and reasonable, said to him, with an oath, "I will go this night and sleep with you, and see what is the matter."

At ten o'clock in the evening, the captain repaired to his soldier's lodging, and having laid his pistols ready primed upon the table, he lay down in his clothes, his sword by his side, with his soldier, in a bed without curtains. About midnight he heard something which came into the room, and in a moment turned the bed upside down, covering the captain and the soldier with the mattress and paillasse. Despilliers had great trouble to disengage himself and find again his sword and pistols, and he returned home much confounded. The horse-soldier had a new lodging the very next day, and slept quietly in the house of his new host.

M. Despilliers related this adventure to any one who would listen to it. He was an intrepid man, who had never known what it was to fall back before danger. He died field-marshal of the armies of the Emperor Charles VI. and governor of the fortress of Segedin. His son has confirmed this adventure to me within a short time, as having heard it from his father.

The person who writes to me adds: "I doubt not that spirits sometimes return; but I have found myself in a great many places which it was said they haunted. I have even tried several times to see them, but I have never seen any. I found myself once with more than four thousand persons, who all said they saw the spirit; I was the only one in the assembly who saw nothing." So writes me a very worthy officer, this year, 1745, in the same letter wherein he relates the affair of M. Despilliers.

Footnotes:

[284] St. Sulpit. Sever. Dialog. ii. c. 14, 15.

[285] Bodin Demonomania, lib. ii. c. 2.

[286] Guillelm. Paris, 2 Part. quaest. 2, c. 8.

[287] Grot. Epist. Part. ii. Ep. 405.

[288] They affirm that it happened at Dijon, in the family of the MM. Surmin, in which a constant tradition has perpetuated the memory of the circumstance.

[289] Continuation of the Count de Gabalis, at the Hague, 1708, p. 55.

[290] Cicero, de Divinat. lib. i.

[291] John xiv. 2.



CHAPTER XXXI.

SPIRITS THAT KEEP WATCH OVER TREASURE.

Everybody acknowledges that there is an infinity of riches buried in the earth, or lost under the waters by shipwrecks; they fancy that the demon, whom they look upon as the god of riches, the god Mammon, the Pluto of the pagans, is the depositary, or at least the guardian, of these treasures. He said to Jesus Christ,[292] when he tempted him in the wilderness, showing to him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." We know also that the ancients very often interred vast treasures in the tombs of the dead; either that the dead might make use of them in the other world, or that their souls might keep guard over them in those gloomy places. Job seems to make allusion to this ancient custom, when he says,[293] "Would to God I had never been born: I should now sleep with the kings and great ones of the earth, who built themselves solitary places; like unto those who seek for treasure, and are rejoiced when they find a tomb;" doubtless because they hope to find great riches therein.

There were very precious things in the tomb of Cyrus. Semiramis caused to be engraved on her own mausoleum that it contained great riches. Josephus[294] relates that Solomon placed great treasures in the tomb of David his father; and that the High-Priest Hyrcanus, being besieged in Jerusalem by King Antiochus, took thence three thousand talents. He says, moreover, that years after, Herod the Great having caused this tomb to be searched, took from it large sums. We see several laws against those who violate sepulchres to take out of them the precious things they contain. The Emperor Marcianus[295] forbade that riches should be hidden in tombs. If such things have been placed in the mausoleums of worthy and holy persons, and if they have been discovered through the revelation of the good spirits of persons who died in the faith and grace of God, we cannot conclude from those things that all hidden treasures are in the power of the demon, and that he alone knows anything of them; the good angels know of them; and the saints may be much more faithful guardians of them than the demons, who usually have no power to enrich, or to deliver from the horrors of poverty, from punishment and death itself, those who yield themselves to them in order to receive some reward from them.

Melancthon relates[296] that the demon informed a priest where a treasure was hid; the priest, accompanied by one of his friends, went to the spot indicated; they saw there a black dog lying on a chest. The priest, having entered to take out the treasure, was crushed and smothered under the ruins of the cavern.

M. Remy[297], in his Demonology, speaks of several persons whose causes he had heard in his quality of Lieutenant-General of Lorraine, at the time when that country swarmed with wizards and witches; those amongst them who believed they had received money from the demon, found nothing in their purses but bits of broken pots, coals, or leaves of trees, or other things equally vile and contemptible.

The Reverend Father Abram, a Jesuit, in his manuscript History of the University of Pont a Mousson, reports that a youth of good family, but small fortune, placed himself at first to serve in the army among the valets and serving men: from thence his parents sent him to school, but not liking the subjection which study requires, he quitted the school and returned to his former kind of life. On his way he met a man dressed in a silk coat, but ill-looking, dark, and hideous, who asked him where he was going to, and why he looked so sad: "I am able to set you at your ease," said this man to him, "if you will give yourself to me."

The young man, believing that he wished to engage him as a servant, asked for time to reflect upon it; but beginning to mistrust the magnificent promises which he made him, he looked at him more narrowly, and having remarked that his left foot was divided like that of an ox, he was seized with affright, made the sign of the cross, and called on the name of Jesus, when the spectre directly disappeared.

Three days after, the same figure appeared to him again, and asked him if he had made up his mind; the young man replied that he did not want a master. The spectre said to him, "Where are you going?" "I am going to such a town," replied he. At that moment the demon threw at his feet a purse which chinked, and which he found filled with thirty or forty Flemish crowns, amongst which were about twelve which appeared to be gold, newly coined, and as if from the stamps of the coiner. In the same purse was a powder, which the spectre said was of a very subtile quality.

At the same time, he gave him abominable counsels to satisfy the most shameful passions; and exhorted him to renounce the use of holy water, and the adoration of the host—which he called in derision that little cake. The boy was horrified at these proposals, and made the sign of the cross on his heart; and at the same time he felt himself thrown roughly down on the ground, where he remained for half an hour, half dead. Having got up again, he returned home to his mother, did penance, and changed his conduct. The pieces of money which looked like gold and newly coined, having been put in the fire, were found to be only of copper.

I relate this instance to show that the demon seeks only to deceive and corrupt even those to whom he makes the most specious promises, and to whom he seems to give great riches.

Some years ago, two monks, both of them well informed and prudent men, consulted me upon a circumstance which occurred at Orbe, a village of Alsatia, near the Abbey of Pairis. Two men of that place told them that they had seen come out of the ground a small box or casket, which they supposed was full of money, and having a wish to lay hold of it, it had retreated from them and hidden itself again under ground. This happened to them more than once.

Theophanes, a celebrated and grave Greek historiographer, under the year of our era 408, relates that Cabades, King of Persia, being informed that between the Indian country and Persia there was a castle called Zubdadeyer, which contained a great quantity of gold, silver, and precious stones, resolved to make himself master of it; but these treasures were guarded by demons, who would not permit any one to approach it. He employed some of the magi and some Jews who were with him to conjure and exorcise them; but their efforts were useless. The king bethought himself of the God of the Christians—prayed to him, and sent for the bishop who was at the head of the Christian church in Persia, and begged of him to use his efforts to obtain for him these treasures, and to expel the demons by whom they were guarded. The prelate offered the holy sacrifice, participated in it, and going to the spot, drove away the demons who were guardians of these riches, and put the king in peaceable possession of the castle.

Relating this story to a man of some rank,[298] he told me, that in the Isle of Malta, two knights having hired a slave, who boasted that he possessed the secret of evoking demons, and forcing them to discover the most hidden secrets, they led him into an old castle, where it was thought that treasures were concealed. The slave performed his evocations, and at last the demon opened a rock whence issued a coffer. The slave would have taken hold of it, but the coffer went back into the rock. This occurred more than once; and the slave, after vain efforts, came and told the knights what had happened to him; but he was so much exhausted that he had need of some restorative; they gave him refreshment, and when he had returned they after a while heard a noise. They went into the cave with a light, to see what had happened, and they found the slave lying dead, and all his flesh full of cuts as of a penknife, in form of a cross; he was so covered with them that there was not room to place a finger where he was not thus marked. The knights carried him to the shore, and threw him into the sea with a great stone hung round his neck. We could name these persons and note the dates, were it necessary.

The same person related to us, at that same time, that about ninety years before, an old woman of Malta was warned by a genius that there was a great deal of treasure in her cellar, belonging to a knight of high consideration, and desired her to give him information of it; she went to his abode, but could not obtain an audience. The following night the same genius returned, and gave her the same command; and as she refused to obey, he abused her, and again sent her on the same errand. The next day she returned to seek this lord, and told the domestics that she would not go away until she had spoken to the master. She related what had happened to her; and the knight resolved to go to her dwelling, accompanied by people with the proper instruments for digging; they dug, and very shortly there sprung up such a quantity of water from the spot where they inserted their pickaxes that they were obliged to give up the undertaking.

The knight confessed to the Inquisitor what he had done, and received absolution for it; but he was obliged to inscribe the fact we have recounted in the Registers of the Inquisition.

About sixty years after, the canons of the Cathedral of Malta, wishing for a wider space before their church, bought some houses which it was necessary to pull down, and amongst others that which had belonged to that old woman. As they were digging there, they found the treasure, consisting of a good many gold pieces of the value of a ducat, bearing the effigy of the Emperor Justinian the First. The Grand Master of the Order of Malta affirmed that the treasure belonged to him as sovereign of the isle; the canons contested the point. The affair was carried to Rome; the grand master gained his suit, and the gold was brought to him, amounting in value to about sixty thousand ducats; but he gave them up to the cathedral.

Some time afterwards, the knight of whom we have spoken, who was then very aged, remembered what had happened to himself, and asserted that the treasure ought to belong to him; he made them lead him to the spot, recognized the cellar where he had formerly been, and pointed out in the Register of the Inquisition what had been written therein sixty years before. They did not permit him to recover the treasure; but it was a proof that the demon knew of and kept watch over this money. The person who told me this story has in his possession three or four of these gold pieces, having bought them of the canons.

Footnotes:

[292] Matt. iv. 8.

[293] Job iii. 13, 14, 22.

[294] Joseph. Ant. lib. xiii.

[295] Martian. lib. iv.

[296] Le Loyer, liv. ii. p. 495.

[297] Remy, Demonol. c. iv. Ann. 1605.

[298] M. le Chevalier Guiot de Marre.



CHAPTER XXXII.

OTHER INSTANCES OF HIDDEN TREASURES WHICH WERE GUARDED BY GOOD OR BAD SPIRITS.

We read in a new work that a man, Honore Mirable, having found in a garden near Marseilles a treasure consisting of several Portuguese pieces of gold, from the indication given him by a spectre, which appeared to him at eleven o'clock at night, near the Bastide, or country house called du Paret, he made the discovery of it in presence of the woman who farmed the land of this Bastide, and the farm-servant named Bernard. When he first perceived the treasure buried in the earth, and wrapt up in a bundle of old linen, he was afraid to touch it, for fear it should be poisoned and cause his death. He raised it by means of a hook made of a branch of the almond tree, and carried it into his room, where he undid it without any witness, and found in it a great deal of gold; to satisfy the wishes of the spirit who had appeared to him, he caused some masses to be said for him. He revealed his good fortune to a countryman of his, named Anquier, who lent him forty livres, and gave him a note by which he acknowledged he owed him twenty thousand livres and receipted the payment of the forty livres lent; this note bore date the 27th September, 1726.

Some time after, Mirable asked Anquier to pay the note. Anquier denied everything. A great lawsuit ensued; informations were taken and perquisitions held in Anquier's house; sentence was given on the 10th of September, 1727, importing that Anquier should be arrested, and have the question applied to him. An appeal was made to the Parliament of Aix. Anquier's note was declared a forgery. Bernard, who was said to have been present at the discovery of the treasure, was not cited at all; the other witnesses only deposed from hearsay; Magdalen Caillot alone, who was present, acknowledged having seen the packet wrapped round with linen, and had heard a ringing as of pieces of gold or silver, and had seen one of them, a piece about as large as a piece of two liards.

The Parliament of Aix issued its decree the 17th of February, 1728, by which it ordained that Bernard, farming servant at the Bastide du Paret, should be heard; he was heard on different days, and deposed that he had seen neither treasure, nor rags, nor gold pieces. Then came another decree of the 2d of June, 1728, which ordered that the attorney-general should proceed by way of ecclesiastical censures on the facts resulting from these proceedings.

The indictment was published, fifty-three witnesses were heard; another sentence of the 18th of February, 1729, discharged Anquier from the courts and the lawsuit; condemned Mirable to the galleys to perpetuity after having previously undergone the question; and Caillot was to pay a fine of ten francs. Such was the end of this grand lawsuit. If we examine narrowly these stories of spectres who watch over treasures, we shall doubtless find, as here, a great deal of superstition, deception, and fancy.

Delrio relates some instances of people who have been put to death, or who have perished miserably as they searched for hidden treasures. In all this we may perceive the spirit of lying and seduction on the part of the demon, bounds set to his power, and his malice arrested by the will of God; the impiety of man, his avarice, his idle curiosity, the confidence which he places in the angel of darkness, by the loss of his wealth, his life, and his soul.

John Wierus, in his work entitled "De Praestigiis Daemonum," printed at Basle in 1577, relates that in his time, 1430, the demon revealed to a certain priest at Nuremberg some treasures hidden in a cavern near the town, and enclosed in a crystal vase. The priest took one of his friends with him as a companion; they began to dig up the ground in the spot designated, and they discovered in a subterranean cavern a kind of chest, near which a black dog was lying; the priest eagerly advanced to seize the treasure, but hardly had he entered the cavern, than it fell in, crushed the priest, and was filled up with earth as before.

The following is extracted from a letter, written from Kirchheim, January 1st, 1747, to M. Schopfflein, Professor of History and Eloquence at Strasburg. "It is now more than a year ago that M. Cavallari, first musician of my serene master, and by birth a Venetian, desired to have the ground dug up at Rothenkirchen, a league from hence, and which was formerly a renowned abbey, and was destroyed in the time of the Reformation. The opportunity was afforded him by an apparition, which showed itself more than once at noonday to the wife of the Censier of Rothenkirchen, and above all, on the 7th of May for two succeeding years. She swears, and can make oath, that she has seen a venerable priest in pontifical garments embroidered with gold, who threw before her a great heap of stones; and although she is a Lutheran, and consequently not very credulous in things of that kind, she thinks nevertheless that if she had had the presence of mind to put down a handkerchief or an apron, all the stones would have become money.

"M. Cavallari then asked leave to dig there, which was the more readily granted, because the tithe or tenth part of the treasure is due to the sovereign. He was treated as a visionary, and the matter of treasure was regarded as an unheard-of thing. In the mean time, he laughed at the anticipated ridicule, and asked me if I would go halves with him. I did not hesitate a moment to accept this offer; but I was much surprised to find there were some little earthen pots full of gold pieces, all these pieces finer than the ducats of the fourteenth and fifteenth century generally are. I have had for my share 666, found at three different times. There are some of the Archbishops of Mayence, Treves, and Cologne, of the towns of Oppenheim, Baccarat, Bingen, and Coblentz; there are some also of the Palatine Rupert, of Frederic, Burgrave of Nuremberg, some few of Wenceslaus, and one of the Emperor Charles IV., &c."

This shows that not only the demons, but also the saints, are sometimes guardians of treasure; unless you will say that the devil had taken the shape of the prelate. But what could it avail the demon to give the treasure to these gentlemen, who did not ask him for it, and scarcely troubled themselves about him? I have seen two of these pieces in the hands of M. Schopfflein.

The story we have just related is repeated, with a little difference, in a printed paper, announcing a lottery of pieces found at Rothenkirchen, in the province of Nassau, not far from Donnersberg. They say in this, that the value of these pieces is twelve livres ten sols, French money. The lottery was to be publicly drawn the first of February, 1750. Every ticket cost six livres of French money. I repeat these details only to prove the truth of the circumstance.

We may add to the preceding what is related by Bartholinus in his book on the cause of the contempt of death shown by the ancient Danes, (lib. ii. c. 2.) He relates that the riches concealed in the tombs of the great men of that country were guarded by the shades of those to whom they belonged, and that these shades or these demons spread terror in the souls of those who wished to take away those treasures, either by pouring forth a deluge of water, or by flames which they caused to appear around the monuments which enclosed those bodies and those treasures.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

SPECTRES WHICH APPEAR, AND PREDICT THINGS UNKNOWN AND TO COME.

Both in ancient and modern writers, we find an infinite number of stories of spectres. We have not the least doubt that their apparitions are the work of the demon, if they are real. Now, it cannot be denied that there is a great deal of illusion and falsehood in all that is related by them. We shall distinguish two sorts of spectres: those which appear to mankind to hurt or deceive them, or to announce things to come, fortunate or unfortunate as circumstances may occur; the other spectres infest certain houses, of which they have made themselves masters, and where they are seen and heard. We shall treat of the latter in another chapter; and show that the greater number of these spectres and apparitions may be suspected of falsehood.

Pliny the younger, writing to his friend Sura on the subject of apparitions, testifies that he is much inclined to believe them true; and the reason he gives, is what happened to Quintus Curtius Rufus, who, having gone into Africa in the train of the quaestor or treasurer for the Romans, walking one day towards evening under a portico, saw a woman of uncommon height and beauty, who told him that she was Africa, and assured him that he would one day return into that same country as proconsul. This promise inspired him with high hopes; and by his intrigues, and help of friends, whom he had bribed, he obtained the quaestorship, and afterwards was praetor, through the favor of the Emperor Tiberius.

This dignity having veiled the obscurity and baseness of his birth, he was sent proconsul to Africa, where he died, after having obtained the honors of the triumph. It is said that, on his return to Africa, the same person who had predicted his future grandeur appeared to him again at the moment of his landing at Carthage.

These predictions, so precise, and so exactly followed up, made Pliny the younger believe that predictions of this kind are never made in vain. The story of Curtius Rufus was written by Tacitus, long enough before Pliny's time, and he might have taken it from Tacitus.

After the fatal death of Caligula, who was massacred in his palace, he was buried half burnt in his own gardens. The princesses, his sisters, on their return from exile, had his remains burnt with ceremony, and honorably inhumed; but it was averred that before this was done, those who had to watch over the gardens and the palace had every night been disturbed by phantoms and frightful noises.

The following instance is so extraordinary that I should not repeat it if the account were not attested by more than one writer, and also preserved in the public monuments of a considerable town of Upper Saxony: this town is Hamelin, in the principality of Kalenberg, at the confluence of the rivers Hamel and Weser.

In the year 1384, this town was infested by such a prodigious multitude of rats that they ravaged all the corn which was laid up in the granaries; everything was employed that art and experience could invent to chase them away, and whatever is usually employed against this kind of animals. At that time there came to the town an unknown person, of taller stature than ordinary, dressed in a robe of divers colors, who engaged to deliver them from that scourge for a certain recompense, which was agreed upon.

Then he drew from his sleeve a flute, at the sound of which all the rats came out of their holes and followed him; he led them straight to the river, into which they ran and were drowned. On his return he asked for the promised reward, which was refused him, apparently on account of the facility with which he had exterminated the rats. The next day, which was a fete day, he chose the moment when the elder inhabitants of the burgh were at church, and by means of another flute which he began to play, all the boys in the town above the age of fourteen, to the number of a hundred and thirty, assembled around him: he led them to the neighboring mountain, named Kopfelberg, under which is a sewer for the town, and where criminals are executed; these boys disappeared and were never seen afterwards.

A young girl, who had followed at a distance, was witness of the matter, and brought the news of it to the town.

They still show a hollow in this mountain, where they say that he made the boys go in. At the corner of this opening is an inscription, which is so old that it cannot now be deciphered; but the story is represented on the panes of the church windows; and it is said, that in the public deeds of this town it is still the custom to put the dates in this manner—Done in the year ——, after the disappearance of our children.[299]

If this recital is not wholly fabulous, as it seems to be, we can only regard this man as a spectre and an evil genius, who, by God's permission, punished the bad faith of the burghers in the persons of their children, although innocent of their parents' fault. It might be, that a man could have some natural secret to draw the rats together and precipitate them into the river; but only diabolical malice would cause so many innocent children to perish, out of revenge on their fathers.

Julius Caesar[300] having entered Italy, and wishing to pass the Rubicon, perceived a man of more than ordinary stature, who began to whistle. Several soldiers having run to listen to him, this spectre seized the trumpet of one of them, and began to sound the alarm, and to pass the river. Caesar at that moment, without further deliberation, said, "Let us go where the presages of the gods and the injustice of our enemies call upon us to advance."

The Emperor Trajan[301] was extricated from the town of Antioch by a phantom, which made him go out at a widow, in the midst of that terrible earthquake which overthrew almost all the town. The philosopher Simonides[302] was warned by a spectre that his house was about to fall; he went out of it directly, and soon after it fell down.

The Emperor Julian, the apostate, told his friends that at the time when his troops were pressing him to accept the empire, being at Paris, he saw during the night a spectre in the form of a woman, as the genius of an empire is depicted, who presented herself to remain with him; but she gave him notice that it would be only for a short time. The same emperor related, moreover, that writing in his tent a little before his death, his familiar genius appeared to him, leaving the tent with a sad and afflicted air. Shortly before the death of the Emperor Constans, the same Julian had a vision in the night, of a luminous phantom, who pronounced and repeated to him, more than once, four Greek verses, importing that when Jupiter should be in the sign of the water-pot, or Aquarius, and Saturn in the 25th degree of the Virgin, Constans would end his life in Asia in a shocking manner.

The same Emperor Julian takes Jupiter[303] to witness that he has often seen Esculapius, who cured him of his sicknesses.

Footnotes:

[299] See Vagenseil Opera liborum Juvenil. tom. ii. p. 295, the Geography of Hubner, and the Geographical Dictionary of la Martiniere, under the name Hamelen.

[300] Sueton. in Jul. Caesar.

[301] Dio. Cassius. lib. lxviii.

[302] Diogen. Laert. in Simon. Valer. Maxim. lib. xxiii.

[303] Julian, apud Cyrill. Alex.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

OTHER APPARITIONS OF SPECTRES.

Plutarch, whose gravity and wisdom are well known, often speaks of spectres and apparitions. He says, for instance, that at the famous battle of Marathon against the Persians, several soldiers saw the phantom of Thesus, who fought for the Greeks against the enemy.

The same Plutarch, in the life of Sylla, says that that general saw in his sleep the goddess whom the Romans worshiped according to the rites of the Cappadocians (who were fire-worshipers), whether it might be Bellona or Minerva, or the moon. This divinity presented herself before Sylla, and put into his hand a kind of thunderbolt, telling him to launch it against his enemies, whom she named to him one after the other; at the same time that he struck them, he saw them fall and expire at his feet. There is reason to believe that this same goddess was Minerva, to whom, as to Jupiter Paganism attributes the right to hurl the thunderbolt; or rather that it was a demon.

Pausanias, general of the Lacedemonians,[304] having inadvertently killed Cleonice, a daughter of one of the first families of Byzantium, was tormented night and day by the ghost of that maiden, who left him no repose, repeating to him angrily a heroic verse, the sense of which was, Go before the tribunal of justice, which punishes crime and awaits thee. Insolence is in the end fatal to mortals.

Pausanias, always disturbed by this image, which followed him everywhere, retired to Heraclea in Elis, where there was a temple served by priests who were magicians, called Psychagogues, that is to say, who profess to evoke the souls of the dead. There Pausanias, after having offered the customary libations and funeral effusions, called upon the spirit of Cleonice, and conjured her to renounce her anger against him. Cleonice at last appeared, and told him that very soon, when he should be arrived at Sparta, he would be freed from his woes, wishing apparently by these mysterious words to indicate that death which awaited him there.

We see there the custom of evocations of the dead distinctly pointed out, and solemnly practiced in a temple consecrated to these ceremonies; that demonstrates at least the belief and custom of the Greeks. And if Cleonice really appeared to Pausanias and announced his approaching death, can we deny that the evil spirit, or the spirit of Cleonice, is the author of this prediction, unless indeed it were a trick of the priests, which is likely enough, and as the ambiguous reply given to Pausanias seems to insinuate.

Pausanias the historian[305] writes that, 400 years after the battle of Marathon, every night a noise was heard there of the neighing of horses, and cries like those of soldiers exciting themselves to combat. Plutarch speaks also of spectres which were seen, and frightful howlings that were heard in some public baths, where they had put to death several citizens of Chaeronea, his native place; they had even been obliged to shut up these baths, which did not prevent those who lived near from continuing to hear great noises, and seeing from time to time spectres.

Dion the philosopher, the disciple of Plato, and general of the Syracusans, being one day seated, towards the evening, very full of thought, in the portico of his house, heard a great noise, then perceived a terrible spectre of a woman of monstrous height, who resembled one of the furies, as they are depicted in tragedies; there was still daylight, and she began to sweep the house. Dion, quite alarmed, sent to beg his friends to come and see him, and stay with him all night; but this woman appeared no more. A short time afterwards, his son threw himself down from the top of the house, and he himself was assassinated by conspirators.

Marcus Brutus, one of the murderers of Julius Caesar, being in his tent during a night which was not very dark, towards the third hour of the night, beheld a monstrous and terrific figure enter. "Who art thou? a man or a God? and why comest thou here?" The spectre answered, "I am thine evil genius. Thou shalt see me at Philippi!" Brutus replied undauntedly, "I will meet thee there." And on going out, he went and related the circumstance to Cassius, who being of the sect of Epicurus, and a disbeliever in that kind of apparition, told him that it was mere imagination; that there were no genii or other kind of spirits which could appear unto men, and that even did they appear, they would have neither the human form nor the human voice, and could do nothing to harm us. Although Brutus was a little reassured by this reasoning, still it did not remove all his uneasiness.

But the same Cassius, in the campaign of Philippi, and in the midst of the combat, saw Julius Caesar, whom he had assassinated, who came up to him at full gallop: which frightened him so much that at last he threw himself upon his own sword. Cassius of Parma, a different person from him of whom we have spoken above, saw an evil genius, who came into his tent, and declared to him his approaching death.

Drusus, when making war on the Germans (Allemani) during the time of Augustus, desiring to cross the Elbe, in order to penetrate farther into the country, was prevented from so doing by a woman of taller stature than common, who appeared to him and said, "Drusus, whither wilt thou go? wilt thou never be satisfied? Thy end is near—go back from hence." He retraced his steps, and died before he reached the Rhine, which he desired to recross.

St. Gregory of Nicea, in the Life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, says that, during a great plague which ravaged the city of Neocesarea, spectres were seen in open day, who entered houses, into which they carried certain death.

After the famous sedition which happened at Antioch, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius, they beheld a kind of fury running about the town, with a whip, which she lashed about like a coachman who hastens on his horses.

St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, being at Treves, entered a house, where he found a spectre which frightened him at first. Martin commanded him to leave the body which he possessed: instead of going out (of the place), he entered the body of another man who was in the same dwelling; and throwing himself upon those who were there, began to attack and bite them. Martin threw himself across his way, put his fingers in his mouth, and defied him to bite him. The demoniac retreated, as if a bar of red-hot iron had been placed in his mouth, and at last the demon went out of the body of the possessed, not by the mouth but behind.

John, Bishop of Atria, who lived in the sixth century, in speaking of the great plague which happened under the Emperor Justinian, and which is mentioned by almost all the historians of that time, says that they saw boats of brass, containing black men without heads, which sailed upon the sea, and went towards the places where the plague was beginning its ravages; that this infection having depopulated a town of Egypt, so that there remained only seven men and a boy ten years of age, these persons, wishing to get away from the town with a great deal of money, fell down dead suddenly.

The boy fled without carrying anything with him, but at the gate of the town he was stopped by a spectre, who dragged him, in spite of his resistance, into the house where the seven dead men were. Some time after, the steward of a rich man having entered therein, to take away some furniture belonging to his master, who had gone to reside in the country, was warned by the same boy to go away—but he died suddenly. The servants who had accompanied the steward ran away, and carried the news of all this to their master.

The same Bishop John relates that he was at Constantinople during a very great plague, which carried off ten, twelve, fifteen, and sixteen thousand persons a-day, so that they reckon that two hundred thousand persons died of this malady—he says, that during this time demons were seen running from house to house, wearing the habits of ecclesiastics or monks, and who caused the death of those whom they met therein.

The death of Carlostadt was accompanied by frightful circumstances, according to the ministers of Basle, his colleagues, who bore witness to it at the time. They[306] relate, that at the last sermon which Carlostadt preached in the temple of Basle, a tall black man came and seated himself near the consul. The preacher perceived him, and appeared disconcerted at it. When he left the pulpit, he asked who that stranger was who had taken his seat next to the chief magistrate; no one had seen him but himself. When he went home, he heard more news of the spectre. The black man had been there, and had caught up by the hair the youngest and most tenderly loved of his children. After he had thus raised the child from the ground, he appeared disposed to throw him down so as to break his head; but he contented himself with ordering the boy to warn his father that in three days he should return, and he must hold himself in readiness. The child having repeated to his father what had been said to him, Carlostadt was terrified. He went to bed in alarm, and in three days he expired. These apparitions of the demon's, by Luther's own avowal, were pretty frequent, in the case of the first reformers.

These instances of the apparitions of spectres might be multiplied to infinity; but if we undertook to criticise them, there is hardly one of them very certain, or proof against a serious and profound examination. Here follows one, which I relate on purpose because it has some singular features, and its falsehood has at last been acknowledged.[307]

Footnotes:

[304] Plutarch in Cimone.

[305] Pausanias, lib. i. c. 324.

[306] Moshovius, p. 22.

[307] See the following chapter.



CHAPTER XXXV.

EXAMINATION OF THE APPARITION OF A PRETENDED SPECTRE.

Business[308] having led the Count d'Alais[309] to Marseilles, a most extraordinary adventure happened to him there: he desired Neure to write to our philosopher (Gassendi) to know what he thought of it; which he did in these words: the count and countess being come to Marseilles, saw, as they were lying in bed, a luminous spectre; they were both wide awake. In order to be sure that it was not some illusion, they called their valets de chambre; but no sooner had these appeared with their flambeaux, than the spectre disappeared. They had all the openings and cracks which they found in the chamber stopped up, and then went to bed again; but hardly had the valets de chambre retired than it appeared again.

Its light was less shining than that of the sun; but it was brighter than that of the moon. Sometimes this spectre was of an angular form, sometimes a circle, and sometimes an oval. It was easy to read a letter by the light it gave; it often changed its place, and sometimes appeared on the count's bed. It had, as it were, a kind of little bucklers, above which were characters imprinted. Nevertheless, nothing could be more agreeable to the sight; so that instead of alarming, it gave pleasure. It appeared every night whilst the count stayed at Marseilles. This prince, having once cast his hands upon it, to see if it was not something attached to the bed curtain, the spectre disappeared that night, and reappeared the next.

Gassendi being consulted upon this circumstance, replied on the 13th of the same month. He says, in the first place, that he knows not what to think of this vision. He does not deny that this spectre might be sent from God to tell them something. What renders this idea probable is the great piety of them both, and that this spectre had nothing frightful in it, but quite the contrary. What deserves our attention still more is this, that if God had sent it, he would have made known why he sent it. God does not jest; and since it cannot be understood what is to be hoped or feared, followed up or avoided, it is clear that this spectre cannot come from him; otherwise his conduct would be less praiseworthy than that of a father, or a prince, or a worthy, or even a prudent man, who, being informed of somewhat which greatly concerned those in subjection to them, would not content themselves with warning them enigmatically.

If this spectre is anything natural, nothing is more difficult than to discover it, or even to find any conjecture which may explain it. Although I am well persuaded of my ignorance, I will venture to give my idea. Might it not be advanced that this light has appeared because the eye of the count was internally affected, or because it was so externally? The eye may be so internally in two ways. First, if the eye was affected in the same manner as that of the Emperor Tiberius always was when he awoke in the night and opened his eyes; a light proceeded from them, by means of which he could discern objects in the dark by looking fixedly at them. I have known the same thing happen to a lady of rank. Secondly, if his eyes were disposed in a certain manner, as it happens to myself when I awake: if I open my eyes, they perceive rays of light though there has been none. No one can deny that some flash may dart from our eyes which represents objects to us—which objects are reflected in our eyes, and leave their traces there. It is known that animals which prowl by night have a piercing sight, to enable them to discern their prey and carry it off; that the animal spirit which is in the eye, and which may be shed from it, is of the nature of fire, and consequently lucid. It may happen that the eyes being closed during sleep, this spirit heated by the eyelids becomes inflamed, and sets some faculty in motion, as the imagination. For, does it not happen that wood of different kinds, and fish bones, produce some light when their heat is excited by putrefaction? Why then may not the heat excited in this confined spirit produce some light? He proves afterwards that imagination alone may do it.

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