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our conversation, I found little difficulty in persuading L- to accompany me. From his habitual command of countenance, I could form little judgment of what was passing within; but if he marked, as I did, the general spread of a kindly sympathy; if he noted with what seriousness the fathers looked upon their children, with what tenderness the mothers pressed their infants to their bosoms; if he approved the reverent stillness of the people, and the quietness with which they dispersed to their homes, he must have seen that (whatever be the abuses of the practice) it is good for men to meet in the house of God; and he might have been convinced that, however sacred is the communion between the spirit and its Father, a relation of spiritual brotherhood also exists between man and man.
DEMONOLOGY AND WITCHCRAFT.*
Can any body tell where Sir Walter Scott has been since he last met the public? Will Mr. Lockhart avouch that he has not found his way after Dante to Tartarus ? Will Mr Murray declare that he has not been up to the moon to gather matter for the Family Library? It
be that he has only had a legacy of some of Faust's folios but something has happened to open his eyes upon the living population of a world which we had wrongly imagined to have tumbled back into chaos long ago. Considering the marvels he has to relate, we can but admire his condescension in choosing so humble a vehicle as No. XVI. of the Family Library. Here we have tidings of the fallen angels who loved this world too well; of Satan himself, and his dealings with Job, and of the bodily jeopardy of Peter when the Evil One desired to have him that he might sift him like wheat. Yet more; Sir Walter has found up
Ithuriel's spear somewhere, and brought it back with him ; and lo! the Heathen gods of all ages and nations before the Christian era start up into their true shape. We have
* The Family Library. No. XVI. Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. By Sir Walter Scott, Bart. Murray. 1830,
wrong all this time in supposing them mere wood and stone, squatting and grinning in India, speaking oracles in Greece, and working wonders in Egypt, according to the will of workman and priest ; it appears that they were the habitations of fallen angels, or at least that we may believe them to have been so. Milton had found this out before, but he only touched upon the matter in an ode. Sir Walter thinks that it is time so important a fact should be made known to the multitude in plain prose. Next we light upon a valuable hint to the faculty. The “peculiar and dreadful disorder” of Demoniacal possession has never, it appears, been properly understood. Surely it is time it should; and if our physicians should urge that the lapse of time has deprived them of the means of ascertaining the true nature of the malady, let them be told that if Sir Walter Scott can teach us about the fallen angels who lived here 5000 years ago, they ought to be ashamed if they cannot make a theory about a disease which was common only twenty centuries since. We must do our author the justice to offer his data in his own words. Having described how the evil spirits, who inspired the oracles, and appropriated the Heathen temples, were driven from their earthly abodes by the appearance of Christ, he proceeds,
“It must be noticed, however, that this great event had not the same effect on that peculiar class of fiends who were permitted to vex mortals by the alienation of their minds, and the abuse of their persons, in the cases of what is called Demoniacal possession. In what exact sense we should understand the word possession, it is impossible to discover; but we feel it impossible to doubt, (notwithstanding learned authorities to the contrary,) that it was a dreadful disorder of a kind not merely natural; and may be pretty well assured that it was suffered to continue after the incarnation, because the miracles effected by our Saviour and his apostles, in curing those tormented in this way, afforded the most direct
proofs of his divine mission, even out of the very mouths of those ejected fiends, the most malignant enemies of a power to which they dared not refuse homage and obedience.”.
The final cause of the temptation in the wilderness, as well as its true nature, is at length ascertained.
“ It must also be admitted that in another most remarkable respect, the power of the enemy of mankind was rather enlarged than bridled or restrained, in consequence of the Saviour coming upon earth. It is indisputable, that in order that Jesus might have his share in every species of delusion and persecution which the fallen race of Adam is heir to, he personally suffered the temptation in the wilderness at the hand of Satan, whom, without resorting to his divine power, he drove, confuted, silenced and shamed, from his presence. But it appears, that although Satan was allowed, upon this memorable occasion, to come on earth with great power, the permission was given expressly because his time was short. The indulgence which was then granted to him in a case so unique and peculiar soon passed over, and was utterly restrained. It is evident that after the lapse of the period, during which it pleased the Almighty to establish his own church by miraculous displays of power, it could not consist with his kindness and wisdom to leave the enemy in the possession of the privilege of deluding men by imaginary miracles, calculated for the perversion of that faith, which real miracles were no longer present to support.” &c. &c. - p. 71.
Our author is led to these speculations by the desire to ascertain whether the sin of witchcraft, as understood in modern times, is denounced as punishable in Scripture. His conclusion is that the sin denounced in the Mosaic law, and practised clandestinely by the personage at Endor, is something quite different from the imputed crime which till a very late period in the history of civilized countries has occasioned such gross perversions of justice, and so appalling a waste of life. It is a pity that such an inquiry should
be entered upon with a grossly superstitious assumption, and should be pursued in a spirit of credulity which we should have supposed the influence of such enlightened society and intellectual exercise as our author has been accustomed to, must have exorcised long ago.
The most surprising thing, however, is that he has actually laid hold of the true philosophy of Demonology, and lets it go again without being apparently aware of its value. His first chapter, if expanded as it might have been, would have stood himself and the public in good stead of all that follows, and would have furnished a perfect explanation of every well-attested ghost-story extant. We have no hesitation in saying that the philosophy of apparitions has come out luminous and indisputable from the facts which have, within a few years, been brought together by philosophical inquirers, some of whom were themselves subject to spectral illusions. If our author had gathered the fruits of their labors, suppressing his own reveries on the Bible, he might have presented the public with a volume of deep and general interest, instead of a desultory collection of amusing tales. Elegant as are his sketches of the prevailing superstitions of various countries, and entertaining as are most of his narratives, we feel, when we come to the end, that the thing is spoiled, and that the first chapter is the only part we shall desire to glance at a second time. It should have been otherwise in a case where the favorable attention of every mind is secured by the very mention of the subject : for where is there one of a more universal interest?
Who has not longed to behold a departed spirit? Emotions of awe, of dread, may be connected with every conception of spiritual communion ; but the grief of the mourner, (and who has not mourned ?) the curiosity of the speculator, (and who has not speculated ?) the yearnings, the questionings of the unsatisfied spirit all unite in send