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LETTERS

ON

DEMONOLOGY AND WITCHCRAFT.

ADDRESSED TO

J. G. LOCKHART, ESQ.

BY

SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.

New-York:

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تردد 25

CONTENTS.

LETTER I.

Origin of the general Opinions respecting Demonology among Mankind

-The Belief in the Immortality of the Soul is the main Inducement to credit its occasional Reappearance-The philosophical Objections to the Apparition of an abstract Spirit little understood by the Vulgar and Ignorant-The Situations of excited Passion incident to Humanity, which teach Men to wish or apprehend supernatural ApparitionsThey are often presented by the sleeping Sense--Story of Somnambulism--The Influence of Credulity contagious, so that Individuals will trust the Evidence of others in despite of their own SensesExamples from the Historia Verdadera of Bernal Dias del Castillo, and from the Works of Patrick Walker-The apparent Evidence of Intercourse with the supernatural World is sometimes owing to a depraved State of the bodily Organs-Difference between this Disorder and Insanity, in which the Organs retain their Tone, though that of the Mind is lost-Rebellion of the Senses of a Lunatic against the Current of his Reveries-Narratives of a contrary Nature, in which the Evidence of the Eyes overbore the Conviction of the Understanding_Example of a London Man or Pleasure-or Nicolai, the German Bookseller and Philosopher-of a Patient of Dr. Gregoryor an eminent Scottish Lawyer deceased-Of this same fallacious Disorder are other Instances, which have but sudden and momentary Endurance-Apparition of Maupertuis--Of a late illustrious modern Poet- The Cases quoted chiefly relating to false Impressions on the visual Nerve, those upon the Ear next considered-Delusions of the Touch chiefly experienced in Sleep--Delusions of the Taste--and of the Smelling-Sum of the Argument.

13

LETTER II.

Consequences of the Fall on the Communication between Men and the

Spiritual World-Effects of the Flood-Wizards of Pharaoh-Text in Exodus against Witches-The word Witch is by some said to mean merely Poisoner-Or if in the Holy Text it also means a Divineress, she must, at any rate, have been a Character very different to be identified with it— The original, Chasaph, said to mean a Person who dealt in Poisons, often a Traffic of those who dealt with fainiliar Spirits,But different from the European Witch of the Middle Ages-Thus a Witch is not accessary to the Temptation of Job-The Witch of the Hebrews probably did not rank higher than a Divining Woman-Yet it was a Crime deserving the Doom of Death, since it inferred the disowning of Jehovah's Supremacy-Other Texts of Scripture, in like

manner, refer to something corresponding more with a Fortune-teller or Divining Woman, than what is now called a Witch-Example of the Witch of Endor-Account of her Meeting with Saul-Supposed by some a mere Impostor-By others, a Sorceress powerful enough to raise the Spirit of the Prophet by her own Art-Difficulties attending both Positions A middle Course adopted, supposing that, as in the Case of Balak, the Almighty had, by exertion of his Will, substituted Samuel, or a good Spirit in his Character, for the Deception which the Witch intended to produce--Resumption of the Argument, showing that the Witch of Endor signified something very different from the modern Ideas of Witchcraft-The Witches mentioned in the New Testament are not less different from modern Ideas than those of the Books of Moses, nor do they appear to have possessed the Power ascribed to Magicianz-Articles of Faith which we niay gather from Scripture on this point-That there might be certain Powers permited by the Almighty to inferior, and even evil Spirits, is possible; and in some Sense, the Gods of the Heathens might be accounted DemonsMore frequently, and in a general Sense, they were but Logs of Wood, without Sense or Power of any kind, and their Worship founded on Imposture-Opinion that the Oracles were silenced at the Nativity, adopted by Milton-Cases of Demoniacs- The incarnate Possessions probably ceased at the same time as the Intervention of Miracles Opinion of the Catholics-Result that Witchcraft, as the Word is interpreted in the middle Ages, neither occurs under the Mosaic or Gospel Dispensation-It arose in the ignorant Period, when the Christians considered the Gods of the Mahommedan or Heathen Nations as Fiends, and their Priests as Conjurors or Wizards-Instance

the Saracens, and among the Northern Europeans yet unconverted--The Gods of Mexico and Peru explained on the same System Also the Powahs of North America --Opinion of Mather--Gibb, a supposed Warlock, persecuted by the other Dissenters--Conclusion

52

as

LETTER III.

Creed of Zoroaster-Received partially into most Heathen Nations In

stances ainong the Celtic Tribes of Scotland-Beltaine Feast-Gude man's Croft-Such Abuses admitted into Christianity after the earlier Ages of the Church-Law of the Romans against Witchcraft-Romish Customs survive the Fall of their Religion-Instances--Demonology of the Northern Barbarians-Nicksas--Bhar-geist--Correspondence between the Northern and Roman Witches-The Power of Fascination ascribed in the Sorceresses--Example from the Eyrbiggia Saga-The Prophetesses of the Germans--The Gods of Valhalla not highly regarded by their Worshippers-Often defied by their Champions-Demons of the North--Story of Assueit and Asmund-Action of Ejectment against Spectres--Adventure of a Champion with the Goddess Freya--Conversion of the Pagans of Iceland to Christianity-Northern Superstitions mixed with those of the Cells--Satyrs of the North-Highland Ourisk--Meming the Satyr

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LETTER IV.

The Fairy Superstition is derived from different Sources—The classical Worship of the Sylvans, or rural Deities, proved by Roman Altars

discovered-The Gothic Duergar, or Dwarfs, supposed to be derived from the Northern Laps, or Fins - The Niebelungen-Lied-King Laurin's Adventure-Celtic Fairies of a gayer Character, yet their Pleasures empty and illusory-Addicted to carry off human Beings, both Infants and Adults-Adventures of a Butler a in Ireland- The Elves supposed to pay a Tax to Hell—The Irish, Welch, Highlanders, and Manxmen, held the same Belief-It was rather rendered more gloomy by the Northern Traditions-Merlin and Arthur carried off by the Fairies-Also Thomas of Erceldoune-His Amour with the Queen of Elfland-His Reappearance in latter Times—Another Account from Reginald Scot-Conjectures on the Derivation of the word Fairy. 108

LETTER V.

Those who dealt in Fortune-telling, mystical Cures by Charms, and the

like, often claimed an Intercourse with Fairy Land-Hudhart or Hudikin-Pitcairn's Scottish Criminal Trials-Story of Bessie Dun: lop and her Adviser-Her

Practice of Medicine-and of Discovery of Theft-Account of her Familiar, Thome Reid--Trial of Alison Pearson-Account of her Familiar, William Sympson-Trial of the Lady Fowlis, and of Hector Munro, her step-son-Extraordinary Species of Charm used by the latter--Confession of John Stewart, a Juggler, of his Intercourse with the Fairies—Trial and Confession of Isobel Gowdie--Use of Elf-arrow Heads-Parish of AberfoyleMr. Kirke, the Minister of Aberfoyle's Work on Fairy Superstitions -He is himself taken to Fairyland-Dr. Grahame's interesting Work, and his Information on Fairy Superstitions Story of a Female in East Lothian carried off by the Fairies—Another Instance from Pennant.

127.

LETTER VI.

Immediate Effect of Christanity on Articles of Popular Superstition

Chaucer's Account of the Roman Catholic Priests banishing the Fairies--Bishop Corbett imputes the same Effect to the Reformation --His Verses on that Subject-His Iter Septentrionale-Robin Goodfellow, and other Superstitions mentioned by Reginald Scot--Character of the English Fairies—The Tradition had become obsolete in that Author's Time-That of Witches remained in Vigour-But impugned by various Authors after the Reformation, as Wierus, Naudæus, Scot, and others-Demonology defended by Bodinus, Remigius, &c.-Their mutual Abuse of each other-Imperfection of Physical Science at this Period, and the Predominance of Mysticism in that Department.

152

LETTER VII:

Penal Laws unpopular when rigidly exercised-Prosecution of Witches

placed in the Hand of special Commissioners, ad inquirendum-Prosecution for Witchcraft not frequent in the elder Period of the Roman Empire-Nor in the Middle Ages-Some Cases took place, however-The Maid of Orleans-The Dutchess of GloucesterRichard the Third's Charge against the Relations of the QueenDowager-But Prosecutions against Sorcerers became more common in the End of the Fourteenth Century–Usually united with the Charge

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