Tuesday, May 31, 2016
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The Month of June by the Rev. Hicks 1897
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JUNE was the fourth month of the year, according to the old Roman calendar. In the original divisions of the year into months, June contained only twenty-six days, but when the Romulian calendar was devised, four days were added, bringing the month to thirty days. When the calendar was subsequently revised by King Numa, one day was taken from June, making it to consist of only twenty-nine days. Again when the calendar was "doctored" by Julius Caesar, one day was added to June, bringing it back to thirty days, which number without molestation it has retained down to the present day.
Authorities do not fully agree as to the origin of the name, June. Ovid in his "Fasti" makes Juno say that June was so called especially in honor of herself, which, of course, is only Ovid's opinion, as such a Goddess as Juno never existed except in mythological fancy. Some insist that June is from the gentile "Junius," while others contend that it is traceable to Junius Brutus. The name is supposed, also, to have an agricultural significance, meaning, "the month of ripeness." The Anglo Saxons called June "sear-monath," the month of dryness and mid-summer. Either the characteristics of June have changed, or "searmonath" would better have applied to July or August. That is, such in our own climate is the case. The opposite might have been true with the ancients. The sun enters Cancer about 20th of June.
June, by the author of Easter in Nature 1913
June is called the month of roses and marriages. Christendom inherited from Rome the superstition that May was unlucky and June most lucky for marriage. With marriage goes the beautiful showy orange blossoms to express the bride's purity and strength of affection, her firmness, her gentleness and hopes. The orange-tree knows no fluctuating changes; Verdure and blossoms and fruits are found on it together; hence so symbolical. The orange flower custom came from France. Orange blossoms mean chastity, and the rose is the queen of flowers, usually so called because of its blushing beauty, but that is not the true origin of the name. The origin is to be sought in the reasons for which the Greeks and Romans carved the ceilings of their private reception-rooms and public eating-halls with roses. They did it to signify that all spoken within them, or sub rosa (under the rose), should ever remain secret from the rest of the world. A look into a full blown rose suggests ideas that connect with that which I said above, about the month of June being synonymous with motherliness and Quietism and distance from men. Those ideas appear also to be the reasons why the rose is dedicated to the Virgin. St. Dominic instituted the devotion of the rosary with special reference to those ideas.
It is possible that the month of June got its name from Juno, the goddess of heaven. At any rate, the first day of the month was sacred to her. While there are no definite historical proofs, this is certain that Juno represents the female principle in human nature. The “genius” of a woman was called by this name and the cult of Juno as a developed goddess shows many features that bear out the proposition. Hercules indicated the male principle. If Juno were not the goddess of the month, an antique goddess of similar character was it. That seems clear from Ovid.
June by Margaret J. Codd 1895
Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! AH pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music in my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year.
According to Ovid, there are three opinions as to the origin of this name. First and most probable we have the supposition, that this month was named for the Goddess Juno.
Secondly, we are told, that Romulus divided the people according to their years. The aged, who were more ready to deliberate, and the young, to fight. And in the same way he distinguished the months— "June is the month of the juniors; the month that precedes it that of the aged."
Hebe, daughter of Jupiter and Juno, as goddess of youth was called Juventas. Through the same writer, she also asserts her claim to the honor. She came as goddess of concord, with her long tresses wreathed with the laurel of Apollo.
She told how the Sabine, Tatius, and the brave Quirinus of Rome, together with their kingdoms and subjects had united, and that fathers-in-law and sons-in-law were received under one common roof. "From the junction of these nations," said she, "does the month of June derive its name."
Like the poet, we leave this matter for the reader to decide, our own preference being for the goddess Juno, it certainly seeming proper, that in the city of her grandson, Romulus, she should hold full sway.
Juno was the first born of Saturn. She shared the throne of mighty Jove and ruled on Mt. Olympus as queen of gods and men, bearing in her hands a scepter of gold.
She was very beautiful and stately, but was so vain and jealous that she often made Jupiter very angry. Once, Jupiter, as a punishment for her jealousy, bound her in golden chains and hung her in the air.
Perhaps you may think glittering golden chains are very pretty, but Juno found them heavier to bear than those of iron.
Her favorite bird was the peacock, and you may often see her represented as a stately woman, sitting in a chariot drawn by peacocks or with a peacock at her side.
She was the mother of Mars, Hebe, and Vulcan.
When Juno married Jupiter, all the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding, and gave them many beautiful gifts.
As the happy pair rested on the mountain side, Flora covered the ground beneath them with the loveliest of flowers, and a golden cloud was spread above them.
All nature rejoiced at their marriage, and all were glad to come to the wedding. All except one nymph named Chelone.
When she was invited, she laughed and ridiculed it and refused to come. The gods were so angry with her rude manners and bad heart that she was changed into a tortoise, which has no voice and has to keep silence forever.
The white-armed goddess, as one of the great deities of Rome, had her share in the great temple on the capitol; near by stood the temple of Juno Moneta. This temple was made the mint, so, oddly enough, our word money comes from her name.
The old stories told that Juno was born beneath the willow, so that tree was sacred to this goddess and the beautiful lily was also devoted to the Olympian queen.
Her messenger was Iris, the rainbow, who was always the harbinger of good news. Her favorite bird was the peacock and whole flocks of these stately birds were fed in the groves sacred to Juno.
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Are Giants a Fiction? by H. P. Blavatsky 1888 (from The Secret Doctrine - THE SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE, RELIGION, AND PHILOSOPHY)
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Here, again, we come into collision with Science. The latter denies, so far, that man has ever been much larger than the average of the tall and powerful men one meets with occasionally now. Dr. Henry Gregor denounces such traditions as resting upon ill-digested facts. Instances of mistaken judgments are brought forward. Thus, in 1613, in a locality called from time immemorial the “Field of Giants” in the Lower Dauphine (France, four miles from St. Romans) enormous bones were found deeply buried in the sandy soil. They were attributed to human remains, and even to Teutobochus, the Teuton chief slain by Marius. But Cuvier’s later research proved them to be the fossil remains of the Dinotherium giganteum of the family of tapirs, 18 feet long. Ancient buildings are pointed to as an evidence that our earliest ancestors were not much larger than we are, the entrance doors being of no larger size then than they are now. The tallest man of antiquity known to us was the Roman Emperor Maximus, we are told, whose height was only seven and a half feet. Nevertheless, in our modern day we see every year men taller than this. The Hungarian who exhibited himself in the London Pavilion was nearly 9 feet high. In America a giant was shown 9 1/2 feet tall; the Montenegrin Danilo was 8 feet 7 inches. In Russia and Germany one often sees men in the lower classes above 7 feet. And as the ape-theorists are told by Mr. Darwin that the species of animals which result from cross breeding “always betray a tendency to revert to the original type,” they ought to apply the same law to men. Had there been no giants as a rule in ancient days, there would be none now.
All this applies only to the historic period. And if the skeletons of the prehistoric ages have failed so far (which is positively denied) to prove undeniably in the opinion of science the claim here advanced, it is but a question of time. Moreover, as already stated, human stature is little changed since the last racial cycle. The Giants of old are all buried under the Oceans, and hundreds of thousands of years of constant friction by water would reduce to dust and pulverize a brazen, far more a human skeleton. But whence the testimony of well-known classical writers, of philosophers and men who, otherwise, never had the reputation for lying? Let us bear in mind, furthermore, that before the year 1847, when Boucher de Perthes forced it upon the attention of Science, almost nothing was known of fossil man, for archaeology complacently ignored his existence. Of Giants who were “in the earth in those days” of old, the Bible alone had spoken to the wise men of the West, the Zodiac being the solitary witness called upon to corroborate the statement in the persons of Atlas or Orion, whose mighty shoulders are said to support the world.
Nevertheless, even the “Giants” have not been left without their witnesses, and one may as well examine both sides of the question. The three Sciences — Geological, Sidereal and Scriptural (the latter in its Universal character) — may furnish us with the needed proofs. To begin with geology; it has already confessed that the older the excavated skeletons, the larger, taller and the more powerful their structure. This is already a certain proof in hand. “All those bones” writes Frederic de Rougemont — who, though believing too piously in Noah’s ark and the Bible, is none the less a Scientific witness — “all those skeletons found in the Departments of the Gard, in Austria, Liege, etc., etc. . . those skulls which remind all of the negro type. . . and which by reason of that type might be mistaken for animals, have all belonged to men of very high stature”. . . (“Histoire de la Terre,” p. 154) The same is repeated by Lartet, an authority, who attributes a tall stature to those who were submerged in the deluge (not necessarily “Noah’s”) and a smaller stature to the races which lived subsequently.
As for the evidence furnished by ancient writers, we need not stop at that of Tertullian, who assures us that in his day a number of giants were found at Carthage — for, before his testimony can be accepted, his own identity* and actual existence would have to be proven. But we may turn to the scientific journals of 1858, which spoke of a sarcophagus of giants found that year on the site of that same city. As to the ancient pagan writers — we have the evidence of Philostratus, who speaks of a giant skeleton twenty-two cubits long, as well as of another of twelve cubits, seen by himself at Sigeus. This skeleton may perhaps not have belonged, as believed by Protesilaus, to the giant killed by Apollo at the siege of Troy; nevertheless, it was that of a giant, as well as that other one discovered by Messecrates of Stire, at Lemnos — “horrible to behold,” according to Philostratus (Heroica, p. 35). Is it possible that prejudice would carry Science so far as to class all these men as either fools or liars?
Pliny speaks of a giant in whom he thought he recognised Orion, the son of Ephialtes (Nat. Hist., vol. VII., ch. xvi.). Plutarch declares that Sertorius saw the tomb of Antaeus, the giant; and Pausanias vouches for the actual existence of the tombs of Asterius and of Geryon, or Hillus, son of Hercules — all giants, Titans and mighty men. Finally the Abbe Pegues (cited in de Mirville’s Pneumatologie) affirms in his curious work on “The Volcanoes of Greece” that “in the neighbourhood of the volcanoes of the isle of Thera, giants with enormous skulls were found laid out under colossal stones, the erection of which must have necessitated everywhere the use of titanic powers, and which tradition associates in all countries with the ideas about giants, volcanoes and magic.” (Page 48.)
In the same work above cited of the Abbe Pegues, the author wonders why in Bible and tradition the Gibborim, (Giants, the mighty ones) the Rephaim, or the spectres (Phantoms), the Nephilim, or the fallen ones — (irruentes) — are shown “as if identical, though they are all men, since the Bible calls them the primitive and the mighty ones” — e.g., Nimrod. The “Doctrine” explains the secret. These names, which belong by right only to the four preceding races and the earliest beginning of the Fifth, allude very clearly to the first two Phantom (astral) races; to the fallen one — the Third; and to the race of the Atlantean Giants — the Fourth, after which “men began to decrease in stature.”
Bossuet (Elevations p. 56) sees the cause of subsequent universal idolatry in the “original sin.” “Ye shall be as gods,” says the serpent of Genesis to Eve, thus laying the first germ of the worship of false divinities. Hence, he thinks, came idolatry, or the cult and adoration of images, of anthropomorphized or human figures. But, if it is the latter that idolatry is made to rest upon, then the two Churches, the Greek and the Latin especially, are as idolatrous and pagan as any other religion. It is only in the Fourth Race that men, who had lost all right to be considered divine, resorted to body worship, in other words to phallicism. Till then, they had been truly gods, as pure and as divine as their progenitors, and the expression of the allegorical serpent does not, as sufficiently shown in the preceding pages, refer at all to the physiological fall of men, but to their acquiring the knowledge of good and evil, which knowledge comes to them prior to their fall. It must not be forgotten that it is only after his forced expulsion from Eden that “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis iv.). It is not, however, by the dead-letter of the Hebrew Bible that we shall check the tenets of the Secret Doctrine; but point out, rather, the great similarities between the two in their esoteric meaning.
It is only after his defection from the Neo-Platonists, that Clement of Alexandria began to translate gigantes by serpentes, explaining that “Serpents and Giants signify Demons.” (Genesis, chapter v.)
We may be told that, before we draw parallels between our tenets and those of the Bible, we have to show better evidence of the existence of the giants of the Fourth Race than the reference to them found in Genesis. We answer, that the proofs we give are more satisfactory, at any rate they belong to a more literary and scientific evidence, than those of Noah’s Deluge will ever be. Even the historical works of China are full of such reminiscences about the Fourth Race. In Shoo-King (4th part, chap. XXVII., p. 291), anyone can read in the French translation, “When the Mao-tse” (“that antediluvian and perverted race,” explains the Annotator, “which had retired in the days of old to the rocky caves, and the descendants of whom are said to be still found in the neighbourhood of Canton”).
Footnote: * There are critics who, finding no evidence about the existence of Tertullian save in the writings of Eusebius “the veracious,” are inclined to doubt it.
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Monday, May 30, 2016
Lilith and Demonology by James Grant 1880
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To the Chaldeans we are indebted for the first ideas of demonology. From Chaldea the notions of demonology spread to Persia, Egypt, and Greece; but, as stated in another part of these pages, a belief in spirits or genii and of witchcraft prevailed at an early period of man's existence. There is an ancient Rabbinical tradition, no doubt very absurd, but illustrative of early notions of superstition, that Adam was first married to a sorceress named Lilith, or the mother of devils. She refused submission to Adam, and disregarded commandments conveyed to her by angels. She persisted in her disobedience; and having one day, in a more than ordinary state of impiety, invoked the name of Jehovah, according to the rules of the Cabala, she ascended into the air and disappeared. Lilith was feared by divers nations. When children died of diseases not properly understood, their deaths were attributed to Lilith, who was supposed to carry out her wicked purposes as an aërial spectre. Newly married pairs were accustomed to inscribe the names of angels on the inside partitions of their houses, and the names of Adam and Eve and the words "Begone, Lilith," on the outside walls. The name Lilith was given to women suspected of holding intercourse with demons. The legends of Lilith were transmitted from people to people until they came down to the Jews, who believed them. This people were wont to inscribe on their bed-posts the words, "Et zelo Chuizlilith," that the sleepers might be delivered by Lilith from dreams.
Demon was a term applied by the Greeks and Romans to certain genii or spirits who made themselves visible to men, with the intention of doing them either good or harm. The Jews and early Christians ascribed a malignant nature to demons, the former endeavouring to trace their origin to intercourse between man and supernatural beings, and the latter maintaining that they were the souls of departed human beings, permitted to visit the earth to assist those they favoured, and punish persons against whom they or their favourites had a grudge. Certain spirits were supposed to be celestial, others watery, some airy, and not a few of them fiery. Tertullian said: "Spirits flew through the air faster than any winged fowl. Unless commissioned to act, they remained passive, neither doing good nor evil; but the evil spirits went and came at the devil's command, and both classes of spirits were at man's service if he only knew how to summon them into his presence."
The ancient Egyptians had a tradition, that at a far past period men rebelled against the gods, and drove them away. Upon this taking place, the gods fled into Egypt, where they concealed themselves under the form of different animals; and this was the first reason assigned for the worship of inferior creatures. A leading principle in the religion of the ancient Arabians was their belief in fairies or genii. They thought that these genii attended people through life; that every man had two of these waiting on him, the one good and the other evil; that all evil actions were committed at the instigation of the evil spirit in the absence of the good genii, who sometimes went with messages to the celestial regions. The Arabians further believed these genii were continually at war with each other, which, the people considered, accounted for the contending passions in their minds. Their principal genius was Hafedhah, to whom the people, on setting out on a plundering expedition, prayed he would send them a strong genius to assist them.
In the middle ages conjuration was regularly practised in Europe, and devils were supposed to appear under decided forms. A devil would appear either as an angel of light, or as a monster in hideous shape. An anonymous writer, discussing the subject, says: "A devil would appear either like an angel seated in a fiery chariot, or riding on an infernal dragon, and carrying in his right hand a viper, or assuming a lion's head, a goose's feet, and a hare's tail, or putting on a raven's head, and mounted on a strong wolf. Other forms made use of by demons were those of fierce warriors, or old men riding upon crocodiles, with hooks in hand. A human figure would arise, having the wings of a griffin; or sporting three heads, one of them being like that of a toad, the other resembling that of a cat; or defended with huge teeth and horns, and adorned with a sword; or displaying a dog's teeth, and a large raven's head; or mounted upon a pale horse, and exhibiting a serpent's tail; or gloriously crowned, and riding upon a dromedary; or presenting the face of a lion; or bestriding a bear, and grasping a viper. There were also such shapes as those of archers or bowmen. A demoniacal king would ride on a pale horse, assume a leopard's face and griffin's wings; or put on three heads, one of a bull, another of a man, and a third of a ram, with a serpent's tail and the feet of a goose; and in this appearance sit on a dragon, and bear in his hand a lance and flag; or, instead of being thus employed, goad the flanks of a furious bear, and carry on his fist a hawk. Other forms were those of a goodly knight; or of one who bore lance, ensign, and even sceptre; or of a soldier, either riding on a black horse, and surrounded with a flame of fire; or wearing on his head a duke's crown, and mounted on a crocodile; or assuming a lion's face, and, with fiery eyes, spurring on a gigantic charger, or, with the same frightful aspect, appearing in all the pomp of family distinction, on a pale horse; or clad from head to foot in crimson raiment, wearing on his bold front a crown, and sallying forth on a red steed."
To inferior demons was assigned the duty of carrying away condemned souls, and superior benign spirits had the pleasing task of conveying from earth the souls of the blessed.
Toledo, Seville, and Salamanca were great schools of magic. The teachers taught that all knowledge might be obtained by the assistance of fallen angels. These teachers were skilled in the abstract sciences, in alchemy, in the various languages of mankind, and of the lower animals, divinity, magic, and prophecy. They professed to possess the power of controlling the winds and waters, and of influencing the stars. They also pretended to be able to cause earthquakes, spread diseases or cure them, release souls out of purgatory, to influence the passions of the mind, procure the reconciliation of friends or foes, engender discord, and induce mania and melancholy.
The Circassians sprinkled holy water over their friends' graves, and the priests tolled bells near them to keep evil spirits from the bodies. Affectionate relations visited the burying grounds from time to time, to repeat prayers for the repose of the dead, who, they thought, continued to be acquainted with the affairs of the world.
When an Indian became ill, the Brahmin prayed over him; for it was believed that two spirits, one good and the other bad, attended the dying at the hour of death. If the expiring person lived a commendable life, he was conveyed in a flying chariot to a place of happiness; but if he was wicked, the evil spirit carried him before a dread tribunal, to be judged according to his works. Deceased was then sent back to wander on the earth ten days, in the shape of a magpie. For this reason the people always fed a magpie for ten days after the death of a relation, imagining that the bird might possess their friend's soul.
Indians believed in former times, whatever they may do now, that hell was situated at a great distance below the world, and that there was a president in it called Yhamadar. Under him, a secretary named Xitragupten wrote down a man's good and bad actions, and presented his record to the president the instant the deceased's soul came before him. This infernal president was reported to have been very equitable, distributing rewards and punishments according to justice. Some souls were supposed to be sent back to inhabit inferior bodies in this world, while others were tormented in the most cruel manner in the infernal regions. If a dying person laid hold of a cow by the tail, and a Brahmin poured water over his hand, and put a sum of money into it (the hand), the soul would be protected from the power of demons.
In Pegu, copper vessels or bells were used to frighten demons that wanted to disturb the repose of the dead. There the priests pretended to know what was most agreeable and acceptable to evil spirits, and professed to be able to appease their anger. A grand entertainment was sometimes made for the devil, at which the friends of a sick man danced to the sound of vocal and instrumental music. These heathens believed devils had bodies as well as souls, and that, although immortal, they had the same passions as men. They believed, also, that the devils or demons had power to foretell future events, and that all dreams happened in consequence of their promptings. They therefore consulted such devils nearly after the manner the witches of Great Britain were accustomed to do.
When a person in Cochin-China was at the point of death, his male relations surrounded his bed, brandishing their sabres and other warlike weapons, to drive away the demons, which they supposed were hovering around him to seize his soul the instant it was liberated from the body. When a prince died, the priests held a consultation, in order to discover what demon it was that caused the sad event; and when they made the discovery, which they invariably did, they in a solemn manner condemned the evil spirit to everlasting punishment. The inhabitants of the Molucca Islands were under the impression, like other heathens and Christians too, that two angels attended on every person on earth, the one seeking his good, and the other his eternal hurt. The good angel prompted the individual to holy actions, while the malignant one was constantly instigating him to shun the right path. The people worshipped the air under the name of Lanitho, which was subject to another being or spirit named Lanthila, but they had many gods they consulted on all occasions of importance. If it was considered necessary to consult a Nito or god, the people assembled under cloud of night, with tapers burning, and, after pronouncing mysterious words, called on their god to appear. As soon as the prescribed forms were gone through, Nito entered with one of the people, who, while under the demoniacal influence, foretold future events. A few families in that island claimed to have the power of witchcraft vested in them from generation to generation.
Being often afflicted with small-pox, the people conjectured the disease was propagated by an evil genius; and, to frighten the demon from their homes, images were placed on the house-tops. If one accidentally met a funeral or saw a corpse on the road, he returned home in haste. If the unlucky person was a woman carrying a child in her arms, her consternation was great, for it was imagined the soul of the deceased hovered in the air near the corpse, and endeavoured to injure the living, particularly young children. To protect their children from demons, parents tied charmed beads round the infants' necks. Indeed the people lived in constant dread of evil spirits; and, to frustrate their evil intentions, they, in addition to the preventatives already mentioned, always kept consecrated articles under their pillows.
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Heroic dogs, article in T.P.s Weekly 1906
Talking of heroic dogs, only the other day in the North of Ireland a mongrel, that had come out to look for his master's children, arrived at the spot where they were playing together just in time to see one of them roll down a slope which ended in a precipice. Without a moment's hesitation the dog rushed down the slope after the child, and, catching it by its dress, just as it was toppling over the brink of the precipice, he held it fast till the other children climbed down to its rescue. A Newfoundland dog, whose portrait Moreland had the honour of painting and Bartolozzi of engraving, once put two boatmen of Portsmouth to shame. A Mr. Phillips, while bathing there, ventured out too far and was in imminent danger of drowning. The bystanders on the beach prayed two boatmen to put out to his rescue, but they declined unless they were paid for the service a certain sum. While they were haggling about the price of a life, a Newfoundland dog, of his own initiative, plunged in, swam swiftly to the drowning man's assistance, and towed him ashore. Mr. Phillips bought the dog from his owner, a butcher, and instituted an annual festival in its honour till its death. At this festival the dog was assigned the place of honour, and consumed his beefsteak with creditable decorum. After Moreland had painted and Bartolozzi had engraved the dog's portrait, Mr. Phillips had it worked into the tissue of all his table-linen, subscribed with the motto, “Virum extali mari.”
An Heroic Dog by Vernon S Morwood 1882
In the year 1867, when the Gloucester lifeboat was launched, in the Victoria Docks of that city, it was deemed necessary for two men to throw themselves into the water in order to show the great utility of cork-jackets in keeping the upper part of the bodies of their wearers when in the water above its surface, to save them from drowning. Amongst the thousands of spectators who were watching the men floating about was a Newfoundland dog, who became much excited at what he, no doubt, considered to be the perilous condition of the men. He ran hither and thither, barking very furiously, and trying in a thoroughly doggish way his very best to prevail upon some one in that large multitude of human beings to go to the men's assistance. Finding no one did so, splash into the water he went, and swam direct to the men, one of whom he caught by the sleeve, with the intention of helping him out of danger. A struggle ensued: the man tried to shake the dog off, but it was of no avail. The dog would not relinquish his hold until two men in a small boat went to their rescue and took them both into it. They were then safely landed on the quay. The dog evinced some pleasure in seeing the men once again on terra firma.
If the dog was ignorant of the uses of cork-jackets he had a perception of danger, and therefore, impelled by an almost humane feeling, and prompted by a generous heart and true heroism in what he did, plunged into the water to save the men he thought were running the risk of losing their lives. No selfish motive tarnished this dog's most noble act.
Dedicated to my best friend: Teddy Schmitz. I miss you buddy.
A Heroic Dog, 1881 article in The Child's Friend
A Remarkable instance of canine courage and sagacity has recently been recorded in America. It appears that a party of soldiers, accompanied by their captain, were bathing in a river in Colorado, and were amusing themselves in various ways in the water. The captain entered fully into the frolic-some spirit of the scene, taking an active part in such games as were going on. Being chased by some of the bathers, he took flight, and, passing beyond the shallow quarter of the river, found himself being rapidly carried into deep water by the force of the current. Not wishing to alarm his men, and in ignorance of the full extent of his danger, he made a few efforts to save himself, until he went under, hopelessly entangled in a quicksand. The soldiers took no notice of the occurrence, thinking that he was swimming about; but as soon as he had disappeared, his dog—a fine St. Bernard—immediately took to the water, and his howls at length attracted the bathers' attention. The captain came up about twenty-five yards below the spot where he first went under, and just as he was sinking again, the dog seized him by the hair and kept him above water. Meanwhile a rescue was attempted by the soldiers, but before they could reach the captain (who fortunately had never lost consciousness, but managed to grasp the dog while it swam ashore), the noble animal had brought him safely to land. Dogs, as everyone knows, have, on innumerable occasions, been the means of saving people from drowning; but the noteworthy point connected with this particular rescue is the striking manner in which the dog at once realised his master's danger, while the soldiers were quite unconscious of it; the animal's sagacity presenting a marked contrast with that of the men, or, rather, with their want of it. This dog's name was Hero; but was he not a hero by nature as well?
On an interesting note: A crow's funeral.
Pliny describes a superb funeral of a crow which took place during the reign of Claudius. All Rome knew and petted the bird because of its extraordinary talents, and its death was so universally deplored and resented that the man who killed it was executed for the crime! Having thus avenged it, all Rome proceeded to honour it by a public funeral. The dead crow, having been laid on a bier borne by two slaves, was carried in state to its grave, preceded by a band playing a funeral march, and followed by a vast multitude of mourners of all ranks and classes!
Friday, May 27, 2016
The Life and Works of Jane Austen - 20 Books to Download - Books scanned from the Originals into PDF format
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Contents of Download:
Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen 1913
Emma by Jane Austen 1916
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen 1922
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 1896
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 1892
Lady Susan, and The Watsons by Jane Austen 1892 (this is the book that the movie Love & Friendship is based on)
Jane Austen by OW Firkins 1920
Jane Austen, her Contemporaries and Herself; an Essay in Criticism by Walter Herries Pollock 1899
Personal aspects of Jane Austen by Mary Augusta Austen-Leigh 1920
Jane Austen, her life and Letters by William Austen-Leigh 1914
Jane Austen and her Times by GE Mitton 1905
Life of Jane Austen by Goldwin Smith 1920
Essays on the Novel as illustrated by Scott and Miss Austen by Adolphus Alfred Jack 1897
Little Journeys to the Homes of Famous Women by Elbert Hubbard 1897
The Story of Jane Austen's life by Oscar F Adams 1897
Jane Austen by Francis Warre Cornish 1913
Jane Austen and her Works by Sarah Tytler 1880
Duologues and Scenes from the Novels of Jane Austen by Rosina Filippi 1895
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Nietzsche is unquestionably a bold thinker, a Faust-like questioner, and a Titan among philosophers. He is a man who understands that the problem of all problems is the question, Is there an authority higher than myself? And having discarded belief in God, he finds no authority except pretensions.
Nietzsche apparently is only familiar with the sanctions of morality and the criterion of good and evil as they are represented in the institutions and thoughts established by history, and seeing how frequently they serve as tools in the hands of the crafty for the oppression of the unsophisticated masses of the people, he discards them as utterly worthless. Hence his truly magnificent wrath, his disgust, his contempt for underling man, for the masses, this muddy stream of present mankind.
If Nietzsche had dug deeper, he would have found that there is after all a deep significance in moral ideals, for there is an authority above the self by which the worth of the self must be measured. Truth is not a mere creature of the self, but is the comprehension of the immutable eternal laws of being which constitute the norm of existence. Our self, "that creating, willing, valuing 'I,' which (according to Nietzsche) is the measure and value of all things," is itself measured by that eternal norm of being, the existence of which Nietzsche does not recognize.
What is true of Nietzsche applies in all fundamental questions also to his predecessor, Max Stirner. It applies to individualism in any form if carried to its consistent and most extreme consequences.
Nietzsche is blind to the truth that there is a norm above the self, and that this norm is the source of duty and the object of religion; he therefore denies the very existence of duty, of conviction, of moral principles, of sympathy with the suffering, of authority in any shape, and yet he dares to condemn man in the shape of the present generation of mankind. What right has he, then, to judge the sovereign self of to-day and to announce the coming of another self in the overman? From the principles of his philosophical anarchism he has no right to denounce mankind of to-day, as an underling; for if there is no objective standard of worth, there is no sense in distinguishing between the underman of to-day and the overman of a nobler future.
On this point, however, Nietzsche deviates from his predecessor Stirner. The latter is more consistent as an individualist, but the former appeals strongly to the egoism of the individual.
Nietzsche is a Titan and he is truly Titanic in his rebellion against the smallness of everything that means to be an incarnation of what is great and noble and holy. But he does not protest against the smallness of the representatives of truth and right, he protests against truth and right themselves, and thus he is not merely Titanic, but a genuine Titan,—attempting to take the heavens by storm, a monster, not superhuman but inhuman in proportions, in sentiment and in spirit. Being ingenious, he is, in his way, a genius, but he is not evenly balanced; he is eccentric and, not recognizing the authority of reason and science, makes eccentricity his maxim. Thus his grandeur becomes grotesque.
The spirit of negation, the mischief-monger Mephistopheles, says of Faust with reference to his despair of reason and science:
"Reason and Knowledge only thou despise,
The highest strength in man that lies!...
And I shall have thee fast and sure."
—Tr. by Bayard Taylor.
Being giant-like, the Titan Nietzsche has a sense only for things of large dimensions. He fails to understand the significance of the subtler relations of existence. He is clumsy like Gargantua; he is coarse in his reasoning; he is narrow in his comprehension; his horizon is limited. He sees only the massive effects of the great dynamical changes brought about by brute force; he is blind to the quiet and slow but more powerful workings of spiritual forces. The molecular forces that are invisible to the eye transform the world more thoroughly than hurricanes and thunderstorms; yet the strongest powers are the moral laws, the curses of wrong-doing and oppression, and the blessings of truthfulness, of justice, of good-will. Nietzsche sees them not; he ignores them. He measures the worth of the overman solely by his brute force.
If Nietzsche were right, the overman of the future who is going to take possession of the earth will not be nobler and better, wiser and juster than the present man, but more gory, more tiger-like, more relentless, more brutal.
Nietzsche has a truly noble longing for the advent of the overman, but he throws down the ladder on which man has been climbing up, and thus losing his foothold, he falls down to the place whence mankind started several millenniums ago.
We enjoy the rockets of Nietzsche's genius, we understand his Faust-like disappointment as to the unavailableness of science such as he knew it; we sympathize with the honesty with which he offered his thoughts to the world; we recognize the flashes of truth which occur in his sentences, uttered in the tone of a prophet; but we cannot help condemning his philosophy as unsound in its basis, his errors being the result of an immaturity of comprehension.
Nietzsche has touched upon the problem of problems, but he has not solved it. He weighs the souls of his fellowmen and finds them wanting; but his own soul is not less deficient. His philosophy is well worth studying, but it is not a good guide through life. It is great only as being the gravest error, boldly, conscientiously, and seriously carried to its utmost extremes and preached as the latest word of wisdom.
It has been customary that man should justify himself before the tribunal of morality, but Nietzsche summons morality itself before his tribunal. Morality justifies herself by calling on truth, but the testimony of truth is ruled out, for truth—objective truth—is denounced as a superstition of the dark ages. Nietzsche knows truth only as a contemptible method of puny spirits to make existence conceivable—a hopeless task! Nietzsche therefore finds morality guilty as a usurper and a tyrant, and he exhorts all esprits forts to shake off the yoke.
We grant that the self should not be the slave of morality; it should not feel the "ought" as a command; it should identify itself with it and make its requirements the object of its own free will. Good-will on earth will render the law redundant; but when you wipe out the ideal of good-will itself together with its foundation, which is truth and the recognition of truth, the struggle for existence will reappear in its primitive fierceness, and mankind will return to the age of savagery. Let the esprits forts of Nietzsche's type try to realize their master's ideal, and their attempts will soon lead to their own perdition.
We read in Der arme Teufel, a weekly whose radical editor would not have been prevented by conventional reasons from joining the new fad of Nietzscheanism, the following satirical comment on some modern poet of original selfhood:
"'I am against matrimony because I am a poet Wife, children, family life,—well, well! they may be good enough for the man possessed of the herding instinct But I object to trivialities in my own life. I want something stimulating, sensation, poetry. A wife would be prosaic to me, simply on account of being my wife; and children who would call me papa would be disgusting. Poetry I need! Poetry!' Thus he spoke to a friend, and when the latter was gone continued his letter reproaching a waitress for again asking for money and at the same time reflecting upon the purity of her relations to the bartender who, she pretended, was her cousin only...."
If marriage relations were abolished to-day, would not in the course of time some new form of marriage be established? Those who are too proud to utilize the experiences of past generations, will have to repeat them for themselves and must wade through their follies, sins, errors, and suffer all the consequences and undergo their penalties.
Nietzsche tries to produce a Caesar by teaching his followers to imitate the vices of a Catiline; he would raise gods by begetting Titans; he endeavors to give a nobler and better standard to mankind, not by lifting the people higher and rendering them more efficient, but by depriving them of all wisdom and making them more pretentious.
If the ethics of Nietzsche were accepted to-day as authoritative, and if people at large acted accordingly, the world would be benefited in one respect, viz., hypocrisy would cease, and the selfishness of mankind would manifest itself in all its nude bestiality. Passions would have full sway; lust, robbery, jealousy, murder, and revenge would increase, and Death in all forms of wild outbursts would reap a richer harvest than he ever did in the days of prehistoric savage life. The result would be a pruning on a grand scale, and after a few bloody decades those only would survive who either by nature or by hypocritical self-control deemed it best to keep the lower passions and the too prurient instincts of their selfhood in proper check, and then the old-fashioned rules of morality, which Nietzsche declared antiquated, would be given a new trial in the new order of things. They might receive a different sanction, but they would find recognition.
Nietzsche forgets that the present social order originated from that general free-for-all fight which he commends, and that if we begin at the start we should naturally run through the same or a similar course of development to the same or very similar conditions. Will it not be better to go on improving than to revert to the primitive state of savagery?
There are superstitious notions about the nature of the sanction of ethics, but for that reason the moral ideals of mankind remain as firmly established as ever.
The self is not the standard of measurement for good and evil, right and wrong, as Nietzsche claims in agreement with the sophists of old; the self is only the condition to which and under which it applies. There is no good and evil in the purely physical world, there is no suffering, no pain, no anguish—all this originates with the rise of organized animal life which is endowed with sentiency; and further there is no goodness and badness, no morality until the animal rises to the height of comprehending the nature of evil. The tiger is in himself neither good nor bad, but he makes himself a cause of suffering to others; and thus he is by them regarded as bad. Goodness and badness are relative, but they are not for that reason unreal.
It is true that there is no "ought" in the world as an "ought"; nor are there metaphysical ghosts of divine commandments revealing themselves. But man learns the lesson how to avoid evil and reducing it to brief rules which are easily remembered, he calls them "commandments."
Buddha was aware that there is no metaphysical ghost of an "ought," and being the first positivist before positivism was ever thought of, his decalogue is officially called "avoiding the ten evils," not "the ten commandments," the latter being a popular term of later origin.
Granting that there is no metaphysical "ought" in the world and that it finds application only in the domain of animate life through the presence of the self or rather of many selves, we fail to see that the self is the creator of the norm of good and evil. Granting also that there are degrees of comprehending the nature of evil and that different applications naturally result under different conditions, we cannot for that reason argue that ethics are purely subjective and that there is no objective norm that underlies the moral evolution of mankind and comes out in the progress of civilization more and more in its purity.
Nietzsche is like a schoolboy whose teacher is an inefficient pedant. He rebels against his authority and having had but poor instruction proclaims that the multiplication table is a mere superstition with which the old man tries to enslave the free minds of his scholars. Are there not different solutions possible of the same example and has not every one to regard his own solution as the right solution? How can the teacher claim that he is the standard of truth? Why, the very attempt at setting up a standard of any kind is tyranny and the recognition of it is a self-imposed slavery. There is no rightness save the rightness that can be maintained in a general hand-to-hand contest, for it is ultimately the fist that decides all controversies.
Nietzsche calls himself an atheist; he denies the existence of God in any form, and thus carries atheism to an extreme where it breaks down in self-contradiction. We understand by God (whether personal, impersonal, or superpersonal) that something which determines the course of life; the factors that shape the world, including ourselves; the law to which we must adjust our conduct. Nietzsche enthrones the self in the place of God, but for all practical purposes his God is blunt success and survival of the fittest in the crude sense of the term; for according to his philosophy the self must heed survival in the struggle for existence alone, and that, therefore, is his God.
Nietzsche's God is power, i. e., overwhelming force, which allows the wolf to eat the lamb. He ignores the power of the still small voice, the effectiveness of law in the world which makes it possible that man, the over-brute, is not the most ferocious, the most muscular, or the strongest animal. Nietzsche regards the cosmic order, in accommodation to which ethical codes have been invented, as a mere superstition. Thus it will come to pass that Nietzsche's type of the overman, should it really make its appearance on earth, would be wiped out as surely as the lion, the king of the beasts, the proud pseudo-overbrute of the animals, will be exterminated in course of time. The lion has a chance for survival only behind the bars of the zoölogical gardens or when he allows himself to be tamed by man, that weakling among the brutes whose power has been built up by a comprehension of the sway of the invisible laws of life, physical, mental and moral.
What is the secret of Nietzsche's success? While other men of greater consistency, among them his predecessor Stirner, failed, he attained an unparalleled fame, and his philosophy exercised an extraordinary influence upon large classes of people not only in Germany but also abroad, in Russia, in France, in the United States and even in conservative England.
We must concede that Nietzsche possesses a poetic power of oratory; he appeals to sentiment; he is not much of a thinker, not a philosopher, but a leader and a prophet, and as such he stands for the most extreme egoism. Nietzsche attempts to establish the absolute sovereignty of the individual and grants a most irresponsible freedom to the man who dares; and this principle of doing away with moral maxims has made him popular.
The truth is that our moral sanctions are no longer accepted. People still believe in God, in the authority of church and state, but their belief is no longer a living faith. Whatever they may think of God, the old God, the God of traditional dogmatism, is gone. He is no longer a living power in the hearts of the people; and so, large masses rejoice to have the proclamation frankly stated that God is dead, that they need no longer fear hell, and that the chains of their slavery are broken.
Nietzsche is consistent in his denial of the traditional sanctions. He understands not only that there are no gods, that the powers of nature as personifications do not exist, but that the laws of nature are mere abstract generalizations. We need no longer believe in Hephaestos, the god of fire; there is no use to bow the knee to him or do homage to his divinity. Nor is there any truth in the existence of a phlogiston, a metaphysical fire-stuff, or any fire essence; there are only scattered facts of burning. Everything else is mere superstition. Generalizations exist only in our imagination, and so we should get rid of the idea that there is any truth at all. Science is a pretender which is apt to make cowards of us. That man is wise who is not hampered by scruple or doubt of any kind and simply follows the bent of his mind, subjecting to himself every thing he finds, including his fellow human beings.
This bold and reckless proposition appeals to egoism and it seems so true that abstract formulas and generalizations are empty. Weight exists; there is gravity; there are particular phenomena of masses in mutual attraction, but gravitation, the law of these actual happenings, is a mere formula, an imaginary quantity, a mere thought about which we need not worry. The law of gravitation is a human invention and has no real existence in the realm of facts.
And the same would of course be true about the interrelations among human beings in their social intercourse, too. All the several maxims of conduct, which are called moral and constitute our code of ethics, are built upon generalizations. There is no sanction for them. The gods who were formerly supposed to be responsible for the several domains of facts have died long ago. The Jewish deity called Elohim, the Lord, entered upon the inheritance of the ancient gods, but he too had to die. Thereupon his place was taken by metaphysical essences, pale ghosts of a mysterious nature, but they too died and so the last shadow of anything authoritative is gone. We are en face du rien; therefore let us boldly enjoy our freedom. Let us be ourselves; let our passions take their course; let us do wrong if it suits us; let us live without consideration of anything, just as we please. There is no sanction of moral maxims to be respected; there is no authority of conduct; there is no judge; there is no evil, no wrong.
This seems pretty plausible to our modern generation raised in the traditions of nominalism, but would we really ignore the law of gravitation because the Newtonian formula is a man-made abstraction and a mere generalization? Yet, if we do not give heed to it we fall, and the same is true of any law of nature. Our sciences are mental constructions; they are mind-made, and so far as they are built out of the material of our experience they tally with facts and we call them true. Our social interrelations, too, constitute conditions observable in experience; they can be formulated in Jaws and applied to practical life; they can be expressed in maxims of conduct and have received various sanctions successively, the sanctions of religion, the sanctions of metaphysics, the sanctions of science. In the age of savagery the sanction of moral maxims was offered us in a mythological dress. With the rise of monotheism our moral sanction came to us as the command of a supreme ruler of the universe; in the age of abstract philosophy as metaphysical principles, and in the age of science these should be recognized as lessons of experience.
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The Infamous Female Poisoner of Germany by Charles Kingston 1921
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Gesina Gottfried was, as a girl, plump and pretty, bright and pert, and the young men of the town in Germany in which she was born never let her know what loneliness meant. She had, of course, numerous suitors; and, while the social position of her parents was a poor one, she did not hesitate to declare that she would only marry a man likely to make money and give her the luxuries for which she craved. This was regarded as a good joke by her acquaintances, for in those days the status of women in Germany was even lower than it is to-day, and they were regarded, after they had lost their youth and their looks, as on a level with the beasts of the field—it was no uncommon sight to see women harnessed to the plough—and they were expected to toil all day long.
However, pretty Gesina was humoured, and, after taking stock of all her lovers, her choice alighted upon one named Miltenberg. He had a small business of his own, was reputed to possess a considerable sum in the savings bank, and bore the reputation of being ambitious, and, therefore, certain to make more money. Gesina's parents cordially approved of her decision, and at the age of seventeen the girl became a wife. Within three years she was the mother of two fine children, and the small world in which the Miltenbergs lived envied them.
But the truth was that the marriage had proved a miserable fiasco. The young bride had not taken long to discover that her husband was an improvident drunkard, who was heavily in debt and who lived on the verge of the gaol. Whenever she remonstrated he treated her cruelly, and it was only Gesina's pride that prevented her denouncing him. But she was compelled to conceal her grief because she would not give her jealous girl friends and former rivals an opportunity to jeer at her, for she had boasted often that she was going to be a lady and that when she was married she would have a servant of her own. They had derided her then, and she would not tell them now that she had made a mistake in marrying Miltenberg, the drunkard and wife-beater.
So the girl who had dreamed of being a lady and had actually become a drudge was terrified every time she heard her husband enter the house. Food was scarce, but the cries of her children did not arouse a mother's love. She turned upon them and exhausted her rage by ill-treating them; yet Gesina was able to keep up appearances and her parents did not guess the real state of affairs.
About four years after her marriage Gesina paid a visit to her mother. She found her engaged in a war against the mice that were infesting the kitchen, her principal weapon being white powder which she had bought from the local chemist.
As Gesina sat and watched the bodies of the poisoned mice it seemed to her a pity that brutal husbands could not be as easily got rid of, and her thoughts dwelling for a long time on this injustice she finally abstracted some of the white powder when her mother was upstairs.
Gesina reached home that night with the precious powder, half an hour before her husband returned from one of the vilest cafés in the town. She was trembling with excitement and her pale cheeks were now flushed, and she looked something like the girl Miltenberg had married four years earlier. But he was too far gone to notice anything, and beyond the customary threats his only remark was to growl his appreciation of the glass of beer with which Gesina unexpectedly presented him. The beer was not yet poisoned, for Gesina had decided to give him one more chance. It was, of course, a hopeless one, as it was not possible that he would reform unexpectedly and never strike her again.
The drunken boor was sitting at the table clutching the glass when a knock came to the door, and a moment later Gesina had admitted a mutual friend, Gottfried, a young man who had shown for some time that he admired her. Locked within the ill-used wife's breast was the secret of her strange love for this weak youth, and now the sight of him inflamed her, as she knew that she had the means to free herself from the brute whose name she bore. Gottfried's coming there that night meant sentence of death on Miltenberg, and without any compunction the woman dropped some of the arsenic into his glass.
The doctor who attended Miltenberg during his brief fatal illness was aware of the fellow's dissipated life, and he readily certified that death was due to natural causes.
Gesina was now in a position to marry Gottfried, and there was yet a chance that she might be rich and happy.
Without troubling about mourning she renewed her acquaintance with Gottfried, who had by now, however, grown tired of her. Perhaps he had read her character that night he had called and sat beside Miltenberg whilst the latter drank the poisoned beer. Perhaps he had a suspicion of the truth, and was afraid lest he should meet with the same fate. But the poisoner ignored his coldness towards her. She had determined to marry him, and marry her he must.
She forced a proposal from him, and then an unexpected obstacle arose in the opposition of her parents. Gesina was astounded; Gottfried secretly delighted. He was always docile and submissive when in her company, but once he was out of her sight he hated her. She was too self-willed and masterful for him, and he was a genuinely happy man when he was informed that her parents considered him too obscure and contemptible to be worthy the honour of their daughter's hand.
In vain Gesina argued, implored and threatened. The old people would not give way. They told her that it was her duty to look after her children and not bother about a second husband, and as they had the law on their side Gesina would only fling herself out of the house and return to her own squalid one to ponder over her grievances.
A woman of her sort could come to only one decision, and that was to send her father and mother to their graves with the aid of the white powder which had proved so effective in the case of her brutal husband. She accordingly pretended to forget Gottfried, and sought a reconciliation with her parents, who, to celebrate the reunion, gave a pork supper in her honour. Gesina, who was particularly fond of this favourite dish, did full justice to it, although before sitting down to the table she had put arsenic in the beer her parents were to drink! When they were taken to their room in agony she calmly continued to eat, and she was so callous that when they died she shed no tears.
With three victims to her account Gesina went to see Gottfried. He affected to be overjoyed at meeting her again, and, fortified by the knowledge that the opposition of her parents rendered a ceremony of marriage between them impossible, spontaneously invited her to have dinner with him. But Gesina took away his appetite at the very beginning of the meal by informing him that her parents had suddenly died, and that there was now no reason why he should not fulfil his promise and make her his wife.
Gottfried went pale with terror, and so great was his agitation that she noticed it at once, and taxed him with trying to deceive her. The unhappy coward protested that she was doing him an injustice.
"I am grieved to hear of their death," he stammered, perspiration breaking out on his forehead. "I had a great respect for them, and your tragic news has upset me."
Gesina laughed contemptuously.
"Considering that they always treated you like dirt, you needn't wear mourning for them," she retorted. "Don't be a fool, Hermann. All I want to know is when we can be married? I'm tired of living alone."
The last sentence put an idea into his head. It reminded him that she had two children. In faltering tones he suggested that it would be inadvisable to marry. He swore that he had nothing saved, and that it would be too heavy a burden for him to provide for a wife who would bring with her another man's two children.
If Gesina had not been satisfied that she had the means of removing everybody who stood in her way she would have been extremely angry with Gottfried, but now she only became pensive, and a little later proceeded to discuss his objection in detail.
"You don't object to me, I suppose?" she asked, holding her clasped hands under her chin.
He protested with many oaths that he loved her to distraction, but that the children were so many barriers to their marriage because he was really poor.
"Very well," she observed, before changing the subject, "I will wait until the children are not a burden to anybody."
A fortnight later she met him again.
"My children are dead," she said simply. "They had convulsions a week ago, and quickly passed away. I am now quite alone in the world."
The man regarded her with horror. It is most likely that he was the only person who suspected that these unexplained deaths were no mysteries to her. But he could not have thought for a moment that she was a fivefold murderess!
Gottfried was an ignorant and superstitious man, and he knew nothing about poisons. All the deaths caused by Gesina's "white powder" had been duly certified by respectable local practitioners, and he had not the courage to create a scandal by voicing his suspicions regarding the two children.
There was something fascinating about Gesina, and Gottfried's will power always vanished when he was with her. But nevertheless, he made a brave struggle to resist her, and, although he agreed to an engagement, he never had the slightest intention of becoming her husband.
Gesina pretended to be satisfied with his promise, and even when, as the occasion arose, he put forward the flimsiest of excuses to postpone the ceremony, she was ever contented and apparently happy. A few months went by, and there were no more sudden deaths among her relatives. Gottfried's fears left him and he began to think of her as he had in the days when she was a young bride.
Yet he stopped short at marriage, and beyond an engagement would not go. As the young woman very seldom referred to the former he was very pleased to take her to the cafés and to the theatres, and generally have a good time in her society. But he totally misunderstood the character of the creature who called herself his sweetheart. Gesina was content because she had already devised a method by which she knew that she would accomplish her object. She had not poisoned five human beings without learning a lot, and she was now an expert. She knew exactly how to kill and how to cause an illness without fatal results, and she decided to dose Gottfried until she had so weakened him in body and mind that he would be mentally as well as physically at her mercy.
The infatuated fool never suspected anything, and when his mysterious illness began he did not draw any inferences from the fact that Gesina often sat by his side while he was drinking. Of course the vile creature had used every opportunity to administer arsenic in small quantities, and she had many, because she insisted upon nursing him.
It was a most scientific and crafty murder, because as Gottfried grew weaker he got more affectionate, and she gave him the poison so cleverly, and worked upon his feelings so astutely, that he came to regard her as his devoted nurse! He would allow no one else to come near him or give him his medicine, and every day his passion for her increased, and he shed tears when she was not with him. Gesina, after coaxing him to take poisoned soup, would sit by his bed and cheer him by painting their future together in rosy colours. She would not hear of a fatal issue to his illness, and what with her gaiety and her optimism the patient thought her an angel.
But despite her "nursing" he grew worse every day, until it was obvious that he was going to die. By this time he was too weak to be able to think of anything except his love for Gesina, and at last he asked her as a favour to marry him on his death-bed.
Within an hour of his proposal, Gesina, dressed in black, called upon a clergyman, and told a heart-rending story of a dying lover who had implored her to ease his last hours by consenting to be his wife. The minister of religion was touched, and instantly agreed to marry them. He repaired at once to the death-chamber, and there the dying man and the murderess joined hands and were made man and wife. Within twenty-four hours, however, Gesina was a widow again, for Gottfried passed away as the result of an extra strong dose which she administered twenty minutes after she had become Frau Gottfried.
She did not lose anything by the marriage even if she did not gain much. Gottfried left a few hundred pounds, and to this sum she succeeded. Her principal motive for marrying him was vanity. So many persons had talked sneeringly of her long engagement to Gottfried that Gesina knew it would surprise and mortify the gossipers if she did really become his wife, and to gratify this whim she slowly poisoned him!
But her successes were so numerous, that she took to poisoning people as a hobby. The "white powder" was her infallible remedy for removing objectionable men and women. She did not fear the doctors, and she laughed at their ignorance. Most of them were quacks, and none of them were a match for the quick-witted woman, who seemed to flourish on murder. She might dwell in an atmosphere of death, yet there were always men to court her, and the good-looking widow had several proposals.
The third opportunity to marry, which she decided to accept, came from a prosperous merchant, who was fascinated by the young face and the glib tongue of the poisoner. He met Gesina for the first time at Gottfried's funeral, and he had accompanied her home with a few other friends to comfort her, and after that he frequently called, until it was obvious that Gesina liked him. That unlucky merchant was, however, indirectly responsible for one of Gesina's most brutal crimes ere he, too, fell a victim to her devilish arts.
One night the merchant was chatting with the widow, when a tall, stout soldier staggered into the room the worse for drink. Gesina and the merchant started to their feet, and the latter would have turned upon the drunkard had not the woman recognized her brother, whom she had not seen for years. During those years Wilhelm had not improved; he was, in fact, after the stamp of her first husband, Miltenberg, a drunkard and a bully, and he now insisted upon being made welcome, behaved rudely, insulted Gesina's lover, and was only pacified by offerings of unlimited beer. When he had drunk sufficient he announced his intention of remaining in the house, and there was every reason to suspect that he intended to cadge and bully her out of her small means before taking his departure.
But the "white powder" solved the problem. Gesina woke him up in the middle of the night with a glass of beer in her hand, which he delightedly drank, and thanked her with brotherly affection. At nine o'clock he was a corpse, and when Gesina knocked on his door and called out the time she received no answer. She had not expected one.
The merchant, who had been thoroughly disgusted with the soldier's behaviour, could scarcely express conventional regret when he heard the news, and he gained Gesina's gratitude by paying the funeral expenses. Out of gratitude Gesina fixed the date for their marriage, but a week before the ceremony was to be performed her lover fell ill.
His days on earth were now numbered. Gesina, averse to becoming his wife, had poisoned him, but in the same way as she had done Gottfried. She dosed him into a state of utter helplessness, and when he was prostrate she induced him to make a will in her favour. This was the day before he died. The doctor was never even suspicious, and her lover was buried. Then she retained a clever lawyer to collect his effects, turn them into hard cash, and remit the money to her. A few relatives protested, but Gesina and the lawyer settled them, and the murderess entered with intense satisfaction into possession of three thousand pounds, a large sum to her.
A year subsequent to this crime she was again engaged, and once more she slowly poisoned her fiancé and he made her his heir. When his will had been drawn up she administered the final dose, and, having allowed a few days to elapse, proceeded to inquire into the extent of her inheritance.
Greatly to her anger and astonishment, she discovered that she had been hoaxed. Her victim had left nothing except debts, and she had wasted valuable arsenic upon him. To add insult to injury, rumours spread that Gesina had inherited a large fortune, and several persons who had lent her money began to press for repayment.
Besides being a murderess, Gesina was very mean. She could borrow from the poorest of her acquaintances, but she would not repay them even when she had a considerable amount to her credit. She loved money, and nothing pleased her better than to add to her store of gold coins. She was in the habit of carrying five hundred pounds about with her in notes and gold, and she gradually acquired a collection of jewellery.
It is difficult to write of her as a human being. One can hardly imagine that she ever existed, and yet all the details of her career I have given are on the official records of the German Criminal Courts.
Gesina with the blue eyes and the merry laugh went through life scattering death on each side of her. She could crack a joke with a man who was dying at her hands. She could dress in black and shed tears over a coffin, and at the same time debate with herself as to her next victim. She poisoned innocent and inoffensive persons just to keep her hand in. When she had over a thousand pounds she murdered a woman because she had asked for the return of a loan of five pounds.
The last-named affair occurred after the murder of the lover who had tricked her in death. Gesina's friend lived in Hamburg, and, having fallen upon evil times, and hearing that her old acquaintance was now a rich widow, she wrote asking to be repaid the money she had lent her. Gesina sent an affectionate letter in return, inviting Katrine to visit her, when she would not only pay her the debt, but add a present for her past kindness. It is only necessary for me to add that Katrine never returned to Hamburg for my readers to realize what happened to her when she became Gesina's guest.
But on account of her numerous crimes Gesina was compelled to change her residence frequently, and when she bought a house in Bremen it was the sixth German town in which she had settled.
The house she took was capable of accommodating several families, and she considered it a safe investment for her "earnings." But somehow things went wrong. She was an expert poisoner, but she was not good at business, and eventually she had to raise a mortgage on her property at a ruinous rate of interest.
Gesina's ambition had always been to appear better off than her neighbours, and now, in order to gratify her vanity, she forgot her old passion for hoarding money. She lived luxuriously and dressed well, and, realizing that her mind was beginning to be reflected in her face, she took to paint and powder to conceal her true character. Youth had fled from her, although she was young in years. She was thin, scraggy, and unpleasing to the eye, but Gesina acquired the art of making up, and she was able to pose as a young-looking widow who had known sorrow without having been hardened by it.
For two years she played her part so well that she escaped detection. The "pretty widow" became a well-known character in Bremen, and it was often rumoured that she was about to be married again. But somehow an accident always happened at the critical moment. Either it was the wrong man, and then Gesina simply poisoned him, or else the right man became uneasy and backed out of the engagement, and the murderess felt that she dare not protest too much lest she should expose herself and her past to inquiry. Anyhow, she was still a widow when the mortgagees foreclosed and took possession of her apartment house.
Gesina was now really poor. All her savings had gone, and with them her credit. She was actually in danger of starvation, and her condition was so forlorn that when the new owner of the house—he had purchased it from the mortgagees—came to turn her out and install his own family, he was so touched by her distress—and she looked so pathetically pretty as she sobbed in the darkened room—that he gave her the position of his housekeeper.
Herr Rumf was one of the most respected tradesmen in Bremen. A master wheelwright, he employed several hands, and was considered a generous employer. His wife and children adored him, and he was just the sort of man to be affected by a forlorn widow's grief, for he was large-hearted and easily roused to deeds of generosity.
Gesina was not long in Rumf's employment before she planned out a regular campaign of murder. She resolved to murder her employer's wife, and thus regain her ownership of the house, in addition to becoming the mistress of his fortune, for once she was his wife she meant to dispose of him as she had Gottfried and the infatuated merchant. As for Rumf, he unconsciously became a willing party to the plot. His own wife, aged by the cares of a large family, was not exactly an exhilarating companion, and he was charmed of an evening on his return from his shop by Gesina's ready wit and her stories of fashionable persons she pretended to have known when she was better off.
When Frau Rumf gave birth to a child it was Gesina who attended her, and who at night waited on Rumf, and banished his melancholia. He, too, began to cherish dangerous thoughts, and when his wife's illness took a turn for the worse, following the unexpected death of her infant, he was not nearly as distressed as he would have been had he never made the acquaintance of the widow who had "come down in the world," as she often assured him.
The unfortunate wife died, and Gesina was given the charge of the five little children. Herr Rumf could not neglect his business. It was of far more importance to him than his family; and, while he observed all the conventions in mourning for his wife, he was too good a German to allow her decease to interfere with money-making. Gesina, therefore, reigned over his household; and, recalling what Gottfried had said about children being an obstacle to matrimony, she poisoned all five in the most fiendishly cruel manner.
The amazing thing is that Rumf never suspected that the seven tragedies in his household were not mere accidents of fortune. He was suspected of aiding and abetting the murderess, but as he very nearly became one of her victims he was not prosecuted, especially as he actually brought her career to an end.
His last child had just been interred when Herr Rumf himself had a breakdown. For some days he had found it impossible to retain food, and he was wasting away, when he ordered one of the pigs he kept to be killed and a portion of the meat cooked for him. As Gesina was then visiting some friends the meal was prepared by a servant, and to Rumf's extreme delight he found that it agreed with him. It was the first food he had eaten for a fortnight that he was able to digest.
Pleased at the discovery, he had a goodly piece of the pig placed in the larder for future use, being determined to live on pork until he found something else to agree with him. Nearly every day he took a look at the meat, just to see that it was all right, and it was only by accident that Gesina did not get to know of this. Rumf had forgotten to tell her of his wonderful discovery, and when she came across the spare rib of pork in the larder she guessed who it was for, without realizing all that it meant to Rumf, and decided that it would provide a safe medium for administering another dose of arsenic to him. She accordingly sprinkled it with the white powder, not knowing how affectionately her employer regarded that particular piece of meat, and ignorant of the fact that he scarcely thought of anything else from morning until night.
One day Rumf came home earlier than he was expected. Gesina was gossiping with a neighbour, and did not see him enter the house. The wheelwright went to the larder to have a peep at his beloved pork, and he noticed immediately that it had been shifted. He picked it up to replace it, and then he saw the white powder. At once he remembered having seen similar powder before. It was in a salad which Gesina had prepared for him just before the beginning of his illness.
Without scarcely pausing to think, he wrapped the meat up in a cloth, and carried it to the police, who had it examined.
When the doctor reported that the white powder was arsenic Gesina was arrested. She instantly confessed in the most brazen-faced manner, recounting her exploits from the day she had murdered her first husband down to the attempt on Rumf's life, and, knowing that she would be shown no mercy, she reviled her gaolers, and defied them to do their worst.
Her trial and condemnation in 1828 followed as a matter of course, but Gesina went to her death with a mincing gait, and a sneer for mankind in general. She expressed only one regret, and that was that the notoriety her evil deeds had earned for her had resulted in the public becoming aware that her teeth were false!
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In the narrative of English witchcraft the story of the exorcists is a side-issue. Yet their performances were so closely connected with the operations of the Devil and of his agents that they cannot be left out of account in any adequate statement of the subject. And it is impossible to understand the strength and weakness of the superstition without a comprehension of the rôle that the would-be agents for expelling evil spirits played. That the reign which had seen pass in procession the bands of conjurers and witches should close with the exorcists was to be expected. It was their part to complete the cycle of superstition. If miracles of magic were possible, if conjurers could use a supernatural power of some sort to assist them in performing wonders, there was nothing very remarkable about creatures who wrought harm to their fellows through the agency of evil spirits. And if witches could send evil spirits to do harm, it followed that those spirits could be expelled or exorcised by divine assistance. If by prayer to the Devil demons could be commanded to enter human beings, they could be driven out by prayer to God. The processes of reasoning were perfectly clear; and they were easily accepted because they found adequate confirmation in the New Testament. The gospels were full of narratives of men possessed with evil spirits who had been freed by the invocation of God. Of these stories no doubt the most quoted and the one most effective in moulding opinion was the account of the dispossessed devils who had entered into a herd of swine and plunged over a steep place into the sea.
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It must not be supposed that exorcism was a result of belief in witchcraft. It was as old as the Christian church. It was still made use of by the Roman church and, indeed, by certain Protestant groups. And just at this time the Roman church found it a most important instrument in the struggle against the reformed religions. In England Romanism was waging a losing war, and had need of all the miracles that it could claim in order to reestablish its waning credit. The hunted priests who were being driven out by Whitgift were not unwilling to resort to a practice which they hoped would regain for them the allegiance of the common people. During the years 1585-1586 they had conducted what they considered marvellous works of exorcism in Catholic households of Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. Great efforts had been made to keep news of these séances from reaching the ears of the government, but accounts of them had gained wide circulation and came to the privy council. That body was of course stimulated to greater activity against the Catholics.
As a phase of a suppressed form of religion the matter might never have assumed any significance. Had not a third-rate Puritan clergyman, John Darrel, almost by accident hit upon the use of exorcism, the story of its use would be hardly worth telling. When this young minister was not more than twenty, but already, as he says, reckoned "a man of hope," he was asked to cure a seventeen-year-old girl at Mansfield in Nottingham, Katherine Wright. Her disease called for simple medical treatment. That was not Darrel's plan of operation. She had an evil spirit, he declared. From four o'clock in the morning until noon he prayed over her spirit. He either set going of his own initiative the opinion that possessed persons could point out witches, or he quickly availed himself of such a belief already existing. The evil spirit, he declared, could recognize and even name the witch that had sent it as well as the witch's confederates. All of this was no doubt suggested to the possessed girl and she was soon induced to name the witch that troubled her. This was Margaret Roper, a woman with whom she was upon bad terms. Margaret Roper was at once taken into custody by the constable. She happened to be brought before a justice of the peace possessing more than usual discrimination. He not only discharged her, but threatened John Darrel with arrest.
This was in 1586. Darrel disappeared from view for ten years or so, when he turned up at Burton-upon-Trent, not very far from the scene of his first operations. Here he volunteered to cure Thomas Darling. The story is a curious one and too long for repetition. Some facts must, however, be presented in order to bring the story up to the point at which Darrel intervened. Thomas Darling, a young Derbyshire boy, had become ill after returning from a hunt. He was afflicted with innumerable fits, in which he saw green angels and a green cat. His aunt very properly consulted a physician, who at the second consultation thought it possible that the child was bewitched. The aunt failed to credit the diagnosis. The boy's fits continued and soon took on a religious character. Between seizures he conversed with godly people. They soon discovered that the reading of the Scriptures brought on attacks. This looked very like the Devil's work. The suggestion of the physician was more seriously regarded. Meanwhile the boy had overheard the discussion of witchcraft and proceeded to relate a story. He had met, he said, a "little old woman" in a "gray gown with a black fringe about the cape, a broad thrimmed hat, and three warts on her face." Very accidentally, as he claimed, he offended her. She angrily said a rhyming charm that ended with the words, "I wil goe to heaven, and thou shalt goe to hell," and stooped to the ground.
The story produced a sensation. Those who heard it declared at once that the woman must have been Elizabeth Wright, or her daughter Alse Gooderidge, women long suspected of witchcraft. Alse was fetched to the boy. She said she had never seen him, but her presence increased the violence of his fits. Mother and daughter were carried before two justices of the peace, who examined them together with Alse's husband and daughter. The women were searched for special marks in the usual revolting manner with the usual outcome, but only Alse herself was sent to gaol.
The boy grew no better. It was discovered that the reading of certain verses in the first chapter of John invariably set him off. The justices of the peace put Alse through several examinations, but with little result. Two good witches were consulted, but refused to help unless the family of the bewitched came to see them.
Meantime a cunning man appeared who promised to prove Alse a witch. In the presence of "manie worshipfull personages" "he put a paire of new shooes on her feete, setting her close to the fire till the shooes being extreame hot might constrayne her through increase of the paine to confesse." "This," says the writer, "was his ridiculous practice." The woman "being throghly heated desired a release" and offered to confess, but, as soon as her feet were cooled, refused. No doubt the justices of the peace would have repudiated the statement that the illegal process of torture was used. The methods of the cunning man were really nothing else.
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The woman was harried day and night by neighbors to bring her to confess. At length she gave way and, in a series of reluctant confessions, told a crude story of her wrong-doings that bore some slight resemblance to the boy's tale, and involved the use of a spirit in the form of a dog.
Now it was that John Darrel came upon the ground eager to make a name for himself. Darling had been ill for three months and was not improving. Even yet some of the boy's relatives and friends doubted if he were possessed. Not so Darrel. He at once undertook to pray and fast for the boy. According to his own account his efforts were singularly blessed. At all events the boy gradually improved and Darrel claimed the credit. As for Alse Gooderidge, she was tried at the assizes, convicted by the jury, and sentenced by Lord Chief-Justice Anderson to imprisonment. She died soon after. This affair undoubtedly widened Darrel's reputation.
Not long after, a notable case of possession in Lancashire afforded him a new opportunity to attract notice. The case of Nicholas Starchie's children provoked so much comment at the time that it is perhaps worth while to go back and bring the narrative up to the point where Darrel entered. Two of Starchie's children had one day been taken ill most mysteriously, the girl "with a dumpish and heavie countenance, and with a certaine fearefull starting and pulling together of her body." The boy was "compelled to shout" on the way to school. Both grew steadily worse and the father consulted Edmund Hartley, a noted conjurer of his time. Hartley quieted the children by the use of charms. When he realized that his services would be indispensable to the father he made a pretence of leaving and so forced a promise from Starchie to pay him 40 shillings a year. This ruse was so successful that he raised his demands. He asked for a house and lot, but was refused. The children fell ill again. The perplexed parent now went to a physician of Manchester. But the physician "sawe no signe of sicknes." Dr. Dee, the famous astrologer and friend of Elizabeth, was summoned. He advised the help of "godlie preachers."
Meantime the situation in the afflicted family took a more serious turn. Besides Mr. Starchie's children, three young wards of his, a servant, and a visitor, were all taken with the mysterious illness. The modern reader might suspect that some contagious disease had gripped the family, but the irregular and intermittent character of the disease precludes that hypothesis. Darrel in his own pamphlet on the matter declares that when the parents on one occasion went to a play the children were quiet, but that when they were engaged in godly exercise they were tormented, a statement that raises a suspicion that the disease, like that of the Throckmorton children, was largely imaginary.
But the divines were at work. They had questioned the conjurer, and had found that he fumbled "verie ill favouredlie" in the repetition of the Lord's Prayer. He was haled before a justice of the peace, who began gathering evidence against him and turned him over to the assizes. There it came out that he had been wont to kiss the Starchie children, and had even attempted, although without success, to kiss a maid servant. In this way he had presumably communicated the evil spirit-a new notion. The court could find no law, however, upon which to hang him. He had bewitched the children, but he had bewitched none of them to death, and therefore had not incurred the death penalty. But the father leaped into the gap. He remembered that he had seen the conjurer draw a magic circle and divide it into four parts and that he had bidden the witness step into the quarters one after another. Making such circles was definitely mentioned in the law as felony. Hartley denied the charge, but to no purpose. He was convicted of felony-so far as we can judge, on this unsupported afterthought of a single witness-and was hanged. Sympathy, however, would be inappropriate. In the whole history of witchcraft there were few victims who came so near to deserving their fate.
This was the story up to the time of Darrel's arrival. With Darrel came his assistant, George More, pastor of a church in Derbyshire. The two at once recognized the supernatural character of the case they were to treat and began religious services for the stricken family. It was to no effect. "All or most of them joined together in a strange and supernatural loud whupping that the house and grounde did sounde therwith again."
But the exorcists were not by any means disheartened. On the following day, in company with another minister, they renewed the services and were able to expel six of the seven spirits. On the third day they stormed and took the last citadel of Satan. Unhappily the capture was not permanent. Darrel tells us himself that the woman later became a Papist and the evil spirit returned.
The exorcist now turned his skill upon a young apprenticed musician of Nottingham. According to Darrel's story of the affair, William Somers had nine years before met an old woman who had threatened him. Again, more than a year before Darrel came to Nottingham, Somers had had two encounters with a strange woman "at a deep cole-pit, hard by the way-side." Soon afterwards he "did use such strang and idle kinde of gestures in laughing, dancing and such like lighte behaviour, that he was suspected to be madd." He began to suffer from bodily distortions and to evince other signs of possession which created no little excitement in Nottingham.
Darrel had been sent for by this time. He came at once and with his usual precipitancy pronounced the case one of possession. Somers, he said, was suffering for the sins of Nottingham. It was time that something should be done. Prayer and fasting were instituted. For three days the youth was preached to and prayed over, while the people of Nottingham, or some of them at least, joined in the fast. On the third day came what was deemed a most remarkable exhibition. The preacher named slowly, one after another, fourteen signs of possession. As he named them Somers illustrated in turn each form of possession. Here was confirmatory evidence of a high order. The exorcist had outdone himself. He now held out promises of deliverance for the subject. For a quarter of an hour the boy lay as if dead, and then rose up quite well.
Darrel now took up again the witchfinder's rôle he had once before assumed. Somers was encouraged to name the contrivers of his bewitchment. Through him, Darrel is said to have boasted, they would expose all the witches in England. They made a most excellent start at it. Thirteen women were accused by the boy, who would fall into fits at the sight of a witch, and a general invitation was extended to prefer charges. But the community was becoming a bit incredulous and failed to respond. All but two of the accused women were released.
The witch-discoverer, who in the meantime had been chosen preacher at St. Mary's in Nottingham, made two serious mistakes. He allowed accusations to be preferred against Alice Freeman, sister of an alderman, and he let Somers be taken out of his hands. By the contrivance of some citizens who doubted the possession, Somers was placed in the house of correction, on a trumped-up charge that he had bewitched a Mr. Sterland to death. Removed from the clergyman's influence, he made confession that his possessions were pretended. Darrel, he declared, had taught him how to pretend. The matter had now gained wide notoriety and was taken up by the Anglican church. The archdeacon of Derby reported the affair to his superiors, and the Archbishop of York appointed a commission to examine into the case. Whether from alarm or because he had anew come under Darrel's influence, Somers refused to confess before the commission and again acted out his fits with such success that the commission seems to have been convinced of the reality of his possession. This was a notable victory for the exorcist.
But Chief-Justice Anderson of the court of common pleas was now commencing the assizes at Nottingham and was sitting in judgment on the case of Alice Freeman. Anderson was a man of intense convictions. He believed in the reality of witchcraft and had earlier sent at least one witch to the gallows and one to prison. But he was a man who hated Puritanism with all his heart, and would at once have suspected Puritan exorcism. Whether because the arch-instigator against Alice Freeman was a Puritan, or because the evidence adduced against her was flimsy, or because Somers, again summoned to court, acknowledged his fraud, or for all these reasons, Anderson not only dismissed the case, but he wrote a letter about it to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Whitgift called Darrel and More before the court of high commission, where the Bishop of London, two of the Lord Chief-Justices, the master of requests, and other eminent officials heard the case. It seems fairly certain that Bancroft, the Bishop of London, really took control of this examination and that he acted quite as much the part of a prosecutor as that of a judge. One of Darrel's friends complained bitterly that the exorcist was not allowed to make "his particular defences" but "was still from time to time cut off by the Lord Bishop of London." No doubt the bishop may have been somewhat arbitrary. It was his privilege under the procedure of the high commission court, and he was dealing with one whom he deemed a very evident impostor. In fine, a verdict was rendered against the two clergymen. They were deposed from the ministry and put in close prison. So great was the stir they had caused that in 1599 Samuel Harsnett, chaplain to the Bishop of London, published A Discovery of the Fraudulent Practises of John Darrel, a careful résumé of the entire case, with a complete exposure of Darrel's trickery. In this account the testimony of Somers was given as to the origin of his possession. He testified before the ecclesiastical court that he had known Darrel several years before they had met at Nottingham. At their first meeting he promised, declared Somers, "to tell me some thinges, wherein if I would be ruled by him, I should not be driven to goe so barely as I did." Darrel related to Somers the story of Katherine Wright and her possession, and remarked, "If thou wilt sweare unto me to keepe my counsell, I will teache thee to doe all those trickes which Katherine Wright did, and many others that are more straunge." He then illustrated some of the tricks for the benefit of his pupil and gave him a written paper of directions. From that time on there were meetings between the two at various places. The pupil, however, was not altogether successful with his fits and was once turned out of service as a pretender. He was then apprenticed to the musician already mentioned, and again met Darrel, who urged him to go and see Thomas Darling of Burton, "because," says Somers, "that seeing him in his fittes, I might the better learn to do them myselfe." Somers met Darrel again and went through with a series of tricks of possession. It was after all these meetings and practice that Somers began his career as a possessed person in Nottingham and was prayed over by Mr. Darrel. Such at least was his story as told to the ecclesiastical commission. It would be hazardous to say that the narrative was all true. Certainly it was accepted by Harsnett, who may be called the official reporter of the proceedings at Darrel's trial, as substantially true.
The publication of the Discovery by Harsnett proved indeed to be only the beginning of a pamphlet controversy which Darrel and his supporters were but too willing to take up. Harsnett himself after his first onslaught did not re-enter the contest. The semi-official character of his writing rendered it unnecessary to refute the statements of a convicted man. At any rate, he was soon occupied with another production of similar aim. In 1602 Bishop Bancroft was busily collecting the materials, in the form of sworn statements, for the exposure of Catholic pretenders. He turned the material over to his chaplain. Whether the several examinations of Roman exorcists and their subjects were the result of a new interest in exposing exorcism on the part of the powers which had sent Darrel to prison, or whether they were merely a phase of increased vigilance against the activity of the Roman priests, we cannot be sure. The first conclusion does not seem improbable. Be that as it may, the court of high commission got hold of evidence enough to justify the privy council in authorizing a full publication of the testimony. Harsnett was deputed to write the account of the Catholic exorcists which was brought out in 1603 under the title of A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures. We have not the historical materials with which to verify the claims made in the book. On the face of it the case against the Roman priests looks bad. A mass of examinations was printed which seem to show that the Jesuit Weston and his confreres in England had been guilty of a great deal of jugglery and pretence. The Jesuits, however, were wiser in their generation than the Puritans and had not made charges of witchcraft. For that reason their performances may be passed over.
Neither the pretences of the Catholics nor the refutation of them are very important for our purposes. The exposure of John Darrel was of significance, because it involved the guilt or innocence of the women he accused as witches, as well as because the ecclesiastical authorities took action against him and thereby levelled a blow directly at exorcism and possession and indirectly at loose charges of witchcraft. Harsnett's books were the outcome of this affair and the ensuing exposures of the Catholics, and they were more significant than anything that had gone before. The Church of England had not committed itself very definitely on witchcraft, but its spokesman in the attack upon the Catholic pretenders took no uncertain ground. He was skeptical not only about exorcism but about witchcraft as well. It is refreshing and inspiriting to read his hard-flung and pungent words. "Out of these," he wrote, "is shaped us the true Idea of a Witch, an old weather-beaten Croane, having her chinne and her knees meeting for age, walking like a bow leaning on a shaft, hollow-eyed, untoothed, furrowed on her face, having her lips trembling with the palsie, going mumbling in the streetes, one that hath forgotten her pater noster, and hath yet a shrewd tongue in her head, to call a drab, a drab. If shee have learned of an olde wife in a chimnies end: Pax, max, fax, for a spel: or can say Sir John of Grantams curse, for the Millers Eeles, that were stolne: ... Why then ho, beware, looke about you my neighbours; if any of you have a sheepe sicke of the giddies, or an hogge of the mumps, or an horse of the staggers, or a knavish boy of the schoole, or an idle girle of the wheele, or a young drab of the sullens, and hath not fat enough for her porredge, nor her father and mother butter enough for their bread; and she have a little helpe of the Mother, Epilepsie, or Cramp, ... and then with-all old mother Nobs hath called her by chaunce 'idle young huswife,' or bid the devil scratch her, then no doubt but mother Nobs is the witch.... Horace the Heathen spied long agoe, that a Witch, a Wizard, and a Conjurer were but bul-beggers to scare fooles.... And Geoffry Chaucer, who had his two eyes, wit, and learning in his head, spying that all these brainlesse imaginations of witchings, possessings, house-hanting, and the rest, were the forgeries, cosenages, Imposturs, and legerdemaine of craftie priests, ... writes in good plaine terms."
It meant a good deal that Harsnett took such a stand. Scot had been a voice crying in the wilderness. Harsnett was supported by the powers in church and state. He was, as has been seen, the chaplain of Bishop Bancroft, now-from 1604-to become Archbishop of Canterbury. He was himself to become eminent in English history as master of Pembroke Hall (Cambridge), vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, Bishop of Chichester, Bishop of Norwich, and Archbishop of York. Whatever support he had at the time-and it is very clear that he had the backing of the English church on the question of exorcism-his later position and influence must have given great weight not only to his views on exorcism but to his skepticism about witchcraft.
His opinions on the subject, so far as can be judged by his few direct statements and by implications, were quite as radical as those of his predecessor. As a matter of fact he was a man who read widely and had pondered deeply on the superstition, but his thought had been colored by Scot. His assault, however, was less direct and studied than that of his master. Scot was a man of uncommonly serious temperament, a plain, blunt-spoken, church-going Englishman who covered the whole ground of superstition without turning one phrase less serious than another. His pupil, if so Harsnett may be called, wrote earnestly, even aggressively, but with a sarcastic and bitter humor that entertained the reader and was much less likely to convince. The curl never left his lips. If at times a smile appeared, it was but an accented sneer. A writer with a feeling indeed for the delicate effects of word combination, if his humor had been less chilled by hate, if his wit had been of a lighter and more playful vein, he might have laughed superstition out of England. When he described the dreadful power of holy water and frankincense and the book of exorcisms "to scald, broyle and sizzle the devil," or "the dreadful power of the crosse and sacrament of the altar to torment the devill and to make him roare," or "the astonishable power of nicknames, reliques and asses ears," he revealed a faculty of fun-making just short of effective humor.
It would not be fair to leave Harsnett without a word on his place as a writer. In point of literary distinction his prose style maintains a high level. In the use of forceful epithet and vivid phrase he is excelled by no Elizabethan prose writer. Because his writings deal so largely with dry-as-dust reports of examinations, they have never attained to that position in English literature which parts of them merit.
Harsnett's book was the last chapter in the story of Elizabethan witchcraft and exorcism. It is hardly too much to say that it was the first chapter in the literary exploitation of witchcraft. Out of the Declaration Shakespeare and Ben Jonson mined those ores which when fused and refined by imagination and fancy were shaped into the shining forms of art. Shakespearean scholars have pointed out the connection between the dramatist and the exposer of exorcism. It has indeed been suggested by one student of Shakespeare that the great playwright was lending his aid by certain allusions in Twelfth Night to Harsnett's attempts to pour ridicule on Puritan exorcism. It would be hard to say how much there is in this suggestion. About Ben Jonson we can speak more certainly. It is clearly evident that he sneered at Darrel's pretended possessions. In the third scene of the fifth act of The Devil is an Ass he makes Mere-craft say:
It is the easiest thing, Sir, to be done.
As plaine as fizzling: roule but wi' your eyes,
And foame at th' mouth. A little castle-soape
Will do 't, to rub your lips: And then a nutshell,
With toe and touchwood in it to spit fire,
Did you ner'e read, Sir, little Darrel's tricks,
With the boy o' Burton, and the 7 in Lancashire,
Sommers at Nottingham? All these do teach it.
And wee'l give out, Sir, that your wife ha's bewitch'd you.
This is proof enough, not only that Jonson was in sympathy with the Anglican assailants of Puritan exorcism, but that he expected to find others of like opinion among those who listened to his play. And it was not unreasonable that he should expect this. It is clear enough that the powers of the Anglican church were behind Harsnett and that their influence gave his views weight. We have already observed that there were some evidences in the last part of Elizabeth's reign of a reaction against witch superstition. Harsnett's book, while directed primarily against exorcism, is nevertheless another proof of that reaction.