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John Dee: True and Faithful Relation, (excerpts)

This digital edition by Joseph H. Peterson, Copyright © 2003, 2005. All rights reserved.



WHAT is here presented unto thee (Christian Reader) being a True and Faithful Relation, &c. (as the Title beareth, and will be further cleared by this Preface) though by the carriage of it, in some respects, and by the Nature at it too, it might be deemed and termed, A Work of Darknesse: Yet it is no other then what with great tendernesse and circumspection, was tendered to men of highest Dignity in Europe, Kings and Princes, and by all (England excepted) listned unto for a while with good respect. By some gladly embraced and entertained for a long time; the Fame whereof being carryed unto Rome, it made the Pope to bestir himself, not knowing what the event of it might be, and how much it mjght concern him. And indeed, filled all men, Learned and Unlearned in most places with great wonder and astonishment: all which things will be shewed and made good (to the utmost of what we have said), in the Contents of this book, by unquestionable Records and evidences. And therefore I make no question but there will be men enough found in the world whose curiosity will lead them to Read what I think is not to be parallell’d in that Kind by any book that hath been set out in any Age to read: I say, though it be to no other end then to satisfie their curiosity. But whatsoever other men, according to their several inclinations, may propose to themselves in the reading of it, yet I may and must here professe in the first place, in Truth and Sincerity, that the end that I propose to my self (so far as I have contributed to the Publishing of the Work) is not to satisfie curiosity, but to do good, and promote Religion. When we were first acquainted with the Book, and were offered the reading of it, having but lately been conversant in a Subject of much Affinity; to wit, of Mistaken Inspiration and Possession, through ignorance of Natural causes (which labour of ours, as it was our aime at the first in publishing of it, to do good, so we have had good reason since to believe, that we did not altogether misse of what we aimed at) we could not but gladly accept of it. And as we gladly accepted, so we read unto the end with equal eagernesse and Alacrity: Which when we had done, truly it was our Opinion, That the Publishing of it could not but be very Seasonable and Useful, as against Atheists at all times, so in these Times especially, when the Spirit of Error and Illusion, not in profest Anabaptists only, even of the worst lind that former Ages have known and abhorred, doth so much prevail, but in many also, who though they disclaim and detest openly (and heartily too, I hope, most of them) the fruits and effects that such causes have produced in others, yet ground themselves neverthelesse upon the same principles of Supposed Inspiration and imaginary Revelations; and upon that account deem themselves, if not the Only, yet much better Christians then others.  And I was much Confirmed in this Judgment when I was told (as indeed I was, at the first, by them that knew very well) that the Most Reverend, Pious and Learned Archbishop of Armagh, lately deceased [2] deceased, upon reading of the said book, before his death, had declared himself to the same purpose, and wished it Printed. But because it is very possible, that every Reader will not at the first be so well able of himself to make that good use by good and Rational Inferences and Observations of this sad Story as is aimed at, my chiefest aim in this Preface is to help such. And because it is not lesse probable that this Licentious Age will afford very many, who with the Saduces of old (that is, Jewish Epicures) believe no Spirit, or Angel, or Resurrection; who therefore being prepossessed with prejudice when they hear of so many Spirits as are here mentioned, and so many strange Apparitions, in several Kinds, will not only fling back themselves, but will be ready to laugh at any other that give any credit to such things. Although I will not take upon me to convert any by Reason that are engaged into such an opinion by a wicked life, that is, Unjust practises, Luxurious lewd courses, open profanenesse, under the name of Wit and Galantry, and the like, because, I think, it is very just with God to leave such to the error and blindnesse of their Judgments; so that without a Miracle there can be little hopes of such. Yet I shall hope that such as are Rational men, sober in their Lives and Conversations, such as I have known my self; yea, men of excellent parts in other things, men that are both willing to hear and able to consider: that such, I say, may receive some satisfaction by what I shall say and propose to their Ingenuous consideration in this matter. Were we to argue the case by Scripture, the businesse would soon be at an end; there being no one Controverted point among men, that I know of, that can receive a more Ample, Full, Clear and speedy determination, then this business of Spirits, and Witches, and Apparitions may, if the Word of God might be Judge. But I will suppose that I have to do with such, who though they do not altogether deny the Word of God, yet will not easily, however, admit of any thing that they think contrary to Reason, or at least not to be maintained by Reason. I shall therefore forbear all Scripture Proofs and Testimonies in this particular, and desire the Christian Reader (who otherwise might justly take offence) to take notice upon what ground it is that I forbear.

But though I will not use any Scripture for proof, yet by way of Application I hope I may be allowed to use some Scripture words, which may direct us perchance to a good Method in the examination of this businesse. The Apostle saith in a place, [Greek quote omitted]: (professing themselves to be wise, they became fools) I shall not enquire of whom, and upon what occasion it was spoken: I draw no argument from it; only because there is a shew of great Wisdom in this Opinion; and yet, as I conceive, as much of Error and falsehood (that is, Folly, as the word is often used) as in any other false opinion that is lesse popular. I will frame my discourse to this issue, first, to enquire what it is that makes it so popular and plausible, among them especially that pretend to more then ordinary Wisdom; and then secondly, lay it open (as I am able) to the view in its right colours, that the Folly or falshood of it may be discernable even to ordinary judgments.

First then, (as for them that deny Spirits, &c.) we say, The world is full of imposture; to know this, to observe it in all Trades, in all Professions, in all ranks and degrees of men, is to know the world, and that is to be wise. Though we call them Juglers, yet they deserve to be thought the plainest dealing men of the world that shew their tricks openly in the streets for money; for they professe what they are. They are the truest Juglers that do their feats (and they for mony [3] too, most of them) under the veil and Reputation of Holinesse, sanctity, (or Saintship) Religion, Virtue, Justice, Friendship; fine words to catch men that are of easie Belief, and thinks that every thing that glisters must needs be gold.  Hence it is, that men that have had the Reputation of Wise men in the world, have commended this unto us as greatest Wisdom, NOT EASILY TO BELIEVE: [Greek quote omitted] Epicharmus got more credit for this one saying (and hath done more good too, perchance) then many that have been the Authors of vast Volumes. Now if those things that are exposed to sense, the proper Objects of our Eyes and Eares, be lyable to so much Imposture and Deceit, that the wisest can scarce know what to believe: How much more caution do we need in those things that are so much above Sense, and in some respects contrary to Sense (and that is Spirits) that we be not deceived? If we consider the Nature of man, his Bodily frame, the Affections of his soul, the Faculties of his mind, we shall have no occasion at all to wonder if most men are apt to believe and to be cheated. But as no cause to wonder, so as little cause to imitate: Felix qui rerum potuit cognoscere causas! [Greek omitted], a desire of, or to strange things that may cause amazement, is the proper affection of the vulgar, that is, of most men, which they bring into the world with them, (it is the observation of the wisest of men that have written concerning the affairs and actions of men) and cannot be rid of but by wisdom, which is the happinesse of few: Errandi, non necessitas tantum, sed amor. Seneca somewhere speaking of the Nature of Man; There was a time when the world was much governed by Oracles; private men went unto them as unto God, Kings and Princes sent unto them to be advised about greatest matters: and so much faith was ascribed unto them, generally, that the very word became a Proverb appliable unto those things, whereof no question can be made. Yet those very ancient Heathens, that tell us of these Oracles, tell us of their vanity; and though they say not, That all were false and counterfeit, yet whilest they acknowledg it of some, they give us just occasion to suspect that it might have been found as true of the rest also, had like care been taken to examine the truth of them also.

Again, there was a time (and that time not many hundred years yet past) when Miracles were the only discourse and delight of men: Ghosts and Spirits were in every house; and so prone were men to receive what was delivered unto them in that kind, that Miracle-makers were much put to it, not to make their stories probable, (for that was not stood upon) but to make them wonderful enough; insomuch that some have been forced to complain publickly of the credulity of the people,[1] who yet themselves tell us much more, I dare say, then was ever true. As for Miracles, so of Exorcismes: How many Divels and Spirits have been driven out of men and women, supposed to be possessed, by solemn Exorcismes, to the great wonder of the beholders, which afterwards upon further search and examination, have been convicted to have been nothing but the artifices and subtil contrivances of men? Sentences and Judgments have passed upon such cheats when they have been discovered in most places of Europe, which have been published. But they have done strange things though (some that were thought possessed) and things impossible, to ordinary sense, to be done by Nature. It is very true, some have: But they that know what strange things may be done to the amazement [4] of all not acquainted with such mysteries, by long Use and Custome, they will not easily wonder (so as to make a supernatural thing of it) though they see things, which, to their sight and of most, cannot but seem very wonderful, and almost impossible. As for the bodily temper of man and of his Brain, it hath been sufficiently by some late books of that subject (Enthusiasme) both by reasons from Nature, and by sundry examples proved, that a very little distemper or the brain, scarce discernable unto any, but those that are well versed in the study of Natural causes, is enough to represent Spirits, Angels and Divels, Sights and Stories of Heaven and Hell to the Fancy: by which sober kind of Madnesse and deliration, so little understood vulgarly, many have been, and are daily deceived; and from these things, through the ignorance of men, strange things sometimes have ensued, and the peace of Common-weales hath suffered not a little.

Aristotle, in his Meteors, tells of one that alwayes saw (so he thought, at least) another man's shape before his eyes, and how they happened unto him naturally, he gives a reason. Hippocrates, Peri parqeniwn, ( a very short Discourse, but full of excellent matter) sheweth how some, both men and women, through Natural causes, come to fancy to themselves that they see daimonaz, Divels and Spirits, and to be tormented in their Souls, even to the making away of themselves by their own hands. The Author of the book, De Morbo Sacro, (very ancient too, but not right Hyppocrates, as many are of opinion) hath excellent matter too, to the same purpose; but I have not the book at this time by me. Hyppocrates (where before) sheweth how many in that case were gulled by the Priests of those times, making them believe, That this happened to them through the anger of some god. "They that are verst in the Opticks know, That there is a way, through the help of glasses that shall not be seen, to make moving shadows that shall appear like Ghosts, to the great terror of the ignorant beholder: and it is said, That pretended Astrologers and Fortune-tellers cheat many by those sights.” It is the opinion of some Jewish Rabbins, That what Ghosts or Souls are raised by Necromancy, they alwayes appear inverso corpore, that is, their head downwards and feet upwards. .Though nothing is to be wondered at in Rabbins, who (commonly) are as full of ridiculous conceits as ever came into the head of any Bedlam: Yet my opinion is, "That the first ground, of this wild conceit was, some appearance by the Species of an object, gathered through a little glasse into a dark room. For fo indeed the objects must appear inverso corpore if it be done in a high room, and the objects from whence the Spiecies are gathered be lower then the glasse through which they passe. And the reason of it is very Demonstrable to the sight of any reasonable man. Certainly, by this secret (which yet is no great secret, being commonly seen and practised among them that are any thing curious) strange things may be done by a Cunning-man, to their great amazement that know not the cause. There would be no end if I should attempt to gather from several Authors what hath been invented by men, and what may be done by Art to cheat men in matters of this nature. Let any man, that is yet a stranger to it, but read the life of Alexander the false Prophet, or Prognosticator, written by Lucian, and he shall see notable examples of successful Cheats and Impostures, scarse credible indeed, but that the thing was yet then fresh and famous, and that all circumstances of History [5] History confirm the truth of the relation. And let him that reads it judge, what dull and dry fellows the Mountebank-Astrologers, Prognosticators and Fortune-tellers of there dayes are, to this Noble, Renowned Alexander. Only let him know that reads, that Lucian was a profest Atheist, and therefore no wonder if he find Epicurus spoken of with great respect, whom all Atheists, and Atheistically inclined are so much obliged to honour. This excepted, I think, the Story is very worthy to be known, and much more worthy to be read by all men (considering the good use that may be made of it) then many books that are daily translated out of other languages.

But lastly, If there were any such thing, really as Divels and Spirits that use to appear unto men, to whom should they (probably) sooner appear, then to such as daily call upon them, and devote their Souls and Bodies unto them by dreadful Oaths and Imprecations? And again, then to such, who through damnable curiosity have many times used the means (the best they could find in books, by Magical Circles, Characters and Invocations) and yet never, neither the one nor the other saw any thing?

I have said as much as I mean to say (though somewhat perchance might be added) to shew the plausiblenesse of the opinion, in opposition to vulgar apprehensions and capacities, whereby (as I conceive, for I have not wittingly omitted any thing that I thought material) it chiefly intitles it self to wisdom, and more then ordinary prudence, which all men generally are ambitious of. Yet I would not have it thought that all men that hold this conclusion, That there be no Spirits, &c. go so rationally to work, or can give this account or any other more rational and plausible for what they hold. God knows there be many in the world, men of no learning, and mean capacities, who can speak as peremptorily as the best, not because they have considered of it, and understand the grounds of either opinion, but because they know, or have heard it is the opinion of  some Learned, and they hope they shall be thought learned too if they hold with them. Besides an ordinary (for some have been learned) Epicurean, who makes it his Motto (to himself and in his heart) [Greek quote omitted]: and seeks his ease in this world (... their own word, which imports Tranquility both of mind and body; a good word but ill applyed) as his summum bonum, or chiefest happinesse: It is a great ease to him when any strange things doth happen by Witches, Wizards and the like; and other some to satisfie their faith, others their reason and curiosity, are put to it to enquire of men by conference, and to search into books ancient and late, Sacred and Profane, and all little enough. A great ease, I say, for him, then, and upon all such occasions, to possesse his Soul in secure ignorance, and to save his credit (yea, and to gain credit with some) by barely saying, Fabula est, I do not believe it. We shall hear some of them by and by acknowledf, in effect, as much as I have said: I impose nothing upon them. I will not take upon me to judge of a book that I never read; I cannot say that I ever saw it. But because I have heard some men magnifie an English book written of this subject to prove there be no Witches, I will impart unto the Reader that hath not observed it, the judgment of one of the Learnedst men that ever England saw (I wish he had been more gently dealt with when time was) of that book, whereby it may appear (if his judgment be right, as I am very inclinable to believe, [6] because of his great Learning, and wonted circumspection in his censures) what great undertakers many men are upon very little ground, and how prone others to extol what doth favour their cause, though to the prejudice of their better judgments, if they would judge impartially. Dr. Rainolds in those elaborate Prælectiones de libris Apocryphis, where he doth censure some opinions of Bodinus as prejudicial to the Christian Faith. Reginaldus Scotus, nostras, (saith he) qui contrariam Bodino insanit insaniam, ait Papistas confiteri, non posse Demonas ne audire quidem nomen Jehovæ. Acceperat ille à Bodino, & attribuit Papistis in genere, tanquam omnes Papistæ in eo conspirarent. Pergit ipse, & quoniam animadverterat quasdam fæminas maleficas, aliquando istius modi narrationes ementiri, putavit omnia esse ficta; ex imperitia Dialecticæ, & aliarum bonarum artium: Ut qui nullo judicio, nulla methoda, nulla optimarum artium scientiâ, eodem modo aggressus sit hanc rem, quomodo Poeta loquitur,

----- Tenet insatiabile quosdam Scribendi cacoëthes:

& eodem prorsus modo ratiocinatur, &c. We have been the more willing to produce this passage out of the writings of that Learned man, because we also in our answers may have occasion to say somewhat to the same purpose; not of that Author or his book, which he judgeth, any thing, but of the ground upon which he builded, which we shall find to be the same upon which others also, that deny Spirits have gone upon. But we will go Methodically to work, and take every thing in order, as we have proposed in the objections.

First, We said, The world was full of Imposture. It is granted, of Impostors and Impostures. But what then shall the conclusion be, That therefore there is no truth in the world, or at least not to be attained unto by mortal man? Truly, many books of old have been written to that effect. Sextus Empiricus is yet extant, a very learned book it cannot be denied, and of excellent use for the understanding of ancient Authors, Phylosophers especially. I could name some Christians also, by profession, men of great learning that have gone very far that way. But this will not be granted by some I am sure that are or have been thought great oppugners of the common opinion about Witches and Spirits; some Physicians I mean, and Naturalists by their profession. But may not we argue as plausibly against that which they professe, as they have done or can do against Spirits and Apparitions? We would be loath to make so long a digression; we have had occasion elsewhere to say somewhat to this purpose: and they that will be so curious may see what hath been written by Cornel. Agrippa (who is very large upon this subject) about it, not to name any others. It is not yet a full twelve-moneth, that a friend of mine, a Gentleman of quality, brought his Lade to London (some 60 miles and upwards from his ordinary dwelling) to have the advice of Physicians about his wife (a very Virtuous and Religious Lady) troubled with a weak stomack and ill digestion, which caused grievous symptoms. I think he had the advice of no lesse then a dozen first and last: I am sure he named unto me five or six of the chiefest in Credit and practice that the Town affordeth. Not one of them did agree in their opinions, either concerning the Cause, or the means to be used for a Cure. So that the Gentleman went away more unsatisfied then he came. What he did I know not: I know what some men would have inferred upon this. Yet I, for my part, for the benefit that I have received by it, and the effects that I have seen of [7] it, both upon my self, and others in my life-time, upon several occasions (where learned Artists, not Empiricks have been employed) though all the world should be of another opinion, I think my self bound. to honour, as the profession, so all Learned, Ingenious Professors of it: and I make no question but the worst of Agrippa's objections, by any man of competent judgment and experience, may easily be answered. I say therefore that as in other things of the world, so in matters of Spirits and Apparitions, though lyable to much error and imposture, yet it doth not follow but there may be reality of truth and certainly discernable unto them that will take the pains to search things unto the bottom, where truth commonly is to be found, and are naturally endowed with competent judgments to discern between specious arguments and solidity of truth.

But this proveth nothing. No: but the removing of this common objection may dispose the Reader, I hope, to consider of what we have to say with lesse prejudice. And that shall be our next task what we have to say for Spirits, &c. before we come to particular Objections. Wherein neverthelesse I will be no longer then I must at this time, because I shall have a more proper place in two several Tractates, the one whereof hath been a long time in loose notes and papers, not yet digested, to wit, my Second Part of Enthusiasme: the other, in my head yet wholly, but in better readinesse to be brought to light, because of later conception, to wit A Discourse of Credulity and Incredulity, in things Natural, Civil and Divine, or Theological. We , shall meet there with many cases not so necessary here to be spoken of, which will help very much to clear this business.

¶ But here I say, first of all, It is a Maxim of Aristotle's the great Oracle of Nature, which many have taken notice of, and applyed to their several purposes: [Greek quote omitted] That which is generally believed, is most likely to be true. Who also in another place of the same book doth approve the saying of Hesiod, [Greek quote omitted] Now if any opinion whereof question is made can justly pretend to a general assent and consent of all people, places, ages of the world, I think, nay, I know, and it will be proved that this of Witches, Spirits, and Apparitions may. I do not know scarce any ancient book extant of Philosopher or Historian (the Writings of professed Epicureans excepted, of Aristotle we shall give an account by and by) but doth afford some pregnant relation, testimony or passage to the confirmation of this truth. I dare say, should a man collect the relations and testimonies out of several Authors and books (that are come to our knowledge) within the compasse of two thousand years, of Authors well accounted of, generally, and whose testimonies (Historians especially) we receive in other things; a man might make a book of the biggest size and form that ordinary books (which we call Folioes) are. It is true, many Authors may write one thing which may prove false, as the famous history of the Phenix, perchance, or some such; but upon examination it will appear that those many take all from one or two at the most, who first delivered it. They add nothing in confirmation of their own knowledge or experience. But here it is quite otherwise; those many Authors that I speak of (Historians especially of several ages) they tell us [8] us different things that hapned in their own times, in divers places of the world: and of many of them we may say they were such as knew little of former books, or stories of other Nations but their own. Within these 200 years the world, we know, by the benefit of Navigation hath been more open and known then before; yea, a great part of the world discovered that was not known before. I have read many books, the best I could meet with in several Languages, of divers Voyages into all parts of the world: I have conversed with many Travellers, whom I judged sober and discreet. I never read any book of that argument, nor yet met with man, that I have had the opportunity to confer with, but was able of his own knowledg to say somewhat whereby my belief of there things might be confirmed.

Now for the Epicureans (of all Philosophers the most inconsiderable in matters of knowledg, as former ages have described them) no man need to wonder if they denyed those things which by the solemn engagement of their Sect they were bound and resolved, notwithstanding any sight or sense, experience or evidence to the contrary, not to believe, at least not to acknowledg. This doth clearly appear by one that may be believed (though I have met with it in more) in such things: Lucian (himself a profest Epicurean Atheist) who doth commend Democritus, Epicurus and Metrodorus (the most famous of that Sect) for their [Greek quote omitted], as he calls it, their fixed, irrevokeable, unconquerable resolution, when they saw any strange thing that by others was admired as miraculous, if they could find the cause or give a probable guesse, well and good, if not, yet not to depart from their first resolution, and still to believe and to maintain that it was false and impossible: It is a notable passage, and which excellent use may be made of. I will therefore set down his own words for their sake that understand the Language: -- [Greek quote omitted] (speaking of some of Alexander the false Prophet his devices) [Greek quote omitted].[2] Who doubts that this is the resolution of many also in these dayes, not of them only who are Epicureans, whose manner of living (as we have said before) doth engage them to this opinion, but of others also, who think it not for their credit (the vanity of which belief nevertheless might easily appear, there being nothing so mean and ordinary in the world wherein the Wisdom of the wisest, in the consideration of the causes, by the confession of best Naturalists, may not be posed) to believe any thing that they cannot give a probable reason of. Not to be wondred then if we see many, notwithstanding daily experience to the contrary, to stick so close to those tenets which they have wedded themselves unto with so firm a resolution from the beginning, never to leave them, be they right or wrong.

As for Aristotle, I confesse his authority is very great with me; not because I am superstitiously addicted to any of his opinions, which I shall ever be ready to forsake when better shall be shewed unto me; but because [9] besides the judgment of all accounted wise and learned in former ages) I am convicted in my judgment, that so much solid reason in all Arts and Sciences never issued from mortal man (known unto us by his writings) without supernaturall illumination. Well: Aristotle doth not acknowledg Spirits, he mentions them not in any place. Let it be granted: And why should it be a wonder to any man that knows the drift and purpose of Aristotle’s Phylosophy? He lived when Plato lived; he had been his fellow Scholer under Socrates, and for some time his Scholer; but afterward s he became his temulus [?], and pleased himself very much to oppose his Doctrine, insomuch as he is censured by some Ancients for his ingratitude. The truth is, Plato’s writings are full of Prodigies, Apparitions of Souls, pains of Hell and Purgatory, Revelations of the gods, and the like. Wherein he is so bold that he is fain to excuse himself sometimes, and doth not desire that any man should believe him, according to the letter of his relations, but in gross only, that somewhat was true to that effect. lndeed he hath many divine passages, yea, whole Treatises, that can never be sufficiently admired in their kind, but too full of tales, for a Phylosopher, it cannot be denyed. Aristotle therefore resolved upon a quite contrary way: He would meddle with nothing but what had some apparent ground in Nature. Not that he precisely denyed all other things, but because he did not think that it was the part of a Phylosopher to meddle with those things that no probable reason could be given of. This doth clearly appear by a Divine passage of his, De part. anim. l.1. c. 5. where he divides Substances in [Greek quote omitted], Eternal and Incorruptible, that is, in effect, Spiritual (For even Spirits that were created might be termed [Greek], that is, properly, That have not their beginning by Generation; but we will easily grant, that the creation of Angels, good or bad, was not known to Aristotle: (we may understand Gods and Intelligences) and those, that [Greek], that is, are mortals. He goes on, As for Divine Substances, which we honour, we can say but little of them, though we desire it, because so little of them is exposed to sense [and Reason.] Mortal things that we are familiarly acquainted and daily converse with, we may know if we take pains. But much more should we rejoice in the knowledg (yea though we know but a very little part) of things Divine for their excellency, then in the knowledg of these worldly things though never so perfect and general But the comfort that we have of them (which doth make some amends) is the certainty, and that they come within the compasse of Sciences. What could be said more Divinely by a man that had nothing by revelation? Truly, there appeareth unto me (if I may speak without offence and misconstruction) more Divinity in those words, then in some books that pretend to nothing else. Add to this another place of his in his Metaphysicks, where he saith, That though things supernatural be of themselves clear and certain, yet to us they are not so, who see them only with Owles eyes. Can we say then that Aristotle denyed those things that he forbore to write of, because they were (their natures and their qualities) above the knowledg of man? Neither is it absolutely true that Aristotle never wrote of Spirits and Apparitions. Cicero in his first book De Divinatione, hath a long story out of him of a shape or Spirit that appeared in a dream to one Eudemus (his familiar friend and [10] acquaintance) and foretold him strange things that came to passe. Clemens Alexandrinus hath a strange story out of him, of a Magical Ring, one or two, which Excestus, King of the Phocenses did use, and foresaw things future by them. It is to be found and seen among the fragments of Aristotles works. And that he did not deny Witches, may appear by that mention he makes of them in more then one place. How much he ascribed to common report and experience, though no reason could be given, doth appear by his Preface to his Treatise De Divinatione per insomnia: where he proposeth the case, how hard it is for a rational man to believe any thing upon report which he can see no reason for; nay, which seemeth contrary to reason: as, for a man to foretel by dream what shall happen in another Kingdome far off without any apparent cause. But on the other side, saith he, not less hard to deny that which all men, or most men, do believe, to wit, that there be such predictions. For to say (his own words) that such dreams come from God, besides what else might be objected (which might easily be understood by them that understand his Doctrine) it is most unreasonable to believe that God would send them to men either, vitious in their lives, or idiots and fools, of all men the most vile and contemptible, who have been observed so have such dreams oftner then better and wiser men. So leaving the business undetermined, he doth proceed to the consideration of those Prophetick dreams, for which some probable reason may be given. Yet in the second Chapter he saith directly, That though dreams be not [Greek], yet they may be perchance daimonia,[3] for such he acknowledges Nature to be, not qeian, but daimonian only. I will not enquire further into the meaning of these words; it is not to be done in few words. It plainly appears that nothing troubled him so much (for he repeats the objection twice or thrice) as that God should be thought to favour either wicked men or fools. I wish no worse Doctrine had ever been Printed of Preached concerning God. But still let it be remembered that he knew of no Divine Word or Revelation. Yet Jul. Schaliger in his Commentaries upon Hypocrates De Infomniis, doth wonder that Aristotle should stick so much at this, and seems himself to give a reason grounded in Nature. Indeed he saith somewhat as to the case of fools and idiots, but nothing (that I remember) that reacheth to wicked men also. Let these things be considered, and let the Reader judge of how different temper Aristotle was from that of ancient or later Epicures. This mention of Aristotle and Plato puts me in mind of Socrates their Master, his Familiar Spirit; no Shape but a Voice only, by which his life and actions were much directed. The thing is attested by so many, so grave Authors whereof some lived at the very time, others not long after, or in times not very remote, that I know not how it can be questioned by any man. Neither indeed is it, that I remember, by any Heathens or Christians of ancient times, and there have been books written of it, divers, in Greek and Latine, whereof some are yet extant. But whether it were a good Spirit or an evil, some men have doubted, and it is free for any man to think what he pleaseth of it. For my part I ever had a Reverend opinion of Socrates, [11] and do believe (if there be no impiety in it, as I hope not) that he was, as among Heathens in some respect, a fore-runner of Christ, to dispose them the better when the time should come to imbrace (and it did it effectually) the Gospel. Many other Phylosophers, that have been of greatest fame, were certainly great Magicians, as Orpheus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, and the like, as by those things that have been written of them by several ancient authors may be collected. But above all I give the pre-eminence to Apollonius Thianeus,[4] a man of later times, and of whom we may speak with more confidence and certainty. This was the man whom ancient Heathens very tenacious of their former worship and superstitions, did pitch upon to oppose unto Christ. His Life hath been written by divers, four of them were joyned together and opposed to the four Gospels: and Hierocles, a famous Phylosopher of those times, made a Collation of his Miracles with those of Christs, who was answered by Eusebius, yet extant. Sure it is, they prevailed so much, that he was for a long time worshipped by many, and in sundry places as a very God; yea, by some Roman Emperors, as we find in History. Philostratus hath written his life in very elegant stile (as Photius judged) in 8 books, which are extant. And though they contain many fabulous things, as any man may expect by the undertaking, yet have they so much truth and variety of ancient learning that I think they deserve to be better known then commonly they are; but cannot be understood, I am sure, as they should be, by any translation either Latine or French that ever I saw: For the Paris Edition, though it boast of great things (as the manner is) yet how little was performed may easily appear unto any that will take the pains to compare it with the former edition of Aldus: Which I speak not to find fault, but because I wish that some able man would undertake the work; there is not any book, by the Translations yet extant, that more needeth it. What use Scaliger made of him, may appear by his frequent quotations in his Notes upon Eusebius, in the History of those times. As for Appollonius his Miracles or wonderful Acts (which is our businesse here) though many things have been added, some, probably, done by Imposture, yet I do not see how it can be doubted but he did many strange things by the help of Spirits, which things may be judged by due observation of circumstances; as for example, That being convented before: Domitian the Emperor in the presence of many, he presently vanished and was seen a great way off (at Puteoli I think) about the same time. That at the very time when Domitian was killed at Rome, he spake of it publickly and of the manner of it at Ephesus: and so of many others, which seem to me (as unto most) almost unquestionable. The greatest wonder to me is, that such was his port and outward appearance of Sanctity and Simplicity, that even Christians have thought reverently of him, and believed that he did his wonders by the power of God, or by secret Philosophy and knowledg of Nature not revealed unto other men. So Justine Martyr, one of the ancient Fathers of the Church judged of him, and before that, as also the Emperors themselves, many of them, were great Magicians and Necromancers, as may [12] easily appear, partly by their own writings, and partly by the History of those times.

I do verv much wonder whether any man, being a Scholer, and not strongly prepossessed, that doth not believe Spirits, &c. can say that he ever read the books of Tryals and Confessions of Witches and Wizards, such I mean, as have been written by learned and judicious men. Such as, for example, I account Nichol. Remigius, his Demonolatria: ex judiciis capitalibus 900 plus minus hominim, &c. grounded especially upon the Confessions and Condemnations of no lesse then 900 men and women in Lorraine within the compasse of few years. That he was a learned man, I think no body will deny that hath read him; and that he was no very credulous and superstitious man (though a Papist) that also is most certain: and I have wondred at his liberty many times. I know not how it is now in those places; but by what I have read and heard of the doings of Witches and Sorcerers in Geneva and Savoy in former times (“I could say somewhat of my self, how my life was preserved there very strangely, but my witnesses are not, and I will not bring their credit in question for such a business.”) I am of opinion, that he that should have maintained there that there was no such thing as Witches, or Spirits, &c. would have been thought by most either mad and brain-sick, so frequent and visible were the effects to sober eyes) or a Witch himself. For indeed it is ordinary enough, that those that are so really, are very willing (which deceiveth many) to be thought Impostors, and there is good reason for it: I should sooner suspect him an Impostor that doth professe himself (except it be by way of confession, as many have done) and is ambitious to be counted a Witch or Sorcerer. I remember I saw a book some years ago, intituled, De l’inconstance des mauvais Anges & Demons, printed at Paris 1612. in quarto, and another of the same Author, and size, intituled, L'incredulite & mescrauce du sortilege, Paris 1642. Strange stories are told there of a Province of France about that time (or little before) marvellously infested with Witches and Sorcerers, insomuch that people did not know one another (in some one place) in the streets, by reason of evil Spirits appearing publickly in the shape of men; and that the proceedings of justice (which doth not happen often) were sometimes disturbed by them. I think the Author himself was one that was sent to the place by the King with some authority, and to make report. But as I do not altogether trust my memory, having had but a sight of the books (it was at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard:) So I beseech the Reader not to rest upon this account that I give him upon my best remembrance, but to peruse the books himself. I am confident he may receive good satisfaction, being things that were not done in a corner, but very publickly and well attested as I remember. however the reader must give me leave (though it be not to this purpose, lest my silence be drawn to the prejudice of the truth) to tell him, that I met with one great falshood there concerning my own father (of Bl. M.) which I had abundantly refuted, and all other of that nature, when I was yet very young. But that (as I conceive) which in all these stories would most puzzle a rational man, is the signes which are set [13] down by many how witches may be known, as Teats, swimming upon the water, dry eyes, and the like: which things indeed have some ground of truth, being limited to particular times and places, but are not of general application. Mr. Vossius had therefore reason to find fauls with Springerus and Bodinus for making that a certain token of a Witch that she cannot weep.[5] Who also in the same place doth well except against the tryal of [Greek], as he calls it (commonly, purgation per aqua frigidam) condemned by many. But he had done well to have limited his exception, and to have shewed how, and when, and how far such observations may be used. For certainly they are not altogether to be neglected. But the reasons of such observations or marks that are given by some, are so ridiculous, that they would make a sober man (that hath not patience enough to ponder all things diligently) to suspect all the rest. So one tels us, that when the Cock croweth the solemn meetings of Witches (which opinion perchance may prove ancient enough, as we shall shew elsewhere) are dissolved: and he thinks a reason may be because of the crowing of the Cock in the Gospel, when St. Peter denyed Christ. Another tells us, That Witches being well beaten trunco vitis (with a Vine stick or club) Maleficia illata solvere sævillina coguntur, have no more force to do hurt, or, that the party bewitched recovereth. And the reason (he thinks, and yet he no ordinary man neither) ex mysterio vini & vineæ[6] dilectæ Deo, ex cujus mysterio quotidie Sacranebtum Sacrosancti Sanguinis Domini conficitur, &c. But I shall have a more proper place for the full examination of these things in one of- the two Treatises before mentioned. It cannot be denyed but this whole businesse of Witches, what through ignorance, what through malice, is very lyable to many mistakes and divers impostures. And it were to be wished that in all such Trials some prudent Divines, and learned experienced Physicians might be joyned. But hence to conclude with Wierius[7] (who neverthelesse doth acknowledg Spirits, and the Illusions and Apparitions of Divels, and their mischievous operations as much as any, and tells as strange things of them) and some others, that therefore there are no Witches and Sorcerers, is as if a man should deny the power of herbs because a thousand things have been written of them of old, and are yet daily falsely and superstitiously. And indeed it so fell out once in Rome, as by Plinie [Pliny] is recorded at large, Where when some ascribed such power unto Herbs, as though Sun and Moon had been subject unto them, the dead might be raised, armies vanquished, and what not! which was not very well relished by many: at last came Asclepiades, who perswaded men that were very well disposed to be perswaded, that all Physical use of Herbs and Simples was a meer cheat, and that men were better want them, there being other means easier and lesse troublesome to restore health and overcome diseases, which he professed to teach: and prevailed so far for a while, that they were laid aside, and a new course of Physick introduced. While for a while, as I said, (so prone are men commonly to entertain new divices) gave good content generally. It is well observed by Aristotle (and I think a great part of humane wisdome [14] dependeth on it) that in all things of the world that are commendable, as there is somewhat which is true and real, so somewhat also which is counterfeit and false. There is beauty Natural, saith he, and there is Artificial beauty by painting and trimming. A true, sound, healthy complexion, and that which makes a good shew, but is not sound. True, real gold and silver, but divers things also that may be taken for gold and silver at a distance, or by them that judge at the outward appearance. So, true, sound Ratiocination , and that which seems so to the unlearned, or to corrupt judgments, though it be very false. They that consider well of this, may the sooner come to the knowledg of truth in all things.

Well: we go on.

There was in Aix (Aquæ Sextiæ anciently, now Aquensis Civitas) in Provence (a County of France so called) in the year of the Lord 1611. a Romish Priest tryed, convicted, and by Sentence of the Court or Parliament condemned to be burned alive for abominable practises, and horrid things by him upon divers (some persons of quality) committed with and by the Divel. He had long desired it and sought it; at last the divel appeared to him in the habit of a Gentleman. The story is in divers books, French and Latine, and translated (at that time I believe) in divers languages. I would goe forty miles with all my heart to meet with that man that could tell me any thing whereby I might but probably be induced to believe, or at least to suspect, that there might be some mistake in the particulars of his Sentence. For my reason, I must confesse, was never more posed in any thing that ever I read of that nature. Gassendus indeed in Pereskius his life, hath somewhat (as I remember) of Pereskius his Opinion, as if he thought some of those things he confessed might be ascribed unto imagination; but I see no reason given: neither are the things of that nature, that can admit any such suspicion. Besides; Tristan, of the Lives of the Emperors and their Coynes, will tell you somewhat which may make a doubt, whether Gassendus ought to be believed in all things that he reporteth concerning that famous man. I am not very much satisfied of what Religion (though truly a very learned man) Gassendus was. And by the way (which is somewhat to the case of Witches in general) if I be not mistaken (for I have it not at this time) there is a relation in that very book of somewhat that hapned to Pereskius by witches when he was a child. That wicked Sorcerer which was burned at Aix, foretold before his death that some misfortune would be done at the time and place of his execution, which hapned accordingly, and very strangely too. Somewhat again, I must confesse, I have seen printed (Mimica Diaboli, &c.) to take away the scandal of some part of his confession, or the Devils saying of Masse, &c. some part of which things might perchance with some colour be ascribed to imagination: but that is not it that troubles me. But enough of him.

            What man is he, that pretends to learning, that hath not heard, and doth not honour the memory of Joachimus Camerarius, that great light of Germany? so wise (and for his wisdom, and other excellent parts, sought unto by many Princes) so moderate a man (an excellent temper for the [15] attaining of Truth) and so versed in all kind of learning, that we shall scarce among all the learned of these later Times find another lo generally accomplished. The strangest relations that ever I read, or at least as strange as any I have read of Witches, and Sorcerers, and Spirits, I have read in him: such as either upon his own knowledge he doth relate, or such as he believed true upon the testimonie of others known unto him. The last work that he ever went about for the publick was, De generibus Divinationum, but he did not live (the more the pity) to make an end of it. But so much as he had done was set out by one of his learned sons, Lipsiæ, an Dom. 1576. There p. 33. he hath these words, De Spirituum verò, quæ sunt Græcis daimonia, admirabili non solum efficacitate, sed manifesta Specie, quæ fasmaka perhibentur, præsentiâ; incredibiles extant passim veterum narrationes, & nostris temporibus super antia fidem comperta sunt, extra etiam fonkoz, de quibus posteà dicitur. So p. 89. & p. 151. again and more fully. But his strangest relations are in his Proæmium to Plutarchs two Treatises, De Defectu Oraculorum, and De Figura EI Consecratâ Delphis, set out by him with Notes. Here I could come in with a whole cloud of witnesses name hundreds of men of all Nations and professions that have lived within this last hundred years ,and not any among them but such as have had, and have yet generally the reputation of Honest, Sober, Learned and Judicious, who all have been of this opinion that we maintain. But because we have to do with them especially who by their Profession pretend to the Knowledge of Nature above other men, I will confine my self for further testimony to them that have been of that Profession. I have been somewhat curious for one of my Calling, that had no other end but to attain to some Knowledge of Nature, without which a man may quickly be lead into manifold delusions and Impostures. I have read some, looked into many: I do not remember I have met with any professed Physician or Naturalist (some one or two excepted, which have been or shall be named) who made any question of these things. Sure I am, I have met with divers strange relations in sundry of them, of things that themselves were present at, and saw with their own eyes, where they could have no end, that any man can probably suspect, but to acknowledge the truth, though with some disparagement to themselves (according to the judgment of many) in the free confession of their own ignorance and disability to give reasons, and to penetrate into causes. Well: what then shall we say to such as Jul. Cæsar, Scaliger, Fernelius, Sennertus, the wonders and Oracles of their times? As Physicians so Phylosophers, men of that profound wisdom and experience (much improved in some of them by long life) as their writings shew them to have been to this day. What shall we make of them? or what do they make of themselves, that will censure such men as either cheaters or ignorant idiots? Henericus Saxonia, a Learned Professor and Practiser of Physick in Padua, in that Book he hath written of that horrible Polonian Disease, which he calls Plicam, which turneth mens hairs (in sight) to Snakes and Serpents; in that book he doth ascribe so much to the power of Witches and Sorcerers in causing Diseases, not private only but even publick, as Pestilences and the like, as himselg confesseth he could never have believed, until he [16] was convicted by manifest experience; and indeed is wonderful, and may well be thought incredible unto most, yet is maintained and asserted by Sennertus De Febribus; and in his sixth book (as I remember; De Morbis à fascino, incantatione, & veneficiis inductis.  I will forbear the names of many men of fame and credit, Physicians too, because most of them are named (and commonly enough known) by Sennertus upon this occasion.  There is one, whom I think inferiour to none, though perchance not so commonly known or read, and that is, Georgius Raqusaius[8] [] a Venetian, who by his first education and profession was an Astrologer, cast many Nativities, and took upon him to Prognosticate; but afterwards conscious to himself of the vanity of the Art (that is, when the Divel doth not intermeddle, as alwayes must be understood: for some Astrologers have been Magicians withall, and have done strange things) gave it over, and hath written against it very Learned and Solidly.  Read him, if you please, in his Chapters De Magic, De Oraculis; yea, through his whole Book De Divinatione, and you may be satisfied what he thought of these things: he also was a Physician.  But I must not omit the Learned Author that set out Musæum Veronense, a great Naturalist and a Physician too; he handles it at the end of that work somewhat roundly and to the quick, I must confesse, but very Rationally and Solidly, in my judgment, against those pretended Peripateticians, that would be thought to defend the opinion of Aristotle herein.  O could say somewhat of ancienter Physicians too, and give some account of those many Spels and Charmes [spells and charms] that are in Trallienus, in all his books; an ancient Physician, in high esteeme with some eminent Physicians of these late times, as they themselves have told me; though not for his Charms, but for his other learning and excellent experience, which they had found good use of But this I reserve for another place & work.  And this mention of that eminent Physician who commended Trallienus unto me, puts me in mind of what he imparted himself, not long before his death, of his own knowledge and experience; and particularly of the account he gave me of the examination of a Conjurer in Salisbury, at which, he said, none were present byt King James, (of most Blessed Memory) the Duke of Buckingham, and himself: It is likely some others may have heard the same, and I had rather any body should tell it then I, who was then a patient under him, and durst not, were I put to it, trust to my memory for every circumstance.

            Hitherto I have gone by Authorities rather then Arguments, partly because I thought that the shortest and clearest way for every bodies capacity, and partly, because such Arguments (if any besides these we have here) as have been used against this opinion, may be found fully answered in those I have cited.  The truth is, it is a Subject of that nature as doth not admit of many Arguments, such especially as may pretend to subtilty of Reason, Sight, Sense, and Experience (upon which most Humane Knowledge is grounded) generally approved and certain, is our best Argument.  But before I give over, I will use one Argument which perchance may prove of some force and validity, and that is, A consideration of the strange shifts and evasions and notorious absurdities that these men are put [17] to




[1] See the Life of Albertus M.

[2] Lucian in Alex. Ald. ed. p. 179.

[3] The Latine Interpreter translates it Demonia; & I know not how it can be better expressed though lyable to ambiguity.

[4] i.e. Apollonius of Tyana.

[5] Voss. de Idolol. 111. 180, 181.

[6] /so in my Copy; it may be it should be, vitis & vin.

[7] I.E. Johann Wier, -JHP

[8] Georg Von Ragusa (Ragusaius, Raguseius, Raguseo) b. 1579 in Ragusa, d. 1622. –Ed.

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