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produced by a partial mist, which covered the dome of the church, and left the gilded figure of an angel, which surmounted the building, illuminated by the rays of the sun. Without the presence of a philosopher, this would have passed for a supernatural appear
A lawyer's argument for the existence of
witchcraft-Proofs of spectral impressions, from recollected perceptions--New England witches — Carden-DonneJonson - The maid of Franceand other visionaries.
a compilation, on the duties of a Justice of Peace, published by Nelson, we meet with a proof of the existence of witchcraft, which the editor appears to have thought irrefragable, “ It seems,
," saith he, " that there must formerly “ have been such a crime as witchcraft, “ because divers statutes have been made “ against it.” Were we to reason in the same manner, respecting demoniacal agency, in medical cases, proof could be brought, (particularly from the older German writers), that medicines have been administered, for the purpose of expelling the devil from human bodies, into which it was supposed that he had entered, and that many different remedies had been employed to this end.
Instead of resorting to any arguments of this nature, I shall now proceed to shew, that the forms of objects, which have no external prototypes, are exhibited to the mind, in certain states of the brain.
In the course of my professional employment, I have frequently conversed. with persons, who imagined that they saw demons, and heard them speak, This species of delusion admits of many gradations, and distinctions, exclusive of actual insanity.
When the brain is partially irritated, the patient fancies that he sees spiders crawling over his bed-clothes, or person; or beholds them covering the roof and walls of his room. If the disease increases, he imagines that persons who åre dead, or absent, flit round his bed ; that animals croud into his apartment, and that all these apparitions speak to him. These impressions take place, even while he is convinced of their fallacy. All this occurs sometimes, without any degree of delirium.
I had occasion to see a young married woman), whose first indication of illness was a spectral delusion. She told me, that her apartment appeared suddenly to be filled with devils, and that her terror impelled her to quit the house with great precipitation, When she was brought back, she saw the whole staircase occupied by diabolical forms, and was in agonies of fear for several days.
After this first impression wore off, she heard a voice tempting her to selfdestruction, and prohibiting her from all exercises of piety. Such was the account given by her, when she was sensible of the delusion, yet unable to resist the horror of the impression. When she was nearly recovered, I had the curiosity to question her, as I have interrogated others, respecting the forms of the demons with which they had been alarmed; but I never could obtain any other account, than that they were small, very much deformed, and had horns and claws, like the imps of our terrific modern romances,
I have been forced to listen with much gravity, to a man partially insane, who assured me that the devil was lodged in his side, and that I should perceive him thumping and fluttering there, in a manner which would perfectly conyince me of his presence.