An Antidote Against Atheism/Book III/Chapter III

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An Antidote Against Atheism by Henry More
Book III: Chapter III


Chap. III.

1. That Winds and Tempests are raised upon mere Ceremonies or forms of words. 2. The unreasonableness of Wierus his doubting of the Devils power over the Meteors of the Aire. 3. Examples of that power in Rain and Thunder. 4. Margaret Warine discharged upon an Oaks at a Thunder-Clap. 5. Amantius and Rotarius cast headlong out of a cloud upon an house-top. 6. The witch of Constance seen by the Shepherds to ride through the Aire. 7. That he might adde several other Instances from Eyewitnesses, of the strange Effects of invisible Demons. 8. His compendious Rehersal of the most remarkable exploits of the Devil of Mascon in lieu thereof. 9. The Reasons of giving himself the trouble of this Rehersal.

1.Wierus that industrious Advocate of Witches, recites several Ceremonies that they use for the raising of Tempests, and doth acknowledge that Tempests do follow the performance of those Ceremonies, but that they had come to pass nevertheless without them: which the Devil foreseeing, excites the deluded Women to use those Magick Rites, that they may be the better perswaded of his power. But whether there be any causal connexion betwixt those Ceremonies and the ensuing Tempests, I will not curiously decide. But that the connexion of them is Supernatural, is plain at first sight, ** Wierus de Præstig. Dæmon. l. 3. c. 16. For what is casting of Flint-Stones behind their backs toward the West, or flinging a little Sand in the Aire, striking a River with a Broom, and so sprinkling the Wet of it toward Heaven, the stirring of Urine or Water with their finger in a Hole in the ground, or boiling of Hogs Bristles in a Pot? What are these fooleries available of themselves to gather Clouds and cover the Aire with Darkness, and then to make the ground smoak with peals of Hail and Rain, and to make the Air terrible with frequent Lightnings and Thunder? Certainly nothing at all. Therefore the ensuing of these Tempests after such like Ceremonies must be either from the prevision of the Devil (as Wierus would have it) who set the Witches on work, or else from the power of the Devil which he hath in his Kingdom of the Aire.

2. And it seems strange to me that Wierus should doubt this power, when he gives him a greater;De Præstig. Dæmon. l. 3. c. 12. l. 4. c. 19. See Bodin. Mag Dæmon. l. 2. c. 4. for what is the transporting of Vapours or driving them together, to the carrying of Men and Cattel in the Aire, (of which he is a confident Asserter) unless it require larger Devils or greater numbers? And that there are sufficient numbers of such Spirits will seem to any body as credible as that there are any at all. But now for the truth of this, that certain Words or Ceremonies do seem at least to cause an alteration in the Aire, and to raise Tempests, Remigius writes that he had it witnessed to him by the free confession of near two hundred men that he examined: Where he adds a Story or two, in which there being neither Fraud nor Melancholy to be suspected, I think them worth the mentioning.

3. The one is of a Witch, who, to satisfie the curiosity of them that had power to punish her, was set free that she might give a proof of that power she professed she had to raise Tempests. She therefore being let goe, presently betakes her self to a place thick set with Trees, scrapes a Hole with her hands, fills it with Urine, and stirs it about so long, that she caused at last a thick dark Cloud charged with Thunder and Lightning, to the terror and affrightment of the beholders. But she bade them be of good courage, for she would command the Cloud to discharge upon what place they would appoint her; which she made good in the sight of the Spectators.

The other Story is of a young Girle, who, to pleasure her Father complaining of a drought, by the guidance and help of that ill Master her Mother had devoted and consecrated her unto, rais'd a Cloud, and water'd her Father's ground onely, all the rest continuing dry as before.

4. Let us adde to these that of Cuinus and Margaret Warine. While this Cuinus was busie at his Hay-making, there arose suddenly great Thunder and Lightnings which made him run homeward and forsake his work, for he saw six Oaks hard by him overturned from the very Roots, and a seventh also shatter'd and torn apieces: he was fain to lose his hat, and leave his fork or rake for haste; which was not so fast, but another crack overtakes him and rattles about his ears: upon which Thunderclap he presently espied this Margaret Warine, a reputed Witch, upon the top of an Oak, whom he began to chide. She desired his secrecy, and she would promise that never any injury or harm should come to him from her at any time.

See Remiguis his Dæmonolair. l. 1. c. 29.This Cuinus deposed upon Oath before the Magistrate, and Margaret Warine acknowledged the truth of it, without any force done unto her, several times before her death, and at her death. Remigius conceives she was discharged upon the top of the Oak at that last Thunder-clap, and there hung amongst the boughs, which he is induced to believe from two Stories he tells afterwards.

5. The one is of a Tempest of Thunder and Lightnings that the Herdsmen tending their Cattel on the brow of the Hill Alman in the field of Guicuria were frighted with, who running into the Woods for shelter, suddenly saw two countreymen on the top of the Trees which were next them, so dirty, and in such a pickle, and so out of breath, as if they had been dragg'd up and down through thorns and miry places; but when they had well eyed them, they were gone in a moment out of their sight they knew not how nor whither. These herdsmen talked of the business, but the certainty of it came out not long after. For the free confessions of those two men they then saw, being so exactly agreeing with what the Herdsmen had related, made the whole matter clear and undoubted.

The other Story is of the same persons, known afterward by their names, viz. Amantius and his partner Rotarius, who having coursed it aloft again in the Aire, and being cast headlong out of a Cloud upon an house, the later of them, being but a Novice and unexperienced in those supernatural exploits, was much astonish'd and afraid at the strangeness of the matter; but Amantius being used to those feats from his youth, his Parents having devoted him from his childhood to the Devil, made but a sport of it, and laughing at his friend called him Fool for his fear, and bade him be of good courage; for their Master, in whose power they were, would safely carry them through greater dangers then those. And no sooner had he said these words, but whirlwind took them and set them both safe upon the ground: but the house they were carried from so shook, as if it would have been overturn'd from the very foundations. This both those men, examin'd apart, confessed in the same words, not varying their story at all; whose confessions exactly agreed in all circumstances with what was observed by the Countrey people concerning the time and the manner of the Tempest and making of the house.

6. I will onely adde one Relation more of this nature, and that is of a Witch of Constance,See Bodin, Mag. Dæmonoman. l. 2. c. 8. who being vex'd that all her Neighbors in the Village where she lived were invited to the Wedding, and so were drinking and dancing and making merry, and she solitary and neglected, got the Devil to transport her through the Aire, in the midst of day, to a Hill hard by the Village: where she digging a hole and putting Urine into it, rais'd a greast Tempest of Hail, and directed it so that it fell onely upon the Village, and pelted them that were dancing with that violence, that they were forc'd to leave off their sport. When she had done her exploit, she returned to the Village, and being spied, was suspected to have raised the Tempest, which the Shepherds in the field that saw her riding in the Aire knew well before, who bringing in their witness against her, she confess'd the fact.

7. We might abound in instances of this kind (I mean, supernatural effects unattended with miraculous Apparitions) if I would bring in all that I have my self been informed of by either Eye-witnesses themselves, or by such as have had the narrations immediately from them. As for example, Bricks being carried round about a room without any visible hand; Multitudes of Stones flung down at a certain time of the day from the roof of an house for many moneths together, to the amazement of the whole Country; Pots carried off from the fire and set on again, no body meddling with the; The violent flapping of a Chest cover, no hand touching it; The carrying up linens, that have been a bleaching, so high into the Aire, that Table-cloths and Sheets looked but like Napkins, and this when there was no wind, but all calme and clear; Glass-windows struck with that violence as if all had been broken to shivers, the glasse jingling all over the Floor, and this for some quarter of an hour together, when yet all has been found whole in the Morning; *These following passages, with some others, being carefully enquired into by a learned and judicious person, but vary incredulous, did so convince him of Witches & Spirits, that he could not abstain from acknowledging it to a friend of his under his own hand. Boxes carefully locked unlocking themselves, and flinging the Flax out of them; Bread tumbling off from a Fourm of its own accord; Womens pattens rising up from the floor, and whirling against people; The breaking of a Combe into two pieces of it self in the window, the pieces also flying in mens faces; The rising up of a Knife also from the same place, being carried with its haft forwards; Stones likewise flung about the house, but not hurting any mans person; with several other things, which would be too voluminous to repeat with their due circumstances; and the less needful, there being already published to our hands such Narrations as will store us with Examples enough of this kind.

8. Amongst which that Relation of Mr Francis Perreand, concerning an unclean Spirit that haunted his house at Mascon in Burgundy, both for the variety of matter and the Authentickness of the Story, is of prime use. For though this Dæmon never appeared visible to the eye, yet his presence was palpably deprehensible by many freaks and pranks that he play'd. As in drawing the Curtains at Midnight, and plucking off the blankets; In his holding of the doors, and in rolling of billets; In his knocking and slinging things against the Wainscot; In his whistling such tunes as they teach Birds, and in his singing prophane and baudy Songs; In his repeating aloud the Lords Prayer and the Creed; In his imitating the voices and dialers of several persons, as also the crying of Huntsmen, the croaking of Frogs, and the speeches of Jugglers and Mountebanks; His scoffing and jearing and uttering merry conceits, as that of Pays de Vaux, where he said they made goodly Carbonado's of Witches, and thereupon laughed very loud; His bringing commendations from remote friends, and his telling stories of sightings and murders; His discovering of things done in private to the Actors of them; His exprobrating to a grave Divine the singing of a baudy song in a Tavern;

His tossing of a roll of cloth of fifty ells; His disordering of skeans of yarn, and pulling men at their work by their coats backward; His flinging the hat of one at his face while he was asleep in his house, and snatching a candlestick out of a maid's hand; His entangling and tying things in such knots as it was impossible for any one to untye them, and yet himself untying them in a moment; His tumbling the bed as soon as it has been made into the midst of the floor, and taking down books from their shelves in the study; His making a noise like a volly of shot, and imitating the sound of Hemp-dressers four beating together; His making musick of two little bells he found amongst rusty iron in the house, which he used not onely there but in several other places, whose sound they could hear pass by them in the Aire, though they could see nothing; His hiding of a Goldsmiths Jewels and tools for a while, and then dropping them out of the Aire on the table; His flinging of stones about the house, but without hurt, as in the former Narration, His often beating a new Maid in her bed, and powring water on her head till he had forced her away; And lastly, his pulling a certain Lawyer by the arm into the midst of the room, and there whirling him about on the tiptoe, and then flinging him on the ground.

This is a short Epitome of the most remarkable exploits of that invisible Devil of Mascon. For, as I remember, he was not so much as once seen in any shape all this time; unless it was he that Lullier and Repay met at a corner of the street in the habit of a Countrey-woman spinning by Moon-shine, who upon their nearer approach vanished from their sight.

9. I have given my self the trouble of transcribing these particulars, partly because they conduce so much to the discovery of the nature of these kind of Spirits (these Effects making it suspicable that he did not much miss the mark that ventur'd to style them Homines Aereos) and partly for the both copiousness and sutableness of the Story to the prelent Theme; but lastly and chiefly, for the unexceptionable truth and Authentickness of the Narration: the observation of these strange passages being made not by ** Nor writ by one pen. For Marcelin, a Preacher when at Mascon, wrote the same story; and Ternus, a frequent eye-witness of the pranks of this Dæmon, left a Relation written and signed with his own hand which Perreand kept by him. one solitary person, but by many together; nor by a person of suspected integrity, but of singular gravity and exemplarity of life; nor carelesly or credulously, but cautiously and diligently, by searching every corner of the house, and setting bolts and barricadoes to all the doors and windows thereof, stopping the very Cat-holes of the doors, and leaving nothing that might give way to suspicion of Imposture; a candle also burning every night all the night long, the places also from whence the voice came in the day-time being searched and the things therein by divers persons, from whence when one Simeon Meissonier had amongst other things brought away a bottle, the Devil fell a laughing, that he should think him such a fool as to goe into it, as being liable thereby to be stopped up therein by his finger; and lastly, the Experience made not once or twice, but in a manner every day for a quarter of a year together.

To the truth of the miraculousness of the Narration the silence of the Dog gives also further suffrage, he being otherwise very watchfull and ready to bark at the least noise, and yet never barking at the loud speaking and hideous noises of the Dæmon: Which the prophane Goblin himself took notice of, roguishly avouching that it was because he had made the sign of the Cross on his head; for he was then on a merry pin and full of jearing.

To all which you may further adde the Authority of the Reverend and Learned Mr P. Du Moulin, Father to the now Dr Du Moulin, and the smart judicious reasoning of his accomplish'd Son, in his Preface to Mr Perreand's Relation, namely, That this familiar Conversation of the Devil was not in a corner or in a Desart (where the Melancholy of Witches is supposed to make them fancy they converse with him) but in the midst of a great City, in an house where there was daily a great resort to hear him speak, and where men of contrary Religions met together; whose proneness to cast a disgrace upon the dissenting parties did occasion the narrow examining and full confirming the truth thereof, both by the Magistrate and by the Diocesan of the place.

And lastly, that nothing may be wanting to convince the incredulous, we adjoyn the Testimony of that excellently-learned and noble Gentleman Mr R. Boyle, who conversed with Mr Perreand himself at Geneva, where he received from him as a present a Copie of his Book before it was printed, and where he had the opportunity to enquire both after the Writer and several passages of his Book; and was so well satisfied, that he professes that all his settled indisposedness to believe strange things was overcome by this special Conviction.