An Antidote Against Atheism/Book III/Chapter IX
1. The second Story of one Cuntius, whose first Pen-man not onely dwelt in the Town, but was a sad sufferer in the Tragedie. 2. The quality of Cuntius, his fatal blow by his Horse, and his desperate affliction of Mind. 3. Prodigies attending his death. 4. A Spiritus Incubus in the shape of him, with other disorders. 5. More hideous disorders, as also his appearing to a Gossip of his in behalf of his Child. 6. Several sad effects of his appearing upon several persons. 7. His miserable usage of the Parson of the Parish and his Family, who is the Pen-man of the Story. 8. A brief Rehearsal of many other mad Pranks of this Spectre. 9. A remarkable passage touching his Gravestone. 10. The florid plight of Cuntius after he had been buried near half a year, his grasping of a Staff, and the motion of his Eyes and of his Blood. 11. The prodigious Weight of his body. 12. As also the Incombustibleness thereof. 13. How hard set the Atheist will be for a subterfuge against this Story.
1.The other Story he sets down he is not the first Pen-man of (though the things were done in his time, and, as I conceive, some while after what has been above related; as a passage in the Narration seems to intimate) but he transcribed it from one that not only dwelt in the place, but was often infected with the noisom occursions of that troublesom Ghost that did so much mischief to the place where he dwelt. The Relation is somewhat large, I shall bring it into as narrow compass as I can.
2. Johannes Cuntius, a Citizen of Pentsch in Silesia, near sixty years of age, and one of the Aldermen of the Town, very fair in his carriage, and unblamable, to mens thinking, in the whole course of his life, having been sent for to the Maior's house (as being a very understanding man and dexterous at the dispatch of businesses) to end some controversies concerning certain Wagoners, and a Merchant of Pannonia having made an end of those affairs, is invited by the Maier to Supper: he gets leave first to goe home to order some businesses, leaving this sentence behind him, It's good to be merry while we may, for mischiefs grow up fast enough daily.
This Cuntius kept five lusty Geldings in his Stable, one whereof he commanded to be brought out, and his shoe being loose, had him tied to the next post: his Master with a Servant busied themselves to take up his leg to look on his hoof, the Horse being mad and metalsom struck them both down; but Cuntius received the greatest share of the blow: one that stood next by helpt them both up again. Cuntius no sooner was up and came to himself, but cry'd out, Wo is me, how do I burn and am all on a fire! Which he often repeated. But the parts he complained of most, the women being put out of the room, when they were searched, no appearance of any stroke or hurt was found upon them. To be short, he fell downright sick and grievously afflicted in Mind, loudly complaining, that his Sins were such that they were utterly unpardonable, and that the least part of them were bigger then all the Sins of the world besides; but would have no Divine come to him, nor did particularly confess them to any. Several rumours indeed there were that once he sold one of his Sons, but when and to whom it was uncertain, and that he had made a Contract with the Devil, and the like. But it was observed and known for certain, that he had grown beyond all expectation rich, and that four daies before this mischance he being witness to a Child, said, that that was the last he should be ever witness to.
3. The night he died his eldest Son watched with him. He gave up the Ghost about the third hour of the night, at what time a black Cat opening the casement with her nails (for it was shut) ran to his bed, and did so violently scratch his face and the bolster, as if she endeavoured by force to remove him out of the place where he lay. But the Cat afterwards suddenly was gone, and she was no sooner gone, but he breathed his last. A fair tale was made to the Pastor of the Parish, and the Magistracy of the Town allowing it, he was buried on the right side of the Altar, his Friends paying well for it. No sooner Cuntius was dead but a great Tempest arose, which raged most at his very Funeral, there being such impetuous Storms of Wind with Snow, that it made mens bodies quake and their teeth chatter in their heads. But so soon as he was interred, of a sudden all was calm.
4. He had not been dead a day or two, but several rumours were spread in the town of a Spiritus incubus or Ephialtes, in the shape of Cuntius, that would have forced a Woman. This hapned before he was buried. After his Burial the same Spectre awakened one that was sleeping in his dining-room, I can scarce withhold my self from beating thee to death. The voice was the voice of Cuntius. The watchmen of the Town also affirmed that they heard every night great stirs in Cuntius his House, the fallings and throwings of things about, and that they did see the gates stand wide open betimes in the mornings, though they were never so diligently shut o're night; that his Horses were very unquiet in the Stable, as if they kicked and bit one another; besides unusual barkings and howlings of Dogs all over the Town. But these were but preludious suspicions to further evidence, which I will run over as briefly as I may.
5. A Maid-servant of one of the Citizens of Pentsch (while these Tragedies and stirs were so frequent in the Town) heard, together with some others lying in their beds, the noise and tramplings of one riding about the House, who at last ran against the walls with that violence that the whole House shaked again as if it would fall, and the windows were all fill'd with flashings of light. The Master of the house being informed of it, went out of doors in the morning to see what the matter was; and he beheld in the Snow the impressions of strange feet, such as were like neither Horses, nor Cows, nor Hogs nor any Creature that he knew.
Another time, about eleven of the clock in the night, Cuntius appears to one of his Friends that was a witness to a Childe of his, speaks unto him, and bids him be of good courage, for he came onely to communicate unto him a matter of great importance, I have left behind me, said he, my youngest son James, to whom you are God-father. Now there is at my eldest son Steven's, a Citizen of Jegerdorf, a certain Chest wherein I have put four hundred and fifteen Florens: This I tell you, that your God-son may not he defrauded of any of them, and it is your duty to look after it, which if you neglect, woe be to you. Having said this, the Spectre departed, and went up into the upper rooms of the House, where he walked so stoutly that all rattled again, and the roof swagged with his heavy stampings. This, Cuntius his Friend told to the Parson of the Parish a day or two after for a certain truth.
6. But there are also other several notorious passages of this Cuntius, As his often speaking to the Maid that lay with her Mistriss, his Widow, to give him place, for it was his right; and if she would not give it him, he would writhe her neck behind her.
His galloping up and down like a wanton horse in the Court of his House. His being divers times seen to ride, not onely in the streets, but along the valleys of the field and on the Mountains, with so strong a trot that he made the very ground flash with fire under him.
His bruising of the body of a Child of a certain Smiths, and making his very bones so soft, that you might wrap the corps on heaps like a glove.
His miserably tugging all night with a Jew that had taken up his Inne in the Town, and tossing him up and down in the lodging where he lay.
His dreadful accosting of a Wagoner, an old acquaintance of his, while he was busie in the stable, vomiting out fire against him to terrifie him, and biting of him so cruelly by the foot that he made him lame.
7. What follows, as I above intimated, concerns the Relator himself, who was the Parson of the Parish, whom this Fury so squeezed and pressed when he was asleep, that wakening he found himself utterly spent and his strength quite gone, but could not imagine the reason. But while he lay musing with himself what the matter might be, the Spectre returns again to him, and holding him all over so fast that he could not wag a finger, rowled him in his bed backwards and forwards a good many times together. The same hapned also to his Wife another time, whom Cuntius, coming through the casement in the shape of a little Dwarf and running to her bed side, so wrung and pulled as if he would have torn her throat out, had not her two Daughters come in to help her.
He pressed the lips together of one of this Theologer's Sons so, that they could scarce get them asunder.
His House was so generally disturbed with this unruly Ghost, that the Servants were fain to keep together anights in one room, lying upon straw and watching the approches of this troublesome Fiend. But a Maid of the house, being more couragious then the rest, would needs one night goe to bed, and forsake her company. Whereupon Cuntius finding her alone, presently assaults her, pulls away the bedding, and would have carried her away with him; bat Hie hardly escaping fled to the rest of the Family, where she espied him standing by the candle; and straight, way after vanishing.
Another time he came into her Masters Chamber, making a noise like a Hog that eat grains, smacking and grunting very sonorously. They could not chase him away by speaking to him; but ever as they lighted a Candle he would vanish.
On another time about Evening, when this Theologer was sitting with his Wife and Children about him, exercising himself in Musick, according to his usual manner, a most grievous stink arose suddenly, which by degrees spred it self to every corner of the room. Hereupon he commends himself and his family to God by prayer. The smell nevertheless encreased, and became above all measure pestilently noisom, insomuch that he was forced to goe up to his chamber. He and his Wife had not been in bed a quarter of an hour, but they find the same stink in the bed-chamber, of which while they are complaining one to another, out steps the Spectre from the wall, and creeping to his bed-side breathes upon him an exceeding cold breath of so intolerable stinking and malignant a sent, as is beyond all imagination and expression. Hereupon the Theologer, good soul, grew very ill, and was fain to keep his bed, his face, belly and guts swelling, as if he had been poisoned, whence he was also troubled with a difficulty of breathing, and with a putrid inflammation of his eyes, so that he could not well use them of a long time after.
8. But taking leave of the sick Divine, if we should goe back and recount what we have omitted, it would exceed the number of what we have already recounted. As for example, The trembling and sweating of Cuntius his Gelding, from which he was not free night nor day: The burning blew of the Candles at the approaches of Cuntius his Ghost: His drinking up the milk in the milk-bowls, his flinging dung into them, or turning the milk into blood: His pulling up posts deep set in the ground, and so heavy that two lusty Porters could not deal with them: His discoursing with several men he met concerning the affairs of the Wagoners: His strangling of old men: His holding fast the Cradles of Children, or taking them out of them: His frequent endeavouring to force Women: His defiling the water in the Font, and fouling the Cloth on the Altar on that side that did hang towards his grave with dirty bloody spots: His catching up Dogs in the streets, and knocking their brains against the ground; His sucking dry the Cows, and tying their tails like the tail of an Horse: His devouring of Poultry, and his flinging of Goats bound into the Racks: His tying of an Horse to an empty Oat-tub in the Stable to clatter up and down with it, and the hinder foot of another to his own head-stall: His looking out of the window of a low Tower, and then suddenly changing himself into the form of a long staff: His chiding of a Matron for suffering her servant to wash dishes on a Thursday, at what time he laid his hand upon her, and she said it felt more cold then ice: His pelting one of the women that washed his corps, so forcibly, that the prints of the Clods he flung were to be seen upon the wall: His attempting to ravish another, who excusing her self, and saying, My Cuntius, thou seest how old, wrinckled and deformed I am, and how unfit for those kinds of sports, he suddenly set up a loud laughter and vanished.
9. But we must not insist upon these things; onely we will adde one passage more that is not a little remarkable. His grave-stone was turned of one side, shelving, and there were several holes in the earth, about the bigness of mouse-holes, that went down to his very Coffin, which however they were filled up with earth and all made plain over night, yet they would be sure to be laid open the next morning.
It would be a tedious business to recite all these things at large, and prosecute the Story in all its particular Circumstances. To conclude therefore, their calamity was such from the frequent occursions of this restless Fury, that there was none but either pitied them or despised them; none would lodge in their Town, trading was decayed, and the Citizens impoverished by the continual stirs and tumults of this unquiet Ghost.
10. And though the Atheist may perhaps laugh at them as men undone by their own Melancholy and vain imaginations, or by the waggery of some ill neighbours; yet if he seriously consider what has been already related, there are many passages that are by no means to be resolved into any such Principles: but what I shall now declare, will make it altogether unlikely that any of them are.
To be short therefore, finding no rest nor being able to excogitate any better remedy, they dig up Cuntius his body, with several others buried both before and after him. But those both after and before were so putrifi'd and rotten, their Sculls broken, and the Sutures of them gaping, that they were not to be known by their shape at all, having become in a manner but a rude mass of earth and dirt; but it was quite otherwise in Cuntius: His Skin was tender and florid, his Joynts not at all stiff, but limber and moveable, and a staff being put into his Hand, he grasped it with his fingers very fast; his Eyes also of themselves would be one time open and another time shut; they opened a vein in his Leg, and the blood sprang out as fresh as in the living; his Nose was entire and full, not sharp, as in those that are gastly sick or quite dead: and yet Cuntius his body had lien in the grave from Feb. 8. to July 20. which is almost half a year.
11. It was easily discernible where the fault lay. However, nothing was done rashly, but Judges being constituted. Sentence was pronounced upon Cuntius his Carcase, which (being animated thereto from success in the like case some few years before in this very Province of Silesia, I suppose he means at Breslaw where the Shoemakers body was burnt) they adjudged to the fire.
Wherefore there were Masons provided to make a hole in the wall near the Altar to get his body through, which being pulled at with a rope, it was so exceeding heavy that the rope brake, and they could scarce stir him. But when they had pull'd him through, and gotten him on a Cart without, which Cuntius his Horse that struck him (which was a lusty-bodied Jade) was to draw; yet it put him to it so, that he was ready to fall down ever and anon, and was quite out of breath with Arriving to draw so intolerable a load, who notwithstanding could run away with two men in the same Cart presently after, their weight was so inconsiderable to his strength.
12. His body, when it was brought to the fire, proved as unwilling to be burnt as before to be drawn, so that the Executioner was fain with hooks to pull him out, and cut him into pieces to make him burn. Which while he did, the blood was found so pure and spiritous, that it spurted into his face as he cut him; but at last, not without the expence of two hundred and sixteen great billets, all was turned into ashes. Which they carefully sweeping up together, as in the foregoing Story, and casting them into the River, the Spectre never more appeared.
13. I must confess I am so slow-witted my self, that I cannot so much as imagine what the Atheist will excogitate for a subterfuge or hiding-place from so plain and evident Convictions.
Hitherto of Witches and other devoted Vassals of Satan in several; we shall now consider their Assemblies and Conventicles, and urge further proofs of Spirits and Apparitions from thence.