An Antidote Against Atheism/Book III/Chapter VI
1. The Apparition Eckerken. 2. The Story of the pyed Piper. 3. A Triton or Sea-God seen on the banks of Rubicon. 4. Of the Imps of Witches, and Whether those old women be guilty of so much dotage as the Atheist fancies them. 5. That such things pass betwixt them and their Imps as are impossible to he imputed to Melancholy. 6. The examination of John Winnick of Molesworth. 7. The reason of Sealing Covenants with the Devil.
1.But it is now high time to clear up this more dim and cloudy discovery of Spirits into more distinct and articulate Apparitions, according as I did at first propound. And these I shall cast into two ranks: such as appear near to us on the Ground, or such as are seen afar off, above in the Aire. And here again to begin with small things first. Wierus de Præstig. Dæmon l. 6. c. 15..Near Elton, a Village half a mile distant from Embrica in the Dukedom of Cleve, there was a thing had its haunt, they called Eckerken; there appeared never more then the shape of an Hand, but it would beat Travellers, pull them off from their horses, and overturn carriages. This could be no Phansie, there following so real Effects,
2. De Præstig. Dæmon. l. 1. cap. 16.The Story of the pyed Piper, that first by his Pipe gathered together all the Rats and Mice, and drown'd them in the River; and afterward, being defrauded of his reward, which the Town promis'd him if he could deliver them from the plague of those Vermine, took his opportunity, and by the same Pipe made the Children of the Town follow him, and leading them into a Hill that opened, buried them there alive; hath so evident proof of it in the town of Hammel where it was done, that it ought not at all to be discredited. For the fact is very religiously kept amongst their ancient Records, painted out also in their Church-windows, and is an Epoche joyned with the year of our Lord in their Bills and Indentures and other Law-Instruments.
3. That also seems to me beyond all exception and evasion which Suetonius relates of a Spectrum appearing on the banks of the River Rubicon; which was thus. Julius Cæsar having marched with his Army to this River, which divides Gallia citerior from Italy, and being very doubtful with himself whether he should pass over into Italy or not, there was seen on the River side a Man of a prodigious stature and form, playing on a Reed. The strangeness of his person as well as the pleasantness of his Musick had drawn several of the Shepherds unto him, as also many of the Souldiers, amongst whom were some Trumpeters; which this Triton (as Melanchthon ventures to call him) or Sea-god well observing, nimbly snatches away one of the Trumpets out of their hands, leaps forthwith into the River, and sounding a March with that strength and violence that he seem'd to rend the Heavens, and made the aire ring again with the mighty forcibleness of the Blast, in this manner he passed over to the other side of the River: whereupon Cæsar taking the Omen, leaves off all further dispute with himself, carries over his Army, enters Italy, secure of success from so manifest tokens of the favour of the Gods.
4. To confirm this truth of Apparitions, if we would but admit the free confessions of Witches concerning their Imps, whom they so frequently see and converse withall, know them by their names, and doe obeisance to them, the point would be put quite out of all doubt, and their proofs would be so many that no volume would be large enough to contain them. But forsooth these must be all Melancholy old women that dote and bring themselves into danger by their own Phansies and Conceits. But that they do not dote I am better assured of, then of their not doting that say they do. For, to satisfie my own curiosity, I have examined several of them, and they have discours'd as cunningly as any of their quality and education. But by what I have read and observ'd, I discern they serve a very perfidious Master, who plays wreaks many times on purpose to betray them. But that is onely by the bye.
5. I demand concerning these Witches who confess their contract and frequent converse with the Devil, some with him in one shape, others in another, whether mere Melancholy and Imagination can put Powders, Rods, Oyntments, and such like things into their hands, and tell them the use of them; can impress Marks upon their bodies, so deep as to take away all sense in that place; can put Silver and Gold into their hands, which afterwards commonly proves but either Counters, Leaves, or Shells, or some such like useless matter. These real Effects cannot be by mere Melancholy. For if a man receive any thing into his hand, be it what it will be, there was some body that gave it him. And therefore the Witch receiving some reall thing from this or that other shape that appeared unto her, it is an evident sign that it was an external thing that she saw, not a mere figuration of her Melancholy Phansie. There are innumerable Examples of this kind; but the thing is so trivial and ordinary, that it wants no Instances. I will onely set down one, wherein there is the apparition of three Spirits.
6. John Winnick of Molseworth in Huntington-shire being examined April 11th, 1646. confessed as follows. "Having lost his purse with seven shillings in it, for which he suspected one in the family where he lived, he saith that on a Friday, while he was making hay-bottles in the barn, and swore and curs'd and rag'd, and wish'd to himself that some wise body would help him to his purse and money again, there appear'd unto him a Spirit in the shape of a Bear, but not so big as a Coney, who promis'd, upon condition that he would fall down and worship him, he would help him to his purse. He assented to it; and the Spirit told him, to morrow about this time he should find his purse upon the floor where he made bottles, and that he would then come himself also; which was done accordingly: and thus at the time appointed recovering his purse, he fell down upon his knees to the Spirit, and said, My Lord and God, I thank you. This Spirit brought then with him two other, in the shape the one of a white Cat, the other of a Coney, which at the command of the Bear-Spirit he worshipped also. The Bear-Spirit told him he must have his Soul when he died, that he must suck of his body, that he must have some of his Blood to seal the Covenant. To all which he agreed; and so the Bear-Spirit leaping up to his shoulder, prick'd him on the head, and thence took blood. After that they all three vanished, but ever since came to him once every twenty four hours, and suck'd on his body, where the Marks are found. And that they had continually done thus for this twenty nine years together." That all these things should be a mere dream is a conceit more slight and foolish then any dream possibly can be. For that receiving of his purse was a palpable and sensible pledge of the truth of all the rest. And it is incredible that such a series of circumstances, back'd with twenty nine years experience of being suck'd and visited daily, sometimes in the day-time, most commonly by night, by the same three Familiars, should be nothing but the hanging together of so many Melancholy Conceits and Phansies,
7. Nor doth the sealing of Covenants and writing with Blood make such Stories as these more to be suspected: for it is not at all unreasonable that such Ceremonies should pass betwixt a Spirit and a Man, when the like palpable Rites are used for the more firmly tying of Man to God. For whatsoever is crass and external leaves stronger Impress upon the Phansie, and the remembrance of it strikes the Mind with more efficacy. So that assuredly the Devil hath the greater hanck upon the Soul of a Witch or Wizard that hath been perswaded to compleat their Contract with him in such a gross sensible way, and keeps them more fast from revolting from him, then if they had onely contracted in bare words.