Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/11

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
3
FLYING-MACHINES.

means to the sinful or good end in view. The broomstick took a pre-eminent position as a flying-machine. What a pity it is that our ancestors should have so persistently fought against and finally succeeded in surpressing the broomstick! What could be more simple and effective? Perhaps by proper treatment the witches might have been persuaded to instruct the rest of the world in its use. In those days, dragons and magicians and good and evil spirits made out-of-doors at night rather dangerous, and good people remained at home, with holy water on hand for an emergency. Here is an example from Remigius. Says he: "There is no doubt the following will be considered incredible by all and ridiculous by many; yet I can aver that two hundred persons testified to its truth. On regular and stated days these people assembled in a crowd on the banks of some lake or river, secluded from the observation of passers-by; and there they were in the habit of lashing the water with wands received from demons, until such time as vapors and mists were produced in large quantities, and with these they were wont to soar on high. The exhalations thus provoked condensed themselves into thick and darkling clouds, agitated and swept the heavens, assisted in their atmospheric war by the evil spirits whom they wrapped in their folds, and at length in a hail-storm smote the earth in their fury. … Salome and Dominica Zabella, however, add that, before they thus agitated the water, they were in the practice of throwing into it an earthen pot, in which a little previous a demon had been inclosed, together with some stones of such size as they wished the hail to be. … Decker Maygeth states that he and his confederates in crime used to receive candles from a demon of an azure color, and sail with them some distance from the margin of the lake, hold the light downward and let it drop freely into the water; that after that they scattered and spread some medicinal powder over the surface; that they then, with black rods, bestowed on them by demons, most vehemently lashed the waters, accompanying the action with a repetition of incantations to produce the desired results. Then the sky became overcast with clouds, and discharged torrents of rain and hail on those localities which they had pointed out." This incantation, Romigius says, "is not an invention of modern ages. It is not the invention of old hags whose mental powers were depraved by demons, or perverted by visions or dreams. It was practiced by men of keen intellects and acute investigation, who minutely observed, critically examined, and deliberately adopted their convictions."

Here is a description, according to Kircher, of a flying-machine invented by one of the fathers of the Church: Some of the fathers in India had been "cast into prison, and while they continued ignorant of any means of effecting their liberation, some one, more cunning than the rest, invented an extraordinary machine, and then threatened the barbarians, unless they liberated his companions, that they would behold in a short time some wonderful portents and experience the visible