صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

living, are arts instilled into me by my parents, habits wherein I was educated from my infancy, a trade to which I was regularly bred : if these are things not to be allowed of, and a violation of the laws, it behoved the laws to prevent them, rather than to punish them; for I cannot see the equity of putting me to death for actions, which, if your police had taken any charge of me in my infancy, I never had committed. If you would secure yourselves from receiving wrong, you should teach us not to do wrong; and this might easily be effected, if you have any eye upon your parish poor. For my part, I was born and bred in the parish of Saint Giles; my parents kept a shop for the retail of gin and old rags; christening I had none; a church I never entered, and no parish officer ever visited our habitation : if he had done so, he would have found a seminary of thieves and pickpockets, a magazine of stolen goods, a house of call where nightly depredators met together to compare accounts, and make merry over their plunder: amongst these, and by these, I was educated; I obeyed them as my mas• ters, and looked up to them as my examples: I believed them to be great men; I heard them recount their actions with glory; I saw them die like heroes, and I attended their executions with triumph. It is now my turn to suffer, and I hope I shall not prove myself unworthy of the calling in which I have been brought up: if there be any fault in my conduct, the fault is yours; for, being the child of poverty, I was the son of the public : if there be any honour, it is my own; for I have acted up to my instructions in all things, and faithfully fulfilled the purposes of my education.'

I cannot excuse myself from touching upon one more prejudice, which may be called natural, or selfprejudice: under correction of the Dampers I hope

I may be allowed to say, that a certain portion of this is a good quickener in all constitutions; being seasonably applied, it acts like the spur in the wing of the ostrich, and keeps industry awake; being of the nature of all volatiles and provocatives, the inerit of it consists in the moderation and discretion which administer it: if a man rightly knows himself, he may be called wise; if he justly confides in himself, he may be accounted happy; but if he keeps both this knowledge and this confidence to himself, he will neither be less wise nor less happy for so doing: if there are any secrets which a man ought to keep from his nearest friend, this is one of them. If there were no better reason why a man should not vaunt himself but because it is robbing the poor mountebanks of their livelihood, methinks it would be reason enough : if he must think aloud upon such occasions, let him lock himself into his closet, and take it out in soliloquy: if he likes the sound of his own praises there, and can reconcile himself to the belief of them, it will then be time enough to try their effect upon other people.

Ventidius is the modestest of all men; he blushes when he sees himself applauded in the public papers; he has a better reason for blushing than the world is aware of; he knows himself to be the author of what he reads.

It seems a matter pretty generally agreed between all tellers and hearers of stories, that one party shall work by the rule of addition, and the other by that of subtraction: in most narratives, where the relater is a party in the scene, I have remarked that the says i' has a decided advantage in a dialogue over the says he ;' few people take an under-part in their own fable. There is a salvo, however, which some gentlemen make use of (but I cannot recommend it), of hooking in a word to their own advan.

tage, with the preface of . I think I may say without vanity'-and, after all, if it was not for the vanity of it, there would be no need to say it at all.

I knew a gentleman who possessed more real accomplishments than fall to one man's lot in a thousand; he was an excellent painter, a fine musician, a good scholar, and, more than all, a very worthy man-but he could not ride : it so happened, that upon a morning's airing I detected him in the attempt of mounting on the back of a little pony, no taller than his whip, and as quiet as a lamb: two stout fellows held the animal by the head, whilst my friend was performing a variety of very ingenious maneuvres for lodging himself upon the saddle by the aid of a stirrup which nearly touched the ground: I am afraid I smiled, when I ought not so to have done, for it is certain it gave offence to my worthy friend, who soon after joined me on his pony, which he assured me was remarkably vicious, particularly at mounting ; but that he had been giving him some proper discipline, which he doubted not would cure him of his evil tricks; ‘for you may think what you please,' adds he, of my painting, or my music, or any other little talent you are pleased to credit me for; the only art which I really pique myself upon—is the art of riding.'


ALTHOUGH the subject of Witchcraft has been treated seriously as well as ludicrously in so full a manner, as to anticipate in some measure what can be now offered to the reader's curiosity, yet I am tempted to

of my

add something on this topic, which I shall endeavour to put together in such shape and method, as may perhaps throw fresh light upon a subject that ignorance and superstition have in all past ages of the world conspired to keep in darkness and obscurity.

The reader will recollect so much said of sorcerers and demons, both in the old and new parts of the sacred writings, that I need not now recapitulate the instances, but take them as they occur in course

discussion. Theologians, who have treated the subjects seriously and logically, have defined magic to be · An art or faculty, which, by evil compact with demons, performs certain things wonderful in appearance, and above the ordinary comprehension of mankind.'

According to this definition, we are to look for the origin of this art, to the author of all evil, the deyil : heathen writers have ascribed the invention of magic to Mercury. Some of the early Christians, who have wrote on the subject, speak of Zabulus as the first magician, but this is only another name for the devil, and is so used by St. Cyprian: some give the invention to Barnabas, a magician of Cyprus, but who. this Barnabas was, and in what time he lived, they have not shewn; though they have taken pains to prove he was not St. Barnabas,'the coadjutor of the apostle Paul: some of the Spanish writers maintain that magic was struck out in Arabia, and that a certain ancient volume of great antiquity was brought from thence by the Moors into Spain, full of spells and incantations, and by them and the Jews bequeathed to their posterity, who performed many wonderful things by its aid, till it was finally discovered and burned by the Inquisition.

These are some amongst many of the accounts, which pious men in times of superstition have offered to the world ; the defenders of the art, on the


contrary, derive its doctrines from the angel, who accompanied Tobit, and revealed them to him on the way, and they contend that these doctrines are preserved in certain books written by Honorius, Albertus Magnus, Cyprian, Paul, Enoch, and others. Tostatus thinks that Jezebel, who enchanted Ahab with charms and filtres, was the first who practised sorcery; that from her time the Samaritans were so addicted to sorcery, that a Samaritan and a sorcerer became one and the same term; which opinion he is confirmed in by that passage in Scripture where the Pharisees accuse Christ of being a Samaritan, and having a devil; a charge, says he, implied in the

very first position of his being a Samaritan : he admits, jointly with St. Austin, that Pythonissa, or the Witch of Endor, actually raised the spirit of Samuel, not by magic incantations, but by express permission of God, for the punishment of Saul's inpiety, and to provoke him to immediate repentance by the denunciation of his impending fate; whilst other authorities in the church of early date maintain, that it was not the spirit of Samuel, but a demon that appeared in his likeness : he admits, also, that the rods of the Egyptian sorcerers were, like that of Moses, turned into serpents by the art and contrivance of the devil : in like manner, the said magicians turned the rivers into blood, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt; but though they kept pace with Moses in producing these plagues, their power, he observes, did not reach, as his did, to the subsequent extirpation of them.

As to Simon the Magician, whom Philip.converted in Samaria, wonderful things are said of him by the fathers of the Christian church; this man, Justin Martyr informs us, was born in the city of Gitta in Samaria, travelled to Rome in the time of Claudius, and by the aid of the devil performed such astonish

« السابقةمتابعة »