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Chaldee, Syriac and Arabic Versions, printed on the interlinear system, with Comparative Tables of these Languages.
Comparative Tables of the Semitic Languages, containing the Alphabets, Pronouns, Verbs, Nouns, &c. of the Hebrew, Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic Languages.
Polyglot Reading Book, containing the Chaldee Portions of Daniel and Ezra, with the corresponding Hebrew, Syriac, and Greek Versions, printed page for page so as to interleave with each other.
[Each of the above Languages may be be had separate, or interleaved as follows:]
1 Chaldee and Syriac,
3 Syriac and Greek,
5 Hebrew and Chaldee,
2 Chaldee and Hebrew,
4 Syriac and Chaldee.
7 Greek and Hebrew, "The Book of the Precepts, or the Affirmitive and Prohibitive Precepts, compiled by Rabbi Moses Maimonides out of the Books of Moses, in the original Hebrew, with an English Translation, and a life of the Author." On the whole we may observe, that the more we have devoted ourselves to the study of the Hebrew writings, the deeper is our regret that our knowledge of that ancient and sacred language is not more perfect, and the more intense is our wish that an acquaintance with its structure and its valuable remains should be more generally cultivated by such persons as have leisure and other opportunities for the prosecution of such studies.
The work before us, so far as it has already gone, is so beautifully typed and arranged, that we cannot conceive any person to look at it without feeling an anxious desire to be able to read and to interpret the venerable characters which it presents to the eye.
If the editor is only properly supported, and if life and health are granted to him, there is no chance of his failing or relaxing in his endea your to carry the work to an entire and satisfactory issue. His own love for the study will be itself his first reward. He will have the additional delight of thinking that he is usefully employed in giving a wider extension to his own favourite pursuits. He will further have the honour of accomplishing a great undertaking, with which, if successfully carried through, his name will be honourably associated for a great length of time; and, more than all, he will, by some of his publications, be enabled to be not only the herald but the instrument, of one of the most desirable changes that can be effected in the intellectual and spiritual tendencies of several large numbers of the great human family. We wish him all success.
Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. By CHARLES MACKAY, LL.D. 2 vols. London, 1852.
This work is one of a series, published by the Proprietors of the "Illustrated London News." We have already noticed several of the earlier volumes, all of which are popular, and several are of a standard character.
They are all profusely illustrated with wood-cuts, and are probably, considering the style of their getting up, the cheapest series of works ever offered to the public. The subjects treated of in these two volumes are sufficiently varied, and the reader will be fastidious indeed who cannot find something to interest him. We purpose giving our readers a specimen, and our extracts shall be confined to one chapter, entitled the Witch Mania. Dr. Mackay commences about the thirteenth century, and gradually brings his narrative down to the year 1830. Witch finding or witch pricking became a trade, and a set of mercenary vagabonds, both in England and Scotland, roamed about the country, provided with long pins to run into the flesh of supposed criminals.
"It was no unusual thing then, nor is it now, that in aged persons there should be some spot on the body totally devoid of feeling. It was the object of the witch-pricker to discover this spot, and the unhappy wight who did not bleed when pricked upon it was doomed to the death. If not immediately cast into prison, her life was rendered miserable by the persecution of her neighbours. It is recorded of many poor women, that the annoyances they endured in this way were so excessive, that they preferred death. Sir George Mackenzie, the Lord Advocate, at the time when witch trials were so frequent, and himself a devout believer in the crime, relates, in his Criminal Law, first published in 1678, some remarkable instances of it. He says, 'I went, when I was a justice-depute, to examine some women who had confessed judicially; and one of them, who was a silly creature, told me, under secrecy, that she had not confessed because she was guilty, but being a poor creature, who wrought for her meat, and being defamed for a witch, she knew she should starve, for no person thereafter would either give her meat or lodging, and that all men would beat her and set dogs at her, and that, therefore, she desired to be out of the world; whereupon she wept most bitterly, and upon her knees called God to witness to what she said.' Sir George, though not wholly elevated above the prejudices of his age upon this subject, was clear-sighted enough to see the danger to society of the undue encouragement given to the witch prosecutions. He was convinced that three-fourths of them were unjust and unfounded. He says, in the work already quoted, that the persons who were in general accused of this crime were poor ignorant men and women who did not understand the nature of the accusation, and who mistook their own superstitious fears for witchcraft. One poor wretch, a weaver, confessed that he was a warlock, and, being asked why, he replied, because he had seen the devil dancing like a fly, about the candle!' A simple woman, who, because she was called a witch, believed that she was, asked the judge upon the bench whether a person might be a witch and not know it? Sir George adds, that all the supposed criminals were subjected to severe torture in prison from their gaolers, who thought they did God good service by vexing and tormenting them; and I know,' says this humane and enlightened magistrate, that this usage was the ground of all their confession; and albeit, the poor miscreants cannot prove this usage, the actors in it being the only witnesses; yet the judge should be jealous of it, as that which did at first elicit the confession, and for fear of which they dare not retract it.' Another author, also a firm believer in witchcraft, gives a still more lamentable instance of a woman who preferred execution as a witch to live on under the imputation. This woman, who knew that three others were to be strangled and burned on an early day, sent for the minister of the parish, and confessed that she had sold her soul to Satan.Whereupon being called before the judges, she was condemned to die with the rest. Being carried forth to the place of execution, she remained silent during the first,
second, and third prayer, and then, perceiving that there remained no more but to rise and go to the stake, she lifted up her body, and, with a loud voice cried out,Now all you that see me this day, know that I am to die as a witch, by my own confession; and I free all men, especially the ministers and magistrates, of the guilt of my blood. I take it wholly upon myself. My blood be upon my own head. And, as I must make answer to the God of heaven presently, I declare I am as free of witchcraft as any child. But, being delated by a malicious woman, and put in prison under the name of a witch, disowned by my husband and friends, and seeing no ground of hope of ever coming out again, I made up that confession to destroy my own life, being weary of it, and choosing rather to die than to live." "As a proof of the singular obstinacy and blindness of the believers in witches, it may be stated that the minister who relates this story only saw in the dying speech of the unhappy woman an additional proof that she was a witch. True, indeed is it, that none are so blind as those who will not see.'
In England, during the civil war, a wretch of the name of Matthew Hopkins made himself conspicuous as a successful witch-finder. It in fact became a profitable trade for every idle vagabond; and upon the dicta of such scoundrels, hundreds of innocent persons were condemned. These common prickers, as they were called, became at last so numerous, that they were considered nuisances, the judges refused to take their evidence, and they were discovered to be a race of imposters and common cheats. We extract Dr. Mackay's account of Matthew Hopkins, who assumed the title of Witchfinder General, and, as such, enjoyed the greatest reputation.
"This vulgar fellow resided, in the year 1644, at the town of Manningtree, in Essex, and made himself very conspicuous in discovering the devil's marks upon several unhappy witches. The credit he gained by his skill in this instance seems to have inspired him to renewed exertions. In the course of a very short time, whenever a witch was spoken of in Essex, Matthew Hopkins was sure to be present, aiding the judges with his knowledge of 'such cattle,' as he called them. As his reputation increased, he assumed the title of Witch-finder General,' and travelled through the counties of Norfolk, Essex, Huntingdon, and Sussex, for the sole purpose of finding out witches. In one year he brought sixty poor creatures to the stake. The test he commonly adopted was that of swimming, so highly recommended by King James in his Demonologie. The hands and feet of the suspected persons were tied together crosswise, the thumb of the right hand to the toe of the left foot, and vice versa. They were then wrapped up in a large sheet or blanket, and laid upon their backs in a pond or river. If they sank, their friends and relatives had the poor consolation of knowing they were innocent; but there was an end of them: if they floated, which, when laid carefully on the water, was generally the case, there was also an end of them; for they were deemed guilty of witchcraft, and burned accordingly. "Another test was to make them repeat the Lord's Prayer and creed. It was affirmed that no witch could do so correctly. If she missed a word, or even pronounced one incoherently, which in her trepidation it was most probable she would, she was accounted guilty. It was thought that witches could not weep more than three tears, and those only from the left eye. Thus the conscious innocence of many persons, which gave them fortitude to bear unmerited torture without flinching, was construed by their unmerciful tormentors into proofs of guilt. In some districts the test resorted to, was to weigh the culprit against the church Bible. If the suspected witch proved heavier than the Bible, she was set at liberty. This mode was far too humane for the witch-finders by profession. Hopkins always maintained that the most legitimate modes were pricking and swimming.
'Hopkins used to travel through his counties like a man of consideration, attended by two assistants, always putting up at the chief inn of the place, and always at the cost of the authorities. His charges were twenty shillings a town, his expenses of living while there, and his carriage thither and back. This he claimed whether he found witches or not. If he found any, he claimed twenty shillings a head in addition when they were brought to execution. For about three years he carried on this infamous trade, success making him so insolent and rapacious, that high and low became his enemies. The Rev. Mr. Gaul, a clergyman of Houghton, in Huntingdonshire, wrote a pamphlet impugning his pretensions, and accusing him of being a common nuisance. Hopkins replied in an angry letter to the functionaries of Houghton, stating his intention to visit their town; but desiring to know whether it afforded many such sticklers for witchcraft as Mr. Gaul, and whether they were willing to receive and entertain him with the customary hospitality, if he so far honoured them. He added, by way of threat, that in case he did not receive a satisfactory reply, he would waive their shire altogether, and betake himself to such places where he might do and punish, not only without control, but with thanks and recompense.' The authorities of Houghton were not much alarmed at this awful threat of letting them alone. They very wisely took no notice of him or his letter.
Mr. Gaul describes in his pamphlet one of the modes employed by Hopkins, which was sure to swell his revenues very considerably. It was a proof even more attrocious than the swimming. He says, that the Witch-finder General' used to take the suspected witch and place her in the middle of a room, upon a stool or table, cross-legged, or in some other uneasy posture. If she refused to sit in this manner, she was bound with strong cords. Hopkins then placed persons to watch her for four-and-twenty hours, during which time she was to be kept without meat or drink. It was supposed that one of her imps would come during that interval and suck her blood. As the imp might come in the shape of a wasp, a moth, a fly, or other insect, a hole was made in the door or window to let it enter. The watchers were ordered to keep a sharp lock out, and endeavour to kill any insect that appeared in the room. If any fly escaped, and they could not kill it, the woman was guilty; the fly was her imp, and she was sentenced to be burned, and twenty shillings went into the pockets of Master Hopkins. In this manner he made one old woman confess, because four flies had appeared in the room, that she was attended by four imps, named Ilemazar,” Pyewackett,' 'Peck-in-the-crown,' and Grizel- Greedigut.'
"It is consoling to think that this impostor perished in his own snare. Mr. Gaul's exposure and his own rapacity weakened his influence among the magistrates; and the populace, who began to find that not even the most virtuous and innocent were secure from his persecution, looked upon him with undisguised aversion. He was beset by a mob at a village in Suffolk, and accused of being himself a wizard. An old reproach was brought against him, that he had, by means of sorcery, cheated the devil out of a certain memorandum-book, in which he, Satan, had entered the names of all the witches in England. Thus,' said the populace, you find out witches, not by God's aid, but by the devil's.' In vain he denied his guilt. The populace longed to put him to his own test. He was speedily stripped, and his thumbs and toes tied together. He was then placed in a blanket, and cast into a pond. Some say that he floated, and that he was taken out, tried, and executed upon no other proof of his guilt. Others assert that he was drowned. This much is positive, that there was an end
THE COURT OF DEATH.
Death, the king of terrors, was determined to choose a Prime Minister; and his pale courtiers, the ghastly train of Diseases, were all summoned to attend,-when each preferred his claim to the honour of this illustrious office. Intemperance next appeared, and, waving her hand, said-give way, ye sickly band of pretenders, nor dare to vie with my superior merits in the service of this great monarch. Am I not your parent-the author of your beings? Do ye not derive your power of shortening human life almost wholly from me? Who then so fit as myself for this important office? The grisly monarch grinned a smile of approbation, placed her at his right hand, and she immediately became his prime favourite, and principal minister.
That grisly king, who lords it over thrones,
And strews the field of war with bleaching bones-
Who crops the bloom upon the infant's cheek,
First came the natural ills that prey on man,