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Title: Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions — Volume 2
Author: Mackay, Charles, 1814-1889
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions — Volume 2" ***

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"Il est bon de connaitre les delires de l'esprit humain.  Chaque people
a ses folies plus ou moins grossieres."









  They heard, and up they sprung upon the wing
  Innumerable. As when the potent rod
  Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,
  Waved round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud
  Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind
  That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
  Like night, and darken'd all the realm of Nile,
  So numberless were they.    *    *    *
  *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
  All in a moment through the gloom were seen
  Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
  With orient colours waving. With them rose
  A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
  Appear'd, and serried shields, in thick array,
  Of depth immeasurable.

  Paradise Lost.

Every age has its peculiar folly--some scheme, project, or phantasy
into which it plunges, spurred on either by the love of gain, the
necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. Failing in
these, it has some madness, to which it is goaded by political or
religious causes, or both combined. Every one of these causes
influenced the Crusades, and conspired to render them the most
extraordinary instance upon record of the extent to which popular
enthusiasm can be carried. History in her solemn page informs us, that
the crusaders were but ignorant and savage men, that their motives were
those of bigotry unmitigated, and that their pathway was one of blood
and tears. Romance, on the other hand, dilates upon their piety and
heroism and pourtrays in her most glowing and impassioned hues their
virtue and magnanimity, the imperishable honour they acquired for
themselves, and the great services they rendered to Christianity.  In
the following pages we shall ransack the stores of both, to discover
the true spirit that animated the motley multitude who took up arms in
the service of the Cross, leaving history to vouch for facts, but not
disdaining the aid of contemporary poetry and romance to throw light
upon feelings, motives, and opinions.

In order to understand thoroughly the state of public feeling in Europe
at the time when Peter the Hermit preached the holy war, it will be
necessary to go back for many years anterior to that event. We must
make acquaintance with the pilgrims of the eighth, ninth, and tenth
centuries, and learn the tales they told of the dangers they had
passed, and the wonders they had seen. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land
seem at first to have been undertaken by converted Jews, and by
Christian devotees of lively imagination, pining with a natural
curiosity to visit the scenes which of all others were most interesting
in their eyes. The pious and the impious alike flocked to
Jerusalem,--the one class to feast their sight on the scenes hallowed
by the life and sufferings of their Lord, and the other, because it
soon became a generally received opinion, that such a pilgrimage was
sufficient to rub off the long score of sins, however atrocious.
Another and very numerous class of pilgrims were the idle and roving,
who visited Palestine then as the moderns visit Italy or Switzerland
now, because it was the fashion, and because they might please their
vanity by retailing, on their return, the adventures they had met with.
But the really pious formed the great majority. Every year their
numbers increased, until at last they became so numerous as to be
called the "armies of the Lord." Full of enthusiasm, they set the
danger and difficulty of the way at defiance, and lingered with holy
rapture on every scene described in the Evangelists. To them it was
bliss indeed to drink the clear waters of the Jordan, or be baptized in
the same stream where John had baptized the Saviour. They wandered with
awe and pleasure in the purlieus of the Temple, on the solemn Mount of
Olives, or the awful Calvary, where a God had bled for sinful men. To
these pilgrims every object was precious. Relics were eagerly sought
after; flagons of water from Jordan, or paniers of mould from the hill
of the Crucifixion, were brought home, and sold at extravagant prices
to churches and monasteries. More apocryphical relics, such as the wood
of the true cross, the tears of the Virgin Mary, the hems of her
garments, the toe-nails and hair of the Apostles--even the tents that
Paul had helped to manufacture--were exhibited for sale by the knavish
in Palestine, and brought back to Europe "with wondrous cost and care."
A grove of a hundred oaks would not have furnished all the wood sold in
little morsels as remnants of the true cross; and the tears of Mary, if
collected together, would have filled a cistern.

For upwards of two hundred years the pilgrims met with no impediment in
Palestine. The enlightened Haroun Al Reschid, and his more immediate
successors, encouraged the stream which brought so much wealth into
Syria, and treated the wayfarers with the utmost courtesy.  The race of
Fatemite caliphs,--who, although in other respects as tolerant, were
more distressed for money, or more unscrupulous in obtaining it, than
their predecessors of the house of Abbas,--imposed a tax of a bezant
for each pilgrim that entered Jerusalem.  This was a serious hardship
upon the poorer sort, who had begged their weary way across Europe, and
arrived at the bourne of all their hopes without a coin. A great outcry
was immediately raised, but still the tax was rigorously levied. The
pilgrims unable to pay were compelled to remain at the gate of the holy
city until some rich devotee arriving with his train, paid the tax and
let them in. Robert of Normandy, father of William the Conqueror, who,
in common with many other nobles of the highest rank, undertook the
pilgrimage, found on his arrival scores of pilgrims at the gate,
anxiously expecting his coming to pay the tax for them. Upon no
occasion was such a boon refused.

The sums drawn from this source were a mine of wealth to the Moslem
governors of Palestine, imposed as the tax had been at a time when
pilgrimages had become more numerous than ever. A strange idea had
taken possession of the popular mind at the close of the tenth and
commencement of the eleventh century. It was universally believed that
the end of the world was at hand; that the thousand years of the
Apocalypse were near completion, and that Jesus Christ would descend
upon Jerusalem to judge mankind. All Christendom was in commotion. A
panic terror seized upon the weak, the credulous, and the guilty, who
in those days formed more than nineteen twentieths of the population.
Forsaking their homes, kindred, and occupation, they crowded to
Jerusalem to await the coming of the Lord, lightened, as they imagined,
of a load of sin by their weary pilgrimage. To increase the panic, the
stars were observed to fall from heaven, earthquakes to shake the land,
and violent hurricanes to blow down the forests. All these, and more
especially the meteoric phenomena, were looked upon as the forerunners
of the approaching judgments. Not a meteor shot athwart the horizon
that did not fill a district with alarm, and send away to Jerusalem a
score of pilgrims, with staff in hand and wallet on their back, praying
as they went for the remission of their sins.  Men, women, and even
children, trudged in droves to the holy city, in expectation of the day
when the heavens would open, and the Son of God descend in his glory.
This extraordinary delusion, while it augmented the numbers, increased
also the hardships of the pilgrims. Beggars became so numerous on all
the highways between the west of Europe and Constantinople that the
monks, the great alms-givers upon these occasions, would have brought
starvation within sight of their own doors, if they had not economized
their resources, and left the devotees to shift for themselves as they
could. Hundreds of them were glad to subsist upon the berries that
ripened by the road, who, before this great flux, might have shared the
bread and flesh of the monasteries.

But this was not the greatest of their difficulties. On their arrival
in Jerusalem they found that a sterner race had obtained possession of
the Holy Land. The caliphs of Bagdad had been succeeded by the harsh
Turks of the race of Seljook, who looked upon the pilgrims with
contempt and aversion. The Turks of the eleventh century were more
ferocious and less scrupulous than the Saracens of the tenth. They were
annoyed at the immense number of pilgrims who overran the country, and
still more so because they showed no intention of quitting it. The
hourly expectation of the last judgment kept them waiting; and the
Turks, apprehensive of being at last driven from the soil by the swarms
that were still arriving, heaped up difficulties in their way.
Persecution of every kind awaited them. They were plundered, and beaten
with stripes, and kept in suspense for months at the gates of
Jerusalem, unable to pay the golden bezant that was to facilitate their

When the first epidemic terror of the day of judgment began to subside,
a few pilgrims ventured to return to Europe, their hearts big with
indignation at the insults they had suffered. Everywhere as they passed
they related to a sympathizing auditory the wrongs of Christendom.
Strange to say, even these recitals increased the mania for pilgrimage.
The greater the dangers of the way, the more chance that sins of deep
dye would be atoned for. Difficulty and suffering only heightened the
merit, and fresh hordes issued from every town and village, to win
favour in the sight of Heaven by a visit to the holy sepulchre. Thus
did things continue during the whole of the eleventh century.

The train that was to explode so fearfully was now laid, and there
wanted but the hand to apply the torch. At last the man appeared upon
the scene. Like all who have ever achieved so great an end, Peter the
hermit was exactly suited to the age; neither behind it, nor in advance
of it; but acute enough to penetrate its mystery ere it was discovered
by any other. Enthusiastic, chivalrous, bigoted, and, if not insane,
not far removed from insanity, he was the very prototype of the time.
True enthusiasm is always persevering and always eloquent, and these
two qualities were united in no common degree in the person of this
extraordinary preacher. He was a monk of Amiens, and ere he assumed the
hood had served as a soldier. He is represented as having been ill
favoured and low in stature, but with an eye of surpassing brightness
and intelligence. Having been seized with the mania of the age, he
visited Jerusalem, and remained there till his blood boiled to see the
cruel persecution heaped upon the devotees. On his return home he shook
the world by the eloquent story of their wrongs.

Before entering into any further details of the astounding results of
his preaching, it will be advisable to cast a glance at the state of
the mind of Europe, that we may understand all the better the causes of
his success. First of all, there was the priesthood, which, exercising
as it did the most conspicuous influence upon the fortunes of society,
claims the largest share of attention. Religion was the ruling idea of
that day, and the only civiliser capable of taming such wolves as then
constituted the flock of the faithful. The clergy were all in all; and
though they kept the popular mind in the most slavish subjection with
regard to religious matters, they furnished it with the means of
defence against all other oppression except their own. In the
ecclesiastical ranks were concentrated all the true piety, all the
learning, all the wisdom of the time; and, as a natural consequence, a
great portion of power, which their very wisdom perpetually incited
them to extend. The people knew nothing of kings and nobles, except in
the way of injuries inflicted. The first ruled for, or more properly
speaking against, the barons, and the barons only existed to brave the
power of the kings, or to trample with their iron heels upon the neck
of prostrate democracy. The latter had no friend but the clergy, and
these, though they necessarily instilled the superstition from which
they themselves were not exempt, yet taught the cheering doctrine that
all men were equal in the sight of heaven. Thus, while Feudalism told
them they had no rights in this world, Religion told them they had
every right in the next. With this consolation they were for the time
content, for political ideas had as yet taken no root. When the clergy,
for other reasons, recommended the Crusade, the people joined in it
with enthusiasm. The subject of Palestine filled all minds; the
pilgrims' tales of two centuries warmed every imagination; and when
their friends, their guides, and their instructors preached a war so
much in accordance with their own prejudices and modes of thinking, the
enthusiasm rose into a frenzy.

But while religion inspired the masses, another agent was at work upon
the nobility. These were fierce and lawless; tainted with every vice,
endowed with no virtue, and redeemed by one good quality alone, that of
courage. The only religion they felt was the religion of fear.  That
and their overboiling turbulence alike combined to guide them to the
Holy Land. Most of them had sins enough to answer for. They lived with
their hand against every man; and with no law but their own passions.
They set at defiance the secular power of the clergy, but their hearts
quailed at the awful denunciations of the pulpit with regard to the
life to come. War was the business and the delight of their existence;
and when they were promised remission of all their sins upon the easy
condition of following their favourite bent, is it to be wondered at
that they rushed with enthusiasm to the onslaught, and became as
zealous in the service of the Cross as the great majority of the
people, who were swayed by more purely religious motives? Fanaticism
and the love of battle alike impelled them to the war, while the kings
and princes of Europe had still another motive for encouraging their
zeal. Policy opened their eyes to the great advantages which would
accrue to themselves, by the absence of so many restless, intriguing,
and blood-thirsty men, whose insolence it required more than the small
power of royalty to restrain within due bounds. Thus every motive was
favourable to the Crusades. Every class of society was alike incited to
join or encourage the war; kings and the clergy by policy, the nobles
by turbulence and the love of dominion, and the people by religious
zeal and the concentrated enthusiasm of two centuries, skilfully
directed by their only instructors.

It was in Palestine itself that Peter the Hermit first conceived the
grand idea of rousing the powers of Christendom to rescue the
Christians of the East from the thraldom of the Mussulmans, and the
sepulchre of Jesus from the rude hands of the infidel. The subject
engrossed his whole mind. Even in the visions of the night he was full
of it. One dream made such an impression upon him, that he devoutly
believed the Saviour of the world himself appeared before him, and
promised him aid and protection in his holy undertaking. If his zeal
had ever wavered before, this was sufficient to fix it for ever.

Peter, after he had performed all the penances and duties of his
pilgrimage, demanded an interview with Simeon, the Patriarch of the
Greek Church at Jerusalem. Though the latter was a heretic in Peter's
eyes, yet he was still a Christian, and felt as acutely as himself for
the persecutions heaped by the Turks upon the followers of Jesus. The
good prelate entered fully into his views, and, at his suggestion,
wrote letters to the Pope, and to the most influential monarchs of
Christendom, detailing the sorrows of the faithful, and urging them to
take up arms in their defence. Peter was not a laggard in the work.
Taking an affectionate farewell of the Patriarch, he returned in all
haste to Italy. Pope Urban II. occupied the apostolic chair. It was at
that time far from being an easy seat. His predecessor, Gregory, had
bequeathed him a host of disputes with the Emperor Henry IV. of
Germany, and he had made Philip I. of France his enemy by his strenuous
opposition to an adulterous connexion formed by that monarch. So many
dangers encompassed him about, that the Vatican was no secure abode,
and he had taken refuge in Apulia, under the protection of the renowned
Robert Guiscard. Thither Peter appears to have followed him, though in
what spot their meeting took place is not stated with any precision by
ancient chroniclers or modern historians.  Urban received him most
kindly; read, with tears in his eyes, the epistle from the Patriarch
Simeon, and listened to the eloquent story of the Hermit with an
attention which showed how deeply he sympathised with the woes of the
Christian church. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the Pope appears to
have caught it instantly from one whose zeal was so unbounded. Giving
the Hermit full powers, he sent him abroad to preach the holy war to
all the nations and potentates of Christendom.  The Hermit preached,
and countless thousands answered to his call.  France, Germany, and
Italy started at his voice, and prepared for the deliverance of Zion.
One of the early historians of the Crusade, who was himself an
eye-witness of the rapture of Europe, [Guibert de Nogent] describes the
personal appearance of the Hermit at this time.  He says, that there
appeared to be something of divine in every thing which he said or did.
The people so highly reverenced him, that they plucked hairs from the
mane of his mule, that they might keep them as relics. While preaching,
he wore in general a woollen tunic, with a dark-coloured mantle, which
fell down to his heels. His arms and feet were bare, and he ate neither
flesh nor bread, supporting himself chiefly upon fish and wine. "He set
out," says the chronicler, "from whence I know not; but we saw him
passing through the towns and villages, preaching every where, and the
people surrounding him in crowds, loading him with offerings, and
celebrating his sanctity with such great praises that I never remember
to have seen such honours bestowed upon any one." Thus he went on,
untired, inflexible, and full of devotion, communicating his own
madness to his hearers, until Europe was stirred from its very depths.

While the Hermit was appealing with such signal success to the people,
the Pope appealed with as much success to those who were to become the
chiefs and leaders of the expedition. His first step was to call a
council at Placentia, in the autumn of the year 1095. Here, in the
assembly of the clergy, the Pope debated the grand scheme, and gave
audience to emissaries who had been sent from Constantinople by the
Emperor of the East to detail the progress made by the Turks in their
design of establishing themselves in Europe. The clergy were of course
unanimous in support of the Crusade, and the council separated, each
individual member of it being empowered to preach it to his people.

But Italy could not be expected to furnish all the aid required; and
the Pope crossed the Alps to inspire the fierce and powerful nobility
and chivalrous population of Gaul. His boldness in entering the
territory, and placing himself in the power of his foe, King Philip of
France, is not the least surprising feature of his mission.  Some have
imagined that cool policy alone actuated him, while others assert, that
it was mere zeal, as warm and as blind as that of Peter the Hermit. The
latter opinion seems to be the true one. Society did not calculate the
consequences of what it was doing. Every man seemed to act from impulse
only; and the Pope, in throwing himself into the heart of France, acted
as much from impulse as the thousands who responded to his call. A
council was eventually summoned to meet him at Clermont, in Auvergne,
to consider the state of the church, reform abuses, and, above all,
make preparations for the war. It was in the midst of an extremely cold
winter, and the ground was covered with snow. During seven days the
council sat with closed doors, while immense crowds from all parts of
France flocked into the town, in expectation that the Pope himself
would address the people. All the towns and villages for miles around
were filled with the multitude; even the fields were encumbered with
people, who, unable to procure lodging, pitched their tents under the
trees and by the way-side. All the neighbourhood presented the
appearance of a vast camp.

During the seven days' deliberation, a sentence of excommunication was
passed upon King Philip for adultery with Bertrade de Montfort,
Countess of Anjou, and for disobedience to the supreme authority of the
apostolic see. This bold step impressed the people with reverence for
so stern a church, which in the discharge of its duty showed itself no
respecter of persons. Their love and their fear were alike increased,
and they were prepared to listen with more intense devotion to the
preaching of so righteous and inflexible a pastor. The great square
before the cathedral church of Clermont became every instant more
densely crowded as the hour drew nigh when the Pope was to address the
populace. Issuing from the church in his frill canonicals, surrounded
by his cardinals and bishops in all the splendour of Romish
ecclesiastical costume, the Pope stood before the populace on a high
scaffolding erected for the occasion, and covered with scarlet cloth.
A brilliant array of bishops and cardinals surrounded him; and among
them, humbler in rank, but more important in the world's eye, the
Hermit Peter, dressed in his simple and austere habiliments.
Historians differ as to whether or not Peter addressed the crowd, but
as all agree that he was present, it seems reasonable to suppose that
he spoke. But it was the oration of the Pope that was most important.
As he lifted up his hands to ensure attention, every voice immediately
became still. He began by detailing the miseries endured by their
brethren in the Holy Land; how the plains of Palestine were desolated
by the outrageous heathen, who with the sword and the firebrand carried
wailing into the dwellings and flames into the possessions of the
faithful; how Christian wives and daughters were defiled by pagan lust;
how the altars of the true God were desecrated, and the relics of the
saints trodden under foot. "You," continued the eloquent pontiff, (and
Urban the Second was one of the most eloquent men of the day,) "you,
who hear me, and who have received the true faith, and been endowed by
God with power, and strength, and greatness of soul,--whose ancestors
have been the prop of Christendom, and whose kings have put a barrier
against the progress of the infidel,--I call upon you to wipe off these
impurities from the face of the earth, and lift your oppressed
fellow-christians from the depths into which they have been trampled.
The sepulchre of Christ is possessed by the heathen, the sacred places
dishonoured by their vileness. Oh, brave knights and faithful people!
offspring of invincible fathers! ye will not degenerate from your
ancient renown. Ye will not be restrained from embarking in this great
cause by the tender ties of wife or little ones, but will remember the
words of the Saviour of the world himself, 'Whosoever loves father and
mother more than me is not worthy of me.  Whosoever shall abandon for
my name's sake his house, or his brethren, or his sisters, or his
father, or his mother, or his wife, or his children, or his lands,
shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.'"

The warmth of the pontiff communicated itself to the crowd, and the
enthusiasm of the people broke out several times ere he concluded his
address. He went on to pourtray, not only the spiritual but the
temporal advantages, that should accrue to those who took up arms in
the service of the Cross. Palestine was, he said, a land flowing with
milk and honey, and precious in the sight of God, as the scene of the
grand events which had saved mankind. That land, he promised, should be
divided among them. Moreover, they should have full pardon for all
their offences, either against God or man. "Go, then," he added, "in
expiation of your sins; and go assured, that after this world shall
have passed away, imperishable glory shall be yours in the world which
is to come." The enthusiasm was no longer to be restrained, and loud
shouts interrupted the speaker; the people exclaiming as if with one
voice, "Dieu le veult! Dieu le veult!" With great presence of mind
Urban took advantage of the outburst, and as soon as silence was
obtained, continued: "Dear brethren, to-day is shown forth in you that
which the Lord has said by his evangelist, 'When two or three are
gathered together in my name, there will I be in the midst of them to
bless them.' If the Lord God had not been in your souls, you would not
all have pronounced the same words; or rather God himself pronounced
them by your lips, for it was He that put them in your hearts. Be they,
then, your war-cry in the combat, for those words came forth from God.
Let the army of the Lord when it rushes upon His enemies shout but that
one cry, 'Dieu le veult! Dieu le veult!'  Let whoever is inclined to
devote himself to this holy cause make it a solemn engagement, and bear
the cross of the Lord either on his breast or his brow till he set out,
and let him who is ready to begin his march place the holy emblem on
his shoulders, in memory of that precept of our Saviour, 'He who does
not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.'"

The news of this council spread to the remotest parts of Europe in an
incredibly short space of time. Long before the fleetest horseman could
have brought the intelligence it was known by the people in distant
provinces, a fact which was considered as nothing less than
supernatural. But the subject was in everybody's mouth, and the minds
of men were prepared for the result. The enthusiastic only asserted
what they wished, and the event tallied with their prediction. This
was, however, quite enough in those days for a miracle, and as a
miracle every one regarded it.

For several months after the council of Clermont, France and Germany
presented a singular spectacle. The pious, the fanatic, the needy, the
dissolute, the young and the old, even women and children, and the halt
and lame, enrolled themselves by hundreds. In every village the clergy
were busied in keeping up the excitement, promising eternal rewards to
those who assumed the red cross, and fulminating the most awful
denunciations against all the worldly-minded who refused or even
hesitated. Every debtor who joined the crusade was freed by the papal
edict from the claims of his creditors; outlaws of every grade were
made equal with the honest upon the same conditions.  The property of
those who went was placed under the protection of the church, and St.
Paul and St. Peter themselves were believed to descend from their high
abode, to watch over the chattels of the absent pilgrims. Signs and
portents were seen in the air to increase the fervour of the multitude.
An aurora-borealis of unusual brilliancy appeared, and thousands of the
crusaders came out to gaze upon it, prostrating themselves upon the
earth in adoration. It was thought to be a sure prognostic of the
interposition of the Most High; and a representation of his armies
fighting with and overthrowing the infidels. Reports of wonders were
everywhere rife. A monk had seen two gigantic warriors on horseback,
the one representing a Christian and the other a Turk, fighting in the
sky with flaming swords, the Christian of course overcoming the Paynim.
Myriads of stars were said to have fallen from heaven, each
representing the fall of a Pagan foe.  It was believed at the same time
that the Emperor Charlemagne would rise from the grave, and lead on to
victory the embattled armies of the Lord. A singular feature of the
popular madness was the enthusiasm of the women. Everywhere they
encouraged their lovers and husbands to forsake all things for the holy
war. Many of them burned the sign of the cross upon their breasts and
arms, and coloured the wound with a red dye, as a lasting memorial of
their zeal. Others, still more zealous, impressed the mark by the same
means upon the tender limbs of young children and infants at the breast.

Guibert de Nogent tells of a monk who made a large incision upon his
forehead in the form of a cross, which he coloured with some powerful
ingredient, telling the people that an angel had done it when he was
asleep. This monk appears to have been more of a rogue than a fool, for
he contrived to fare more sumptuously than any of his brother pilgrims,
upon the strength of his sanctity. The crusaders everywhere gave him
presents of food and money, and he became quite fat ere he arrived at
Jerusalem, notwithstanding the fatigues of the way. If he had
acknowledged in the first place that he had made the wound himself, he
would not have been thought more holy than his fellows; but the story
of the angel was a clincher.

All those who had property of any description rushed to the mart to
change it into hard cash. Lands and houses could be had for a quarter
of their value, while arms and accoutrements of war rose in the same
proportion. Corn, which had been excessively dear in anticipation of a
year of scarcity, suddenly became plentiful; and such was the
diminution in the value of provisions, that seven sheep were sold for
five deniers.[Guibert de Nogent] The nobles mortgaged their estates for
mere trifles to Jews and unbelievers, or conferred charters of immunity
upon the towns and communes within their fiefs, for sums which, a few
years previously, they would have rejected with disdain. The farmer
endeavoured to sell his plough, and the artisan his tools, to purchase
a sword for the deliverance of Jerusalem. Women disposed of their
trinkets for the same purpose. During the spring and summer of this
year (1096) the roads teemed with crusaders, all hastening to the towns
and villages appointed as the rendezvous of the district. Some were on
horseback, some in carts, and some came down the rivers in boats and
rafts, bringing their wives and children, all eager to go to Jerusalem.
Very few knew where Jerusalem was. Some thought it fifty thousand miles
away, while others imagined that it was but a month's journey, while at
sight of every town or castle, the children exclaimed, "Is that
Jerusalem? Is that the city?" [Guibert de Nogent]  Parties of knights
and nobles might be seen travelling eastward, and amusing themselves as
they went with the knightly diversion of hawking to lighten the
fatigues of the way.

Guibert de Nogent, who did not write from hearsay, but from actual
observation, says, the enthusiasm was so contagious, that when any one
heard the orders of the Pontiff, he went instantly to solicit his
neighbours and friends to join with him in "the way of God," for so
they called the proposed expedition. The Counts Palatine were full of
the desire to undertake the journey, and all the inferior knights were
animated with the same zeal. Even the poor caught the flame so
ardently, that no one paused to think of the inadequacy of his means,
or to consider whether he ought to yield up his house and his vine and
his fields. Each one set about selling his property, at as low a price
as if he had been held in some horrible captivity, and sought to pay
his ransom without loss of time. Those who had not determined upon the
journey, joked and laughed at those who were thus disposing of their
goods at such ruinous prices, prophesying that the expedition would be
miserable and their return worse. But they held this language only for
a day. The next, they were suddenly seized with the same frenzy as the
rest. Those who had been loudest in their jeers gave up all their
property for a few crowns, and set out with those they had so laughed
at a few hours before. In most cases the laugh was turned against them,
for when it became known that a man was hesitating, his more zealous
neighbours sent him a present of a knitting needle or a distaff, to
show their contempt of him. There was no resisting this, so that the
fear of ridicule contributed its fair contingent to the armies of the

Another effect of the crusade was, the religious obedience with which
it inspired the people and the nobility for that singular institution
"The Truce of God."  At the commencement of the eleventh century, the
clergy of France, sympathizing for the woes of the people, but unable
to diminish them, by repressing the rapacity and insolence of the
feudal chiefs, endeavoured to promote universal good-will by the
promulgation of the famous "Peace of God." All who conformed to it
bound themselves by oath not to take revenge for any injury, not to
enjoy the fruits of property usurped from others, nor to use deadly
weapons; in reward of which they would receive remission of all their
sins. However benevolent the intention of this "Peace," it led to
nothing but perjury, and violence reigned as uncontrolled as before. In
the year 1041 another attempt was made to soften the angry passions of
the semi-barbarous chiefs, and the "Truce of God" was solemnly
proclaimed. The truce lasted from the Wednesday evening to the Monday
morning of every week, in which interval it was strictly forbidden to
recur to violence on any pretext, or to seek revenge for any injury. It
was impossible to civilize men by these means; few even promised to
become peaceable for so unconscionable a period as five days a week;
or, if they did, they made ample amends on the two days left open to
them. The truce was afterwards shortened from the Saturday evening to
the Monday morning; but little or no diminution of violence and
bloodshed was the consequence. At the council of Clermont, Urban II.
again solemnly proclaimed the truce. So strong was the religious
feeling, that every one hastened to obey. All minor passions
disappeared before the grand passion of crusading; the noble ceased to
oppress, the robber to plunder, and the people to complain; but one
idea was in all hearts, and there seemed to be no room for any other.

The encampments of these heterogeneous multitudes offered a singular
aspect. Those vassals who ranged themselves under the banners of their
lord, erected tents around his castle; while those who undertook the
war on their own account, constructed booths and huts in the
neighbourhood of the towns or villages, preparatory to their joining
some popular leader of the expedition. The meadows of France were
covered with tents. As the belligerents were to have remission of all
their sins on their arrival in Palestine, hundreds of them gave
themselves up to the most unbounded licentiousness: the courtezan, with
the red cross upon her shoulders, plied her shameless trade with
sensual pilgrims, without scruple on either side: the lover of good
cheer gave loose rein to his appetite, and drunkenness and debauchery
flourished. Their zeal in the service of the Lord was to wipe out all
faults and follies, and they had the same surety of salvation as the
rigid anchorite. This reasoning had charms for the ignorant, and the
sounds of lewd revelry and the voice of prayer rose at the same instant
from the camp.

It is now time to speak of the leaders of the expedition. Great
multitudes ranged themselves under the command of Peter the Hermit,
whom, as the originator, they considered the most appropriate leader of
the war. Others joined the banner of a bold adventurer, whom history
has dignified with no other name than that of Gautier sans Avoir, or
Walter the Pennyless, but who is represented as having been of noble
family, and well skilled in the art of war. A third multitude from
Germany flocked around the standard of a monk, named Gottschalk, of
whom nothing is known, except that he was a fanatic of the deepest dye.
All these bands, which together are said to have amounted to three
hundred thousand men, women, and children, were composed of the vilest
rascality of Europe. Without discipline, principle, or true courage,
they rushed through the nations like a pestilence, spreading terror and
death wherever they went. The first multitude that set forth was led by
Walter the Pennyless early in the spring of 1096, within a very few
months after the Council of Clermont. Each man of that irregular host
aspired to be his own master: like their nominal leader, each was poor
to penury, and trusted for subsistence on his journey to the chances of
the road. Rolling through Germany like a tide, they entered Hungary,
where, at first, they were received with some degree of kindness by the
people. The latter had not yet caught sufficient of the fire of
enthusiasm to join the crusade themselves, but were willing enough to
forward the cause by aiding those embarked in it. Unfortunately, this
good understanding did not last long. The swarm were not contented with
food for their necessities, but craved for luxuries also: they attacked
and plundered the dwellings of the country people, and thought nothing
of murder where resistance was offered. On their arrival before Semlin,
the outraged Hungarians collected in large numbers, and, attacking the
rear of the crusading host, slew a great many of the stragglers, and,
taking away their arms and crosses, affixed them as trophies to the
walls of the city. Walter appears to have been in no mood or condition
to make reprisals; for his army, destructive as a plague of locusts
when plunder urged them on, were useless against any regular attack
from a determined enemy.  Their rear continued to be thus harassed by
the wrathful Hungarians until they were fairly out of their territory.
On his entrance into Bulgaria, Walter met with no better fate; the
cities and towns refused to let him pass; the villages denied him
provisions; and the citizens and country people uniting, slaughtered
his followers by hundreds. The progress of the army was more like a
retreat than an advance; but as it was impossible to stand still,
Walter continued his course till he arrived at Constantinople, with a
force which famine and the sword had diminished to one-third of its
original number.

The greater multitude, led by the enthusiastic Hermit, followed close
upon his heels, with a bulky train of baggage, and women and children,
sufficient to form a host of themselves. If it were possible to find a
rabble more vile than the army of Walter the Pennyless it was that led
by Peter the Hermit. Being better provided with means, they were not
reduced to the necessity of pillage in their progress through Hungary;
and had they taken any other route than that which led through Semlin,
might perhaps have traversed the country without molestation. On their
arrival before that city, their fury was raised at seeing the arms and
red crosses of their predecessors hanging as trophies over the gates.
Their pent-up ferocity exploded at the sight.  The city was
tumultuously attacked, and the besiegers entering, not by dint of
bravery, but of superior numbers, it was given up to all the horrors
which follow when Victory, Brutality, and Licentiousness are linked
together. Every evil passion was allowed to revel with impunity, and
revenge, lust, and avarice,--each had its hundred victims in unhappy
Semlin. Any maniac can kindle a conflagration, but it requires many
wise men to put it out. Peter the Hermit had blown the popular fury
into a flame, but to cool it again was beyond his power. His followers
rioted unrestrained, until the fear of retaliation warned them to
desist. When the King of Hungary was informed of the disasters of
Semlin, he marched with a sufficient force to chastise the Hermit, who
at the news broke up his camp and retreated towards the Morava, a broad
and rapid stream that joins the Danube a few miles to the eastward of
Belgrade. Here a party of indignant Bulgarians awaited him, and so
harassed him as to make the passage of the river a task both of
difficulty and danger. Great numbers of his infatuated followers
perished in the waters, and many fell under the swords of the
Bulgarians. The ancient chronicles do not mention the amount of the
Hermit's loss at this passage, but represent it in general terms as
very great.

At Nissa the Duke of Bulgaria fortified himself, in fear of an assault;
but Peter, having learned a little wisdom from experience, thought it
best to avoid hostilities. He passed three nights in quietness under
the walls, and the duke, not wishing to exasperate unnecessarily so
fierce and rapacious a host, allowed the townspeople to supply them
with provisions. Peter took his departure peaceably on the following
morning, but some German vagabonds falling behind the main body of the
army, set fire to the mills and house of a Bulgarian, with whom, it
appears, they had had some dispute on the previous evening. The
citizens of Nissa, who had throughout mistrusted the crusaders, and
were prepared for the worst, sallied out immediately, and took signal
vengeance. The spoilers were cut to pieces, and the townspeople
pursuing the Hermit, captured all the women and children who had lagged
in the rear, and a great quantity of baggage. Peter hereupon turned
round and marched back to Nissa, to demand explanation of the Duke of
Bulgaria. The latter fairly stated the provocation given, and the
Hermit could urge nothing in palliation of so gross an outrage. A
negotiation was entered into which promised to be successful, and the
Bulgarians were about to deliver up the women and children when a party
of undisciplined crusaders, acting solely upon their own suggestion,
endeavoured to scale the walls and seize upon the town. Peter in vain
exerted his authority; the confusion became general, and after a short
but desperate battle, the crusaders threw down their arms and fled in
all directions. Their vast host was completely routed, the slaughter
being so great among them as to be counted, not by hundreds, but by

It is said that the Hermit fled from this fatal field to a forest a few
miles from Nissa, abandoned by every human creature. It would be
curious to know whether, after so dire a reverse,

  . . . . . . . . . . "His enpierced breast
  Sharp sorrow did in thousand pieces rive,"

or whether his fiery zeal still rose superior to calamity, and pictured
the eventual triumph of his cause. He, so lately the leader of a
hundred thousand men, was now a solitary skulker in the forests, liable
at every instant to be discovered by some pursuing Bulgarian, and cut
off in mid career. Chance at last brought him within sight of an
eminence where two or three of his bravest knights had collected five
hundred of the stragglers. These gladly received the Hermit, and a
consultation having taken place, it was resolved to gather together the
scattered remnants of the army. Fires were lighted on the hill, and
scouts sent out in all directions for the fugitives. Horns were sounded
at intervals to make known that friends were near, and before nightfall
the Hermit saw himself at the head of seven thousand men.  During the
succeeding day he was joined by twenty thousand more, and with this
miserable remnant of his force he pursued his route towards
Constantinople. The bones of the rest mouldered in the forests of

On his arrival at Constantinople, where he found Walter the Pennyless
awaiting him, he was hospitably received by the Emperor Alexius. It
might have been expected that the sad reverses they had undergone would
have taught his followers common prudence; but, unhappily for them,
their turbulence and love of plunder were not to be restrained.
Although they were surrounded by friends, by whom all their wants were
liberally supplied, they could not refrain from rapine. In vain the
Hermit exhorted them to tranquillity; he possessed no more power over
them, in subduing their passions, than the obscurest soldier of the
host, They set fire to several public buildings in Constantinople, out
of pure mischief, and stripped the lead from the roofs of the churches,
which, they afterwards sold for old metal in the purlieus of the city.
From this time may be dated the aversion which the Emperor Alexius
entertained for the crusaders, and which was afterwards manifested in
all his actions, even when he had to deal with the chivalrous and more
honourable armies which arrived after the Hermit. He seems to have
imagined that the Turks themselves were enemies less formidable to his
power than these outpourings of the refuse of Europe: he soon found a
pretext to hurry them into Asia Minor. Peter crossed the Bosphorus with
Walter, but the excesses of his followers were such, that, despairing
of accomplishing any good end by remaining at their head, he left them
to themselves, and returned to Constantinople, on the pretext of making
arrangements with the government of Alexius for a proper supply of
provisions. The crusaders, forgetting that they were in the enemy's
country, and that union, above all things, was desirable, gave
themselves up to dissensions. Violent disputes arose between the
Lombards and Normans, commanded by Walter the Pennyless, and the Franks
and Germans, led out by Peter. The latter separated themselves from the
former, and, choosing for their leader one Reinaldo, or Reinhold,
marched forward, and took possession of the fortress of Exorogorgon.
The Sultan Solimaun was on the alert, with a superior force. A party of
crusaders, which had been detached from the fort, and stationed at a
little distance as an ambuscade, were surprised and cut to pieces, and
Exorogorgon invested on all sides. The siege was protracted for eight
days, during which the Christians suffered the most acute agony from
the want of water. It is hard to say how long the hope of succour or
the energy of despair would have enabled them to hold out: their
treacherous leader cut the matter short by renouncing the Christian
faith, and delivering up the fort into the hands of the Sultan. He was
followed by two or three of his officers; all the rest, refusing to
become Mahometans, were ruthlessly put to the sword. Thus perished the
last wretched remnant of the vast multitude which had traversed Europe
with Peter the Hermit.

Walter the Pennyless and his multitude met as miserable a fate. On the
news of the disasters of Exorogorgon, they demanded to be led instantly
against the Turks. Walter, who only wanted good soldiers to have made a
good general, was cooler of head, and saw all the dangers of such a
step. His force was wholly insufficient to make any decisive movement
in a country where the enemy was so much superior, and where, in case
of defeat, he had no secure position to fall back upon; and he
therefore expressed his opinion against advancing until the arrival of
reinforcements. This prudent counsel found no favour: the army loudly
expressed their dissatisfaction at their chief, and prepared to march
forward without him. Upon this, the brave Walter put himself at their
head, and rushed to destruction. Proceeding towards Nice, the modern
Isnik, he was intercepted by the army of the Sultan: a fierce battle
ensued in which the Turks made fearful havoc; out of twenty-five
thousand Christians, twenty-two thousand were slain, and among them
Gautier himself, who fell pierced by seven mortal wounds. The remaining
three thousand retreated upon Civitot, where they intrenched themselves.

Disgusted as was Peter the Hermit at the excesses of the multitude,
who, at his call, had forsaken Europe, his heart was moved with grief
and pity at their misfortunes. All his former zeal revived: casting
himself at the feet of the Emperor Alexius, he implored him, with tears
in his eyes, to send relief to the few survivors at Civitot. The
Emperor consented, and a force was sent, which arrived just in time to
save them from destruction. The Turks had beleaguered the place, and
the crusaders were reduced to the last extremity.  Negotiations were
entered into, and the last three thousand were conducted in safety to
Constantinople. Alexius had suffered too much by their former excesses
to be very desirous of retaining them in his capital: he therefore
caused them all to be disarmed, and, furnishing each with a sum of
money, he sent them back to their own country.  While these events were
taking place, fresh hordes were issuing from the woods and wilds of
Germany, all bent for the Holy Land. They were commanded by a fanatical
priest, named Gottschalk, who, like Gautier and Peter the Hermit, took
his way through Hungary. History is extremely meagre in her details of
the conduct and fate of this host, which amounted to at least one
hundred thousand men. Robbery and murder seem to have journeyed with
them, and the poor Hungarians were rendered almost desperate by their
numbers and rapacity. Karloman, the king of the country, made a bold
effort to get rid of them; for the resentment of his people had arrived
at such a height, that nothing short of the total extermination of the
crusaders would satisfy them.  Gottschalk had to pay the penalty, not
only for the ravages of his own bands, but for those of the swarms that
had come before him. He and his army were induced, by some means or
other, to lay down their arms: the savage Hungarians, seeing them thus
defenceless, set upon them, and slaughtered them in great numbers. How
many escaped their arrows, we are not informed; but not one of them
reached Palestine.

Other swarms, under nameless leaders, issued from Germany and France,
more brutal and more frantic than any that had preceded them.  Their
fanaticism surpassed by far the wildest freaks of the followers of the
Hermit. In bands, varying in numbers from one to five thousand, they
traversed the country in all directions, bent upon plunder and
massacre. They wore the symbol of the crusade upon their shoulders, but
inveighed against the folly of proceeding to the Holy Land to destroy
the Turks, while they left behind them so many Jews, the still more
inveterate enemies of Christ. They swore fierce vengeance against this
unhappy race, and murdered all the Hebrews they could lay their hands
on, first subjecting them to the most horrible mutilation.  According
to the testimony of Albert Aquensis, they lived among each other in the
most shameless profligacy, and their vice was only exceeded by their
superstition. Whenever they were in search of Jews, they were preceded
by a goose and goat, which they believed to be holy, and animated with
divine power to discover the retreats of the unbelievers. In Germany
alone they slaughtered more than a thousand Jews, notwithstanding all
the efforts of the clergy to save them. So dreadful was the cruelty of
their tormentors, that great numbers of Jews committed self-destruction
to avoid falling into their hands.

Again it fell to the lot of the Hungarians to deliver Europe from these
pests. When there were no more Jews to murder, the bands collected in
one body, and took the old route to the Holy Land, a route stained with
the blood of three hundred thousand who had gone before, and destined
also to receive theirs. The number of these swarms has never been
stated; but so many of them perished in Hungary, that contemporary
writers, despairing of giving any adequate idea of their multitudes,
state that the fields were actually heaped with their corpses, and that
for miles in its course the waters of the Danube were dyed with their
blood. It was at Mersburg, on the Danube, that the greatest slaughter
took place,--a slaughter so great as to amount almost to extermination.
The Hungarians for a while disputed the passage of the river, but the
crusaders forced their way across, and attacking the city with the
blind courage of madness, succeeded in making a breach in the walls. At
this moment of victory an unaccountable fear came over them. Throwing
down their arms they fled panic-stricken, no one knew why, and no one
knew whither. The Hungarians followed, sword in hand, and cut them down
without remorse, and in such numbers, that the stream of the Danube is
said to have been choked up by their unburied bodies.

This was the worst paroxysm of the madness of Europe; and this passed,
her chivalry stepped upon the scene. Men of cool heads, mature plans,
and invincible courage stood forward to lead and direct the grand
movement of Europe upon Asia. It is upon these men that romance has
lavished her most admiring epithets, leaving to the condemnation of
history the vileness and brutality of those who went before. Of these
leaders the most distinguished were Godfrey of Bouillon Duke of
Lorraine, and Raymond Count of Toulouse. Four other chiefs of the royal
blood of Europe also assumed the Cross, and led each his army to the
Holy Land: Hugh, Count of Vermandois, brother of the King of France;
Robert, Duke of Normandy, the elder brother of William Rufus; Robert
Count of Flanders, and Boemund Prince of Tarentum, eldest son of the
celebrated Robert Guiscard. These men were all tinged with the
fanaticism of the age, but none of them acted entirely from religious
motives. They were neither utterly reckless like Gautier sans Avoir,
crazy like Peter the Hermit, nor brutal like Gottschalk the Monk, but
possessed each of these qualities in a milder form; their valour being
tempered by caution, their religious zeal by worldly views, and their
ferocity by the spirit of chivalry. They saw whither led the torrent of
the public will; and it being neither their wish nor their interest to
stem it, they allowed themselves to be carried with it, in the hope
that it would lead them at last to a haven of aggrandizement. Around
them congregated many minor chiefs, the flower of the nobility of
France and Italy, with some few from Germany, England, and Spain. It
was wisely conjectured that armies so numerous would find a difficulty
in procuring provisions if they all journeyed by the same road. They,
therefore, resolved to separate, Godfrey de Bouillon proceeding through
Hungary and Bulgaria, the Count of Toulouse through Lombardy and
Dalmatia, and the other leaders through Apulia to Constantinople, where
the several divisions were to reunite. The forces under these leaders
have been variously estimated. The Princess Anna Comnena talks of them
as having been as numerous as the sands on the sea-shore, or the stars
in the firmament. Fulcher of Chartres is more satisfactory, and
exaggerates less magnificently, when he states, that all the divisions,
when they had sat down before Nice in Bithynia, amounted to one hundred
thousand horsemen, and six hundred thousand men on foot, exclusive of
the priests, women and children. Gibbon is of opinion that this amount
is exaggerated; but thinks the actual numbers did not fall very far
short of the calculation. The Princess Anna afterwards gives the number
of those under Godfrey of Bouillon as eighty thousand foot and horse;
and supposing that each of the other chiefs led an army as numerous,
the total would be near half a million. This must be over rather than
under the mark, as the army of Godfrey of Bouillon was confessedly the
largest when it set out, and suffered less by the way than any other.

The Count of Vermandois was the first who set foot on the Grecian
territory. On his arrival at Durazzo he was received with every mark of
respect and courtesy by the agents of the Emperor, and his followers
were abundantly supplied with provisions. Suddenly however, and without
cause assigned, the Count was arrested by order of the Emperor Alexius,
and conveyed a close prisoner to Constantinople.  Various motives have
been assigned by different authors as having induced the Emperor to
this treacherous and imprudent proceeding. By every writer he has been
condemned for so flagrant a breach of hospitality and justice. The most
probable reason for his conduct appears to be that suggested by Guibert
of Nogent, who states that Alexius, fearful of the designs of the
crusaders upon his throne, resorted to this extremity in order
afterwards to force the Count to take the oath of allegiance to him, as
the price of his liberation.  The example of a prince so eminent as the
brother of the King of France, would, he thought, be readily followed
by the other chiefs of the Crusade. In the result he was wofully
disappointed, as every man deserves to be who commits positive evil
that doubtful good may ensue.  But this line of policy accorded well
enough with the narrowmindedness of the Emperor, who, in the enervating
atmosphere of his highly civilized and luxurious court, dreaded the
influx of the hardy and ambitious warriors of the West, and strove to
nibble away by unworthy means, the power which he had not energy enough
to confront. If danger to himself had existed from the residence of the
chiefs in his dominions, he might easily have averted it, by the simple
means of placing himself at the head of the European movement, and
directing its energies to their avowed object, the conquest of the Holy
Land.  But the Emperor, instead of being, as he might have been, the
lord and leader of the Crusades, which he had himself aided in no
inconsiderable degree to suscitate by his embassies to the Pope, became
the slave of men who hated and despised him. No doubt the barbarous
excesses of the followers of Gautier and Peter the Hermit made him look
upon the whole body of them with disgust, but it was the disgust of a
little mind, which is glad of any excuse to palliate or justify its own
irresolution and love of ease.

Godfrey of Bouillon traversed Hungary in the most quiet and orderly
manner. On his arrival at Mersburg he found the country strewed with
the mangled corpses of the Jew-killers, and demanded of the King of
Hungary for what reason his people had set upon them. The latter
detailed the atrocities they had committed, and made it so evident to
Godfrey that the Hungarians had only acted in self-defence, that the
high-minded leader declared himself satisfied and passed on, without
giving or receiving molestation. On his arrival at Philippopoli, he was
informed for the first time of the imprisonment of the Count of
Vermandois. He immediately sent messengers to the Emperor, demanding
the Count's release, and threatening, in case of refusal, to lay waste
the country with fire and sword. After waiting a day at Philippopoli he
marched on to Adrianople, where he was met by his messengers returning
with the Emperor's refusal. Godfrey, the bravest and most determined of
the leaders of the Crusade, was not a man to swerve from his word, and
the country was given up to pillage.  Alexius here committed another
blunder. No sooner did he learn from dire experience that the crusader
was not an utterer of idle threats, than he consented to the release of
the prisoner. As he had been unjust in the first instance, he became
cowardly in the second, and taught his enemies (for so the crusaders
were forced to consider themselves) a lesson which they took care to
remember to his cost, that they could hope nothing from his sense of
justice, but every thing from his fears. Godfrey remained encamped for
several weeks in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, to the great
annoyance of Alexius, who sought by every means to extort from him the
homage he had extorted from Vermandois. Sometimes he acted as if at
open and declared war with the crusaders, and sent his troops against
them.  Sometimes he refused to supply them with food, and ordered the
markets to be shut against them, while at other times he was all for
peace and goodwill, and sent costly presents to Godfrey. The honest,
straightforward crusader was at last so wearied by his false kindness,
and so pestered by his attacks, that, allowing his indignation to get
the better of his judgment, he gave up the country around
Constantinople to be plundered by his soldiers. For six days the flames
of the farm-houses around struck terror into the heart of Alexius, but
as Godfrey anticipated they convinced him of his error.  Fearing that
Constantinople itself would be the next object of attack, he sent
messengers to demand an interview with Godfrey, offering at the same
time to leave his son as a hostage for his good faith.  Godfrey agreed
to meet him, and, whether to put an end to these useless dissensions,
or for some other unexplained reason, he rendered homage to Alexius as
his liege lord. He was thereupon loaded with honours, and, according to
a singular custom of that age, underwent the ceremony of the "adoption
of honour," as son to the Emperor.  Godfrey, and his brother Baudouin
de Bouillon, conducted themselves with proper courtesy on this
occasion, but were not able to restrain the insolence of their
followers, who did not conceive themselves bound to keep any terms with
a man so insincere as he had shown himself. One barbarous chieftain,
Count Robert of Paris, carried his insolence so far as to seat himself
upon the throne, an insult which Alexius merely resented with a sneer,
but which did not induce him to look with less mistrust upon the hordes
that were still advancing.

It is impossible, notwithstanding his treachery, to avoid feeling some
compassion for the Emperor, whose life at this time was rendered one
long scene of misery by the presumption of the crusaders, and his not
altogether groundless fears of the evil they might inflict upon him,
should any untoward circumstance force the current of their ambition to
the conquest of his empire. His daughter, Anna Comnena, feelingly
deplores his state of life at this time, and a learned German, [M.
Wilken's Geschichte der Kreuzzuge.] in a recent work, describes it, on
the authority of the Princess, in the following manner:--

"To avoid all occasion of offence to the Crusaders, Alexius complied
with all their whims, and their (on many occasions) unreasonable
demands, even at the expense of great bodily exertion, at a time when
he was suffering severely under the gout, which eventually brought him
to his grave. No crusader who desired an interview with him was refused
access: he listened with the utmost patience to the long-winded
harangues which their loquacity or zeal continually wearied him with:
he endured, without expressing any impatience, the unbecoming and
haughty language which they permitted themselves to employ towards him,
and severely reprimanded his officers when they undertook to defend the
dignity of the Imperial station from these rude assaults; for he
trembled with apprehension at the slightest disputes, lest they might
become the occasion of greater evil. Though the Counts often appeared
before him with trains altogether unsuitable to their dignity and to
his--sometimes with an entire troop, which completely filled the Royal
apartment--the Emperor held his peace.  He listened to them at all
hours; he often seated himself on his throne at day-break to attend to
their wishes and requests, and the evening twilight saw him still in
the same place. Very frequently he could not snatch time to refresh
himself with meat and drink. During many nights he could not obtain any
repose, and was obliged to indulge in an unrefreshing sleep upon his
throne, with his head resting on his hands. Even this slumber was
continually disturbed by the appearance and harangues of some
newly-arrived rude knights. When all the courtiers, wearied out by the
efforts of the day and by night-watching, could no longer keep
themselves on their feet, and sank down exhausted--some upon benches
and others on the floor--Alexius still rallied his strength to listen
with seeming attention to the wearisome chatter of the Latins, that
they might have no occasion or pretext for discontent. In such a state
of fear and anxiety, how could Alexius comport himself with dignity and
like an Emperor?"

Alexius, however, had himself to blame, in a great measure, for the
indignities he suffered: owing to his insincerity, the crusaders
mistrusted him so much, that it became at last a common saying, that
the Turks and Saracens were not such inveterate foes to the Western or
Latin Christians as the Emperor Alexius and the Greeks.[Wilken] It
would be needless in this sketch, which does not profess to be so much
a history of the Crusades as of the madness of Europe, from which they
sprang, to detail the various acts of bribery and intimidation,
cajolery and hostility, by which Alexius contrived to make each of the
leaders in succession, as they arrived, take the oath of allegiance to
him as their Suzerain. One way or another he exacted from each the
barren homage on which he had set his heart, and they were then allowed
to proceed into Asia Minor. One only, Raymond de St. Gilles, Count of
Toulouse, obstinately refused the homage.

Their residence in Constantinople was productive of no good to the
armies of the Cross. Bickerings and contentions on the one hand, and
the influence of a depraved and luxurious court on the other, destroyed
the elasticity of their spirits, and cooled the first ardour of their
enthusiasm. At one time the army of the Count of Toulouse was on the
point of disbanding itself; and, had not their leader energetically
removed them across the Bosphorus, this would have been the result.
Once in Asia, their spirits in some degree revived, and the presence of
danger and difficulty nerved them to the work they had undertaken. The
first operation of the war was the siege of Nice, to gain possession of
which all their efforts were directed.

Godfrey of Bouillon and the Count of Vermandois were joined under its
walls by each host in succession, as it left Constantinople. Among the
celebrated crusaders who fought at this siege, we find, besides the
leaders already mentioned, the brave and generous Tancred, whose name
and fame have been immortalized in the Gerusalemme Liberata, the
valorous Bishop of Puy, Baldwin, afterwards King of Jerusalem, and
Peter the Hermit, now an almost solitary soldier, shorn of all the
power and influence he had formerly possessed. Kilij Aslaun, the Sultan
of Roum, and chief of the Seljukian Turks, whose deeds, surrounded by
the false halo of romance, are familiar to the readers of Tasso, under
the name of Soliman, marched to defend this city, but was defeated
after several obstinate engagements, in which the Christians showed a
degree of heroism that quite astonished him. The Turkish chief had
expected to find a wild undisciplined multitude, like that under Peter
the Hermit, without leaders capable of enforcing obedience; instead of
which he found the most experienced leaders of the age at the head of
armies that had just fanaticism enough to be ferocious, but not enough
to render them ungovernable. In these engagements, many hundreds fell
on both sides; and on both sides the most revolting barbarity was
practised: the crusaders cut off the heads of the fallen Mussulmans,
and sent them in paniers to Constantinople, as trophies of their
victory. After the temporary defeat of Kilij Aslaun, the siege of Nice
was carried on with redoubled vigour. The Turks defended themselves
with the greatest obstinacy, and discharged showers of poisoned arrows
upon the crusaders. When any unfortunate wretch was killed under the
walls, they let down iron hooks from above, and drew the body up,
which, after stripping and mutilating, they threw back again at the
besiegers. The latter were well supplied with provisions, and for
six-and-thirty days the siege continued without any relaxation of the
efforts on either side. Many tales are told of the almost superhuman
heroism of the Christian leaders--how one man put a thousand to flight;
and how the arrows of the faithful never missed their mark.  One
anecdote of Godfrey of Bouillon, related by Albert of Aix, is worth
recording, not only as showing the high opinion entertained of his
valour, but as showing the contagious credulity of the armies--a
credulity which as often led them to the very verge of defeat, as it
incited them to victory. One Turk, of gigantic stature, took his
station day by day on the battlements of Nice, and, bearing an enormous
bow, committed great havoc among the Christian host. Not a shaft he
sped, but bore death upon its point; and, although the Crusaders aimed
repeatedly at his breast, and he stood in the most exposed position,
their arrows fell harmless at his feet. He seemed to be invulnerable to
attack; and a report was soon spread abroad, that he was no other than
the Arch Fiend himself, and that mortal hand could not prevail against
him. Godfrey of Bouillon, who had no faith in the supernatural
character of the Mussulman, determined, if possible, to put an end to
the dismay which was rapidly paralyzing the exertions of his best
soldiers. Taking a huge cross-bow, he stood forward in front of the
army, to try the steadiness of his hand against the much-dreaded
archer: the shaft was aimed directly at his heart, and took fatal
effect. The Moslem fell amid the groans of the besieged, and the shouts
of Deus adjuva! Deus adjuva! the war-cry of the besiegers.

At last the crusaders imagined that they had overcome all obstacles,
and were preparing to take possession of the city, when to their great
astonishment they saw the flag of the Emperor Alexius flying from the
battlements. An emissary of the Emperor, named Faticius or Tatin, had
contrived to gain admission with a body of Greek troops at a point
which the crusaders had left unprotected, and had persuaded the Turks
to surrender to him rather than to the crusading forces. The greatest
indignation prevailed in the army when this stratagem was discovered,
and the soldiers were, with the utmost difficulty, prevented from
renewing the attack and besieging the Greek emissary.

The army, however, continued its march, and by some means or other was
broken into two divisions; some historians say accidentally, [Fulcher
of Chartres.--Guibert de Nogent.--Vital.] while others affirm by mutual
consent, and for the convenience of obtaining provisions on the way.
[William of Tyre.--Mills.--Wilken, &c.] The one division was composed
of the forces under Bohemund, Tancred, and the Duke of Normandy; while
the other, which took a route at some distance on the right, was
commanded by Godfrey of Bouillon and the other chiefs. The Sultan of
Roum, who, after his losses at Nice, had been silently making great
efforts to crush the crusaders at one blow, collected in a very short
time all the multitudinous tribes that owed him allegiance, and with an
army which, according to a moderate calculation, amounted to two
hundred thousand men, chiefly cavalry, he fell upon the first division
of the Christian host in the valley of Dorylaeum. It was early in the
morning of the 1st of July 1097, when the crusaders saw the first
companies of the Turkish horsemen pouring down upon them from the
hills. Bohemund had hardly time to set himself in order, and transport
his sick and helpless to the rear, when the overwhelming force of the
Orientals was upon him. The Christian army, composed principally of men
on foot, gave way on all sides, and the hoofs of the Turkish steeds,
and the poisoned arrows of their bowmen, mowed them down by hundreds.
After having lost the flower of their chivalry, the Christians
retreated upon their baggage, when a dreadful slaughter took place.
Neither women nor children, nor the sick, were spared. Just as they
were reduced to the last extremity, Godfrey of Bouillon and the Count
of Toulouse made their appearance on the field, and turned the tide of
battle. After an obstinate engagement the Turks fled, and their rich
camp fell into the bands of the enemy. The loss of the crusaders
amounted to about four thousand men, with several chiefs of renown,
among whom were Count Robert of Paris and William the brother of
Tancred. The loss of the Turks, which did not exceed this number,
taught them to pursue a different mode of warfare. The Sultan was far
from being defeated. With his still gigantic army, he laid waste all
the country on either side of the crusaders. The latter, who were
unaware of the tactics of the enemy, found plenty of provisions in the
Turkish camp; but so far from economizing these resources, they gave
themselves up for several days to the most unbounded extravagance. They
soon paid dearly for their heedlessness.  In the ravaged country of
Phrygia, through which they advanced towards Antiochetta, they suffered
dreadfully for want of food for themselves and pasture for their
cattle. Above them was a scorching sun, almost sufficient of itself to
dry up the freshness of the land, a task which the firebrands of the
Sultan had but too surely effected, and water was not to be had after
the first day of their march. The pilgrims died at the rate of five
hundred a-day. The horses of the knights perished on the road, and the
baggage which they had aided to transport, was either placed upon dogs,
sheep, and swine, or abandoned altogether. In some of the calamities
that afterwards befell them, the Christians gave themselves up to the
most reckless profligacy; but upon this occasion, the dissensions which
prosperity had engendered, were all forgotten. Religion, often
disregarded, arose in the stern presence of misfortune, and cheered
them as they died by the promises of eternal felicity.

At length they reached Antiochetta, where they found water in
abundance, and pastures for their expiring cattle. Plenty once more
surrounded them, and here they pitched their tents. Untaught by the
bitter experience of famine, they again gave themselves up to luxury
and waste.

On the 18th of October they sat down before the strong city of Antioch,
the siege of which, and the events to which it gave rise, are among the
most extraordinary incidents of the Crusade. The city, which is
situated on an eminence, and washed by the river Orontes, is naturally
a very strong position, and the Turkish garrison were well supplied
with provisions to endure a long siege. In this respect the Christians
were also fortunate, but, unluckily for themselves, unwise.  Their
force amounted to three hundred thousand fighting men; and we are
informed by Raymond d'Argilles, that they had so much provision, that
they threw away the greater part of every animal they killed, being so
dainty, that they would only eat particular parts of the beast. So
insane was their extravagance, that in less than ten days famine began
to stare them in the face. After making a fruitless attempt to gain
possession of the city by a coup de main, they, starving themselves,
sat down to starve out the enemy. But with want came a cooling of
enthusiasm. The chiefs began to grow weary of the expedition. Baldwin
had previously detached himself from the main body of the army, and,
proceeding to Edessa, had intrigued himself into the supreme power in
that little principality. The other leaders were animated with less
zeal than heretofore. Stephen of Chartres and Hugh of Vermandois began
to waver, unable to endure the privations which their own folly and
profusion had brought upon them. Even Peter the Hermit became sick at
heart ere all was over. When the famine had become so urgent that they
were reduced to eat human flesh in the extremity of their hunger,
Bohemund and Robert of Flanders set forth on an expedition to procure a
supply. They were in a slight degree successful; but the relief they
brought was not economized, and in two days they were as destitute as
before. Faticius, the Greek commander and representative of Alexius,
deserted with his division under pretence of seeking for food, and his
example was followed by various bodies of crusaders.

Misery was rife among those who remained, and they strove to alleviate
it by a diligent attention to signs and omens. These, with
extraordinary visions seen by the enthusiastic, alternately cheered and
depressed them according as they foretold the triumph or pictured the
reverses of the Cross. At one time a violent hurricane arose, levelling
great trees with the ground, and blowing down the tents of the
Christian leaders. At another time an earthquake shook the camp, and
was thought to prognosticate some great impending evil to the cause of
Christendom. But a comet which appeared shortly afterwards, raised them
from the despondency into which they had fallen; their lively
imaginations making it assume the form of a flaming cross leading them
on to victory. Famine was not the least of the evils they endured.
Unwholesome food, and the impure air from the neighbouring marshes,
engendered pestilential diseases, which carried them off more rapidly
than the arrows of the enemy. A thousand of them died in a day, and it
became at last a matter of extreme difficulty to afford them burial. To
add to their misery, each man grew suspicious of his neighbour; for the
camp was infested by Turkish spies, who conveyed daily to the besieged
intelligence of the movements and distresses of the enemy. With a
ferocity, engendered by despair, Bohemund caused two spies, whom he had
detected, to be roasted alive in presence of the army, and within sight
of the battlements of Antioch. But even this example failed to reduce
their numbers, and the Turks continued to be as well informed as the
Christians themselves of all that was passing in the camp.

The news of the arrival of a reinforcement of soldiers from Europe,
with an abundant stock of provisions, came to cheer them when reduced
to the last extremity. The welcome succour landed at St.  Simeon, the
port of Antioch, and about six miles from that city.  Thitherwards the
famishing crusaders proceeded in tumultuous bands, followed by Bohemund
and the Count of Toulouse, with strong detachments of their retainers
and vassals, to escort the supplies in safety to the camp. The garrison
of Antioch, forewarned of this arrival, was on the alert, and a corps
of Turkish archers was despatched to lie in ambuscade among the
mountains and intercept their return. Bohemund, laden with provisions,
was encountered in the rocky passes by the Turkish host. Great numbers
of his followers were slain, and he himself had just time to escape to
the camp with the news of his defeat. Godfrey of Bouillon, the Duke of
Normandy, and the other leaders had heard the rumour of this battle,
and were at that instant preparing for the rescue. The army was
immediately in motion, animated both by zeal and by hunger, and marched
so rapidly as to intercept the victorious Turks before they had time to
reach Antioch with their spoil. A fierce battle ensued, which lasted
from noon till the going down of the sun. The Christians gained and
maintained the advantage, each man fighting as if upon himself alone
had depended the fortune of the day. Hundreds of Turks perished in the
Orontes, and more than two thousand were left dead upon the field of
battle. All the provision was recaptured and brought in safety to the
camp, whither the crusaders returned singing Allelulia! or shouting
Deus adjuva! Deus adjuva!

This relief lasted for some days, and, had it been duly economized,
would have lasted much longer; but the chiefs had no authority, and
were unable to exercise any control over its distribution. Famine again
approached with rapid strides, and Stephen Count of Blois, not liking
the prospect, withdrew from the camp, with four thousand of his
retainers, and established himself at Alexandretta. The moral influence
of this desertion was highly prejudicial upon those who remained; and
Bohemund, the most impatient and ambitious of the chiefs, foresaw that,
unless speedily checked, it would lead to the utter failure of the
expedition. It was necessary to act decisively; the army murmured at
the length of the siege, and the Sultan was collecting his forces to
crush them. Against the efforts of the crusaders Antioch might have
held out for months; but treason within effected that, which courage
without might have striven for in vain.

Baghasihan, the Turkish Prince or Emir of Antioch, had under his
command an Armenian of the name of Phirouz, whom he had intrusted with
the defence of a tower on that part of the city wall which overlooked
the passes of the mountains. Bohemund, by means of a spy who had
embraced the Christian religion, and to whom he had given his own name
at baptism, kept up a daily communication with this captain, and made
him the most magnificent promises of reward, if he would deliver up his
post to the Christian knights. Whether the proposal was first made by
Bohemund or by the Armenian is uncertain, but that a good understanding
soon existed between them, is undoubted; and a night was fixed for the
execution of the project. Bohemund communicated the scheme to Godfrey
and the Count of Toulouse, with the stipulation that, if the city were
won, he, as the soul of the enterprise, should enjoy the dignity of
Prince of Antioch. The other leaders hesitated: ambition and jealousy
prompted them to refuse their aid in furthering the views of the
intriguer. More mature consideration decided them to acquiesce, and
seven hundred of the bravest knights were chosen for the expedition,
the real object of which, for fear of spies, was kept a profound secret
from the rest of the army. When all was ready, a report was
promulgated, that the seven hundred were intended to form an ambuscade
for a division of the Sultan's army, which was stated to be approaching.

Every thing favoured the treacherous project of the Armenian captain,
who, on his solitary watchtower, received due intimation of the
approach of the crusaders. The night was dark and stormy; not a star
was visible above, and the wind howled so furiously as to overpower all
other sounds: the rain fell in torrents, and the watchers on the towers
adjoining to that of Phirouz could not hear the tramp of the armed
knights for the wind, nor see them for the obscurity of the night and
the dismalness of the weather. When within shot of the walls, Bohemund
sent forward an interpreter to confer with the Armenian. The latter
urged them to make haste, and seize the favourable interval, as armed
men, with lighted torches, patrolled the battlements every half hour,
and at that instant they had just passed.  The chiefs were instantly at
the foot of the wall: Phirouz let down a rope; Bohemund attached it to
the end of a ladder of hides, which was then raised by the Armenian,
and held while the knights mounted. A momentary fear came over the
spirits of the adventurers, and every one hesitated. At last Bohemund,
[Vide William of Tyre.] encouraged by Phirouz from above, ascended a
few steps on the ladder, and was followed by Godfrey, Count Robert of
Flanders, and a number of other knights. As they advanced, others
pressed forward, until their weight became too great for the ladder,
which, breaking, precipitated about a dozen of them to the ground,
where they fell one upon the other, making a great clatter with their
heavy coats of mail. For a moment they thought that all was lost; but
the wind made so loud a howling as it swept in fierce gusts through the
mountain gorges--and the Orontes, swollen by the rain, rushed so
noisily along--that the guards heard nothing. The ladder was easily
repaired, and the knights ascended two at a time, and reached the
platform in safety, When sixty of them had thus ascended, the torch of
the coming patrol was seen to gleam at the angle of the wall. Hiding
themselves behind a buttress, they awaited his coming in breathless
silence. As soon as he arrived at arm's length, he was suddenly seized,
and, before he could open his lips to raise an alarm, the silence of
death closed them up for ever.  They next descended rapidly the spiral
staircase of the tower, and, opening the portal, admitted the whole of
their companions. Raymond of Toulouse, who, cognizant of the whole
plan, had been left behind with the main body of the army, heard at
this instant the signal horn, which announced that an entry had been
effected, and, leading on his legions, the town was attacked from
within and without.

Imagination cannot conceive a scene more dreadful than that presented
by the devoted city of Antioch on that night of horror. The crusaders
fought with a blind fury, which fanaticism and suffering alike incited.
Men, women, and children were indiscriminately slaughtered till the
streets ran in gore. Darkness increased the destruction, for when
morning dawned the crusaders found themselves with their swords at the
breasts of their fellow-soldiers, whom they had mistaken for foes. The
Turkish commander fled, first to the citadel, and that becoming
insecure, to the mountains, whither he was pursued and slain, his grey
head brought back to Antioch as a trophy.  At daylight the massacre
ceased, and the crusaders gave themselves up to plunder. They found
gold, and jewels, and silks, and velvets in abundance, but, of
provisions, which were of more importance to them, they found but
little of any kind. Corn was excessively scarce, and they discovered to
their sorrow that in this respect the besieged had been but little
better off than the besiegers.

Before they had time to instal themselves in their new position, and
take the necessary measures for procuring a supply, the city was
invested by the Turks. The Sultan of Persia had raised an immense army,
which he intrusted to the command of Kerbogha, the Emir of Mosul, with
instructions to sweep the Christian locusts from the face of the land.
The Emir effected junction with Kilij Aslaun, and the two armies
surrounded the city. Discouragement took complete possession of the
Christian host, and numbers of them contrived to elude the vigilance of
the besiegers, and escape to Count Stephen of Blots at Alexandretta, to
whom they related the most exaggerated tales of the misery they had
endured, and the utter hopelessness of continuing the war. Stephen
forthwith broke up his camp and retreated towards Constantinople. On
his way he was met by the Emperor Alexius, at the head of a
considerable force, hastening to take possession of the conquests made
by the Christians in Asia. As soon as he heard of their woeful plight,
he turned back, and proceeded with the Count of Blots to
Constantinople, leaving the remnant of the crusaders to shift for

The news of this defection increased the discouragement at Antioch. All
the useless horses of the army had been slain and eaten, and dogs,
cats, and rats were sold at enormous prices. Even vermin were becoming
scarce. With increasing famine came a pestilence, so that in a short
time but sixty thousand remained of the three hundred thousand that had
originally invested Antioch. But this bitter extremity, while it
annihilated the energy of the host, only served to knit the leaders
more firmly together; and Bohemund, Godfrey, and Tancred swore never to
desert the cause as long as life lasted. The former strove in vain to
reanimate the courage of his followers. They were weary and sick at
heart, and his menaces and promises were alike thrown away. Some of
them had shut themselves up in the houses, and refused to come forth.
Bohemund, to drive them to their duty, set fire to the whole quarter,
and many of them perished in the flames, while the rest of the army
looked on with the utmost indifference. Bohemund, animated himself by a
worldly spirit, did not know the true character of the crusaders, nor
understand the religious madness which had brought them in such shoals
from Europe. A priest, more clear-sighted, devised a scheme which
restored all their confidence, and inspired them with a courage so
wonderful as to make the poor sixty thousand emaciated, sick, and
starving zealots, put to flight the well-fed and six times as numerous
legions of the Sultan of Persia.

This priest, a native of Provence, was named Peter Barthelemy, and
whether he were a knave or an enthusiast, or both; a principal, or a
tool in the hands of others, will ever remain a matter of doubt.
Certain it is, however, that he was the means of raising the siege of
Antioch, and causing the eventual triumph of the armies of the Cross.
When the strength of the crusaders was completely broken by their
sufferings, and hope had fled from every bosom, Peter came to Count
Raymond of Toulouse, and demanded an interview on matters of serious
moment. He was immediately admitted. He said that, some weeks
previously, at the time the Christians were besieging Antioch, he was
reposing alone in his tent, when he was startled by the shock of the
earthquake, which had so alarmed the whole host. Through violent terror
of the shock he could only ejaculate, God help me! when turning round
he saw two men standing before him, whom he at once recognized by the
halo of glory around them as beings of another world. One of them
appeared to be an aged man, with reddish hair sprinkled with grey,
black eyes, and a long flowing grey beard. The other was younger,
larger, and handsomer, and had something more divine in his aspect. The
elderly man alone spoke, and informed him that he was the Holy Apostle
St. Andrew, and desired him to seek out the Count Raymond, the Bishop
of Puy, and Raymond of Altopulto, and ask them why the Bishop did not
exhort the people, and sign them with the cross which he bore. The
Apostle then took him, naked in his shirt as he was, and transported
him through the air into the heart of the city of Antioch, where he led
him into the church of St. Peter, at that time a Saracen mosque. The
Apostle made him stop by the pillar close to the steps by which they
ascend on the south side to the altar, where hung two lamps, which gave
out a light brighter than that of the noonday sun; the younger man,
whom he did not at that time know, standing afar off, near the steps of
the altar. The Apostle then descended into the ground and brought up a
lance, which he gave into his hand, telling him that it was the very
lance that had opened the side whence had flowed the salvation of the
world. With tears of joy he held the holy lance, and implored the
Apostle to allow him to take it away and deliver it into the hands of
Count Raymond. The Apostle refused, and buried the lance again in the
ground, commanding him, when the city was won from the infidels, to go
with twelve chosen men, and dig it up again in the same place. The
Apostle then transported him back to his tent, and the two vanished
from his sight. He had neglected, he said, to deliver this message,
afraid that his wonderful tale would not obtain credence from men of
such high rank. After some days he again saw the holy vision, as he was
gone out of the camp to look for food.  This time the divine eyes of
the younger looked reproachfully upon him. He implored the Apostle to
choose some one else more fitted for the mission, but the Apostle
refused, and smote him with a disorder of the eyes, as a punishment for
his disobedience. With an obstinacy unaccountable even to himself, he
had still delayed. A third time the Apostle and his companion had
appeared to him, as he was in a tent with his master William at St.
Simeon. On that occasion St. Andrew told him to bear his command to the
Count of Toulouse not to bathe in the waters of the Jordan when he came
to it, but to cross over in a boat, clad in a shirt and breeches of
linen, which he should sprinkle with the sacred waters of the river.
These clothes he was afterwards to preserve along with the holy lance.
His master William, although he could not see the saint, distinctly
heard the voice giving orders to that effect. Again he neglected to
execute the commission, and again the saints appeared to him, when he
was at the port of Mamistra, about to sail for Cyprus, and St. Andrew
threatened him with eternal perdition if he refused longer. Upon this
he made up his mind to divulge all that had been revealed to him.

The Count of Toulouse, who, in all probability, concocted this precious
tale with the priest, appeared struck with the recital, and sent
immediately for the Bishop of Puy and Raymond of Altapulto. The Bishop
at once expressed his disbelief of the whole story, and refused to have
anything to do in the matter. The Count of Toulouse, on the contrary,
saw abundant motives, if not for believing, for pretending to believe;
and, in the end, he so impressed upon the mind of the Bishop the
advantage that might be derived from it, in working up the popular mind
to its former excitement, that the latter reluctantly agreed to make
search in due form for the holy weapon. The day after the morrow was
fixed upon for the ceremony, and, in the mean time, Peter was consigned
to the care of Raymond, the Count's chaplain, in order that no profane
curiosity might have an opportunity of cross-examining him, and putting
him to a nonplus.

Twelve devout men were forthwith chosen for the undertaking, among whom
were the Count of Toulouse and his chaplain. They began digging at
sunrise, and continued unwearied till near sunset, without finding the
lance;--they might have dug till this day with no better success, had
not Peter himself sprung into the pit, praying to God to bring the
lance to light, for the strengthening and victory of his people. Those
who hide know where to find; and so it was with Peter, for both he and
the lance found their way into the hole at the same time. On a sudden,
he and Raymond, the chaplain, beheld its point in the earth, and
Raymond, drawing it forth, kissed it with tears of joy, in sight of the
multitude which had assembled in the church. It was immediately
enveloped in a rich purple cloth, already prepared to receive it, and
exhibited in this state to the faithful, who made the building resound
with their shouts of gladness.

Peter had another vision the same night, and became from that day forth
"dreamer of dreams," in general, to the army. He stated on the
following day, that the Apostle Andrew and "the youth with the divine
aspect" appeared to him again, and directed that the Count of Toulouse,
as a reward for his persevering piety, should carry the Holy Lance at
the head of the army, and that the day on which it was found should be
observed as a solemn festival throughout Christendom. St.  Andrew
showed him, at the same time, the holes in the feet and hands of his
benign companion; and he became convinced that he stood in the awful
presence of THE REDEEMER.

Peter gained so much credit by his visions that dreaming became
contagious. Other monks beside himself were visited by the saints, who
promised victory to the host if it would valiantly hold out to the
last, and crowns of eternal glory to those who fell in the fight. Two
deserters, wearied of the fatigues and privations of the war, who had
stealthily left the camp, suddenly returned, and seeking Bohemund, told
him that they had been met by two apparitions, who, with great anger,
had commanded them to return. The one of them said, that he recognized
his brother, who had been killed in battle some months before, and that
he had a halo of glory around his head. The other, still more hardy,
asserted that the apparition which had spoken to him was the Saviour
himself, who had promised eternal happiness as his reward if he
returned to his duty, but the pains of eternal fire if he rejected the
cross. No one thought of disbelieving these men. The courage of the
army immediately revived; despondency gave way to hope; every arm grew
strong again, and the pangs of hunger were for a time disregarded. The
enthusiasm which had led them from Europe burned forth once more as
brightly as ever, and they demanded, with loud cries, to be led against
the enemy. The leaders were not unwilling. In a battle lay their only
chance of salvation; and although Godfrey, Bohemund, and Tancred
received the story of the lance with much suspicion, they were too wise
to throw discredit upon an imposture which bade fair to open the gates
of victory.

Peter the Hermit was previously sent to the camp of Kerbogha to propose
that the quarrel between the two religions should be decided by a
chosen number of the bravest soldiers of each army. Kerbogha turned
from him with a look of contempt, and said he could agree to no
proposals from a set of such miserable beggars and robbers. With this
uncourteous answer Peter returned to Antioch. Preparations were
immediately commenced for an attack upon the enemy: the latter
continued to be perfectly well informed of all the proceedings of the
Christian camp. The citadel of Antioch, which remained in their
possession, overlooked the town, and the commander of the fortress
could distinctly see all that was passing within. On the morning of the
28th of June 1098 a black flag, hoisted from its highest tower,
announced to the besieging army that the Christians were about to sally

The Moslem leaders knew the sad inroads that famine and disease had
made upon the numbers of the foe: they knew that not above two hundred
of the knights had horses to ride upon, and that the foot soldiers were
sick and emaciated; but they did not know the almost incredible valour
which superstition had infused into their hearts.  The story of the
lance they treated with the most supreme contempt, and, secure of an
easy victory, they gave themselves no trouble in preparing for the
onslaught. It is related that Kerbogha was playing a game at chess,
when the black flag on the citadel gave warning of the enemy's
approach, and that, with true oriental coolness, he insisted upon
finishing the game ere he bestowed any of his attention upon a foe so
unworthy. The defeat of his advanced post of two thousand men aroused
him from his apathy.

The crusaders, after this first victory, advanced joyfully towards the
mountains, hoping to draw the Turks to a place where their cavalry
would be unable to manoeuvre. Their spirits were light and their
courage high, as led on by the Duke of Normandy, Count Robert of
Flanders, and Hugh of Vermandois, they came within sight of the
splendid camp of the enemy. Godfrey of Bouillon and Adhemar, Bishop of
Puy, followed immediately after these leaders, the latter clad in
complete armour, and bearing the Holy Lance within sight of the whole
army: Bohemund and Tancred brought up the rear.

Kerbogha, aware at last that his enemy was not so despicable, took
vigorous measures to remedy his mistake, and, preparing himself to meet
the Christians in front, he despatched the Sultan Soliman, of Roum, to
attack them in the rear. To conceal this movement, he set fire to the
dried weeds and grass with which the ground was covered, and Soliman,
taking a wide circuit with his cavalry, succeeded, under cover of the
smoke, in making good his position in the rear. The battle raged
furiously in front; the arrows of the Turks fell thick as hail, and
their well-trained squadrons trod the crusaders under their hoofs like
stubble. Still the affray was doubtful; for the Christians had the
advantage of the ground, and were rapidly gaining upon the enemy, when
the overwhelming forces of Soliman arrived in the rear.  Godfrey and
Tancred flew to the rescue of Bohemund, spreading dismay in the Turkish
ranks by their fierce impetuosity. The Bishop of Puy was left almost
alone with the Provencals to oppose the legions commanded by Kerbogha
in person; but the presence of the Holy Lance made a hero of the
meanest soldier in his train. Still, however, the numbers of the enemy
seemed interminable. The Christians, attacked on every side, began at
last to give way, and the Turks made sure of victory.

At this moment a cry was raised in the Christian host that the saints
were fighting on their side. The battle-field was clear of the smoke
from the burning weeds, which had curled away, and hung in white clouds
of fantastic shape on the brow of the distant mountains. Some
imaginative zealot, seeing this dimly through the dust of the battle,
called out to his fellows, to look at the army of saints, clothed in
white, and riding upon white horses, that were pouring over the hills
to the rescue. All eyes were immediately turned to the distant smoke;
faith was in every heart; and the old battle-cry, God wills it! God
wills it! resounded through the field, as every soldier, believing that
God was visibly sending His armies to his aid, fought with an energy
unfelt before. A panic seized the Persian and Turkish hosts, and they
gave way in all directions. In vain Kerbogha tried to rally them. Fear
is more contagious than enthusiasm, and they fled over the mountains
like deer pursued by the hounds. The two leaders, seeing the
uselessness of further efforts, fled with the rest; and that immense
army was scattered over Palestine, leaving nearly seventy thousand of
its dead upon the field of battle.

Their magnificent camp fell into the hands of the enemy, with its rich
stores of corn, and its droves of sheep and oxen. Jewels, gold, and
rich velvets in abundance were distributed among the army. Tancred
followed the fugitives over the hills, and reaped as much plunder as
those who had remained in the camp. The way, as they fled, was covered
with valuables, and horses of the finest breed of Arabia became so
plentiful, that every knight of the Christians was provided with a
steed. The crusaders, in this battle, acknowledge to have lost nearly
ten thousand men.

Their return to Antioch was one of joy indeed: the citadel was
surrendered at once, and many of the Turkish garrison embraced the
Christian faith, and the rest were suffered to depart. A solemn
thanksgiving was offered up by the Bishop of Puy, in which the whole
army joined, and the Holy Lance was visited by every soldier.

The enthusiasm lasted for some days, and the army loudly demanded to be
led forward to Jerusalem, the grand goal of all their wishes: but none
of their leaders was anxious to move;--the more prudent among them,
such as Godfrey and Tancred, for reasons of expediency; and the more
ambitious, such as the Count of Toulouse and Bohemund, for reasons of
self-interest. Violent dissensions sprang up again between all the
chiefs. Raymond of Toulouse, who was left at Antioch to guard the town,
had summoned the citadel to surrender, as soon as he saw that there was
no fear of any attack upon the part of the Persians; and the other
chiefs found, upon their return, his banner waving on its walls. This
had given great offence to Bohemund, who had stipulated the
principality of Antioch as his reward for winning the town in the first
instance. Godfrey and Tancred supported his claim, and, after a great
deal of bickering, the flag of Raymond was lowered from the tower, and
that of Bohemund hoisted in its stead, who assumed from that time the
title of Prince of Antioch. Raymond, however, persisted in retaining
possession of one of the city gates and its adjacent towers, which he
held for several months, to the great annoyance of Bohemund and the
scandal of the army. The Count became in consequence extremely
unpopular, although his ambition was not a whit more unreasonable than
that of Bohemund himself, nor of Baldwin, who had taken up his quarters
at Edessa, where he exercised the functions of a petty sovereign.

The fate of Peter Barthelemy deserves to be recorded. Honours and
consideration had come thick upon him after the affair of the lance,
and he consequently felt bound in conscience to continue the dreams
which had made him a personage of so much importance. The mischief of
it was, that like many other liars he had a very bad memory, and he
contrived to make his dreams contradict each other in the most palpable
manner. St. John one night appeared to him, and told one tale, while, a
week after, St. Paul told a totally different story, and held out hopes
quite incompatible with those of his apostolic brother. The credulity
of that age had a wide maw, and Peter's visions must have been absurd
and outrageous indeed, when the very men who had believed in the lance
refused to swallow any more of his wonders.  Bohemund at last, for the
purpose of annoying the Count of Toulouse, challenged poor Peter to
prove the truth of his story of the lance by the fiery ordeal. Peter
could not refuse a trial so common in that age, and being besides
encouraged by the Count and his chaplain, Raymond, an early day was
appointed for the ceremony. The previous night was spent in prayer and
fasting, according to custom, and Peter came forth in the morning
bearing the lance in his hand, and walked boldly up to the fire. The
whole army gathered round, impatient for the result, many thousands
still believing that the lance was genuine and Peter a holy man.
Prayers having been said by Raymond d'Agilles, Peter walked into the
flames, and had got nearly through, when pain caused him to lose his
presence of mind: the heat too affected his eyes, and, in his anguish,
he turned round unwittingly, and passed through the fire again, instead
of stepping out of it, as he should have done. The result was, that he
was burned so severely, that he never recovered, and, after lingering
for some days, he expired in great agony.

Most of the soldiers were suffering either from wounds, disease, or
weariness, and it was resolved by Godfrey,--the tacitly acknowledged
chief of the enterprize,--that the army should have time to refresh
itself ere they advanced upon Jerusalem. It was now July, and he
proposed that they should pass the hot months of August and September
within the walls of Antioch, and march forward in October with renewed
vigour, and numbers increased by fresh arrivals from Europe. This
advice was finally adopted, although the enthusiasts of the army
continued to murmur at the delay. In the mean time the Count of
Vermandois was sent upon an embassy to the Emperor Alexius at
Constantinople, to reproach him for his base desertion of the cause,
and urge him to send the reinforcements he had promised. The Count
faithfully executed his mission, (of which, by the way, Alexius took no
notice whatever,) and remained for some time at Constantinople, till
his zeal, never very violent, totally evaporated. He then returned to
France, sick of the Crusade, and determined to intermeddle with it no

The chiefs, though they had determined to stay at Antioch for two
months, could not remain quiet for so long a time. They would, in all
probability, have fallen upon each other, had there been no Turks in
Palestine upon whom they might vent their impetuosity. Godfrey
proceeded to Edessa, to aid his brother Baldwin in expelling the
Saracens from his principality, and the other leaders carried on
separate hostilities against them as caprice or ambition dictated. At
length the impatience of the army to be led against Jerusalem became so
great that the chiefs could no longer delay, and Raymond, Tancred, and
Robert of Normandy marched forward with their divisions, and laid siege
to the small but strong town of Marah. With their usual improvidence,
they had not food enough to last a beleaguering army for a week. They
suffered great privations in consequence, till Bohemund came to their
aid and took the town by storm. In connexion with this siege, the
chronicler, Raymond d'Agilles, (the same Raymond, the chaplain, who
figured in the affair of the Holy Lance,) relates a legend, in the
truth of which he devoutly believed, and upon which Tasso has founded
one of the most beautiful passages of his poem. It is worth preserving,
as showing the spirit of the age and the source of the extraordinary
courage manifested by the crusaders on occasions of extreme difficulty.
"One day," says Raymond, "Anselme de Ribeaumont beheld young Engelram,
the son of the Count de St. Paul, who had been killed at Marsh, enter
his tent. 'How is it,' said Anselme to him, 'that you, whom I saw lying
dead on the field of battle, are full of life?'--'You must know,'
replied Engelram, 'that those who fight for Jesus Christ never
die.'--'But whence,' resumed Anselme, 'comes that strange brightness
that surrounds you?' Upon this Engelram pointed to the sky, where
Anselme saw a palace of diamond and crystal.  'It is thence,' said he,
'that I derive the beauty which surprises you. My dwelling is there; a
still finer one is prepared for you, and you shall soon come to inhabit
it. Farewell! we shall meet again to-morrow.' With these words Engelram
returned to heaven. Anselme, struck by the vision, sent the next
morning for the priests, received the sacrament; and although full of
health, took a last farewell of all his friends, telling them that he
was about to leave this world. A few hours afterwards, the enemy having
made a sortie, Anselme went out against them sword in hand, and was
struck on the forehead by a stone from a Turkish sling, which sent him
to heaven, to the beautiful palace that was prepared for him."

New disputes arose between the Prince of Antioch and the Count of
Toulouse with regard to the capture of this town, which were with the
utmost difficulty appeased by the other chiefs. Delays also took place
in the progress of the army, especially before Arches, and the soldiery
were so exasperated that they were on the point of choosing new leaders
to conduct them to Jerusalem. Godfrey, upon this, set fire to his camp
at Arches, and marched forward. He was immediately joined by hundreds
of the Provencals of the Count of Toulouse. The latter, seeing the turn
affairs were taking, hastened after them, and the whole host proceeded
towards the holy city, so long desired amid sorrow, and suffering, and
danger. At Emmaus they were met by a deputation from the Christians of
Bethlehem, praying for immediate aid against the oppression of the
infidels. The very name of Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Saviour,
was music to their ears, and many of them wept with joy to think they
were approaching a spot so hallowed.  Albert of Aix informs us that
their hearts were so touched that sleep was banished from the camp, and
that, instead of waiting till the morning's dawn to recommence their
march, they set out shortly after midnight, full of hope and
enthusiasm. For upwards of four hours the mail-clad legions tramped
steadfastly forward in the dark, and when the sun arose in unclouded
splendour, the towers and pinnacles of Jerusalem gleamed upon their
sight. All the tender feelings of their nature were touched; no longer
brutal fanatics, but meek and humble pilgrims, they knelt down upon the
sod, and with tears in their eyes, exclaimed to one another,
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" Some of them kissed the holy ground, others
stretched themselves at full length upon it, in order that their bodies
might come in contact with the greatest possible extent of it, and
others prayed aloud. The women and children who had followed the camp
from Europe, and shared in all its dangers, fatigues, and privations,
were more boisterous in their joy; the former from long-nourished
enthusiasm, and the latter from mere imitation, [Guibert de Nogent
relates a curious instance of the imitativeness of these juvenile
crusaders. He says that, during the siege of Antioch, the Christian and
Saracen boys used to issue forth every evening from the town and camp
in great numbers under the command of captains chosen from among
themselves. Armed with sticks instead of swords, and stones instead of
arrows, they ranged themselves in battle order, and shouting each the
war-cry of their country, fought with the utmost desperation. Some of
them lost their eyes, and many became cripples for life from the
injuries they received on these occasions.] and prayed, and wept, and
laughed till they almost put the more sober to the blush.

The first ebullition of their gladness having subsided, the army
marched forward, and invested the city on all sides. The assault was
almost immediately begun; but after the Christians had lost some of
their bravest knights, that mode of attack was abandoned, and the army
commenced its preparations for a regular siege. Mangonels, moveable
towers, and battering rams, together with a machine called a sow, made
of wood, and covered with raw hides, inside of which miners worked to
undermine the walls, were forthwith constructed; and to restore the
courage and discipline of the army, which had suffered from the
unworthy dissensions of the chiefs, the latter held out the hand of
friendship to each other, and Tancred and the Count of Toulouse
embraced in sight of the whole camp. The clergy aided the cause with
their powerful voice, and preached union and goodwill to the highest
and the lowest. A solemn procession was also ordered round the city, in
which the entire army joined, prayers being offered up at every spot
which gospel records had taught them to consider as peculiarly sacred.

The Saracens upon the ramparts beheld all these manifestations without
alarm. To incense the Christians, whom they despised, they constructed
rude crosses, and fixed them upon the walls, and spat upon and pelted
them with dirt and stones. This insult to the symbol of their faith
raised the wrath of the crusaders to that height that bravery became
ferocity and enthusiasm madness. When all the engines of war were
completed the attack was recommenced, and every soldier of the
Christian army fought with a vigour which the sense of private wrong
invariably inspires. Every man had been personally outraged, and the
knights worked at the battering-rams with as much readiness as the
meanest soldiers. The Saracen arrows and balls of fire fell thick and
fast among them, but the tremendous rams still heaved against the
walls, while the best marksmen of the host were busily employed in the
several floors of the moveable towers in dealing death among the Turks
upon the battlements. Godfrey, Raymond, Tancred, and Robert of
Normandy, each upon his tower, fought for hours with unwearied energy,
often repulsed, but ever ready to renew the struggle. The Turks, no
longer despising the enemy, defended themselves with the utmost skill
and bravery till darkness brought a cessation of hostilities. Short was
the sleep that night in the Christian camp. The priests offered up
solemn prayers in the midst of the attentive soldiery for the triumph
of the Cross in this last great struggle, and as soon as morning dawned
every one was in readiness for the affray. The women and children lent
their aid, the latter running unconcerned to and fro while the arrows
fell fast around them, bearing water to the thirsty combatants. The
saints were believed to be aiding their efforts, and the army,
impressed with this idea, surmounted difficulties under which a force
thrice as numerous, but without their faith, would have quailed and
been defeated. Raymond of Toulouse at last forced his way into the city
by escalade, while at the very same moment Tancred and Robert of
Normandy succeeded in bursting open one of the gates. The Turks flew to
repair the mischief, and Godfrey of Bouillon, seeing the battlements
comparatively deserted, let down the drawbridge of his moveable tower,
and sprang forward, followed by all the knights of his train. In an
instant after, the banner of the Cross floated upon the walls of
Jerusalem. The crusaders, raising once more their redoubtable war-cry,
rushed on from every side, and the city was taken. The battle raged in
the streets for several hours, and the Christians, remembering their
insulted faith, gave no quarter to young or old, male or female, sick
or strong. Not one of the leaders thought himself at liberty to issue
orders for staying the carnage, and if he had, he would not have been
obeyed. The Saracens fled in great numbers to the mosque of Soliman,
but they had not time to fortify themselves within it ere the
Christians were upon them. Ten thousand persons are said to have
perished in that building alone.

Peter the Hermit, who had remained so long under the veil of neglect,
was repaid that day for all his zeal and all his sufferings.  As soon
as the battle was over, the Christians of Jerusalem issued forth from
their hiding-places to welcome their deliverers. They instantly
recognized the Hermit as the pilgrim who, years before, had spoken to
them so eloquently of the wrongs and insults they had endured, and
promised to stir up the princes and people of Europe in their behalf.
They clung to the skirts of his garments in the fervour of their
gratitude, and vowed to remember him for ever in their prayers. Many of
them shed tears about his neck, and attributed the deliverance of
Jerusalem solely to his courage and perseverance. Peter afterwards held
some ecclesiastical office in the Holy City, but what it was, or what
was his ultimate fate, history has forgotten to inform us. Some say
that he returned to France and founded a monastery, but the story does
not rest upon sufficient authority.

The grand object for which the popular swarms of Europe had forsaken
their homes was now accomplished. The Moslem mosques of Jerusalem were
converted into churches for a purer faith, and the mount of Calvary and
the sepulchre of Christ were profaned no longer by the presence or the
power of the infidel. Popular frenzy had fulfilled its mission, and, as
a natural consequence, it began to subside from that time forth. The
news of the capture of Jerusalem brought numbers of pilgrims from
Europe, and, among others, Stephen Count of Chartres and Hugh of
Vermandois, to atone for their desertion; but nothing like the former
enthusiasm existed among the nations.

Thus then ends the history of the first Crusade. For the better
understanding of the second, it will be necessary to describe the
interval between them, and to enter into a slight sketch of the history
of Jerusalem under its Latin kings, the long and fruitless wars they
continued to wage with the unvanquished Saracens, and the poor and
miserable results which sprang from so vast an expenditure of zeal, and
so deplorable a waste of human life.

The necessity of having some recognized chief was soon felt by the
crusaders, and Godfrey de Bouillon, less ambitious than Bohemund, or
Raymond of Toulouse, gave his cold consent to wield a sceptre which the
latter chiefs would have clutched with eagerness. He was hardly
invested with the royal mantle before the Saracens menaced his capital.
With much vigour and judgment he exerted himself to follow up the
advantages he had gained, and marching out to meet the enemy before
they had time to besiege him in Jerusalem, he gave them battle at
Ascalon, and defeated them with great loss. He did not, however, live
long to enjoy his new dignity, being seized with a fatal illness when
he had only reigned nine months. To him succeeded his brother, Baldwin
of Edessa. The latter monarch did much to improve the condition of
Jerusalem and to extend its territory, but was not able to make a firm
footing for his successors. For fifty years, in which the history of
Jerusalem is full of interest to the historical student, the crusaders
were exposed to fierce and constant hostilities, often gaining battles
and territory, and as often losing them, but becoming every day weaker
and more divided, while the Saracens became stronger and more united to
harass and root them out.  The battles of this period were of the most
chivalrous character, and deeds of heroism were done by the handful of
brave knights that remained in Syria, which have hardly their parallel
in the annals of war. In the course of time, however, the Christians
could not avoid feeling some respect for the courage, and admiration
for the polished manners and advanced civilization of the Saracens, so
much superior to the rudeness and semi-barbarism of Europe at that day.
Difference of faith did not prevent them from forming alliances with
the dark-eyed maidens of the East. One of the first to set the example
of taking a Paynim spouse was King Baldwin himself, and these
connexions in time became, not only frequent, but almost universal,
among such of the knights as had resolved to spend their lives in
Palestine. These Eastern ladies were obliged, however, to submit to the
ceremony of baptism before they could be received to the arms of a
Christian lord.  These, and their offspring, naturally looked upon the
Saracens with less hatred than did the zealots who conquered Jerusalem,
and who thought it a sin deserving the wrath of God to spare an
unbeliever. We find, in consequence, that the most obstinate battles
waged during the reigns of the later Kings of Jerusalem were fought by
the new and raw levies who from time to time arrived from Europe, lured
by the hope of glory, or spurred by fanaticism. The latter broke
without scruple the truces established between the original settlers
and the Saracens, and drew down severe retaliation upon many thousands
of their brethren in the faith, whose prudence was stronger than their
zeal, and whose chief desire was to live in peace.

Things remained in this unsatisfactory state till the close of the year
1145, when Edessa, the strong frontier town of the Christian kingdom,
fell into the bauds of the Saracens. The latter were commanded by
Zenghi, a powerful and enterprising monarch, and, after his death, by
his son Nourheddin, as powerful and enterprising as his father. An
unsuccessful attempt was made by the Count of Edessa to regain the
fortress, but Nourheddin, with a large army, came to the rescue, and
after defeating the Count with great slaughter, marched into Edessa and
caused its fortifications to be rased to the ground, that the town
might never more be a bulwark of defence for the kingdom of Jerusalem.
The road to the capital was now open, and consternation seized the
hearts of the Christians. Nourheddin, it was known, was only waiting
for a favourable opportunity to advance upon Jerusalem, and the armies
of the Cross, weakened and divided, were not in a condition to make any
available resistance. The clergy were filled with grief and alarm, and
wrote repeated letters to the Pope and the sovereigns of Europe, urging
the expediency of a new Crusade for the relief of Jerusalem. By far the
greater number of the priests of Palestine were natives of France, and
these naturally looked first to their own country. The solicitations
they sent to Louis the Seventh were urgent and oft repeated, and the
chivalry of France began to talk once more of arming in the defence of
the birthplace of Jesus. The kings of Europe, whose interest it had not
been to take any part in the first Crusade, began to bestir themselves
in this; and a man appeared, eloquent as Peter the Hermit, to arouse
the people as he had done.

We find, however, that the enthusiasm of the second did not equal that
of the first Crusade: in fact, the mania had reached its climax in the
time of Peter the Hermit, and decreased regularly from that period. The
third Crusade was less general than the second, and the fourth than the
third, and so on, until the public enthusiasm was quite extinct, and
Jerusalem returned at last to the dominion of its old masters without a
convulsion in Christendom. Various reasons have been assigned for this;
and one very generally put forward is, that Europe was wearied with
continued struggles, and had become sick of "precipitating itself upon
Asia." M. Guizot, in his admirable lectures upon European civilization,
successfully combats this opinion, and offers one of his own, which is
far more satisfactory. He says, in his eighth lecture, "It has been
often repeated, that Europe was tired of continually invading Asia.
This expression appears to me exceedingly incorrect. It is not possible
that human beings can be wearied with what they have not done--that the
labours of their forefathers can fatigue them. Weariness is a personal,
not an inherited feeling. The men of the thirteenth century were not
fatigued by the Crusades of the twelfth. They were influenced by
another cause. A great change had taken place in ideas, sentiments, and
social conditions. The same desires and the same wants were no longer
felt. The same things were no longer believed. The people refused to
believe what their ancestors were persuaded of."

This is, in fact, the secret of the change; and its truth becomes more
apparent as we advance in the history of the Crusades, and compare the
state of the public mind at the different periods when Godfrey of
Bouillon, Louis VII. and Richard I. were chiefs and leaders of the
movement. The Crusades themselves were the means of operating a great
change in national ideas, and advancing the civilization of Europe. In
the time of Godfrey, the nobles were all-powerful and all-oppressive,
and equally obnoxious to kings and people. During their absence along
with that portion of the community the deepest sunk in ignorance and
superstition, both kings and people fortified themselves against the
renewal of aristocratic tyranny, and in proportion as they became free,
became civilized. It was during this period that in France, the grand
centre of the crusading madness, the communes began to acquire
strength, and the monarch to possess a tangible and not a merely
theoretic authority. Order and comfort began to take root, and, when
the second Crusade was preached, men were in consequence much less
willing to abandon their homes than they had been during the first.
Such pilgrims as had returned from the Holy Land came back with minds
more liberal and expanded than when they set out. They had come in
contact with a people more civilized than themselves; they had seen
something more of the world, and had lost some portion, however small,
of the prejudice and bigotry of ignorance. The institution of chivalry
had also exercised its humanizing influence, and coming bright and
fresh through the ordeal of the Crusades, had softened the character
and improved the hearts of the aristocratic order. The Trouveres and
Troubadours, singing of love and war in strains pleasing to every class
of society, helped to root out the gloomy superstitions which, at the
first Crusade, filled the minds of all those who were able to think.
Men became in consequence less exclusively under the mental thraldom of
the priesthood, and lost much of the credulity which formerly
distinguished them.

The Crusades appear never to have excited so much attention in England
as on the continent of Europe; not because the people were less
fanatical than their neighbours, but because they were occupied in
matters of graver interest. The English were suffering too severely
from the recent successful invasion of their soil, to have much
sympathy to bestow upon the distresses of people so far away as the
Christians of Palestine; and we find that they took no part in the
first Crusade, and very little in the second. Even then those who
engaged in it were chiefly Norman knights and their vassals, and not
the Saxon franklins and population, who no doubt thought, in their
sorrow, as many wise men have thought since, that charity should begin
at home.

Germany was productive of more zeal in the cause, and her raw,
uncivilized hordes continued to issue forth under the banners of the
Cross in numbers apparently undiminished, when the enthusiasm had long
been on the wane in other countries. They were sunk at that time in a
deeper slough of barbarism than the livelier nations around them, and
took, in consequence, a longer period to free themselves from their
prejudices. In fact, the second Crusade drew its chief supplies of men
from that quarter, where alone the expedition can be said to have
retained any portion of popularity.

Such was the state of the mind of Europe when Pope Eugenius, moved by
the reiterated entreaties of the Christians of Syria, commissioned St.
Bernard to preach a new crusade. St. Bernard was a man eminently
qualified for the mission. He was endowed with an eloquence of the
highest order, could move an auditory to tears, or laughter, or fury,
as it pleased him, and had led a life of such rigid and self-denying
virtue, that not even calumny could lift her finger and point it at
him. He had renounced high prospects in the church, and contented
himself with the simple abbacy of Clairvaux, in order that he might
have the leisure he desired, to raise his powerful voice against abuses
wherever he found them. Vice met in him an austere and uncompromising
reprover; no man was too high for his reproach, and none too low for
his sympathy. He was just as well suited for his age as Peter the
Hermit had been for the age preceding. He appealed more to the reason,
his predecessor to the passions; Peter the Hermit collected a mob,
while St. Bernard collected an army. Both were endowed with equal zeal
and perseverance, springing, in the one, from impulse, and in the other
from conviction, and a desire to increase the influence of the church,
that great body of which he was a pillar and an ornament.

One of the first converts he made was in himself a host. Louis VII. was
both superstitious and tyrannical, and, in a fit of remorse for the
infamous slaughter he had authorised at the sacking of Vitry, he made a
vow to undertake the journey to the Holy Land. [The sacking of Vitry
reflects indelible disgrace upon Louis VII. His predecessors had been
long engaged in resistance to the outrageous powers assumed by the
Popes, and Louis continued the same policy. The ecclesiastical chapter
of Bourges, having elected an Archbishop without his consent, he
proclaimed the election to be invalid, and took severe and prompt
measures against the refractory clergy. Thibault, Count de Champagne,
took up arms in defence of the Papal authority, and intrenched himself
in the town of Vitry. Louis was immediately in the field to chastise
the rebel, and he besieged the town with so much vigour, that the Count
was forced to surrender. Upwards of thirteen hundred of the
inhabitants, fully one half of whom were women and children, took
refuge in the church; and, when the gates of the city were opened, and
all resistance had ceased, Louis inhumanly gave orders to set fire to
the church, and a thousand persons perished in the flames.] He was in
this disposition when St. Bernard began to preach, and wanted but
little persuasion to embark in the cause. His example had great
influence upon the nobility, who, impoverished as many of them were by
the sacrifices made by their fathers in the holy wars, were anxious to
repair their ruined fortunes by conquests on a foreign shore. These
took the field with such vassals as they could command, and, in a very
short time, an army was raised amounting to two hundred thousand men.
At Vezelai the monarch received the cross from the hands of St.
Bernard, on a platform elevated in sight of all the people. Several
nobles, three bishops, and his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, were
present at this ceremony, and enrolled themselves under the banners of
the Cross, St. Bernard cutting up his red sacerdotal vestments, and
making crosses of them, to be sewn on the shoulders of the people. An
exhortation from the Pope was read to the multitude, granting remission
of their sins to all who should join the Crusade, and directing that no
man on that holy pilgrimage should encumber himself with heavy baggage
and vain superfluities, and that the nobles should not travel with dogs
or falcons, to lead them from the direct road, as had happened to so
many during the first Crusade.

The command of the army was offered to St. Bernard; but he wisely
refused to accept a station for which his habits had unqualified him.
After consecrating Louis with great solemnity, at St. Denis, as chief
of the expedition, he continued his course through the country,
stirring up the people wherever he went. So high an opinion was
entertained of his sanctity, that he was thought to be animated by the
spirit of prophecy, and to be gifted with the power of working
miracles. Many women, excited by his eloquence, and encouraged by his
predictions, forsook their husbands and children, and, clothing
themselves in male attire, hastened to the war. St. Bernard himself
wrote a letter to the Pope, detailing his success, and stating, that in
several towns there did not remain a single male inhabitant capable of
bearing arms, and that everywhere castles and towns were to be seen
filled with women weeping for their absent husbands. But in spite of
this apparent enthusiasm, the numbers who really took up arms were
inconsiderable, and not to be compared to the swarms of the first
Crusade. A levy of no more than two hundred thousand men, which was the
utmost the number amounted to, could hardly have depopulated a country
like France to the extent mentioned by St. Bernard. His description of
the state of the country appears, therefore, to have been much more
poetical than true.

Suger, the able minister of Louis, endeavoured to dissuade him from
undertaking so long a journey at a time when his own dominions so much
needed his presence. But the king was pricked in his conscience by the
cruelties of Vitry, and was anxious to make the only reparation which
the religion of that day considered sufficient. He was desirous
moreover of testifying to the world, that though he could brave the
temporal power of the church when it encroached upon his prerogatives,
he could render all due obedience to its spiritual decrees whenever it
suited his interest or tallied with his prejudices to so do. Suger,
therefore, implored in vain, and Louis received the pilgrim's staff at
St. Denis, and made all preparations for his pilgrimage.

In the mean time St. Bernard passed into Germany, where similar success
attended his preaching. The renown of his sanctity had gone before him,
and he found everywhere an admiring audience. Thousands of people, who
could not understand a word he said, flocked around him to catch a
glimpse of so holy a man; and the knights enrolled themselves in great
numbers in the service of the Cross, each receiving from his hands the
symbol of the cause. But the people were not led away as in the days of
Gottschalk. We do not find that they rose in such tremendous masses of
two and three hundred thousand men, swarming over the country like a
plague of locusts. Still the enthusiasm was very great. The
extraordinary tales that were told and believed of the miracles worked
by the preacher brought the country people from far and near. Devils
were said to vanish at his sight, and diseases of the most malignant
nature to be cured by his touch. [Philip, Archdeacon of the cathedral
of Liege, wrote a detailed account of all the miracles performed by St.
Bernard during thirty-four days of his mission. They averaged about ten
per day. The disciples of St. Bernard complained bitterly that the
people flocked around their master in such numbers, that they could not
see half the miracles he performed. But they willingly trusted the eyes
of others, as far as faith in the miracles went, and seemed to vie with
each other whose credulity should be greatest.] The Emperor Conrad
caught at last the contagion from his subjects, and declared his
intention to follow the Cross.

The preparations were carried on so vigorously under the orders of
Conrad, that in less than three months he found himself at the head of
an army containing at least one hundred and fifty thousand effective
men, besides a great number of women who followed their husbands and
lovers to the war. One troop of them rode in the attitude and armour of
men: their chief wore gilt spurs and buskins, and thence acquired the
epithet of the golden-footed lady. Conrad was ready to set out long
before the French Monarch, and in the month of June 1147, he arrived
before Constantinople, having passed through Hungary and Bulgaria
without offence to the inhabitants.

Manuel Comnenus, the Greek Emperor, successor not only to the throne,
but to the policy of Alexius, looked with alarm upon the new levies who
had come to eat up his capital and imperil its tranquillity. Too weak
to refuse them a passage through his dominions, too distrustful of them
to make them welcome when they came, and too little assured of the
advantages likely to result to himself from the war, to feign a
friendship which he did not feel, the Greek Emperor gave offence at the
very outset. His subjects, in the pride of superior civilization,
called the Germans barbarians, while the latter, who, if
semi-barbarous, were at least honest and straight-forward, retorted
upon the Greeks by calling them double-faced knaves and traitors.
Disputes continually arose between them, and Conrad, who had preserved
so much good order among his followers during their passage, was unable
to restrain their indignation when they arrived at Constantinople. For
some offence or other which the Greeks had given them, but which is
rather hinted at than stated by the scanty historians of the day, the
Germans broke into the magnificent pleasure garden of the Emperor,
where he had a valuable collection of tame animals, for which the
grounds had been laid out in woods, caverns, groves, and streams, that
each might follow in captivity his natural habits. The enraged Germans,
meriting the name of barbarians that had been bestowed upon them, laid
waste this pleasant retreat, and killed or let loose the valuable
animals it contained. Manuel, who is said to have beheld the
devastation from his palace windows without power or courage to prevent
it, was completely disgusted with his guests, and resolved, like his
predecessor Alexius, to get rid of them on the first opportunity. He
sent a message to Conrad respectfully desiring an interview, but the
German refused to trust himself within the walls of Constantinople. The
Greek Emperor, on his part, thought it compatible neither with his
dignity nor his safety to seek the German, and several days were spent
in insincere negotiations. Manuel at length agreed to furnish the
crusading army with guides to conduct it through Asia Minor; and Conrad
passed over the Hellespont with his forces, the advanced guard being
commanded by himself, and the rear by the warlike Bishop of Freysinghen.

Historians are almost unanimous in their belief that the wily Greek
gave instructions to his guides to lead the army of the German Emperor
into dangers and difficulties. It is certain, that instead of guiding
them through such districts of Asia Minor as afforded water and
provisions, they led them into the wilds of Cappadocia, where neither
was to be procured, and where they were suddenly attacked by the
Sultaun of the Seljukian Turks, at the head of an immense force.  The
guides, whose treachery is apparent from this fact alone, fled at the
first sight of the Turkish army, and the Christians were left to wage
unequal warfare with their enemy, entangled and bewildered in desert
wilds. Toiling in their heavy mail, the Germans could make but little
effective resistance to the attacks of the Turkish light horse, who
were down upon them one instant, and out of sight the next. Now in the
front and now in the rear, the agile foe showered his arrows upon them,
enticing them into swamps and hollows, from which they could only
extricate themselves after long struggles and great losses. The
Germans, confounded by this mode of warfare, lost all conception of the
direction they were pursuing, and went back instead of forward.
Suffering at the same time for want of provisions, they fell an easy
prey to their pursuers. Count Bernhard, one of the bravest leaders of
the German expedition, was surrounded, with his whole division, not one
of whom escaped the Turkish arrows. The Emperor himself had nearly
fallen a victim, and was twice severely wounded. So persevering was the
enemy, and so little able were the Germans to make even a show of
resistance, that when Conrad at last reached the city of Nice, he found
that, instead of being at the head of an imposing force of one hundred
thousand foot and seventy thousand horse, he had but fifty or sixty
thousand men, and these in the most worn and wearied condition.

Totally ignorant of the treachery of the Greek Emperor, although he had
been warned to beware of it, Louis VII. proceeded, at the head of his
army, through Worms and Ratisbon, towards Constantinople. At Ratisbon
he was met by a deputation from Manuel, bearing letters so full of
hyperbole and flattery, that Louis is reported to have blushed when
they were read to him by the Bishop of Langres. The object of the
deputation was to obtain from the French King a promise to pass through
the Grecian territories in a peaceable and friendly manner, and to
yield to the Greek Emperor any conquest he might make in Asia Minor.
The first part of the proposition was immediately acceded to, but no
notice was taken of the second and more unreasonable. Louis marched on,
and, passing through Hungary, pitched his tents in the outskirts of

On his arrival, Manuel sent him a friendly invitation to enter the
city, at the head of a small train. Louis at once accepted it, and was
met by the Emperor at the porch of his palace. The fairest promises
were made; every art that flattery could suggest was resorted to, and
every argument employed, to induce him to yield his future conquests to
the Greek. Louis obstinately refused to pledge himself, and returned to
his army, convinced that the Emperor was a man not to be trusted.
Negotiations were, however, continued for several days, to the great
dissatisfaction of the French army. The news that arrived of a treaty
entered into between Manuel and the Turkish Sultan changed their
dissatisfaction into fury, and the leaders demanded to be led against
Constantinople, swearing that they would raze the treacherous city to
the ground. Louis did not feel inclined to accede to this proposal,
and, breaking up his camp, he crossed over into Asia.

Here he heard, for the first time, of the mishaps of the German
Emperor, whom he found in a woeful plight under the walls of Nice. The
two monarchs united their forces, and marched together along the
sea-coast to Ephesus; but Conrad, jealous, it would appear, of the
superior numbers of the French, and not liking to sink into a vassal,
for the time being, of his rival, withdrew abruptly with the remnant of
his legions, and returned to Constantinople. Manuel was all smiles and
courtesy. He condoled with the German so feelingly upon his losses, and
cursed the stupidity or treachery of the guides with such apparent
heartiness, that Conrad was half inclined to believe in his sincerity.

Louis, marching onward in the direction of Jerusalem, came up with the
enemy on the banks of the Meander. The Turks contested the passage of
the river, but the French bribed a peasant to point out a ford lower
down: crossing the river without difficulty, they attacked the Turks
with much vigour, and put them to flight. Whether the Turks were really
defeated, or merely pretended to be so, is doubtful; but the latter
supposition seems to be the true one. It is probable that it was part
of a concerted plan to draw the invaders onwards to more unfavourable
ground, where their destruction might be more certain. If such were the
scheme, it succeeded to the heart's wish of its projectors. The
crusaders, on the third day after their victory, arrived at a steep
mountain-pass, on the summit of which the Turkish host lay concealed so
artfully, that not the slightest vestige of their presence could be
perceived. "With labouring steps and slow," they toiled up the steep
ascent, when suddenly a tremendous fragment of rock came bounding down
the precipices with an awful crash, bearing dismay and death before it.
At the same instant the Turkish archers started from their
hiding-places, and discharged a shower of arrows upon the foot
soldiers, who fell by hundreds at a time. The arrows rebounded
harmlessly against the iron mail of the knights, which the Turks
observing, took aim at their steeds, and horse and rider fell down the
steep into the rapid torrent which rushed below. Louis, who commanded
the rear-guard, received the first intimation of the onslaught from the
sight of his wounded and flying soldiers, and, not knowing the numbers
of the enemy, he pushed vigorously forward to stay, by his presence,
the panic which had taken possession of his army. All his efforts were
in vain. Immense stones continued to be hurled upon them as they
advanced, bearing men and horse before them; and those who succeeded in
forcing their way to the top, were met hand-to-hand by the Turks, and
cast down headlong upon their companions. Louis himself fought with the
energy of desperation, but had great difficulty to avoid falling into
the enemy's hands. He escaped at last under cover of the night, with
the remnant of his forces, and took up his position before Attalia.
Here he restored the discipline and the courage of his disorganized and
disheartened followers, and debated with his captains the plan that was
to be pursued. After suffering severely both from disease and famine,
it was resolved that they should march to Antioch, which still remained
an independent principality under the successors of Bohemund of
Tarentum.  At this time the sovereignty was vested in the person of
Raymond, the uncle of Eleanor of Aquitaine. This Prince, presuming upon
his relationship to the French Queen, endeavoured to withdraw Louis
from the grand object of the Crusade--the defence of the kingdom of
Jerusalem, and secure his co-operation in extending the limits and the
power of his principality of Antioch. The Prince of Tripoli formed a
similar design, but Louis rejected the offers of both, and marched
after a short delay to Jerusalem. The Emperor Conrad was there before
him, having left Constantinople with promises of assistance from Manuel
Comnenus; assistance which never arrived, and was never intended.

A great council of the Christian princes of Palestine and the leaders
of the Crusade was then summoned, to discuss the future operations of
the war. It was ultimately determined that it would further the cause
of the Cross in a greater degree if the united armies, instead of
proceeding to Edessa, laid siege to the city of Damascus, and drove the
Saracens from that strong position. This was a bold scheme, and, had it
been boldly followed out, would have insured, in all probability, the
success of the war. But the Christian leaders never learned from
experience the necessity of union, that very soul of great enterprises.
Though they all agreed upon the policy of the plan, yet every one had
his own notions as to the means of executing it. The Princes of Antioch
and Tripoli were jealous of each other, and of the King of Jerusalem.
The Emperor Conrad was jealous of the King of France, and the King of
France was disgusted with them all. But he had come out to Palestine in
accordance with a solemn vow; his religion, though it may be called
bigotry, was sincere; and he determined to remain to the very last
moment that a chance was left, of effecting any good for the cause he
had set his heart on.

The siege of Damascus was accordingly commenced, and with so much
ability and vigour that the Christians gained a considerable advantage
at the very outset. For weeks the siege was pressed, till the shattered
fortifications and diminishing resistance of the besieged gave evidence
that the city could not hold out much longer. At that moment the insane
jealousy of the leaders led to dissensions that soon caused the utter
failure, not only of the siege, but of the Crusade. A modern
cookery-book, in giving a recipe for cooking a hare, says, "first catch
your hare, and then kill it;" a maxim of indisputable wisdom. The
Christian chiefs on this occasion had not so much sagacity, for they
began a violent dispute among themselves for the possession of a city
which was still unconquered. There being already a Prince of Antioch
and a Prince of Tripoli, twenty claimants started for the principality
of Damascus, and a grand council of the leaders was held to determine
the individual on whom the honour should devolve. Many valuable days
were wasted in this discussion, the enemy in the mean while gaining
strength from their inactivity. It was at length, after a stormy
deliberation, agreed that Count Robert of Flanders, who had twice
visited the Holy Land, should be invested with the dignity. The other
claimants refused to recognise him, or to co-operate in the siege,
until a more equitable arrangement had been made. Suspicion filled the
camp; the most sinister rumours of intrigues and treachery were set
afloat; and the discontented candidates withdrew at last to the other
side of the city, and commenced operations on their own account,
without a probability of success. They were soon joined by the rest of
the army. The consequence was that the weakest side of the city, and
that on which they had already made considerable progress in the work
of demolition, was left uncovered. The enemy was prompt to profit by
the mistake, and received an abundant supply of provisions, and
refortified the walls, before the crusaders came to their senses again.
When this desirable event happened, it was too late. Saph Eddin, the
powerful Emir of Mousoul, was in the neighbourhood, at the head of a
large army, advancing by forced marches to the relief of the city. The
siege was abruptly abandoned, and the foolish crusaders returned to
Jerusalem, having done nothing to weaken the enemy, but every thing to
weaken themselves.

The freshness of enthusiasm had now completely subsided;--even the
meanest soldiers were sick at heart. Conrad, from whose fierce zeal at
the outset so much might have been expected, was wearied with reverses,
and returned to Europe with the poor remnant of his host.  Louis
lingered a short time longer, for very shame, but the pressing
solicitations of his minister Suger induced him to return to France.
Thus ended the second Crusade. Its history is but a chronicle of
defeats. It left the kingdom of Jerusalem in a worse state than when it
quitted Europe, and gained nothing but disgrace for its leaders and
discouragement for all concerned.

St. Bernard, who had prophesied a result so different, fell after this
into some disrepute, and experienced, like many other prophets, the
fate of being without honour in his own country. What made the matter
worse, he could not obtain it in any other. Still, however, there were
not wanting zealous advocates to stand forward in his behalf, and stem
the tide of incredulity, which, unopposed, would have carried away his
reputation. The Bishop of Freysinghen declared that prophets were not
always able to prophesy, and that the vices of the crusaders drew down
the wrath of Heaven upon them. But the most ingenious excuse ever made
for St. Bernard is to be found in his life by Geoffroi de Clairvaux,
where he pertinaciously insists that the Crusade was not unfortunate.
St. Bernard, he says, had prophesied a happy result, and that result
could not be considered other than happy which had peopled heaven with
so glorious an army of martyrs. Geoffroi was a cunning pleader, and, no
doubt, convinced a few of the zealous; but plain people, who were not
wanting even in those days, retained their own opinion, or, what
amounts to the same thing, "were convinced against their will."

We now come to the consideration of the third Crusade, and of the
causes which rendered it necessary. The epidemic frenzy, which had been
cooling ever since the issue of the first expedition, was now extinct,
or very nearly so, and the nations of Europe looked with cold
indifference upon the armaments of their princes. But chivalry had
flourished in its natural element of war, and was now in all its glory.
It continued to supply armies for the Holy Land when the popular ranks
refused to deliver up their able-bodied swarms. Poetry, which, more
than religion, inspired the third Crusade, was then but "caviare to the
million," who had other matters, of sterner import, to claim all their
attention. But the knights and their retainers listened with delight to
the martial and amatory strains of the minstrels, minnesangers,
trouveres, and troubadours, and burned to win favour in ladies' eyes by
showing prowess in Holy Land. The third was truly the romantic era of
the Crusades. Men fought then, not so much for the sepulchre of Jesus,
and the maintenance of a Christian kingdom in the East, as to gain
glory for themselves in the best, and almost only field, where glory
could be obtained. They fought, not as zealots, but as soldiers; not
for religion, but for honour; not for the crown of martyrdom, but for
the favour of the lovely.

It is not necessary to enter into a detail of the events by which
Saladin attained the sovereignty of the East, or how, after a
succession of engagements, he planted the Moslem banner once more upon
the battlements of Jerusalem. The Christian knights and population,
including the grand orders of St. John, the Hospitallers, and the
Templars, were sunk in an abyss of vice, and torn by unworthy
jealousies and dissensions, were unable to resist the well-trained
armies which the wise and mighty Saladin brought forward to crush them.
But the news of their fall created a painful sensation among the
chivalry of Europe, whose noblest members were linked to the dwellers
in Palestine by many ties, both of blood and friendship. The news of
the great battle of Tiberias, in which Saladin defeated the Christian
host with terrible slaughter, arrived first in Europe, and was followed
in quick succession by that of the capture of Jerusalem, Antioch,
Tripoli, and other cities. Dismay seized upon the clergy. The Pope
(Urban III.) was so affected by the news that he pined away for grief,
and was scarcely seen to smile again, until he sank into the sleep of
death. [James of Vitry--William de Nangis.] His successor, Gregory
VIII. felt the loss as acutely, but had better strength to bear it, and
instructed all the clergy of the Christian world to stir up the people
to arms for the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre. William, Archbishop of
Tyre, a humble follower in the path of Peter the Hermit, left Palestine
to preach to the Kings of Europe the miseries he had witnessed, and to
incite them to the rescue. The renowned Frederick Barbarossa, the
Emperor of Germany, speedily collected an army, and passing over into
Syria with less delay than had ever before awaited a crusading force,
defeated the Saracens, and took possession of the city of Iconium. He
was unfortunately cut off in the middle of his successful career, by
imprudently bathing in the Cydnus [The desire of comparing two great
men has tempted many writers to drown Frederick in the river Cydnus, in
which Alexander so imprudently bathed (Q. Curt. lib. iii. c. 4, 5.):
but, from the march of the Emperor, I rather judge that his Saleph is
the Calycadnus, a stream of less fame, but of a longer course.--Gibbon]
while he was overheated, and the Duke of Suabia took the command of the
expedition. The latter did not prove so able a general, and met with
nothing but reverses, although he was enabled to maintain a footing at
Antioch until assistance arrived from Europe.

Henry II. of England and Philip Augustus of France, at the head of
their chivalry, supported the Crusade with all their influence, until
wars and dissensions nearer home estranged them from it for a time.
The two kings met at Gisors in Normandy in the month of January 1188,
accompanied by a brilliant train of knights and warriors. William of
Tyre was present, and expounded the cause of the Cross with
considerable eloquence, and the whole assembly bound themselves by oath
to proceed to Jerusalem. It was agreed at the same time that a tax,
called Saladin's tithe, and consisting of the tenth part of all
possessions, whether landed or personal, should be enforced over
Christendom, upon every one who was either unable or unwilling to
assume the Cross. The lord of every feof, whether lay or
ecclesiastical, was charged to raise the tithe within his own
jurisdiction; and any one who refused to pay his quota, became by that
act the bondsman and absolute property of his lord. At the same time
the greatest indulgence was shown to those who assumed the Cross; no
man was at liberty to stay them by process of any kind, whether for
debt, or robbery, or murder. The King of France, at the breaking up of
the conference, summoned a parliament at Paris, where these resolutions
were solemnly confirmed, while Henry II. did the same for his Norman
possessions at Rouen, and for England at Geddington, in
Northamptonshire. To use the words of an ancient chronicler, [Stowe.]
"he held a parliament about the voyage into the Holy Land, and troubled
the whole land with the paying of tithes towards it."

But it was not England only that was "troubled" by the tax. The people
of France also looked upon it with no pleasant feelings, and appear
from that time forth to have changed their indifference for the Crusade
into aversion. Even the clergy, who were exceedingly willing that other
people should contribute half, or even all their goods in furtherance
of their favourite scheme, were not at all anxious to contribute a
single sous themselves. Millot ["Elemens de l'Histoire de France."]
relates that several of them cried out against the impost.  Among the
rest the clergy of Rheims were called upon to pay their quota, but sent
a deputation to the King, begging him to be contented with the aid of
their prayers, as they were too poor to contribute in any other shape.
Philip Augustus knew better, and by way of giving them a lesson,
employed three nobles of the vicinity to lay waste the church lands.
The clergy, informed of the outrage, applied to the King for redress.
"I will aid you with my prayers," said the Monarch condescendingly,
"and will intreat those gentlemen to let the church alone." He did as
he had promised, but in such a manner, that the nobles, who appreciated
the joke, continued their devastations as before. Again the clergy
applied to the King. "What would you have of me?" he replied, in answer
to their remonstrances: "You gave me your prayers in my necessity, and
I have given you mine in yours." The clergy understood the argument,
and thought it the wiser course to pay their quota of Saladin's tithe
without further parley.

This anecdote shows the unpopularity of the Crusade. If the clergy
disliked to contribute, it is no wonder that the people felt still
greater antipathy. But the chivalry of Europe was eager for the affray:
the tithe was rigorously collected, and armies from England, France,
Burgundy, Italy, Flanders, and Germany, were soon in the field; The two
kings who were to have led it, were, however, drawn into broils by an
aggression of Richard; Duke of Guienne, better known as Richard Coeur
de Lion, upon the territory of the Count of Toulouse, and the proposed
journey to Palestine was delayed. War continued to rage between France
and England, and with so little probability of a speedy termination,
that many of the nobles, bound to the Crusade, left the two Monarchs to
settle their differences at their leisure, and proceeded to Palestine
without them.

Death at last stepped in and removed Henry II. from the hostility of
his foes, and the treachery and ingratitude of his children. His son
Richard immediately concluded an alliance with Philip Augustus, and the
two young, valiant, and impetuous Monarchs, united all their energies
to forward the Crusade. They met with a numerous and brilliant retinue
at Nonancourt in Normandy, where, in sight of their assembled chivalry,
they embraced as brothers, and swore to live as friends and true
allies, until a period of forty days after their return from the Holy
Land. With a view of purging their camp from the follies and vices
which had proved so ruinous to preceding expeditions, they drew up a
code of laws for the government of the army. Gambling had been carried
to a great extent, and had proved the fruitful source of quarrels and
bloodshed, and one of their laws prohibited any person in the army,
beneath the degree of a knight, from playing at any game for money.
[Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes."] Knights and clergymen might play for
money, but no one was permitted to lose or gain more than twenty
shillings in a day, under a penalty of one hundred shillings. The
personal attendants of the Monarchs were also allowed to play to the
same extent. The penalty in their case for infraction was that they
should be whipped naked through the army for the space of three days.
Any crusader, who struck another and drew blood, was ordered to have
his hand cut off; and whoever slew a brother crusader was condemned to
be tied alive to the corpse of his victim and buried with him. No young
women were allowed to follow the army, to the great sorrow of many
vicious and of many virtuous dames, who had not courage to elude the
decree by dressing in male attire.  But many high-minded and
affectionate maidens and matrons, bearing the sword or the spear,
followed their husbands and lovers to the war in spite of King Richard,
and in defiance of danger. The only women allowed to accompany the army
in their own habiliments, were washerwomen, of fifty years complete,
and any others of the fair sex who had reached the same age.

These rules having been promulgated, the two monarchs marched together
to Lyons, where they separated, agreeing to meet again at Messina.
Philip proceeded across the Alps to Genoa, where he took ship, and was
conveyed in safety to the place of rendezvous. Richard turned in the
direction of Marseilles, where he also took ship for Messina. His
impetuous disposition hurried him into many squabbles by the way, and
his knights and followers, for the most part as brave and as foolish as
himself, imitated him very zealously in this particular.  At Messina
the Sicilians charged the most exorbitant prices for every necessary of
life. Richard's army in vain remonstrated. From words they came to
blows, and, as a last resource, plundered the Sicilians, since they
could not trade with them. Continual battles were the consequence, in
one of which Lebrun, the favourite attendant of Richard, lost his life.
The peasantry from far and near came flocking to the aid of the
townspeople, and the battle soon became general.  Richard, irritated at
the loss of his favourite, and incited by a report that Tancred, the
King of Sicily, was fighting at the head of his own people, joined the
melee with his boldest knights, and, beating back the Sicilians,
attacked the city, sword in hand, stormed the battlements, tore down
the flag of Sicily, and planted his own in its stead. This collision
gave great offence to the King of France, who became from that time
jealous of Richard, and apprehensive that his design was not so much to
re-establish the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, as to make conquests
for himself. He, however, exerted his influence to restore peace
between the English and Sicilians, and shortly afterwards set sail for
Acre, with distrust of his ally germinating in his heart.

Richard remained behind for some weeks, in a state of inactivity quite
unaccountable in one of his temperament. He appears to have had no more
squabbles with the Sicilians, but to have lived an easy luxurious life,
forgetting, in the lap of pleasure, the objects for which he had
quitted his own dominions and the dangerous laxity he was introducing
into his army. The superstition of his soldiers recalled him at length
to a sense of his duty: a comet was seen for several successive nights,
which was thought to menace them with the vengeance of Heaven for their
delay. Shooting stars gave them similar warning; and a fanatic, of the
name of Joachim, with his drawn sword in his hand, and his long hair
streaming wildly over his shoulders, went through the camp, howling all
night long, and predicting plague, famine, and every other calamity, if
they did not set out immediately.  Richard did not deem it prudent to
neglect the intimations; and, after doing humble penance for his
remissness, he set sail for Acre.

A violent storm dispersed his fleet, but he arrived safely at Rhodes
with the principal part of the armament. Here he learned that three of
his ships had been stranded on the rocky coasts of Cyprus, and that the
ruler of the island, Isaac Comnenus, had permitted his people to
pillage the unfortunate crews, and had refused shelter to his betrothed
bride, the Princess Berengaria, and his sister, who, in one of the
vessels, had been driven by stress of weather into the port of Limisso.
The fiery monarch swore to be revenged, and, collecting all his
vessels, sailed back to Limisso. Isaac Comnenus refused to apologize or
explain, and Richard, in no mood to be trifled with, landed on the
island, routed with great loss the forces sent to oppose him, and laid
the whole country under contribution.

On his arrival at Acre, he found the whole of the chivalry of Europe
there before him. Guy of Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem, had long
before collected the bold Knights of the Temple, the Hospital, and St.
John, and had laid siege to Acre, which was resolutely defended by the
Sultan Saladin, with an army magnificent both for its numbers and its
discipline. For nearly two years the crusaders had pushed the siege,
and made efforts almost superhuman to dislodge the enemy. Various
battles had taken place in the open fields with no decisive advantage
to either party, and Guy of Lusignan had begun to despair of taking
that strong position without aid from Europe. His joy was extreme on
the arrival of Philip with all his chivalry, and he only awaited the
coming of Coeur de Lion to make one last decisive attack upon the town.
When the fleet of England was first seen approaching the shores of
Syria, a universal shout arose from the Christian camp; and when
Richard landed with his train, one louder still pierced to the very
mountains of the south, where Saladin lay with all his army.

It may be remarked as characteristic of this Crusade, that the
Christians and the Moslems no longer looked upon each other as
barbarians, to whom mercy was a crime. Each host entertained the
highest admiration for the bravery and magnanimity of the other, and in
their occasional truces met upon the most friendly terms. The Moslem
warriors were full of courtesy to the Christian knights, and had no
other regret than to think that such fine fellows were not Mahomedans.
The Christians, with a feeling precisely similar, extolled to the skies
the nobleness of the Saracens, and sighed to think that such generosity
and valour should be sullied by disbelief in the Gospel of Jesus. But
when the strife began, all these feelings disappeared, and the struggle
became mortal.

The jealousy excited in the mind of Philip by the events of Messina
still rankled, and the two monarchs refused to act in concert.  Instead
of making a joint attack upon the town, the French monarch assailed it
alone, and was repulsed. Richard did the same, and with the same
result. Philip tried to seduce the soldiers of Richard from their
allegiance by the offer of three gold pieces per month to every knight
who would forsake the banners of England for those of France.  Richard
met the bribe by another, and promised four pieces to every French
knight who should join the Lion of England. In this unworthy rivalry
their time was wasted, to the great detriment of the discipline and
efficiency of their followers. Some good was nevertheless effected; for
the mere presence of two such armies prevented the besieged city from
receiving supplies, and the inhabitants were reduced by famine to the
most woeful straits. Saladin did not deem it prudent to risk a general
engagement by coming to their relief, but preferred to wait till
dissension had weakened his enemy, and made him an easy prey. Perhaps
if he had been aware of the real extent of the extremity in Acre, he
would have changed his plan; but, cut off from the town, he did not
know their misery till it was too late. After a short truce the city
capitulated upon terms so severe that Saladin afterwards refused to
ratify them. The chief conditions were, that the precious wood of the
true cross, captured by the Moslems in Jerusalem, should be restored;
that a sum of two hundred thousand gold pieces should be paid; and that
all the Christian prisoners in Acre should be released, together with
two hundred knights and a thousand soldiers, detained in captivity by
Saladin. The eastern monarch, as may be well conceived, did not set
much store on the wood of the cross, but was nevertheless anxious to
keep it, as he knew its possession by the Christians would do more than
a victory to restore their courage. He refused, therefore, to deliver
it up, or to accede to any of the conditions; and Richard, as he had
previously threatened, barbarously ordered all the Saracen prisoners in
his power to be put to death.

The possession of the city only caused new and unhappy dissensions
between the Christian leaders. The Archduke of Austria unjustifiably
hoisted his flag on one of the towers of Acre, which Richard no sooner
saw than he tore it down with his own hands, and trampled it under his
feet. Philip, though he did not sympathise with the Archduke, was
piqued at the assumption of Richard, and the breach between the two
monarchs became wider than ever. A foolish dispute arose at the same
time between Guy of Lusignan and Conrad of Montferrat for the crown of
Jerusalem. The inferior knights were not slow to imitate the pernicious
example, and jealousy, distrust, and ill-will reigned in the Christian
camp. In the midst of this confusion the King of France suddenly
announced his intention to return to his own country. Richard was
filled with indignation, and exclaimed, "Eternal shame light on him,
and on all France, if, for any cause, he leave this work unfinished!"
But Philip was not to be stayed. His health had suffered by his
residence in the East, and, ambitious of playing a first part, he
preferred to play none at all, than to play second to King Richard.
Leaving a small detachment of Burgundians behind, he returned to France
with the remainder of his army; and Coeur de Lion, without feeling, in
the multitude of his rivals, that he had lost the greatest, became
painfully convinced that the right arm of the enterprize was lopped off.

After his departure, Richard re-fortified Acre, restored the Christian
worship in the churches, and, leaving a Christian garrison to protect
it, marched along the sea-coast towards Ascalon. Saladin was on the
alert, and sent his light horse to attack the rear of the Christian
army, while he himself, miscalculating their weakness since the
defection of Philip, endeavoured to force them to a general engagement.
The rival armies met near Azotus. A fierce battle ensued, in which
Saladin was defeated and put to flight, and the road to Jerusalem left
free for the crusaders.

Again discord exerted its baleful influence, and prevented Richard from
following up his victory. His opinion was constantly opposed by the
other leaders, all jealous of his bravery and influence; and the army,
instead of marching to Jerusalem, or even to Ascalon, as was first
intended, proceeded to Jaffa, and remained in idleness until Saladin
was again in a condition to wage war against them.

Many months were spent in fruitless hostilities and as fruitless
negotiations. Richard's wish was to recapture Jerusalem; but there were
difficulties in the way, which even his bold spirit could not conquer.
His own intolerable pride was not the least cause of the evil; for it
estranged many a generous spirit, who would have been willing to
co-operate with him in all cordiality. At length it was agreed to march
to the Holy City; but the progress made was so slow and painful, that
the soldiers murmured, and the leaders meditated retreat. The weather
was hot and dry, and there was little water to be procured. Saladin had
choked up the wells and cisterns on the route, and the army had not
zeal enough to push forward amid such privation.  At Bethlehem a
council was held, to debate whether they should retreat or advance.
Retreat was decided upon, and immediately commenced. It is said, that
Richard was first led to a hill, whence he could obtain a sight of the
towers of Jerusalem, and that he was so affected at being so near it,
and so unable to relieve it, that he hid his face behind his shield,
and sobbed aloud.

The army separated into two divisions, the smaller falling back upon
Jaffa, and the larger, commanded by Richard and the Duke of Burgundy,
returning to Acre. Before the English monarch had made all his
preparations for his return to Europe, a messenger reached Acre with
the intelligence that Jaffa was besieged by Saladin, and that, unless
relieved immediately, the city would be taken. The French, under the
Duke of Burgundy, were so wearied with the war, that they refused to
aid their brethren in Jaffa. Richard, blushing with shame at their
pusillanimity, called his English to the rescue, and arrived just in
time to save the city. His very name put the Saracens to flight, so
great was their dread of his prowess. Saladin regarded him with the
warmest admiration, and when Richard, after his victory, demanded
peace, willingly acceded. A truce was concluded for three years and
eight months, during which Christian pilgrims were to enjoy the liberty
of visiting Jerusalem without hindrance or payment of any tax. The
crusaders were allowed to retain the cities of Tyre and Jaffa, with the
country intervening. Saladin, with a princely generosity, invited many
of the Christians to visit Jerusalem; and several of the leaders took
advantage of his offer to feast their eyes upon a spot which all
considered so sacred. Many of them were entertained for days in the
Sultan's own palace, from which they returned with their tongues laden
with the praises of the noble infidel. Richard and Saladin never met,
though the impression that they did will remain on many minds, who have
been dazzled by the glorious fiction of Sir Walter Scott. But each
admired the prowess and nobleness of soul of his rival, and agreed to
terms far less onerous than either would have accepted, had this mutual
admiration not existed.[Richard left a high reputation in Palestine. So
much terror did his name occasion, that the women of Syria used it to
frighten their children for ages afterwards. Every disobedient brat
became still when told that King Richard was coming. Even men shared
the panic that his name created; and a hundred years afterwards,
whenever a horse shied at any object in the way, his rider would
exclaim, "What! dost thou think King Richard is in the bush?"]

The King of England no longer delayed his departure, for messengers
from his own country brought imperative news that his presence was
required to defeat the intrigues that were fomenting against his crown.
His long imprisonment in the Austrian dominions and final ransom are
too well known to be dwelt upon. And thus ended the third Crusade, less
destructive of human life than the two first, but quite as useless.

The flame of popular enthusiasm now burned pale indeed, and all the
efforts of popes and potentates were insufficient to rekindle it.  At
last, after flickering unsteadily, like a lamp expiring in the socket,
it burned up brightly for one final instant, and was extinguished for

The fourth Crusade, as connected with popular feeling, requires little
or no notice. At the death of Saladin, which happened a year after the
conclusion of his truce with Richard of England, his vast empire fell
to pieces. His brother Saif Eddin, or Saphaddin, seized upon Syria, in
the possession of which he was troubled by the sons of Saladin. When
this intelligence reached Europe, the Pope, Celestine III. judged the
moment favourable for preaching a new Crusade. But every nation in
Europe was unwilling and cold towards it. The people had no ardour, and
Kings were occupied with more weighty matters at home. The only Monarch
of Europe who encouraged it was the Emperor Henry of Germany, under
whose auspices the Dukes of Saxony and Bavaria took the field at the
head of a considerable force. They landed in Palestine, and found
anything but a welcome from the Christian inhabitants. Under the mild
sway of Saladin, they had enjoyed repose and toleration, and both were
endangered by the arrival of the Germans. They looked upon them in
consequence as over-officious intruders, and gave them no encouragement
in the warfare against Saphaddin. The result of this Crusade was even
more disastrous than the last--for the Germans contrived not only to
embitter the Saracens against the Christians of Judea, but to lose the
strong city of Jaffa, and cause the destruction of nine-tenths of the
army with which they had quitted Europe. And so ended the fourth

The fifth was more important, and had a result which its projectors
never dreamed of--no less than the sacking of Constantinople, and the
placing of a French dynasty upon the imperial throne of the eastern
Caesars. Each succeeding Pope, however much he may have differed from
his predecessors on other points, zealously agreed in one, that of
maintaining by every possible means the papal ascendancy. No scheme was
so likely to aid in this endeavour as the Crusades. As long as they
could persuade the kings and nobles of Europe to fight and die in
Syria, their own sway was secured over the minds of men at home. Such
being their object, they never inquired whether a Crusade was or was
not likely to be successful, whether the time were well or ill chosen,
or whether men and money could be procured in sufficient abundance.
Pope Innocent III. would have been proud if he could have bent the
refractory Monarchs of England and France into so much submission. But
John and Philip Augustus were both engaged. Both had deeply offended
the church, and had been laid under her ban, and both were occupied in
important reforms at home; Philip in bestowing immunities upon his
subjects, and John in having them forced from him. The emissaries of
the Pope therefore plied them in vain;--but as in the first and second
Crusades, the eloquence of a powerful preacher incited the nobility,
and through them a certain portion of the people, Foulque, Bishop of
Neuilly, an ambitious and enterprizing prelate, entered fully into the
views of the Court of Rome, and preached the Crusade wherever he could
find an audience.  Chance favoured him to a degree he did not himself
expect, for he had in general found but few proselytes, and those few
but cold in the cause. Theobald, Count of Champagne, had instituted a
grand tournament, to which he had invited all the nobles from far and
near.  Upwards of two thousand knights were present with their
retainers, besides a vast concourse of people to witness the sports. In
the midst of the festivities Foulque arrived upon the spot, and
conceiving the opportunity to be a favourable one, he addressed the
multitude in eloquent language, and passionately called upon them to
enrol themselves for the new Crusade. The Count de Champagne, young,
ardent, and easily excited, received the cross at his hands. The
enthusiasm spread rapidly. Charles Count of Blois followed the example,
and of the two thousand knights present, scarcely one hundred and fifty
refused. The popular phrensy seemed on the point of breaking out as in
the days of yore. The Count of Flanders, the Count of Bar, the Duke of
Burgundy, and the Marquis of Montferrat, brought all their vassals to
swell the train, and in a very short space of time an effective army
was on foot and ready to march to Palestine.

The dangers of an overland journey were too well understood, and the
crusaders endeavoured to make a contract with some of the Italian
states to convey them over in their vessels. Dandolo, the aged Doge of
Venice, offered them the galleys of the Republic; but the crusaders, on
their arrival in that city, found themselves too poor to pay even half
the sum demanded. Every means was tried to raise money; the crusaders
melted down their plate, and ladies gave up their trinkets.
Contributions were solicited from the faithful, but came in so slowly,
as to make it evident to all concerned, that the faithful of Europe
were outnumbered by the prudent. As a last resource, Dandolo offered to
convey them to Palestine at the expense of the Republic, if they would
previously aid in the recapture of the city of Zara, which had been
seized from the Venetians a short time previously by the King of
Hungary. The crusaders consented, much to the displeasure of the Pope,
who threatened excommunication upon all who should be turned aside from
the voyage to Jerusalem. But notwithstanding the fulminations of the
church, the expedition never reached Palestine. The siege of Zara was
speedily undertaken. After a long and brave defence, the city
surrendered at discretion, and the crusaders were free, if they had so
chosen it, to use their swords against the Saracens. But the ambition
of the chiefs had been directed, by unforeseen circumstances, elsewhere.

After the death of Manuel Comnenus, the Greek empire had fallen a prey
to intestine divisions. His son Alexius II. had succeeded him, but was
murdered after a very short reign by his uncle Andronicus, who seized
upon the throne. His reign also was but of short duration.  Isaac
Angelus, a member of the same family, took up arms against the usurper,
and having defeated and captured him in a pitched battle, had him put
to death. He also mounted the throne only to be cast down from it. His
brother Alexius deposed him, and to incapacitate him from reigning, put
out his eyes, and shut him up in a dungeon. Neither was Alexius III.
allowed to remain in peaceable possession of the throne; the son of the
unhappy Isaac, whose name also was Alexius, fled from Constantinople,
and hearing that the crusaders had undertaken the siege of Zara, made
them the most magnificent offers if they would afterwards aid him in
deposing his uncle. His offers were, that if by their means he was
re-established in his father's dominions, he would place the Greek
church under the authority of the Pope of Rome, lend the whole force of
the Greek Empire to the conquest of Palestine, and distribute two
hundred thousand marks of silver among the crusading army. The offer
was accepted, with a proviso on the part of some of the leaders, that
they should be free to abandon the design, if it met with the
disapproval of the Pope. But this was not to be feared. The submission
of the schismatic Greeks to the See of Rome was a greater bribe to the
Pontiff, than the utter annihilation of the Saracen power in Palestine
would have been.

The crusaders were soon in movement for the imperial city. Their
operations were skilfully and courageously directed, and spread such
dismay as to paralyse the efforts of the usurper to retain possession
of his throne. After a vain resistance, he abandoned the city to its
fate, and fled no one knew whither. The aged and blind Isaac was taken
from his dungeon by his subjects, and placed upon the throne ere the
crusaders were apprized of the flight of his rival. His son Alexius IV.
was afterwards associated with him in the sovereignty.

But the conditions of the treaty gave offence to the Grecian people,
whose prelates refused to place themselves under the dominion of the
See of Rome. Alexius at first endeavoured to persuade his subjects to
submission, and prayed the crusaders to remain in Constantinople until
they had fortified him in the possession of a throne which was yet far
from secure. He soon became unpopular with his subjects; and breaking
faith with regard to the subsidies, he offended the crusaders. War was
at length declared upon him by both parties; by his people for his
tyranny, and by his former friends for his treachery. He was seized in
his palace by his own guards and thrown into prison, while the
crusaders were making ready to besiege his capital. The Greeks
immediately proceeded to the election of a new Monarch; and looking
about for a man with courage, energy, and perseverance, they fixed upon
Alexius Ducas, who, with almost every bad quality, was possessed of the
virtues they needed. He ascended the throne under the name of
Murzuphlis. One of his first acts was to rid himself of his youngest
predecessor--a broken heart had already removed the blind old Isaac--no
longer a stumbling block in his way--and the young Alexius was soon
after put to death in his prison.

War to the knife was now declared between the Greeks and the Franks,
and early in the spring of the year 1204, preparations were commenced
for an assault upon Constantinople. The French and Venetians entered
into a treaty for the division of the spoils among their soldiery, for
so confident were they of success, that failure never once entered into
their calculations. This confidence led them on to victory, while the
Greeks, cowardly as treacherous people always are, were paralysed by a
foreboding of evil. It has been a matter of astonishment to all
historians, that Murzuphlis, with the reputation for courage which he
had acquired, and the immense resources at his disposal, took no better
measures to repel the onset of the crusaders.  Their numbers were as a
mere handful in comparison with those which he could have brought
against them; and if they had the hopes of plunder to lead them on, the
Greeks had their homes to fight for, and their very existence as a
nation to protect. After an impetuous assault, repulsed for one day,
but renewed with double impetuosity on another, the crusaders lashed
their vessels against the walls, slew every man who opposed them, and,
with little loss to themselves, entered the city. Murzuphlis fled, and
Constantinople was given over to be pillaged by the victors. The wealth
they found was enormous. In money alone there was sufficient to
distribute twenty marks of silver to each knight, ten to each squire or
servant at arms, and five to each archer. Jewels, velvets, silks, and
every luxury of attire, with rare wines and fruits, and valuable
merchandise of every description, also fell into their hands, and were
bought by the trading Venetians, and the proceeds distributed among the
army. Two thousand persons were put to the sword; but had there been
less plunder to take up the attention of the victors, the slaughter
would in all probability have been much greater.

In many of the bloody wars which defile the page of history, we find
that soldiers, utterly reckless of the works of God, will destroy his
masterpiece, man, with unsparing brutality, but linger with respect
around the beautiful works of art. They will slaughter women and
children, but spare a picture; will hew down the sick, the helpless,
and the hoary-headed, but refrain from injuring a fine piece of
sculpture. The Latins, on their entrance into Constantinople, respected
neither the works of God nor man, but vented their brutal ferocity upon
the one and satisfied their avarice upon the other. Many beautiful
bronze statues, above all price as works of art, were broken into
pieces to be sold as old metal. The finely-chiselled marble, which
could be put to no such vile uses, was also destroyed, with a
recklessness; if possible, still more atrocious. [The following is a
list of some of the works of art thus destroyed, from Nicetas, a
contemporary Greek author:--1st. A colossal Juno, from the forum of
Constantine, the head of which was so large that four horses could
scarcely draw it from the place where it stood to the palace. 2d. The
statue of Paris presenting the apple to Venus. 3d. An immense bronze
pyramid, crowned by a female figure, which turned with the wind. 4th.
The colossal statue of Bellerophon, in bronze, which was broken down
and cast into the furnace. Under the inner nail of the horse's hind
foot on the left side, was found a seal wrapped in a woollen cloth.
5th. A figure of Hercules, by Lysimachus, of such vast dimensions that
the thumb was equal in circumference to the waist of a man. 6th. The
Ass and his driver, cast by order of Augustus after the battle of
Actium, in commemoration of his having discovered the position of
Antony through the means of an ass-driver. 7th. The Wolf suckling the
twins of Rome. 8th. The Gladiator in combat with a lion. 9th. The
Hippopotamus. 10th. The Sphinxes. 11th. An eagle fighting with a
serpent. 12th. A beautiful statue of Helen. 13th. A group, with a
monster somewhat resembling a bull, engaged in deadly conflict with a
serpent; and many other works of art, too numerous to mention.]

The carnage being over, and the spoil distributed, six persons were
chosen from among the Franks and six from among the Venetians, who were
to meet and elect an Emperor, previously binding themselves by oath to
select the individual best qualified among the candidates.  The choice
wavered between Baldwin, Count of Flanders, and Boniface, Marquis of
Montferrat, but fell eventually upon the former. He was straightway
robed in the imperial purple, and became the founder of a new dynasty.
He did not live long to enjoy his power, or to consolidate it for his
successors, who, in their turn, were soon swept away. In less than
sixty years the rule of the Franks at Constantinople was brought to as
sudden and disastrous a termination as the reign of Murzuphlis: and
this was the grand result of the fifth Crusade.

Pope Innocent III, although he had looked with no very unfavourable eye
upon these proceedings, regretted that nothing had been done for the
relief of the Holy Land; still, upon every convenient occasion, he
enforced the necessity of a new Crusade. Until the year 1213, his
exhortations had no other effect than to keep the subject in the mind
of Europe. Every spring and summer, detachments of pilgrims continued
to set out for Palestine to the aid of their brethren, but not in
sufficient numbers to be of much service. These periodical passages
were called the passagiuum Martii, or the passage of March, and the
passagium Johannis, or the passage of the festival of St. John. These
did not consist entirely of soldiers, armed against the Saracen, but of
pilgrims led by devotion, and in performance of their vows, bearing
nothing with them but their staff and their wallet. Early in the spring
of 1213 a more extraordinary body of crusaders was raised in France and
Germany. An immense number of boys and girls, amounting, according to
some accounts, to thirty thousand, were incited by the persuasion of
two monks to undertake the journey to Palestine. They were, no doubt,
composed of the idle and deserted children who generally swarm in great
cities, nurtured in vice and daring, and ready for anything. The object
of the monks seems to have been the atrocious one of inveigling them
into slave ships, on pretence of sending them to Syria, and selling
them for slaves on the coast of Africa. [See Jacob de Voragine and
Albericus.] Great numbers of these poor victims were shipped at
Marseilles; but the vessels, with the exception of two or three, were
wrecked on the shores of Italy, and every soul perished. The remainder
arrived safely in Africa, and were bought up as slaves, and sent off
into the interior of the country. Another detachment arrived at Genoa;
but the accomplices in this horrid plot having taken no measures at
that port, expecting them all at Marseilles, they were induced to
return to their homes by the Genoese.

Fuller, in his quaint history of the "Holy Warre," says that this
Crusade was done by the instinct of the devil; and he adds a reason,
which may provoke mirth now, but which was put forth by the worthy
historian in all soberness and sincerity. He says, "the devil, being
cloyed with the murdering of men, desired a cordial of children's blood
to comfort his weak stomach;" as epicures, when tired of mutton, resort
to lamb for a change.

It appears from other authors that the preaching of the vile monks had
such an effect upon these deluded children that they ran about the
country, exclaiming, "O, Lord Jesus, restore thy cross to us!" and that
neither bolts nor bars, the fear of fathers, nor the love of mothers,
was sufficient to restrain them from journeying to Jerusalem.

The details of these strange proceedings are exceedingly meagre and
confused, and none of the contemporary writers who mention the subject
have thought it worth while to state the names of the monks who
originated the scheme, or the fate they met for their wickedness.  Two
merchants of Marseilles, who were to have shared in the profits, were,
it is said, brought to justice for some other crime, and suffered
death; but we are not informed whether they divulged any circumstances
relating to this matter.

Pope Innocent III does not seem to have been aware that the causes of
this juvenile Crusade were such as have been stated, for, upon being
informed that numbers of them had taken the Cross, and were marching to
the Holy Land, he exclaimed, "These children are awake, while we
sleep!" He imagined, apparently, that the mind of Europe was still bent
on the recovery of Palestine, and that the zeal of these children
implied a sort of reproach upon his own lukewarmness. Very soon
afterwards, he bestirred himself with more activity, and sent an
encyclical letter to the clergy of Christendom, urging them to preach a
new Crusade. As usual, a number of adventurous nobles, who had nothing
else to do, enrolled themselves with their retainers. At a council of
Lateran, which was held while these bands were collecting, Innocent
announced that he himself would take the Cross, and lead the armies of
Christ to the defence of his sepulchre. In all probability he would
have done so, for he was zealous enough; but death stepped in, and
destroyed his project ere it was ripe. His successor encouraged the
Crusade, though he refused to accompany it; and the armament continued
in France, England, and Germany. No leaders of any importance joined it
from the former countries. Andrew, King of Hungary, was the only
monarch who had leisure or inclination to leave his dominions. The
Dukes of Austria and Bavaria joined him with a considerable army of
Germans, and marching to Spalatro, took ship for Cyprus, and from
thence to Acre.

The whole conduct of the King of Hungary was marked by pusillanimity
and irresolution. He found himself in the Holy Land at the head of a
very efficient army; the Saracens were taken by surprise, and were for
some weeks unprepared to offer any resistance to his arms. He defeated
the first body sent to oppose him, and marched towards Mount Tabor,
with the intention of seizing upon an important fortress which the
Saracens had recently constructed. He arrived without impediment at the
Mount, and might have easily taken it; but a sudden fit of cowardice
came over him, and he returned to Acre without striking a blow. He very
soon afterwards abandoned the enterprise altogether, and returned to
his own country.

Tardy reinforcements arrived at intervals from Europe; and the Duke of
Austria, now the chief leader of the expedition, had still sufficient
forces at his command to trouble the Saracens very seriously. It was
resolved by him, in council with the other chiefs, that the whole
energy of the Crusade should be directed upon Egypt, the seat of the
Saracen power in its relationship to Palestine, and from whence were
drawn the continual levies that were brought against them by the
Sultan. Damietta, which commanded the river Nile, and was one of the
most important cities of Egypt, was chosen as the first point of
attack. The siege was forthwith commenced, and carried on with
considerable energy, until the crusaders gained possession of a tower,
which projected into the middle of the stream, and was looked upon as
the very key of the city.

While congratulating themselves upon this success, and wasting in
revelry the time which should have been employed in pushing the
advantage, they received the news of the death of the wise Sultan
Saphaddin. His two sons, Camhel and Cohreddin, divided his empire
between them. Syria and Palestine fell to the share of Cohreddin, while
Egypt was consigned to the other brother, who had for some time
exercised the functions of Lieutenant of that country. Being unpopular
among the Egyptians, they revolted against him, giving the crusaders a
finer opportunity for making a conquest than they had ever enjoyed
before. But, quarrelsome and licentious as they had been from time
immemorial, they did not see that the favourable moment had come; or,
seeing, could not profit by it. While they were revelling or fighting
among themselves, under the walls of Damietta, the revolt was put down,
and Camhel firmly established on the throne of Egypt. In conjunction
with his brother, Cohreddin, his next care was to drive the Christians
from Damietta, and, for upwards of three months, they bent all their
efforts to throw in supplies to the besieged, or draw on the besiegers
to a general engagement. In neither were they successful; and the
famine in Damietta became so dreadful, that vermin of every description
were thought luxuries, and sold for exorbitant prices. A dead dog
became more valuable than a live ox in time of prosperity. Unwholesome
food brought on disease, and the city could hold out no longer, for
absolute want of men to defend the walls.

Cohreddin and Camhel were alike interested in the preservation of so
important a position, and, convinced of the certain fate of the city,
they opened a conference with the crusading chiefs, offering to yield
the whole of Palestine to the Christians, upon the sole condition of
the evacuation of Egypt. With a blindness and wrong-headedness almost
incredible, these advantageous terms were refused, chiefly through the
persuasion of Cardinal Pelagius, an ignorant and obstinate fanatic, who
urged upon the Duke of Austria and the French and English leaders, that
infidels never kept their word; that their offers were deceptive, and
merely intended to betray. The conferences were brought to an abrupt
termination by the crusaders, and a last attack made upon the walls of
Damietta. The besieged made but slight resistance, for they had no
hope, and the Christians entered the city, and found, out of seventy
thousand people, but three thousand remaining: so fearful had been the
ravages of the twin fiends, plague and famine.

Several months were spent in Damietta. The climate either weakened the
frames or obscured the understandings of the Christians; for, after
their conquest, they lost all energy, and abandoned themselves more
unscrupulously than ever to riot and debauchery. John of Brienne, who,
by right of his wife, was the nominal sovereign of Jerusalem, was so
disgusted with the pusillanimity, arrogance, and dissensions of the
chiefs, that he withdrew entirely from them, and retired to Acre.
Large bodies also returned to Europe, and Cardinal Pelagius was left at
liberty to blast the whole enterprise whenever it pleased him. He
managed to conciliate John of Brienne, and marched forward with these
combined forces to attack Cairo. It was only when he had approached
within a few hours' march of that city, that he discovered the
inadequacy of his army. He turned back immediately, but the Nile had
risen since his departure; the sluices were opened, and there was no
means of reaching Damietta. In this strait, he sued for the peace he
had formerly spurned, and, happily for himself, found the generous
brothers, Camhel and Cohreddin, still willing to grant it. Damietta was
soon afterwards given up, and the Cardinal returned to Europe.  John of
Brienne retired to Acre, to mourn the loss of his kingdom, embittered
against the folly of his pretended friends, who had ruined where they
should have aided him. And thus ended the sixth Crusade.

The seventh was more successful. Frederic II, Emperor of Germany, had
often vowed to lead his armies to the defence of Palestine, but was as
often deterred from the journey by matters of more pressing importance.
Cohreddin was a mild and enlightened monarch, and the Christians of
Syria enjoyed repose and toleration under his rule: but John of Brienne
was not willing to lose his kingdom without an effort; and the Popes in
Europe were ever willing to embroil the nations for the sake of
extending their own power. No monarch of that age was capable of
rendering more effective assistance than Frederic of Germany. To
inspire him with more zeal, it was proposed that he should wed the
young Princess, Violante, daughter of John of Brienne, and heiress of
the kingdom of Jerusalem. Frederic consented with joy and eagerness.
The Princess was brought from Acre to Rome without delay, and her
marriage celebrated on a scale of great magnificence. Her father, John
of Brienne, abdicated all his rights in favour of his son-in-law, and
Jerusalem had once more a king, who had not only the will, but the
power, to enforce his claims. Preparations for the new crusade were
immediately commenced, and in the course of six months the Emperor was
at the head of a well-disciplined army of sixty thousand men. Matthew
Paris informs us, that an army of the same amount was gathered in
England; and most of the writers upon the Crusades adopt his statement.
When John of Brienne was in England, before his daughter's marriage
with the Emperor was thought of, praying for the aid of Henry III. and
his nobles to recover his lost kingdom, he did not meet with much
encouragement. Grafton, in his Chronicle, says, "he departed again
without any great comfort." But when a man of more influence in
European politics appeared upon the scene, the English nobles were as
ready to sacrifice themselves in the cause as they had been in the time
of Coeur de Lion.

The army of Frederic encamped at Brundusium; but a pestilential disease
having made its appearance among them, their departure was delayed for
several months. In the mean time the Empress Violante died in
child-bed. John of Brienne, who had already repented of his abdication,
and was besides incensed against Frederic for many acts of neglect and
insult, no sooner saw the only tie which bound them, severed by the
death of his daughter, than he began to bestir himself, and make
interest with the Pope to undo what he had done, and regain the
honorary crown he had renounced. Pope Gregory the Ninth, a man of a
proud, unconciliating, and revengeful character, owed the Emperor a
grudge for many an act of disobedience to his authority, and encouraged
the overtures of John of Brienne more than he should have done.
Frederic, however, despised them both, and, as soon as his army was
convalescent, set sail for Acre. He had not been many days at sea, when
he was himself attacked with the malady, and obliged to return to
Otranto, the nearest port. Gregory, who had by this time decided in the
interest of John of Brienne, excommunicated the Emperor for returning
from so holy an expedition on any pretext whatever. Frederic at first
treated the excommunication with supreme contempt; but when he got
well, he gave his Holiness to understand that he was not to be outraged
with impunity, and sent some of his troops to ravage the Papal
territories. This, however, only made the matter worse, and Gregory
despatched messengers to Palestine, forbidding the faithful, under
severe pains and penalties, to hold any intercourse with the
excommunicated Emperor. Thus between them both, the scheme which they
had so much at heart bade fair to be as effectually ruined as even the
Saracens could have wished. Frederic still continued his zeal in the
Crusade, for he was now King of Jerusalem, and fought for himself, and
not for Christendom, or its representative, Pope Gregory. Hearing that
John of Brienne was preparing to leave Europe, he lost no time in
taking his own departure, and arrived safely at Acre. It was here that
he first experienced the evil effects of excommunication. The
Christians of Palestine refused to aid him in any way, and looked with
distrust, if not with abhorrence, upon him. The Templars, Hospitallers,
and other knights, shared at first the general feeling; but they were
not men to yield a blind obedience to a distant potentate, especially
when it compromised their own interests. When, therefore, Frederic
prepared to march upon Jerusalem without them, they joined his banners
to a man.

It is said, that previous to quitting Europe, the German Emperor had
commenced a negotiation with the Sultan Camhel for the restoration of
the Holy Land, and that Camhel, who was jealous of the ambition of his
brother Cohreddin, was willing to stipulate to that effect, on
condition of being secured by Frederic in the possession of the more
important territory of Egypt. But before the crusaders reached
Palestine, Camhel was relieved from all fears by the death of his
brother. He nevertheless did not think it worth while to contest with
the crusaders the barren corner of the earth which had already been
dyed with so much Christian and Saracen blood, and proposed a truce of
three years, only stipulating, in addition, that the Moslems should be
allowed to worship freely in the Temple of Jerusalem. This happy
termination did not satisfy the bigoted Christians of Palestine. The
tolerance they fought for themselves, they were not willing to extend
to others, and they complained bitterly of the privilege of free
worship allowed to their opponents. Unmerited good fortune had made
them insolent, and they contested the right of the Emperor to become a
party to any treaty, as long as he remained under the ecclesiastical
ban. Frederic was disgusted with his new subjects; but, as the Templars
and Hospitallers remained true to him, he marched to Jerusalem to be
crowned. All the churches were shut against him, and he could not even
find a priest to officiate at his coronation. He had despised the Papal
authority too long to quail at it now, when it was so unjustifiably
exerted, and, as there was nobody to crown him, he very wisely crowned
himself. He took the royal diadem from the altar with his own hands,
and boldly and proudly placed it on his brow. No shouts of an
applauding populace made the welkin ring, no hymns of praise and
triumph resounded from the ministers of religion; but a thousand swords
started from their scabbards, to testify that their owners would defend
the new monarch to the death.

It was hardly to be expected that he would renounce for any long period
the dominion of his native land for the uneasy crown and barren soil of
Palestine. He had seen quite enough of his new subjects before he was
six months among them, and more important interests called him home.
John of Brienne, openly leagued with Pope Gregory against him, was
actually employed in ravaging his territories at the head of a papal
army. This intelligence decided his return. As a preliminary step, he
made those who had contemned his authority feel, to their sorrow, that
he was their master. He then set sail, loaded with the curses of
Palestine. And thus ended the seventh Crusade, which, in spite of every
obstacle and disadvantage, had been productive of more real service to
the Holy Land than any that had gone before; a result solely
attributable to the bravery of Frederic and the generosity of the
Sultan Camhel.

Soon after the Emperor's departure a new claimant started for the
throne of Jerusalem, in the person of Alice, Queen of Cyprus, and
half-sister of the Mary who, by her marriage, had transferred her right
to John of Brienne. The grand military orders, however, clung to
Frederic, and Alice was obliged to withdraw.

So peaceful a termination to the Crusade did not give unmixed pleasure
in Europe. The chivalry of France and England were unable to rest, and
long before the conclusion of the truce, were collecting their armies
for an eighth expedition. In Palestine, also, the contentment was far
from universal. Many petty Mahomedan states in the immediate vicinity
were not parties to the truce, and harassed the frontier towns
incessantly. The Templars, ever turbulent, waged bitter war with the
Sultan of Aleppo, and in the end were almost exterminated. So great was
the slaughter among them that Europe resounded with the sad story of
their fate, and many a noble knight took arms to prevent the total
destruction of an order associated with so many high and inspiring
remembrances. Camhel, seeing the preparations that were making, thought
that his generosity had been sufficiently shown, and the very day the
truce was at an end assumed the offensive, and marching forward to
Jerusalem took possession of it, after routing the scanty forces of the
Christians. Before this intelligence reached Europe a large body of
crusaders was on the march, headed by the King of Navarre, the Duke of
Burgundy, the Count de Bretagne, and other leaders. On their arrival,
they learned that Jerusalem had been taken, but that the Sultan was
dead, and his kingdom torn by rival claimants to the supreme power. The
dissensions of their foes ought to have made them united, but, as in
all previous Crusades, each feudal chief was master of his own host,
and acted upon his own responsibility, and without reference to any
general plan. The consequence was that nothing could be done. A
temporary advantage was gained by one leader, who had no means of
improving it, while another was defeated, without means of retrieving
himself. Thus the war lingered till the battle of Gaza, when the King
of Navarre was defeated with great loss, and compelled to save himself
from total destruction by entering into a hard and oppressive treaty
with the Emir of Karac.

At this crisis aid arrived from England, commanded by Richard Earl of
Cornwall, the namesake of Coeur de Lion, and inheritor of his valour.
His army was strong, and full of hope. They had confidence in
themselves and in their leader, and looked like men accustomed to
victory. Their coming changed the aspect of affairs. The new Sultan of
Egypt was at war with the Sultan of Damascus, and had not forces to
oppose two enemies so powerful. He therefore sent messengers to meet
the English Earl, offering an exchange of prisoners and the complete
cession of the Holy Land. Richard, who had not come to fight for the
mere sake of fighting, agreed at once to terms so advantageous, and
became the deliverer of Palestine without striking a blow. The Sultan
of Egypt then turned his whole force against his Moslem enemies, and
the Earl of Cornwall returned to Europe. Thus ended the eighth Crusade,
the most beneficial of all. Christendom had no further pretence for
sending her fierce levies to the East. To all appearance, the holy wars
were at an end: the Christians had entire possession of Jerusalem,
Tripoli, Antioch, Edessa, Acre, Jaffa, and, in fact, of nearly all
Judea; and, could they have been at peace among themselves, they might
have overcome, without great difficulty, the jealousy and hostility of
their neighhours. A circumstance, as unforeseen as it was disastrous,
blasted this fair prospect, and reillumed, for the last time, the
fervour and fury of the Crusades.

Gengis Khan and his successors had swept over Asia like a tropical
storm, overturning in their progress the landmarks of ages. Kingdom
after kingdom was cast down as they issued, innumerable, from the far
recesses of the North and East, and, among others, the empire of
Korasmin was overrun by these all-conquering hordes. The Korasmins, a
fierce, uncivilized race, thus driven from their homes, spread
themselves, in their turn, over the south of Asia with fire and sword,
in search of a resting place. In their impetuous course they directed
themselves towards Egypt, whose Sultan, unable to withstand the swarm
that had cast their longing eyes on the fertile valleys of the Nile,
endeavoured to turn them from their course. For this purpose, he sent
emissaries to Barbaquan, their leader, inviting them to settle in
Palestine; and the offer being accepted by the wild horde, they entered
the country before the Christians received the slightest intimation of
their coming. It was as sudden as it was overwhelming.  Onwards, like
the simoom, they came, burning and slaying, and were at the walls of
Jerusalem before the inhabitants had time to look round them. They
spared neither life nor property; they slew women and children, and
priests at the altar, and profaned even the graves of those who had
slept for ages. They tore down every vestige of the Christian faith,
and committed horrors unparalleled in the history of warfare. About
seven thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem sought safety in
retreat; but before they were out of sight, the banner of the Cross was
hoisted upon the walls by the savage foe to decoy them back. The
artifice was but too successful. The poor fugitives imagined that help
had arrived from another direction, and turned back to regain their
homes. Nearly the whole of them were massacred, and the streets of
Jerusalem ran with blood.

The Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic knights forgot their long and
bitter animosities, and joined hand in hand to rout out this desolating
foe. They intrenched themselves in Jaffa with all the chivalry of
Palestine that yet remained, and endeavoured to engage the Sultans of
Emissa and Damascus to assist them against the common enemy. The aid
obtained from the Moslems amounted at first to only four thousand men,
but with these reinforcements Walter of Brienne, the Lord of Jaffa,
resolved to give battle to the Korasrains. The conflict was as deadly
as despair on the one side, and unmitigated ferocity on the other,
could make it. It lasted with varying fortune for two days, when the
Sultan of Emissa fled to his fortifications, and Walter of Brienne fell
into the enemy's hands. The brave knight was suspended by the arms to a
cross in sight of the walls of Jaffa, and the Korasminian leader
declared that he should remain in that position until the city
surrendered. Walter raised his feeble voice, not to advise surrender,
but to command his soldiers to hold out to the last. But his gallantry
was unavailing. So great had been the slaughter, that out of the grand
array of knights, there now remained but sixteen Hospitallers,
thirty-three Templars, and three Teutonic cavaliers. These with the sad
remnant of the army fled to Acre, and the Korasmins were masters of

The Sultans of Syria preferred the Christians to this fierce horde for
their neighbours. Even the Sultan of Egypt began to regret the aid he
had given to such barbarous foes, and united with those of Emissa and
Damascus to root them from the land. The Korasmins amounted to but
twenty thousand men, and were unable to resist the determined hostility
which encompassed them on every side. The Sultans defeated them in
several engagements, and the peasantry rose up in masses to take
vengeance upon them. Gradually their numbers were diminished. No mercy
was shown them in defeat. Barbaquan, their leader, was slain, and after
five years of desperate struggles they were finally extirpated, and
Palestine became once more the territory of the Mussulmans.

A short time previous to this devastating irruption, Louis IX.  fell
sick in Paris, and dreamed in the delirium of his fever that he saw the
Christian and Moslem hosts fighting before Jerusalem, and the
Christians defeated with great slaughter. The dream made a great
impression on his superstitious mind, and he made a solemn vow that if
ever he recovered his health, he would take a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land. When the news of the misfortunes of Palestine, and the awful
massacres at Jerusalem and Jaffa, arrived in Europe, St. Louis
remembered him of his dream. More persuaded than ever, that it was an
intimation direct from Heaven, he prepared to take the Cross at the
head of his armies, and march to the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre.
From that moment he doffed the royal mantle of purple and ermine, and
dressed in the sober serge becoming a pilgrim. All his thoughts were
directed to the fulfilment of his design, and although his kingdom
could but ill spare him, he made every preparation to leave it. Pope
Innocent IV. applauded his zeal and afforded him every assistance. He
wrote to Henry III. of England to forward the cause in his dominions,
and called upon the clergy and laity all over Europe to contribute
towards it. William Longsword, the celebrated Earl of Salisbury, took
the Cross at the head of a great number of valiant knights and
soldiers. But the fanaticism of the people was not to be awakened
either in France or England. Great armies were raised, but the masses
no longer sympathized. Taxation had been the great cooler of zeal. It
was no longer a disgrace even to a knight if he refused to take the
Cross. Rutebeuf, a French minstrel, who flourished about this time
(1250), composed a dialogue between a crusader and a non-crusader,
which the reader will find translated in "Way's Fabliaux." The crusader
uses every argument to persuade the non-crusader to take up arms, and
forsake every thing, in the holy cause; but it is evident from the
greater force of the arguments used by the noncrusader, that he was the
favourite of the minstrel. To a most urgent solicitation of his friend,
the crusader, he replies,

  "I read thee right, thou boldest good
    To this same land I straight should hie,
  And win it back with mickle blood,
    Nor gaine one foot of soil thereby.
  While here dejected and forlorn,
  My wife and babes are left to mourn;
  My goodly mansion rudely marred,
  All trusted to my dogs to guard.
  But I, fair comrade, well I wot
    An ancient saw, of pregnant wit,
  Doth bid us keep what we have got,
    And troth I mean to follow it."

This being the general feeling, it is not to be wondered at that Louis
IX. was occupied fully three years in organizing his forces, and in
making the necessary preparations for his departure. When all was ready
he set sail for Cyprus, accompanied by his Queen, his two brothers, the
Counts d'Anjou and d'Artois, and a long train of the noblest chivalry
of France. His third brother, the Count de Poitiers, remained behind to
collect another corps of crusaders, and followed him in a few months
afterwards. The army united at Cyprus, and amounted to fifty thousand
men, exclusive of the English crusaders under William Longsword. Again,
a pestilential disease made its appearance, to which many hundreds fell
victims. It was in consequence found necessary to remain in Cyprus
until the spring. Louis then embarked for Egypt with his whole host;
but a violent tempest separated his fleet, and he arrived before
Damietta with only a few thousand men. They were, however, impetuous
and full of hope; and although the Sultan Melick Shah was drawn up on
the shore with a force infinitely superior, it was resolved to attempt
a landing without waiting the arrival of the rest of the army. Louis
himself in wild impatience sprang from his boat, and waded on shore;
while his army, inspired by his enthusiastic bravery, followed,
shouting the old war-cry of the first crusaders, Dieu le veut! Dieu le
veut! A panic seized the Turks. A body of their cavalry attempted to
bear down upon the crusaders, but the knights fixed their large shields
deep in the sands of the shore, and rested their lances upon them, so
that they projected above, and formed a barrier so imposing, that the
Turks, afraid to breast it, turned round and fairly took to flight. At
the moment of this panic, a false report was spread in the Saracen
host, that the Sultan had been slain. The confusion immediately became
general--the deroute was complete: Damietta itself was abandoned, and
the same night the victorious crusaders fixed their headquarters in
that city. The soldiers who had been separated from their chief by the
tempest, arrived shortly afterwards; and Louis was in a position to
justify the hope, not only of the conquest of Palestine, but of Egypt

But too much confidence proved the bane of his army. They thought, as
they had accomplished so much, that nothing more remained to be done,
and gave themselves up to ease and luxury. When, by the command of
Louis, they marched towards Cairo, they were no longer the same men;
success, instead of inspiring, had unnerved them; debauchery had
brought on disease, and disease was aggravated by the heat of a climate
to which none of them were accustomed. Their progress towards Massoura,
on the road to Cairo, was checked by the Thanisian canal, on the banks
of which the Saracens were drawn up to dispute the passage.  Louis gave
orders that a bridge should be thrown across; and the operations
commenced under cover of two cat-castles, or high moveable towers. The
Saracens soon destroyed them by throwing quantities of Greek fire, the
artillery of that day, upon them, and Louis was forced to think of some
other means of effecting his design. A peasant agreed, for a
considerable bribe, to point out a ford where the army might wade
across, and the Count d'Artois was despatched with fourteen hundred men
to attempt it, while Louis remained to face the Saracens with the main
body of the army. The Count d'Artois got safely over, and defeated the
detachment that had been sent to oppose his landing.  Flushed with the
victory, the brave Count forgot the inferiority of his numbers, and
pursued the panic-stricken enemy into Massoura. He was now completely
cut off from the aid of his brother-crusaders, which the Moslems
perceiving, took courage and returned upon him, with a force swollen by
the garrison of Massoura, and by reinforcements from the surrounding
districts. The battle now became hand to hand.  The Christians fought
with the energy of desperate men, but the continually increasing
numbers of the foe surrounded them completely, and cut off all hope,
either of victory or escape. The Count d'Artois was among the foremost
of the slain, and when Louis arrived to the rescue, the brave
advance-guard was nearly cut to pieces. Of the fourteen hundred but
three hundred remained. The fury of the battle was now increased
threefold. The French King and his troops performed prodigies of
valour, and the Saracens, under the command of the Emir Ceccidun,
fought as if they were determined to exterminate, in one last decisive
effort, the new European swarm that had settled upon their coast. At
the fall of the evening dews the Christians were masters of the field
of Massoura, and flattered themselves that they were the victors.
Self-love would not suffer them to confess that the Saracens had
withdrawn, and not retreated; but their leaders were too wofully
convinced that that fatal field had completed the disorganization of
the Christian army, and that all hopes of future conquest were at an

Impressed with this truth, the crusaders sued for peace. The Sultan
insisted upon the immediate evacuation of Damietta, and that Louis
himself should be delivered as hostage for the fulfilment of the
condition. His army at once refused, and the negotiations were broken
off. It was now resolved to attempt a retreat; but the agile Saracens,
now in the front and now in the rear, rendered it a matter of extreme
difficulty, and cut off the stragglers in great numbers. Hundreds of
them were drowned in the Nile; and sickness and famine worked sad
ravage upon those who escaped all other casualties. Louis himself was
so weakened by disease, fatigue, and discouragement that he was hardly
able to sit upon his horse. In the confusion of the flight he was
separated from his attendants, and left a total stranger upon the sands
of Egypt, sick, weary, and almost friendless. One knight, Geffry de
Sergines, alone attended him, and led him to a miserable hut in a small
village, where for several days he lay in the hourly expectation of
death. He was at last discovered and taken prisoner by the Saracens,
who treated him with all the honour due to his rank and all the pity
due to his misfortunes. Under their care his health rapidly improved,
and the next consideration was that of his ransom.

The Saracens demanded, besides money, the cession of Acre, Tripoli, and
other cities of Palestine. Louis unhesitatingly refused, and conducted
himself with so much pride and courage that the Sultan declared he was
the proudest infidel he had ever beheld. After a good deal of haggling,
the Sultan agreed to waive these conditions, and a treaty was finally
concluded. The city of Damietta was restored; a truce of ten years
agreed upon, and ten thousand golden bezants paid for the release of
Louis and the liberation of all the captives. Louis then withdrew to
Jaffa, and spent two years in putting that city, and Cesarea, with the
other possessions of the Christians in Palestine, into a proper state
of defence. He then returned to his own country, with great reputation
as a saint, but very little as a soldier.

Matthew Paris informs us that, in the year 1250, while Louis was in
Egypt, "thousands of the English were resolved to go to the holy war,
had not the King strictly guarded his ports and kept his people from
running out of doors." When the news arrived of the reverses and
captivity of the French King, their ardour cooled; and the Crusade was
sung of only, but not spoken of.

In France, a very different feeling was the result. The news of the
King's capture spread consternation through the country. A fanatic monk
of Citeaux suddenly appeared in the villages, preaching to the people,
and announcing that the Holy Virgin, accompanied by a whole army of
saints and martyrs, had appeared to him, and commanded him to stir up
the shepherds and farm labourers to the defence of the Cross.  To them
only was his discourse addressed, and his eloquence was such that
thousands flocked around him, ready to follow wherever he should lead.
The pastures and the corn-fields were deserted, and the shepherds, or
pastoureaux, as they were termed, became at last so numerous as to
amount to upwards of fifty thousand,--Millot says one hundred thousand
men. [Elemens de l'Histoire de France.] The Queen Blanche, who governed
as Regent during the absence of the King, encouraged at first the
armies of the pastoureaux; but they soon gave way to such vile excesses
that the peaceably disposed were driven to resistance. Robbery, murder,
and violation marked their path; and all good men, assisted by the
government, united in putting them down.  They were finally dispersed,
but not before three thousand of them had been massacred. Many authors
say that the slaughter was still greater.

The ten years' truce concluded in 1264, and St. Louis was urged by two
powerful motives to undertake a second expedition for the relief of
Palestine. These were fanaticism on the one hand, and a desire of
retrieving his military fame on the other, which had suffered more than
his parasites liked to remind him of. The Pope, of course, encouraged
his design, and once more the chivalry of Europe began to bestir
themselves. In 1268, Edward, the heir of the English monarchy,
announced his determination to join the Crusade; and the Pope (Clement
IV.) wrote to the prelates and clergy to aid the cause by their
persuasions and their revenues. In England, they agreed to contribute a
tenth of their possessions; and by a parliamentary order, a twentieth
was taken from the corn and moveables of all the laity at Michaelmas.

In spite of the remonstrances of the few clearheaded statesmen who
surrounded him, urging the ruin that might in consequence fall upon his
then prosperous kingdom, Louis made every preparation for his
departure. The warlike nobility were nothing loth, and in the spring of
1270, the King set sail with an army of sixty thousand men. He was
driven by stress of weather into Sardinia, and while there, a change in
his plans took place. Instead of proceeding to Acre, as he originally
intended, he shaped his course for Tunis, on the African coast. The
King of Tunis had some time previously expressed himself favourably
disposed towards the Christians and their religion, and Louis, it
appears, had hopes of converting him, and securing his aid against the
Sultan of Egypt. "What honour would be mine," he used to say, "if I
could become godfather to this Mussulman King." Filled with this idea
he landed in Africa, near the site of the city of Carthage, but found
that he had reckoned without his host. The King of Tunis had no
thoughts of renouncing his religion, nor intention of aiding the
Crusaders in any way. On the contrary, he opposed their landing with
all the forces that could be collected on so sudden an emergency. The
French, however, made good their first position, and defeated the
Moslems with considerable loss. They also gained some advantage over
the reinforcements that were sent to oppose them; but an infectious
flux appeared in the army, and put a stop to all future victories. The
soldiers died at the rate of a hundred in a day. The enemy, at the same
time, made as great havoc as the plague. St. Louis himself was one of
the first attacked by the disease. His constitution had been weakened
by fatigues, and even before he left France he was unable to bear the
full weight of his armour. It was soon evident to his sorrowing
soldiers that their beloved monarch could not long survive.  He
lingered for some days, and died in Carthage, in the fifty-sixth year
of his age, deeply regretted by his army and his subjects, and leaving
behind him one of the most singular reputations in history. He is the
model-king of ecclesiastical writers, in whose eyes his very defects
became virtues, because they were manifested in furtherance of their
cause. More unprejudiced historians, while they condemn his fanaticism,
admit that he was endowed with many high and rare qualities; that he
was in no one point behind his age, and, in many, in advance of it.

His brother, Charles of Anjou, in consequence of a revolution in
Sicily, had become King of that country. Before he heard of the death
of Louis, he had sailed from Messina with large reinforcements. On his
landing near Carthage, he advanced at the head of his army, amid the
martial music of drums and trumpets. He was soon informed how
inopportune was his rejoicing, and shed tears before his whole army,
such as no warrior would have been ashamed to shed. A peace was
speedily agreed upon with the King of Tunis, and the armies of France
and Sicily returned to their homes.

So little favour had the Crusade found in England, that even the
exertions of the heir to the throne had only collected a small force of
fifteen hundred men. With these few Prince Edward sailed from Dover to
Bourdeaux, in the expectation that he would find the French King in
that city. St. Louis, however, had left a few weeks previously; upon
which Edward followed him to Sardinia, and afterwards to Tunis. Before
his arrival in Africa, St. Louis was no more, and peace had been
concluded between France and Tunis. He determined, however, not to
relinquish the Crusade. Returning to Sicily, he passed the winter in
that country, and endeavoured to augment his little army. In the spring
he set sail for Palestine, and arrived in safety at Acre. The
Christians were torn, as usual, by mutual jealousies and animosities.
The two great military orders were as virulent and as intractable as
ever; opposed to each other, and to all the world. The arrival of
Edward had the effect of causing them to lay aside their unworthy
contention, and of uniting heart to heart, in one last effort for the
deliverance of their adopted country. A force of six thousand effective
warriors was soon formed to join those of the English prince, and
preparations were made for the renewal of hostilities. The Sultan,
Bibars or Bendocdar, [Mills, in his history, gives the name of this
chief as "Al Malek al Dhaker Rokneddin Abulfeth Bibars al Ali al
Bundokdari al Salehi."] a fierce Mamluke, who had been placed on the
throne by a bloody revolution, was at war with all his neighbours, and
unable, for that reason, to concentrate his whole strength against
them. Edward took advantage of this; and marching boldly forward to
Nazareth, defeated the Turks and gained possession of that city. This
was the whole amount of his successes. The hot weather engendered
disease among his troops, and he himself, the life and soul of the
expedition, fell sick among the first. He had been ill for some time,
and was slowly recovering, when a messenger desired to speak with him
on important matters, and to deliver some despatches into his own hand.
While the Prince was occupied in examining them, the traitorous
messenger drew a dagger from his belt, and stabbed him in the breast.
The wound fortunately was not deep, and Edward had gained a portion of
his strength. He struggled with the assassin, and put him to death with
his own dagger, at the same time calling loudly for assistance.  [The
reader will recognise the incident which Sir Walter Scott has
introduced into his beautiful romance, "The Talisman," and which, with
the licence claimed by poets and romancers, he represents as having
befallen King Richard I.] His attendants came at his call, and found
him bleeding profusely, and ascertained on inspection that the dagger
was poisoned. Means were instantly taken to purify the wound; and an
antidote was sent by the Grand Master of the Templars which removed all
danger from the effects of the poison. Camden, in his history, has
adopted the more popular, and certainly more beautiful, version of this
story, which says that the Princess Eleonora, in her love for her
gallant husband, sucked the poison from his wound at the risk of her
own life: to use the words of old Fuller, "It is a pity so pretty a
story should not be true; and that so sovereign a remedy as a woman's
tongue, anointed with the virtue of loving affection," should not have
performed the good deed.

Edward suspected, and doubtless not without reason, that the assassin
was employed by the Sultan of Egypt. But it amounted to suspicion only;
and by the sudden death of the assassin, the principal clue to the
discovery of the truth was lost for ever. Edward, on his recovery,
prepared to resume the offensive; but the Sultan, embarrassed by the
defence of interests which, for the time being, he considered of more
importance, made offers of peace to the crusaders.  This proof of
weakness on the part of the enemy was calculated to render a man of
Edward's temperament more anxious to prosecute the war; but he had also
other interests to defend. News arrived in Palestine of the death of
his father, King Henry III; and his presence being necessary in
England, he agreed to the terms of the Sultan.  These were, that the
Christians should be allowed to retain their possessions in the Holy
Land, and that a truce of ten years should be proclaimed. Edward then
set sail for England; and thus ended the last Crusade.

The after-fate of the Holy Land may be told in a few words. The
Christians, unmindful of their past sufferings and of the jealous
neighbours they had to deal with, first broke the truce by plundering
some Egyptian traders near Margat. The Sultan immediately revenged the
outrage by taking possession of Margat, and war once more raged between
the nations. Margat made a gallant defence, but no reinforcements
arrived from Europe to prevent its fall. Tripoli was the next, and
other cities in succession, until at last Acre was the only city of
Palestine that remained in possession of the Christians.

The Grand Master of the Templars collected together his small and
devoted band; and with the trifling aid afforded by the King of Cyprus,
prepared to defend to the death the last possession of his order.
Europe was deaf to his cry for aid, the numbers of the foe were
overwhelming, and devoted bravery was of no avail. In that disastrous
siege the Christians were all but exterminated. The King of Cyprus fled
when he saw that resistance was vain, and the Grand Master fell at the
head of his knights, pierced with a hundred wounds. Seven Templars, and
as many Hospitallets, alone escaped from the dreadful carnage. The
victorious Moslems then set fire to the city, and the rule of the
Christians in Palestine was brought to a close for ever.

This intelligence spread alarm and sorrow among the clergy of Europe,
who endeavoured to rouse once more the energy and enthusiasm of the
nations, in the cause of the Holy Land: but the popular mania had run
its career; the spark of zeal had burned its appointed time, and was
never again to be re-illumined. Here and there a solitary knight
announced his determination to take up arms, and now and then a king
gave cold encouragement to the scheme; but it dropped almost as soon as
spoken of, to be renewed again, still more feebly, at some longer

Now what was the grand result of all these struggles? Europe expended
millions of her treasures, and the blood of two millions of her
children; and a handful of quarrelsome knights retained possession of
Palestine for about one hundred years! Even had Christendom retained it
to this day, the advantage, if confined to that, would have been too
dearly purchased. But notwithstanding the fanaticism that originated,
and the folly that conducted them, the Crusades were not productive of
unmitigated evil. The feudal chiefs became better members of society,
by coming in contact, in Asia, with a civilization superior to their
own; the people secured some small instalments of their rights; kings,
no longer at war with their nobility, had time to pass some good laws;
the human mind learned some little wisdom from hard experience, and,
casting off the slough of superstition in which the Roman clergy had so
long enveloped it, became prepared to receive the seeds of the
approaching Reformation. Thus did the all-wise Disposer of events bring
good out of evil, and advance the civilization and ultimate happiness
of the nations of the West, by means of the very fanaticism that had
led them against the East. But the whole subject is one of absorbing
interest; and if carried fully out in all its bearings, would consume
more space than the plan of this work will allow. The philosophic
student will draw his own conclusions; and he can have no better field
for the exercise of his powers than this European madness; its
advantages and disadvantages; its causes and results.


  What wrath of gods, or wicked influence
  Of tears, conspiring wretched men t' afflict,
  Hath pour'd on earth this noyous pestilence,
  That mortal minds doth inwardly infect
  With love of blindness and of ignorance?

  Spencer's Tears of the Muses.

  Countrymen: "Hang her!--beat her!--kill her!"
  Justice: "How now? Forbear this violence!"
  Mother Sawyer: "A crew of villains--a knot of bloody hangmen!
                 set to torment me!--I know not why."
  Justice: "Alas! neighbour Banks, are you a ringleader in mischief?
            Fie I to abuse an aged woman!"
  Banks: "Woman!--a she hell-cat, a witch! To prove her one, we no
         sooner set fire on the thatch of her house, but in she came
         running, as if the Devil had sent her in a barrel of

  Ford's Witch of Edmonton.

The belief that disembodied spirits may be permitted to revisit this
world, has its foundation upon that sublime hope of immortality, which
is at once the chief solace and greatest triumph of our reason.  Even
if revelation did not teach us, we feel that we have that within us
which shall never die; and all our experience of this life but makes us
cling the more fondly to that one repaying hope. But in the early days
of "little knowledge," this grand belief became the source of a whole
train of superstitions, which, in their turn, became the fount from
whence flowed a deluge of blood and horror. Europe, for a period of two
centuries and a half, brooded upon the idea, not only that parted
spirits walked the earth to meddle in the affairs of men, but that men
had power to summon evil spirits to their aid to work woe upon their
fellows. An epidemic terror seized upon the nations; no man thought
himself secure, either in his person or possessions, from the
machinations of the devil and his agents. Every calamity that befell
him, he attributed to a witch. If a storm arose and blew down his barn,
it was witchcraft; if his cattle died of a murrain-if disease fastened
upon his limbs, or death entered suddenly, and snatched a beloved face
from his hearth--they were not visitations of Providence, but the works
of some neighbouring hag, whose wretchedness or insanity caused the
ignorant to raise their finger, and point at her as a witch. The word
was upon everybody's tongue--France, Italy, Germany, England, Scotland,
and the far North, successively ran mad upon this subject, and for a
long series of years, furnished their tribunals with so many trials for
witchcraft that other crimes were seldom or never spoken of. Thousands
upon thousands of unhappy persons fell victims to this cruel and absurd
delusion. In many cities of Germany, as will be shown more fully in its
due place hereafter, the average number of executions for this
pretended crime, was six hundred annually, or two every day, if we
leave out the Sundays, when, it is to be supposed, that even this
madness refrained from its work.

A misunderstanding of the famous text of the Mosaic law, "Thou shalt
not suffer a witch to live," no doubt led many conscientious men
astray, whose superstition, warm enough before, wanted but a little
corroboration to blaze out with desolating fury. In all ages of the
world men have tried to hold converse with superior beings; and to
pierce, by their means, the secrets of futurity. In the time of Moses,
it is evident that there were impostors, who trafficked upon the
credulity of mankind, and insulted the supreme majesty of the true God
by pretending to the power of divination. Hence the law which Moses, by
Divine command, promulgated against these criminals; but it did not
follow, as the superstitious monomaniacs of the middle ages imagined,
that the Bible established the existence of the power of divination by
its edicts against those who pretended to it. From the best
authorities, it appears that the Hebrew word, which has been rendered,
venefica, and witch, means a poisoner and divineress--a dabbler in
spells, or fortune-teller. The modern witch was a very different
character, and joined to her pretended power of foretelling future
events that of working evil upon the life, limbs, and possessions of
mankind. This power was only to be acquired by an express compact,
signed in blood, with the devil himself, by which the wizard or witch
renounced baptism, and sold his or her immortal soul to the evil one,
without any saving clause of redemption.

There are so many wondrous appearances in nature, for which science and
philosophy cannot, even now, account, that it is not surprising that,
when natural laws were still less understood, men should have
attributed to supernatural agency every appearance which they could not
otherwise explain. The merest tyro now understands various phenomena
which the wisest of old could not fathom. The schoolboy knows why, upon
high mountains, there should, on certain occasions, appear three or
four suns in the firmament at once; and why the figure of a traveller
upon one eminence should be reproduced, inverted, and of a gigantic
stature, upon another. We all know the strange pranks which imagination
can play in certain diseases--that the hypochondriac can see visions
and spectres, and that there have been cases in which men were
perfectly persuaded that they were teapots. Science has lifted up the
veil, and rolled away all the fantastic horrors in which our
forefathers shrouded these and similar cases. The man who now imagines
himself a wolf, is sent to the hospital, instead of to the stake, as in
the days of the witch mania; and earth, air, and sea are unpeopled of
the grotesque spirits that were once believed to haunt them.

Before entering further into the history of Witchcraft, it may be as
well if we consider the absurd impersonation of the evil principle
formed by the monks in their legends. We must make acquaintance with
the primum mobile, and understand what sort of a personage it was, who
gave the witches, in exchange for their souls, the power to torment
their fellow-creatures. The popular notion of the devil was, that he
was a large, ill-formed, hairy sprite, with horns, a long tail, cloven
feet, and dragon's wings. In this shape he was constantly brought on
the stage by the monks in their early "miracles" and "mysteries." In
these representations he was an important personage, and answered the
purpose of the clown in the modern pantomime. The great fun for the
people was to see him well belaboured by the saints with clubs or
cudgels, and to hear him howl with pain as he limped off, maimed by the
blow of some vigorous anchorite. St. Dunstan generally served him the
glorious trick for which he is renowned--catching hold of his nose with
a pair of red-hot pincers, till

  "Rocks and distant dells resounded with his cries."

Some of the saints spat in his face, to his very great annoyance; and
others chopped pieces off his tail, which, however, always grew on
again. This was paying him in his own coin, and amused the populace
mightily; for they all remembered the scurvy tricks he had played them
and their forefathers. It was believed that he endeavoured to trip
people up, by laying his long invisible tail in their way, and giving
it a sudden whisk when their legs were over it;--that he used to get
drunk, and swear like a trooper, and be so mischievous in his cups as
to raise tempests and earthquakes, to destroy the fruits of the earth
and the barns and homesteads of true believers;--that he used to run
invisible spits into people by way of amusing himself in the long
winter evenings, and to proceed to taverns and regale himself with the
best, offering in payment pieces of gold which, on the dawn of the
following morning, invariably turned into slates. Sometimes, disguised
as a large drake, he used to lurk among the bulrushes, and frighten the
weary traveller out of his wits by his awful quack. The reader will
remember the lines of Burns in his address to the "De'il," which so
well express the popular notion on this point--

  "Ae dreary, windy, winter night,
  The stars shot down wi' sklentin light,
  Wi' you, mysel, I got a fright
         Ayont the lough;
  Ye, like a rash-bush, stood in sight
         Wi' waving sough.

  "The cudgel in my nieve did shake,
  Each bristled hair stood like a stake,
  When wi' an eldritch stour, 'quaick! quaick!'
         Among the springs
  Awa ye squatter'd, like a drake,
         On whistling wings."

In all the stories circulated and believed about him, he was
represented as an ugly, petty, mischievous spirit, who rejoiced in
playing off all manner of fantastic tricks upon poor humanity. Milton
seems to have been the first who succeeded in giving any but a
ludicrous description of him. The sublime pride which is the
quintessence of evil, was unconceived before his time. All other
limners made him merely grotesque, but Milton made him awful. In this
the monks showed themselves but miserable romancers; for their object
undoubtedly was to represent the fiend as terrible as possible: but
there was nothing grand about their Satan; on the contrary, he was a
low mean devil, whom it was easy to circumvent and fine fun to play
tricks with. But, as is well and eloquently remarked by a modern
writer, [See article on Demonology, in the sixth volume of the "Foreign
Quarterly Review."] the subject has also its serious side.  An Indian
deity, with its wild distorted shape and grotesque attitude, appears
merely ridiculous when separated from its accessories and viewed by
daylight in a museum; but restore it to the darkness of its own hideous
temple, bring back to our recollection the victims that have bled upon
its altar, or been crushed beneath its ear, and our sense of the
ridiculous subsides into aversion and horror. So, while the
superstitious dreams of former times are regarded as mere speculative
insanities, we may be for a moment amused with the wild incoherences of
the patients; but, when we reflect, that out of these hideous
misconceptions of the principle of evil arose the belief in
witchcraft--that this was no dead faith, but one operating on the whole
being of society, urging on the wisest and the mildest to deeds of
murder, or cruelties scarcely less than murder--that the learned and
the beautiful, young and old, male and female, were devoted by its
influence to the stake and the scaffold--every feeling disappears,
except that of astonishment that such things could be, and humiliation
at the thought that the delusion was as lasting as it was universal.

Besides this chief personage, there was an infinite number of inferior
demons, who played conspicuous parts in the creed of witchcraft. The
pages of Bekker, Leloyer, Bodin, Delrio, and De Lancre abound with
descriptions of the qualities of these imps and the functions which
were assigned them. From these authors, three of whom were
commissioners for the trial of witches, and who wrote from the
confessions made by the supposed criminals and the evidence delivered
against them, and from the more recent work of M. Jules Garinet, the
following summary of the creed has been, with great pains, extracted.
The student who is desirous of knowing more, is referred to the works
in question; he will find enough in every leaf to make his blood curdle
with shame and horror: but the purity of these pages shall not be
soiled by anything so ineffably humiliating and disgusting as a
complete exposition of them; what is here culled will be a sufficient
sample of the popular belief, and the reader would but lose time who
should seek in the writings of the Demonologists for more ample
details. He will gain nothing by lifting the veil which covers their
unutterable obscenities, unless, like Sterne, he wishes to gather fresh
evidence of "what a beast man is." In that case, he will find plenty
there to convince him that the beast would be libelled by the

It was thought that the earth swarmed with millions of demons of both
sexes, many of whom, like the human race, traced their lineage up to
Adam, who, after the fall, was led astray by devils, assuming the forms
of beautiful women to deceive him. These demons "increased and
multiplied," among themselves, with the most extraordinary rapidity.
Their bodies were of the thin air, and they could pass though the
hardest substances with the greatest ease. They had no fixed residence
or abiding place, but were tossed to and fro in the immensity of space.
When thrown together in great multitudes, they excited whirlwinds in
the air and tempests in the waters, and took delight in destroying the
beauty of nature and the monuments of the industry of man. Although
they increased among themselves like ordinary creatures, their numbers
were daily augmented by the souls of wicked men--of children
still-born--of women who died in childbed, and of persons killed in
duels. The whole air was supposed to be full of them, and many
unfortunate men and women drew them by thousands into their mouths and
nostrils at every inspiration; and the demons, lodging in their bowels
or other parts of their bodies, tormented them with pains and diseases
of every kind, and sent them frightful dreams. St.  Gregory of Nice
relates a story of a nun who forgot to say her benedicite, and make the
sign of the cross, before she sat down to supper, and who, in
consequence, swallowed a demon concealed among the leaves of a lettuce.
Most persons said the number of these demons was so great that they
could not be counted, but Wierus asserted that they amounted to no more
than seven millions, four hundred and five thousand, nine hundred, and
twenty-six; and that they were divided into seventy-two companies or
battalions, to each of which there was a prince or captain. They could
assume any shape they pleased. When they were male, they were called
incubi; and when female, succubi. They sometimes made themselves
hideous; and at other times, they assumed shapes of such transcendant
loveliness, that mortal eyes never saw beauty to compete with theirs.

Although the devil and his legions could appear to mankind at any time,
it was generally understood that he preferred the night between Friday
and Saturday. If Satan himself appeared in human shape, he was never
perfectly, and in all respects, like a man. He was either too black or
too white--too large or too small, or some of his limbs were out of
proportion to the rest of his body. Most commonly his feet were
deformed; and he was obliged to curl up and conceal his tall in some
part of his habiliments; for, take what shape he would, he could not
get rid of that encumbrance. He sometimes changed himself into a tree
or a river; and upon one occasion he transformed himself into a
barrister, as we learn from Wierus, book iv, chapter ix. In the reign
of Philippe le Bel, he appeared to a monk in the shape of a dark man,
riding a tall black horse--then as a friar--afterwards as an ass, and
finally as a coach-wheel. Instances are not rare in which both he and
his inferior demons have taken the form of handsome young men; and,
successfully concealing their tails, have married beautiful young
women, who have had children by them. Such children were easily
recognizable by their continual shrieking--by their requiring five
nurses to suckle them, and by their never growing fat.

All these demons were at the command of any individual, who would give
up his immortal soul to the prince of evil for the privilege of
enjoying their services for a stated period. The wizard or witch could
send them to execute the most difficult missions: whatever the witch
commanded was performed, except it was a good action, in which case the
order was disobeyed, and evil worked upon herself instead.

At intervals, according to the pleasure of Satan, there was a general
meeting of the demons and all the witches. This meeting was called the
Sabbath, from its taking place on the Saturday or immediately after
midnight on Fridays. These Sabbaths were sometimes held for one
district, sometimes for another, and once at least, every year, it was
held on the Brocken, or among other high mountains, as a general
sabbath of the fiends for the whole of Christendom.

The devil generally chose a place where four roads met, as the scene of
this assembly, or if that was not convenient, the neighbourhood of a
lake. Upon this spot nothing would ever afterwards grow, as the hot
feet of the demons and witches burnt the principle of fecundity from
the earth, and rendered it barren for ever. When orders had been once
issued for the meeting of the Sabbath, all the wizards and witches who
failed to attend it were lashed by demons with a rod made of serpents
or scorpions, as a punishment for their inattention or want of

In France and England, the witches were supposed to ride uniformly upon
broomsticks; but in Italy and Spain, the devil himself, in the shape of
a goat, used to transport them on his back, which lengthened or
shortened according to the number of witches he was desirous of
accommodating. No witch, when proceeding to the Sabbath, could get out
by a door or window, were she to try ever so much. Their general mode
of ingress was by the keyhole, and of egress, by the chimney, up which
they flew, broom and all, with the greatest ease. To prevent the
absence of the witches from being noticed by their neighbours, some
inferior demon was commanded to assume their shapes and lie in their
beds, feigning illness, until the Sabbath was over.

When all the wizards and witches had arrived at the place of
rendezvous, the infernal ceremonies of the Sabbath began. Satan, having
assumed his favourite shape of a large he-goat, with a face in front
and another in his haunches, took his seat upon a throne; and all
present, in succession, paid their respects to him, and kissed him in
his face behind. This done, he appointed a master of the ceremonies, in
company with whom he made a personal examination of all the wizards and
witches, to see whether they had the secret mark about them by which
they were stamped as the devil's own. This mark was always insensible
to pain. Those who had not yet been marked, received the mark from the
master of the ceremonies; the devil at the same time bestowing
nicknames upon them. This done, they all began to sing and dance in the
most furious manner, until some one arrived who was anxious to be
admitted into their society. They were then silent for a while, until
the new-comer had denied his salvation, kissed the devil, spat upon the
Bible, and sworn obedience to him in all things. They then began
dancing again with all their might, and singing these words,

  "Alegremos, Alegremos!
  Que gente va tenemos!"

In the course of an hour or two, they generally became wearied of this
violent exercise, and then they all sat down and recounted the evil
deeds they had done since their last meeting. Those who had not been
malicious and mischievous enough towards their fellow-creatures,
received personal chastisement from Satan himself, who flogged them
with thorns or scorpions till they were covered with blood, and unable
to sit or stand.

When this ceremony was concluded, they were all amused by a dance of
toads. Thousands of these creatures sprang out of the earth; and
standing on their hind-legs, danced, while the devil played the
bagpipes or the trumpet. These toads were all endowed with the faculty
of speech, and entreated the witches to reward them with the flesh of
unbaptized babes for their exertions to give them pleasure. The witches
promised compliance. The devil bade them remember to keep their word;
and then stamping his foot, caused all the toads to sink into the earth
in an instant. The place being thus cleared, preparation was made for
the banquet, where all manner of disgusting things were served up and
greedily devoured by the demons and witches; although the latter were
sometimes regaled with choice meats and expensive wines from golden
plates and crystal goblets; but they were never thus favoured unless
they had done an extraordinary number of evil deeds since the last
period of meeting.

After the feast, they began dancing again; but such as had no relish
for any more exercise in that way, amused themselves by mocking the
holy sacrament of baptism. For this purpose, the toads were again
called up, and sprinkled with filthy water; the devil making the sign
of the cross, and all the witches calling out, "In nomine Patrica,
Aragueaco Petrica, agora! agora! Valentia, jouando goure gaits
goustia!" which meant, "In the name of Patrick, Petrick of
Aragon,--now, now, all our ills are over!"

When the devil wished to be particularly amused, he made the witches
strip off their clothes and dance before him, each with a cat tied
round her neck, and another dangling from her body in form of a tail.
When the cock crew, they all disappeared, and the Sabbath was ended.

This is a summary of the belief which prevailed for many centuries
nearly all over Europe, and which is far from eradicated even at this
day. It was varied in some respects in several countries, but the main
points were the same in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain,
and the far North of Europe.

The early annals of France abound with stories of supposed sorcery, but
it was not until the time of Charlemagne that the crime acquired any
great importance. "This monarch," says M. Jules Garinet, ["Histoire de
la Magie en France. Rois de la seconde race," page 29.] "had several
times given orders that all necromancers, astrologers, and witches
should be driven from his states; but as the number of criminals
augmented daily, he found it necessary at last to resort to severer
measures. In consequence, he published several edicts, which may be
found at length in the 'Capitulaire de Baluse.' By these, every sort of
magic, enchantment, and witchcraft was forbidden; and the punishment of
death decreed against those who in any way evoked the devil--compounded
love-philters--afflicted either man or woman with barrenness--troubled
the atmosphere--excited tempests--destroyed the fruits of the
earth--dried up the milk of cows, or tormented their fellow-creatures
with sores and diseases. All persons found guilty of exercising these
execrable arts, were to be executed immediately upon conviction, that
the earth might be rid of the burthen and curse of their presence; and
those even who consulted them might also be punished with death." [M.
Michaud, in his "History of the Crusades," M. Guinguene, in his
"Literary History of Italy," and some other critics, have objected to
Tasso's poem, that he has attributed to the Crusaders a belief in
magic, which did not exist at that time. If these critics had referred
to the Edicts of Charlemagne, they would have seen that Tasso was
right, and that a disposition too eager to spy out imperfections in a
great work was leading themselves into error.]

After this time, prosecutions for witchcraft are continually mentioned,
especially by the French historians. It was a crime imputed with so
much ease, and repelled with so much difficulty, that the powerful,
whenever they wanted to ruin the weak, and could fix no other
imputation upon them, had only to accuse them of witchcraft to ensure
their destruction. Instances, in which this crime was made the pretext
for the most violent persecution, both of individuals and of
communities, whose real offences were purely political or religious,
must be familiar to every reader. The extermination of the Stedinger,
in 1234; of the Templars, from 1307 to 1313; the execution of Joan of
Arc, in 1429; and the unhappy scenes of Arras, in 1459; are the most
prominent. The first of these is perhaps the least known, but is not
among the least remarkable. The following account, from Dr. Kortum's
interesting history ["Entstehungsgeschichte der freistadlischen Bunde
im Mittelalter, von Dr. F. Kortum." 1827.] of the republican
confederacies of the Middle Ages, will show the horrible convenience of
imputations of witchcraft, when royal or priestly wolves wanted a
pretext for a quarrel with the sheep.

The Frieslanders, inhabiting the district from the Weser to the
Zuydersee, had long been celebrated for their attachment to freedom,
and their successful struggles in its defence. As early as the eleventh
century, they had formed a general confederacy against the
encroachments of the Normans and the Saxons, which was divided into
seven seelands, holding annually a diet under a large oaktree at
Aurich, near the Upstalboom. Here they managed their own affairs,
without the control of the clergy and ambitious nobles who surrounded
them, to the great scandal of the latter. They already had true notions
of a representative government. The deputies of the people levied the
necessary taxes, deliberated on the affairs of the community, and
performed, in their simple and patriarchal manner; nearly all the
functions of the representative assemblies of the present day. Finally,
the Archbishop of Bremen, together with the Count of Oldenburg and
other neighbouring potentates, formed a league against that section of
the Frieslanders, known by the name of the Stedinger, and succeeded,
after harassing them, and sowing dissensions among them for many years,
in bringing them under the yoke. But the Stedinger, devotedly attached
to their ancient laws, by which they had attained a degree of civil and
religious liberty very uncommon in that age, did not submit without a
violent struggle. They arose in insurrection, in the year 1204, in
defence of the ancient customs of their country--refused to pay taxes
to the feudal chiefs, or tithes to the clergy, who had forced
themselves into their peaceful retreats, and drove out many of their
oppressors. For a period of eight-and-twenty years the brave Stedinger
continued the struggle single-handed against the forces of the
Archbishops of Bremen and the Counts of Oldenburg, and destroyed, in
the year 1232, the strong castle of Slutterberg, near Delmenhorst,
built by the latter nobleman as a position from which he could send out
his marauders to plunder and destroy the possessions of the peasantry.

The invincible courage of these poor people proving too strong for
their oppressors to cope with by the ordinary means of warfare, the
Archbishop of Bremen applied to Pope Gregory IX. for his spiritual aid
against them. That prelate entered cordially into the cause, and
launching forth his anathema against the Stedinger as heretics and
witches, encouraged all true believers to assist in their
extermination. A large body of thieves and fanatics broke into their
country in the year 1233, killing and burning wherever they went, and
not sparing either women or children, the sick or the aged, in their
rage. The Stedinger, however, rallied in great force, routed their
invaders, and killed in battle their leader, Count Burckhardt of
Oldenburg, with many inferior chieftains.

Again the pope was applied to, and a crusade against the Stedinger was
preached in all that part of Germany. The pope wrote to all the bishops
and leaders of the faithful an exhortation to arm, to root out from the
land those abominable witches and wizards. "The Stedinger," said his
Holiness, "seduced by the devil, have abjured all the laws of God and
man; slandered the Church--insulted the holy sacraments--consulted
witches to raise evil spirits--shed blood like water--taken the lives
of priests, and concocted an infernal scheme to propagate the worship
of the devil, whom they adore under the name of Asmodi. The devil
appears to them in different shapes; sometimes as a goose or a duck,
and at others in the figure of a pale, black-eyed youth, with a
melancholy aspect, whose embrace fills their hearts with eternal hatred
against the holy church of Christ. This devil presides at their
Sabbaths, when they all kiss him and dance around him. He then
envelopes them in total darkness, and they all, male and female, give
themselves up to the grossest and most disgusting debauchery."

In consequence of these letters of the pope, the Emperor of Germany,
Frederic II, also pronounced his ban against them. The Bishops of
Ratzebourg, Lubeck, Osnabruek, Munster, and Minden took up arms to
exterminate them, aided by the Duke of Brabant, the Counts of Holland,
of Cloves, of the Mark, of Oldenburg, of Egmond, of Diest, and many
other powerful nobles. An army of forty thousand men was soon
collected, which marched, under the command of the Duke of Brabant,
into the country of the Stedinger. The latter mustered vigorously in
defence of their lives and liberties, but could raise no greater force,
including every man capable of bearing arms, than eleven thousand men
to cope against the overwhelming numbers of their foe.  They fought
with the energy of despair, but all in vain. Eight thousand of them
were slain on the field of battle; the whole race was exterminated; and
the enraged conquerors scoured the country in all directions--slew the
women and children and old men--drove away the cattle--fired the woods
and cottages, and made a total waste of the land.

Just as absurd and effectual was the charge brought against the
Templars in 1307, when they had rendered themselves obnoxious to the
potentates and prelacy of Christendom. Their wealth, their power, their
pride, and their insolence had raised up enemies on every side; and
every sort of accusation was made against them, but failed to work
their overthrow, until the terrible cry of witchcraft was let loose
upon them. This effected its object, and the Templars were extirpated.
They were accused of having sold their souls to the devil, and of
celebrating all the infernal mysteries of the witches' Sabbath. It was
pretended that, when they admitted a novice into their order, they
forced him to renounce his salvation and curse Jesus Christ; that they
then made him submit to many unholy and disgusting ceremonies, and
forced him to kiss the Superior on the cheek, the navel, and the
breech; and spit three times upon a crucifix. That all the members were
forbidden to have connexion with women, but might give themselves up
without restraint to every species of unmentionable debauchery.  That
when, by any mischance, a Templar infringed this order, and a child was
born, the whole order met, and tossed it about like a shuttlecock from
one to the other until it expired; that they then roasted it by a slow
fire, and with the fat which trickled from it anointed the hair and
beard of a large image of the devil. It was also said that, when one of
the knights died, his body was burnt into a powder, and then mixed with
wine and drunk by every member of the order. Philip IV, who, to
exercise his own implacable hatred, invented, in all probability, the
greater part of these charges, issued orders for the immediate arrest
of all the Templars in his dominions. The pope afterwards took up the
cause with almost as much fervour as the King of France; and in every
part of Europe, the Templars were thrown into prison and their goods
and estates confiscated. Hundreds of them, when put to the rack,
confessed even the most preposterous of the charges against them, and
by so doing, increased the popular clamour and the hopes of their
enemies. It is true that, when removed from the rack, they denied all
they had previously confessed; but this circumstance only increased the
outcry, and was numbered as an additional crime against them. They were
considered in a worse light than before, and condemned forthwith to the
flames, as relapsed heretics. Fifty-nine of these unfortunate victims
were all burned together by a slow fire in a field in the suburbs of
Paris, protesting to the very last moment of their lives, their
innocence of the crimes imputed to them, and refusing to accept of
pardon upon condition of acknowledging themselves guilty. Similar
scenes were enacted in the provinces; and for four years, hardly a
month passed without witnessing the execution of one or more of these
unhappy men. Finally, in 1313, the last scene of this tragedy closed by
the burning of the Grand-Master, Jacques de Molay, and his companion,
Guy, the Commander of Normandy. Anything more atrocious it is
impossible to conceive; disgraceful alike to the monarch who
originated, the pope who supported, and the age which tolerated the
monstrous iniquity. That the malice of a few could invent such a
charge, is a humiliating thought for the lover of his species; but that
millions of mankind should credit it, is still more so.

The execution of Joan of Arc is the next most notorious example which
history affords us, of the imputation of witchcraft against a political
enemy. Instances of similar persecution, in which this crime was made
the pretext for the gratification of political or religious hatred,
might be multiplied to a great extent. But it is better to proceed at
once to the consideration of the bull of Pope Innocent, the torch that
set fire to the longlaid train, and caused so fearful an explosion over
the Christian world. It will be necessary, however, to go back for some
years anterior to that event, the better to understand the motives that
influenced the Church in the promulgation of that fearful document.

Towards the close of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth
century, many witches were burned in different parts of Europe. As a
natural consequence of the severe persecution, the crime, or the
pretenders to it, increased. Those who found themselves accused and
threatened with the penalties, if they happened to be persons of a bad
and malicious disposition, wished they had the power imputed to them,
that they might be revenged upon their persecutors. Numerous instances
are upon record of half-crazed persons being found muttering the spells
which were supposed to raise the evil one. When religion and law alike
recognized the crime, it is no wonder that the weak in reason and the
strong in imagination, especially when they were of a nervous
temperament, fancied themselves endued with the terrible powers of
which all the world was speaking. The belief of their neighbours did
not lag behind their own, and execution was the speedy consequence.

As the fear of witchcraft increased, the Catholic clergy strove to fix
the imputation of it upon those religious sects, the pioneers of the
Reformation, who began about this time to be formidable to the Church
of Rome. If a charge of heresy could not ensure their destruction, that
of sorcery and witchcraft never failed. In the year 1459, a devoted
congregation of the Waldenses, at Arras, who used to repair at night to
worship God in their own manner in solitary places, fell victims to an
accusation of sorcery. It was rumored in Arras that in the desert
places to which they retired, the devil appeared before them in human
form, and read from a large book his laws and ordinances, to which they
all promised obedience; that he then distributed money and food among
them, to bind them to his service, which done, they gave themselves up
to every species of lewdness and debauchery. Upon these rumours,
several creditable persons in Arras were seized and imprisoned,
together with a number of decrepit and idiotic old women. The rack,
that convenient instrument for making the accused confess anything, was
of course put in requisition.  Monstrelet, in his Chronicle, says that
they were tortured until some of them admitted the truth of the whole
accusations, and said besides, that they had seen and recognized, in
their nocturnal assemblies, many persons of rank; many prelates,
seigneurs, governors of bailliages, and mayors of cities, being such
names as the examiners had themselves suggested to the victims. Several
who had been thus informed against, were thrown into prison, and so
horribly tortured, that reason fled, and, in their ravings of pain,
they also confessed their midnight meetings with the devil, and the
oaths they had taken to serve him.  Upon these confessions judgment was
pronounced: the poor old women, as usual in such cases, were hanged and
burned in the market-place; the more wealthy delinquents were allowed
to escape, upon payment of large sums. It was soon after universally
recognized that these trials had been conducted in the most odious
manner, and that the judges had motives of private vengeance against
many of the more influential persons who had been implicated. The
Parliament of Paris afterwards declared the sentence illegal, and the
judges iniquitous; but its arret was too late to be of service even to
those who had paid the fine, or to punish the authorities who had
misconducted themselves; for it was not delivered until thirty-two
years after the executions had taken place.

In the mean time, accusations of witchcraft spread rapidly in France,
Italy, and Germany. Strange to say, that although in the first instance
chiefly directed against heretics, the latter were as firm believers in
the crime as even the Catholics themselves. In after times we also find
that the Lutherans and Calvinists became greater witchburners than ever
the Romanists had been: so deeply was the prejudice rooted. Every other
point of belief was in dispute, but that was considered by every sect
to be as well established as the authenticity of the Scriptures, or the
existence of a God.

But at this early period of the epidemic the persecutions were directed
by the heads of the Catholic Church. The spread of heresy betokened, it
was thought, the coming of Antichrist. Florimond, in his work
concerning the Antichrist, lets us fully into the secret of these
prosecutions. He says, "All who have afforded us some signs of the
approach of Antichrist agree that the increase of sorcery and
witchcraft is to distinguish the melancholy period of his advent; and
was ever age so afflicted as ours? The seats destined for criminals in
our courts of justice are blackened with persons accused of this guilt.
There are not judges enough to try them. Our dungeons are gorged with
them. No day passes that we do not render our tribunals bloody by the
dooms which we pronounce, or in which we do not return to our homes,
discountenanted and terrified at the horrible confessions which we have
heard. And the devil is accounted so good a master, that we cannot
commit so great a number of his slaves to the flames, but what there
shall arise from their ashes a sufficient number to supply their place."

Florimond here spoke the general opinion of the Church of Rome; but it
never suggested itself to the mind of any person engaged in these
trials, that if it were indeed a devil, who raised up so many new
witches to fill the places of those consumed, it was no other than one
in their own employ--the devil of persecution. But so it was.  The more
they burned, the more they found to burn; until it became a common
prayer with women in the humbler walks of life, that they might never
live to grow old. It was sufficient to be aged, poor, and ill-tempered,
to ensure death at the stake or the scaffold.

In the year 1487 there was a severe storm in Switzerland, which laid
waste the country for four miles around Constance. Two wretched old
women, whom the popular voice had long accused of witchcraft, were
arrested on the preposterous charge of having raised the tempest. The
rack was displayed, and the two poor creatures extended upon it. In
reply to various leading questions from their tormentors, they owned,
in their agony, that they were in the constant habit of meeting the
devil, that they had sold their souls to him, and that at their command
he had raised the tempest. Upon this insane and blasphemous charge they
were condemned to die. In the criminal registers of Constance there
stands against the name of each the simple but significant phrase,
"convicta et combusta."

This case and hundreds of others were duly reported to the
ecclesiastical powers. There happened at that time to be a Pontiff at
the head of the Church who had given much of his attention to the
subject of witchcraft, and who, with the intent of rooting out the
crime, did more to increase it than any other man that ever lived.
John Baptist Cibo, elected to the Papacy in 1485, under the designation
of Innocent VIII, was sincerely alarmed at the number of witches, and
launched forth his terrible manifesto against them. In his celebrated
bull of 1488, he called the nations of Europe to the rescue of the
church of Christ upon earth, emperilled by the arts of Satan, and set
forth the horrors that had reached his ears; how that numbers of both
sexes had intercourse with the infernal fiends; how by their sorceries
they afflicted both man and beast; how they blighted the marriage bed,
destroyed the births of women and the increase of cattle; and how they
blasted the corn on the ground, the grapes of the vineyard, the fruits
of the trees, and the herbs of the field. In order that criminals so
atrocious might no longer pollute the earth, he appointed inquisitors
in every country, armed with the apostolic power to convict and punish.

It was now that the Witch Mania, properly so called, may be said to
have fairly commenced. Immediately a class of men sprang up in Europe,
who made it the sole business of their lives to discover and burn the
witches. Sprenger, in Germany, was the most celebrated of these
national scourges. In his notorious work, the "Malleus Maleficarum," he
laid down a regular form of trial, and appointed a course of
examination by which the inquisitors in other countries might best
discover the guilty. The questions, which were always enforced by
torture, were of the most absurd and disgusting nature.  The
inquisitors were required to ask the suspected whether they had
midnight meetings with the devil? whether they attended the witch's
sabbath on the Brocken? whether they had their familiar spirits?
whether they could raise whirlwinds and call down the lightning? and
whether they had sexual intercourse with Satan?

Straightway the inquisitors set to work; Cumarius, in Italy, burned
forty-one poor women in one province alone, and Sprenger, in Germany,
burned a number which can never be ascertained correctly, but which, it
is agreed on all hands, amounted to more than five hundred in a year.
The great resemblance between the confessions of the unhappy victims
was regarded as a new proof of the existence of the crime. But this is
not astonishing. The same questions from the "Malleus Maleficarum,"
were put to them all, and torture never failed to educe the answer
required by the inquisitor. Numbers of people whose imaginations were
filled with these horrors, went further in the way of confession than
even their tormenters anticipated, in the hope that they would thereby
be saved from the rack, and put out of their misery at once. Some
confessed that they had had children by the devil; but no one, who had
ever been a mother, gave utterance to such a frantic imagining, even in
the extremity of her anguish. The childless only confessed it, and were
burned instanter as unworthy to live.

For fear the zeal of the enemies of Satan should cool, successive Popes
appointed new commissions. One was appointed by Alexander VI, in 1494;
another by Leo X, in 1521, and a third by Adrian VI, in 1522.  They
were all armed with the same powers to hunt out and destroy, and
executed their fearful functions but too rigidly. In Geneva alone five
hundred persons were burned in the years 1515 and 1516, under the title
of Protestant witches. It would appear that their chief crime was
heresy, and their witchcraft merely an aggravation. Bartolomeo de Spina
has a list still more fearful. He informs us that, in the year 1524, no
less than a thousand persons suffered death for witchcraft in the
district of Como, and that for several years afterwards the average
number of victims exceeded a hundred annually. One inquisitor,
Remigius, took great credit to himself for having, during fifteen
years, convicted and burned nine hundred.

In France, about the year 1520, fires for the execution of witches
blazed in almost every town. Danaeus, in his "Dialogues of Witches,"
says they were so numerous that it would be next to impossible to tell
the number of them. So deep was the thraldom of the human mind, that
the friends and relatives of the accused parties looked on and
approved. The wife or sister of a murderer might sympathise in his
fate, but the wives and husbands of sorcerers and witches had no pity.
The truth is that pity was dangerous, for it was thought no one could
have compassion on the sufferings of a witch who was not a dabbler in
the art: to have wept for a witch would have insured the stake. In some
districts, however, the exasperation of the people broke out, in spite
of superstition. The inquisitor of a rural township in Piedmont burned
the victims so plentifully, and so fast, that there was not a family in
the place which did not lose a member. The people at last arose, and
the inquisitor was but too happy to escape from the country with whole
limbs. The Archbishop of the diocese proceeded afterwards to the trial
of such as the inquisitor had left in prison.

Some of the charges were so utterly preposterous that the poor wretches
were at once liberated; others met a harder, but the usual fate. Some
of them were accused of having joined the witches' dance at midnight
under a blasted oak, where they had been seen by creditable people. The
husbands of several of these women (two of whom were young and
beautiful) swore positively that at the time stated their wives were
comfortably asleep in their arms; but it was all in vain. Their word
was taken, but the Archbishop told them they had been deceived by the
devil and their own senses. It was true they might have had the
semblance of their wives in their beds, but the originals were far
away, at the devil's dance under the oak. The honest fellows were
confounded, and their wives burned forthwith.

In the year 1561, five poor women of Verneuil were accused of
transforming themselves into cats, and in that shape attending the
sabbath of the fiends--prowling around Satan, who presided over them in
the form of a goat, and dancing, to amuse him, upon his back. They were
found guilty, and burned. [Bodin, page 95. Garinet, page 125.
"Anti-demon de Serclier," page 346.]

In 1564, three wizards and a witch appeared before the Presidents
Salvert and D'Avanton: they confessed, when extended on the rack, that
they anointed the sheep-pens with infernal unguents to kill the
sheep--that they attended the sabbath, where they saw a great black
goat, which spoke to them, and made them kiss him, each holding a
lighted candle in his hand while he performed the ceremony. They were
all executed at Poitiers.

In 1571, the celebrated sorcerer, Trois Echelles, was burned in the
Place de Greve, in Paris. He confessed, in the presence of Charles IX,
and of the Marshals de Montmorency, De Retz, and the Sieur du Mazille,
physician to the King, that he could perform the most wonderful things
by the aid of a devil to whom he had sold himself. He described at
great length the saturnalia of the fiends--the sacrifices which they
offered up--the debaucheries they committed with the young and handsome
witches, and the various modes of preparing the infernal unguent for
blighting cattle. He said he had upwards of twelve hundred accomplices
in the crime of witchcraft in various parts of France, whom he named to
the King, and many of whom were afterwards arrested and suffered

At Dole, two years afterwards, Gilles Garnier, a native of Lyons, was
indicted for being a loupgarou, or man-wolf, and for prowling in that
shape about the country at night to devour little children. The
indictment against him, as read by Henri Camus, doctor of laws and
counsellor of the King, was to the effect that he, Gilles Garnier, had
seized upon a little girl, twelve years of age, whom he drew into a
vineyard and there killed, partly with his teeth and partly with his
hands, seeming like wolf's paws--that from thence he trailed her
bleeding body along the ground with his teeth into the wood of La
Serre, where he ate the greatest portion of her at one meal, and
carried the remainder home to his wife; that, upon another occasion,
eight days before the festival of All Saints, he was seen to seize
another child in his teeth, and would have devoured her had she not
been rescued by the country-people--and that the said child died a few
days afterwards of the injuries he had inflicted; that fifteen days
after the same festival of All Saints, being again in the shape of a
wolf, he devoured a boy thirteen years of age, having previously torn
off his leg and thigh with his teeth, and hid them away for his
breakfast on the morrow. He was, furthermore, indicted for giving way
to the same diabolical and unnatural propensities even in his shape of
a man, and that he had strangled a boy in a wood with the intention of
eating him, which crime he would have effected if he had not been seen
by the neighhours and prevented.

Gilles Garnier was put to the rack, after fifty witnesses had deposed
against him: he confessed everything that was laid to his charge. He
was, thereupon, brought back into the presence of his judges, when Dr.
Camus, in the name of the Parliament of Dole, pronounced the following

"Seeing that Gilles Garnier has, by the testimony of credible
witnesses, and by his own spontaneous confession, been proved guilty of
the abominable crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft, this court
condemns him, the said Gilles, to be this day taken in a cart from this
spot to the place of execution, accompanied by the executioner (maitre
executeur de la haute justice), where he, by the said executioner,
shall be tied to a stake and burned alive, and that his ashes be then
scattered to the winds. The Court further condemns him, the said
Gilles, to the costs of this prosecution."

"Given at Dole, this 18th day of January, 1573."

In 1578, the Parliament of Paris was occupied for several days with the
trial of a man, named Jacques Roller. He, also, was found guilty of
being a loup-garou, and in that shape devouring a little boy. He was
burnt alive in the Place de Greve.

In 1579, so much alarm was excited in the neighbourhood of Melun by the
increase of witches and loup-garous, that a council was held to devise
some measures to stay the evil. A decree was passed, that all witches,
and consulters with witches, should be punished with death; and not
only those, but fortune-tellers and conjurors of every kind.  The
Parliament of Rouen took up the same question in the following year,
and decreed that the possession of a grimoire, or book of spells, was
sufficient evidence of witchcraft; and that all persons on whom such
books were found should be burned alive. Three councils were held in
different parts of France in the year 1583, all in relation to the same
subject. The Parliament of Bourdeaux issued strict injunctions to all
curates and clergy whatever, to use redoubled efforts to root out the
crime of witchcraft. The Parliament of Tours was equally peremptory,
and feared the judgments of an offended God, if all these dealers with
the devil were not swept from the face of the land. The Parliament of
Rheims was particularly severe against the noueurs d'aiguillette, or
"tyers of the knot;" people of both sexes, who took pleasure in
preventing the consummation of marriage, that they might counteract the
command of God to our first parents, to increase and multiply. This
Parliament held it to be sinful to wear amulets to preserve from
witchcraft; and that this practice might not be continued within its
jurisdiction, drew up a form of exorcism, which would more effectually
defeat the agents of the devil, and put them to flight.

A case of witchcraft, which created a great sensation in its day,
occurred in 1588, at a village in the mountains of Auvergne, about two
leagues from Apchon. A gentleman of that place being at his window,
there passed a friend of his who had been out hunting, and who was then
returning to his own house. The gentleman asked his friend what sport
he had had; upon which the latter informed him that he had been
attacked in the plain by a large and savage wolf, which he had shot at,
without wounding; and that he had then drawn out his hunting-knife and
cut off the animal's fore-paw, as it sprang upon his neck to devour
him. The huntsman, upon this, put his hand into his bag to pull out the
paw, but was shocked to find that it was a woman's hand, with a
wedding-ring on the finger. The gentleman immediately recognized his
wife's ring, "which," says the indictment against her, "made him begin
to suspect some evil of her." He immediately went in search of her, and
found her sitting by the fire in the kitchen, with her arm hidden
underneath her apron. He tore off her apron with great vehemence, and
found that she had no hand, and that the stump was even then bleeding.
She was given into custody, and burned at Riom in presence of some
thousands of spectators. [Tablier. See also Boguet, "Discours sur les
Sorciers;" and M. Jules Garinet, "Histoire de la Magie," page 150.]

In the midst of these executions, rare were the gleams of mercy; few
instances are upon record of any acquittal taking place when the charge
was witchcraft. The discharge of fourteen persons by the Parliament of
Paris, in the year 1589, is almost a solitary example of a return to
reason. Fourteen persons, condemned to death for witchcraft, appealed
against the judgment to the Parliament of Paris, which for political
reasons had been exiled to Tours. The Parliament named four
commissioners, Pierre Pigray, the King's surgeon, and Messieurs Leroi,
Renard, and Falaiseau, the King's physicians, to visit and examine
these witches, and see whether they had the mark of the devil upon
them. Pigray, who relates the circumstance in his work on Surgery, book
vii, chapter the tenth, says the visit was made in presence of two
counsellors of the court. The witches were all stripped naked, and the
physicians examined their bodies very diligently, pricking them in all
the marks they could find, to see whether they were insensible to pain,
which was always considered a certain proof of guilt. They were,
however, very sensible of the pricking, and some of them called out
very lustily when the pins were driven into them. "We found them,"
continues Pierre Pigray, "to be very poor, stupid people, and some of
them insane; many of them were quite indifferent about life, and one or
two of them desired death as a relief for their sufferings. Our opinion
was, that they stood more in need of medicine than of punishment, and
so we reported to the Parliament. Their case was, thereupon, taken into
further consideration, and the Parliament, after mature counsel amongst
all the members, ordered the poor creatures to be sent to their homes,
without inflicting any punishment upon them."

Such was the dreadful state of Italy, Germany, and France, during the
sixteenth century, which was far from being the worst crisis of the
popular madness with regard to witchcraft. Let us see what was the
state of England during the same period. The Reformation, which in its
progress had rooted out so many errors, stopped short at this, the
greatest error of all. Luther and Calvin were as firm believers in
witchcraft as Pope Innocent himself, and their followers showed
themselves more zealous persecutors than the Romanists. Dr. Hutchinson,
in his work on Witchcraft, asserts that the mania manifested itself
later in England, and raged with less virulence than on the Continent.
The first assertion only is true; but though the persecution began
later both in England and Scotland, its progress was as fearful as

It was not until more than fifty years after the issuing of the Bull of
Innocent VIII. that the Legislature of England thought fit to make any
more severe enactments against sorcery than those already in operation.
The statute of 1541 was the first that specified the particular crime
of witchcraft. At a much earlier period, many persons had suffered
death for sorcery in addition to other offences; but no executions took
place for attending the witches' sabbath, raising tempests, afflicting
cattle with barrenness, and all the fantastic trumpery of the
Continent. Two statutes were passed in 1551; the first, relating to
false prophecies, caused mainly, no doubt, by the impositions of
Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, in 1534, and the second
against conjuration, witchcraft, and sorcery. But even this enactment
did not consider witchcraft as penal in itself, and only condemned to
death those who by means of spells, incantations, or contracts with the
devil, attempted the lives of their neighbours. The statute of
Elizabeth, in 1562, at last recognized witchcraft as a crime of the
highest magnitude, whether exerted or not to the injury of the lives,
limbs, and possessions of the community. From that date, the
persecution may be fairly said to have commenced in England. It reached
its climax in the early part of the seventeenth century, which was the
hottest period of the mania all over Europe.

A few cases of witch persecution in the sixteenth century will enable
the reader to form a more accurate idea of the progress of this great
error than if he plunged at once into that busy period of its history
when Matthew Hopkins and his coadjutors exercised their infernal
calling. Several instances occur in England during the latter years of
the reign of Elizabeth. At this time the public mind had become pretty
familiar with the details of the crime. Bishop Jewell, in his sermons
before Her Majesty, used constantly to conclude them by a fervent
prayer that she might be preserved from witches. Upon one occasion, in
1598, his words were, "It may please your Grace to understand that
witches and sorcerers, within these last four years, are marvellously
increased within this your Grace's realm. Your Grace's subjects pine
away even unto the death; their colour fadeth--their flesh
rotteth--their speech is benumbed--their senses are bereft! I pray God
they may never practise further than upon the subject!"

By degrees, an epidemic terror of witchcraft spread into the villages.
In proportion as the doctrines of the Puritans took root this dread
increased, and, of course, brought persecution in its train. The Church
of England has claimed, and is entitled to the merit, of having been
less influenced in these matters than any other sect of Christians; but
still they were tainted with the superstition of the age. One of the
most flagrant instances of cruelty and delusion upon record was
consummated under the authority of the Church, and commemorated till a
very late period by an annual lecture at the University of Cambridge.

This is the celebrated case of the Witches of Warbois, who were
executed about thirty-two years after the passing of the statute of
Elizabeth. Although in the interval but few trials are recorded, there
is, unfortunately, but too much evidence to show the extreme length to
which the popular prejudice was carried. Many women lost their lives in
every part of England without being brought to trial at all, from the
injuries received at the hands of the people. The number of these can
never be ascertained.

The case of the Witches of Warbois merits to be detailed at length, not
only from the importance attached to it for so many years by the
learned of the University, but from the singular absurdity of the
evidence upon which men, sensible in all other respects, could condemn
their fellow-creatures to the scaffold.

The principal actors in this strange drama were the families of Sir
Samuel Cromwell and a Mr. Throgmorton, both gentlemen of landed
property near Warbois, in the county of Huntingdon. Mr. Throgmorton had
several daughters, the eldest of whom, Mistress Joan, was an
imaginative and melancholy girl, whose head was filled with stories of
ghosts and witches. Upon one occasion she chanced to pass the cottage
of one Mrs. or, as she was called, Mother Samuel, a very aged, a very
poor, and a very ugly woman. Mother Samuel was sitting at her door
knitting, with a black cap upon her head, when this silly young lady
passed, and taking her eyes from her work she looked steadfastly at
her. Mistress Joan immediately fancied that she felt sudden pains in
all her limbs, and from that day forth, never ceased to tell her
sisters, and everybody about her, that Mother Samuel had bewitched her.
The other children took up the cry, and actually frightened themselves
into fits whenever they passed within sight of this terrible old woman.

Mr. and Mrs. Throgmorton, not a whir wiser than their children,
believed all the absurd tales they had been told; and Lady Cromwell, a
gossip of Mrs. Throgmorton, made herself very active in the business,
and determined to bring the witch to the ordeal. The sapient Sir Samuel
joined in the scheme; and the children thus encouraged gave loose reins
to their imaginations, which seem to have been of the liveliest. They
soon invented a whole host of evil spirits, and names for them besides,
which, they said, were sent by Mother Samuel to torment them
continually. Seven spirits especially, they said, were raised from hell
by this wicked woman to throw them into fits; and as the children were
actually subject to fits, their mother and her commeres gave the more
credit to the story. The names of these spirits were, "First Smack,"
"Second Smack," "Third Smack," "Blue," "Catch," "Hardname," and "Pluck."

Throgmorton, the father, was so pestered by these idle fancies, and yet
so well inclined to believe them, that he marched valiantly forth to
the hut where Mother Samuel resided with her husband and daughter, and
dragged her forcibly into his own grounds. Lady Cromwell, Mrs.
Throgmorton, and the girls were in waiting, armed with long pins to
prick the witch, and see if they could draw blood from her. Lady
Cromwell, who seems to have been the most violent of the party, tore
the old woman's cap off her head, and plucking out a handful of her
grey hair, gave it to Mrs. Throgmorton to burn, as a charm which would
preserve them all from her future machinations. It was no wonder that
the poor creature, subjected to this rough usage, should give vent to
an involuntary curse upon her tormentors. She did so, and her curse was
never forgotten. Her hair, however, was supposed to be a grand
specific, and she was allowed to depart, half dead with terror and ill
usage. For more than a year, the families of Cromwell and Throgmorton
continued to persecute her, and to assert that her imps afflicted them
with pains and fits, turned the milk sour in their pans, and prevented
their cows and ewes from bearing. In the midst of these fooleries, Lady
Cromwell was taken ill and died. It was then remembered that her death
had taken place exactly a year and a quarter since she was cursed by
Mother Samuel, and that on several occasions she had dreamed of the
witch and a black cat, the latter being of course the arch-enemy of
mankind himself.

Sir Samuel Cromwell now conceived himself bound to take more energetic
measures against the sorceress, since he had lost his wife by her
means. The year and a quarter and the black cat were proofs positive.
All the neighbours had taken up the cry of witchcraft against Mother
Samuel; and her personal appearance, unfortunately for her, the very
ideal of what a witch ought to be, increased the popular suspicion. It
would appear that at last the poor woman believed, even to her own
disadvantage, that she was what everybody represented her to be. Being
forcibly brought into Mr. Throgmorton's house, when his daughter Joan
was in one of her customary fits, she was commanded by him and Sir
Samuel Cromwell to expel the devil from the young lady.  She was told
to repeat her exorcism, and to add, "as I am a witch, and the causer of
Lady Cromwell's death, I charge thee, fiend, to come out of her!" She
did as was required of her, and moreover confessed that her husband and
daughter were leagued with her in witchcraft, and had, like her, sold
their souls to the devil. The whole family were immediately arrested,
and sent to Huntingdon to prison.

The trial was instituted shortly afterwards before Mr. Justice Fenner,
when all the crazy girls of Mr. Throgmorton's family gave evidence
against Mother Samuel and her family. They were all three put to the
torture. The old woman confessed in her anguish that she was a
witch--that she had cast her spells upon the young ladies, and that she
had caused the death of Lady Cromwell. The father and daughter,
stronger in mind than their unfortunate wife and parent, refused to
confess anything, and asserted their innocence to the last. They were
all three condemned to be hanged, and their bodies burned. The
daughter, who was young and good-looking, excited the pity of many
persons, and she was advised to plead pregnancy, that she might gain at
least a respite from death. The poor girl refused proudly, on the
ground that she would not be accounted both a witch and a strumpet.
Her half-witted old mother caught at the idea of a few weeks' longer
life, and asserted that she was pregnant. The court was convulsed with
laughter, in which the wretched victim herself joined, and this was
accounted an additional proof that she was a witch. The whole family
were executed on the 7th of April, 1593.

Sir Samuel Cromwell, as lord of the manor, received the sum of 40
pounds out of the confiscated property of the Samuels, which he turned
into a rent-charge of 40 shillings yearly, for the endowment of an
annual sermon or lecture upon the enormity of witchcraft, and this case
in particular, to be preached by a doctor or bachelor of divinity of
Queen's College, Cambridge. I have not been able to ascertain the exact
date at which this annual lecture was discontinued, but it appears to
have been preached so late as 1718, when Dr. Hutchinson published his
work upon witchcraft.

To carry on in proper chronological order the history of the witch
delusion in the British isles, it will be necessary to examine into
what was taking place in Scotland during all that part of the sixteenth
century anterior to the accession of James VI. to the crown of England.
We naturally expect that the Scotch,--a people renowned from the
earliest times for their powers of imagination,--should be more deeply
imbued with this gloomy superstition than their neighhours of the
South. The nature of their soil and climate tended to encourage the
dreams of early ignorance. Ghosts, goblins, wraiths, kelpies, and a
whole host of spiritual beings, were familiar to the dwellers by the
misty glens of the Highlands and the romantic streams of the Lowlands.
Their deeds, whether of good or ill, were enshrined in song, and took a
greater hold upon the imagination because "verse had sanctified them."
But it was not till the religious reformers began the practice of
straining Scripture to the severest extremes, that the arm of the law
was called upon to punish witchcraft as a crime per se. What Pope
Innocent VIII. had done for Germany and France, the preachers of the
Reformation did for the Scottish people. Witchcraft, instead of being a
mere article of faith, became enrolled in the statute book; and all
good subjects and true Christians were called upon to take arms against
it. The ninth Parliament of Queen Mary passed an act in 1563, which
decreed the punishment of death against witches and consulters with
witches, and immediately the whole bulk of the people were smitten with
an epidemic fear of the devil and his mortal agents.  Persons in the
highest ranks of life shared and encouraged the delusion of the vulgar.
Many were themselves accused of witchcraft; and noble ladies were shown
to have dabbled in mystic arts, and proved to the world that, if they
were not witches, it was not for want of the will.

Among the dames who became notorious for endeavouring to effect their
wicked ends by the devil's aid, may be mentioned the celebrated Lady
Buccleugh, of Branxholme, familiar to all the readers of Sir Walter
Scott; the Countess of Lothian, the Countess of Angus, the Countess of
Athol, Lady Kerr, the Countess of Huntley, Euphemia Macalzean (the
daughter of Lord Cliftonhall), and Lady Fowlis. Among the celebrated of
the other sex who were accused of wizzardism was Sir Lewis Ballantyne,
the Lord Justice Clerk for Scotland, who, if we may believe Scot of
Scotstarvet, "dealt by curiosity with a warlock called Richard
Grahame," and prayed him to raise the devil. The warlock consented, and
raised him in propria persona, in the yard of his house in the
Canongate, "at sight of whom the Lord Justice Clerk was so terrified
that he took sickness and thereof died." By such idle reports as these
did the envious ruin the reputation of those they hated, though it
would appear in this case that Sir Lewis had been fool enough to make
the attempt of which he was accused, and that the success of the
experiment was the only apocryphal part of the story.

The enemies of John Knox invented a similar tale, which found ready
credence among the Roman Catholics; glad to attach any stigma to that
grand scourge of the vices of their church. It was reported that he and
his secretary went into the churchyard of St. Andrew's with the intent
to raise "some sanctes;" but that, by a mistake in their conjurations,
they raised the great fiend himself, instead of the saints they wished
to consult. The popular rumour added that Knox's secretary was so
frightened at the great horns, goggle eyes, and long tail of Satan,
that he went mad, and shortly afterwards died. Knox himself was built
of sterner stuff, and was not to be frightened.

The first name that occurs in the records of the High Court of
Justiciary of persons tried or executed for witchcraft is that of Janet
Bowman, in 1572, nine years after the passing of the act of Mary. No
particulars of her crimes are given, and against her name there only
stand the words, "convict and brynt." It is not, however, to be
inferred that, in this interval, no trials or executions took place;
for it appears on the authority of documents of unquestioned
authenticity in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, [Foreign Quarterly
Review, vol. vi. page 41.] that the Privy Council made a practice of
granting commissions to resident gentlemen and ministers, in every part
of Scotland, to examine, try, and execute witches within their own
parishes. No records of those who suffered from the sentence of these
tribunals have been preserved; but if popular tradition may be
believed, even to the amount of one-fourth of its assertions, their
number was fearful. After the year 1572, the entries of executions for
witchcraft in the records of the High Court become more frequent, but
do not average more than one per annum; another proof that trials for
this offence were in general entrusted to the local magistracy. The
latter appear to have ordered witches to the stake with as little
compunction, and after as summary a mode, as modern justices of the
peace order a poacher to the stocks.

As James VI. advanced in manhood, he took great interest in the witch
trials. One of them especially, that of Gellie Duncan, Dr. Fian, and
their accomplices, in the year 1591, engrossed his whole attention, and
no doubt suggested in some degree, the famous work on Demonology which
he wrote shortly afterwards. As these witches had made an attempt upon
his own life, it is not surprising, with his habits, that he should
have watched the case closely, or become strengthened in his prejudice
and superstition by its singular details. No other trial that could be
selected would give so fair an idea of the delusions of the Scottish
people as this. Whether we consider the number of victims, the
absurdity of the evidence, and the real villany of some of the persons
implicated, it is equally extraordinary.

Gellie Duncan, the prime witch in these proceedings, was servant to the
Deputy Bailiff of Tranent, a small town in Hadingtonshire, about ten
miles from Edinburgh. Though neither old nor ugly (as witches usually
were), but young and good-looking, her neighbours, from some suspicious
parts of her behaviour, had long considered her a witch. She had, it
appears, some pretensions to the healing art. Some cures which she
effected were so sudden, that the worthy Bailiff, her master, who, like
his neighbours, mistrusted her, considered them no less than
miraculous. In order to discover the truth, he put her to the torture;
but she obstinately refused to confess that she had dealings with the
devil. It was the popular belief that no witch would confess as long as
the mark which Satan had put upon her remained undiscovered upon her
body. Somebody present reminded the torturing Bailie of this fact, and
on examination, the devil's mark was found upon the throat of poor
Gellie. She was put to the torture again, and her fortitude giving way
under the extremity of her anguish, she confessed that she was indeed a
witch--that she had sold her soul to the devil, and effected all her
cures by his aid. This was something new in the witch creed, according
to which, the devil delighted more in laying diseases on, than in
taking them off; but Gellie Duncan fared no better on that account. The
torture was still applied, until she had named all her accomplices,
among whom were one Cunningham, a reputed wizard, known by the name of
Dr. Fian, a grave and matron-like witch, named Agnes Sampson, Euphemia
Macalzean, the daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, already mentioned, and
nearly forty other persons, some of whom were the wives of respectable
individuals in the city of Edinburgh. Every one of these persons was
arrested, and the whole realm of Scotland thrown into commotion by the
extraordinary nature of the disclosures which were anticipated.

About two years previous to this time, James had suddenly left his
kingdom, and proceeded gallantly to Denmark, to fetch over his bride,
the Princess of Denmark, who had been detained by contrary weather in
the harbour of Upslo. After remaining for some months in Copenhagen, he
set sail with his young bride, and arrived safely in Leith, on the 1st
of May 1590, having experienced a most boisterous passage, and been
nearly wrecked. As soon as the arrest of Gellie Duncan and Fian became
known in Scotland, it was reported by everybody who pretended to be
well-informed that these witches and their associates had, by the
devil's means, raised the storms which had endangered the lives of the
King and Queen. Gellie, in her torture, had confessed that such was the
fact, and the whole kingdom waited aghast and open-mouthed for the
corroboration about to be furnished by the trial.

Agnes Sampson, the "grave and matron-like" witch implicated by Gellie
Duncan, was put to the horrible torture of the pilliewinkis.  She laid
bare all the secrets of the sisterhood before she had suffered an hour,
and confessed that Gellie Duncan, Dr. Fian, Marion Lineup, Euphemia
Macalzean, herself, and upwards of two hundred witches and warlocks,
used to assemble at midnight in the kirk of North Berwick, where they
met the devil; that they had plotted there to attempt the King's life;
that they were incited to this by the old fiend himself, who had
asserted with a thundering oath that James was the greatest enemy he
ever had, and that there would be no peace for the devil's children
upon earth until he were got rid of; that the devil upon these
occasions always liked to have a little music, and that Gellie Duncan
used to play a reel before him on a trump or Jew's harp, to which all
the witches danced.

James was highly flattered at the idea that the devil should have said
that he was the greatest enemy he ever had. He sent for Gellie Duncan
to the palace, and made her play before him the same reel which she had
played at the witches' dance in the kirk.

Dr. Fian, or rather Cunningham, a petty schoolmaster at Tranent, was
put to the torture among the rest. He was a man who had led an infamous
life, was a compounder of and dealer in poisons, and a pretender to
magic. Though not guilty of the preposterous crimes laid to his charge,
there is no doubt that he was a sorcerer in will, though not in deed,
and that he deserved all the misery he endured.  When put on the rack,
he would confess nothing, and held out so long unmoved, that the severe
torture of the boots was resolved upon. He endured this till exhausted
nature could bear no longer, when Insensibility kindly stepped in to
his aid. When it was seen that he was utterly powerless, and that his
tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth, he was released. Restoratives
were administered; and during the first faint gleam of returning
consciousness, he was prevailed upon to sign, ere he well knew what he
was about, a full confession, in strict accordance with those of Gellie
Duncan and Agnes Sampson. He was then remanded to his prison, from
which, after two days, he managed, somehow or other, to escape. He was
soon recaptured, and brought before the Court of Justiciary, James
himself being present. Fian now denied all the circumstances of the
written confession which he had signed; whereupon the King, enraged at
his "stubborn wilfulness," ordered him once more to the torture. His
finger nails were riven out with pincers, and long needles thrust up to
the eye into the quick; but still he did not wince. He was then
consigned again to the boots, in which, to quote a pamphlet published
at the time, [News from Scotland, declaring the damnable life of Dr.
Fian.] he continued "so long, and abode so many blows in them, that his
legs were crushed and beaten together as small as might be, and the
bones and flesh so bruised, that the blood and marrow spouted forth in
great abundance, whereby they were made unserviceable for ever."

The astonishing similarity of the confessions of all the persons
implicated in these proceedings has often been remarked. It would
appear that they actually endeavoured to cause the King's death by
their spells and sorceries. Fian, who was acquainted with all the usual
tricks of his profession, deceived them with pretended apparitions, so
that many of them were really convinced that they had seen the devil.
The sum of their confessions was to the following effect:--

Satan, who was, of course, a great foe of the reformed religion, was
alarmed that King James should marry a Protestant princess. To avert
the consequences to the realms of evil, he had determined to put an end
to the King and his bride by raising a storm on their voyage home.
Satan, first of all, sent a thick mist over the waters, in the hope
that the King's vessel might be stranded on the coast amid the
darkness. This failing, Dr. Fian, who, from his superior scholarship,
was advanced to the dignity of the devil's secretary, was commanded to
summon all the witches to meet their master, each one sailing on a
sieve on the high seas.

On All-hallowmas Eve, they assembled to the number of upwards of two
hundred, including Gellie Duncan, Agnes Sampson, Euphemia Macalzean,
one Barbara Napier, and several warlocks; and each embarking in a
riddle, or sieve, they sailed "over the ocean very substantially."
After cruising about for some time, they met with the fiend, bearing in
his claws a cat, which had been previously drawn nine times through the
fire. This he delivered to one of the warlocks, telling him to cast it
into the sea, and cry "Hola!" This was done with all solemnity, and
immediately the ocean became convulsed--the waters hissed loudly, and
the waves rose mountains high,

  "Twisting their arms to the dun-coloured heaven."

The witches sailed gallantly through the tempest they had raised, and
landing on the coast of Scotland, took their sieves in their hands, and
marched on in procession to the haunted kirk of North Berwick, where
the devil had resolved to hold a preaching. Gellie Duncan, the musician
of the party, tripped on before, playing on her Jew's harp, and singing,

  "Cummer, go ye before, Cummer, go ye;
  Gif ye will not go before, Cummer, let me!"

Arrived at the kirk, they paced around it withershins, that is, in
reverse of the apparent motion of the sun. Dr. Fian then blew into the
key-hole of the door, which opened immediately, and all the witches
entered. As it was pitch dark, Fian blew with his mouth upon the
candles, which immediately lighted, and the devil was seen occupying
the pulpit. He was attired in a black gown and hat, and the witches
saluted him, by crying, "All hail, master!" His body was hard, like
iron; his face terrible; his nose, like the beak of an eagle; he had
great burning eyes; his hands and legs were hairy; and he had long
claws upon his hands and feet, and spake with an exceedingly gruff
voice. Before commencing his sermon, he called over the names of his
congregation, demanding whether they had been good servants, and what
success had attended their operations against the life of the King and
his bride.

Gray Meill, a crazy old warlock, who acted as beadle or doorkeeper, was
silly enough to answer, "that nothing ailed the King yet, God be
thanked;" upon which the devil, in a rage, stepped down from the
pulpit, and boxed his ears for him. He then remounted, and commenced
the preaching, commanding them to be dutiful servants to him, and do
all the evil they could. Euphemia Macalzean and Agnes Sampson, bolder
than the rest, asked him whether he had brought the image or picture of
King James, that they might, by pricking it, cause pains and diseases
to fall upon him. "The father of lies" spoke truth for once, and
confessed that he had forgotten it; upon which Euphemia Macalzean
upbraided him loudly for his carelessness. The devil, however, took it
all in good part, although Agnes Sampson and several other women let
loose their tongues at him immediately. When they had done scolding, he
invited them all to a grand entertainment. A newly buried corpse was
dug up, and divided among them, which was all they had in the way of
edibles. He was more liberal in the matter of drink, and gave them so
much excellent wine that they soon became jolly.  Gellie Duncan then
played the old tune upon her trump, and the devil himself led off the
dance with Euphemia Mac alzean. Thus they kept up the sport till the
cock crew.

Agnes Sampson, the wise woman of Keith, as she was called, added some
other particulars in her confession. She stated, that on a previous
occasion, she had raised an awful tempest in the sea, by throwing a cat
into it, with four joints of men tied to its feet. She said also, that
on their grand attempt to drown King James, they did not meet with the
devil after cruising about, but that he had accompanied them from the
first, and that she had seen him dimly in the distance, rolling himself
before them over the great waves, in shape and size not unlike a huge
haystack. They met with a foreign ship richly laden with wines and
other good things, which they boarded, and sunk after they had drunk
all the wine, and made themselves quite merry.

Some of these disclosures were too much even for the abundant faith of
King James, and he more than once exclaimed, that the witches were like
their master, "extreme lyars." But they confessed many other things of
a less preposterous nature, and of which they were, no doubt, really
guilty. Agnes Sampson said she was to have taken the King's life by
anointing his linen with a strong poison. Gellie Duncan used to
threaten her neighbours by saying she would send the devil after them;
and many persons of weaker minds than usual were frightened into fits
by her, and rendered subject to them for the remainder of their lives.
Dr. Finn also made no scruple in aiding and abetting murder, and would
rid any person of an enemy by means of poison, who could pay him his
fee for it. Euphemia Macalzean also was far from being pure. There is
no doubt that she meditated the King's death, and used such means to
compass it as the superstition of the age directed. She was a devoted
partizan of Bothwell, who was accused by many of the witches as having
consulted them on the period of the King's death. They were all found
guilty, and sentenced to be hanged and burned. Barbara Napier, though
found guilty upon other counts, was acquitted upon the charge of having
been present at the great witch-meeting in Berwick kirk. The King was
highly displeased, and threatened to have the jury indicted for a
wilful error upon an assize. They accordingly reconsidered their
verdict, and threw themselves upon the King's mercy for the fault they
had committed.  James was satisfied, and Barbara Napier was hanged
along with Gellie Duncan, Agnes Sampson, Dr. Fian, and five-and-twenty
others. Euphemia Macalzean met a harder fate. Her connexion with the
bold and obnoxious Bothwell, and her share in poisoning one or two
individuals who had stood in her way, were thought deserving of the
severest punishment the law could inflict. Instead of the ordinary
sentence, directing the criminal to be first strangled and then burned,
the wretched woman was doomed "to be bound to a stake, and burned in
ashes, quick to the death." This cruel sentence was executed on the
25th of June 1591.

These trials had the most pernicious consequences all over Scotland.
The lairds and ministers in their districts, armed with due power from
the privy council, tried and condemned old women after the most summary
fashion. Those who still clung to the ancient faith of Rome were the
severest sufferers, as it was thought, after the disclosures of the
fierce enmity borne by the devil towards a Protestant King and his
Protestant wife, that all the Catholics were leagued with the powers of
evil to work woe on the realm of Scotland.  Upon a very moderate
calculation, it is presumed that from the passing of the act of Queen
Mary till the accession of James to the throne of England, a period of
thirty-nine years, the average number of executions for witchcraft in
Scotland was two hundred annually, or upwards of seventeen thousand
altogether. For the first nine years the number was not one quarter so
great; but towards the years 1590 to 1593, the number must have been
more than four hundred. The case last cited was one of an extraordinary
character. The general aspect of the trials will be better seen from
that of Isabel Gowdie, which, as it would be both wearisome and
disgusting to go through them all, is cited as a fair specimen,
although it took place at a date somewhat later than the reign of
James. This woman, wearied of her life by the persecutions of her
neighbours, voluntarily gave herself up to justice, and made a
confession, embodying the whole witch-creed of the period. She was
undoubtedly a monomaniac of the most extraordinary kind. She said that
she deserved to be stretched upon an iron rack, and that her crimes
could never be atoned for, even if she were to be drawn asunder by wild
horses. She named a long list of her associates, including nearly fifty
women and a few warlocks. They dug up the graves of unchristened
infants, whose limbs were serviceable in their enchantments. When they
wanted to destroy the crops of an enemy, they yoked toads to his
plough, and on the following night Satan himself ploughed the land with
his team, and blasted it for the season. The witches had power to
assume almost any shape; but they generally chose either that of a cat
or a hare, oftenest the latter. Isabel said, that on one occasion, when
she was in this disguise, she was sore pressed by a pack of hounds, and
had a very narrow escape with her life. She reached her own door at
last, feeling the hot breath of the pursuing dogs at her haunches. She
managed, however, to hide herself behind a chest, and got time to
pronounce the magic words that could alone restore her to her proper
shape. They were:--

  "Hare! hare!
  God send thee care!
     I am in a hare's likeness now;
     But I shall be a woman e'en now!
  Hare! hare!
  God send thee care!"

If witches, when in this shape, were bitten by the dogs, they always
retained the marks in their human form; but she had never heard that
any witch had been bitten to death. When the devil appointed any
general meeting of the witches, the custom was that they should proceed
through the air mounted on broomsticks, or on corn or bean-straws,
pronouncing as they went:--

  "Horse and partook, horse and go,
  Horse and pellats, ho! ho! ho!"

They generally left behind them a broom, or a three-legged stool,
which, when placed in their beds and duly charmed, assumed the human
shape till their return. This was done that the neighhours might not
know when they were absent.

She added, that the devil furnished his favourite witches with servant
imps to attend upon them. These imps were called "The Roaring Lion,"
"Thief of Hell," "Wait-upon-Herself," "Ranting Roarer,"
"Care-for-Naught," &c. and were known by their liveries, which were
generally yellow, sad-dun, sea-green, pea-green, or grass-green. Satan
never called the witches by the names they had received at baptism;
neither were they allowed, in his presence, so to designate each other.
Such a breach of the infernal etiquette assuredly drew down his most
severe displeasure. But as some designation was necessary, he
re-baptized them in their own blood by the names of "Able-and-Stout,"
"Over-the-dike-with-it," "Raise-the-wind," "Pickle-nearest-the-wind,"
"Batter-them-down-Maggy," "Blow-Kale," and such like. The devil himself
was not very particular what name they called him so that it was not
"Black John." If any witch was unthinking enough to utter these words,
he would rush out upon her, and beat and buffet her unmercifully, or
tear her flesh with a wool-card. Other names he did not care about; and
once gave instructions to a noted warlock that whenever he wanted his
aid, he was to strike the ground three times and exclaim, "Rise up,
foul thief!"

Upon this confession many persons were executed. So strong was the
popular feeling, that no one once accused of witchcraft was acquitted;
at least, acquittals did not average one in a hundred trials.
Witch-finding, or witch-pricking became a trade, and a set of mercenary
vagabonds 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 witchpricker 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
clearsighted 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, ["Satan's
Invisible World discovered," by the Rev. G. Sinclair.] 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 now 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

It is time, however, to return to James VI, who is fairly entitled to
share with Pope Innocent, Sprenger, Bodinus, and Matthew Hopkins the
glory or the odium of being at the same time a chief enemy and chief
encourager of witchcraft. Towards the close of the sixteenth century,
many learned men, both on the Continent and in the isles of Britain,
had endeavoured to disabuse the public mind on this subject.  The most
celebrated were Wierus in Germany, Pietro d'Apone in Italy, and
Reginald Scot in England. Their works excited the attention of the
zealous James, who, mindful of the involuntary compliment which his
merits had extorted from the devil, was ambitious to deserve it by
still continuing "his greatest enemie." In the year 1597 he published,
in Edinburgh, his famous treatise on Demonology. Its design may be
gathered from the following passage in the introduction. "The fearful
abounding," says the King, "at this time, and in this country, of these
detestable slaves of the devil, the witches, or enchanters, hath moved
me, beloved reader, to despatch in post this following treatise of
mine, not in any wise, as I protest, to serve for a show of mine own
learning and ingene (ingenuity), but only (moved of conscience) to
press thereby, so far as I can, to resolve the doubting hearts of many;
both that such assaults of Satan are most certainly practised, and that
the instrument thereof merits most severely to be punished, against the
damnable opinions of two, principally in our age, whereof the one,
called Scot, an Englishman, is not ashamed, in public print, to deny
that there can be such thing as witchcraft, and so maintains the old
error of the Sadducees, in denying of spirits. The other, called
Wierus, a German physician, sets out a public apology for all these
crafts-folks, whereby procuring for them impunity, he plainly betrays
himself to have been one of that profession." In other parts of this
treatise, which the author had put into the form of a dialogue to "make
it more pleasant and facile," he says, "Witches ought to be put to
death, according to the law of God, the civil and imperial law, and the
municipal law of all Christian nations: yea, to spare the life, and not
strike whom God bids strike, and so severely punish in so odious a
treason against God, is not only unlawful, but doubtless as great a sin
in the magistrate, as was Saul's sparing Agag." He says also, that the
crime is so abominable, that it may be proved by evidence which would
not be received against any other offenders,--young children, who knew
not the nature of an oath, and persons of an infamous character, being
sufficient witnesses against them; but lest the innocent should be
accused of a crime so difficult to be acquitted of, he recommends that
in all cases the ordeal should be resorted to.  He says, "Two good
helps may be used: the one is, the finding of their mark, and the
trying the insensibleness thereof; the other is their floating on the
water; for, as in a secret murther, if the dead carcass be at any time
thereafter handled by the murtherer, it will gush out of blood, as if
the blood were crying to Heaven for revenge of the murtherer, (God
having appointed that secret supernatural sign for trial of that secret
unnatural crime); so that it appears that God hath appointed (for a
supernatural sign of the monstrous impiety of witches) that the water
shall refuse to receive them in her bosom, that have shaken off them
the sacred water of baptism, and wilfully refused the benefit thereof;
no, not so much as their eyes are able to shed tears (threaten and
torture them as you please), while first they repent (God not
permitting them to dissemble their obstinacy in so horrible a crime).
Albeit, the womenkind especially, be able otherwise to shed tears at
every light occasion, when they will; yea, although it were
dissembling, like the crocodiles."

When such doctrines as these were openly promulgated by the highest
authority in the realm, and who, in promulgating them, flattered, but
did not force the public opinion, it is not surprising that the sad
delusion should have increased and multiplied, until the race of
wizards and witches replenished the earth. The reputation which he lost
by being afraid of a naked sword, he more than regained by his courage
in combating the devil. The Kirk showed itself a most zealous
coadjutor, especially during those halcyon days when it was not at
issue with the King upon other matters of doctrine and prerogative.

On his accession to the throne of England, in 1603, James came amongst
a people who had heard with admiration of his glorious deeds against
the witches. He himself left no part of his ancient prejudices behind
him, and his advent was the signal for the persecution to burst forth
in England with a fury equal to that in Scotland. It had languished a
little during the latter years of the reign of Elizabeth; but the very
first Parliament of King James brought forward the subject. James was
flattered by their promptitude, and the act passed in 1604. On the
second reading in the House of Lords, the bill passed into a committee,
in which were twelve bishops. By it was enacted, "That if any person
shall use, practise, or exercise any conjuration of any wicked or evil
spirit, or shall consult, covenant with, or feed any such spirit, the
first offence to be imprisonment for a year and standing in the pillory
once a quarter; the second offence to be death."

The minor punishment seems but rarely to have been inflicted.  Every
record that has been preserved, mentions that the witches were hanged
and burned, or burned without the previous strangling, "alive and
quick." During the whole of James's reign, amid the civil wars of his
successor, the sway of the Long Parliament, the usurpation of Cromwell,
and the reign of Charles II, there was no abatement of the persecution.
If at any time it raged with less virulence, it was when Cromwell and
the Independents were masters. Dr. Zachary Grey, the editor of an
edition of "Hudibras," informs us, in a note to that work, that he
himself perused a list of three thousand witches who were executed in
the time of the Long Parliament alone. During the first eighty years of
the seventeenth century, the number executed has been estimated at five
hundred annually, making the frightful total of forty thousand. Some of
these cases deserve to be cited. The great majority resemble closely
those already mentioned, but two or three of them let in a new light
upon the popular superstition.

Every one has heard of the "Lancashire witches," a phrase now used to
compliment the ladies of that county for their bewitching beauty; but
it is not every one who has heard the story in which it originated. A
villainous boy, named Robinson, was the chief actor in the tragedy. He
confessed, many years afterwards, that he had been suborned by his
father and other persons to give false evidence against the unhappy
witches whom he brought to the stake. The time of this famous trial was
about the year 1634. This boy Robinson, whose father was a wood-cutter,
residing on the borders of Pendle Forest, in Lancashire, spread abroad
many rumours against one Mother Dickenson, whom he accused of being a
witch. These rumours coming to the ears of the local magistracy, the
boy was sent for, and strictly examined. He told the following
extraordinary story, without hesitation or prevarication, and
apparently in so open and honest a manner, that no one who heard him
doubted the truth of it:--He said, that as he was roaming about in one
of the glades of the forest, amusing himself by gathering blackberries,
he saw two greyhounds before him, which he thought at the time belonged
to some gentleman of the neighbourhood.  Being fond of sport, he
proposed to have a course, and a hare being started, he incited the
hounds to run. Neither of them would stir.  Angry at the beasts, he
seized hold of a switch, with which he was about to punish them, when
one of them suddenly started up in the form of a woman, and the other,
of a little boy. He at once recognised the woman to be the witch Mother
Dickenson. She offered him some money to induce him to sell his soul to
the devil; but he refused. Upon this she took a bridle out of her
pocket, and, shaking it over the head of the other little boy, he was
instantly turned into a horse. Mother Dickenson then seized him in her
arms, sprang upon the horse; and, placing him before her, rode with the
swiftness of the wind over forests, fields, bogs, and rivers, until
they came to a large barn.  The witch alighted at the door; and taking
him by the hand, led him inside. There he saw seven old women, pulling
at seven halters which hung from the roof. As they pulled, large pieces
of meat, lumps of butter, loaves of bread, basins of milk, hot
puddings, black puddings, and other rural dainties, fell from the
halters on to the floor. While engaged in this charm they made such
ugly faces, and looked so fiendish, that he was quite frightened. After
they had pulled, in this manner enough for an ample feast, they set-to,
and showed, whatever might be said of the way in which their supper was
procured, that their epicurism was a little more refined than that of
the Scottish witches, who, according to Gellie Duncan's confession,
feasted upon dead men's flesh in the old kirk of Berwick. The boy
added, that as soon as supper was ready, many other witches came to
partake of it, several of whom he named. In consequence of this story,
many persons were arrested, and the boy Robinson was led about from
church to church, in order that he might point out to the officers, by
whom he was accompanied, the hags he had seen in the barn. Altogether
about twenty persons were thrown into prison; eight of them were
condemned to die, including Mother Dickenson, upon this evidence alone,
and executed accordingly. Among the wretches who concocted this notable
story, not one was ever brought to justice for his perjury; and
Robinson, the father, gained considerable sums by threatening persons
who were rich enough to buy off exposure.

Among the ill weeds which flourished amid the long dissensions of the
civil war, Matthew Hopkins, the witch-finder, stands eminent in his
sphere. 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 "Witchfinder 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

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 his 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
recompence." The authorities of Houghton were not much alarmed at his
awful threat of letting them alone. They very wisely took no notice
either 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 atrocious 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
look-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,"
"Pye-wackett," "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 of him. As no judicial entry of his
trial and execution is to be found in any register, it appears most
probable that he expired by the hands of the mob. Butler has
immortalized this scamp in the following lines of his "Hudibras:"--

  "Hath not this present Parliament
  A lieger to the devil sent,
  Fully empower'd to treat about
  Finding revolted witches out?
  And has he not within a year
  Hang'd threescore of them in one shire?
  Some only for not being drown'd,
  And some for sitting above ground
  Whole days and nights upon their breeches,
  And feeling pain, were hang'd for witches;
  And some for putting knavish tricks
  Upon green geese or turkey chicks;
  Or pigs that suddenly deceased
  Of griefs unnatural, as he guess'd;
  Who proved himself at length a witch,
  And made a rod for his own breech."

In Scotland also witch-finding became a trade. They were known under
the designation of "common prickers," and, like Hopkins, received a fee
for each witch they discovered. At the trial of Janet Peaston, in 1646,
the magistrates of Dalkeith "caused John Kincaid, of Tranent, the
common pricker, to exercise his craft upon her. He found two marks of
the devil's making; for she could not feel the pin when it was put into
either of the said marks, nor did the marks bleed when the pin was
taken out again. When she was asked where she thought the pins were put
in her, she pointed to a part of her body distant from the real place.
They were pins of three inches in length." [Pitcairn's "Records of

These common prickers became at last so numerous, that they were
considered nuisances. The judges refused to take their evidence, and in
1678 the privy council of Scotland condescended to hear the complaint
of an honest woman, who had been indecently exposed by one of them, and
expressed their opinion that common prickers were common cheats.

But such an opinion was not formed in high places before hundreds of
innocent persons had fallen victims. The Parliaments had encouraged the
delusion both in England and Scotland; and, by arming these fellows
with a sort of authority, had in a manner forced the magistrates and
ministers to receive their evidence. The fate of one poor old
gentleman, who fell a victim to the arts of Hopkins in 1646, deserves
to be recorded. Mr. Louis, a venerable clergyman, upwards of seventy
years of age, and who had been rector of Framlingham, in Suffolk, for
fifty years, excited suspicion that he was a wizard.  Being a violent
royalist, he was likely to meet with no sympathy at that time; and even
his own parishioners, whom he had served so long and so faithfully,
turned their backs upon him as soon as he was accused. Placed under the
hands of Hopkins, who knew so well how to bring the refractory to
confession, the old man, the light of whose intellect had become
somewhat dimmed from age, confessed that he was a wizard. He said he
had two imps, that continually excited him to do evil; and that one
day, when he was walking on the sea-coast, one of them prompted him to
express a wish that a ship, whose sails were just visible in the
distance, might sink. He consented, and saw the vessel sink before his
eyes. He was, upon this confession, tried and condemned. On his trial
the flame of reason burned up as brightly as ever. He denied all that
had been alleged against him, and cross-examined Hopkins with great
tact and severity. After his condemnation, he begged that the funeral
service of the church might be read for him. The request was refused,
and he repeated it for himself from memory, as he was led to the

A poor woman in Scotland was executed upon evidence even less strong
than this. John Bain, a common pricker, swore that, as he passed her
door, he heard her talking to the devil. She said in defence, that it
was a foolish practice she had of talking to herself, and several of
her neighbours corroborated her statement; but the evidence of the
pricker was received. He swore that none ever talked to themselves who
were not witches. The devil's mark being found upon her, the additional
testimony of her guilt was deemed conclusive, and she was "convict and

From the year 1652 to 1682, these trials diminished annually in number,
and acquittals were by no means so rare as they had been. To doubt in
witchcraft was no longer dangerous. Before country justices,
condemnations on the most absurd evidence still continued, but when the
judges of the land had to charge the jury, they took a more humane and
philosophical view. By degrees, the educated classes (comprised, in
those days, within very narrow limits), openly expressed their unbelief
of modern witchcraft, although they were not bold enough to deny its
existence altogether. Between them and the believers in the old
doctrine fierce arguments ensued, and the sceptics were designated
Sadducees. To convince them, the learned and Reverend Joseph Glanvil
wrote his well-known work, "Sadducismus Triumphatus," and "The
Collection of Relations;" the first part intended as a philosophical
inquiry into witchcraft, and the power of the devil "to assume a mortal
shape;" the latter containing what he considered a multitude of
well-authenticated modern instances.

But though progress was made, it was slow. In 1664, the venerable Sir
Matthew Hale condemned two women, named Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, to
the stake at St. Edmondsbury, upon evidence the most ridiculous. These
two old women, whose ugliness gave their neighbours the first idea that
they were witches, went to a shop to purchase herrings, and were
refused. Indignant at the prejudice against them, they were not sparing
of their abuse. Shortly afterward, the daughter of the herring-dealer
fell sick, and a cry was raised that she was bewitched by the old women
who had been refused the herrings. This girl was subject to epileptic
fits. To discover the guilt of Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, the girl's
eyes were blinded closely with a shawl, and the witches were commanded
to touch her. They did so, and she was immediately seized with a fit.
Upon this evidence they were sent to prison. The girl was afterwards
touched by an indifferent person, and the force of her imagination was
so great, that, thinking it was again the witches, she fell down in a
violent fit as before. This, however, was not received in favour of the

The following extract, from the published reports of the trial, will
show the sort of evidence which was received:--

"Samuel Pacey, of Leystoff, (a good, sober man,) being sworn, said
that, on Thursday the 10th of October last, his younger daughter,
Deborah, about nine years old, was suddenly taken so lame that she
could not stand on her legs, and so continued till the 17th of the same
month, when the child desired to be carried to a bank on the east side
of the house, looking towards the sea; and, while she was sitting
there, Amy Duny came to this examinant's house to buy some herrings,
but was denied. Then she came twice more, but, being as often denied,
she went away discontented and grumbling. At this instant of time, the
child was taken with terrible fits, complaining of a pain in her
stomach, as if she was pricked with pins, shrieking out with a voice
like a whelp, and thus continued till the 30th of the same month. This
examinant further saith, that Amy Duny, having long had the reputation
of a witch, and his child having, in the intervals of her fits,
constantly cried out on her, as the cause of her disorder, saying, that
the said Amy did appear to her and fright her, he himself did suspect
the said Amy to be a witch, and charged her with being the cause of his
child's illness, and set her in the stocks. Two days after, his
daughter Elizabeth was taken with such strange fits, that they could
not force open her mouth without a tap; and the younger child being in
the same condition, they used to her the same remedy.  Both children
grievously complained that Amy Duny and another woman, whose habit and
looks they described, did appear to them, and torment them, and would
cry out, 'There stands Amy Duny! There stands Rose Cullender!' the
other person who afflicted them. Their fits were not alike. Sometimes
they were lame on the right side; sometimes on the left; and sometimes
so sore, that they could not bear to be touched. Sometimes they were
perfectly well in other respects, but they could not hear; at other
times, they could not see. Sometimes they lost their speech for one,
two, and once for eight, days together. At times they had swooning
fits, and, when they could speak, were taken with a fit of coughing,
and vomited phlegm and crooked pins; and once a great twopenny nail,
with above forty pins; which nail he, the examinant, saw vomited up,
with many of the pins. The nail and pins were produced in the court.
Thus the children continued for two months, during which time the
examinant often made them read in the New Testament, and observed, when
they came to the words Lord Jesus, or Christ, they could not pronounce
them, but fell into a fit.  When they came to the word Satan, or devil,
they would point, and say, 'This bites, but makes me speak right well.'
Finding his children thus tormented without hopes of recovery, he sent
them to his sister, Margaret Arnold, at Yarmouth, being willing to try
whether change of air would help them.

"Margaret Arnold was the next witness. Being sworn, she said, that
about the 30th of November, Elizabeth and Deborah Pacey came to her
house, with her brother, who told her what had happened, and that he
thought his children bewitched. She, this examinant, did not much
regard it, supposing the children had played tricks, and put the pins
into their mouths themselves. She, therefore, took all the pins from
their clothes, sewing them with thread instead of pinning them. But,
notwithstanding, they raised, at times, at least thirty pins, in her
presence, and had terrible fits; in which fits they would cry out upon
Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, saying, that they saw them and heard them
threatening, as before; that they saw things, like mice, running about
the house; and one of them catched one, and threw it into the fire,
which made a noise, like a rat. Another time the younger child, being
out of doors, a thing like a bee would have forced itself into her
mouth, at which the child ran screaming into the house, and before this
examinant could come at her, fell into a fit, and vomited a twopenny
nail, with a broad head. After that, this examinant asked the child how
she came by this nail, when she answered, 'The bee brought the nail,
and forced it into my mouth.' At other times, the eldest child told
this examinant that she saw flies bring her crooked pins.  She would
then fall into a fit, and vomit such pins. One time the said child said
she saw a mouse, and crept under the table to look for it; and
afterwards, the child seemed to put something into her apron, saying,
'She had caught it.' She then ran to the fire, and threw it in, on
which there did appear to this examinant something like a flash of
gunpowder, although she does own she saw nothing in the child's hand.
Once the child, being speechless, but otherwise very sensible, ran up
and down the house, crying, 'Hush! hush!' as if she had seen poultry;
but this examinant saw nothing. At last the child catched at something,
and threw it into the fire. Afterwards, when the child could speak,
this examinant asked her what she saw at the time? She answered, that
she saw a duck. Another time the youngest child said, after a fit, that
Amy Duny had been with her, and tempted her to drown herself, or cut
her throat, or otherwise destroy herself. Another time they both cried
out upon Amy Duny and Rose Cullender, saying, 'Why don't you come
yourselves? Why do you send your imps to torment us?'"

The celebrated Sir Thomas Brown, the author of "Vulgar Errors," was
also examined as a witness upon the trial. Being desired to give his
opinion of the three persons in court, he said, he was clearly of
opinion that they were bewitched. He said, there had lately been a
discovery of witches in Denmark, who used the same way of tormenting
persons, by conveying crooked pins, needles, and nails into their
bodies. That he thought, in such cases, the devil acted upon human
bodies by natural means, namely, by exciting and stirring up the
superabundant humours, he did afflict them in a more surprising manner
by the same diseases their bodies were usually subject to; that these
fits might be natural, only raised to a great degree by the subtlety of
the devil, co-operating with the malice of these witches.

The evidence being concluded, Sir Matthew Hale addressed the jury.  He
said, he would waive repeating the evidence, to prevent any mistake,
and told the jury, there were two things they had to inquire into.
First, Whether or not these children were bewitched; secondly, Whether
these women did bewitch them. He said, he did not in the least doubt
there were witches; first, Because the Scriptures affirmed it;
secondly, Because the wisdom of all nations, particularly our own, had
provided laws against witchcraft, which implied their belief of such a
crime. He desired them strictly to observe the evidence, and begged of
God to direct their hearts in the weighty concern they had in hand,
since, to condemn the innocent and let the guilty go free, are both an
abomination to the Lord.

The jury then retired, and, in about half an hour, returned a verdict
of guilty upon all the indictments, being thirteen in number.  The next
morning the children came with their father to the lodgings of Sir
Matthew Hale, very well, and quite restored to their usual health. Mr.
Pacey, being asked at what time their health began to improve, replied,
that they were quite well in half an hour after the conviction of the

Many attempts were made to induce the unfortunate women to confess
their guilt; but in vain, and they were both hanged.

Eleven trials were instituted before Chief-Justice Holt for witchcraft
between the years 1694 and 1701. The evidence was of the usual
character; but Holt appealed so successfully in each case to the common
sense of the jury, that they were every one acquitted. A general
feeling seemed to pervade the country that blood enough had been shed
upon these absurd charges. Now and then, the flame of persecution burnt
up in a remote district; but these instances were no longer looked upon
as mere matters of course. They appear, on the contrary, to have
excited much attention; a sure proof, if no other were to be obtained,
that they were becoming unfrequent.

A case of witchcraft was tried in 1711, before Lord Chief Justice
Powell; in which, however, the jury persisted in a verdict of guilty,
though the evidence was of the usual absurd and contradictory
character, and the enlightened judge did all in his power to bring them
to a right conclusion. The accused person was one Jane Wenham, better
known as the Witch of Walkerne; and the persons who were alleged to
have suffered from her witchcraft were two young women, named Thorne
and Street. A witness, named Mr. Arthur Chauncy, deposed, that he had
seen Ann Thorne in several of her fits, and that she always recovered
upon prayers being said, or if Jane Wenham came to her. He related,
that he had pricked the prisoner several times in the arms, but could
never fetch any blood from her; that he had seen her vomit pins, when
there were none in her clothes or within her reach; and that he had
preserved several of them, which he was ready to produce. The judge,
however, told him that was needless, as he supposed they were crooked

Mr. Francis Bragge, another witness, deposed, that strange "cakes" of
bewitched feathers having been taken from Ann Thorne's pillow, he was
anxious to see them. He went into a room where some of these feathers
were, and took two of the cakes, and compared them together.  They were
both of a circular figure, something larger than a crown piece; and he
observed that the small feathers were placed in a nice and curious
order, at equal distances from each other, making so many radii of the
circle, in the centre of which the quill ends of the feathers met. He
counted the number of these feathers, and found them to be exactly
thirty-two in each cake. He afterwards endeavoured to pull off two or
three of them, and observed that they were all fastened together by a
sort of viscous matter, which would stretch seven or eight times in a
thread before it broke. Having taken off several of these feathers, he
removed the viscous matter with his fingers, and found under it, in the
centre, some short hairs, black and grey, matted together, which he
verily believed to be cat's hair.  He also said, that Jane Wenham
confessed to him that she had bewitched the pillow, and had practised
witchcraft for sixteen years.

The judge interrupted the witness at this stage, and said, he should
very much like to see an enchanted feather, and seemed to wonder when
he was told that none of these strange cakes had been preserved. His
Lordship asked the witness why he did not keep one or two of them, and
was informed that they had all been burnt, in order to relieve the
bewitched person of the pains she suffered, which could not be so well
effected by any other means.

A man, named Thomas Ireland, deposed, that hearing several times a
great noise of cats crying and screaming about his house, he went out
and frightened them away, and they all ran towards the cottage of Jane
Wenham. One of them he swore positively had a face very like Jane
Wenham's. Another man, named Burville, gave similar evidence, and swore
that he had often seen a cat with Jane Wenham's face. Upon one occasion
he was in Ann Thorne's chamber, when several cats came in, and among
them the cat above stated. This witness would have favoured the court
with a much longer statement, but was stopped by the judge, who said he
had heard quite enough.

The prisoner, in her defence, said nothing, but that "she was a clear
woman." The learned judge then summed up, leaving it to the jury to
determine whether such evidence as they had heard was sufficient to
take away the prisoner's life upon the indictment. After a long
deliberation they brought in their verdict, that she was guilty upon
the evidence. The Judge then asked them whether they found her guilty
upon the indictment of conversing with the devil in the shape of a cat?
The sapient foreman very gravely answered, "We find her guilty of
that." The learned judge then very reluctantly proceeded to pass
sentence of death; but, by his persevering exertions, a pardon was at
last obtained, and the wretched old woman was set at liberty. In the
year 1716, a woman and her daughter,--the latter only nine years of
age,--were hanged at Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil,
and raising a storm by pulling off their stockings and making a lather
of soap. This appears to have been the last judicial execution in
England. From that time to the year 1736, the populace raised at
intervals the old cry, and more than once endangered the lives of poor
women by dragging them through ponds on suspicion; but the philosophy
of those who, from their position, sooner or later give the tone to the
opinions and morals of the poor, was silently working a cure for the
evil. The fear of witches ceased to be epidemic, and became individual,
lingering only in minds lettered by inveterate prejudice or brutalizing
superstition. In the year 1736, the penal statute of James I. was
finally blotted from the statutebook, and suffered no longer to
disgrace the advancing intelligence of the country.  Pretenders to
witchcraft, fortune-tellers, conjurors, and all their train, were
liable only to the common punishment of rogues and
impostors--imprisonment and the pillory.

In Scotland, the delusion also assumed the same phases, and was
gradually extinguished in the light of civilization. As in England the
progress of improvement was slow. Up to the year 1665, little or no
diminution of the mania was perceptible. In 1643, the General Assembly
recommended that the Privy Council should institute a standing
commission, composed of any "understanding gentlemen or magistrates,"
to try the witches, who were stated to have increased enormously of
late years. In 1649, an act was passed, confirmatory of the original
statute of Queen Mary, explaining some points of the latter which were
doubtful, and enacting severe penalties, not only against witches
themselves, but against all who covenanted with them, or sought by
their means to pry into the secrets of futurity, or cause any evil to
the life, lands, or limbs of their neighbours. For the next ten years,
the popular madness upon this subject was perhaps more furious than
ever; upwards of four thousand persons suffered for the crime during
that interval. This was the consequence of the act of parliament and
the unparalleled severity of the magistrates; the latter frequently
complained that for two witches they burned one day, there were ten to
burn the next: they never thought that they themselves were the cause
of the increase. In a single circuit, held at Glasgow, Ayr, and
Stirling, in 1659, seventeen unhappy creatures were burned by judicial
sentence for trafficking with Satan. In one day, (November 7, 1661,)
the Privy Council issued no less than fourteen commissions for trials
in the provinces. Next year, the violence of the persecution seems to
have abated. From 1662 to 1668, although "the understanding gentlemen
and magistrates" already mentioned, continued to try and condemn, the
High Court of Justiciary had but one offender of this class to deal
with, and she was acquitted. James Welsh, a common pricker, was ordered
to be publicly whipped through the streets of Edinburgh for falsely
accusing a woman of witchcraft; a fact which alone proves that the
superior court sifted the evidence in these cases with much more care
and severity than it had done a few years previously. The enlightened
Sir George Mackenzie, styled by Dryden "the noble wit of Scotland,"
laboured hard to introduce this rule into court--that the confessions
of the witches should be held of little worth, and that the evidence of
the prickers and other interested persons should be received with
distrust and jealousy. This was reversing the old practice, and saved
many innocent lives. Though a firm believer both in ancient and modern
witchcraft, he could not shut his eyes to the atrocities daily
committed under the name of justice. In his work on the Criminal Law of
Scotland, published in 1678, he says, "From the horridness of this
crime, I do conclude that, of all others, it requires the clearest
relevancy and most convincing probature; and I condemn, next to the
wretches themselves, those cruel and too forward judges who burn
persons by thousands as guilty of this crime." In the same year, Sir
John Clerk plumply refused to serve as a commissioner on trials for
witchcraft, alleging, by way of excuse, "that he was not himself good
conjuror enough to be duly qualified." The views entertained by Sir
George Mackenzie were so favourably received by the Lords of Session
that he was deputed, in 1680, to report to them on the cases of a
number of poor women who were then in prison awaiting their trial. Sir
George stated that there was no evidence against them whatever but
their own confessions, which were absurd and contradictory, and drawn
from them by severe torture. They were immediately discharged.

For the next sixteen years, the Lords of Session were unoccupied with
trials for witchcraft; not one is entered upon the record: but in 1697,
a case occurred, which equalled in absurdity any of those that
signalized the dark reign of King James. A girl, named Christiana Shaw,
eleven years of age, the daughter of John Shaw of Bargarran, was
subject to fits, and being of a spiteful temper, she accused her
maid-servant, with whom she had frequent quarrels, of bewitching her.
Her story, unfortunately, was believed. Encouraged to tell all the
persecutions of the devil which the maid had sent to torment her, she
in the end concocted a romance that involved twenty-one persons. There
was no other evidence against them but the fancies of this lying child,
and the confessions which pain had extorted from them; but upon this no
less than five women were condemned, before Lord Blantyre and the rest
of the Commissioners, appointed specially by the Privy Council to try
this case. They were burned on the Green at Paisley.  The warlock of
the party, one John Reed, who was also condemned, hanged himself in
prison. It was the general belief in Paisley that the devil had
strangled him, lest he should have revealed in his last moments too
many of the unholy secrets of witchcraft. This trial excited
considerable disgust in Scotland. The Rev. Mr. Bell, a contemporary
writer, observed that, in this business, "persons of more goodness and
esteem than most of their calumniators were defamed for witches." He
adds, that the persons chiefly to blame were "certain ministers of too
much forwardness and absurd credulity, and some topping professors in
and about Glasgow." [Preface to "Law's Memorials," edited by Sharpe.]

After this trial, there again occurs a lapse of seven years, when the
subject was painfully forced upon public attention by the brutal
cruelty of the mob at Pittenween. Two women were accused of having
bewitched a strolling beggar, who was subject to fits, or who pretended
to be so, for the purpose of exciting commiseration. They were cast
into prison, and tortured until they confessed. One of them, named
Janet Cornfoot, contrived to escape, but was brought back to Pittenween
next day by a party of soldiers. On her approach to the town, she was,
unfortunately, met by a furious mob, composed principally of fishermen
and their wives, who seized upon her with the intention of swimming
her. They forced her away to the sea shore, and tying a rope around her
body, secured the end of it to the mast of a fishing-boat lying
alongside. In this manner they ducked her several times. When she was
half dead, a sailor in the boat cut away the rope, and the mob dragged
her through the sea to the beach. Here, as she lay quite insensible, a
brawny ruffian took down the door of his hut, close by, and placed it
on her back. The mob gathered large stones from the beach, and piled
them upon her till the wretched woman was pressed to death. No
magistrate made the slightest attempt to interfere, and the soldiers
looked on, delighted spectators. A great outcry was raised against this
culpable remissness, but no judicial inquiry was set on foot. This
happened in 1704.

The next case we hear of is that of Elspeth Rule, found guilty of
witchcraft before Lord Anstruther at the Dumfries circuit, in 1708.
She was sentenced to be marked in the cheek with a redhot iron, and
banished the realm of Scotland for life.

Again there is a long interval. In 1718, the remote county of
Caithness, where the delusion remained in all its pristine vigour for
years after it had ceased elsewhere, was startled from its propriety by
the cry of witchcraft. A silly fellow, named William Montgomery, a
carpenter, had a mortal antipathy to cats, and, somehow or other, these
animals generally chose his back-yard as the scene of their
catterwaulings. He puzzled his brains for a long time to know why he,
above all his neighbours, should be so pestered; at last he came to the
sage conclusion that his tormentors were no cats, but witches. In this
opinion he was supported by his maid-servant, who swore a round oath
that she had often heard the aforesaid cats talking together in human
voices. The next time the unlucky tabbies assembled in his back-yard,
the valiant carpenter was on the alert. Arming himself with an axe, a
dirk, and a broadsword, he rushed out among them: one of them he
wounded in the back, a second in the hip, and the leg of a third he
maimed with his axe; but he could not capture any of them. A few days
afterwards, two old women of the parish died, and it was said that,
when their bodies were laid out, there appeared upon the back of one
the mark as of a recent wound, and a similar scar upon the hip of the
other. The carpenter and his maid were convinced that they were the
very cats, and the whole county repeated the same story. Every one was
upon the look-out for proofs corroborative: a very remarkable one was
soon discovered. Nanny Gilbert, a wretched old creature of upwards of
seventy years of age, was found in bed with her leg broken; as she was
ugly enough for a witch, it was asserted that she, also, was one of the
cats that had fared so ill at the hands of the carpenter. The latter,
when informed of the popular suspicion, asserted that he distinctly
remembered to have struck one of the cats a blow with the back of his
broadsword, which ought to have broken her leg. Nanny was immediately
dragged from her bed, and thrown into prison. Before she was put to the
torture, she explained, in a very natural and intelligible manner, how
she had broken her limb; but this account did not give satisfaction:
the professional persuasions of the torturer made her tell a different
tale, and she confessed that she was indeed a witch, and had been
wounded by Montgomery on the night stated--that the two old women
recently deceased were witches also, besides about a score of others
whom she named. The poor creature suffered so much by the removal from
her own home, and the tortures inflicted upon her, that she died the
next day in prison. Happily for the persons she had named in her
confession, Dundas of Arniston, at that time the King's
Advocate-general, wrote to the Sheriff-depute, one Captain Ross of
Littledean, cautioning him not to proceed to trial, the "thing being of
too great difficulty, and beyond the jurisdiction of an inferior
court." Dundas himself examined the precognition with great care, and
was so convinced of the utter folly of the whole case that he quashed
all further proceedings.

We find this same Sheriff-depute of Caithness very active four years
afterwards in another trial for witchcraft. In spite of the warning he
had received, that all such cases were to be tried in future by the
superior courts, he condemned to death an old woman at Dornoch, upon
the charge of bewitching the cows and pigs of her neighbours. This poor
creature was insane, and actually laughed and clapped her hands at
sight of "the bonnie fire" that was to consume her. She had a daughter,
who was lame both of her hands and feet, and one of the charges brought
against her was, that she had used this daughter as a pony in her
excursions to join the devil's sabbath, and that the devil himself had
shod her, and produced lameness.

This was the last execution that took place in Scotland for witchcraft.
The penal statutes were repealed in 1756, and, as in England, whipping,
the pillory, or imprisonment, were declared the future punishments of
all pretenders to magic or witchcraft.

Still, for many years after this, the superstition lingered both in
England and Scotland, and in some districts is far from being extinct
even at this day. But before we proceed to trace it any further than to
its legal extinction, we have yet to see the frightful havoc it made in
continental Europe from the commencement of the seventeenth to the
middle of the eighteenth century. France, Germany, and Switzerland were
the countries which suffered most from the epidemic. The number of
victims in these countries during the sixteenth century has already
been mentioned; but, at the early part of the seventeenth, the numbers
are so great, especially in Germany, that were they not to be found in
the official records of the tribunals, it would be almost impossible to
believe that mankind could ever have been so maddened and deluded. To
use the words of the learned and indefatigable Horst, [Zauber
Bibliothek. Theil 5.] "the world seemed to be like a large madhouse for
witches and devils to play their antics in." Satan was believed to be
at everybody's call, to raise the whirlwind, draw down the lightning,
blight the productions of the earth, or destroy the health and paralyse
the limbs of man. This belief, so insulting to the majesty and
beneficence of the Creator, was shared by the most pious ministers of
religion. Those who in their morning and evening prayers acknowledged
the one true God, and praised him for the blessings of the seed time
and the harvest, were convinced that frail humanity could enter into a
compact with the spirits of hell to subvert his laws and thwart all his
merciful intentions. Successive popes, from Innocent VIII. downwards,
promulgated this degrading doctrine, which spread so rapidly that
society seemed to be divided into two great factions, the bewitching
and the bewitched.

The commissioners named by Innocent VIII. to prosecute the witch-trials
in Germany, were Jacob Sprenger, so notorious for his work on
demonology, entitled the "Malleus Maleficarum," or "Hammer to knock
down Witches," Henry Institor a learned jurisconsult, and the Bishop of
Strasburgh. Barnberg, Treves, Cologne, Paderborn, and Wurzburg, were
the chief seats of the commissioners, who, during their lives alone,
condemned to the stake, on a very moderate calculation, upwards of
three thousand victims. The number of witches so increased, that new
commissioners were continually appointed in Germany, France, and
Switzerland. In Spain and Portugal the Inquisition alone took
cognizance of the crime. It is impossible to search the records of
those dark, but now happily nonexisting tribunals; but the mind recoils
with affright even to form a guess of the multitudes who perished.

The mode of trial in the other countries is more easily ascertained.
Sprenger, in Germany, and Bodinus and Delrio, in France, have left but
too ample a record of the atrocities committed in the much-abused names
of justice and religion. Bodinus, of great repute and authority in the
seventeenth century, says, "The trial of this offence must not be
conducted like other crimes. Whoever adheres to the ordinary course of
justice perverts the spirit of the law, both Divine and human. He who
is accused of sorcery should never be acquitted unless the malice of
the prosecutor be clearer than the sun; for it is so difficult to bring
full proof of this secret crime, that out of a million of witches not
one would be convicted if the usual course were followed!" Henri
Boguet, a witch-finder, who styled himself "The Grand Judge of Witches
for the Territory of St. Claude," drew up a code for the guidance of
all persons engaged in the witch-trials, consisting of seventy
articles, quite as cruel as the code of Bodinus. In this document he
affirms, that a mere suspicion of witchcraft justifies the immediate
arrest and torture of the suspected person. If the prisoner muttered,
looked on the ground, and did not shed any tears, all these were proofs
positive of guilt! In all cases of witchcraft, the evidence of the
child ought to be taken against its parent; and persons of notoriously
bad character, although not to be believed upon their oaths on the
ordinary occasions of dispute that might arise between man and man,
were to be believed, if they swore that any person had bewitched them!
Who, when he hears that this diabolical doctrine was the universally
received opinion of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, can
wonder that thousands upon thousands of unhappy persons should be
brought to the stake? that Cologne should for many years burn its three
hundred witches annually?  the district of Barnberg its four hundred?
Nuremberg, Geneva, Paris, Toulouse, Lyons, and other cities, their two

A few of these trials may be cited, taking them in the order of
priority, as they occurred in different parts of the Continent. In 1595
an old woman residing in a village near Constance, angry at not being
invited to share the sports of the country people on a day of public
rejoicing, was heard to mutter something to herself, and was afterwards
seen to proceed through the fields towards a hill, where she was lost
sight of. A violent thunderstorm arose about two hours afterwards,
which wet the dancers to the skin, and did considerable damage to the
plantations. This woman, suspected before of witchcraft, was seized and
imprisoned, and accused of having raised the storm, by filling a hole
with wine, and stirring it about with a stick. She was tortured till
she confessed, and was burned alive the next evening.

About the same time two sorcerers in Toulouse were accused of having
dragged a crucifix about the streets at midnight, stopping at times to
spit upon and kick it, and uttering at intervals an exorcism to raise
the devil. The next day a hail-storm did considerable damage to the
crops, and a girl, the daughter of a shoemaker in the town, remembered
to have heard in the night the execrations of the wizards.  Her story
led to their arrest. The usual means to produce confession were
resorted to. The wizards owned that they could raise tempests whenever
they pleased, and named several persons who possessed similar powers.
They were hanged, and then burned in the market-place, and seven of the
persons they had mentioned shared the same fate.

Hoppo and Stadlin, two noted wizards of Germany, were executed in 1599.
They implicated twenty or thirty witches, who went about causing women
to miscarry, bringing down the lightning of heaven, and making maidens
bring forth toads. To this latter fact several girls were found to
swear most positively! Stadlin confessed that he had killed seven
infants in the womb of one woman.

Bodinus highly praises the exertions of a witchfinder, named Nider, in
France, who prosecuted so many that he could not calculate them. Some
of these witches could, by a single word, cause people to fall down
dead; others made women go with child three years instead of nine
months; while others, by certain invocations and ceremonies, could turn
the faces of their enemies upside down, or twist them round to their
backs. Although no witness was ever procured who saw persons in this
horrible state, the witches confessed that they had the power, and
exercised it. Nothing more was wanting to insure the stake.

At Amsterdam a crazy girl confessed that she could cause sterility in
cattle, and bewitch pigs and poultry by merely repeating the magic
words Turius und Shurius Inturius! She was hanged and burned. Another
woman in the same city, named Kornelis Van Purmerund, was arrested in
consequence of some disclosures the former had made. A witness came
forward and swore that she one day looked through the window of her
hut, and saw Kornelis sitting before a fire muttering something to the
devil. She was sure it was to the devil, because she heard him answer
her. Shortly afterwards twelve black cats ascended out of the floor,
and danced on their hind legs around the witch for the space of about
half an hour. They then vanished with a horrid noise, and leaving a
disagreeable smell behind them. She also was hanged and burned.

At Bamberg, in Bavaria, the executions from the year 1610 to 1640 were
at the rate of about a hundred annually. One woman, suspected of
witchcraft, was seized because, having immoderately praised the beauty
of a child, it had shortly afterwards fallen ill and died. She
confessed upon the rack that the devil had given her the power to work
evil upon those she hated, by speaking words in their praise. If she
said with unwonted fervour, "What a strong man!" "What a lovely woman!"
"What a sweet child!" the devil understood her, and afflicted them with
diseases immediately. It is quite unnecessary to state the end of this
poor creature. Many women were executed for causing strange substances
to lodge in the bodies of those who offended them. Bits of wood, nails,
hair, eggshells, bits of glass, shreds of linen and woollen cloth,
pebbles, and even hot cinders and knives, were the articles generally
chosen. These were believed to remain in the body till the witches
confessed or were executed, when they were voided from the bowels, or
by the mouth, nostrils, or ears. Modern physicians have often had cases
of a similar description under their care, where girls have swallowed
needles, which have been voided on the arms, legs, and other parts of
the body. But the science of that day could not account for these
phenomena otherwise than by the power of the devil; and every needle
swallowed by a servant maid cost an old woman her life. Nay, if no more
than one suffered in consequence, the district might think itself
fortunate. The commissioners seldom stopped short at one victim. The
revelations of the rack in most cases implicated half a score.

Of all the records of the witch-trials preserved for the wonder of
succeeding ages, that of Wurzburg, from 1627 to 1629, is the most
frightful. Hauber, who has preserved this list in his "Acta et Scripta
Magica," says, in a note at the end, that it is far from complete, and
that there were a great many other burnings too numerous to specify.
This record, which relates to the city only, and not to the province of
Wurzburg, contains the names of one hundred and fifty-seven persons,
who were burned in two years in twenty-nine burnings, averaging from
five to six at a time. The list comprises three play-actors, four
innkeepers, three common councilmen of Wurzburg, fourteen vicars of the
cathedral, the burgomaster's lady, an apothecary's wife and daughter,
two choristers of the cathedral, Gobel Babelin the prettiest girl in
the town, and the wife, the two little sons, and the daughter of the
councillor Stolzenberg. Rich and poor, young and old, suffered alike.
At the seventh of these recorded burnings, the victims are described as
a wandering boy, twelve years of age, and four strange men and women,
found sleeping in the market-place. Thirty-two of the whole number
appear to have been vagrants, of both sexes, who, failing to give a
satisfactory account of themselves, were accused and found guilty of
witchcraft. The number of children on the list is horrible to think
upon. The thirteenth and fourteenth burnings comprised four persons,
who are stated to have been a little maiden nine years of age, a maiden
still less, her sister, their mother, and their aunt, a pretty young
woman of twenty-four. At the eighteenth burning the victims were two
boys of twelve, and a girl of fifteen; at the nineteenth, the young
heir of the noble house of Rotenhahn, aged nine, and two other boys,
one aged ten, and the other twelve. Among other entries appear the
names of Baunach, the fattest, and Steinacher, the richest burgher in
Wurzburg.  What tended to keep up the delusion in this unhappy city,
and indeed all over Europe, was the number of hypochondriac and
diseased persons who came voluntarily forward, and made confession of
witchcraft.  Several of the victims in the foregoing list, had only
themselves to blame for their fate. Many again, including the
apothecary's wife and daughter already mentioned, pretended to sorcery,
and sold poisons, or attempted by means of charms and incantations to
raise the devil. But throughout all this fearful period the delusion of
the criminals was as great as that of the judges. Depraved persons who,
in ordinary times, would have been thieves or murderers, added the
desire of sorcery to their depravity, sometimes with the hope of
acquiring power over their fellows, and sometimes with the hope of
securing impunity in this world by the protection of Satan. One of the
persons executed at the first burning, a prostitute, was heard
repeating the exorcism, which was supposed to have the power of raising
the arch enemy in the form of a goat. This precious specimen of human
folly has been preserved by Horst, in his "Zauberbibliothek." It ran as
follows, and was to be repeated slowly, with many ceremonies and
waivings of the hand:--

  "Lalle, Bachera, Magotte, Baphia, Dajam,
  Vagoth Heneche Ammi Nagaz, Adomator
  Raphael Immanuel Christus, Tetragrammaton
  Agra Jod Loi. Konig! Konig!"

The two last words were uttered quickly, and with a sort of scream, and
were supposed to be highly agreeable to Satan, who loved to be called a
king. If he did not appear immediately, it was necessary to repeat a
further exorcism. The one in greatest repute was as follows, and was to
be read backwards, with the exception of the last two words

  "Anion, Lalle, Sabolos, Sado, Pater, Aziel
  Adonai Sado Vagoth Agra, Jod,
  Baphra! Komm! Komm!"

When the witch wanted to get rid of the devil, who was sometimes in the
habit of prolonging his visits to an unconscionable length, she had
only to repeat the following, also backwards, when he generally
disappeared, leaving behind him a suffocating smell:--

  "Zellianelle Heotti Bonus Vagotha
  Plisos sother osech unicus Beelzebub
  Dax! Komm! Komm!"

This nonsensical jargon soon became known to all the idle and foolish
boys of Germany. Many an unhappy urchin, who in a youthful frolic had
repeated it, paid for his folly the penalty of his life. Three, whose
ages varied from ten to fifteen, were burned alive at Wurzburg for no
other offence. Of course every other boy in the city became still more
convinced of the power of the charm. One boy confessed that he would
willingly have sold himself to the devil, if he could have raised him,
for a good dinner and cakes every day of his life, and a pony to ride
upon. This luxurious youngster, instead of being horsewhipped for his
folly, was hanged and burned.

The small district of Lindheim was, if possible, even more notorious
than Wurzburg for the number of its witch-burnings. In the year 1633 a
famous witch, named Pomp Anna, who could cause her foes to fall sick by
merely looking at them, was discovered and burned, along with three of
her companions. Every year in this parish, consisting at most of a
thousand persons, the average number of executions was five.  Between
the years 1660 and 1664, the number consumed was thirty. If the
executions all over Germany had been in this frightful proportion,
hardly a family could have escaped losing one of its members.

In 1627 a ballad entitled the "Druten Zeitung," or the "Witches
Gazette," was very popular in Germany. It detailed, according to the
titlepage of a copy printed at Smalcald in 1627, "an account of the
remarkable events which took place in Franconia, Bamberg, and Wurzburg,
with those wretches who from avarice or ambition have sold themselves
to the devil, and how they had their reward at last: set to music, and
to be sung to the tune of Dorothea." The sufferings of the witches at
the stake are explained in it with great minuteness, the poet waxing
extremely witty when he describes the horrible contortions of pain upon
their countenances, and the shrieks that rent the air when any one of
more than common guilt was burned alive. A trick resorted to in order
to force one witch to confess, is told in this doggrel as an excellent
joke. As she obstinately refused to own that she was in league with the
powers of evil, the commissioners suggested that the hangman should
dress himself in a bear's skin, with the horns, tail, and all the et
ceteras, and in this form penetrate into her dungeon. The woman, in the
darkness of her cell, could not detect the imposture, aided as it was
by her own superstitious fears. She thought she was actually in the
presence of the prince of hell; and when she was told to keep up her
courage, and that she should be relieved from the power of her enemies,
she fell on her knees before the supposed devil, and swore to dedicate
herself hereafter body and soul to his service. Germany is, perhaps,
the only country in Europe where the delusion was so great as to have
made such detestable verses as these the favourites of the people:--

    "Man shickt ein Henkersknecht
  Zu ihr in Gefangniss n'unter,
    Den man hat kleidet recht,
  Mir einer Barnhaute,
    Als wenns der Teufel war;
  Als ihm die Drut anschaute
    Meints ihr Buhl kam daher.

  "Sie sprach zu ihm behende,
    Wie lasst du mich so lang
  In der Obrigkeit Hande?
    Hilf mir aus ihren Zwang,
  Wie du mir hast verheissen,
    Ich bin ja eben dein,
  Thu mich aus der Angst entreissen
    O liebster Buhle mein?

[They sent a hangman's assistant down to her in her prison; they
clothed him properly in a bear's skin, as if he were the devil. Him,
when the witch saw, she thought he was her familiar. She said to him
quickly, "Why hast thou left me so long in the magistrate's hands?
Help me out of their power, as thou hast promised, and I will be thine
alone. Help me from this anguish, O thou dearest devil (or lover),

This rare poet adds, that in making such an appeal to the hangman, the
witch never imagined the roast that was to be made of her, and puts in,
by way of parenthesis, "was not that fine fun!" "Was das war fur ein
Spiel!" As feathers thrown into the air show how the wind blows, so
this trumpery ballad serves to show the current of popular feeling at
the time of its composition.

All readers of history are familiar with the celebrated trial of the
Marechale d'Ancre, who was executed in Paris in the year 1617.
Although witchcraft was one of the accusations brought against her, the
real crime for which she suffered was her ascendency over the mind of
Mary of Medicis, and the consequent influence she exercised indirectly
over the unworthy King, Louis XIII. Her coachman gave evidence that she
had sacrificed a cock at midnight, in one of the churches, and others
swore they had seen her go secretly into the house of a noted witch,
named Isabella. When asked by what means she had acquired so
extraordinary an influence over the mind of the Queen Mother, she
replied boldly, that she exercised no other power over her, than that
which a strong mind can always exercise over the weak.  She died with
great firmness.

In two years afterwards scenes far more horrible than any that had yet
taken place in France were enacted at Labourt, at the foot of the
Pyrenees. The Parliament of Bourdeaux, scandalised at the number of
witches who were said to infest Labourt and its neighbourhood, deputed
one of its own members, the noted Pierre de l'Ancre, and its President,
Espaignel, to inquire into the matter, with full powers to punish the
offenders. They arrived at Labourt in May 1619. De l'Ancre wrote a
book, setting forth all his great deeds, in this battle against the
powers of evil. It is full of obscenity and absurdity; but the facts
may be relied on as far as they relate to the number of trials and
executions, and the strange confessions which torture forced from the
unhappy criminals.

De l'Ancre states as a reason why so many witches were to be found at
Labourt, that the country was mountainous and sterile! He discovered
many of them from their partiality to smoking tobacco. It may be
inferred from this, that he was of the opinion of King James, that
tobacco was the "devil's weed." When the commission first sat, the
number of persons brought to trial was about forty a day. The
acquittals did not average so many as five per cent. All the witches
confessed that they had been present at the great Domdaniel, or
Sabbath. At these saturnalia the devil sat upon a large gilded throne,
sometimes in the form of a goat; sometimes as a gentleman, dressed all
in black, with boots, spurs, and sword; and very often as a shapeless
mass, resembling the trunk of a blasted tree, seen indistinctly amid
the darkness. They generally proceeded to the Domdaniel, riding on
spits, pitchforks, or broomsticks, and, on their arrival, indulged with
the fiends in every species of debauchery. Upon one occasion they had
had the audacity to celebrate this festival in the very heart of the
city of Bourdeaux. The throne of the arch fiend was placed in the
middle of the Place de Gallienne, and the whole space was covered with
the multitude of witches and wizards, who flocked to it from far and
near; some arriving even from distant Scotland.

After two hundred poor wretches had been hanged and burned, there
seemed no diminution in the number of criminals to be tried. Many of
the latter were asked upon the rack what Satan had said, when he found
that the commissioners were proceeding with such severity? The general
reply was, that he did not seem to care much about it. Some of them
asserted, that they had boldly reproached him for suffering the
execution of their friends, saying, "Out upon thee, false fiend! thy
promise was, that they should not die! Look! how thou hast kept thy
word! They have been burned, and are a heap of ashes!" Upon these
occasions he was never offended. He would give orders that the sports
of the Domdaniel should cease, and producing illusory fires that did
not burn, he encouraged them to walk through, assuring them that the
fires lighted by the executioner gave no more pain than those. They
would then ask him, where their friends were, since they had not
suffered; to which the "Father of Lies" invariably replied, that they
were happy in a far country, and could see and hear all that was then
passing; and that, if they called by name those they wished to converse
with, they might hear their voices in reply. Satan then imitated the
voices of the defunct witches so successfully, that they were all
deceived. Having answered all objections, the orgies recommenced, and
lasted till the cock crew.

De l'Ancre was also very zealous in the trial of unhappy monomaniacs
for the crime of lycanthropy. Several who were arrested confessed,
without being tortured, that they were weir-wolves, and that, at night,
they rushed out among the flocks and herds, killing and devouring. One
young man at Besancon, with the full consciousness of the awful fate
that awaited him, voluntarily gave himself up to the commissioner
Espaignel, and confessed that he was the servant of a strong fiend, who
was known by the name of "Lord of the Forests." By his power, he was
transformed into the likeness of a wolf. The "Lord of the Forests"
assumed the same shape, but was much larger, fiercer, and stronger.
They prowled about the pastures together at midnight, strangling the
watch-dogs that defended the folds, and killing more sheep than they
could devour. He felt, he said, a fierce pleasure in these excursions,
and howled in excess of joy as he tore with his fangs the warm flesh of
the sheep asunder. This youth was not alone in this horrid confession;
many others voluntarily owned that they were weir-wolves, and many more
were forced by torture to make the same avowal. Such criminals were
thought to be too atrocious to be hanged first, and then burned: they
were generally sentenced to be burned alive, and their ashes to be
scattered to the winds. Grave and learned doctors of divinity openly
sustained the possibility of these transformations, relying mainly upon
the history of Nebuchadnezzar.  They could not imagine why, if he had
been an ox, modern men could not become wolves, by Divine permission
and the power of the devil. They also contended that, if men should
confess, it was evidence enough, if there had been no other. Delrio
mentions that one gentleman accused of lycanthropy was put to the
torture no less than twenty times, but still he would not confess. An
intoxicating draught was then given him, and under its influence he
confessed that he was a weir-wolf.  Delrio cites this to show the
extreme equity of the commissioners.  They never burned anybody till he
confessed; and if one course of torture would not suffice, their
patience was not exhausted, and they tried him again and again, even to
the twentieth time! Well may we exclaim, when such atrocities have been
committed in the name of religion,

  "Quel lion, quel tigre egale en cruaute,
  Une injuste fureur qu'arme la piete?"

The trial of the unhappy Urbain Grandier, the curate of Loudun, for
bewitching a number of girls in the convent of the Ursulines in that
town, was, like that of the Marechale d'Ancre, an accusation resorted
to by his enemies to ruin one against whom no other charge could be
brought so readily. This noted affair, which kept France in commotion
for months, and the true character of which was known even at that
time, merits no more than a passing notice in this place. It did not
spring from the epidemic dread of sorcery then so prevalent, but was
carried on by wretched intriguers, who had sworn to have the life of
their foe. Such a charge could not be refuted in 1634: the accused
could not, as Bodinus expresses it, "make the malice of the prosecutors
more clear than the sun;" and his own denial, however intelligible,
honest, and straightforward, was held as nothing in refutation of the
testimony of the crazy women who imagined themselves bewitched. The
more absurd and contradictory their assertions, the stronger the
argument employed by his enemies that the devil was in them. He was
burned alive, under circumstances of great cruelty. [A very graphic
account of the execution of this unfortunate gentleman is to be found
in the excellent romance of M. Alfred de Vigny, entitled "Cinq Mars;"
but if the reader wishes for a full and accurate detail of all the
circumstances of one of the most extraordinary trials upon record, he
is referred to a work published anonymously, at Amsterdam, in 1693,
entitled "Histoire des Diables de Loudun, ou de la Possession des
Religieuses Ursulines, et de la Condemnation et du Supplice d'Urbain

A singular instance of the epidemic fear of witchcraft occurred at
Lille, in 1639. A pious, but not very sane lady, named Antoinette
Bourignon, founded a school, or hospice, in that city. One day, on
entering the school-room, she imagined that she saw a great number of
little black angels flying about the heads of the children. In great
alarm, she told her pupils of what she had seen, warning them to beware
of the devil, whose imps were hovering about them. The foolish woman
continued daily to repeat the same story, and Satan and his power
became the only subject of conversation, not only between the girls
themselves, but between them and their instructors. One of them at this
time ran away from the school. On being brought back and interrogated,
she said she had not run away, but had been carried away by the
devil--she was a witch, and had been one since the age of seven. Some
other little girls in the school went into fits at this announcement,
and, on their recovery, confessed that they also were witches. At last,
the whole of them, to the number of fifty, worked upon each other's
imaginations to such a degree that they also confessed that they were
witches--that they attended the Domdaniel, or meeting of the
fiends--that they could ride through the air on broom-sticks, feast on
infants' flesh, or creep through a key-hole.

The citizens of Lille were astounded at these disclosures. The clergy
hastened to investigate the matter; many of them, to their credit,
openly expressed their opinion that the whole affair was an imposture:
not so the majority--they strenuously insisted that the confessions of
the children were valid, and that it was necessary to make an example
by burning them all for witches. The poor parents, alarmed for their
offspring, implored the examining Capuchins with tears in their eyes to
save their young lives, insisting that they were bewitched, and not
bewitching. This opinion also gained ground in the town. Antoinette
Bourignon, who had put these absurd notions into the heads of the
children, was accused of witchcraft, and examined before the council.
The circumstances of the case seemed so unfavourable towards her that
she would not stay for a second examination. Disguising herself as she
best could, she hastened out of Lille and escaped pursuit. If she had
remained four hours longer, she would have been burned by judicial
sentence, as a witch and a heretic.  It is to be hoped that, wherever
she went, she learned the danger of tampering with youthful minds, and
was never again entrusted with the management of children.

The Duke of Brunswick and the Elector of Menz were struck with the
great cruelty exercised in the torture of suspected persons, and
convinced at the same time that no righteous judge would consider a
confession extorted by pain, and contradictory in itself, as sufficient
evidence to justify the execution of any accused person. It is related
of the Duke of Brunswick that he invited two learned Jesuits to his
house, who were known to entertain strong opinions upon the subject of
witchcraft, with a view of showing them the cruelty and absurdity of
such practises. A woman lay in the dungeon of the city accused of
witchcraft, and the Duke, having given previous instructions to the
officiating torturers, went with the two Jesuits to hear her
confession. By a series of artful leading questions, the poor creature,
in the extremity of her anguish, was induced to confess that she had
often attended the sabbath of the fiends upon the Brocken--that she had
seen two Jesuits there, who had made themselves notorious, even among
witches, for their abominations--that she had seen them assume the form
of goats, wolves, and other animals; and that many noted witches had
borne them five, six, and seven children at a birth, who had heads like
toads and legs like spiders. Being asked if the Jesuits were far from
her, she replied that they were in the room beside her. The Duke of
Brunswick led his astounded friends away, and explained the stratagem.
This was convincing proof to both of them that thousands of persons had
suffered unjustly; they knew their own innocence, and shuddered to
think what their fate might have been, if an enemy, instead of a
friend, had put such a confession into the mouth of a criminal. One of
these Jesuits was Frederick Spee, the author of the "Cautio
Criminalis," published in 1631. This work, exposing the horrors of the
witch trials, had a most salutary effect in Germany: Schonbrunn,
Archbishop and Elector of Menz, abolished the torture entirely within
his dominions, and his example was imitated by the Duke of Brunswick
and other potentates. The number of supposed witches immediately
diminished, and the violence of the mania began to subside. The Elector
of Brandenburg issued a rescript, in 1654, with respect to the case of
Anna of Ellerbrock, a supposed witch, forbidding the use of torture,
and stigmatizing the swimming of witches as an unjust, cruel, and
deceitful test.

This was the beginning of the dawn after the long-protracted darkness.
The tribunals no longer condemned witches to execution by hundreds in a
year. Wurzburg, the grand theatre of the burnings, burned but one,
where, forty years previously, it had burned three score. From 1660 to
1670, the electoral chambers in all parts of Germany constantly
commuted the sentence of death passed by the provincial tribunals into
imprisonment for life, or burning on the cheek.

A truer philosophy had gradually disabused the public mind.  Learned
men freed themselves from the trammels of a debasing superstition, and
governments, both civil and ecclesiastical, repressed the popular
delusion they had so long encouraged. The Parliament of Normandy
condemned a number of women to death, in the year 1670, on the old
charge of riding on broomsticks to the Domdaniel; but Louis XIV.
commuted the sentence into banishment for life. The Parliament
remonstrated, and sent the King the following remarkable request. The
reader will, perhaps, be glad to see this document at length. It is of
importance, as the last effort of a legislative assembly to uphold this
great error; and the arguments they used, and the instances they
quoted, are in the highest degree curious. It reflects honour upon the
memory of Louis XIV. that he was not swayed by it.



"EMBOLDENED by the authority which your Majesty has committed into our
hands in the province of Normandy, to try and punish offences, and more
particularly those offences of the nature of witchcraft, which tend to
the destruction of religion and the ruin of nations, we, your
Parliament, remonstrate humbly with your Majesty upon certain cases of
this kind which have been lately brought before us. We cannot permit
the letter addressed by your Majesty's command to the Attorney-General
of this district, for the reprieve of certain persons condemned to
death for witchcraft, and for the staying of proceedings in several
other cases, to remain unnoticed, and without remarking upon the
consequences which may ensue. There is also a letter from your
Secretary of State, declaring your Majesty's intention to commute the
punishment of these criminals into one of perpetual banishment, and to
submit to the opinion of the Procureur-General, and of the most learned
members of the Parliament of Paris, whether, in the matter of
witchcraft, the jurisprudence of the Parliament of Rouen is to be
followed in preference to that of the Parliament of Paris, and of the
other parliaments of the kingdom which judge differently.

"Although by the ordinances of the Kings your predecessors, Parliaments
have been forbidden to pay any attention to lettres de cachet; we,
nevertheless, from the knowledge which we have, in common with the
whole kingdom, of the care bestowed by your Majesty for the good of
your subjects, and from the submission and obedience to your
commandments which we have always manifested, have stayed all
proceedings, in conformity to your orders; hoping that your Majesty,
considering the importance of the crime of witchcraft, and the
consequences likely to ensue from its impunity, will be graciously
pleased to grant us once more your permission to continue the trials,
and execute judgment upon those found guilty. And as, since we received
the letter of your Secretary of State, we have also been made
acquainted with the determination of your Majesty, not only to commute
the sentence of death passed upon these witches into one of perpetual
banishment from the province, but to re-establish them in the
possession of their goods and chattels, and of their good fame and
character, your Parliament have thought it their duty, on occasion of
these crimes, the greatest which men can commit, to make you acquainted
with the general and uniform feelings of the people of this province
with regard to them; it being, moreover, a question in which are
concerned the glory of God and the relief of your suffering subjects,
who groan under their fears from the threats and menaces of this sort
of persons, and who feel the effects of them every day in the mortal
and extraordinary maladies which attack them, and the surprising damage
and loss of their possessions.

"Your Majesty knows well that there is no crime so opposed to the
commands of God as witchcraft, which destroys the very foundation of
religion, and draws strange abominations after it. It is for this
reason, Sire, that the Scriptures pronounce the punishment of death
against offenders, and that the church and the holy fathers have
fulminated their anathemas, and that canonical decisions have one and
all decreed the most severe punishments, to deter from this crime; and
that the Church of France, animated by the piety of the Kings your
predecessors, has expressed so great a horror at it, that, not judging
the punishment of perpetual imprisonment, the highest it has the power
to inflict, sufficiently severe, it has left such criminals to be dealt
with by the secular power.

"It has been the general feeling of all nations that such criminals
ought to be condemned to death, and all the ancients were of the same
opinion. The law of the "Twelve Tables," which was the principal of the
Roman laws, ordains the same punishment. All jurisconsults agreed in
it, as well as the constitutions of the Emperors, and more especially
those of Constantine and Theodosius, who, enlightened by the Gospel,
not only renewed the same punishment, but also deprived, expressly, all
persons found guilty of witchcraft of the right of appeal, and declared
them to be unworthy of a prince's mercy. And Charles VIII, Sire,
inspired by the same sentiments, passed that beautiful and severe
ordinance (cette belle et severe ordonnance), which enjoined the judges
to punish witches according to the exigencies of the case, under a
penalty of being themselves fined or imprisoned, or dismissed from
their office; and decreed, at the same time, that all persons who
refused to denounce a witch, should be punished as accomplices; and
that all, on the contrary, who gave evidence against one, should be

"From these considerations, Sire, and in the execution of so holy an
ordinance, your parliaments, by their decrees, proportion their
punishments to the guilt of the offenders: and your Parliament of
Normandy has never, until the present time, found that its practice was
different from that of other courts; for all the books which treat upon
this matter cite an infinite number of decrees condemning witches to be
burnt, or broken on the wheel, or to other punishments. The following
are examples:--In the time of Chilperic, as may be seen in Gregory of
Tours, b. vi, c. 35 of his History of France: all the decrees of the
Parliament of Paris passed according to, and in conformity with, this
ancient jurisprudence of the kingdom, cited by Imbert, in his "Judicial
Practice;" all those cited by Monstrelet, in 1459, against the witches
of Artois; the decrees of the same Parliament, of the 13th of October
1573, against Mary Le Fief, native of Saumur; of the 21st of October
1596, against the Sieur de Beaumont, who pleaded, in his defence, that
he had only sought the aid of the devil for the purpose of unbewitching
the afflicted and of curing diseases; of the 4th of July 1606, against
Francis du Bose; of the 20th of July 1582, against Abel de la Rue,
native of Coulommiers; of the 2nd of October 1593, against Rousseau and
his daughter; of 1608, against another Rousseau and one Peley, for
witchcraft and adoration of the devil at the Sabbath, under the figure
of a he-goat, as confessed by them; the decree of 4th of February 1615,
against Leclerc, who appealed from the sentence of the Parliament of
Orleans, and who was condemned for having attended the Sabbath, and
confessed, as well as two of his accomplices, who died in prison, that
he had adored the devil, renounced his baptism and his faith in God,
danced the witches' dance, and offered up unholy sacrifices; the
decrees of the 6th of May 1616, against a man named Leger, on a similar
accusation; the pardon granted by Charles IX to Trois Echelles, upon
condition of revealing his accomplices, but afterwards revoked for
renewed sorcery on his part; the decree of the Parliament of Paris,
cited by Mornac in 1595; the judgments passed in consequence of the
commission given by Henry IV to the Sieur de Lancre, councillor of the
Parliament of Bourdeaux; of the 20th of March 1619, against Etienne
Audibert; those passed by the Chamber of Nerac, on the 26th of June
1620, against several witches; those passed by the Parliament of
Toulouse in 1577, as cited by Gregory Tolosanus, against four hundred
persons accused of this crime, and who were all marked with the sign of
the devil. Besides all these, we might recall to your Majesty's
recollection the various decrees of the Parliament of Provence,
especially in the case of Gaufredy in 1611; the decrees of the
Parliament of Dijon, and those of the Parliament of Rennes, following
the example of the condemnation of the Marshal de Rays, who was burned
in 1441, for the crime of witchcraft, in presence of the Duke of
Brittany;--all these examples, Sire, prove that the accusation of
witchcraft has always been punished with death by the Parliaments of
your kingdom, and justify the uniformity of their practice.

"These, Sire, are the motives upon which your Parliament of Normandy
has acted in decreeing the punishment of death against the persons
lately brought before it for this crime. If it has happened that, on
any occasion, these parliaments, and the Parliament of Normandy among
the rest, have condemned the guilty to a less punishment than that of
death, it was for the reason that their guilt was not of the deepest
dye; your Majesty, and the Kings your predecessors, having left full
liberty to the various tribunals to whom they delegated the
administration of justice, to decree such punishment as was warranted
by the evidence brought before them.

"After so many authorities, and punishments ordained by human and
divine laws, we humbly supplicate your Majesty to reflect once more
upon the extraordinary results which proceed from the malevolence of
this sort of people--on the deaths from unknown diseases, which are
often the consequences of their menaces--on the loss of the goods and
chattels of your subjects--on the proofs of guilt continually afforded
by the insensibility of the marks upon the accused--on the sudden
transportation of bodies from one place to another--on the sacrifices
and nocturnal assemblies, and other facts, corroborated by the
testimony of ancient and modern authors, and verified by so many
eye-witnesses, composed partly of accomplices, and partly of people who
had no interest in the trials beyond the love of truth, and confirmed,
moreover, by the confessions of the accused parties themselves; and
that, Sire, with so much agreement and conformity between the different
cases, that the most ignorant persons convicted of this crime have
spoken to the same circumstances, and in nearly the same words, as the
most celebrated authors who have written about it, all of which may be
easily proved to your Majesty's satisfaction by the records of various
trials before your parliaments.

"These, Sire, are truths so intimately bound up with the principles of
our religion, that, extraordinary although they be, no person has been
able to this time to call them in question. If some have cited, in
opposition to these truths, the pretended canon of the Council of
Ancyre, and a passage from St. Augustin, in a treatise upon the 'Spirit
and the Soul', it has been without foundation; and it would be easy to
convince your Majesty that neither the one nor the other ought to be
accounted of any authority; and, besides that, the canon, in this
sense, would be contrary to the opinion of all succeeding councils of
the church, Cardinal Baronius, and all learned commentators, agree that
it is not to be found in any old edition. In effect, in those editions
wherein it is found, it is in another language, and is in direct
contradiction to the twenty-third canon of the same council, which
condemns sorcery, according to all preceding constitutions. Even
supposing that this canon was really promulgated by the Council of
Ancyre, we must observe that it was issued in the second century, when
the principal attention of the Church was directed to the destruction
of paganism. For this reason, it condemns that class of women who said
they could pass through the air, and over immense regions, with Diana
and Herodias, and enjoins all preachers to teach the falsehood of such
an opinion, in order to deter people from the worship of these false
divinities; but it does not question the power of the devil over the
human body, which is, in fact, proved by the Holy Gospel of Jesus
Christ himself. And with regard, Sire, to the pretended passage of St.
Augustin, everybody knows that it was not written by him, because the
writer, whoever he was, cites Boetius, who died more than eighty years
after the time of St. Augustin. Besides, there is still more convincing
proof in the fact, that the same father establishes the truth of
witchcraft in all his writings, and more particularly in his 'City of
God;' and in his first volume, question the 25th, wherein he states
that sorcery is a communion between man and the devil, which all good
Christians ought to look upon with horror.

"Taking all these things into consideration, Sire, the officers of your
Parliament hope, from the justice of your Majesty, that you will be
graciously pleased to receive the humble remonstrances they have taken
the liberty to make. They are compelled, for the acquittal of their own
consciences and in discharge of their duty, to make known to your
Majesty, that the decrees they passed against the sorcerers and witches
brought before them, were passed after a mature deliberation on the
part of all the judges present, and that nothing has been done therein
which is not conformable to the universal jurisprudence of the kingdom,
and for the general welfare of your Majesty's subjects, of whom there
is not one who can say that he is secure from the malevolence of such
criminals. We therefore supplicate your Majesty to suffer us to carry
into effect the sentences we passed, and to proceed with the trial of
the other persons accused of the same crime; and that the piety of your
Majesty will not suffer to be introduced during your reign an opinion
contrary to the principles of that holy religion for which you have
always employed so gloriously both your cares and your arms."

Louis, as we have already mentioned, paid no attention to this appeal.
The lives of the old women were spared, and prosecutions for mere
witchcraft, unconnected with other offences, were discontinued
throughout France. In 1680 an act was passed for the punishment, not of
witches, but of pretenders to witchcraft, fortune-tellers,
divineresses, and poisoners.

Thus the light broke in upon Germany, France, England, and Scotland
about the same time, gradually growing clearer and clearer till the
middle of the eighteenth century, when witchcraft was finally reckoned
amongst exploded doctrines, and the belief in it confined to the
uttermost vulgar. Twice, however, did the madness burst forth again as
furious, while it lasted, as ever it had been. The first time in
Sweden, in 1669, and the second in Germany, so late as 1749. Both these
instances merit particular mention. The first is one of the most
extraordinary upon record, and for atrocity and absurdity is
unsurpassed in the annals of any nation.

It having been reported to the King of Sweden that the little village
of Mohra, in the province of Dalecarlia, was troubled exceedingly with
witches, he appointed a commission of clergy and laymen to trace the
rumour to its source, with full powers to punish the guilty. On the
12th of August 1669, the commissioners arrived in the bewitched
village, to the great joy of the credulous inhabitants.  On the
following day the whole population, amounting to three thousand
persons, assembled in the church. A sermon was preached, "declaring the
miserable case of those people that suffered themselves to be deluded
by the devil," and fervent prayer was offered up that God would remove
the scourge from among them.

The whole assembly then adjourned to the rector's house, filling all
the street before it, when the King's commission was read, charging
every person who knew anything of the witchery, to come forward and
declare the truth. A passion of tears seized upon the multitude; men,
women, and children began to weep and sob, and all promised to divulge
what they had heard or knew. In this frame of mind they were dismissed
to their homes. On the following day they were again called together,
when the depositions of several persons were taken publicly before them
all. The result was that seventy persons, including fifteen children,
were taken into custody. Numbers also were arrested in the neighbouring
district of Elfdale. Being put to the torture, they all confessed their
guilt. They said they used to go to a gravel-pit that lay hard by the
cross-way, where they put a vest upon their heads, and danced "round
and round and round about." They then went to the cross-way, and called
three times upon the devil; the first time in a low still voice; the
second, somewhat louder; and the third, very loudly, with these words,
"Antecessor, come, and carry us to Blockula!" This invocation never
failed to bring him to their view.  He generally appeared as a little
old man, in a grey coat, with red and blue stockings, with exceedingly
long garters. He had besides a very high-crowned hat, with bands of
many-coloured linen enfolded about it, and a long red beard, that hung
down to his middle.

The first question he put to them was, whether they would serve him
soul and body? On their answering in the affirmative, he told them to
make ready for the journey to Blockula. It was necessary to procure, in
the first place, "some scrapings of altars and filings of church
clocks." Antecessor then gave them a horn, with some salve in it,
wherewith they anointed themselves. These preparations ended, he
brought beasts for them to ride upon, horses, asses, goats, and
monkeys; and, giving them a saddle, a hammer, and a nail, uttered the
word of command, and away they went. Nothing stopped them. They flew
over churches, high walls, rocks, and mountains, until they came to the
green meadow where Blockula was situated. Upon these occasions they
carried as many children with them as they could; for the devil, they
said, "did plague and whip them if they did not procure him children,
insomuch that they had no peace or quiet for him."

Many parents corroborated a part of this evidence, stating that their
children had repeatedly told them that they had been carried away in
the night to Blockula, where the devil had beaten them black and blue.
They had seen the marks in the morning, but they soon disappeared. One
little girl was examined, who swore positively that she was carried
through the air by the witches, and when at a great height she uttered
the holy name of Jesus. She immediately fell to the ground, and made a
great hole in her side. "The devil, however, picked her up, healed her
side, and carried her away to Blockula." She added, and her mother
confirmed her statement, that she had till that day "an exceeding great
pain in her side." This was a clencher, and the nail of conviction was
driven home to the hearts of the judges.

The place called Blockula, whither they were carried, was a large
house, with a gate to it, "in a delicate meadow, whereof they could see
no end." There was a very long table in it, at which the witches sat
down; and in other rooms "there were very lovely and delicate beds for
them to sleep upon."

After a number of ceremonies had been performed, by which they bound
themselves, body and soul, to the service of Antecessor, they sat down
to a feast, composed of broth, made of colworts and bacon, oatmeal,
bread and butter, milk and cheese. The devil always took the chair, and
sometimes played to them on the harp or the fiddle, while they were
eating. After dinner they danced in a ring, sometimes naked, and
sometimes in their clothes, cursing and swearing all the time.  Some of
the women added particulars too horrible and too obscene for repetition.

Once the devil pretended to be dead, that he might see whether his
people regretted him. They instantly set up a loud wail, and wept three
tears each for him, at which he was so pleased, that he jumped up among
them, and hugged in his arms those who had been most obstreperous in
their sorrow.

Such were the principal details given by the children, and corroborated
by the confessions of the full-grown witches. Anything more absurd was
never before stated in a court of justice. Many of the accused
contradicted themselves most palpably; but the commissioners gave no
heed to discrepancies. One of them, the parson of the district, stated,
in the course of the inquiry, that on a particular night, which he
mentioned, he had been afflicted with a headach so agonizing, that he
could not account for it otherwise than by supposing he was bewitched.
In fact, he thought a score of witches must have been dancing on the
crown of his head. This announcement excited great horror among the
pious dames of the auditory, who loudly expressed their wonder that the
devil should have power to hurt so good a man. One poor witch, who lay
in the very jaws of death, confessed that she knew too well the cause
of the minister's headach.  The devil had sent her with a sledge hammer
and a large nail, to drive into the good man's skull. She had hammered
at it for some time, but the skull was so enormously thick, that she
made no impression upon it. Every hand was held up in astonishment. The
pious minister blessed God that his skull was so solid, and he became
renowned for his thick head all the days of his life. Whether the witch
intended a joke does not appear, but she was looked upon as a criminal
more than usually atrocious. Seventy persons were condemned to death on
these so awful yet so ridiculous confessions. Twenty-three of them were
burned together, in one fire, in the village of Mohra, in the presence
of thousands of delighted spectators. On the following day fifteen
children were murdered in the same manner; offered up in sacrifice to
the bloody Moloch of superstition. The remaining thirty-two were
executed at the neighbouring town of Fahluna. Besides these, fifty-six
children were found guilty of witchcraft in a minor degree, and
sentenced to various punishments, such as running the gauntlet,
imprisonment, and public whipping once a week for a twelvemonth.

Long after the occurrence of this case, it was cited as one of the most
convincing proofs upon record of the prevalence of witchcraft.  When
men wish to construct or support a theory, how they torture facts into
their service! The lying whimsies of a few sick children, encouraged by
foolish parents, and drawn out by superstitious neighbours, were
sufficient to set a country in a flame. If, instead of commissioners as
deeply sunk in the slough of ignorance as the people they were sent
amongst, there had been deputed a few men firm in courage and clear in
understanding, how different would have been the result! Some of the
poor children who were burned would have been sent to an infirmary;
others would have been well flogged; the credulity of the parents would
have been laughed at, and the lives of seventy persons spared. The
belief in witchcraft remains in Sweden to this day; but, happily, the
annals of that country present no more such instances of lamentable
aberration of intellect as the one just cited.

In New England, about the same time, the colonists were scared by
similar stories of the antics of the devil. All at once a fear seized
upon the multitude, and supposed criminals were arrested day after day
in such numbers, that the prisons were found too small to contain them.
A girl, named Goodwin, the daughter of a mason, who was hypochondriac
and subject to fits, imagined that an old Irishwoman, named Glover, had
bewitched her. Her two brothers, in whose constitutions there was
apparently a predisposition to similar fits, went off in the same way,
crying out that the devil and Dame Glover were tormenting them. At
times their joints were so stiff that they could not be moved, while at
others, said the neighbours, they were so flexible, that the bones
appeared softened into sinews. The supposed witch was seized, and, as
she could not repeat the Lord's Prayer without making a mistake in it,
she was condemned and executed.

But the popular excitement was not allayed. One victim was not enough:
the people waited agape for new disclosures. Suddenly two hysteric
girls in another family fell into fits daily, and the cry of witchcraft
resounded from one end of the colony to the other. The feeling of
suffocation in the throat, so common in cases of hysteria, was said by
the patients to be caused by the devil himself, who had stuck balls in
the windpipe to choke them. They felt the pricking of thorns in every
part of the body, and one of them vomited needles. The case of these
girls, who were the daughter and niece of a Mr. Parris, the minister of
a Calvinist chapel, excited so much attention, that all the weak women
in the colony began to fancy themselves similarly afflicted. The more
they brooded on it, the more convinced they became. The contagion of
this mental disease was as great as if it had been a pestilence. One
after the other the women fainted away, asserting, on their recovery,
that they had seen the spectres of witches. Where there were three or
four girls in a family, they so worked, each upon the diseased
imagination of the other, that they fell into fits five or six times in
a day. Some related that the devil himself appeared to them, bearing in
his hand a parchment roll, and promising that if they would sign an
agreement transferring to him their immortal souls, they should be
immediately relieved from fits and all the ills of the flesh. Others
asserted that they saw witches only, who made them similar promises,
threatening that they should never be free from aches and pains till
they had agreed to become the devil's. When they refused, the witches
pinched, or bit, or pricked them with long pins and needles. More than
two hundred persons named by these mischievous visionaries, were thrown
into prison. They were of all ages and conditions of life, and many of
them of exemplary character. No less than nineteen were condemned and
executed before reason returned to the minds of the colonists. The most
horrible part of this lamentable history is, that among the victims
there was a little child only five years old. Some women swore that
they had seen it repeatedly in company with the devil, and that it had
bitten them often with its little teeth, for refusing to sign a compact
with the Evil One. It can hardly increase our feelings of disgust and
abhorrence when we learn that this insane community actually tried and
executed a dog for the same offence!

One man, named Cory, stoutly refused to plead to the preposterous
indictment against him. As was the practice in such eases, he was
pressed to death. It is told of the Sheriff of New England, who
superintended the execution, that when this unhappy man thrust out his
tongue in his mortal agony, he seized hold of a cane, and crammed it
back again into the mouth. If ever there were a fiend in human form, it
was this Sheriff; a man, who, if the truth were known, perhaps plumed
himself upon his piety--thought he was doing God good service, and

  "Hoped to merit heaven by making earth a hell!"

Arguing still in the firm belief of witchcraft, the bereaved people
began to inquire, when they saw their dearest friends snatched away
from them by these wide-spreading accusations, whether the whole
proceedings were not carried on by the agency of the devil. Might not
the great enemy have put false testimony into the mouths of the
witnesses, or might not the witnesses be witches themselves? Every man
who was in danger of losing his wife, his child, or his sister,
embraced this doctrine with avidity. The revulsion was as sudden as the
first frenzy. All at once, the colonists were convinced of their error.
The judges put a stop to the prosecutions, even of those who had
confessed their guilt. The latter were no sooner at liberty than they
retracted all they had said, and the greater number hardly remembered
the avowals which agony had extorted from them. Eight persons, who had
been tried and condemned, were set free; and gradually girls ceased to
have fits and to talk of the persecutions of the devil. The judge who
had condemned the first criminal executed on this charge, was so
smitten with sorrow and humiliation at his folly, that he set apart the
anniversary of that day as one of solemn penitence and fasting. He
still clung to the belief in witchcraft; no new light had broken in
upon him on that subject, but, happily for the community, the delusion
had taken a merciful turn. The whole colony shared the feeling; the
jurors on the different trials openly expressed their penitence in the
churches; and those who had suffered were regarded as the victims, and
not the accomplices of Satan.

It is related that the Indian tribes in New England were sorely puzzled
at the infatuation of the settlers, and thought them either a race
inferior to, or more sinful than the French colonists in the vicinity,
amongst whom, as they remarked, "the Great Spirit sent no witches."

Returning again to the continent of Europe, we find that, after the
year 1680, men became still wiser upon this subject. For twenty years
the populace were left to their belief, but governments in general gave
it no aliment in the shape of executions. The edict of Louis XIV. gave
a blow to the superstition, from which it never recovered. The last
execution in the Protestant cantons of Switzerland was at Geneva, in
1652. The various potentates of Germany, although they could not stay
the trials, invariably commuted the sentence into imprisonment, in all
cases where the pretended witch was accused of pure witchcraft,
unconnected with any other crime. In the year 1701, Thomasius, the
learned professor at the University of Halle, delivered his inaugural
thesis, "De Crimine Magiae," which struck another blow at the falling
monster of popular error. But a faith so strong as that in witchcraft
was not to be eradicated at once: the arguments of learned men did not
penetrate to the villages and hamlets, but still they achieved great
things; they rendered the belief an unworking faith, and prevented the
supply of victims, on which for so many ages it had battened and grown

Once more the delusion broke out; like a wild beast wounded to the
death, it collected all its remaining energies for the final
convulsion, which was to show how mighty it had once been. Germany,
which had nursed the frightful error in its cradle, tended it on its
death-bed, and Wurzburg, the scene of so many murders on the same
pretext, was destined to be the scene of the last. That it might lose
no portion of its bad renown, the last murder was as atrocious as the
first. This case offers a great resemblance to that of the witches of
Mohra and New England, except in the number of its victims. It happened
so late as the year 1749, to the astonishment and disgust of the rest
of Europe.

A number of young women in a convent at Wurzburg fancied themselves
bewitched; they felt, like all hysteric subjects, a sense of
suffocation in the throat. They went into fits repeatedly; and one of
them, who had swallowed needles, evacuated them at abscesses, which
formed in different parts of the body. The cry of sorcery was raised,
and a young woman, named Maria Renata Sanger, was arrested on the
charge of having leagued with the devil, to bewitch five of the young
ladies. It was sworn on the trial that Maria had been frequently seen
to clamber over the convent walls in the shape of a pig--that,
proceeding to the cellar, she used to drink the best wine till she was
intoxicated; and then start suddenly up in her own form. Other girls
asserted that she used to prowl about the roof like a cat, and often
penetrate into their chamber, and frighten them by her dreadful
howlings. It was also said that she had been seen in the shape of a
hare, milking the cows dry in the meadows belonging to the convent;
that she used to perform as an actress on the boards of Drury Lane
theatre in London, and, on the very same night, return upon a
broomstick to Wurzburg, and afflict the young ladies with pains in all
their limbs. Upon this evidence she was condemned, and burned alive in
the market-place of Wurzburg.

Here ends this frightful catalogue of murder and superstition.  Since
that day, the belief in witchcraft has fled from the populous abodes of
men, and taken refuge in remote villages and districts too wild,
rugged, and inhospitable to afford a resting-place for the foot of
civilization. Rude fishers and uneducated labourers still attribute
every phenomenon of nature which they cannot account for, to the devil
and witches. Catalepsy, that wondrous disease, is still thought by
ignorant gossips to be the work of Satan; and hypochondriacs,
uninformed by science of the nature of their malady, devoutly believe
in the reality of their visions. The reader would hardly credit the
extent of the delusion upon this subject in the very heart of England
at this day. Many an old woman leads a life of misery from the
unfeeling insults of her neighbours, who raise the scornful finger and
hooting voice at her, because in her decrepitude she is ugly, spiteful,
perhaps insane, and realizes in her personal appearance the description
preserved by tradition of the witches of yore. Even in the
neighbourhood of great towns the taint remains of this once
widely-spread contagion. If no victims fall beneath it, the
enlightenment of the law is all that prevents a recurrence of scenes as
horrid as those of the seventeeth century. Hundreds upon hundreds of
witnesses could be found to swear to absurdities as great as those
asserted by the infamous Matthew Hopkins.

In the Annual Register for 1760, an instance of the belief in
witchcraft is related, which shows how superstition lingers. A dispute
arose in the little village of Glen, in Leicestershire, between two old
women, each of whom vehemently accused the other of witchcraft.  The
quarrel at last ran so high that a challenge ensued, and they both
agreed to be tried by the ordeal of swimming. They accordingly stripped
to their shifts--procured some men, who tied their thumbs and great
toes together, cross-wise, and then, with a cart-rope about their
middle, suffered themselves to be thrown into a pool of water.  One of
them sank immediately, but the other continued struggling a short time
upon the surface of the water, which the mob deeming an infallible sign
of her guilt, pulled her out, and insisted that she should immediately
impeach all her accomplices in the craft. She accordingly told them
that, in the neighbouring village of Burton, there were several old
women as "much witches as she was." Happily for her, this negative
information was deemed sufficient, and a student in astrology, or
"white-witch," coming up at the time, the mob, by his direction,
proceeded forthwith to Burton in search of all the delinquents. After a
little consultation on their arrival, they went to the old woman's
house on whom they had fixed the strongest suspicion. The poor old
creature on their approach locked the outer door, and from the window
of an upstairs room asked what they wanted.  They informed her that she
was charged with being guilty of witchcraft, and that they were come to
duck her; remonstrating with her at the same time upon the necessity of
submission to the ordeal, that, if she were innocent, all the world
might know it. Upon her persisting in a positive refusal to come down,
they broke open the door and carried her out by force, to a deep
gravel-pit full of water.  They tied her thumbs and toes together and
threw her into the water, where they kept her for several minutes,
drawing her out and in two or three times by the rope round her middle.
Not being able to satisfy themselves whether she were a witch or no,
they at last let her go, or, more properly speaking, they left her on
the bank to walk home by herself, if she ever recovered. Next day, they
tried the same experiment upon another woman, and afterwards upon a
third; but, fortunately, neither of the victims lost her life from this
brutality.  Many of the ringleaders in the outrage were apprehended
during the week, and tried before the justices at quarter-sessions. Two
of them were sentenced to stand in the pillory and to be imprisoned for
a month; and as many as twenty more were fined in small sums for the
assault, and bound over to keep the peace for a twelvemonth.

"So late as the year 1785," says Arnot, in his collection and
abridgment of Criminal Trials in Scotland, "it was the custom among the
sect of Seceders to read from the pulpit an annual confession of sins,
national and personal; amongst the former of which was particularly
mentioned the 'Repeal by Parliament of the penal statute against
witches, contrary to the express laws of God.'"

Many houses are still to be found in England with the horse-shoe (the
grand preservative against witchcraft) nailed against the threshold. If
any over-wise philosopher should attempt to remove them, the chances
are that he would have more broken bones than thanks for his
interference. Let any man walk into Cross-street, Hatton-Garden, and
from thence into Bleeding-heart Yard, and learn the tales still told
and believed of one house in that neighbourhood, and he will ask
himself in astonishment if such things can be in the nineteenth
century. The witchcraft of Lady Hatton, the wife of the famous Sir
Christopher, so renowned for his elegant dancing in the days of
Elizabeth, is as devoutly believed as the Gospels. The room is to be
seen where the devil seized her after the expiration of the contract he
had made with her, and bore her away bodily to the pit of Tophet: the
pump against which he dashed her is still pointed out, and the spot
where her heart was found, after he had torn it out of her bosom with
his iron claws, has received the name of Bleeding-heart Yard, in
confirmation of the story. Whether the horse-shoe still remains upon
the door of the haunted house, to keep away other witches, is
uncertain; but there it was, twelve or thirteen years ago. The writer
resided at that time in the house alluded to, and well remembers that
more than one old woman begged for admittance repeatedly, to satisfy
themselves that it was in its proper place. One poor creature,
apparently insane, and clothed in rags, came to the door with a
tremendous double-knock, as loud as that of a fashionable footman, and
walked straight along the passage to the horse-shoe. Great was the
wonderment of the inmates, especially when the woman spat upon the
horse-shoe, and expressed her sorrow that she could do no harm while it
remained there. After spitting upon, and kicking it again and again,
she coolly turned round and left the house, without saying a word to
anybody. This poor creature perhaps intended a joke, but the
probability is that she imagined herself a witch. In Saffron Hill,
where she resided, her ignorant neighbours gave her that character, and
looked upon her with no little fear and aversion.

More than one example of the popular belief in witchcraft occurred in
the neighbourhood of Hastings so lately as the year 1830. An aged
woman, who resided in the Rope-walk of that town, was so repulsive in
her appearance, that she was invariably accused of being a witch by all
the ignorant people who knew her. She was bent completely double; and
though very old, her eye was unusually bright and malignant. She wore a
red cloak, and supported herself on a crutch: she was, to all outward
appearance, the very beau ideal of a witch. So dear is power to the
human heart, that this old woman actually encouraged the popular
superstition: she took no pains to remove the ill impression, but
seemed to delight that she, old and miserable as she was, could keep in
awe so many happier and stronger fellow-creatures. Timid girls crouched
with fear when they met her, and many would go a mile out of their way
to avoid her. Like the witches of the olden time, she was not sparing
of her curses against those who offended her. The child of a woman who
resided within two doors of her, was afflicted with lameness, and the
mother constantly asserted that the old woman had bewitched her. All
the neighbours credited the tale. It was believed, too, that she could
assume the form of a cat. Many a harmless puss has been hunted almost
to the death by mobs of men and boys, upon the supposition that the
animal would start up before them in the true shape of Mother * * * * *.

In the same town there resided a fisherman,--who is, probably, still
alive, and whose name, for that reason, we forbear to mention,--who was
the object of unceasing persecution, because it was said that he had
sold himself to the devil. It was currently reported that he could
creep through a keyhole, and that he had made a witch of his daughter,
in order that he might have the more power over his fellows.  It was
also believed that he could sit on the points of pins and needles, and
feel no pain. His brother-fishermen put him to this test whenever they
had an opportunity. In the alehouses which he frequented, they often
placed long needles in the cushions of the chairs, in such a manner
that he could not fail to pierce himself when he sat down. The result
of these experiments tended to confirm their faith in his supernatural
powers. It was asserted that he never flinched. Such was the popular
feeling in the fashionable town of Hastings only seven years ago; very
probably it is the same now.

In the north of England, the superstition lingers to an almost
inconceivable extent. Lancashire abounds with witch-doctors, a set of
quacks, who pretend to cure diseases inflicted by the devil. The
practices of these worthies may be judged of by the following case,
reported in the "Hertford Reformer," of the 23rd of June, 1838. The
witch-doctor alluded to is better known by the name of the cunning man,
and has a large practice in the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham.
According to the writer in "The Reformer," the dupe, whose name is not
mentioned, had been for about two years afflicted with a painful
abscess, and had been prescribed for without relief by more than one
medical gentleman. He was urged by some of his friends, not only in his
own village, but in neighbouring ones, to consult the witch-doctor, as
they were convinced he was under some evil influence.  He agreed, and
sent his wife to the cunning man, who lived in New Saint Swithin's, in
Lincoln. She was informed by this ignorant impostor that her husband's
disorder was an infliction of the devil, occasioned by his next-door
neighbours, who had made use of certain charms for that purpose. From
the description he gave of the process, it appears to be the same as
that employed by Dr. Fian and Gellie Duncan, to work woe upon King
James. He stated that the neighbours, instigated by a witch, whom he
pointed out, took some wax, and moulded it before the fire into the
form of her husband, as near as they could represent him; they then
pierced the image with pins on all sides--repeated the Lord's Prayer
backwards, and offered prayers to the devil that he would fix his
stings into the person whom that figure represented, in like manner as
they pierced it with pins. To counteract the effects of this diabolical
process, the witch-doctor prescribed a certain medicine, and a charm to
be worn next the body, on that part where the disease principally lay.
The patient was to repeat the 109th and 119th Psalms every day, or the
cure would not be effectual. The fee which he claimed for this advice
was a guinea.

So efficacious is faith in the cure of any malady, that the patient
actually felt much better after a three weeks' course of this
prescription. The notable charm which the quack had given was
afterwards opened, and found to be a piece of parchment, covered with
some cabalistic characters and signs of the planets.

The next-door neighbours were in great alarm that the witch-doctor
would, on the solicitation of the recovering patient, employ some means
to punish them for their pretended witchcraft. To escape the
infliction, they feed another cunning man, in Nottinghamshire, who told
them of a similar charm, which would preserve them from all the malice
of their enemies. The writer concludes by saying that, "the doctor, not
long after he had been thus consulted, wrote to say that he had
discovered that his patient was not afflicted by Satan, as he had
imagined, but by God, and would continue, more or less, in the same
state till his life's end."

An impostor carried on a similar trade in the neighbourhood of
Tunbridge Wells, about the year 1830. He had been in practice for
several years, and charged enormous fees for his advice. This fellow
pretended to be the seventh son of a seventh son, and to be endowed in
consequence with miraculous powers for the cure of all diseases, but
especially of those resulting from witchcraft. It was not only the poor
who employed him, but ladies who rode in their carriages. He was often
sent for from a distance of sixty or seventy miles by these people, who
paid all his expenses to and fro, besides rewarding him handsomely. He
was about eighty years of age, and his extremely venerable appearance
aided his imposition in no slight degree. His name was Okey, or Oakley.

In France, the superstition at this day is even more prevalent than it
is in England. Garinet, in his history of Magic and Sorcery in that
country, cites upwards of twenty instances which occurred between the
years 1805 and 1818. In the latter year, no less than three tribunals
were occupied with trials originating in this humiliating belief: we
shall cite only one of them. Julian Desbourdes, aged fifty-three, a
mason, and inhabitant of the village of Thilouze, near Bordeaux, was
taken suddenly ill, in the month of January 1818. As he did not know
how to account for his malady, he suspected at last that he was
bewitched. He communicated this suspicion to his son-in-law, Bridier,
and they both went to consult a sort of idiot, named Baudouin, who
passed for a conjuror, or white-witch. This man told them that
Desbourdes was certainly bewitched, and offered to accompany them to
the house of an old man, named Renard, who, he said, was undoubtedly
the criminal. On the night of the 23rd of January all three proceeded
stealthily to the dwelling of Renard, and accused him of afflicting
persons with diseases, by the aid of the devil.  Desbourdes fell on his
knees, and earnestly entreated to be restored to his former health,
promising that he would take no measures against him for the evil he
had done. The old man denied in the strongest terms that he was a
wizard; and when Desbourdes still pressed him to remove the spell from
him, he said he knew nothing about the spell, and refused to remove it.
The idiot Baudouin, the white-witch, now interfered, and told his
companions that no relief for the malady could ever be procured until
the old man confessed his guilt. To force him to confession they
lighted some sticks of sulphur, which they had brought with them for
the purpose, and placed them under the old man's nose. In a few
moments, he fell down suffocated and apparently lifeless. They were all
greatly alarmed; and thinking that they had killed the man, they
carried him out and threw him into a neighbouring pond, hoping to make
it appear that he had fallen in accidentally. The pond, however, was
not very deep, and the coolness of the water reviving the old man, he
opened his eyes and sat up.  Desbourdes and Bridier, who were still
waiting on the bank, were now more alarmed than before, lest he should
recover and inform against them. They, therefore, waded into the
pond--seized their victim by the hair of the head--beat him severely,
and then held him under water till he was drowned.

They were all three apprehended on the charge of murder a few days
afterwards. Desbourdes and Bridier were found guilty of aggravated
manslaughter only, and sentenced to be burnt on the back, and to work
in the galleys for life. The white-witch Baudouin was acquitted, on the
ground of insanity.

M. Garinet further informs us that France, at the time he wrote (1818),
was overrun by a race of fellows, who made a trade of casting out
devils and finding out witches. He adds, also, that many of the priests
in the rural districts encouraged the superstition of their
parishioners, by resorting frequently to exorcisms, whenever any
foolish persons took it into their heads that a spell had been thrown
over them. He recommended, as a remedy for the evil, that all these
exorcists, whether lay or clerical, should be sent to the galleys, and
that the number of witches would then very sensibly diminish.

Many other instances of this lingering belief might be cited both in
France and Great Britain, and indeed in every other country in Europe.
So deeply rooted are some errors that ages cannot remove them.  The
poisonous tree that once overshadowed the land, may be cut down by the
sturdy efforts of sages and philosophers--the sun may shine clearly
upon spots where venemous things once nestled in security and shade;
but still the entangled roots are stretched beneath the surface, and
may be found by those who dig. Another king, like James I, might make
them vegetate again; and, more mischievous still, another pope, like
Innocent VIII, might raise the decaying roots to strength and verdure.
Still, it is consoling to think, that the delirium has passed away;
that the raging madness has given place to a milder folly; and that we
may now count by units the votaries of a superstition which, in former
ages, numbered its victims by tens of thousands, and its votaries by


  Pescara.--The like was never read of.
  Stephano.--In my judgment,
               To all that shall but hear it, 't will appear
               A most impossible fable.
  Pescara.--Troth, I'll tell you,
               And briefly as I can, by what degrees
               They fell into this madness.

  Duke of Milan.

The atrocious system of poisoning, by poisons so slow in their
operation, as to make the victim appear, to ordinary observers, as if
dying from a gradual decay of nature, has been practised in all ages.
Those who are curious in the matter may refer to Beckmann on Secret
Poisons, in his "History of Inventions," in which he has collected
several instances of it from the Greek and Roman writers. Early in the
sixteenth century the crime seems to have gradually increased, till, in
the seventeenth, it spread over Europe like a pestilence. It was often
exercised by pretended witches and sorcerers, and finally became a
branch of education amongst all who laid any claim to magical and
supernatural arts. In the twenty-first year of Henry VIII. an act was
passed, rendering it high-treason: those found guilty of it, were to be
boiled to death.

One of the first in point of date, and hardly second to any in point of
atrocity, is the murder by this means of Sir Thomas Overbury, which
disgraced the court of James I, in the year 1613. A slight sketch of it
will be a fitting introduction to the history of the poisoning mania,
which was so prevalent in France and Italy fifty years later.

Robert Kerr, a Scottish youth, was early taken notice of by James I,
and loaded with honours, for no other reason that the world could ever
discover than the beauty of his person. James, even in his own day, was
suspected of being addicted to the most abominable of all offences, and
the more we examine his history now, the stronger the suspicion
becomes. However that may be, the handsome Kerr, lending his smooth
cheek, even in public, to the disgusting kisses of his royal master,
rose rapidly in favour. In the year 1613, he was made Lord High
Treasurer of Scotland, and created an English peer, by the style and
title of Viscount Rochester. Still further honours were in store for

In this rapid promotion he had not been without a friend. Sir Thomas
Overbury, the King's secretary-who appears, from some threats in his
own letters, to have been no better than a pander to the vices of the
King, and privy to his dangerous secrets--exerted all his backstair
influence to forward the promotion of Kerr, by whom he was, doubtless,
repaid in some way or other. Overbury did not confine his friendship to
this, if friendship ever could exist between two such men, but acted
the part of an entremetteur, and assisted Rochester to carry on an
adulterous intrigue with the Lady Frances Howard, the wife of the Earl
of Essex. This woman was a person of violent passions, and lost to all
sense of shame. Her husband was in her way, and to be freed from him,
she instituted proceedings for a divorce, on grounds which a woman of
any modesty or delicacy of feeling would die rather than avow. Her
scandalous suit was successful, and was no sooner decided than
preparations, on a scale of the greatest magnificence, were made for
her marriage with Lord Rochester.

Sir Thomas Overbury, who had willingly assisted his patron to intrigue
with the Countess of Essex, seems to have imagined that his marriage
with so vile a woman might retard his advancement; he accordingly
employed all his influence to dissuade him from it. But Rochester was
bent on the match, and his passions were as violent as those of the
Countess. On one occasion, when Overbury and the Viscount were walking
in the gallery of Whitehall, Overbury was overheard to say, "Well, my
Lord, if you do marry that base woman, you will utterly ruin your
honour and yourself. You shall never do it with my advice or consent;
and, if you do, you had best look to stand fast." Rochester flung from
him in a rage, exclaiming with an oath, "I will be even with you for
this." These words were the death-warrant of the unfortunate Overbury.
He had mortally wounded the pride of Rochester in insinuating that by
his (Overbury's) means he might be lowered in the King's favour; and he
had endeavoured to curb the burning passions of a heartless, dissolute,
and reckless man.

Overbury's imprudent remonstrances were reported to the Countess; and
from that moment, she also vowed the most deadly vengeance against him.
With a fiendish hypocrisy, however, they both concealed their
intentions, and Overbury, at the solicitation of Rochester, was
appointed ambassador to the court of Russia. This apparent favour was
but the first step in a deep and deadly plot. Rochester, pretending to
be warmly attached to the interests of Overbury, advised him to refuse
the embassy, which, he said, was but a trick to get him out of the way.
He promised, at the same time, to stand between him and any evil
consequences which might result from his refusal. Overbury fell into
the snare, and declined the embassy. James, offended, immediately
ordered his committal to the Tower.

He was now in safe custody, and his enemies had opportunity to commence
the work of vengeance. The first thing Rochester did was to procure, by
his influence at court, the dismissal of the Lieutenant of the Tower,
and the appointment of Sir Jervis Elwes, one of his creatures, to the
vacant post. This man was but one instrument, and another being
necessary, was found in Richard Weston, a fellow who had formerly been
shopman to a druggist. He was installed in the office of under-keeper,
and as such had the direct custody of Overbury. So far, all was
favourable to the designs of the conspirators.

In the mean time, the insidious Rochester wrote the most friendly
letters to Overbury, requesting him to bear his ill-fortune patiently,
and promising that his imprisonment should not be of long duration; for
that his friends were exerting themselves to soften the King's
displeasure. Still pretending the extreme of sympathy for him, he
followed up the letters by presents of pastry and other delicacies,
which could not be procured in the Tower. These articles were all
poisoned. Occasionally, presents of a similar description were sent to
Sir Jervis Elwes, with the understanding that these articles were not
poisoned, when they were unaccompanied by letters: of these the
unfortunate prisoner never tasted. A woman, named Turner, who had
formerly kept a house of ill fame, and who had more than once lent it
to further the guilty intercourse of Rochester and Lady Essex, was the
agent employed to procure the poisons. They were prepared by Dr.
Forman, a pretended fortune-teller of Lambeth, assisted by an
apothecary named Franklin. Both these persons knew for what purposes
the poisons were needed, and employed their skill in mixing them in the
pastry and other edibles, in such small quantities as gradually to wear
out the constitution of their victim. Mrs. Turner regularly furnished
the poisoned articles to the under-keeper, who placed them before
Overbury. Not only his food, but his drink was poisoned.  Arsenic was
mixed with the salt he ate, and cantharides with the pepper. All this
time, his health declined sensibly. Every day he grew weaker and
weaker; and with a sickly appetite, craved for sweets and jellies.
Rochester continued to condole with him, and anticipated all his wants
in this respect, sending him abundance of pastry, and occasionally
partridges and other game, and young pigs. With the sauce for the game,
Mrs. Turner mixed a quantity of cantharides, and poisoned the pork with
lunar-caustic. As stated on the trial, Overbury took in this manner
poison enough to have poisoned twenty men; but his constitution was
strong, and he still lingered. Franklin, the apothecary, confessed that
he prepared with Dr. Forman seven different sorts of poisons; viz.
aquafortis, arsenic, mercury, powder of diamonds, lunar-caustic, great
spiders, and cantharides. Overbury held out so long that Rochester
became impatient, and in a letter to Lady Essex, expressed his wonder
that things were not sooner despatched.  Orders were immediately sent
by Lady Essex to the keeper to finish with the victim at once. Overbury
had not been all this time without suspicion of treachery, although he
appears to have had no idea of poison. He merely suspected that it was
intended to confine him for life, and to set the King still more
bitterly against him. In one of his letters, he threatened Rochester
that, unless he were speedily liberated, he would expose his villany to
the world. He says, "You and I, ere it be long, will come to a public
trial of another nature." * * * "Drive me not to extremities, lest I
should say something that both you and I should repent." * * * "Whether
I live or die, your shame shall never die, but ever remain to the
world, to make you the most odious man living." * * * "I wonder much
you should neglect him to whom such secrets of all kinds have passed."
* * * "Be these the fruits of common secrets, common dangers?"

All these remonstrances, and hints as to the dangerous secrets in his
keeping, were ill-calculated to serve him with a man so reckless as
Lord Rochester: they were more likely to cause him to be sacrificed
than to be saved. Rochester appears to have acted as if he thought so.
He doubtless employed the murderer's reasoning that "dead men tell no
tales," when, after receiving letters of this description, he
complained to his paramour of the delay. Weston was spurred on to
consummate the atrocity; and the patience of all parties being
exhausted, a dose of corrosive sublimate was administered to him, in
October 1613, which put an end to his sufferings, after he had been for
six months in their hands. On the very day of his death, and before his
body was cold, he was wrapped up carelessly in a sheet, and buried
without any funeral ceremony in a pit within the precincts of the Tower.

Sir Anthony Weldon, in his "Court and Character of James I," gives a
somewhat different account of the closing scene of this tragedy. He
says, "Franklin and Weston came into Overbury's chamber, and found him
in infinite torment, with contention between the strength of nature and
the working of the poison; and it being very like that nature had
gotten the better in this contention, by the thrusting out of boils,
blotches, and blains, they, fearing it might come to light by the
judgment of physicians, the foul play that had been offered him,
consented to stifle him with the bedclothes, which accordingly was
performed; and so ended his miserable life, with the assurance of the
conspirators that he died by the poison; none thinking otherwise than
these two murderers."

The sudden death--the indecent haste of the funeral, and the
non-holding of an inquest upon the body, strengthened the suspicions
that were afloat. Rumour, instead of whispering, began to speak out;
and the relatives of the deceased openly expressed their belief that
their kinsman had been murdered. But Rochester was still all powerful
at court, and no one dared to utter a word to his discredit. Shortly
afterwards, his marriage with the Countess of Essex was celebrated with
the utmost splendour, the King himself being present at the ceremony.

It would seem that Overbury's knowledge of James's character was deeper
than Rochester had given him credit for, and that he had been a true
prophet when he predicted that his marriage would eventually estrange
James from his minion. At this time, however, Rochester stood higher
than ever in the royal favour; but it did not last long--conscience,
that busy monitor, was at work. The tongue of rumour was never still;
and Rochester, who had long been a guilty, became at last a wretched
man. His cheeks lost their colour--his eyes grew dim; and he became
moody, careless, and melancholy. The King seeing him thus, took at
length no pleasure in his society, and began to look about for another
favourite. George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was the man to his
mind; quick-witted, handsome, and unscrupulous. The two latter
qualities alone were sufficient to recommend him to James I. In
proportion as the influence of Rochester declined, that of Buckingham
increased. A falling favourite has no friends; and Rumour wagged her
tongue against Rochester louder and more pertinaciously than ever. A
new favourite, too, generally endeavours to hasten by a kick the fall
of the old one; and Buckingham, anxious to work the complete ruin of
his forerunner in the King's good graces, encouraged the relatives of
Sir Thomas Overbury to prosecute their inquiries into the strange death
of their kinsman.

James was rigorous enough in the punishment of offences when he was not
himself involved. He piqued himself, moreover, on his dexterity in
unravelling mysteries. The affair of Sir Thomas Overbury found him
congenial occupation. He set to work by ordering the arrest of Sir
Jervis Elwes. James, at this early stage of the proceedings, does not
seem to have been aware that Rochester was so deeply implicated. Struck
with horror at the atrocious system of slow poisoning, the King sent
for all the Judges. According to Sir Anthony Weldon, he knelt down in
the midst of them, and said, "My Lords the Judges, it is lately come to
my hearing that you have now in examination a business of poisoning.
Lord! in what a miserable condition shall this kingdom be (the only
famous nation for hospitality in the world) if our tables should become
such a snare, as that none could eat without danger of life, and that
Italian custom should be introduced among us! Therefore, my Lords, I
charge you, as you will answer it at that great and dreadful day of
judgment, that you examine it strictly, without layout, affection, or
partiality. And if you shall spare any guilty of this crime, God's
curse light on you and your posterity! and if I spare any that are
guilty, God's curse light on me and my posterity for ever!"

The imprecation fell but too surely upon the devoted house of Stuart.
The solemn oath was broken, and God's curse did light upon him and his

The next person arrested after Sir Jervis Elwes, was Weston, the
under-keeper; then Franklin and Mrs. Turner; and, lastly, the Earl and
Countess of Somerset, to which dignity Rochester had been advanced
since the death of Overbury.

Weston was first brought to trial. Public curiosity was on the stretch.
Nothing else was talked of, and the court on the day of trial was
crowded to suffocation. The "State Trials" report, that Lord Chief
Justice Coke "laid open to the jury the baseness and cowardliness of
poisoners, who attempt that secretly against which there is no means of
preservation or defence for a man's life; and how rare it was to hear
of any poisoning in England, so detestable it was to our nation.  But
the devil had taught divers to be cunning in it, so that they can
poison in what distance of space they please, by consuming the nativum
calidum, or humidum radicale, in one month, two or three, or more, as
they list, which they four manner of ways do execute; viz. haustu,
gustu, odore, and contactu."

When the indictment was read over, Weston made no other reply than,
"Lord have mercy upon me! Lord have mercy upon me!" On being asked how
he would be tried, he refused to throw himself upon a jury of his
country, and declared, that he would be tried by God alone. In this he
persisted for some time. The fear of the dreadful punishment for
contumacy induced him, at length, to plead "Not guilty," and take his
trial in due course of law.

[The punishment for the contumacious was expressed by the words onere,
frigore, et fame. By the first was meant that the culprit should be
extended on his back on the ground, and weights placed over his body,
gradually increased, until he expired. Sometimes the punishment was not
extended to this length, and the victim, being allowed to recover,
underwent the second portion, the frigore, which consisted in his
standing naked in the open air, for a certain space, in the sight of
all the people. The third, or fame, was more dreadful, the statute
saying, "That he was to be preserved with the coarsest bread that could
be got, and water out of the next sink or puddle, to the place of
execution; and that day he had water he should have no bread, and that
day he had bread, he should have no water;" and in this torment he was
to linger as long as nature would hold out.]

All the circumstances against him were fully proved, and he was found
guilty and executed at Tyburn. Mrs. Turner, Franklin, and Sir Jervis
Elwes were also brought to trial, found guilty, and executed between
the 19th of October and the 4th of December 1615; but the grand trial
of the Earl and Countess of Somerset did not take place till the month
of May following.

On the trial of Sir Jervis Elwes, circumstances had transpired, showing
a guilty knowledge of the poisoning on the part of the Earl of
Northampton the uncle of Lady Somerset, and the chief falconer Sir
Thomas Monson. The former was dead; but Sir Thomas Monson was arrested,
and brought to trial. It appeared, however, that he was too dangerous a
man to be brought to the scaffold. He knew too many of the odious
secrets of James I, and his dying speech might contain disclosures
which would compromise the King. To conceal old guilt it was necessary
to incur new: the trial of Sir Thomas Monson was brought to an abrupt
conclusion, and himself set at liberty!

Already James had broken his oath. He now began to fear that he had
been rash in engaging so zealously to bring the poisoners to
punishment. That Somerset would be declared guilty there was no doubt,
and that he looked for pardon and impunity was equally evident to the
King. Somerset, while in the Tower, asserted confidently, that James
would not dare to bring him to trial. In this he was mistaken; but
James was in an agony. What the secret was between them will now never
be known with certainty; but it may be surmised. Some have imagined it
to be the vice to which the King was addicted; while others have
asserted, that it related to the death of Prince Henry, a virtuous
young man, who had held Somerset in especial abhorrence. The Prince
died early, unlamented by his father, and, as public opinion whispered
at the time, poisoned by Somerset. Probably, some crime or other lay
heavy upon the soul of the King; and Somerset, his accomplice, could
not be brought to public execution with safety. Hence the dreadful
tortures of James, when he discovered that his favourite was so deeply
implicated in the murder of Overbury. Every means was taken by the
agonized King to bring the prisoner into what was called a safe frame
of mind. He was secretly advised to plead guilty, and trust to the
clemency of the King. The same advice was conveyed to the Countess.
Bacon was instructed by the King to draw up a paper of all the points
of "mercy and favour" to Somerset which might result from the evidence;
and Somerset was again recommended to plead guilty, and promised that
no evil should ensue to him.

The Countess was first tried. She trembled and shed tears during the
reading of the indictment, and, in a low voice, pleaded guilty. On
being asked why sentence of death should not be passed against her, she
replied meekly, "I can much aggravate, but nothing extenuate my fault.
I desire mercy, and that the lords will intercede for me with the
King." Sentence of death was passed upon her.

Next day the Earl was brought to trial. He appears to have mistrusted
the promises of James, and he pleaded not guilty. With a
self-possession and confidence, which he felt, probably, from his
knowledge of the King's character, he rigorously cross-examined the
witnesses, and made a stubborn defence. After a trial which lasted
eleven hours, he was found guilty, and condemned to the felon's death.

Whatever may have been the secrets between the criminal and the King,
the latter, notwithstanding his terrific oath, was afraid to sign the
death-warrant. It might, perchance, have been his own. The Earl and
Countess were committed to the Tower, where they remained for nearly
five years. At the end of this period, to the surprise and scandal of
the community, and the disgrace of its chief magistrate, they both
received the royal pardon, but were ordered to reside at a distance
from the court. Having been found guilty of felony, the estates of the
Earl had become forfeited; but James granted him out of their revenues
an income of 4,000 pounds per annum! Shamelessness could go no further.

Of the after life of these criminals nothing is known, except that the
love they had formerly borne each other was changed into aversion, and
that they lived under the same roof for months together without the
interchange of a word.

The exposure of their atrocities did not put a stop to the practice of
poisoning. On the contrary, as we shall see hereafter, it engendered
that insane imitation which is so strange a feature of the human
character. James himself is supposed, with great probability, to have
fallen a victim to it. In the notes to "Harris's Life and Writings of
James I," there is a good deal of information on the subject. The guilt
of Buckingham, although not fully established, rests upon circumstances
of suspicion stronger than have been sufficient to lead hundreds to the
scaffold. His motives for committing the crime are stated to have been
a desire of revenge for the coldness with which the King, in the latter
years of his reign, began to regard him; his fear that James intended
to degrade him; and his hope that the great influence he possessed over
the mind of the heir-apparent would last through a new reign, if the
old one were brought to a close.

In the second volume of the "Harleian Miscellany," there is a tract,
entitled the "Forerunner of Revenge," written by George Eglisham,
doctor of medicine, and one of the physicians to King James.  Harris,
in quoting it, says that it is full of rancour and prejudice.  It is
evidently exaggerated; but forms, nevertheless, a link in the chain of
evidence. Eglisham says:--"The King being sick of an ague, the Duke
took this opportunity, when all the King's doctors of physic were at
dinner, and offered to him a white powder to take, the which he a long
time refused; but, overcome with his flattering importunity, he took it
in wine, and immediately became worse and worse, falling into many
swoonings and pains, and violent fluxes of the belly, so tormented,
that his Majesty cried out aloud of this white powder, 'Would to God I
had never taken it?" He then tells us "Of the Countess of Buckingham
(the Duke's mother) applying the plaister to the King's heart and
breast, whereupon he grew faint and short-breathed, and in agony. That
the physicians exclaimed, that the King was poisoned; that Buckingham
commanded them out of the room, and committed one of them close
prisoner to his own chamber, and another to be removed from court; and
that, after his Majesty's death, his body and head swelled above
measure; his hair, with the skin of his head, stuck to his pillow, and
his nails became loose on his fingers and toes." Clarendon, who, by the
way, was a partisan of the Duke's, gives a totally different account of
James's death. He says, "It was occasioned by an ague (after a short
indisposition by the gout) which, meeting many humours in a fat
unwieldy body of fifty-eight years old, in four or five fits carried
him out of the world. After whose death many scandalous and libellous
discourses were raised, without the least colour or ground; as appeared
upon the strictest and most malicious examination that could be made,
long after, in a time of licence, when nobody was afraid of offending
majesty, and when prosecuting the highest reproaches and contumelies
against the royal family was held very meritorious." Notwithstanding
this confident declaration, the world will hardly be persuaded that
there was not some truth in the rumours that were abroad. The inquiries
which were instituted were not strict, as he asserts, and all the
unconstitutional influence of the powerful favourite was exerted to
defeat them. In the celebrated accusations brought against Buckingham
by the Earl of Bristol, the poisoning of King James was placed last on
the list, and the pages of history bear evidence of the summary mode in
which they were, for the time, got rid of.

The man from whom Buckingham is said to have procured his poisons was
one Dr. Lamb, a conjuror and empiric, who, besides dealing in poisons,
pretended to be a fortune-teller. The popular fury, which broke with
comparative harmlessness against his patron, was directed against this
man, until he could not appear with safety in the streets of London.
His fate was melancholy. Walking one day in Cheapside, disguised, as he
thought, from all observers, he was recognized by some idle boys, who
began to hoot and pelt him with rubbish, calling out, "The poisoner!
the poisoner! Down with the wizard! down with him!" A mob very soon
collected, and the Doctor took to his heels and ran for his life. He
was pursued and seized in Wood Street, and from thence dragged by the
hair through the mire to St. Paul's Cross; the mob beating him with
sticks and stones, and calling out, "Kill the wizard! kill the

Charles I, on hearing of the riot, rode from Whitehall to quell it; but
he arrived too late to save the victim. Every bone in his body was
broken, and he was quite dead. Charles was excessively indignant, and
fined the city six hundred pounds for its inability to deliver up the
ringleaders to justice.

But it was in Italy that poisoning was most prevalent. From a very
early period, it seems to have been looked upon in that country as a
perfectly justifiable means of getting rid of an enemy. The Italians of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries poisoned their opponents with
as little compunction as an Englishman of the present day brings an
action at law against any one who has done him an injury. The writings
of contemporary authors inform us that, when La Spara and La Tophania
carried on their infernal trade, ladies put poisonbottles on their
dressing-tables as openly, and used them with as little scruple upon
others, as modern dames use Eau de Cologne or lavender-water upon
themselves. So powerful is the influence of fashion, it can even cause
murder to be regarded as a venial peccadillo.

In the memoirs of the last Duke of Guise, who made a Quixotic attempt,
in 1648, to seize upon the government of Naples, we find some curious
particulars relative to the popular feeling with regard to poisoning. A
man, named Gennaro Annese, who, after the short and extraordinary
career of Masaniello the fisherman, had established himself as a sort
of captain-general of the populace, rendered himself so obnoxious to
the Duke of Guise that the adherents of the latter determined to murder
him. The captain of the guard, as the Duke himself very coolly informs
us, was requested to undertake this office. It was suggested to him
that the poniard would be the most effectual instrument, but the man
turned up his eyes with pious horror at the proposition. He was ready
to poison Gennaro Annese whenever he might be called upon to do so; but
to poniard him, he said, would be disgraceful, and unbecoming an
officer of the guards! At last poison was agreed upon, and Augustino
Molla, an attorney in the Duke's confidence, brought the bottle
containing the liquid to show it to his master. The following is the
Duke's own account:--

"Augustino came to me at night, and told me: 'I have brought you
something which will free you from Gennaro. He deserves death, and it
is no great matter after what fashion justice is done upon him. Look at
this vial, full of clear and beautiful water: in four days' time, it
will punish all his treasons. The captain of the guard has undertaken
to give it him; and as it has no taste at all, Gennaro will suspect

The Duke further informs us that the dose was duly administered; but
that Gennaro, fortunately for himself, ate nothing for dinner that day
but cabbage dressed with oil, which acting as an antidote, caused him
to vomit profusely, and saved his life. He was exceedingly ill for five
days, but never suspected that he had been poisoned.

In process of time, poison vending became a profitable trade.  Eleven
years after this period, it was carried on at Rome to such an extent
that the sluggish government was roused to interference.  Beckmann, in
his "History of Inventions," and Lebret, in his "Magazin zum Gebrauche
der Staaten Kirche Geschichte," or Magazine of Materials for a History
of a State Church, relates that, in the year 1659, it was made known to
Pope Alexander VII. that great numbers of young women had avowed in the
confessional that they had poisoned their husbands with slow poisons.
The Catholic clergy, who in general hold the secrets of the
confessional so sacred, were shocked and alarmed at the extraordinary
prevalence of the crime. Although they refrained from revealing the
names of the penitents, they conceived themselves bound to apprise the
head of the church of the enormities that were practised. It was also
the subject of general conversation in Rome that young widows were
unusually abundant. It was remarked, too, that if any couple lived
unhappily together, the husband soon took ill and died. The papal
authorities, when once they began to inquire, soon learned that a
society of young wives had been formed, and met nightly, for some
mysterious purpose, at the house of an old woman named Hieronyma Spara.
This hag was a reputed witch and fortune-teller, and acted as president
of the young viragos, several of whom, it was afterwards ascertained,
belonged to the first families of Rome.

In order to have positive evidence of the practices of this female
conclave, a lady was employed by the Government to seek an interview
with them. She dressed herself out in the most magnificent style; and
having been amply provided with money, she found but little difficulty,
when she had stated her object, of procuring an audience of La Spara
and her sisterhood. She pretended to be in extreme distress of mind on
account of the infidelities and ill-treatment of her husband, and
implored La Spara to furnish her with a few drops of the wonderful
elixir, the efficacy of which in sending cruel husbands to "their last
long sleep" was so much vaunted by the ladies of Rome.  La Spara fell
into the snare, and sold her some of her "drops," at a price
commensurate with the supposed wealth of the purchaser.

The liquor thus obtained was subjected to an analysis, and found to be,
as was suspected, a slow poison--clear, tasteless, and limpid, like
that spoken of by the Duke of Guise. Upon this evidence the house was
surrounded by the police, and La Spara and her companions taken into
custody. La Spara, who is described as having been a little, ugly, old
woman, was put to the torture, but obstinately refused to confess her
guilt. Another of the women, named La Gratiosa, had less firmness, and
laid bare all the secrets of the infernal sisterhood.  Taking a
confession, extorted by anguish on the rack, at its true value (nothing
at all), there is still sufficient evidence to warrant posterity in the
belief of their guilt. They were found guilty, and condemned, according
to their degrees of culpability, to various punishments. La Spara,
Gratiosa, and three young women, who had poisoned their husbands, were
hanged together at Rome. Upwards of thirty women were whipped publicly
through the streets; and several, whose high rank screened them from
more degrading punishment, were banished from the country, and mulcted
in heavy fines. In a few months afterwards, nine women more were hanged
for poisoning; and another bevy, including many young and beautiful
girls, were whipped half naked through the streets of Rome.

This severity did not put a stop to the practice, and jealous women and
avaricious men, anxious to step into the inheritance of fathers,
uncles, or brothers, resorted to poison. As it was quite free from
taste, colour, and smell, it was administered without exciting
suspicion. The skilful vendors compounded it of different degrees of
strength, so that the poisoners had only to say whether they wanted
their victims to die in a week, a month, or six months, and they were
suited with corresponding doses. The vendors were chiefly women, of
whom the most celebrated was a hag, named Tophania, who was in this way
accessory to the death of upwards of six hundred persons. This woman
appears to have been a dealer in poisons from her girlhood, and resided
first at Palermo and then at Naples. That entertaining traveller,
Father Lebat, has given, in his Letters from Italy, many curious
particulars relating to her. When he was at Civita Vecchia, in 1719,
the Viceroy of Naples discovered that poison was extensively sold in
the latter city, and that it went by the name of aqueta, or
little-water. On making further inquiry, he ascertained that Tophania
(who was by this time near seventy years of age, and who seems to have
begun her evil courses very soon after the execution of La Spara) sent
large quantities of it to all parts of Italy in small vials, with the
inscription "Manna of St. Nicholas of Barri."

The tomb of St. Nicholas of Barri was celebrated throughout Italy.  A
miraculous oil was said to ooze from it, which cured nearly all the
maladies that flesh is heir to, provided the recipient made use of it
with the due degree of faith. La Tophania artfully gave this name to
her poison to elude the vigilance of the custom-house officers, who, in
common with everybody else, had a pious respect for St. Nicholas de
Barri and his wonderful oil.

The poison was similar to that manufactured by La Spara. Hahnemann the
physician, and father of the homoepathic doctrine, writing upon this
subject, says it was compounded of arsenical neutral salts, occasioning
in the victim a gradual loss of appetite, faintness, gnawing pains in
the stomach, loss of strength, and wasting of the lungs. The Abbe
Gagliardi says that a few drops of it were generally poured into tea,
chocolate, or soup, and its effects were slow, and almost
imperceptible. Garelli, physician to the Emperor of Austria, in a
letter to Hoffmann, says it was crystallized arsenic, dissolved in a
large quantity of water by decoction, with the addition (for some
unexplained purpose) of the herb cymbalaria. The Neapolitans called it
Aqua Toffnina; and it became notorious all over Europe under the name
of Aqua Tophania.

Although this woman carried on her infamous traffic so extensively, it
was extremely difficult to meet with her. She lived in continual dread
of discovery. She constantly changed her name and residence; and
pretending to be a person of great godliness, resided in monasteries
for months together. Whenever she was more than usually apprehensive of
detection, she sought ecclesiastical protection. She was soon apprised
of the search made for her by the Viceroy of Naples, and, according to
her practice, took refuge in a monastery. Either the search after her
was not very rigid, or her measures were exceedingly well taken; for
she contrived to elude the vigilance of the authorities for several
years. What is still more extraordinary, as showing the ramifications
of her system, her trade was still carried on to as great an extent as
before. Lebat informs us that she had so great a sympathy for poor
wives who hated their husbands and wanted to get rid of them, but could
not afford to buy her wonderful aqua, that she made them presents of it.

She was not allowed, however, to play at this game for ever; she was at
length discovered in a nunnery, and her retreat cut off. The Viceroy
made several representations to the superior to deliver her up, but
without effect. The abbess, supported by the archbishop of the diocese,
constantly refused. The public curiosity was in consequence so much
excited at the additional importance thus thrust upon the criminal,
that thousands of persons visited the nunnery in order to catch a
glimpse of her.

The patience of the Viceroy appears to have been exhausted by these
delays. Being a man of sense, and not a very zealous Catholic, he
determined that even the Church should not shield a criminal so
atrocious. Setting the privileges of the nunnery at defiance, he sent a
troop of soldiers, who broke over the walls and carried her away vi et
armis. The Archbishop, Cardinal Pignatelli, was highly indignant, and
threatened to excommunicate and lay the whole city under interdict. All
the inferior clergy, animated by the esprit du corps, took up the
question, and so worked upon the superstitious and bigoted people, that
they were ready to rise in a mass to storm the palace of the Viceroy
and rescue the prisoner.

These were serious difficulties; but the Viceroy was not a man to be
daunted. Indeed, he seems to have acted throughout with a rare union of
astuteness, coolness, and energy. To avoid the evil consequences of the
threatened excommunication, he placed a guard round the palace of the
Archbishop, judging that the latter would not be so foolish as to
launch out an anathema which would cause the city to be starved, and
himself in it. The marketpeople would not have dared to come to the
city with provisions, so long as it remained under the ban. There would
have been too much inconvenience to himself and his ghostly brethren in
such a measure; and, as the Viceroy anticipated, the good Cardinal
reserved his thunders for some other occasion.

Still there was the populace. To quiet their clamour and avert the
impending insurrection, the agents of the government adroitly mingled
with the people, and spread abroad a report that Tophania had poisoned
all the wells and fountains of the city. This was enough. The popular
feeling turned against her immediately. Those who, but a moment before,
had looked upon her as a saint, now reviled her as a devil, and were as
eager for her punishment as they had before been for her escape.
Tophania was then put to the torture. She confessed the long catalogue
of her crimes, and named all the persons who had employed her. She was
shortly afterwards strangled, and her corpse thrown over the wall into
the garden of the convent, from whence she had been taken. This appears
to have been done to conciliate the clergy, by allowing them, at least,
the burial of one who had taken refuge within their precincts.

After her death the mania for poisoning seems to have abated; but we
have yet to see what hold it took upon the French people at a somewhat
earlier period. So rooted had it become in France between the years
1670 and 1680, that Madame de Sevigne, in one of her letters, expresses
her fear that Frenchman and poisoner would become synonymous terms.

As in Italy, the first notice the government received of the prevalence
of this crime was given by the clergy, to whom females of high rank,
and some among the middle and lower classes, had avowed in the
confessional that they had poisoned their husbands. In consequence of
these disclosures, two Italians, named Exili and Glaser, were arrested,
and thrown into the Bastille, on the charge of compounding and selling
the drugs used for these murders. Glaser died in prison, but Exili
remained without trial for several months; and there, shortly
afterwards, he made the acquaintance of another prisoner, named Sainte
Croix, by whose example the crime was still further disseminated among
the French people.

The most notorious of the poisoners that derived their pernicious
knowledge from this man was Madame de Brinvilliers, a young woman
connected both by birth and marriage with some of the noblest families
of France. She seems, from her very earliest years, to have been
heartless and depraved; and, if we may believe her own confession, was
steeped in wickedness ere she had well entered her teens. She was,
however, beautiful and accomplished; and, in the eye of the world,
seemed exemplary and kind. Guyot de Pitaval, in the "Causes Celebres,"
and Madame de Sevigne, in her Letters, represent her as mild and
agreeable in her manners, and offering no traces on her countenance of
the evil soul within. She was married in 1651 to the Marquis de
Brinvilliers, with whom she lived unhappily for some years. He was a
loose dissipated character, and was the means of introducing Sainte
Croix to his wife, a man who cast a blight upon her life, and dragged
her on from crime to crime till her offences became so great that the
mind shudders to dwell upon them. For this man she conceived a guilty
passion, to gratify which she plunged at once into the gulf of sin.
She was drawn to its most loathsome depths ere retribution overtook her.

She had as yet shown a fair outside to the world, and found but little
difficulty in effecting a legal separation from her husband, who had
not the art to conceal his vices. The proceeding gave great offence to
her family. She appears, after this, to have thrown off the mask
completely, and carried on her intrigues so openly with her lover,
Sainte Croix, that her father, M. D'Aubray, scandalised at her conduct,
procured a lettre de cachet, and had him imprisoned in the Bastille for
a twelvemonth.

Sainte Croix, who had been in Italy, was a dabbler in poisons. He knew
something of the secrets of the detestable La Spara, and improved
himself in them from the instructions of Exili, with whom he speedily
contracted a sort of friendship. By him he was shown how to prepare,
not only the liquid poisons employed in Italy, but that known as
succession powder, which afterwards became so celebrated in France.
Like his mistress, he appeared amiable, witty, and intelligent, and
showed no signs to the world of the two fierce passions, revenge and
avarice, which were gnawing at his heart. Both these passions were to
be sated on the unfortunate family of D'Aubray; his revenge, because
they had imprisoned him; and his avarice, because they were rich.
Reckless and extravagant, he was always in want of money, and he had no
one to supply him but Madame de Brinvilliers, whose own portion was far
from sufficient to satisfy his need. Groaning to think that any
impediment should stand between him and wealth, he conceived the horrid
idea of poisoning M. D'Aubray her father, and her two brothers, that
she might inherit the property. Three murders were nothing to such a
villain. He communicated his plan to Madame de Brinvilliers; and she,
without the slightest scruple, agreed to aid him: he undertook to
compound the poisons, and she to administer them. The zeal and alacrity
with which she set to work seem hardly credible.  Sainte Croix found
her an apt scholar; and she soon became as expert as himself in the
manufacture of poisons. To try the strength of the first doses, she
used to administer them to dogs, rabbits, and pigeons. Afterwards,
wishing to be more certain of their effects, she went round to the
hospitals, and administered them to the sick poor in the soups which
she brought in apparent charity. [This is denied by Voltaire in his
"Age of Louis XIV;" but he does not state for what reason. His words
are, "Il est faux qu'elle eut essaye ses poisons dans les hopitaux,
comme le disait le peuple et comme il est ecrit dans les 'Causes
Celebres,' ouvrage d'un avocat sans cause et fait pour le peuple."]
None of the poisons were intended to kill at the first dose; so that
she could try them once upon an individual without fear of murder. She
tried the same atrocious experiment upon the guests at her father's
table, by poisoning a pigeon-pie! To be more certain still, she next
poisoned herself! When convinced by this desperate essay of the potency
of the draught, she procured an antidote from Sainte Croix, and all
doubts being removed, commenced operations upon her grey-headed father.
She administered the first dose with her own hands, in his chocolate.
The poison worked well. The old man was taken ill, and his daughter,
apparently full of tenderness and anxiety, watched by his bedside. The
next day she gave him some broth, which she recommended as highly
nourishing. This also was poisoned. In this manner she gradually wore
out his frame, and in less than ten days he was a corpse! His death
seemed so much the result of disease, that no suspicions were excited.

When the two brothers arrived from the provinces to render the last sad
duties to their sire, they found their sister as grieved, to all
outward appearance, as even filial affection could desire: but the
young men only came to perish. They stood between Sainte Croix and the
already half-clutched gold, and their doom was sealed. A man, named La
Chaussee, was hired by Sainte Croix to aid in administering the
poisons; and, in less than six weeks' time, they had both gone to their
long home.

Suspicion was now excited; but so cautiously had all been done, that it
found no one upon whom to attach itself. The Marquise had a sister, and
she was entitled, by the death of her relatives, to half the property.
Less than the whole would not satisfy Sainte Croix, and he determined
that she should die the same death as her father and brothers. She was
too distrustful, however; and, by quitting Paris, she escaped the
destruction that was lurking for her.

The Marquise had undertaken these murders to please her lover. She was
now anxious to perpetrate another on her own account. She wished to
marry Sainte Croix; but, though separated from her husband, she was not
divorced. She thought it would be easier to poison him than to apply to
the tribunals for a divorce, which might, perhaps, be refused. But
Salute Croix had no longer any love for his guilty instrument. Bad men
do not admire others who are as bad as themselves.  Though a villain
himself, he had no desire to marry one, and was not at all anxious for
the death of the Marquis. He seemed, however, to enter into the plot,
and supplied her with poison for her husband: but he took care to
provide a remedy. La Brinvilliers poisoned him one day, and Sainte
Croix gave him an antidote the next. In this manner he was buffetted
about between them for some time, and finally escaped with a ruined
constitution and a broken heart.

But the day of retribution was at hand, and a terrible mischance
brought the murders to light. The nature of the poisons compounded by
Salute Croix was so deadly, that, when working in his laboratory, he
was obliged to wear a mask, to preserve himself from suffocation. One
day, the mask slipped off, and the miserable wretch perished in his
crimes. His corpse was found, on the following morning, in the obscure
lodging where he had fitted up his laboratory. As he appeared to be
without friends or relatives, the police took possession of his
effects. Among other things was found a small box, to which was affixed
the following singular document:--

"I humbly beg, that those into whose hands this box may fall, will do
me the favour to deliver it into the hands only of the Marchioness de
Brinvilliers, who resides in the Rue Neuve St. Paul, as everything it
contains concerns her, and belongs to her alone; and as, besides, there
is nothing in it that can be of use to any person but her. In case she
shall be dead before me, it is my wish that it be burned, with
everything it contains, without opening or altering anything. In order
that no one may plead ignorance, I swear by the God that I adore, and
by all that is held most sacred, that I assert nothing but the truth:
and if my intentions, just and reasonable as they are, be thwarted in
this point by any persons, I charge their consciences with it, both in
this world and that which is to come, in order that I may unload mine.
I protest that this is my last will. Done at Paris, the 25th of May,

"(Signed) Sainte Croix."

This earnest solicitation, instead of insuring respect as was intended,
excited curiosity. The box was opened, and found to contain some
papers, and several vials and powders. The latter were handed to a
chemist for analysis, and the documents were retained by the police,
and opened. Among them was found a promissory note of the Marchioness
de Brinvilliers, for thirty thousand francs, to the order of Sainte
Croix. The other papers were of greater importance, as they implicated
both her and her servant, La Chaussee, in the recent murders. As soon
as she was informed of the death of Sainte Croix, she made an attempt
to gain possession of his papers and the box; but, being refused, she
saw that there was no time to be lost, and immediately quitted. Next
morning the police were on her trail; but she succeeded in escaping to
England. La Chaussee was not so fortunate. Altogether ignorant of the
fatal mischance which had brought his villanies to light, he did not
dream of danger. He was arrested and brought to trial: being put to the
torture, he confessed that he had administered poison to the Messieurs
d'Aubray, and that he had received a hundred pistoles, and the promise
of an annuity for life, from Sainte Croix and Madame de Brinvilliers,
for the job. He was condemned to be broken alive on the wheel, and the
Marchioness was, by default, sentenced to be beheaded.  He was executed
accordingly, in March 1673, on the Place de Greve, in Paris.

La Brinvilliers appears to have resided for nearly three years in
England. Early in 1676, thinking that the rigour of pursuit was over,
and that she might venture to return to the Continent, she proceeded
secretly to Liege. Notwithstanding her care, the French authorities
were soon apprised of her return; and arrangements were promptly made
with the municipality of that city, to permit the agents of the French
police to arrest her within the limits of their jurisdiction.
Desgrais, an officer of the marechaussee, accordingly left Paris for
that purpose. On his arrival in Liege, he found that she had sought
shelter within the walls of a convent. Here the arm of the law, long as
it is said to be, could not reach her: but Desgrais was not a man to be
baffled, and he resorted to stratagem to accomplish what force could
not. Having disguised himself as a priest, he sought admission to the
convent, and obtained an interview with La Brinvilliers. He said, that
being a Frenchman, and passing through Liege, he could not leave that
city without paying a visit to a lady whose beauty and misfortunes were
so celebrated. Her vanity was flattered by the compliment. Desgrais
saw, to use a vulgar but forcible expression, "that he had got on the
blind side of her;" and he adroitly continued to pour out the language
of love and admiration, till the deluded Marchioness was thrown
completely off her guard. She agreed, without much solicitation, to
meet him outside the walls of the convent, where their amorous intrigue
might be carried on more conveniently than within. Faithful to her
appointment with her supposed new lover, she came, and found herself,
not in the embrace of a gallant, but in the custody of a policeman.

Her trial was not long delayed. The proofs against her were abundant.
The dying declaration of La Chaussee would have been alone enough to
convict her; but besides that, there were the mysterious document
attached to the box of St. Croix; her flight from France; and, stronger
and more damning proof than all, a paper, in her own handwriting, found
among the effects of St. Croix, in which she detailed to him the
misdeeds of her life, and spoke of the murder of her father and
brothers, in terms that left no doubt of her guilt.  During the trial,
all Paris was in commotion. La Brinvilliers was the only subject of
conversation. All the details of her crimes were published, and
greedily devoured; and the idea of secret poisoning was first put into
the heads of hundreds, who afterwards became guilty of it.

On the 16th of July 1676, the Superior Criminal Court of Paris
pronounced a verdict of guilty against her, for the murder of her
father and brothers, and the attempt upon the life of her sister. She
was condemned to be drawn on a hurdle, with her feet bare, a rope about
her neck, and a burning torch in her hand, to the great entrance of the
cathedral of Notre Dame; where she was to make the amende honorable, in
sight of all the people; to be taken from thence to the Place de Greve,
and there to be beheaded. Her body was afterwards to be burned, and her
ashes scattered to the winds.

After her sentence, she made a full confession of her guilt. She seems
to have looked upon death without fear; but it was recklessness, not
courage, that supported her. Madame de Sevigne says, that when on the
hurdle, on her way to the scaffold, she entreated her confessor to
exert his influence with the executioner to place himself next to her,
that his body might hide from her view "that scoundrel, Desgrais, who
had entrapped her." She also asked the ladies, who had been drawn to
their windows to witness the procession, what they were looking at?
adding, "a pretty sight you have come to see, truly!" She laughed when
on the scaffold, dying as she had lived, impenitent and heartless. On
the morrow, the populace came in crowds to collect her ashes, to
preserve them as relics. She was regarded as a martyred saint, and her
ashes were supposed to be endowed, by Divine grace, with the power of
curing all diseases. Popular folly has often canonised persons whose
pretensions to sanctity were extremely equivocal; but the disgusting
folly of the multitude, in this instance, has never been surpassed.

Before her death, proceedings were instituted against M. de Penautier,
treasurer of the province of Languedoc, and Receiver-general for the
clergy, who was accused by a lady, named St.  Laurent, of having
poisoned her husband, the late Receiver-general, in order to obtain his
appointment. The circumstances of this case were never divulged, and
the greatest influence was exerted to prevent it from going to trial.
He was known to have been intimate with Sainte Croix and Madame de
Brinvilliers, and was thought to have procured his poisons from them.
The latter, however, refused to say anything which might implicate him.
The inquiry was eventually stifled, after Penautier had been several
months in the Bastille.

The Cardinal de Bonzy was accused by the gossips of the day of being an
accomplice of Penautier. The Cardinal's estates were burthened with the
payment of several heavy annuities; but, about the time that poisoning
became so fashionable, all the annuitants died off, one after the
other. The Cardinal, in talking of these annuitants, afterwards used to
say, "Thanks to my star, I have outlived them all!" A wit, seeing him
and Penautier riding in the same carriage, cried out, in allusion to
this expression, "There go the Cardinal de Bonzy and his star!"

It was now that the mania for poisoning began to take hold of the
popular mind. From this time until the year 1682, the prisons of France
teemed with persons accused of this crime; and it is very singular,
that other offences decreased in a similar proportion. We have already
seen the extent to which it was carried in Italy. It was, if possible,
surpassed in France. The diabolical ease with which these murders could
be effected, by means of these scentless and tasteless poisons, enticed
the evil-minded. Jealousy, revenge, avarice, even petty spite, alike
resorted to them. Those who would have been deterred, by fear of
detection, from using the pistol or the dagger, or even strong doses of
poison, which kill at once, employed slow poisons without dread. The
corrupt Government of the day, although it could wink at the atrocities
of a wealthy and influential courtier, like Penautier, was scandalised
to see the crime spreading among the people. Disgrace was, in fact,
entailed, in the eyes of Europe, upon the name of Frenchman. Louis XIV,
to put a stop to the evil, instituted what was called the Chambre
Ardente, or Burning Chamber, with extensive powers, for the trial and
punishment of the prisoners.

Two women, especially, made themselves notorious at this time, and were
instrumental to the deaths of hundreds of individuals. They both
resided in Paris, and were named Lavoisin and Lavigoreux. Like Spars
and Tophania, of whom they were imitators, they chiefly sold their
poisons to women who wanted to get rid of their husbands; and, in some
few instances, to husbands who wanted to get rid of their wives. Their
ostensible occupation was that of midwives. They also pretended to be
fortune-tellers, and were visited by persons of every class of society.
The rich and poor thronged alike to their mansardes, to learn the
secrets of the future. Their prophecies were principally of death.
They foretold to women the approaching dissolution of husbands, and to
needy heirs, the end of rich relatives, who had made them, as Byron
expresses it, "wait too, too long already." They generally took care to
be instrumental in fulfilling their own predictions. They used to tell
their wretched employers, that some sign of the approaching death would
take place in the house, such as the breaking of glass or china; and
they paid servants considerable fees to cause a breakage, as if by
accident, exactly at the appointed time. Their occupation as midwives
made them acquainted with the secrets of many families, which they
afterwards turned to dreadful account.

It is not known how long they had carried on this awful trade before
they were discovered. Detection finally overtook them at the close of
the year 1679. They were both tried, found guilty, and burned alive on
the Place de Greve, on the 22nd of February, 1680, after their hands
had been bored through with a red-hot iron, and then cut off. Their
numerous accomplices in Paris and in the provinces were also discovered
and brought to trial. According to some authors, thirty, and to others,
fifty of them, chiefly women, were hanged in the principal cities.

Lavoisin kept a list of the visiters who came to her house to purchase
poisons. This paper was seized by the police on her arrest, and
examined by the tribunals. Among the names were found those of the
Marshal de Luxembourg, the Countess de Soissons, and the Duchess de
Bouillon. The Marshal seems only to have been guilty of a piece of
discreditable folly in visiting a woman of this description, but the
popular voice at the time imputed to him something more than folly.
The author of the "Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe since the Peace of
Utrecht," says, "The miserable gang who dealt in poison and prophecy
alleged that he had sold himself to the devil, and that a young girl of
the name of Dupin had been poisoned by his means. Among other stories,
they said he had made a contract with the devil, in order to marry his
son to the daughter of the Marquis of Louvois. To this atrocious and
absurd accusation the Marshal, who had surrendered himself at the
Bastille on the first accusation against him, replied with the mingled
sentiment of pride and innocence, 'When Mathieu de Montmorenci, my
ancestor, married the widow of Louis le Gros, he did not have recourse
to the devil, but to the States-General, in order to obtain for the
minor king the support of the house of Montmorenci.' This brave man was
imprisoned in a cell six feet and a half long, and his trial, which was
interrupted for several weeks, lasted altogether fourteen months. No
judgment was pronounced upon him."

The Countess of Soissons fled to Brussels, rather than undergo the risk
of a trial; and was never able to clear herself from the stigma that
attached to her, of having made an attempt to poison the Queen of Spain
by doses of succession powder. The Duchess of Bouillon was arrested,
and tried by the Chambre Ardente. It would appear, however, that she
had nothing to do with the slow poisons, but had merely endeavoured to
pry into the secrets of futurity, and gratify her curiosity with a
sight of the devil. One of the presidents of the Chambre, La Reynie, an
ugly little old man, very seriously asked her whether she had really
seen the devil; to which the lady replied, looking him full in the
face, "Oh yes! I see him now. He is in the form of a little ugly old
man, exceedingly illnatured, and is dressed in the robes of a
counsellor of State." M. la Reynie prudently refrained from asking any
more questions of a lady with so sharp and ready a tongue. The Duchess
was imprisoned for several months in the Bastile; and nothing being
proved against her, she was released at the intercession of her
powerful friends. The severe punishment of criminals of this note might
have helped to abate the fever of imitation among the vulgar;--their
comparative impunity had a contrary tendency. The escape of Penautier,
and the wealthy Cardinal de Bonzy his employer, had the most pernicious
effect. For two years longer the crime continued to rage, and was not
finally suppressed till the stake had blazed, or the noose dangled, for
upwards of a hundred individuals.


  Here's a knocking indeed! * * * * knock! knock! knock
  * * * * * * Who's there, i' the name o' Beelzebub?
  * * * Who's there, i' the devil's name? Knock! knock!
  knock!--Never at quiet?


Who has not either seen or heard of some house, shut up and
uninhabitable, fallen into decay, and looking dusty and dreary, from
which, at midnight, strange sounds have been heard to issue--aerial
knockings--the rattling of chains, and the groaning of perturbed
spirits?--a house that people have thought it unsafe to pass after
dark, and which has remained for years without a tenant, and which no
tenant would occupy, even were he paid to do so? There are hundreds of
such houses in England at the present day; hundreds in France, Germany,
and almost every country of Europe, which are marked with the mark of
fear--places for the timid to avoid, and the pious to bless themselves
at, and ask protection from, as they pass--the abodes of ghosts and
evil spirits. There are many such houses in London; and if any vain
boaster of the march of intellect would but take the trouble to find
them out and count them, he would be convinced that intellect must yet
make some enormous strides before such old superstitions can be

The idea that such houses exist is a remnant of the witch creed, which
merits separate notice from its comparative harmlessness, and from its
being not so much a madness as a folly of the people. Unlike other
notions that sprang from the belief in witchcraft, and which we have
already dwelt upon at sufficient length, it has sent no wretches to the
stake or the gibbet, and but a few to the pillory only.

Many houses have been condemned as haunted, and avoided by the weak and
credulous, from circumstances the most trifling in themselves, and
which only wanted a vigorous mind to clear up, at once, and dissipate
all alarm. A house in Aix-la-Chapelle, a large desolate-looking
building, remained uninhabited for five years, on account of the
mysterious knockings that there were heard within it at all hours of
the day and night. Nobody could account for the noises; and the fear
became at last so excessive, that the persons who inhabited the houses
on either side relinquished their tenancy, and went to reside in other
quarters of the town, where there was less chance of interruption from
evil spirits. From being so long without an inhabitant the house at
last grew so ruinous, so dingy, and so miserable in its outward
appearance, and so like the place that ghosts might be supposed to
haunt, that few persons cared to go past it after sunset. The knocking
that was heard in one of the upper rooms was not very loud, but it was
very regular. The gossips of the neighbourhood asserted that they often
heard groans from the cellars, and saw lights moved about from one
window to another immediately after the midnight bell had tolled.
Spectres in white habiliments were reported to have gibed and chattered
from the windows; but all these stories could bear no investigation.
The knocking, however, was a fact which no one could dispute, and
several ineffectual attempts were made by the proprietor to discover
the cause. The rooms were sprinkled with holy water--the evil spirits
were commanded in due form, by a priest, to depart thence to the Red
Sea; but the knockings still continued, in spite of all that could be
done in that way. Accident at last discovered the cause, and restored
tranquillity to the neighbourhood. The proprietor, who suffered not
only in his mind but in his pocket, had sold the building at a
ruinously small price, to get rid of all future annoyance. The new
proprietor was standing in a room on the first floor when he heard the
door driven to at the bottom with a considerable noise, and then fly
open immediately, about two inches and no more. He stood still a minute
and watched, and the same thing occurred a second and a third time. He
examined the door attentively, and all the mystery was unravelled. The
latch of the door was broken so that it could not be fastened, and it
swung chiefly upon the bottom hinge. Immediately opposite was a window,
in which one pane of glass was broken; and when the wind was in a
certain quarter, the draught of air was so strong that it blew the door
to with some violence. There being no latch, it swung open again; and
when there was a fresh gust, was again blown to.  The new proprietor
lost no time in sending for a glazier, and the mysterious noises ceased
for ever. The house was replastered and repainted, and once more
regained its lost good name. It was not before two or three years,
however, that it was thoroughly established in popular favour; and many
persons, even then, would always avoid passing it, if they could reach
their destination by any other street.

A similar story is narrated by Sir Walter Scott, in his Letters on
Demonology and Witchcraft, the hero of which was a gentleman of birth
and distinction, well known in the political world. Shortly after he
succeeded to his title and estates, there was a rumour among the
servants concerning a strange noise that used to be heard at night in
the family mansion, and the cause of which no one could ascertain. The
gentleman resolved to discover it himself, and to watch for that
purpose with a domestic who had grown old in the family, and who, like
the rest, had whispered strange things about the knocking having begun
immediately upon the death of his old master. These two watched until
the noise was heard, and at last traced it to a small store-room, used
as a place for keeping provisions of various kinds for the family, and
of which the old butler had the key. They entered this place, and
remained for some time, without hearing the noises which they had
traced thither. At length the sound was heard, but much lower than it
seemed to be while they were further off, and their imaginations were
more excited. They then discovered the cause without difficulty. A rat,
caught in an old-fashioned trap, had occasioned the noise by its
efforts to escape, in which it was able to raise the trap-door of its
prison to a certain height, but was then obliged to drop it. The noise
of the fall resounding through the house had occasioned the mysterious
rumours, which, but for the investigation of the proprietor, would, in
all probability, have acquired so bad a name for the dwelling that no
servants would have inhabited it. The circumstance was told to Sir
Walter Scott by the gentleman to whom it happened.

But, in general, houses that have acquired this character, have been
more indebted for it, to the roguery of living men, than to accidents
like these. Six monks played off a clever trick of the kind upon that
worthy King, Louis, whose piety has procured him, in the annals of his
own country, the designation of "the Saint." Having heard his confessor
speak in terms of warm eulogy of the goodness and learning of the monks
of the order of Saint Bruno, he expressed his wish to establish a
community of them near Paris. Bernard de la Tour, the superior, sent
six of the brethren, and the King gave them a handsome house to live
in, in the village of Chantilly. It so happened that, from their
windows, they had a very fine view of the ancient palace of Vauvert,
which had been built for a royal residence by King Robert, but deserted
for many years. The worthy monks thought the palace would just suit
them, but their modesty was so excessive that they were ashamed to ask
the King for a grant of it in due form. This difficulty was not to be
overcome, and the monks set their ingenuity to work to discover another
plan. The palace of Vauvert had never laboured under any imputation
upon its character until they became its neighbours; but, somehow or
other, it almost immediately afterwards began to acquire a bad name.
Frightful shrieks were heard to proceed from it at night--blue, red,
and green lights were suddenly observed to glimmer from the windows,
and as suddenly to disappear: the clanking of chains was heard, and the
howling as of persons in great pain. These disturbances continued for
several months, to the great terror of all the country round, and even
of the pious King Louis, to whom, at Paris, all the rumours were
regularly carried, with whole heaps of additions, that accumulated on
the way. At last a great spectre, clothed all in pea-green, with a long
white beard and a serpent's tail, took his station regularly at
midnight in the principal window of the palace, and howled fearfully
and shook his fists at the passengers. The six monks of Chantilly, to
whom all these things were duly narrated, were exceedingly wroth that
the devil should play such antics right opposite their dwelling, and
hinted to the commissioners, sent down by Saint Louis to investigate
the matter, that, if they were allowed to inhabit the palace, they
would very soon make a clearance of the evil spirits. The King was
quite charmed with their piety, and expressed to them how grateful he
felt for their disinterestedness. A deed was forthwith drawn up--the
royal sign-manual was affixed to it, and the palace of Vauvert became
the property of the monks of Saint Bruno. The deed is dated in 1259.
[Garinet. Histoire de la Magie en France, page 75.] The disturbances
ceased immediately--the lights disappeared, and the green ghost (so
said the monks) was laid at rest for ever under the waves of the Red

In the year 1580, one Gilles Blacre had taken the lease of a house in
the suburbs of Tours, but repenting him of his bargain with the
landlord, Peter Piquet, he endeavoured to prevail upon him to cancel
the agreement. Peter, however, was satisfied with his tenant and his
terms, and would listen to no compromise. Very shortly afterwards, the
rumour was spread all over Tours that the house of Gilles Blacre was
haunted. Gilles himself asserted that he verily believed his house to
be the general rendezvous of all the witches and evil spirits of
France. The noise they made was awful, and quite prevented him from
sleeping. They knocked against the wall--howled in the chimneys--broke
his window-glass--scattered his pots and pans all over his kitchen, and
set his chairs and tables a dancing the whole night through. Crowds of
persons assembled around the house to hear the mysterious noises; and
the bricks were observed to detach themselves from the wall and fall
into the streets upon the heads of those who had not said their
paternoster before they came out in the morning.  These things having
continued for some time, Gilles Blacre made his complaint to the Civil
Court of Tours, and Peter Piquet was summoned to show cause why the
lease should not be annulled. Poor Peter could make no defence, and the
court unanimously agreed that no lease could hold good under such
circumstances, and annulled it accordingly, condemning the unlucky
owner to all the expenses of the suit. Peter appealed to the Parliament
of Paris; and, after a long examination, the Parliament confirmed the
lease. "Not," said the judge, "because it has not been fully and
satisfactorily proved that the house is troubled by evil spirits, but
that there was an informality in the proceedings before the Civil Court
of Tours, that rendered its decision null and of no effect."

A similar cause was tried before the Parliament of Bordeaux, in the
year 1595, relative to a house in that city which was sorely troubled
by evil spirits. The Parliament appointed certain ecclesiastics to
examine and report to them, and on their report in the affirmative that
the house was haunted, the lease was annulled, and the tenant absolved
from all payment of rent and taxes. [Garinet.  Histoire de la Magie en
France, page 156.]

One of the best stories of a haunted house is that of the royal palace
of Woodstock, in the year 1649, when the commissioners sent from London
by the Long Parliament to take possession of it, and efface all the
emblems of royalty about it, were fairly driven out by their fear of
the devil and the annoyances they suffered from a roguish cavalier, who
played the imp to admiration. The commissioners, dreading at that time
no devil, arrived at Woodstock on the 13th of October, 1649. They took
up their lodgings in the late King's apartments-turned the beautiful
bedrooms and withdrawing-rooms into kitchens and sculleries--the
council-hall into a brew-house, and made the dining-room a place to
keep firewood in. They pulled down all the insignia of royal state, and
treated with the utmost indignity everything that recalled to their
memory the name or the majesty of Charles Stuart. One Giles Sharp
accompanied them in the capacity of clerk, and seconded their efforts,
apparently with the greatest zeal.  He aided them to uproot a noble old
tree, merely because it was called the King's Oak, and tossed the
fragments into the dining-room to make cheerful fires for the
commissioners. During the first two days, they heard some strange
noises about the house, but they paid no great attention to them. On
the third, however, they began to suspect they had got into bad
company; for they heard, as they thought, a supernatural dog under
their bed, which gnawed their bedclothes. On the next day, the chairs
and tables began to dance, apparently of their own accord. On the fifth
day, something came into the bedchamber and walked up and down, and
fetching the warming-pan out of the withdrawing-room, made so much
noise with it that they thought five church-bells were ringing in their
ears. On the sixth day, the plates and dishes were thrown up and down
the dining-room. On the seventh, they penetrated into the bedroom in
company with several logs of wood, and usurped the soft pillows
intended for the commissioners. On the eighth and ninth nights, there
was a cessation of hostilities; but on the tenth, the bricks in the
chimneys became locomotive, and rattled and danced about the floors,
and round the heads of the commissioners, all the night long. On the
eleventh, the demon ran away with their breeches, and on the twelfth
filled their beds so full of pewter-platters that they could not get
into them. On the thirteenth night, the glass became unaccountably
seized with a fit of cracking, and fell into shivers in all parts of
the house. On the fourteenth, there was a noise as if forty pieces of
artillery had been fired off, and a shower of pebble-stones, which so
alarmed the commissioners that, "struck with great horror, they cried
out to one another for help."

They first of all tried the efficacy of prayers to drive away the evil
spirits; but these proving unavailing, they began seriously to reflect
whether it would not be much better to leave the place altogether to
the devils that inhabited it. They ultimately resolved, however, to try
it a little longer; and having craved forgiveness of all their sins,
betook themselves to bed. That night they slept in tolerable comfort,
but it was merely a trick of their tormentor to lull them into false
security. When, on the succeeding night, they heard no noises, they
began to flatter themselves that the devil was driven out, and prepared
accordingly to take up their quarters for the whole winter in the
palace. These symptoms on their part became the signal for renewed
uproar among the fiends. On the 1st of November, they heard something
walking with a slow and solemn pace up and down the withdrawing-room,
and immediately afterwards a shower of stones, bricks, mortar, and
broken glass pelted about their ears. On the 2nd the steps were again
heard in the withdrawing-room, sounding to their fancy very much like
the treading of an enormous bear, which continued for about a quarter
of an hour. This noise having ceased, a large warming-pan was thrown
violently upon the table, followed by a number of stones and the
jawbone of a horse. Some of the boldest walked valiantly into the
withdrawing-room, armed with swords, and pistols; but could discover
nothing. They were afraid that night to go to sleep, and sat up, making
fires in every room, and burning candles and lamps in great abundance;
thinking that, as the fiends loved darkness, they would not disturb a
company surrounded with so much light. They were deceived, however:
buckets of water came down the chimneys and extinguished the fires, and
the candles were blown out, they knew not how. Some of the servants who
had betaken themselves to bed were drenched with putrid ditch-water as
they lay, and arose in great fright, muttering incoherent prayers, and
exposing to the wondering eyes of the commissioners their linen all
dripping with green moisture, and their knuckles red with the blows
they had at the same time received from some invisible tormentors.
While they were still speaking, there was a noise like the loudest
thunder, or the firing of a whole park of artillery, upon which they
all fell down upon their knees and implored the protection of the
Almighty. One of the commissioners then arose, the others still
kneeling, and asked in a courageous voice, and in the name of God, who
was there, and what they had done that they should be troubled in that
manner. No answer was returned, and the noises ceased for a while. At
length, however, as the commissioners said, "the devil came again, and
brought with it seven devils worse than itself." Being again in
darkness, they lighted a candle and placed it in the doorway, that it
might throw a light upon the two chambers at once; but it was suddenly
blown out, and one commissioner said that he had "seen the similitude
of a horse's hoof striking the candle and candlestick into the middle
of the chamber, and afterwards making three scrapes on the snuff to put
it out." Upon this, the same person was so bold as to draw his sword;
but he asserted positively that he had hardly withdrawn it from the
scabbard before an invisible hand seized hold of it and tugged with him
for it, and prevailing, struck him so violent a blow with the pommel
that he was quite stunned. Then the noises began again; upon which,
with one accord, they all retired into the presence-chamber, where they
passed the night, praying and singing psalms.

They were by this time convinced that it was useless to struggle any
longer with the powers of evil, that seemed determined to make
Woodstock their own. These things happened on the Saturday night; and,
being repeated on the Sunday, they determined to leave the place
immediately, and return to London. By Tuesday morning early, all their
preparations were completed; and, shaking the dust off their feet, and
devoting Woodstock and all its inhabitants to the infernal gods, they
finally took their departure. [Dr. H. More's Continuation of Glanvil's
Collection of Relations in proof of Witchcraft.]

Many years elapsed before the true cause of these disturbances was
discovered. It was ascertained, at the Restoration, that the whole was
the work of Giles Sharp, the trusty clerk of the commissioners. This
man, whose real name was Joseph Collins, was a concealed royalist, and
had passed his early life within the bowers of Woodstock; so that he
knew every hole and corner of the place, and the numerous trap-doors
and secret passages that abounded in the building. The commissioners,
never suspecting the true state of his opinions, but believing him to
be revolutionary to the back-bone, placed the utmost reliance upon him;
a confidence which he abused in the manner above detailed, to his own
great amusement, and that of the few cavaliers whom he let into the

Quite as extraordinary and as cleverly managed was the trick played off
at Tedworth, in 1661, at the house of Mr. Mompesson, and which is so
circumstantially narrated by the Rev. Joseph Glanvil, under the title
of "The Demon of Tedworth," and appended, among other proofs of
witchcraft, to his noted work, called "Sadducismus Triumphatus." About
the middle of April, in the year above mentioned, Mr. Mompesson, having
returned to his house, at Tedworth, from a journey he had taken to
London, was informed by his wife, that during his absence they had been
troubled with the most extraordinary noises.  Three nights afterwards
he heard the noise himself; and it appeared to him to be that of "a
great knocking at his doors, and on the outside of his walls." He
immediately arose, dressed himself, took down a pair of pistols, and
walked valiantly forth to discover the disturber, under the impression
that it must be a robber: but, as he went, the noise seemed to travel
before or behind him; and, when he arrived at the door from which he
thought it proceeded, he saw nothing, but still heard "a strange hollow
sound." He puzzled his brains for a long time, and searched every
corner of the house; but, discovering nothing, he went to bed again. He
was no sooner snug under the clothes, than the noise began again more
furiously than ever, sounding very much like a "thumping and drumming
on the top of his house, and then by degrees going off into the air."

These things continued for several nights, when it came to the
recollection of Mr. Mompesson that some time before, he had given
orders for the arrest and imprisonment of a wandering drummer, who went
about the country with a large drum, disturbing quiet people and
soliciting alms, and that he had detained the man's drum, and that,
probably, the drummer was a wizard, and had sent evil spirits to haunt
his house, to be revenged of him. He became strengthened in his opinion
every day, especially when the noises assumed, to his fancy, a
resemblance to the beating of a drum, "like that at the breaking up of
a guard." Mrs. Mompesson being brought to bed, the devil, or the
drummer, very kindly and considerately refrained from making the usual
riot; but, as soon as she recovered strength, began again "in a ruder
manner than before, following and vexing the young children, and
beating their bedsteads with so much violence that every one expected
they would fall in pieces." For an hour together, as the worthy Mr.
Mompesson repeated to his wondering neighbours, this infernal drummer
"would beat 'Roundheads and Cuckolds,' the 'Tat-too,' and several other
points of war, as cleverly as any soldier." When this had lasted long
enough, he changed his tactics, and scratched with his iron talons
under the children's bed. "On the 5th of November," says the Rev.
Joseph Glanvil, "it made a mighty noise; and a servant, observing two
boards in the children's room seeming to move, he bid it give him one
of them. Upon which the board came (nothing moving it, that he saw),
within a yard of him. The man added, 'Nay, let me have it in my hand;'
upon which the spirit, devil, or drummer pushed it towards him so
close, that he might touch it. "This," continues Glanvil, "was in the
day-time, and was seen by a whole room full of people. That morning it
left a sulphureous smell behind it, which was very offensive. At night
the minister, one Mr. Cragg, and several of the neighhours, came to the
house, on a visit. Mr. Cragg went to prayers with them, kneeling at the
children's bedside, where it then became very troublesome and loud.
During prayer time, the spirit withdrew into the cock-loft, but
returned as soon as prayers were done; and then, in sight of the
company, the chairs walked about the room of themselves, the children's
shoes were hurled over their heads, and every loose thing moved about
the chamber. At the same time, a bed-staff was thrown at the minister,
which hit him on the leg, but so favourably, that a lock of wool could
not have fallen more softly." On another occasion, the blacksmith of
the village, a fellow who cared neither for ghost nor devil, slept with
John, the footman, that he also might hear the disturbances, and be
cured of his incredulity, when there "came a noise in the room, as if
one had been shoeing a horse, and somewhat came, as it were, with a
pair of pincers," snipping and snapping at the poor blacksmith's nose
the greater part of the night. Next day it came, panting like a dog out
of breath; upon which some woman present took a bed-staff to knock at
it, "which was caught suddenly out of her hand, and thrown away; and
company coming up, the room was presently filled with a bloomy noisome
smell, and was very hot, though without fire, in a very sharp and
severe winter. It continued in the bed, panting and scratching for an
hour and a half, and then went into the next room, where it knocked a
little, and seemed to rattle a chain."

The rumour of these wonderful occurrences soon spread all over the
country, and people from far and near flocked to the haunted house of
Tedworth, to believe or doubt, as their natures led them, but all
filled with intense curiosity. It appears, too, that the fame of these
events reached the royal ear, and that some gentlemen were sent by the
King to investigate the circumstances, and draw up a report of what
they saw or heard. Whether the royal commissioners were more sensible
men than the neighbours of Mr. Mompesson, and required more clear and
positive evidence than they, or whether the powers with which they were
armed to punish anybody who might be found carrying on this deception,
frightened the evil-doers, is not certain; but Glanvil himself
reluctantly confesses, that all the time they were in the house, the
noises ceased, and nothing was heard or seen. "However," says he, "as
to the quiet of the house when the courtiers were there, the
intermission may have been accidental, or perhaps the demon was not
willing to give so public a testimony of those transactions which might
possibly convince those who, he had rather, should continue in unbelief
of his existence."

As soon as the royal commissioners took their departure, the infernal
drummer re-commenced his antics, and hundreds of persons were daily
present to hear and wonder. Mr. Mompesson's servant was so fortunate as
not only to hear, but to see this pertinacious demon; for it came and
stood at the foot of his bed. "The exact shape and proportion of it he
could not discover; but he saw a great body, with two red and glaring
eyes, which, for some time, were fixed steadily on him, and at length
disappeared." Innumerable were the antics it played. Once it purred
like a cat; beat the children's legs black and blue; put a long spike
into Mr. Mompesson's bed, and a knife into his mother's; filled the
porrengers with ashes; hid a Bible under the grate; and turned the
money black in people's pockets. "One night," said Mr. Mompesson, in a
letter to Mr. Glanvil, "there were seven or eight of these devils in
the shape of men, who, as soon as a gun was fired, would shuffle away
into an arbour;" a circumstance which might have convinced Mr.
Mompesson of the mortal nature of his persecutors, if he had not been
of the number of those worse than blind, who shut their eyes and refuse
to see.

In the mean time the drummer, the supposed cause of all the mischief,
passed his time in Gloucester gaol, whither he had been committed as a
rogue and a vagabond. Being visited one day by some person from the
neighbourhood of Tedworth, he asked what was the news in Wiltshire, and
whether people did not talk a great deal about a drumming in a
gentleman's house there? The visiter replied, that he heard of nothing
else; upon which the drummer observed, "I have done it; I have thus
plagued him; and he shall never be quiet until he hath made me
satisfaction for taking away my drum." No doubt the fellow, who seems
to have been a gipsy, spoke the truth, and that the gang of which he
was a member knew more about the noises at Mr. Mompesson's house than
anybody else. Upon these words, however, he was brought to trial at
Salisbury, for witchcraft; and, being found guilty, was sentenced to
transportation; a sentence which, for its leniency, excited no little
wonder in that age, when such an accusation, whether proved or not,
generally insured the stake or the gibbet. Glanvil says, that the
noises ceased immediately the drummer was sent beyond the seas; but
that, some how or other, he managed to return from transportation; "by
raising storms and affrighting the seamen, it was said;" when the
disturbances were forthwith renewed, and continued at intervals for
several years. Certainly, if the confederates of this roving gipsy were
so pertinacious in tormenting poor weak Mr. Mompesson, their
pertinacity is a most extraordinary instance of what revenge is capable
of. It was believed by many, at the time, that Mr. Mompesson himself
was privy to the whole matter, and permitted and encouraged these
tricks in his house for the sake of notoriety; but it seems more
probable that the gipsies were the real delinquents, and that Mr.
Mompesson was as much alarmed and bewildered as his credulous
neighhours, whose excited imaginations conjured up no small portion of
these stories,

"Which rolled, and as they rolled, grew larger every hour."

Many instances, of a similar kind, during the seventeenth century,
might be gleaned from Glanvil and other writers of that period; but
they do not differ sufficiently from these to justify a detail of them.
The most famous of all haunted houses acquired its notoriety much
nearer our own time; and the circumstances connected with it are so
curious, and afford so fair a specimen of the easy credulity even of
well-informed and sensible people, as to merit a little notice in this
chapter. The Cock Lane Ghost, as it was called, kept London in
commotion for a considerable time, and was the theme of conversation
among the learned and the illiterate, and in every circle, from that of
the prince to that of the peasant.

At the commencement of the year 1760, there resided in Cock Lane, near
West Smithfield, in the house of one Parsons, the parish clerk of St.
Sepulchre's, a stockbroker, named Kent. The wife of this gentleman had
died in child-bed during the previous year, and his sister-in-law, Miss
Fanny, had arrived from Norfolk to keep his house for him. They soon
conceived a mutual affection, and each of them made a will in the
other's favour. They lived some months in the house of Parsons, who,
being a needy man, borrowed money of his lodger. Some difference arose
betwixt them, and Mr. Kent left the house, and instituted legal
proceedings against the parish clerk for the recovery of his money.

While this matter was yet pending, Miss Fanny was suddenly taken ill of
the small-pox; and, notwithstanding every care and attention, she died
in a few days, and was buried in a vault under Clerkenwell church.
Parsons now began to hint that the poor lady had come unfairly by her
death, and that Mr. Kent was accessory to it, from his too great
eagerness to enter into possession of the property she had bequeathed
him. Nothing further was said for nearly two years; but it would appear
that Parsons was of so revengeful a character, that he had never
forgotten or forgiven his differences with Mr. Kent, and the indignity
of having been sued for the borrowed money. The strong passions of
pride and avarice were silently at work during all that interval,
hatching schemes of revenge, but dismissing them one after the other as
impracticable, until, at last, a notable one suggested itself. About
the beginning of the year 1762, the alarm was spread over all the
neighbourhood of Cock Lane, that the house of Parsons was haunted by
the ghost of poor Fanny, and that the daughter of Parsons, a girl about
twelve years of age, had several times seen and conversed with the
spirit, who had, moreover, informed her, that she had not died of the
smallpox, as was currently reported, but of poison, administered by Mr.
Kent. Parsons, who originated, took good care to countenance these
reports; and, in answer to numerous inquiries, said his house was every
night, and had been for two years, in fact, ever since the death of
Fanny, troubled by a loud knocking at the doors and in the walls.
Having thus prepared the ignorant and credulous neighhours to believe
or exaggerate for themselves what he had told them, he sent for a
gentleman of a higher class in life, to come and witness these
extraordinary occurrences. The gentleman came accordingly, and found
the daughter of Parsons, to whom the spirit alone appeared, and whom
alone it answered, in bed, trembling violently, having just seen the
ghost, and been again informed that she had died from poison. A loud
knocking was also heard from every part of the chamber, which so
mystified the not very clear understanding of the visiter, that he
departed, afraid to doubt and ashamed to believe, but with a promise to
bring the clergyman of the parish and several other gentlemen on the
following day, to report upon the mystery.

On the following night he returned, bringing with him three clergymen,
and about twenty other persons, including two negroes, when, upon a
consultation with Parsons, they resolved to sit up the whole night, and
await the ghost's arrival. It was then explained by Parsons, that
although the ghost would never render itself visible to anybody but his
daughter, it had no objection to answer the questions that might be put
to it, by any person present, and that it expressed an affirmation by
one knock, a negative by two, and its displeasure by a kind of
scratching. The child was then put into bed along with her sister, and
the clergymen examined the bed and bed-clothes to satisfy themselves
that no trick was played, by knocking upon any substance concealed
among the clothes. As on the previous night, the bed was observed to
shake violently.

After some hours, during which they all waited with exemplary patience,
the mysterious knocking was heard in the wall, and the child declared
that she saw the ghost of poor Fanny. The following questions were then
gravely put by the clergyman, through the medium of one Mary Frazer,
the servant of Parsons, and to whom it was said the deceased lady had
been much attached. The answers were in the usual fashion, by a knock
or knocks:--

"Do you make this disturbance on account of the ill usage you received
from Mr. Kent?"--"Yes."

"Were you brought to an untimely end by poison?"--"Yes."

"How was the poison administered, in beer or in purl?"--"In purl."

"How long was that before your death?"--"About three hours."

"Can your former servant, Carrots, give any information about the

"Are you Kent's wife's sister?"--"Yes."

"Were you married to Kent after your sister's death?"--"No."

"Was anybody else, besides Kent, concerned in your murder?"--"No."

"Can you, if you like, appear visibly to anyone?"--"Yes."

"Will you do so?"--"Yes."

"Can you go out of this house?"--"Yes."

"Is it your intention to follow this child about everywhere?"--"Yes."

"Are you pleased in being asked these questions?"--"Yes."

"Does it case your troubled soul?"--"Yes."

[Here there was heard a mysterious noise, which some wiseacre present
compared to the fluttering of wings.]

"How long before your death did you tell your servant, Carrots, that
you were poisoned?--An hour?"--"Yes."

[Carrots, who was present, was appealed to; but she stated positively
that such was not the fact, as the deceased was quite speechless an
hour before her death. This shook the faith of some of the spectators,
but the examination was allowed to continue.]

"How long did Carrots live with you?"--"Three or four days."

[Carrots was again appealed to, and said that this was true.]

"If Mr. Kent is arrested for this murder, will he confess?"--"Yes."

"Would your soul be at rest if he were hanged for it?"--"Yes."

"Will he be hanged for it?"--"Yes."

"How long a time first?"--"Three years."

"How many clergymen are there in this room?"--"Three."

"How many negroes?"--"Two."

"Is this watch (held up by one of the clergymen) white?"--"No."

"Is it yellow?"--"No."

"Is it blue?"--"No."

"Is it black?"--"Yes."

[The watch was in a black shagreen case.]

"At what time this morning will you take your departure?"

The answer to this question was four knocks, very distinctly heard by
every person present; and accordingly, at four o'clock precisely, the
ghost took its departure to the Wheatsheaf public-house, close by,
where it frightened mine host and his lady almost out of their wits by
knocking in the ceiling right above their bed.

The rumour of these occurrences very soon spread over London, and every
day Cock Lane was rendered impassable by the crowds of people who
assembled around the house of the parish clerk, in expectation of
either seeing the ghost or of hearing the mysterious knocks. It was at
last found necessary, so clamorous were they for admission within the
haunted precincts, to admit those only who would pay a certain fee, an
arrangement which was very convenient to the needy and money-loving Mr.
Parsons. Indeed, things had taken a turn greatly to his satisfaction;
he not only had his revenge, but he made a profit out of it. The ghost,
in consequence, played its antics every night, to the great amusement
of many hundreds of people and the great perplexity of a still greater

Unhappily, however, for the parish clerk, the ghost was induced to make
some promises which were the means of utterly destroying its
reputation. It promised, in answer to the questions of the Reverend Mr.
Aldritch of Clerkenwell, that it would not only follow the little Miss
Parsons wherever she went, but would also attend him, or any other
gentleman, into the vault under St. John's Church, where the body of
the murdered woman was deposited, and would there give notice of its
presence by a distinct knock upon the coffin. As a preliminary, the
girl was conveyed to the house of Mr. Aldritch near the church, where a
large party of ladies and gentlemen, eminent for their acquirements,
their rank, or their wealth, had assembled. About ten o'clock on the
night of the 1st of February, the girl having been brought from Cock
Lane in a coach, was put to bed by several ladies in the house of Mr.
Aldritch; a strict examination having been previously made that nothing
was hidden in the bedclothes. While the gentlemen, in an adjoining
chamber, were deliberating whether they should proceed in a body to the
vault, they were summoned into the bedroom by the ladies, who affirmed,
in great alarm, that the ghost was come, and that they heard the knocks
and scratches. The gentlemen entered accordingly, with a determination
to suffer no deception. The little girl, on being asked whether she saw
the ghost, replied, "No; but she felt it on her back like a mouse." She
was then required to put her hands out of bed, and they being held by
some of the ladies, the spirit was summoned in the usual manner to
answer, if it were in the room. The question was several times put with
great solemnity; but the customary knock was not heard in reply in the
walls, neither was there any scratching. The ghost was then asked to
render itself visible, but it did not choose to grant the request. It
was next solicited to give some token of its presence by a sound of any
sort, or by touching the hand or cheek of any lady or gentleman in the
room; but even with this request the ghost would not comply.

There was now a considerable pause, and one of the clergymen went
downstairs to interrogate the father of the girl, who was waiting the
result of the experiment. He positively denied that there was any
deception, and even went so far as to say that he himself, upon one
occasion, had seen and conversed with the awful ghost. This having been
communicated to the company, it was unanimously resolved to give the
ghost another trial; and the clergyman called out in a loud voice to
the supposed spirit that the gentleman to whom it had promised to
appear in the vault, was about to repair to that place, where he
claimed the fulfilment of its promise. At one hour after midnight they
all proceeded to the church, and the gentleman in question, with
another, entered the vault alone, and took up their position alongside
of the coffin of poor Fanny. The ghost was then summoned to appear, but
it appeared not; it was summoned to knock, but it knocked not; it was
summoned to scratch, but it scratched not; and the two retired from the
vault, with the firm belief that the whole business was a deception
practised by Parsons and his daughter. There were others, however, who
did not wish to jump so hastily to a conclusion, and who suggested that
they were, perhaps, trifling with this awful and supernatural being,
which, being offended with them for their presumption, would not
condescend to answer them. Again, after a serious consultation, it was
agreed on all hands that, if the ghost answered anybody at all, it
would answer Mr. Kent, the supposed murderer; and he was accordingly
requested to go down into the vault.  He went with several others, and
summoned the ghost to answer whether he had indeed poisoned her. There
being no answer, the question was put by Mr. Aldritch, who conjured it,
if it were indeed a spirit, to end their doubts-make a sign of its
presence, and point out the guilty person. There being still no answer
for the space of half an hour, during which time all these boobies
waited with the most praiseworthy perseverance, they returned to the
house of Mr. Aldritch, and ordered the girl to get up and dress
herself. She was strictly examined, but persisted in her statement that
she used no deception, and that the ghost had really appeared to her.

So many persons had, by their openly expressed belief of the reality of
the visitation, identified themselves with it, that Parsons and his
family were far from being the only persons interested in the
continuance of the delusion. The result of the experiment convinced
most people; but these were not to be convinced by any evidence,
however positive, and they, therefore, spread abroad the rumour, that
the ghost had not appeared in the vault because Mr. Kent had taken care
beforehand to have the coffin removed. That gentleman, whose position
was a very painful one, immediately procured competent witnesses, in
whose presence the vault was entered and the coffin of poor Fanny
opened. Their deposition was then published; and Mr. Kent indicted
Parsons and his wife, his daughter, Mary Frazer the servant, the
Reverend Mr. Moor, and a tradesman, two of the most prominent patrons
of the deception, for a conspiracy. The trial came on in the Court of
King's Bench, on the 10th of July, before Lord Chief-Justice Mansfield,
when, after an investigation which lasted twelve hours, the whole of
the conspirators were found guilty. The Reverend Mr. Moor and his
friend were severely reprimanded in open court, and recommended to make
some pecuniary compensation to the prosecutor for the aspersions they
had been instrumental in throwing upon his character. Parsons was
sentenced to stand three times in the pillory, and to be imprisoned for
two years: his wife to one year's, and his servant to six months'
imprisonment in the Bridewell. A printer, who had been employed by them
to publish an account of the proceedings for their profit, was also
fined fifty pounds, and discharged.

The precise manner in which the deception was carried on has never been
explained. The knocking in the wall appears to have been the work of
Parsons' wife, while the scratching part of the business was left to
the little girl. That any contrivance so clumsy could have deceived
anybody, cannot fail to excite our wonder. But thus it always is. If
two or three persons can only be found to take the lead in any
absurdity, however great, there is sure to be plenty of imitators.
Like sheep in a field, if one clears the stile, the rest will follow.

About ten years afterwards, London was again alarmed by the story of a
haunted house. Stockwell, near Vauxhall, the scene of the antics of
this new ghost, became almost as celebrated in the annals of
superstition as Cock Lane. Mrs. Golding, an elderly lady, who resided
alone with her servant, Anne Robinson, was sorely surprised on the
evening of Twelfth-Day, 1772, to observe a most extraordinary commotion
among her crockery. Cups and saucers rattled down the chimney--pots and
pans were whirled down stairs, or through the windows; and hams,
cheeses, and loaves of bread disported themselves upon the floor as if
the devil were in them. This, at least, was the conclusion that Mrs.
Golding came to; and being greatly alarmed, she invited some of her
neighbours to stay with her, and protect her from the evil one. Their
presence, however, did not put a stop to the insurrection of china, and
every room in the house was in a short time strewed with the fragments.
The chairs and tables joined, at last, in the tumults, and things
looked altogether so serious and inexplicable, that the neighbours,
dreading that the house itself would next be seized with a fit of
motion, and tumble about their ears, left poor Mrs. Golding to bear the
brunt of it by herself. The ghost in this case was solemnly
remonstrated with, and urged to take its departure; but the demolition
continuing as great as before, Mrs. Golding finally made up her mind to
quit the house altogether. She took refuge with Anne Robinson in the
house of a neighbour; but his glass and crockery being immediately
subjected to the same persecution, he was reluctantly compelled to give
her notice to quit. The old lady thus forced back to her own house,
endured the disturbance for some days longer, when suspecting that Anne
Robinson was the cause of all the mischief, she dismissed her from her
service. The extraordinary appearances immediately ceased, and were
never afterwards renewed; a fact which is of itself sufficient to point
out the real disturber. A long time afterwards, Anne Robinson confessed
the whole matter to the Reverend Mr. Bray field. This gentleman
confided the story to Mr. Hone, who has published an explanation of the
mystery. Anne, it appears, was anxious to have a clear house, to carry
on an intrigue with her lover, and resorted to this trick to effect her
purpose. She placed the china on the shelves in such a manner that it
fell on the slightest motion, and attached horse-hairs to other
articles, so that she could jerk them down from an adjoining room
without being perceived by any one. She was exceedingly dexterous at
this sort of work, and would have proved a formidable rival to many a
juggler by profession. A full explanation of the whole affair may be
found in the "Every-day Book."

The latest instance of the popular panic occasioned by a house supposed
to be haunted, occurred in Scotland, in the winter of the year 1838. On
the 5th of December, the inmates of the farm-house of Baldarroch, in
the district of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, were alarmed by observing a
great number of sticks, pebble-stones, and clods of earth flying about
their yard and premises. They endeavoured, but in vain, to discover who
was the delinquent; and the shower of stones continuing for five days
in succession, they came at last to the conclusion that the devil and
his imps were alone the cause of it. The rumour soon spread over all
that part of the country, and hundreds of persons came from far and
near to witness the antics of the devils of Baldarroch. After the fifth
day, the shower of clods and stones ceased on the outside of the
premises, and the scene shifted to the interior.  Spoons, knives,
plates, mustard-pots, rolling-pins, and flat-irons appeared suddenly
endued with the power of self-motion, and were whirled from room to
room, and rattled down the chimneys in a manner which nobody could
account for. The lid of a mustard-pot was put into a cupboard by the
servant-girl in the presence of scores of people, and in a few minutes
afterwards came bouncing down the chimney to the consternation of
everybody. There was also a tremendous knocking at the doors and on the
roof, and pieces of stick and pebble-stones rattled against the windows
and broke them. The whole neighbourhood was a scene of alarm; and not
only the vulgar, but persons of education, respectable farmers, within
a circle of twenty miles, expressed their belief in the supernatural
character of these events, and offered up devout prayers to be
preserved from the machinations of the Evil One. The note of fear being
once sounded, the visiters, as is generally the case in all tales of
wonder, strove with each other who should witness the most
extraordinary occurrences; and within a week, it was generally believed
in the parishes of Banchory-Ternan, Drumoak, Durris, Kincardine-O'Neil,
and all the circumjacent districts of Mearns and Aberdeenshire, that
the devil had been seen in the act of hammering upon the house-top of
Baldarroch. One old man asserted positively that, one night, after
having been to see the strange gambols of the knives and mustard-pots,
he met the phantom of a great black man, "who wheeled round his head
with a whizzing noise, making a wind about his ears that almost blew
his bonnet off," and that he was haunted by him in this manner for
three miles. It was also affirmed and believed, that all horses and
dogs that approached this enchanted ground, were immediately
affected--that a gentleman, slow of faith, had been cured of his
incredulity by meeting the butter-churn jumping in at the door as he
himself was going out--that the roofs of houses had been torn off, and
that several ricks in the corn-yard had danced a quadrille together, to
the sound of the devil's bagpipes re-echoing from the mountain-tops.
The women in the family of the persecuted farmer of Baldarroch also
kept their tongues in perpetual motion; swelling with their strange
stories the tide of popular wonder. The good wife herself, and all her
servants, said that, whenever they went to bed, they were attacked with
stones and other missiles, some of which came below the blankets and
gently tapped their toes. One evening, a shoe suddenly darted across a
garret where some labourers were sitting, and one of the men, who
attempted to catch it, swore positively that it was so hot and heavy he
was unable to hold it. It was also said that the bearbeater (a sort of
mortar used to bruise barley in)--an object of such weight that it
requires several men to move it--spontaneously left the barn and flew
over the house-top, alighting at the feet of one of the servant maids,
and hitting her, but without hurting her in the least, or even causing
her any alarm; it being a fact well known to her, that all objects thus
thrown about by the devil lost their specific gravity, and could harm
nobody, even though they fell upon a person's head.

Among the persons drawn to Baldarroch by these occurrences were the
heritor, the minister, and all the elders of the Kirk, under whose
superintendence an investigation was immediately commenced. Their
proceedings were not promulgated for some days; and, in the mean time,
rumour continued to travel through all the Highlands, magnifying each
mysterious incident the further it got from home. It was said, that
when the goodwife put her potato-pot on the fire, each potato, as the
water boiled, changed into a demon, and grinned horribly at her as she
lifted the lid; that not only chairs and tables, but carrots and
turnips, skipped along the floor in the merriest manner imaginable;
that shoes and boots went through all the evolutions of the Highland
fling without any visible wearers directing their motions; and that a
piece of meat detached itself from the hook on which it hung in the
pantry, and placed itself before the fire, whence all the efforts of
the people of the house were unable to remove it until it was
thoroughly roasted; and that it then flew up the chimney with a
tremendous bang. At Baldarroch itself the belief was not quite so
extravagant; but the farmer was so convinced that the devil and his
imps were alone the cause of all the disturbance, that he travelled a
distance of forty miles to an old conjuror, named Willie Foreman, to
induce him, for a handsome fee, to remove the enchantment from his
property. There were, of course, some sensible and educated people,
who, after stripping the stories circulated of their exaggeration,
attributed all the rest to one or other of two causes; first, that some
gipsies, or strolling mendicants, hidden in the neighbouring
plantation, were amusing themselves by working on the credulity of the
country people; or, secondly, that the inmates of Baldarroch carried on
this deception themselves, for some reason or other, which was not very
clear to anybody. The last opinion gained but few believers, as the
farmer and his family were much respected; and so many persons had, in
the most open manner, expressed their belief in the supernatural
agency, that they did not like to stultify themselves by confessing
that they had been deceived.

At last, after a fortnight's continuance of the noises, the whole trick
was discovered. The two servant lasses were strictly examined, and then
committed to prison. It appeared that they were alone at the bottom of
the whole affair, and that the extraordinary alarm and credulity of
their master and mistress, in the first instance, and of the neighbours
and country people afterwards, made their task comparatively easy. A
little common dexterity was all they had used; and, being themselves
unsuspected, they swelled the alarm by the wonderful stories they
invented. It was they who loosened the bricks in the chimneys, and
placed the dishes in such a manner on the shelves, that they fell on
the slightest motion. In short, they played the same tricks as those
used by the servant girl at Stockwell, with the same results, and for
the same purpose--the gratification of a love of mischief. They were no
sooner secured in the county gaol than the noises ceased, and most
people were convinced that human agency alone had worked all the
wonder. Some few of the most devoutly superstitious still held out in
their first belief, and refused to listen to any explanation.

These tales of haunted houses, especially those of the last and present
century, however they may make us blush for popular folly, are yet
gratifying in their results; for they show that society has made a vast
improvement. Had Parsons and his wife, and the other contrivers of the
Cock Lane deception, lived two hundred years earlier, they would not,
perhaps, have found a greater number of dupes, but they would have been
hanged as witches, instead of being imprisoned as vagabonds. The
ingenious Anne Robinson and the sly lasses of Baldarroch would,
doubtless, have met a similar fate. Thus it is pleasant to reflect,
that though there may be as much folly and credulity in the world as
ever, in one class of society, there is more wisdom and mercy in
another than ever were known before. Lawgivers, by blotting from the
statute-book the absurd or sanguinary enactments of their predecessors,
have made one step towards teaching the people. It is to be hoped that
the day is not far distant when lawgivers will teach the people by some
more direct means, and prevent the recurrence of delusions like these,
and many worse, which might be cited, by securing to every child born
within their dominions an education in accordance with the advancing
state of civilization. If ghosts and witches are not yet altogether
exploded, it is the fault, not so much of the ignorant people, as of
the law and the government that have neglected to enlighten them.

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