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Title: Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits. English - The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
Author: Calmet, Augustin, 1672-1757
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 "Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits. English - The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c." ***

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  &c. &c.



Quemadmodùm multa fieri non posse, priusquam facta sunt, judicantur;
ita multa quoque, quæ antiquitùs facta, quia nos ea non vidimus, neque
ratione assequimur, ex iis esse, quæ fieri non potuerunt, judicamus.
Quæ certè summa insipientia est.--PLIN. _Hist. Nat._ lib. vii. c. 1.




  &c. &c. &c.


I inscribe these volumes with your name to record a friendship which
has lasted from our infancy, tain____________ suspicion, and darkened
by no shadow.

So long as eminent talents can challenge admiration, varied and
extensive acquirements command respect, and unfeigned virtues ensure
esteem and regard, so long will you have no common claim to them all;
and none will pay the tribute more gladly than your affectionate

          Friend and Cousin,
               HENRY CHRISTMAS.

  SION COLLEGE, _March, 1850._


Among the many phases presented by human credulity, few are more
interesting than those which regard the realities of the invisible
world. If the opinions which have been held on this subject were
written and gathered together they would form hundreds of volumes--if
they were arranged and digested they would form a few, but most
important. It is not merely because there is in almost every human
error a substratum of truth, and that the more important the subject
the more important the substratum, but because the investigation will
give almost a history of human aberrations, that this otherwise
unpromising topic assumes so high an interest. The superstitions of
every age, for no age is free from them, will present the popular
modes of thinking in an intelligible and easily accessible form, and
may be taken as a means of gauging (if the expression be permitted)
the philosophical and metaphysical capacities of the period. In this
light, the volumes here presented to the reader will be found of great
value, for they give a picture of the popular mind at a time or great
interest, and furnish a clue to many difficulties in the ecclesiastical
affairs of that era. In the time of Calmet, cases of demoniacal
possession, and instances of returns from the world of spirits, were
reputed to be of no uncommon occurrence. The church was continually
called on to exert her powers of exorcism; and the instances gathered
by Calmet, and related in this work, may be taken as fair specimens of
the rest. It is then, first, as a storehouse of facts, or reputed
facts, that Calmet compiled the work now in the reader's hands--as the
foundation on which to rear what superstructure of system they pleased;
and secondly, as a means of giving his own opinions, in a detached and
desultory way, as the subjects came under his notice. The value of the
first will consist in their _evidence_--and of this the reader will be
as capable of judging as the compiler; that of the second will depend
on their truth--and of this, too, we are as well, and in some respects
better, able to judge than Calmet himself. Those accustomed to require
rigid evidence will be but ill satisfied with the greater part of that
which will be found in this work; simple assertion for the most part
suffices--often first made long after the facts, or supposed facts,
related, and not unfrequently far off from the places where they were
alleged to have taken place. But these cases are often the _best_
authenticated, for in the more modern ones there is frequently such an
evident mistake in the whole nature of the case, that all the
spiritual deductions made from it fall to the ground.

Not a few instances of so-called demoniacal possession are capable of
being resolved into cataleptic trance, a state not unlike that
produced by mesmerism, and in which many of the same phenomena seem
naturally to display themselves; the well-known instance of the young
servant girl, related by Coleridge, who, though ignorant and uneducated,
could during her sleep-walking discourse learnedly in rabbinical
Hebrew, would furnish a case in point. The circumstance of her old
master having been in the habit of walking about the house at night,
reading from rabbinical books aloud and in a declamatory manner; the
impression made by the strange sounds upon her youthful imagination;
their accurate retention by a memory, which, however, could only
reproduce them in an abnormal condition--all teach us many most
interesting psychological facts, which, had this young girl fallen
into other hands, would have been useless in a philosophical point of
view, and would have been only used to establish the doctrine of
diabolical possession and ecclesiastical exorcism. We should have been
told how skilled was the fallen angel in rabbinical traditions, and
how wholesome a terror he entertained of the Jesuits, the Capuchins,
or the _Fratres Minimi_, as the case might be. Not a few of the most
remarkable cases of supposed _modern_ possession are to be accounted
for by involuntary or natural mesmerism. Indeed the same view seems to
be taken by a popular minister of the church (Mr. Mac Niel), in our
own day, viz., that mesmerism and diabolical possession are frequently
identical. Our difference with him is that we should consider the
cases called by the two names as all natural, and he would consider
them as all supernatural. And here, to avoid misconception, or rather
misinterpretation, let me at once observe, that I speak thus of
_modern_ and _recorded_ cases only, accepting _literally_ all related
in the New Testament, and not presuming to say that similar cases
_might_ not occur now. Calmet, however, may be supposed to have
collected all the most remarkable of modern times, and I am compelled
to say I believe not one of them. But when we pass from the evidence
of truth, in which they are so wanting, to the evidence of fraud and
collusion by which many are so characterized, we shall have less wonder
at the general spread of infidelity in times somewhat later, on all
subjects not susceptible of ocular demonstration. Where a system
claimed to be received as a whole, or not at all, it is hardly to be
wondered at that when some portion was manifestly wrong, its own
requirements should be complied with, and the whole rejected. The
system which required an implicit belief in such absurdities as those
related in these volumes, and placed them on a level with the most
awful verities of religion, might indeed make some interested use of
them in an age of comparative darkness, but certainly contained within
itself the seeds of destruction, and which could not fail to germinate
as soon as light fell upon them. The state of Calmet's own mind, as
revealed in this book, is curious and interesting. The belief _of the
intellect_ in much which he relates is evidently gone, the belief _of
the will_ but partially remains. There is a painful sense of
uncertainty as to whether certain things _ought_ not to be received
more fully than he felt himself able to receive them, and he gladly
follows in many cases the example of Herodotus of old, merely relating
stories without comment, save by stating that they had not fallen
under his own observation.

The time, indeed, had hardly come to assert freedom of belief on
subjects such as these. Theology embraced philosophy, and the Holy
Inquisition defended the orthodoxy of both; and if the investigators
of Calmet's day were permitted to hold, with some limitation, the
Copernican theory, it was far otherwise with regard to the world of
spirits, and its connection with our own. The rotundity of the earth
affected neither shrines nor exorcisms; metaphysical truth might do
both one and the other; and the cry of "Great is Diana of the
Ephesians," was not raised in the capital of Asia Minor, till the
"craft by which we get our wealth" was proved to be in danger.

Reflections such as these are painfully forced on us by the evident
fraud exhibited by many of the actors in the scenes of exorcism
narrated by Calmet, the vile purposes to which the services of the
church were turned, and the recklessness with which the supposed or
pretended evil, and equally pretended remedy, were used for political
intrigue or state oppression.

Independent of these conclusions, there is something lamentable in a
state of the public mind, which was so little prone to examination as
to receive such a mass of superstition without sifting the wheat, for
such there undoubtedly is, from the chaff. Calmet's work contains
enough, had we the minor circumstances in each case preserved, to set
at rest many philosophic doubts, and to illustrate many physical
facts; and to those who desire to know what was believed by our
Christian forefathers, and why it was believed, the compilation is
absolutely invaluable. Calmet was a man of naturally cool, calm
judgment, possessed of singular learning, and was pious and truthful.
A short sketch of his life will not, perhaps, be unacceptable to the

Augustine Calmet was born in the year 1672, at a village near
Commerci, in Lorraine. He early gave proofs of aptitude for study, and
an opportunity was speedily offered of devoting himself to a life of
learning. In his sixteenth year he became a Benedictine of the
Congregation of St. Vannes, and prosecuted his theological and such
philosophical studies as the time allowed with great success. He was
soon appointed to teach the younger portion of the community, and gave
in this employment such decided satisfaction to his superiors, that he
was soon marked for preferment. His chief study was the Scriptures;
and in the twenty-second year of his age, a period unusually early, in
an age when all benefices and beneficial employments were matters of
sale, he was appointed to be sub-prior of the monastery of Munster, in
Alsace, where he presided over an academy. This academy consisted of
ten or twelve monks, and its object was the investigation of
Scripture. Calmet was not idle in his new position; besides
communicating so much valuable information as to make his pupils the
best biblical scholars of the country, he made extensive collections
for his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, and for his still
more celebrated work, the History of the Bible. These materials he
subsequently digested and arranged. The Commentary, a work of immense
value, was published in separate volumes from 1707 to 1716. His labors
attracted renewed and increased attention, and the offer of a
bishopric was made to him, which he unhesitatingly declined.

In 1718, he was elected to the abbacy of St. Leopold, in Nancy; and
ten years afterwards, to that of Senones, where he spent the remainder
of his days. His writings are numerous--two have been already
mentioned--and so great was the popularity attained by his
Commentaries, that they have been translated into no fewer than six
languages within ten years. It exhibits a favorable aspect of the
author's mind, and gives a very high idea of his erudition. One cause
which tended greatly to its universal acceptability, was its singular
freedom from sectarian bitterness. Protestants as well as Romanists
may use it with equal satisfaction; and accordingly, it is considered
a work of standard authority in England as much as on the continent.

In addition to these Commentaries, and his History of the Bible, and
Fragments, (the best edition of which latter work in English, is by
Isaac Taylor,) he wrote the "Ecclesiastical and Civil History of
Lorraine;" "A Catalogue of the Writers of Lorraine;" "Universal
History, Sacred and Profane;" a small collection of Reveries; and a
work entitled, "A Literal, Moral, and Historical Commentary on the
Rule of St. Benedict," a work which is full of curious information on
ancient customs, particularly ecclesiastical. He is among the few,
also, who have written on ancient music. He lived to a good old age;
and died regretted and much respected in 1757.

Of all his works, the one presented here to the reader, is perhaps the
most popular; it went rapidly through many editions, and received from
the author's hand continual corrections and additions. To say that it
is characterized by uniform judgment, would be to give it a praise
somewhat different as well as somewhat greater than that which it
merits. It is a vast repertory of legends, more or less probable; some
of which have very little foundation--and some which Calmet himself
would have done well to omit, though _now_, as a picture of the belief
entertained in that day, they greatly add to the value of the book.
For the same reasons which have caused the retention of these
passages, no alterations have been made in the citations from
Scripture, which being translations from the Vulgate, necessarily
differ in phraseology from the version in use among ourselves. The
apocryphal books too are quoted, and the story of Bel and the Dragon
referred to as a part of the prophecy of Daniel; but what is of
consequence to observe, is, that _doctrines_ are founded on these
translations, and on those very points in which they differ from our

If the history of popery, and especially that form and development of
it exhibited in the monastic orders, be ever written, this work will
be of the greatest importance:--it will show the means by which
dominion was obtained over the minds of the ignorant; how the most
sacred mysteries were perverted; and frauds, which can hardly be
termed pious, used to support institutions which can scarcely be
called religious. That the spirits of the dead should be permitted to
return to earth, under circumstances the most grotesque, to support
the doctrines of masses for the dead, purgatory and propitiatory
penance; that demons should be exorcised to give testimony to the
merits of rival orders of monks and friars; that relics, many of them
supposititious, and many of the most disgusting and blasphemous
character, should have power to affect the eternal state of the
departed; and that _all_ saints, angels, demons, and the ghosts of the
departed, should support, with great variations indeed, the corrupt
dealings of a corrupt priesthood--form a creed worthy of the darkest
and most unworthy days of heathenism.

There is, however, one excuse, or rather palliation, for the
superstition of that time. In periods of great public depravity--and
few epochs have been more depraved than that in which Calmet
lived--Satan has great power. With a ruler like the regent Duke of
Orleans, with a Church governor like Cardinal Dubois, it would appear
that the civil and ecclesiastical authority of France had sold itself,
like Ahab of old, to work wickedness; or, as the apostle says, "to
work all uncleanness with greediness." In an age so characterized, it
does not seem at all improbable that portentous events should from
time to time occur; that the servants of the devil should be
strengthened together with their master; that many should be given
over to strong delusions and to believe a lie; and that the evil part
of the invisible world should be permitted to ally itself more closely
with the men of an age so congenial. Real cases of demoniacal
possession might, perhaps, be met with, and though scarcely amenable
to the exorcisms of a clergy so corrupt as that of France in that day,
they would yet justify a belief in the reality of those cases got up
for the sake of filthy lucre, personal ambition, or private revenge.
If the public mind was prepared for a belief in such cases, there were
not wanting men to turn it to profitable account; and the quiet
student who believed the efficacy of the means used, and was scarcely
aware of the wickedness of the age in which he lived, might easily be
induced to credit the tales told him of demons expelled by the power
of a church, to which in the beginning an authority to do so had
undoubtedly been given, and whose awful corruptions were to him at
least greatly veiled.

Calmet was a man of great integrity and considerable acumen, but he
passed an innocent and exemplary life in studious seclusion; he mixed
little with the world at large, resided remote "from courts, and
camps, and strife of war or peace;" and there appears occasionally in
his writings a kind of nervous apprehension lest the dogmas of the
church to which he was pledged should be less capable than he could
wish of satisfactory investigation. When he meets with tales like
those of the vampires or vroucolacas, which concern only what he
considered a heretical church, and with which, therefore, he might
deal according to his own will--apply to them the ordinary rules of
evidence, and treat them as mundane affairs--there he is
clear-sighted, critical and acute, and accordingly he discusses the
matter philosophically and logically, and concludes without fear of
sinning against the church, that the whole is delusion. When, on the
other hand, he has to deal with cases of demoniacal possession, in
countries under the rule of the Roman hierarchy, he contents himself
with the decisions of the scholastic divines and the opinions of the
fathers, and makes frequent references to the decrees of various
provincial parliaments. The effects of such a state of mind upon
scientific and especially metaphysical investigation, may be easily
imagined, and are to be traced more or less distinctly in every page
of the work before us.

To conclude: books like this--the "Disquisitiones Magicæ" of Delrio,
the "Demonomanie" of Bodin, the "Malleus Maleficarum" of Sprengel, and
the like, are at no time to be regarded merely as subjects of
amusement; they have their philosophical value; they have a still
greater historical value; and they show how far even upright minds may
be warped by imperfect education, and slavish deference to authority.

The edition here followed is that of 1751, which contains the latest
corrections of the author, and several additional pieces, which are
all included in the present volumes.

       _April, 1850._


PREFACE                                                          xv


I. The Appearance of Good Angels proved by the Books of the
     Old Testament                                               37

II. The Appearance of Good Angels proved by the Books of the
     New Testament                                               38

III. Under what form have Good Angels appeared?                  41

IV. Opinions of the Jews, Christians, Mahometans, and Oriental
     Nations, concerning the Apparitions of Good Angels          44

V. Opinion of the Greeks and Romans on the Apparitions of
    Good Genii                                                   47

VI. The Apparition of Bad Angels proved by the Holy
    Scriptures--Under what Form they have appeared               50

VII. Of Magic                                                    57

VIII. Objections to the Reality of Magic                         61

IX. Reply to the Objections                                      63

X. Examination of the Affair of Hocque, Magician                 67

XI. Magic of the Egyptians and Chaldeans                         70

XII. Magic among the Greeks and Romans                           73

XIII. Examples which prove the Reality of Magic                  75

XIV. Effects of Magic according to the Poets                     81

XV. Of the Pagan Oracles                                         83

XVI. The Certainty of the Event predicted, is not always a
      proof that the Prediction comes from God                   86

XVII. Reasons which lead us to believe that the greater part
       of the Ancient Oracles were only Impositions of the
       Priests and Priestesses, who feigned that they were
       inspired by God                                           89

XVIII. On Sorcerers and Sorceresses, or Witches                  93

XIX. Instances of Sorcerers and Witches being, as they said,
      transported to the Sabbath                                 98

XX. Story of Louis Gaufredi and Magdalen de la Palud, owned
      by themselves to be a Sorcerer and Sorceress              102

XXI. Reasons which prove the Possibility of Sorcerers and
      Witches being transported to the Sabbath                  106

XXII. Continuation of the same Subject                          111

XXIII. Obsession and Possession of the Devil                    114

XXIV. The Truth and Reality of Possession and Obsession by
       the Devil proved from Scripture                          117

XXV. Examples of Real Possessions caused by the Devil           119

XXVI. Continuation of the same Subject                          123

XXVII. Objections against the Obsessions and Possessions of
        the Demon--Reply to the Objections                      128

XXVIII. Continuation of Objections against Possessions, and
         some Replies to those Objections                       132

XXIX. Of Familiar Spirits                                       138

XXX. Some other Examples of Elves                               142

XXXI. Spirits that keep Watch over Treasure                     149

XXXII. Other instances of Hidden Treasures, which were guarded
        by Good or Bad Spirits                                  153

XXXIII. Spectres which appear, and predict things unknown and
         to come                                                156

XXXIV. Other Apparitions of Spectres                            159

XXXV. Examination of the Apparition of a pretended Spectre      163

XXXVI. Of Spectres which haunt Houses                           165

XXXVII. Other Instances of Spectres which haunt certain Houses  170

XXXVIII. Prodigious effects of Imagination in those Men or
          Women who believe they hold Intercourse with the
          Demon                                                 172

XXXIX. Return and Apparitions of Souls after the Death of the
        Body, proved from Scripture                             176

XL. Apparitions of Spirits proved from History                  180

XLI. More Instances of Apparitions                              185

XLII. On the Apparitions of Spirits who imprint their Hands
       on Clothes or on Wood                                    190

XLIII. Opinions of the Jews, Greeks, and Latins, concerning
        the Dead who are left unburied                          195

XLIV. Examination of what is required or revealed to the Living
       by the Dead who return to Earth                          201

XLV. Apparitions of Men still alive, to other living Men,
      absent, and very distant from each other                  204

XLVI. Arguments concerning Apparitions                          216

XLVII. Objections against Apparitions, and Replies to those
        Objections                                              221

XLVIII. Some other Objections and Replies                       224

XLIX. The Secrets of Physics and Chemistry taken for
       supernatural things                                      229

L. Conclusion of the Treatise on Apparitions                    232

LI. Way of explaining Apparitions                               235

LII. The difficulty of explaining the manner in which
      Apparitions make their appearance, whatever system may
      be proposed on the subject                                237


PREFACE                                                         243


I. The Resurrection of a Dead Person is the Work of God only    247

II. Revival of Persons who were not really Dead                 249

III. Resurrection of a Man who had been buried Three Years,
      resuscitated by St. Stanislaus                            251

IV. Can a Man really Dead appear in his own Body?               253

V. Revival or Apparition of a Girl who had been Dead some
    Months                                                      256

VI. A Woman taken Alive from her Tomb                           259

VII. Revenans, or Vampires of Moravia                           260

VIII. Dead Persons in Hungary who suck the Blood of the Living  262

IX. Narrative of a Vampire from the Jewish Letters, Letter 137  263

X. Other Instances of Revenans.--Continuation of the "Gleaner"  264

XI. Argument of the Author of the Jewish Letters, concerning
     Revenans                                                   266

XII. Continuation of the argument of the Dutch Gleaner          270

XIII. Narrative from the "Mercure Gallant" of 1693 and 1694
       on Revenans                                              272

XIV. Conjectures of the "Glaneur de Hollandais"                 273

XV. Another Letter on Ghosts                                    276

XVI. Pretended Vestiges of Vampirism in Antiquity               278

XVII. Ghosts in Northern Countries                              282

XVIII. Ghosts in England                                        283

XIX. Ghosts in Peru                                             284

XX. Ghosts in Lapland                                           285

XXI. Return of a Man who had been Dead some Months              285

XXII. Excommunicated Persons who went out of Churches           289

XXIII. Some Instances of the Excommunicated being rejected or
        cast out of Consecrated Ground                          291

XXIV. Instance of an Excommunicated Martyr being cast out of
       the Ground                                               292

XXV. A Man cast out of the Church for having refused to pay
      Tithes                                                    293

XXVI. Instances of Persons who have given Signs of Life after
       their Death, and have withdrawn themselves respectfully
       to make room for more worthy Persons                     294

XXVII. People who perform Pilgrimage after Death                296

XXVIII. Reasoning upon the Excommunicated who go out of
         Churches                                               297

XXIX. Do the Excommunicated rot in the Earth?                   300

XXX. Instances to show that the Excommunicated do not rot, and
      that they appear to the Living                            301

XXXI. Instances of these Returns to Earth of the Excommunicated 302

XXXII. A Vroucolacan exhumed in the presence of M. de
        Tournefort                                              304

XXXIII. Has the Demon power to kill, and then to restore to
         Life?                                                  308

XXXIV. Examination of the Opinion that the Demon can restore
        Animation to a Dead Body                                310

XXXV. Instances of Phantoms which have appeared to the Living
       and given many Signs of Life                             313

XXXVI. Devoting People to Death, practised by the Heathens      314

XXXVII. Instances of dooming to Death among Christians          317

XXXVIII. Instances of Persons who have promised to give each
          other News of themselves from the other World         321

XXXIX. Extracts from the Political Works of the Abbé de St.
        Pierre                                                  325

XL. Divers Systems to explain Ghosts                            331

XLI. Divers Instances of Persons being Buried Alive             333

XLII. Instances of Drowned Persons who have come back to Life
       and Health                                               335

XLIII. Instances of Women thought Dead who came to Life again   337

XLIV. Can these Instances be applied to the Hungarian Revenans? 339

XLV. Dead People who chew in their Graves and devour their own
      Flesh                                                     340

XLVI. Singular Example of a Hungarian Revenant                  341

XLVII. Argument on this matter                                  343

XLVIII. Are the Vampires or Revenans really Dead?               344

XLIX. Instance of a Man named Curma being sent back to this
       World                                                    351

L. Instances of Persons who fall into Ecstatic Trances when
    they will, and remain senseless                             354

LI. Application of such Instances to Vampires                   356

LII. Examination of the Opinion that the Demon fascinates the
      Eyes of those to whom Vampires appear                     360

LIII. Instances of Resuscitated Persons who relate what they
       saw in the other World                                   361

LIV. The Traditions of the Pagans on the other Life, are
      derived from the Hebrews and Egyptians                    364

LV. Instances of Christians being Resuscitated and sent back
     to this World.--Vision of Vetinus, a Monk of Augia         366

LVI. Vision of Bertholdas, related by Hincmar, Archbishop of
      Rheims                                                    368

LVII. Vision of St. Fursius                                     369

LVIII. Vision of a Protestant of York, and others               371

LIX. Conclusion of this Dissertation                            374

LX. Moral Impossibility that Ghosts can come out of their Tombs 376

LXI. What is related of the Bodies of the Excommunicated who
      walk out of Churches, is subject to very great
      Difficulties (in Belief and Explanation)                  378

LXII. Remarks on the Dissertation, concerning the Spirit which
       came to St. Maur des Fossés                              380

LXIII. Dissertation of an Anonymous Writer on what should be
         thought of the Appearance of Spirits, on Occasion of
         the Adventure at St. Maur, in 1706                     387

       Letter of the Marquis Maffei on Magic                    407

       Letter of the Reverend Father Dom Calmet, to M. Debure   440


The great number of authors who have written upon the apparitions of
angels, demons, and disembodied souls is not unknown to me; and I do
not presume sufficiently on my own capacity to believe that I shall
succeed better in it than they have done, and that I shall enhance
their knowledge and their discoveries. I am perfectly sensible that I
expose myself to criticism, and perhaps to the mockery of many
readers, who regard this matter as done with, and decried in the minds
of philosophers, learned men, and many theologians. I must not reckon
either on the approbation of the people, whose want of discernment
prevents their being competent judges of this same. My aim is not to
foment superstition, nor to feed the vain curiosity of visionaries,
and those who believe without examination everything that is related
to them as soon as they find therein anything marvelous and
supernatural. I write only for reasonable and unprejudiced minds,
which examine things seriously and coolly; I speak only for those who
assent even to known truth but after mature reflection, who know how
to doubt of what is uncertain, to suspend their judgment on what is
doubtful, and to deny what is manifestly false.

As for pretended freethinkers, who reject everything to distinguish
themselves, and to place themselves above the common herd, I leave
them in their elevated sphere; they will think of this work as they
may consider proper, and as it is not calculated for them, apparently
they will not take the trouble to read it.

I undertook it for my own information, and to form to myself a just
idea of all that is said on the apparitions of angels, of the demon,
and of disembodied souls. I wished to see how far that matter was
certain or uncertain, true or false, known or unknown, clear or

In this great number of facts which I have collected I have endeavored
to make a choice, and not to heap together too great a multitude of
them, for fear that in the too numerous examples the doubtful might
not harm the certain, and in wishing to prove too much I might prove
absolutely nothing. There will, even amongst those I have cited, be
found some which will not easily be credited by many readers, and I
allow them to regard them as not related.

I beg those readers, nevertheless, to discern justly amongst these
facts and instances; after which they can with me form their
opinion--affirm, deny, or remain in doubt.

From the respect which every man owes to truth, and the veneration
which a Christian and a priest owes to religion, it appeared to me
very important to undeceive people respecting the opinion which they
have of apparitions, if they believe them all to be true; or to
instruct them and show them the truth and reality of a great number,
if they think them all false. It is always shameful to be deceived;
_____________________and in regard to religion, to believe on light
grounds, to remain wilfully in doubt, or to maintain oneself without
any reason in superstition and illusion; it is already much to know
how to doubt wisely, and not to form a decided opinion beyond what one
really knows.

I never had any idea of treating profoundly the matter of apparitions;
I have treated of it, as it were, by chance, and occasionally. My
first and principal object was to discourse of the vampires of
Hungary. In collecting my materials on that subject, I found many
things concerning apparitions; the great number of these embarrassed
this treatise on vampires. I detached some of them, and thus have
composed this treatise on apparitions: there still remains a large
number of them, which I might have separated for the better
arrangement of this treatise. Many persons here have taken the
accessory for the principal, and have paid more attention to the first
part than to the second, which was, however, the first and the
principal in my design. For I own I have always been much struck with
what was related of the vampires or ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, and
Poland; of the vroucolacas of Greece; and of the excommunicated, who
are said not to rot. I thought I ought to bestow on it all the
attention in my power; and I have deemed it right to treat on this
subject in a particular dissertation. After having deeply studied it,
and obtaining as much information as I was able, I found little
solidity and certainty on the subject; which, joined to the opinion of
some prudent and respectable persons whom I consulted, had induced me
to give up my design entirely, and to renounce laboring on a subject
which is so contradictory, and embraces so much uncertainty.

But looking at the matter in another point of view, I resumed my pen,
decided upon undeceiving the public, if I found that what was said of
it was absolutely false; showing that what is uttered on this subject
is uncertain, and that one ought to be very reserved in pronouncing on
these vampires, which have made so much noise in the world for a
certain time, and still divide opinions at this day, even in the
countries which are the scene of their pretended return, and where
they appear; or to show that what has been said and written on this
subject is not destitute of probability, and that the subject of the
return of vampires is worthy the attention of the curious and the
learned, and deserves to be seriously studied, to have the facts
related of it examined, and the causes, circumstances, and means
sounded deeply.

I am then about to examine this question as a historian, philosopher,
and theologian. As a historian, I shall endeavor to discover the truth
of the facts; as a philosopher, I shall examine the causes and
circumstances; lastly, the knowledge or light of theology will cause
me to deduce consequences as relating to religion. Thus I do not write
in the hope of convincing freethinkers and pyrrhonians, who will not
allow the existence of ghosts or vampires, nor even of the apparitions
of angels, demons, and spirits; nor to intimidate those weak and
credulous, by relating to them extraordinary stories of apparitions. I
do not reckon either on curing the superstitious of their errors, nor
the people of their prepossessions; not even on correcting the abuses
which arise from this unenlightened belief, nor of doing away all the
doubts which may be formed on apparitions; still less do I pretend to
erect myself as a judge and censor of the works and sentiments of
others, nor to distinguish myself, make myself a name, or divert
myself, by spreading abroad dangerous doubts upon a subject which
concerns religion, and from which they might make wrong deductions
against the certainty of the Scriptures, and against the unshaken
dogmas of our creed. I shall treat it as solidly and gravely as it
merits; and I pray God to give me that knowledge which is necessary to
do it successfully.

I exhort my reader to distinguish between the facts related, and the
manner in which they happened. The fact may be certain, and the way in
which it occurred unknown. Scripture relates certain apparitions of
angels and disembodied souls; these instances are indubitable and
found in the revelations of the holy books; but the manner in which
God operated the resurrections, or in which he permitted these
apparitions to take place, is hidden among his secrets. It is
allowable for us to examine them, to seek out the circumstances, and
propound some conjectures on the manner in which it all came to pass;
but it would be rash to decide upon a matter which God has not thought
proper to reveal to us. I say as much in proportion, concerning the
stories related by sensible, contemporary, and judicious authors, who
simply relate the facts without entering into the examination of the
circumstances, of which, perhaps, they themselves were not well

It has already been objected to me, that I cited poets and authors of
little credit, in support of a thing so grave and so disputed as the
apparition of spirits: such authorities, they say, are more calculated
to cast a doubt on apparitions, than to establish the truth of them.

But I cite those authors as witnesses of the opinions of nations; and
I count it not a small thing in the extreme license of opinions, which
at this day predominates in the world, amongst those even who make a
profession of Christianity, to be able to show that the ancient Greeks
and Romans thought that souls were immortal, that they subsisted after
the death of the body, and that there was another life, in which they
received the reward of their good actions, or the chastisement of
their crimes.

Those sentiments which we read in the poets, are also repeated in the
fathers of the church, and the pagan and Christian historians; but as
they did not pretend to think them weighty, nor to approve them in
repeating them, it must not be imputed to me either, that I have any
intention of authorizing. For instance, what I have related of the
manes, or lares; of the evocation of souls after the death of the
body; of the avidity of these souls to suck the blood of the immolated
animals, of the shape of the soul separated from the body, of the
inquietude of souls which have no rest until their bodies are under
ground; of those superstitious statues of wax which are devoted and
consecrated under the name of certain persons whom the magicians
pretended to kill by burning and stabbing their effigies of wax; of
the transportation of wizards and witches through the air, and of
their assemblies of the Sabbath; all those things are related both in
the works of the philosophers and pagan historians, as well as in the

I know the value of one and the other, and I esteem them as they
deserve; but I think that in treating this matter, it is important to
make known to our readers the ancient superstitions, the vulgar or
common opinions, and the prejudices of nations, to be able to refute
them, and bring back the figures to truths, by freeing them from what
poesy had added for the embellishment of the poem, and the amusement
of the reader.

Moreover, I generally repeat this kind of thing, only when it is
apropos of certain facts avowed by historians, and by other grave and
rational authors; and sometimes rather as an ornament of the
discourse, or to enliven the matter, than to derive thence certain
proofs and consequences necessary for the dogma, or to certify the
facts and give weight to my recital.

I know how little we must depend on what Lucian says on this subject;
he only speaks of it to make game of it. Philostratus, Jamblicus, and
some others, do not merit more consideration; therefore I quote them
only to refute them, or to show how far idle and ridiculous credulity
has been carried on these matters, which were laughed at by the most
sensible among the heathens themselves.

The consequences which I deduce from all these stories, and these
poetical fictions, and the manner in which I speak of them in the
course of this dissertation, sufficiently vouch that esteem, and give
as true and certain only what is so in fact; and that I do not wish to
impose on my reader, by relating many things which I myself regard as
false, or as doubtful, or even as fabulous. But that ought to be
prejudicial to the dogma of the immortality of the soul, and to that
of another life, not to the truth of certain apparitions related in
Scripture, or proved elsewhere by good testimony.

The first edition of this work having been printed in my absence, and
upon an incorrect copy, several misprints have occurred, and even
expressions and phrases displeasing and interrupted. I have tried to
remedy this in a second edition, and to cast light on those passages
which they noticed as demanding explanation, and correcting what might
offend scrupulous readers, and prevent the bad consequences which
might be derived from what I had said. I have even done more in this
third edition. I have retrenched several passages; others I have
suppressed; I have profited by the advice which has been given me; and
I have replied to the objections which have been made.

People have complained that I took no part, and did not come to a
decision on several difficulties which I propose, and that I leave my
reader in uncertainty.

I make but little defence against this reproach; I should require more
justification if I decided without a perfect knowledge of causes, for
one side of the question, at the risk of embracing an error, and of
falling into a still greater impropriety. There is wisdom in
suspending one's judgment till we have succeeded in finding the very

I have also been told, that certain persons have made a joke of some
facts which I have related. If I have related them as certain, and
they afford just cause for pleasantry, let the condemnation pass; but
if I cited them as fabulous and false, they present no subject for
pleasantry; _Falsum non est de ratione faceti._

There are certain persons who delight in jesting on the most serious
things, and who spare nothing, either sacred or profane. The histories
of the Old and New Testament, the most sacred ceremonies of our
religion, the lives of the most respectable saints, are not safe from
their dull, tasteless pleasantry.

I have been reproached for having related several false histories,
several doubtful facts, and several fabulous events. This is true; but
I give them for what they are. I have declared several times, that I
did not vouch for their truth, that I repeated them to show how false
and ridiculous they were, and to deprive them of the credit they might
have with the people; and if I had gone at length into their
refutation, I thought it right to let my reader have the pleasure of
refuting them, supposing him to possess enough good sense and
self-sufficiency, to form his own judgment upon them, and feel the
same contempt for such stories that I do myself. It is doing too much
honor to certain things to refute them seriously.

But another objection, and a much more serious one, is said to be,
what I say of the illusions of the demon, leading some persons to
doubt of the truth of the apparitions related in Scripture, as well as
of the others suspected of falsehood.

I answer, that the consequences deduced from principles are not right,
except when things are equal, and the subjects and circumstances the
same; without that there can be no application of principles. The
facts to which my reasoning applies are related by authors of small
authority, by ordinary or common-place historians, bearing no
character which deserves a belief of anything superhuman. I can,
without attacking their person or their merit, advance that they may
have been badly informed, prepossessed, and mistaken; that the spirit
of seduction may have been of the party; that the senses, the
imagination, and superstition, may have made them take that for truth,
which was only seeming.

But, in regard to the apparitions related in the Holy Scriptures, they
borrow their infallible authority from the sacred and inspired authors
who wrote them; they are verified by the events which followed them,
by the execution or fulfilment of predictions made many ages
preceding; and which could neither be done, nor foreseen, nor
performed, either by the human mind, or by the strength of man, not
even by the angel of darkness.

I am but little concerned at the opinion passed on myself and my
intentions in the publication of this treatise. Some have thought that
I did it to destroy the popular and common idea of apparitions, and to
make it appear ridiculous; and I acknowledge that those who read this
work attentively and without prejudice, will remark in it more
arguments for doubting what the people believe on this point, than
they will find to favor the contrary opinion. If I have treated this
subject seriously, it is only in what regards those facts in which
religion and the truth of Scripture is interested; those which are
indifferent I have left to the censure of sensible people, and the
criticism of the learned and of philosophical minds.

I declare that I consider as true all the apparitions related in the
sacred books of the Old and New Testament; without pretending,
however, that it is not allowable to explain them, and reduce them to
a natural and likely sense, by retrenching what is too marvelous about
them, which might rebut enlightened persons. I think on that point I
may apply the principle of St. Paul;[1] "the letter killeth, and the
Spirit giveth life."

As to the other apparitions and visions related in Christian, Jewish,
or heathen authors, I do my best to discern amongst them, and I exhort
my readers to do the same; but I blame and disapprove the outrageous
criticism of those who deny everything, and make difficulties of
everything, in order to distinguish themselves by their pretended
strength of mind, and to authorize themselves to deny everything, and
to dispute the most certain facts, and in general all that savors of
the marvelous, and which appears above the ordinary laws of nature.
St. Paul permits us to examine and prove everything: _Omnia probate_;
but he desires us to hold fast that which is good and true: _quod
bonum est tenete_.[2]


[1] 2 Cor. iii. 16.

[2] 1 Thess. v. 21.


Every body talks of apparitions of angels and demons, and of souls
separated from the body. The reality of these apparitions is
considered as certain by many persons, while others deride them and
treat them as altogether visionary.

I have determined to examine this matter, just to see what certitude
there can be on this point; and I shall divide this Dissertation into
four parts. In the first, I shall speak of good angels; in the second,
of the appearance of bad angels; in the third, of the apparitions of
souls of the dead; and in the fourth, of the appearance of living men
to others living, absent, distant, and this unknown to those who
appear. I shall occasionally add something on magic, wizards, and
witches; on the Sabbath, oracles, and obsession and possession by




The apparitions or appearances of good angels are frequently mentioned
in the books of the Old Testament. He who was stationed at the
entrance of the terrestrial Paradise[3] was a cherub, armed with a
flaming sword; those who appeared to Abraham, and who promised that he
should have a son;[4] those who appeared to Lot, and predicted to him
the ruin of Sodom, and other guilty cities;[5] he who spoke to Hagar
in the desert,[6] and commanded her to return to the dwelling of
Abraham, and to remain submissive to Sarah, her mistress; those who
appeared to Jacob, on his journey into Mesopotamia, ascending and
descending the mysterious ladder;[7] he who taught him how to cause
his sheep to bring forth young differently marked;[8] he who wrestled
with Jacob on his return from Mesopotamia,[9]--were angels of light,
and benevolent ones; the same as he who spoke with Moses from the
burning bush on Horeb,[10] and who gave him the tables of the law on
Mount Sinai. That Angel who takes generally the name of GOD, and
acts in his name, and with his authority;[11] who served as a guide to
the Hebrews in the desert, hidden during the day in a dark cloud, and
shining during the night; he who spoke to Balaam, and threatened to
kill his she-ass;[12] he, lastly, who contended with Satan for the
body of Moses;[13]--all these angels were without doubt good angels.

We must think the same of him who presented himself armed to Joshua on
the plain of Jericho,[14] and who declared himself head of the army of
the Lord; it is believed, with reason, that it was the angel Michael.
He who showed himself to the wife of Manoah,[15] the father of Samson,
and afterwards to Manoah himself. He who announced to Gideon that he
should deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites.[16] The angel
Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel, at Babylon;[17] and Raphael who
conducted the young Tobias to Rages, in Media.[18]

The prophecy of the Prophet Zechariah is full of visions of
angels.[19] In the books of the Old Testament the throne of the Lord
is described as resting on cherubim; and the God of Israel is
represented as having before his throne[20] seven principal angels,
always ready to execute his orders, and four cherubim singing his
praises, and adoring his sovereign holiness; the whole making a sort
of allusion to what they saw in the court of the ancient Persian
kings,[21] where there were seven principal officers who saw his face,
approached his person, and were called the eyes and ears of the king.


[3] Gen. iii. 24.

[4] Gen. xviii. 1-3.

[5] Gen. xix.

[6] Gen. xxi. 17.

[7] Gen. xxviii. 12.

[8] Gen. xxxi. 10, 11.

[9] Gen. xxxii.

[10] Exod. iii. 6, 7.

[11] Exod. iii. iv.

[12] Numb. xxii. xxiii.

[13] Jude 9.

[14] Josh. v. 13.

[15] Judges xiii.

[16] Judges vi. vii.

[17] Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21.

[18] Tobit v.

[19] Zech. v. 9, 10, 11, &c.

[20] Psalm xvii. 10; lxxix. 2, &c.

[21] Tobit xii. Zech. iv. 10. Rev. i. 4.



The books of the New Testament are in the same manner full of facts
which prove the apparition of good angels. The angel Gabriel appeared
to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, and predicted to him the
future birth of the Forerunner.[22] The Jews, who saw Zachariah come
out of the temple, after having remained within it a longer time than
usual, having remarked that he was struck dumb, had no doubt but that
he had seen some apparition of an angel. The same Gabriel announced to
Mary the future birth of the Messiah.[23] When Jesus was born in
Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the
night,[24] and declared to them that the Saviour of the world was born
at Bethlehem. There is every reason to believe that the star which
appeared to the Magi in the East, and which led them straight to
Jerusalem, and thence to Bethlehem, was directed by a good angel.[25]
St. Joseph was warned by a celestial spirit to retire into Egypt, with
the mother and the infant Christ, for fear that Jesus should fall into
the hands of Herod, and be involved in the massacre of the Innocents.
The same angel informed Joseph of the death of King Herod, and told
him to return to the land of Israel.

After the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, angels came
and brought him food.[26] The demon tempter said to Jesus Christ that
God had commanded his angels to lead him, and to prevent him from
stumbling against a stone; which is taken from the 92d Psalm, and
proves the belief of the Jews on the article of guardian angels. The
Saviour confirms the same truth when he says that the angels of
children constantly behold the face of the celestial Father.[27] At
the last judgment, the good angels will separate the just,[28] and
lead them to the kingdom of heaven, while they will precipitate the
wicked into eternal fire.

At the agony of Jesus Christ in the garden of Olives, an angel
descended from heaven to console him.[29] After his resurrection,
angels appeared to the holy women who had come to his tomb to embalm
him.[30] In the Acts of the Apostles, they appeared to the apostles as
soon as Jesus had ascended into heaven; and the angel of the Lord came
and opened the doors of the prison where the apostles were confined,
and set them at liberty.[31] In the same book, St. Stephen tells us
that the law was given to Moses by the ministration of angels;[32]
consequently, those were angels who appeared on Sinai and Horeb, and
who spoke to him in the name of God, as his ambassadors, and as
invested with his authority; also, the same Moses, speaking of the
angel of the Lord, who was to introduce Israel into the Promised Land,
says that "the name of God is in him."[33] St. Peter, being in prison,
is delivered from thence by an angel,[34] who conducted him the length
of a street, and disappeared. St. Peter, knocking at the door of the
house in which his brethren were, they could not believe that it was
he; they thought that it was his angel who knocked and spoke. St.
Paul, instructed in the school of the Pharisees, thought as they did
on the subject of angels; he believed in their existence, in
opposition to the Sadducees,[35] and supposed that they could appear.
When this apostle, having been arrested by the Romans, related to the
people how he had been overthrown at Damascus, the Pharisees, who were
present, replied to those who exclaimed against him--"How do we know,
if an angel or a spirit hath not spoken to him?" St. Luke says that a
Macedonian (apparently the angel of Macedonia) appeared to St. Paul,
and begged him to come and announce the Gospel in that country.

St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of the seven angels who presided
over the churches in Asia. I know that these seven angels are the
bishops of these churches, but the ecclesiastical tradition will have
it that every church has its tutelary angel. In the same book, the
Apocalypse, are related divers appearances of angels. All Christian
antiquity has recognized them; the synagogue also has recognized them;
so that it may be affirmed that nothing is more certain than the
existence of good angels and their apparitions.

I place in the number of apparitions, not only those of good or bad
angels, and the spirits of the dead who show themselves to the living,
but also those of the living who show themselves to the angels or
souls of the dead; whether these apparitions are seen in dreams, or
during sleep, or awaking; whether they manifest themselves to all
those who are present, or only to the persons to whom God judges
proper to manifest them. For instance, in the Apocalypse,[36] St. John
saw the four animals, and the four-and-twenty elders, who were clothed
in white garments and wore crowns of gold upon their heads, and were
seated on thrones around that of the Almighty, who prostrated
themselves before the throne of the Eternal, and cast their crowns at
his feet.

And, elsewhere: "I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the
world,[37] who held back the four winds and prevented them from
blowing on the earth; then I saw another angel, who rose on the side
of the east, and who cried out to the four angels who had orders to
hurt the earth, Do no harm to the earth, or the sea, or the trees,
until we have impressed a sign on the foreheads of the servants of
God. And I heard that the number of those who received this sign (or
mark) was a hundred and forty-four thousand. Afterwards I saw an
innumerable multitude of all nations, tribes, people, and languages,
standing before the throne of the Most High, arrayed in white
garments, and having palms in their hands."

And in the same book[38] St. John says, after having described the
majesty of the throne of God, and the adoration paid to him by the
angels and saints prostrate before him, one of the elders said to
him,--"Those whom you see covered with white robes, are those who have
suffered great trials and afflictions, and have washed their robes in
the blood of the Lamb; for which reason they stand before the throne
of God, and will do so night and day in his temple; and He who is
seated on the throne will reign over them, and the angel which is in
the midst of the throne will conduct them to the fountains of living
water." And, again,[39] "I saw under the altar of God the souls of
those who have been put to death for defending the Word of God, and
for the testimony which they have rendered; they cried with a loud
voice, saying, When, O Lord, wilt thou not avenge our blood upon those
who are on the earth?" &c.

All these apparitions, and several others similar to them, which might
be related as being derived from the holy books as well as from
authentic histories, are true apparitions, although neither the angels
nor the martyrs spoken of in the Apocalypse came and presented
themselves to St. John; but, on the contrary, this apostle was
transported in spirit to heaven, to see there what we have just
related. These are apparitions which may be called passive on the part
of the angels and holy martyrs, and active on the part of the holy
apostle who saw them.


[22] Luke i. 10-12, &c.

[23] Luke i. 26, 27, &c.

[24] Luke ii. 9, 10.

[25] Matt. ii. 13, 14, 20.

[26] Matt. iv. 6, 11.

[27] Matt. xviii. 16.

[28] Matt. xiii. 45, 46.

[29] Luke xxii. 43.

[30] Matt. xxviii. John.

[31] Acts v. 19.

[32] Acts vii. 30, 35.

[33] Exod. xxiii. 21.

[34] Acts xii. 8, 9.

[35] Rom. i. 18. 1 Cor. iv. 9; vi. 3; xii. 7. Gal. iii. 19. Acts xvi.
9; xxiii. 9. Rev. i. 11.

[36] Rev. iv. 4, 10.

[37] Rev. vii. 1-3, 9, &c.

[38] Rev. vii. 13, 14.

[39] Rev. vi. 9, 10.



The most usual form in which good angels appear, both in the Old
Testament and the New, is the human form. It was in that shape they
showed themselves to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Manoah the
father of Samson, to David, Tobit, the Prophets; and in the New
Testament they appeared in the same form to the Holy Virgin, to
Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, to Jesus Christ after his
fast of forty days, and to him again in his agony in the Garden of
Olives. They showed themselves in the same form to the holy women
after the resurrection of the Saviour. The one who appeared to
Joshua[40] on the plain of Jericho appeared apparently in the guise of
a warrior, since Joshua asks him, "Art thou for us, or for our

Sometimes they hide themselves under some form which has resemblance
to the human shape, like him who appeared to Moses in the burning
bush,[41] and who led the Israelites in the desert in the form of a
cloud, dense and dark during the day, but luminous at night.[42] The
Psalmist tells us that God makes his angels serve as a piercing wind
and a burning fire, to execute his orders.[43]

The cherubim, so often spoken of in the Scriptures, and who are
described as serving for a throne to the majesty of God, were
hieroglyphical figures, something like the sphinx of the Egyptians;
those which are described in Ezekiel[44] are like animals composed of
the figure of a man, having the wings of an eagle, the feet of an ox;
their heads were composed of the face of a man, an ox, a lion, and an
eagle, two of their wings were spread towards their fellows, and two
others covered their body; they were brilliant as burning coals, as
lighted lamps, as the fiery heavens when they send forth the
lightning's flash--they were terrible to look upon.

The one who appeared to Daniel[45] was different from those we have
just described; he was in the shape of a man, covered with a linen
garment, and round his loins a girdle of very fine gold; his body was
shining as a chrysolite, his face as a flash of lightning; his eyes
darted fire like a lamp; his arms and all the lower part of his body
was like brass melted in the furnace; his voice was loud as that of a
multitude of people.

St. John, in the Apocalypse,[46] saw around the throne of the Most
High four animals, which doubtless were four angels; they were covered
with eyes before and behind. The first resembled a lion, the second an
ox, the third had the form of a man, and the fourth was like an eagle
with outspread wings; each of them had six wings, and they never
ceased to cry night and day, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who
was, and is, and is to come."

The angel who was placed at the entrance of the terrestrial paradise
was armed with a shining sword,[47] as well as the one who appeared to
Balaam,[48] and who threatened, or was near killing both himself and
his ass; and so, apparently, was the one who showed himself to Joshua
in the plain of Jericho,[49] and the angel who appeared to David,
ready to smite all Israel. The angel Raphael guided the young Tobias
to Ragès under the human form of a traveler.[50] The angel who was
seen by the holy woman at the sepulchre of the Saviour, who overthrew
the large stone which closed the mouth of the tomb, and who was seated
upon it, had a countenance which shone like lightning, and garments
white as snow.[51]

In the Acts of the Apostles,[52] the angel who extricated them from
prison, and told them to go boldly and preach Jesus Christ in the
temple, also appeared to them in a human form. The manner in which he
delivered them from the dungeon is quite miraculous; for the chief
priests having commanded that they should appear before them, those
who were sent found the prison securely closed, the guards wide awake;
but having caused the doors to be opened, they found the dungeon
empty. How could an angel without opening, or any fracture of the
doors, thus extricate men from prison without either the guards or the
jailer perceiving anything of the matter? The thing is beyond any
known powers of nature; but it is no more impossible than to see our
Saviour, after his resurrection, invested with flesh and bones, as he
himself says, come forth from his sepulchre, without opening it, and
without breaking the seals,[53] enter the chamber wherein were the
apostles without opening the doors,[54] and speak to the disciples
going to Emmaus without making himself known to them; then, after
having opened their eyes, disappear and become invisible.[55] During
the forty days that he remained upon earth till his ascension, he
drank and ate with them, he spoke to them, he appeared to them; but he
showed himself only to those witnesses who were pre-ordained by the
eternal Father to bear testimony to his resurrection.

The angel who appeared to the centurion Cornelius, a pagan, but
fearing God, answered his questions, and discovered to him unknown
things, which things came to pass.

Sometimes the angels, without assuming any visible shape, give proofs
of their presence by intelligible voices, by inspirations, by sensible
effects, by dreams, or by revelations of things unknown, whether
future or past. Sometimes by striking with blindness, or infusing a
spirit of uncertainty or stupidity in the minds of those whom God
wills should feel the effects of his wrath; for instance, it is said
in the Scriptures that the Israelites heard no distinct speech, and
beheld no form on Horeb when God spoke to Moses and gave him the

The angel who might have killed Balaam's ass was not at first
perceived by the prophet;[57] Daniel was the only one who beheld the
angel Gabriel, who revealed to him the mystery of the great empires
which were to succeed each other.[58]

When the Lord spoke for the first time to Samuel, and predicted to him
the evils which he would inflict on the family of the high-priest Eli,
the young prophet saw no visible form; he only heard a voice, which he
at first mistook for that of the high-priest Eli, not being yet
accustomed to distinguish the voice of God from that of a man.

The angels who guided Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah were
at first perceived under a human form by the inhabitants of the city;
but afterwards these same angels struck the men with blindness, and
thus prevented them from finding the door of Lot's house, into which
they would have entered by force.

Thus, then, angels do not always appear under a visible or sensible
form, nor in a figure uniformly the same; but they give proofs of
their presence by an infinity of different ways--by inspirations, by
voices, by prodigies, by miraculous effects, by predictions of the
future, and other things hidden and impenetrable to the human mind.

St. Cyprian relates that an African bishop, falling ill during the
persecution, earnestly requested to have the viaticum administered to
him; at the same time he saw, as it were, a young man, with a majestic
air, and shining with such extraordinary lustre that the eyes of
mortals could not have beheld him without terror; nevertheless, the
bishop was not alarmed. This angel said to him, angrily, and in a
menacing tone, "You fear to suffer. You do not wish to leave this
world. What would you have me do for you?" (or "What can I do for
you?") The good bishop comprehended that these words alike regarded
him and the other Christians who feared persecution and death. The
bishop talked to them, encouraged them, and exhorted them to arm
themselves with patience to support the tortures with which they were
threatened. He received the communion, and died in peace. We shall
find in different histories an infinite number of other apparitions of
angels under a human form.


[40] Josh. v. 29.

[41] Exod. iii. 3, 44.

[42] Exod. xiii. xiv.

[43] Psalm civ. 4.

[44] Ezek. i. 4, 6.

[45] Dan. x. 5.

[46] Rev. iv. 7, 8.

[47] Gen. iii. 24.

[48] Numb. xxii. 22, 23.

[49] 1 Chron. xxi. 16.

[50] Tobit v. 5.

[51] Matt. xxviii. 3.

[52] Acts ii.

[53] Matt. xxviii. 1, 2.

[54] John xix. 20.

[55] Luke xxiii. 15-17, &c.

[56] Deut. iv. 15.

[57] Numb. xii. 22, 23.

[58] Dan. x. 7, 8.



After what we have just related from the books of the Old and New
Testament, it cannot be disavowed that the Jews in general, the
apostles, the Christians, and their disciples have commonly believed
in the apparitions of good angels. The Sadducees, who denied the
existence and the apparition of angels, were commonly considered by
the Jews as heretics, and as supporting an erroneous doctrine. Jesus
Christ refutes them in the Gospel. The Jews of our days believe
literally what is related in the Old Testament, concerning the angels
who appeared to Abraham, Lot, and other patriarchs. It was the belief
of the Pharisees and of the apostles in the time of our Saviour, as
may be seen by the writings of the apostles and by the whole of the

The Mahometans believe, as do the Jews and Christians, that good
angels appear to men sometimes under a human form; that they appeared
to Abraham and Lot; that they punished the inhabitants of Sodom; that
the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mahomet, and revealed to him all
that is laid down in his Koran: that the genii are of a middle nature,
between man and angel;[59] that they eat, drink, beget children; that
they die, and can foresee things to come. In consequence of this
principle or idea, they believe that there are male and female genii;
that the males, whom the Persians call by the name of _Dives_, are
bad, very ugly, and mischievous, making war against the _Peris_, who
are the females. The Rabbis will have it that these genii were born of
Adam alone, without any concurrence of his wife Eve, or of any other
woman, and that they are what we call _ignis fatuii_ (or wandering

The antiquity of these opinions touching the corporality of angels
appears in several _old_ writers, who, deceived by the apocryphal book
which passes under the name of the _Book of Enoch_, have explained of
the angels what is said in Genesis,[60] "_That the children of God,
having seen the daughters of men, fell in love with their beauty,
wedded them, and begot giants of them._" Several of the ancient
Fathers[61] have adopted this opinion, which is now given up by
everybody, with the exception of some new writers, who desire to
revive the idea of the corporality of angels, demons, and souls--an
opinion which is absolutely incompatible with that of the Catholic
church, which holds that angels are of a nature entirely distinct from

I acknowledge that, according to their system, the affair of
apparitions could be more easily explained; it is easier to conceive
that a corporeal substance should appear, and render itself visible to
our eyes, than a substance purely spiritual; but this is not the place
to reason on a philosophical question, on which different hypotheses
could be freely grounded, and to choose that which should explain
these appearances in the most plausible manner, even though it answer
in the most satisfactory manner the question asked, and the objections
formed against the facts, and against the proposed manner of stating

The question is resolved, and the matter decided. The church and the
Catholic schools hold that angels, demons, and reasonable souls, are
disengaged from all matter; the same church and the same school hold
it as certain that good and bad angels, and souls separated from the
body, sometimes appear by the will and with the permission of God:
there we must stop; as to the manner of explaining these apparitions,
we must, without losing sight of the certain principle of the
immateriality of these substances, explain them according to the
analogy of the Christian and Catholic faith, acknowledged sincerely
that in this matter there are certain depths which we cannot sound,
and confine our mind and information within the limits of that
obedience which we owe to the authority of the church, that can
neither err nor deceive us.

The apparitions of good angels and of guardian angels are frequently
mentioned in the Old as in the New Testament. When the Apostle St.
Peter had left the prison by the assistance of an angel, and went and
knocked at the door where the brethren were, they believed that it was
his angel and not himself who knocked.[62] And when Cornelius the
Centurion prayed to God in his own house, an angel (apparently his
good angel) appeared to him, and told him to send and fetch Peter, who
was then at Joppa.[63]

St. Paul desires that at church no woman should appear among them
without her face being veiled, because of the angels;[64] doubtless
from respect to the good angels who presided in these assemblies. The
same St. Paul reassures those who were with him in danger of almost
inevitable shipwreck, by telling them that his angel had appeared to
him[65] and assured him that they should arrive safe at the end of
their voyage.

In the Old Testament, we likewise read of several apparitions of
angels, which can hardly be explained but as of guardian angels; for
instance, the one who appeared to Hagar in the wilderness, and
commanded her to return and submit herself to Sarah her mistress;[66]
and the angel who appeared to Abraham, as he was about to immolate
Isaac his son, and told him that God was satisfied with his
obedience;[67] and when the same Abraham sent his servant Eleazer into
Mesopotamia, to ask for a wife for his son Isaac, he told him that the
God of heaven, who had promised to give him the land of Canaan, would
send his angel[68] to dispose all things according to his wishes.
Examples of similar apparitions of tutelary angels, derived from the
Old Testament, might here be multiplied, but the circumstance does not
require a greater number of proofs.

Under the new dispensation, the apparitions of good angels, of
guardian spirits, are not less frequent in most authentic stories;
there are few saints to whom God has not granted similar favors: we
may cite, in particular, St. Frances, a Roman lady of the sixteenth
century, who saw her guardian angel, and he talked to her, instructed
her, and corrected her.


[59] D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. _Perith. Dives_, 785. Idem, 243, p. 85.

[60] Gen. vi. 2.

[61] Joseph. Antiq. lib. i. c. 4. Philo, De Gigantibus. Justin. Apol.
Turtul. de Animâ. _Vide_ Commentatores in Gen. iv.

[62] Acts xii. 15.

[63] Acts x. 2, 3.

[64] 1 Cor. xi. 10.

[65] Acts xxvii. 21, 22.

[66] Gen. xvi. 9.

[67] Gen. xxii. 11, 17.

[68] Gen. xxiv. 7.



Jamblichus, a disciple of Porphyry,[69] has treated the matter of
genii and their apparition more profoundly than any other author of
antiquity. It would seem, to hear him discourse, that he knew both the
genii and their qualities, and that he had with them the most intimate
and continual converse. He affirms that our eyes are delighted by the
appearance of the gods, that the apparitions of the archangels are
terrible; those of angels are milder; but when demons and heroes
appear, they inspire terror; the archontes, who preside over this
world, cause at the same time an impression of grief and fear. The
apparition of souls is not quite so disagreeable as that of heroes. In
the appearance of the gods there is order and mildness, confusion and
disorder in that of demons, and tumult in that of the archontes.

When the gods show themselves, it seems as if the heavens, the sun and
moon, were all about to be annihilated; one would think that the earth
could not support their presence. On the appearance of an archangel,
there is an earthquake in every part of the world; it is preceded by a
stronger light than that which accompanies the apparition of the
angels; at the appearance of a demon it is less strong, and diminishes
still more when it is a hero who shows himself.

The apparitions of the gods are very luminous; those of angels and
archangels less so; those of demons are dark, but less dark than those
of heroes. The archontes, who preside over the brightest things in
this world, are luminous; but those which are occupied only with what
is material, are dark. When souls appear, they resemble a shade. He
continues his description of these apparitions, and enters into
tiresome details on the subject; one would say, to hear him, that that
there was a most intimate and habitual connection between the gods,
the angels, the demons, and the souls separated from the body, and
himself. But all this is only the work of his imagination; he knew no
more than any other concerning a matter which is above the reach of
man's understanding. He had never seen any apparitions of gods or
heroes, or archontes; unless we say that there are veritable demons
which sometimes appear to men. But to discern them one from the other,
as Jamblichus pretends to do, is mere illusion.

The Greeks and Romans, like the Hebrews and Christians, acknowledged
two sorts of genii, some good and beneficent, the others bad, and
causing evil. The ancients even believed that every one of us received
at our birth a good and an evil genius; the former procured us
happiness and prosperity, the latter engaged us in unfortunate
enterprises, inspired us with unruly desires, and cast us into the
worst misfortunes. They assigned genii, not only to every person, but
also to every house, every city, and every province.[70] These genii
are considered as good, beneficent,[71] and worthy of the worship of
those who invoke them. They were represented sometimes under the form
of a serpent, sometimes as a child or a youth. Flowers, incense,
cakes, and wine were offered to them.[72] Men swore by the names of
the genii.[73] It was a great crime to perjure one's self after having
sworn by the genius of the emperor, says Tertullian;[74] _Citius apud
vos per omnes Deos, quàm per unicum Genium Cæsaris perjuratur._

We often see on medals the inscription, GENIO POPULI ROMANI; and
when the Romans landed in a country, they failed not to salute and
adore its genius, and to offer him sacrifices.[75] In short, there was
neither kingdom, nor province, nor town, nor house, nor door, nor
edifice, whether public or private, which had not its genius.[76]

We have seen above what Jamblichus informs us concerning apparitions
of the gods, genii, good and bad angels, heroes, and the archontes who
preside over the government of the world.

Homer, the most ancient of Greek writers, and the most celebrated
theologian of Paganism, relates several apparitions both of gods and
heroes, and also of the dead. In the Odyssey,[77] he represents
Ulysses going to consult the sorcerer Tiresias; and this diviner
having prepared a grave or trench full of blood to evoke the manes,
Ulysses draws his sword to prevent them from coming to drink this
blood, for which they thirst; but which they were not allowed to taste
before they had answered the questions put to them. They believed also
that the souls of the dead could not rest, and that they wandered
around their dead bodies so long as the corpse remained uninhumed.

Even after they were interred, food was offered them; above everything
honey was given, as if leaving their tomb they came to taste what was
offered them.[78] They were persuaded that the demons loved the smoke
of sacrifices, melody, the blood of victims, and intercourse with
women; that they were attached for a time to certain spots and certain
edifices which they infested. They believed that souls separated from
the gross and terrestrial body, preserved after death one more subtile
and elastic, having the form of that they had quitted; that these
bodies were luminous, and like the stars; that they retained an
inclination for those things which they had loved during their life on
earth, and that often they appeared gliding around their tombs.

To bring back all this to the matter here treated of, that is to say,
to the appearance of good angels, we may note, that in the same manner
that we attach to the apparitions of good angels the idea of tutelary
spirits of kingdoms, provinces, and nations, and of each of us in
particular--as, for instance, the Prince of the kingdom of Persia, or
the angel of that nation, who resisted the archangel Gabriel during
twenty-one days, as we read in Daniel;[79] the angel of Macedonia, who
appeared to St. Paul,[80] and of whom we have spoken before; the
archangel St. Michael, who is considered as the chief of the people of
God and the armies of Israel;[81] and the guardian angels deputed by
God to guide us and guard us all the days of our life--so we may say
that the Greeks and Romans, being Gentiles, believed that certain
sorts of spirits, which they imagined were good and beneficent,
protected their kingdoms, provinces, towns, and private houses.

They paid them a superstitious and idolatrous worship, as to domestic
divinities; they invoked them, offered them a kind of sacrifice and
offerings of incense, cakes, honey, and wine, &c.--but not bloody

The Platonicians taught that carnal and voluptuous men could not see
their genii, because their mind was not sufficiently pure, nor enough
disengaged from sensual things; but that men who were wise, moderate,
and temperate, and who applied themselves to serious and sublime
subjects, could see them; as Socrates, for instance, who had his
familiar genius, whom he consulted, to whose advice he listened, and
whom he beheld, at least with the eyes of the mind.

If the oracles of Greece and other countries are reckoned in the
number of apparitions of bad spirits, we may also recollect the good
spirits who have announced things to come, and have assisted the
prophets and inspired persons, whether in the Old Testament or the
New. The angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel[83] to instruct him
concerning the vision of the four great monarchies, and the
accomplishment of the seventy weeks, which were to put an end to the
captivity. The prophet Zechariah says expressly that _the angel who
appeared unto him_[84] revealed to him what he must say--he repeats it
in five or six places; St. John, in the Apocalypse,[85] says the same
thing, that God had sent his angel to inspire him with what he was to
say to the Churches. Elsewhere[86] he again makes mention of the angel
who talked with him, and who took in his presence the dimensions of
the heavenly Jerusalem. And again, St. Paul in his Epistle to the
Hebrews,[87] "If what has been predicted by the angels may pass for

From all we have just said, it results that the apparitions of good
angels are not only possible, but also very real; that they have often
appeared, and under diverse forms; that the Hebrews, Christians,
Mahometans, Greeks, and Romans have believed in them; that when they
have not sensibly appeared, they have given proofs of their presence
in several different ways. We shall examine elsewhere how we can
explain the kind of apparition, whether of good or bad angels, or
souls separated from the body.


[69] Jamblic. lib. ii. cap. 3 & 5.

  "Quod te per Genium, dextramque Deosque Penates,
  Obsecro et obtestor."--_Horat._ lib. i. Epist. 7. 94.

  ----"Dum cunctis supplex advolveris aris,
  Ei mitem Genium Domini præsentis adoras."
                          _Stac._ lib. v. Syl. I. 73.

[71] Antiquitée expliquée, tom. i.

[72] Perseus, Satire ii.

[73] Senec. Epist. 12.

[74] Tertull. Apol. c. 23.

  "Troja vale, rapimur, clamant; dant oscula terræ
  Troades."--_Ovid. Metam._, lib. xiii. 421.

  "Quamquam cur Genium Romæ, mihi fingitis unum?
  Cùm portis, domibus; thermis, stabulis soleatis,
  Assignare suos Genios?"--_Prudent. contra Symmach._

[77] Odyss. XI. sub. fin. _Vid._ Horat. lib. i. Satire 7, &c.

[78] Virgil. Æneid. I. 6. August. Serm. 15. de SS. et Quæst. 5. in
Deut. i. 5 c. 43. _Vide_ Spencer, de Leg. Hebræor. Ritual.

[79] Dan. x. 13.

[80] Acts xvi. 9.

[81] Josh. v. 13. Dan. x. 13, 21; xii. 1. Judg. v. 6. Rev. xii. 7

[82] _Forsitan quis quærat, quid causæ sit, ut merum fundendum sit
genio_, non hostiam faciendam putaverint.... _Scilicet ut die natali
munus_ annale genio solverent, manum à coede ac sanguine
abstinerent.--Censorin. de Die Natali, c. 2. Vide Taffin de Anno

[83] Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21.

[84] Zech. i. 10, 13, 14, 19; ii. 3, 4; iv. 1, 4, 5; v. 5, 10.

[85] Rev. i. 1.

[86] Rev. x. 8, 9, &c.; xi. 1, 2, 3, &c.

[87] Heb. ii. 2.



The books of the Old and New Testament, together with sacred and
profane history, are full of relations of the apparition of bad
spirits. The first, the most famous, and the most fatal apparition of
Satan, is that of the appearance of this evil spirit to Eve, the first
woman,[88] in the form of a serpent, which animal served as the
instrument of that seducing demon in order to deceive her and induce
her to sin. Since that time he has always chosen to appear under that
form rather than any other; so in Scripture he is often termed _the
Old Serpent_;[89] and it is said that the infernal dragon fought
against the woman who figured or represented the church; that the
archangel St. Michael vanquished him and cast him down from heaven. He
has often appeared to the servants of God in the form of a dragon, and
he has caused himself to be adored by unbelievers in this form, in a
great number of places: at Babylon, for instance, they worshiped a
living dragon,[90] which Daniel killed by making it swallow a ball or
bolus, composed of ingredients of a mortally poisonous nature. The
serpent was consecrated to Apollo, the god of physic and of oracles;
and the pagans had a sort of divination by means of serpents, which
they called _Ophiomantia_.

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans worshiped serpents, and regarded
them as divine.[91] They brought to Rome the serpent of Epidaurus, to
which they paid divine honors. The Egyptians considered vipers as
divinities.[92] The Israelites adored the brazen serpent elevated by
Moses in the desert,[93] and which was in after times broken in pieces
by the holy king Hezekiah.[94]

St. Augustine[95] assures us that the Manichæans regarded the serpent
as the Christ, and said that this animal had opened the eyes of Adam
and Eve by the bad counsel which he gave them. We almost always see
the form of the serpent in the magical figures[96] _Akraxas_ and
_Abrachadabra_, which were held in veneration among the Basilidian
heretics, who, like the Manichæans, acknowledge two principles in all
things--the one good, the other bad; _Abraxas_ in Hebrew signifies
_that bad principle_, or the father of evil; _ab-ra-achad-ab-ra_, _the
father of evil_, _the sole father of evil_, or the only bad

St. Augustine[97] remarks that no animal has been more subject to the
effects of enchantment and magic than the serpent, as if to punish him
for having seduced the first woman by his imposture.

However, the demon has usually assumed the human form when he would
tempt mankind; it was thus that he appeared to Jesus Christ in the
desert;[98] that he tempted him and told him to change the stones into
bread that he might satisfy his hunger; that he transported him, the
Saviour, to the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showed him all the
kingdoms of the world, and offered him the enjoyment of them.

The angel who wrestled with Jacob at Peniel,[99] on his return from
his journey into Mesopotamia, was a bad angel, according to some
ancient writers; others, as Severus Sulpicius[100] and some Rabbis,
have thought that it was the angel of Esau, who had come to combat
with Jacob; but the greater number believe that it was a good angel.
And would Jacob have asked him for his blessing had he deemed him a
bad angel? But however that fact may be taken, it is not doubtful that
the demon has appeared in a human form.

Several stories, both ancient and modern, are related which inform us
that the demon has appeared to those whom he wished to seduce, or who
have been so unhappy as to invoke his aid, or make a compact with him,
as a man taller than the common stature, dressed in black, and with a
rough ungracious manner; making a thousand fine promises to those to
whom he appeared, but which promises were always deceitful, and never
followed by a real effect. I can even believe that they beheld what
existed only in their own confused and deranged ideas.

At Molsheim,[101] in the chapel of St. Ignatius in the Jesuits'
church, may be seen a celebrated inscription, which contains the
history of a young German gentleman, named Michael Louis, of the house
of Boubenhoren, who, having been sent by his parents when very young
to the court of the Duke of Lorraine, to learn the French language,
lost all his money at cards: reduced to despair, he resolved to give
himself to the demon, if that bad spirit would or could give him some
good money; for he doubted that he would only furnish him with
counterfeit and bad coin. As he was meditating on this idea, suddenly
he beheld before him a youth of his own age, well made, well dressed,
who, having asked him the cause of his uneasiness, presented him with
a handful of money, and told him to try if it was good. He desired him
to meet him at that place the next day.

Michael returned to his companions, who were still at play, and not
only regained all the money he had lost, but won all that of his
companions. Then he went in search of his demon, who asked as his
reward three drops of his blood, which he received in an acorn-cup;
after which, presenting a pen to Michael, he desired him to write what
he should dictate. He then dictated some unknown words, which he made
him write on two different bits of paper,[102] one of which remained
in the possession of the demon, the other was inserted in Michael's
arm, at the same place whence the demon had drawn the blood. And the
demon said to him, "I engage myself to serve you during seven years,
after which you will unreservedly belong to me."

The young man consented to this, though with a feeling of horror; and
the demon never failed to appear to him day and night under various
forms, and taught him many unknown and curious things, but which
always tended to evil. The fatal termination of the seven years was
approaching, and the young man was then about twenty years old. He
returned to his father's house, when the demon to whom he had given
himself inspired him with the idea of poisoning his father and mother,
of setting fire to their château, and then killing himself. He tried
to commit all these crimes, but God did not allow him to succeed in
these attempts. The gun with which he wished to kill himself missed
fire twice, and the poison did not take effect on his father and

More and more uneasy, he revealed to some of his father's domestics
the miserable state in which he found himself, and entreated them to
procure him some succor. At the same time the demon seized him, and
bent his body back, so that he was near breaking his bones. His
mother, who had adopted the heresy of Suenfeld, and had induced her
son to follow it also, not finding in her sect any help against the
demon that possessed or obseded him, was constrained to place him in
the hands of some monks. But he soon withdrew from them and retired to
Islade, from whence he was brought back to Molsheim by his brother, a
canon of Wurzburg, who put him again into the hands of fathers of the
society. Then it was that the demon made still more violent efforts
against him, appearing to him in the form of ferocious animals. One
day, amongst others, the demon, wearing the form of a hairy savage,
threw on the ground a schedule, or compact, different from the true
one which he had extorted from the young man, to try by means of this
false appearance to withdraw him from the hands of those who kept him,
and prevent his making his general confession. At last they fixed on
the 20th of October, 1603, as the day for being in the Chapel of St.
Ignatius, and to cause to be brought the true schedule containing the
compact made with the demon. The young man there made profession of
the Catholic and orthodox faith, renounced the demon, and received the
holy sacrament. Then, uttering horrible cries, he said he saw as it
were two he-goats of immeasurable size, which, holding up their
forefeet (standing on their hindlegs), held between their claws, each
one separately, one of the schedules or agreements. But as soon as the
exorcisms were begun, and the priests invoked the name of St.
Ignatius, the two he-goats fled away, and there came from the left arm
or hand of the young man, almost without pain, and without leaving any
scar, the compact, which fell at the feet of the exorcist.

There now wanted only the second compact, which had remained in the
power of the demon. They recommenced their exorcisms, and invoked St.
Ignatius, and promised to say a mass in honor of the saint; at the
same moment there appeared a tall stork, deformed and badly made, who
let fall the second schedule from his beak, and they found it on the

The pope, Paul V., caused information of the truth of these facts to
be taken by the commissionary-deputies, M. Adam, Suffragan of
Strasburg, and George, Abbot of Altorf, who were juridically
interrogated, and who affirmed that the deliverance of this young man
was principally due, after God, to the intercession of St. Ignatius.

The same story is related rather more at length in Bartoli's Life of
St. Ignatius Loyola.

Melancthon owns[103] that he has seen several spectres, and conversed
with them several times; and Jerome Cardan affirms that his father,
Fassius Cardanus, saw demons whenever he pleased, apparently in a
human form. Bad spirits sometimes appear also under the figure of a
lion, a dog, or a cat, or some other animal--as a bull, a horse, or a
raven; for the pretended sorcerers and sorceresses relate that at the
(witches') Sabbath he is seen under several different forms of men,
animals, and birds; whether he takes the shape of these animals, or
whether he makes use of the animals themselves as instruments to
deceive or harm, or whether he simply affects the senses and
imagination of those whom he has fascinated and who give themselves to
him; for in all the appearances of the demon we must always be on our
guard, and mistrust his stratagems and malice. St. Peter[104] tells us
that Satan is always roaming round about us, like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour. And St. Paul, in more places than
one,[105] warns us to mistrust the snares of the devil, and to hold
ourselves on our guard against him.

Sulpicius Severus,[106] in the life of St. Martin, relates a few
examples of persons who were deceived by apparitions of the demon, who
transformed himself into an angel of light. A young man of very high
rank, and who was afterwards elevated to the priesthood, having
devoted himself to God in a monastery, imagined that he held converse
with angels; and as they would not believe him, he said that the
following night God would give him a white robe, with which he would
appear amongst them. In fact, at midnight the monastery was shaken as
with an earthquake, the cell of the young man was all brilliant with
light, and they heard a noise like that of many persons going to and
fro, and speaking.

After that, coming forth from his cell, he showed to the brothers (of
the convent) the tunic with which he was clothed: it was made of a
stuff of admirable whiteness, shining as purple, and so
extraordinarily fine in texture that they had never seen anything like
it, and could not tell from what substance it was woven.

They passed the rest of the night in singing psalms of thanksgiving,
and in the morning they wished to conduct him to St. Martin. He
resisted as much as he could, saying that he had been expressly
forbidden to appear in his presence. As they were pressing him to
come, the tunic vanished, which led every one present to suppose that
the whole thing was an illusion of the demon.

Another solitary suffered himself to be persuaded that he was Eli;
another that he was St. John the Evangelist. One day, the demon wished
to mislead St. Martin himself, appearing to him, having on a royal
robe, wearing on his head a rich diadem, ornamented with gold and
precious stones, golden sandals, and all the apparel of a great
prince. Addressing himself to Martin, he said to him, "Acknowledge me,
Martin; I am Jesus Christ, who, wishing to descend to earth, have
resolved to manifest myself to thee first of all." St. Martin remained
silent at first, fearing some snare; and the phantom having repeated
to him that he was the Christ, Martin replied: "My Lord Jesus Christ
did not say that he should come clothed in purple and decked with
diamonds. I shall not acknowledge him unless he appears in that same
form in which he suffered death, and unless I see the marks of his
cross and passion."

At these words the demon disappeared; and Sulpicius Severus affirms
that he relates this as he heard it from the mouth of St. Martin
himself. A little before this, he says that Satan showed himself to
him sometimes under the form of Jupiter, or Mercury, or Venus, or
Minerva; and sometimes he was to reproach Martin greatly because, by
baptism, he had converted and regenerated so many great sinners. But
the saint despised him, drove him away by the sign of the cross, and
answered him that baptism and repentance effaced all sins in those who
were sincere converts.

All this proves the malice, envy, and fraud of the devil against the
saints, on the one side; and on the other, the weakness and
uselessness of his efforts against the true servants of God, and that
it is but too true he often appears in a visible form.

In the histories of the saints we sometimes see that he hides himself
under the form of a woman, to tempt pious hermits and lead them into
evil; sometimes in the form of a traveler, a priest, a monk, or an
_angel of light_,[107] to mislead simple minded people, and cause them
to err; for everything suits his purpose, provided he can exercise his
malice and hatred against men.

When Satan appeared before the Lord in the midst of his holy angels,
and asked permission of God to tempt Job,[108] and try his patience
through everything that was dearest to that holy man, he doubtless
presented himself in his natural state, simply as a spirit, but full
of rage against the saints, and in all the deformity of his sin and

But when he says, in the Books of Kings, _that he will be a lying
spirit in the mouth of false prophets_,[109] and that God allows him
to put in force his ill-will, we must not imagine that he shows
himself corporeally to the eyes of the false prophets of King Ahab; he
only inspired the falsehood in their minds--they believed it, and
persuaded the king of the same. Amongst the visible appearances of
Satan may be placed mortalities, wars, tempests, public and private
calamities, which God sends upon nations, provinces, cities, and
families, whom the Almighty causes to feel the terrible effects of his
wrath and just vengeance. Thus the exterminating angel kills the
first-born of the Egyptians.[110] The same angel strikes with death
the inhabitants of the guilty cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.[111] He
does the same with Onan, who committed an abominable action.[112] _The
wicked man seeks only division and quarrels_, says the sage; _and the
cruel angel shall be sent against him_.[113] And the Psalmist,
speaking of the plagues which the Lord inflicted upon Egypt, says that
he sent evil angels among them.

When David, in a spirit of vanity, caused his people to be numbered,
God showed him an angel hovering over Jerusalem, ready to smite and
destroy it. I do not say decidedly whether it was a good or a bad
angel, since it is certain that sometimes the Lord employs good angels
to execute his vengeance against the wicked. But it is thought that it
was the devil who slew eighty-five thousand men of the army of
Sennacherib. And in the Apocalypse, those are also evil angels who
pour out on the earth the phials of wrath, and caused all the scourges
set down in that holy book.

We shall also place amongst the appearances and works of Satan false
Christs, false prophets, Pagan oracles, magicians, sorcerers, and
sorceresses, those who are inspired by the spirit of Python, the
obsession and possession of demons, those who pretend to predict the
future, and whose predictions are sometimes fulfilled; those who make
compacts with the devil to discover treasures and enrich themselves;
those who make use of charms; evocations by means of magic;
enchantment; the being devoted to death by a vow; the deceptions of
idolatrous priests, who feigned that their gods ate and drank and had
commerce with women--all these can only be the work of Satan, and must
be ranked with what the Scripture calls _the depths of Satan_.[114] We
shall say something on this subject in the course of the treatise.


[88] Gen. iii. 1, 23.

[89] Rev. xii. 9.

[90] Bel and the Dragon.

[91] Wisd. xi. 16.

[92] Elian. Hist. Animal.

[93] Numb. xxi. 2 Kings xviii. 4.

[94] On this subject, see a work of profound learning, and as
interesting as profound, on "The Worship of the Serpent," by the Rev.
John Bathurst Deane, M. A. F. S. A.

[95] Aug. tom. viii. pp. 28, 284.

[96] _Ab-racha_, pater _mali_, or pater _malus_.

[97] August. de Gen. ad Lit. 1. ii. c. 18.

[98] Matt. iv. 9, 10, &c.

[99] Gen. xxxii. 24, 25.

[100] Sever. Sulpit. Hist. Sac.

[101] A small city or town of the Electorate of Cologne, situated on a
river of the same name.

[102] There were in all ten letters, the greater part of them Greek,
but which formed no (apparent) sense. They were to be seen at
Molsheim, in the tablet which bore a representation of this miracle.

[103] Lib. de Anima.

[104] 1 Pet. iii. 8.

[105] Eph. vi. 11. 1 Tim. iii. 7.

[106] Sulpit. Sever. Vit. St. Martin, b. xv.

[107] 2 Cor. xi. 14.

[108] Job i. 6-8.

[109] 1 Kings xxii. 21.

[110] Exod. ix. 6.

[111] Gen. xviii. 13, 14.

[112] Gen. xxxviii.

[113] Prov. xvii. 11.

[114] Rev. ii. 24.



Many persons regard magic, magicians, witchcraft, and charms as fables
and illusions, the effects of imagination in weak minds, who,
foolishly persuaded of the excessive power possessed by the devil,
attribute to him a thousand things which are purely natural, but the
physical reasons for which are unknown to them, or which are the
effects of the art of certain charlatans, who make a trade of imposing
on the simple and ignorant. These opinions are supported by the
authority of the principal parliaments of the kingdom, who acknowledge
neither magicians nor sorcerers, and who never punish those accused of
magic, or sorcery, unless they are convicted also of some other
crimes. As, in short, the more they punish and seek out magicians and
sorcerers, the more they abound in a country; and, on the contrary,
experience proves that in places where nobody believes in them, none
are to be found, the most efficacious means of uprooting this fancy is
to despise and neglect it.

It is said that magicians and sorcerers themselves, when they fall
into the hands of judges and inquisitors, are often the first to
maintain that magic and sorcery are merely imaginary, and the effect
of popular prejudices and errors. Upon that footing, Satan would
destroy himself, and overthrow his own empire, if he were thus to
decry magic, of which he is himself the author and support. If the
magicians really, and of their own good will, independently of the
demon, make this declaration, they betray themselves most lightly, and
do not make their cause better; since the judges, notwithstanding
their disavowal, prosecute them, and always punish them without mercy,
being well persuaded that it is only the fear of execution and the
hope of remaining unpunished which makes them say so.

But would it not rather be a stratagem of the evil spirit,[115] who
endeavors to render the reality of magic doubtful, to save from
punishment those who are accused of it, and to impose on the judges,
and make them believe that magicians are only madmen and
hypochondriacs, worthy rather of compassion than chastisement? We must
then return to the deep examination of the question, and prove that
magic is not a chimera, neither has it aught to do with reason. We can
neither rest on a sure foundation, nor derive any certain argument for
or against the reality of magic, either from the opinion of pretended
_esprits forts_, who deny because they think proper to do so, and
because the proofs of the contrary do not appear to them sufficiently
clear or demonstrative; nor from the declaration of the demon, of
magicians and sorcerers, who maintain that magic and sorcery are only
the effects of a disturbed imagination; nor from minds foolishly and
vainly prejudiced on the subject, that these declarations are produced
simply by the fear of punishment; nor by the subtilty of the malignant
spirit, who wishes to mask his play, and cast dust in the eyes of the
judges and witnesses, by making them believe that what they regard
with so much horror, and what they so vigorously prosecute, is
anything but a punishable crime, or at least a crime deserving of

We must then prove the reality of magic by the Holy Scriptures, by the
authority of the Church, and by the testimony of the most grave and
sensible writers; and, lastly, show that it is not true that the most
famous parliaments acknowledge neither sorcerers nor magicians.

The teraphim which Rachael, the wife of Jacob, brought away secretly
from the house of Laban, her father,[116] were doubtless superstitious
figures, to which Laban's family paid a worship, very like that which
the Romans rendered to their household gods, _Penates_ and _Lares_,
and whom they consulted on future events. Joshua[117] says very
distinctly that Terah, the father of Abraham, adored strange gods in
Mesopotamia. And in the prophets Hosea and Zechariah,[118] the Seventy
translate _teraphim_ by the word _oracles_. Zechariah and Ezekiel[119]
show that the Chaldeans and the Hebrews consulted these _teraphim_ to
learn future events.

Others believe that they were talismans or preservatives; everybody
agrees as to their being superstitious figures (or idols) which were
consulted in order to find out things unknown, or that were to come to

The patriarch Joseph, speaking to his own brethren according to the
idea which they had of him in Egypt, says to them:[120] "Know ye not
that in all the land there is not a man who equals me in the art of
divining and predicting things to come?" And the officer of the same
Joseph, having found in Benjamin's sack Joseph's cup which he had
purposely hidden in it, says to them:[121] "It is the cup of which my
master makes use to discover hidden things."

By the secret of their art, the magicians of Pharaoh imitated the true
miracles of Moses; but not being able like him to produce gnats
(English version _lice_), they were constrained to own that the finger
of God was in what Moses had hitherto achieved.[122]

After the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt, God expressly forbids
his people to practice any sort of magic or divination.[123] He
condemns to death magicians, and those who make use of charms.

Balaam, the diviner, being invited by Balak, the king, to come and
devote the Israelites to destruction, God put blessings into his mouth
instead of curses;[124] and this bad prophet, amongst the blessings
which he bestows on Israel, says there is among them neither augury,
nor divination, nor magic.

In the time of the Judges, the Idol of Micah was consulted as a kind
of oracle.[125] Gideon made, in his house and his city, an Ephod,
accompanied by a superstitious image, which was for his family, and to
all the people, the occasion of scandal and ruin.[126]

The Israelites went sometimes to consult Beelzebub, god of Ekron,[127]
to know if they should recover from their sickness. The history of the
evocation of Samuel by the witch of Endor[128] is well known. I am
aware that some difficulties are raised concerning this history. I
shall deduce nothing from it here, except that this woman passed for a
witch, that Saul esteemed her such, and that this prince had
exterminated the magicians in his own states, or, at least, that he
did not permit them to exercise their art.

Manasses, king of Judah,[129] is blamed for having introduced idolatry
into his kingdom, and particularly for having allowed there diviners,
aruspices, and those who predicted things to come. King Josiah, on the
contrary, destroyed all these superstitions.[130]

The prophet Isaiah, who lived at the same time, says that they wished
to persuade the Jews then in captivity at Babylon to address
themselves, as did other nations, to diviners and magicians; but they
ought to reject these pernicious counsels, and leave those
abominations to the Gentiles, who knew not the Lord. Daniel[131]
speaks of the magicians, or workers of magic among the Chaldeans, and
of those amongst them who interpreted dreams, and predicted things to

In the New Testament, the Jews accused Jesus Christ of casting out
devils in the name of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils;[132] but he
refutes them by saying, that being come to destroy the empire of
Beelzebub, it was not to be believed that Beelzebub would work
miracles to destroy his own power or kingdom.[133] St. Luke speaks of
Simon the sorcerer, who had for a long time bewitched the inhabitants
of Samaria with his sorceries; and also of a certain Bar-Jesus of
Paphos, who professed sorcery, and boasted he could predict future
events.[134] St. Paul, when at Ephesus, caused a number of books of
magic to be burned.[135] Lastly, the Psalmist,[136] and the author of
the Book of Ecclesiasticus,[137] speak of charms with which they
enchanted serpents.

In the Acts of the Apostles,[138] the young girl of the town of
Philippi, who was a Pythoness, for several successive days rendered
testimony to Paul and Silas, saying that they were "_the servants of
the Most High, and that they announced to men the way of salvation_."
Was it the devil who inspired her with these words, to destroy the
fruit of the preaching of the Apostles, by making the people believe
that they acted in concert with the spirit of evil? Or was it the
Spirit of God which put these words into the mouth of this young girl,
as he put into the mouth of Balaam prophecies concerning the Messiah?
There is reason to believe that she spoke through the inspiration of
the evil spirit, since St. Paul imposed silence on her, and expelled
the spirit of Python, by which she had been possessed, and which had
inspired the predictions she uttered, and the knowledge of hidden
things. In what way soever we may explain it, it will always follow
that magic is not a chimera, that this maiden was possessed by an evil
spirit, and that she predicted and revealed things hidden and to come,
and brought her _masters considerable gain by soothsaying_; for those
who consulted her would, doubtless, not have been so foolish as to pay
for these predictions, had they not experienced the truth of them by
their success and by the event.

From all this united testimony, it results that magic, enchantments,
sorcery, divination, the interpretation of dreams, auguries, oracles,
and the magical figures which announced things to come, are very real,
since they are so severely condemned by God, and that He wills that
those who practice them should be punished with death.


[115] _Vide_ Bodin Preface.

[116] Gen. xxxi. 19.

[117] Josh. xxiv. 2-4.

[118] Hosea ii. 4, &c. Zech. v. 2.

[119] Zech. x. 2. Ezek. xxi. 21.

[120] Gen. xliv. 15.

[121] Gen. xliv. 5.

[122] Exod. vii. 10-12. Exod. viii. 19.

[123] Exod. xxii. 18.

[124] Numb. xxii., xxiii.

[125] Judg. xvii. 1, 2.

[126] Judg. viii. 27.

[127] 2 Kings i. 2, 2.

[128] 1 Sam. xxviii. 7, _et seq._

[129] 2 Kings xxi. 16.

[130] 2 Kings xxii. 24.

[131] Dan. iv. 6, 7.

[132] Matt. x. 25; xii. 24, 25.

[133] Luke xi. 15, 18, 19.

[134] Acts viii. 11; xiii. 6.

[135] Acts xix. 19.

[136] Psalm lvii.

[137] Ecclus. xii. 13.

[138] Acts xvi. 16, 17.



I shall not fail to be told that all these testimonies from Scripture
do not prove the reality of magic, sorcery, divination, and the rest;
but only that the Hebrews and Egyptians--I mean the common people
among them--believe that there were people who had intercourse with
the Divinity, or with good and bad angels, to predict the future,
explain dreams, devote their enemies to the direst misfortunes, cause
maladies, raise storms, and call forth the souls of the dead; if there
was any reality in all this, it was not in the things themselves, but
in their imaginations and prepossessions.

Moses and Joseph were regarded by the Egyptians as great magicians.
Rachel, it appears, believed that the teraphim of her father Laban
were capable of giving her information concerning things hidden and to
come. The Israelites might consult the idol of Micha, and Beelzebub
the god of Ekron; but the sensible and enlightened people of those
days, like similar persons in our own, considered all this as the
sport and knavery of pretended magicians, who derived much emolument
from maintaining these prejudices among the people.

Moses most wisely ordained the penalty of death against those persons
who abused the simplicity of the ignorant to enrich themselves at
their expense, and turned away the people from the worship of the true
God, in order to keep up among them such practices as were
superstitious and contrary to true religion.

Besides, it was necessary to good order, the interests of the
commonwealth and of true piety, to repress those abuses which are in
opposition to them, and to punish with extreme severity those who draw
away the people from the true and legitimate worship due to God, lead
them to worship the devil, and place their confidence in the creature,
in prejudice to the right of the Creator; inspiring them with vain
terrors where there is nothing to fear, and maintaining their minds in
the most dangerous errors. If, amongst an infinite number of false
predictions, or vain interpretations of dreams, some of them are
fulfilled, either this is occasioned by chance or it is the work of
the devil, who is often permitted by God to deceive those whose
foolishness and impiety lead them to address themselves to him and
place their confidence in him, all which the wise lawgiver, animated
by the Divine Spirit, justly repressed by the most rigorous

All histories and experience on this subject demonstrate that those
who make use of the art of magic, charms, and spells, only employ
their art, their secret, and their power to corrupt and mislead; for
crime and vice; thus they cannot be too carefully sought out, or too
severely punished.

We may add that what is often taken for black or diabolical magic is
nothing but natural magic, or art and cleverness on the part of those
who perform things which appear above the force of nature. How many
marvelous effects are related of the divining rod, sympathetic powder,
phosphoric lights, and mathematical secrets! How much knavery is now
well known in the priests of idols, and in those of Babylon, who made
the people believe that the god Bel drank and ate; that a large living
dragon was a divinity; that the god Anubis desired to have certain
women, who were thus deceived by the priests; that the ox Apis gave
out oracles, and that the serpent of Alexander of Abonotiche knew the
sickness, and gave remedies to the patient without opening the billet
which contained a description of the illness! We may possibly speak
more fully on this subject hereafter.

In short, the most judicious and most celebrated Parliaments have
recognized neither magicians nor sorcerers; at least, they have not
condemned them to death unless they were convicted of other crimes,
such as theft, bad practices, poisoning, or criminal seduction--for
instance, in the affair of Gofredi, a priest of Marseilles, who was
condemned by the Parliament of Aix to be torn with hot pincers, and
burnt alive. The heads of that company, in the account which they
render to the chancellor of this their sentence, testify that this
curé was in truth accused of sorcery, but that he had been condemned
to the flames as guilty, and convicted of spiritual incest with his
penitent, Madelaine de la Palu. From all this it is concluded that
there is no reality in what is called magic.



In answer to these, I allow that there is indeed very often a great
deal of illusion, prepossession, and imagination in all that is termed
magic and sorcery; and sometimes the devil by false appearances
combines with them to deceive the simple; but oftener, without the
evil spirit being any otherwise a party to it, wicked, corrupt, and
interested men, artful and deceptive, abuse the simplicity both of men
and women, so far as to persuade them that they possess supernatural
secrets for interpreting dreams and foretelling things to come, for
curing maladies, and discovering secrets unknown to any one. I can
easily agree to all that. All kinds of histories are full of facts
which demonstrate what I have just said. The devil has a thousand
things imputed to him in which he has no share; they give him the
honor of predictions, revelations, secrets, and discoveries, which are
by no means the effect of his power, or penetration; as in the same
manner he is accused of having caused all sorts of evils, tempests,
and maladies, which are purely the effect of natural but unknown

It is very true that there are really many persons who are persuaded
of the power of the devil, of his influence over an infinite number of
things, and of the effects which they attribute to him; that they have
consulted him to learn future events, or to discover hidden things;
that they have addressed themselves to him for success in their
projects, for money, or favor, or to enjoy their criminal pleasures.
All this is very real. Magic, then, is not a simple chimera, since so
many persons are infatuated with the power of charms and convicted of
holding commerce with the devil, to procure a number of effects which
pass for supernatural. Now it is the folly, the vain credulity, the
prepossession of such people that the law of God interdicts, that
Moses condemns to death, and that the Christian Church punishes by its
censures, and which the secular judges repress with the greatest
rigor. If in all these things there was nothing but a diseased
imagination, weakness of the brain, or popular prejudices, would they
be treated with so much severity? Do we put to death hypochondriacs,
maniacs, or those who imagine themselves ill? No; they are treated
with compassion, and every effort is made to cure them. But in the
other case it is impiety, or superstition, or vice in those who
consult, or believe they consult, the devil, and place their
confidence in him, against which the laws are put in force and ordain

Even if we could deny and contest the reality of augurs, diviners, and
magicians, and look on all these kind of persons as seducers, who
abuse the simplicity of those who betake themselves to them, could we
deny the reality of the magicians of Pharaoh, that of Simon, of
Bar-Jesus, of the Pythoness of the Acts of the Apostles? Did not the
first-mentioned perform many wonders before Pharaoh? Did not Simon the
magician rise into the air by means of the devil? Did not St. Paul
impose silence on the Pythoness of the city of Philippi in
Macedonia?[139] Will it be said that there was any collusion between
St. Paul and the Pythoness? Nothing of the kind can be maintained by
any reasonable argument.

A small volume was published at Paris, in 1732, by a new author, who
conceals himself under the two initials M. D.; it is entitled,
_Treatise on Magic, Witchcraft, Possessions, Obsessions and Charms; in
which their truth and reality are demonstrated_. He shows that he
believes there are magicians; he shows by Scripture, both in the Old
and New Testament, and by the authority of the ancient fathers, some
passages from whose works are cited in that of Father Debrio, entitled
_Disquisitiones Magicæ_. He proves it by the rituals of all the
dioceses, and by the examinations which are found in the printed
"Hours," wherein they suppose the existence of sorcerers and

The civil laws of the emperors, whether pagan or Christian, those of
the kings of France, both ancient and modern, jurisconsult,
physicians, historians both sacred and profane, concur in maintaining
this truth. In all kinds of writers we may remark an infinity of
stories of magic, spells and sorcery. The Parliaments of France, and
the tribunals of justice in other nations, have recognized magicians,
the pernicious effects of their art, and condemned them personally to
the most rigorous punishments.

He relates at full length[140] the remonstrances made to King Louis
XIV., in 1670, by the Parliament at Rouen, to prove to that monarch
that it was not only the Parliament of Rouen, but also all the other
Parliaments of the kingdom, which followed the same rules of
jurisprudence in what concerns magic and sorcery; that they
acknowledged the existence of such things and condemn them. This
author cites several facts, and several sentences given on this matter
in the Parliaments of Paris, Aix, Toulouse, Rennes, Dijon, &c. &c.;
and it was upon these remonstrances that the same king, in 1682, made
his declaration concerning the punishment of various crimes, and in
particular of sorcery, diviners or soothsayers, magicians, and similar

He also cites the treaty of M. de la Marre, commissary at the
_châtelet_ of Paris, who speaks largely of magic, and proves its
reality, origin, progress, and effects. Would it be possible that the
sacred authors, laws divine and human, the greatest men of antiquity,
jurisconsults, the most enlightened historians, bishops in their
councils, the Church in her decisions, her practices and prayers,
should have conspired to deceive us, and to condemn those who practice
magic, sorcery, spells, and crimes of the same nature, to death, and
the most rigorous punishments, if they were merely illusive, and the
effect only of a diseased and prejudiced imagination? Father le Brun,
of the Oratoire, who has written so well upon the subject of
superstitions, substantiates the fact that the Parliament of Paris
recognizes that there are sorcerers, and that it punishes them
severely when they are convicted. He proves it by a decree issued in
1601 against some inhabitants of Campagne accused of witchcraft. The
decree wills that they shall be sent to the Conciergerie by the
subaltern judges on pain of being deprived of their charge. It
supposes that they must be rigorously punished, but it desires that
the proceedings against them for their discovery and punishment may be
exact and regular.

M. Servin, advocate-general and councillor of state, fully proves from
the Old and New Testament, from tradition, laws and history, that
there are diviners, enchanters, and sorcerers, and refutes those who
would maintain the contrary. He shows that magicians and those who
make use of charms, ought to be punished and held in execration; but
he adds that no punishment must be inflicted till after certain and
evident proofs have been obtained; and this is what must be strictly
attended to by the Parliament of Paris, for fear of punishing madmen
for guilty persons, and taking illusions for realities.

The Parliament leaves it to the Church to inflict excommunication,
both on men and women who have recourse to charms, and who believe
they go in the night to nocturnal assemblies, there to pay homage to
the devil. The Capitularies of the kings[141] recommend the pastors to
instruct the faithful on the subject of what is termed the Sabbath; at
any rate they do not command that these persons should receive
corporeal punishment, but only that they should be undeceived and
prevented from misleading others in the same manner.

And there the Parliament stops, so long as the case goes no farther
than simply misleading; but when it goes so far as to injure others,
the kings have often commanded the judges to punish these persons with
fines and banishment. The Ordonnances of Charles VIII. in 1490, and of
Charles IX. in the States of Orleans in 1560, express themselves
formally on this point, and they were renewed by King Louis XIV. in
1682. The third article of these Ordonnances bears, that if it should
happen "_there were persons to be found wicked enough to add impiety
and sacrilege to superstition, those who shall be convicted of these
crimes shall be punished with death_."

When, therefore, it is evident that some person has inflicted injury
on his neighbor by malpractices, the Parliament punishes them
rigorously, even to the pain of death, conformably to the ancient
Capitularies of the kingdom,[142] and the royal Ordonnances. Bodin,
who wrote in 1680, has collected a great number of decrees, to which
may be added those which the reverend Father le Brun reports, given
since that time.

He afterwards relates a remarkable instance of a man named Hocque, who
was condemned to the galleys, the 2d of September, 1687, by sentence
of the High Court of Justice at Passy, for having made use of
malpractices towards animals, and having thus killed a great number in
Champagne. Hocque died suddenly, miserably, and in despair, after
having discovered, when drunken with wine, to a person named Beatrice,
the secret which he made use of to kill the cattle; he was not
ignorant that the demon would cause his death to revenge the discovery
which he had made of this spell.

Some of the accomplices of this wretched man were condemned to the
galleys by divers decrees; others were condemned to be hanged and
burnt, by order of the Baillé of Passy, the 26th of October, 1691,
which sentence was confirmed by decree of the Parliament of Paris, the
18th of December, 1691. From all which we deduce that the Parliament
of Paris acknowledges that the spells by which people do injury to
their neighbors ought to be rigorously punished; that the devil has
very extensive power, which he too often exercises over men and
animals, and that he would exercise it oftener, and with greater
extension and fury, if he were not limited and hindered by the power
of God, and that of good angels, who set bounds to his malice. St Paul
warns us[143] to put on the armor of God, to be able to resist the
snares of the devil: for, adds he, "we have not to war against flesh
and blood: but against princes and powers, against the bad spirits who
govern this dark world, against the spirits of malice who reign in the


[139] Acts xvi. 10.

[140] Page 31, _et seq._

[141] Capitular. R. xiii de Sortilegiis et Sorciariis, 2 col. 36.

[142] Capitular. in 872, x. 2. col. 230.

[143] Eph. vi. 12.



Monsieur de St. André, consulting physician in ordinary to the king,
in his sixth letter[144] against magic, maintains that in the affair
of Hocque which has been mentioned, there was neither magic, nor
sorcery, nor any operation of the demon; that the venomous drug which
Hocque placed in the stables, and by means of which he caused the
death of the cattle stalled therein, was nothing but a poisonous
compound, which, by its smell and the diffusion of its particles,
poisoned the animals and caused their death; it required only for
these drugs to be taken away for the cattle to be safe, or else to
keep the cattle from the stable in which the poison was placed. The
difficulty laid in discovering where these poisonous drugs were
hidden; the shepherds, who were the authors of the mischief, taking
all sorts of precautions to conceal them, knowing that their lives
were in danger if they should be discovered.

He further remarks that these _gogues_ or poisoned drugs lose their
effects after a certain time, unless they are renewed or watered with
something to revive them and make them ferment again. If the devil had
any share in this mischief, the drug would always possess the same
virtue, and it would not be necessary to renew it and refresh it to
restore it to its pristine power.

In all this, M. de St. André supposes that if the demon had any power
to deprive animals of their lives, or to cause them fatal maladies, he
could do so independently of secondary causes; which will not be
easily granted him by those who hold that God alone can give life and
death by an absolute power, independently of all secondary causes and
of any natural agent. The demon might have revealed to Hocque the
composition of this fatal and poisonous drug--he might have taught him
its dangerous effects, after which the venom acts in a natural way; it
recovers and resumes its pristine strength when it is watered; it acts
only at a certain distance, and according to the reach of the
corpuscles which exhale from it. All these effects have nothing
supernatural in them, nor which ought to be attributed to the demon;
but it is credible enough that he inspired Hocque with the pernicious
design to make use of a dangerous drug, which the wretched man knew
how to make up, or the composition of which was revealed to him by the
evil spirit.

M. de St. André continues, and says that there is nothing in the death
of Hocque which ought to be attributed to the demon; it is, says he, a
purely natural effect, which can proceed from no other cause than the
venomous effluvia which came from the poisonous drug when it was taken
up, and which were carried towards the malefactor by those which
proceeded from his own body while he was preparing it, and placing it
in the ground, which remained there and were preserved in that spot,
so that none of them had been dissipated.

These effluvia proceeding from the person of Hocque, then finding
themselves liberated, returned to whence they originated, and drew
with them the most malignant and corrosive particles of the charge or
drug, which acted on the body of this shepherd as they did on those of
the animals who smelled them. He confirms what he has just said, by
the example of sympathetic powder which acts upon the body of a
wounded person, by the immersion of small particles of the blood, or
the pus of the wounded man upon whom it is applied, which particles
draw with them the spirit of the drugs of which it (the powder) is
composed, and carry them to the wound.

But the more I reflect on this pretended evaporation of the venomous
effluvia emanating from the poisoned drug, hidden at Passy en Brie,
six leagues from Paris, which are supposed to come straight to Hocque,
shut up at la Tournelle, borne by the animal effluvia proceeding from
this malefactor's body at the time he made up the poisonous drug and
put it in the ground, so long before the dangerous composition was
discovered; the more I reflect on the possibility of these
evaporations the less I am persuaded of them. I could wish to have
proofs of this system, and not instances of the very doubtful and very
uncertain effects of sympathetic powder, which can have no place in
the case in question. It is proving the obscure by the obscure, and
the uncertain by the uncertain; and even were we to admit generally
some effects of the sympathetic powder, they could not be applicable
here; the distance between the places is too great, and the time too
long; and what sympathy can be found between this shepherd's poisonous
drug and his person for it to be able to return to him who is
imprisoned at Paris, when the _gogue_ is discovered at Passy?

The account composed and printed on this event bears, that the fumes
of the wine which Hocque had drank having evaporated, and he
reflecting on what Beatrice had made him do, began to agitate himself,
howled, and complained most strangely, saying that Beatrice had taken
him by surprise, that it would occasion his death, and that he must
die the instant that _Bras-de-fer_--another shepherd, to whom Beatrice
had persuaded Hocque to write word to take off the poisoned drug which
he had scattered on the ground at Passy--should take away the dose. He
attacked Beatrice, whom he wanted to strangle; and even excited the
other felons who were with him in prison and condemned to the galleys,
to maltreat her, through the pity they felt for the despair of Hocque,
who, at the time the dose was taken off the land, had died in a
moment, in strange convulsions, and agitating himself like one

M. de St. André would again explain all this by supposing Hocque's
imagination being struck with the idea of his dying, which he was
persuaded would happen at the time they carried away the poison, had a
great deal to do with his sufferings and death. How many people have
been known to die at the time they had fancied they should, when
struck with the idea of their approaching death. The despair and
agitation of Hocque had disturbed the mass of his blood, altered the
humors, deranged the motion of the effluvia, and rendered them much
susceptible of the actions of the vapors proceeding from the poisonous

M. de St. André adds that, if the devil had any share in this kind of
mischievous spell, it could only be in consequence of some compact,
either expressed or tacit, that as soon as the poison should be taken
up, he who had put it there should die immediately. Now, what
likelihood is there that the person who should make this compact with
the devil should have made use of such a stipulation, which would
expose him to a cruel and inevitable death?

1. We may reply that fright can cause death; but that it is not
possible for it to produce it at a given time, nor can he who falls
into a paroxysm of grief say that he shall die at such a moment; the
moment of death is not in the power of man in similar circumstances.

2. That so corrupt a character as Hocque, a man who, without
provocation, and to gratify his ill-will, kills an infinite number of
animals, and causes great damage to innocent persons, is capable of
the greatest excess, may give himself up to the evil spirit, by
implicated or explicit compacts, and engage, on pain of losing his
life, never to take off the charge he had thrown upon a village. He
believed he should risk nothing by this stipulation, since he was free
to take it away or to leave it, and it was not probable that he should
ever lightly thus expose himself to certain death. That the demon had
some share in this virtue of the poisonous composition is very likely,
when we consider the circumstances of its operations, and those of the
death and despair of Hocque. This death is the just penalty of his
crimes, and of his confidence in the exterminating angel to whom he
had yielded himself.

It is true that impostors, weak minds, heated imaginations, ignorant
and superstitious persons have been found who have taken for black
magic, and operations of the demon, what was quite natural, and the
effect of some subtilty of philosophy or mathematics, or even an
illusion of the senses, or a secret which deceives the eye and the
senses. But to conclude from thence that there is no magic at all, and
that all that is said about it is pure prejudice, ignorance, and
superstition, is to conclude what is general from what is particular,
and to deny what is true and certain, because it is not easy to
distinguish what is true from what is false, and because men will not
take the trouble to examine into causes. It is far easier to deny
everything than to enter upon a serious examination of facts and


[144] M. de St. André, Letter VI. on the subject of Magic, &c.



All pagan antiquity speaks of magic and magicians, of magical
operations, and of superstitious, curious, and diabolical books.
Historians, poets, and orators are full of things which relate to this
matter: some believe in it, others deny it; some laugh at it, others
remain in uncertainty and doubt. Are they bad spirits, or deceitful
men, impostors and charlatans, who, by the subtilties of their art,
make the ignorant believe that certain natural effects are produced by
supernatural causes? That is the point on which men differ. But in
general the name of magic and magician is now taken in these days in
an odious sense, for an art which produces marvelous effects, that
appear above the common course of nature, and that by the operation of
the bad spirit.

The author of the celebrated book of Enoch, which had so great a
vogue, and has been cited by some ancient writers[145] as inspired
Scripture, says that the eleventh of the watchers, or of those angels
who were in love with women, was called Pharmacius, or Pharmachus;
that he taught men, before the flood, enchantments, spells, magic
arts, and remedies against enchantments. St. Clement, of Alexandria,
in his recognitions, says that Ham, the son of Noah, received that art
from heaven, and taught it to Misraim, his son, the father of the

In the Scripture, the name of _Mage_ or _Magus_ is never used in a
good sense as signifying philosophers who studied astronomy, and were
versed in divine and supernatural things, except in speaking of the
Magi who came to adore Jesus Christ at Bethlehem.[146] Everywhere else
the Scriptures condemn and abhor magic and magicians.[147] They
severely forbid the Hebrews to consult such persons and things. They
speak with abhorrence of _Simon and of Elymas_, well-known magicians,
in the Acts of the Apostles;[148] and of the magicians of Pharaoh, who
counterfeited by their illusions the true miracles of Moses. It seems
likely that the Israelites had taken the habit in Egypt, where they
then were, of consulting such persons, since Moses forbids them in so
many different places, and so severely, either to listen to them or to
place confidence in their predictions.

The Chevalier Marsham shows very clearly that the school for magic
among the Egyptians is the most ancient ever known in the world; that
from thence it spread amongst the Chaldeans, the Babylonians, the
Greeks and Persians. St. Paul informs us that Jannès and Jambrès,
famous magicians of the time of Pharaoh, resisted Moses. Pliny
remarks, that anciently, there was no science more renowned, or more
in honor, than that of magic: _Summam litterarum claritatem gloriamque
ex ea scientia antiquitùs et penè semper petitam._

Porphyry[149] says that King Darius, son of Hystaspes, had so high an
idea of the art of magic that he caused to be engraved on the
mausoleum of his father Hystaspes, "_That he had been the chief and
the master of the Magi of Persia_."

The embassy that Balak, King of the Moabites, sent to Balaam the son
of Beor, who dwelt in the mountains of the East, towards Persia and
Chaldea,[150] to entreat him to come and curse and devote to death the
Israelites who threatened to invade his country, shows the antiquity
of magic, and of the magical superstitions of that country. For will
it be said that these maledictions and inflictions were the effect of
the inspiration of the good Spirit, or the work of good angels? I
acknowledge that Balaam was inspired by God in the blessings which he
gave to the people of the Lord, and in the prediction which he made of
the coming of the Messiah; but we must acknowledge, also, the extreme
corruption of his heart, his avarice, and all that he would have been
capable of doing, if God had permitted him to follow his bad
inclination and the inspiration of the evil spirit.

Diodorus of Sicily,[151] on the tradition of the Egyptians, says that
the Chaldeans who dwelt at Babylon and in Babylonia were a kind of
colony of the Egyptians, and that it was from these last that the
sages, or Magi of Babylon, learned the astronomy which gave such

We see, in Ezekiel,[152] the King of Babylon, marching against his
enemies at the head of his army, stop short where two roads meet, and
mingle the darts, to know by magic art, and the flight of these
arrows, which road he must take. In the ancients, this manner of
consulting the demon by divining wands is known--the Greeks call it

The prophet Daniel speaks more than once of the magicians of Babylon.
King Nebuchadnezzar, having been frightened in a dream, sent for the
Magi, or magicians, diviners, aruspices, and Chaldeans, to interpret
the dream he had had.

King Belshazzar in the same manner convoked the magicians, Chaldeans,
and aruspices of the country, to explain to him the meaning of these
words which he saw written on the wall: _Mene_, _Tekel_, _Perez_. All
this indicates the habit of the Babylonians to exercise magic art, and
consult magicians, and that this pernicious art was held in high
repute among them. We read in the same prophet of the trickery made
use of by the priests to deceive the people, and make them believe
that their gods lived, ate, drank, spoke, and revealed to them hidden

I have already mentioned the Magi who came to adore Jesus Christ;
there is no doubt that they came from Chaldea or the neighboring
country, but differing from those of whom we have just spoken, by
their piety, and having studied the true religion.

We read in books of travels that superstition, magic, and fascinations
are still very common in the East, both among the fire-worshipers
descended from the ancient Chaldeans, and among the Persians,
sectaries of Mohammed. St. Chrysostom had sent into Persia a holy
bishop, named Maruthas, to have the care of the Christians who were in
that country; the King Isdegerde having discovered him, treated him
with much consideration. The Magi, who adore and keep up the perpetual
fire, which is regarded by the Persians as their principal divinity,
were jealous at this, and concealed underground an apostate, who,
knowing that the king was to come and pay his adoration to the
(sacred) fire, was to cry out from the depth of his cavern that the
king must be deprived of his throne because he esteemed the Christian
priest as a friend of the gods. The king was alarmed at this, and
wished to send Maruthas away; but the latter discovered to him the
imposture of the priests; he caused the ground to be turned up where
the man's voice had been heard, and there they found him from whom it

This example, and those of the Babylonish priests spoken of by Daniel,
and that of some others, who, to satisfy their irregular passions,
pretended that their God required the company of certain women, proved
that what is usually taken for the effect of the black art is only
produced by the knavishness of priests, magicians, diviners, and all
kinds of persons who impose on the simplicity and credulity of the
people; I do not deny that the devil sometimes takes part in it, but
more rarely than is imagined.


[145] Apud Syncell.

[146] Matt. iii. 1, 7, 36.

[147] Lev. xix. 31; xx.

[148] Acts viii. 9; xiii. 8.

[149] Porph. de Abstinent. lib. iv. § 16. Vid. et Ammian. Marcell.
lib. xxiii.

[150] Numb. xxiii. 1-3.

[151] Diodor. Sicul. lib. i. p. 5.

[152] Ezek. xxi. 21.



The Greeks have always boasted that they received the art of magic
from the Persians, or the Bactrians. They affirm that Zoroaster
communicated it to them; but when we wish to know the exact time at
which Zoroaster lived, and when he taught them these pernicious
secrets, they wander widely from the truth, and even from probability;
some placing Zoroaster 600 years before the expedition of Xerxes into
Greece, which happened in the year of the world 3523, and before Jesus
Christ 477; others 500 years before the Trojan war; others 5000 years
before that famous war; others 6000 years before that great event.
Some believe that Zoroaster is the same as Ham, the son of Noah.
Lastly, others maintain that there were several Zoroasters. What
appears indubitably true is, that the worship of a plurality of gods,
as also magic, superstition, and oracles, came from the Egyptians and
Chaldeans, or Persians, to the Greeks, and from the Greeks to the

From the time of Homer,[153] magic was quite common among the Greeks.
That poet speaks of the cure of wounds, and of blood staunched by the
secrets of magic, and by enchantment. St. Paul, when at Ephesus,
caused to be burned there books of magic and curious secrets, the
value of which amounted to the sum of 50,000 pieces of silver.[154] We
have before said a few words concerning Simon the magician, and the
magician Elymas, known in the Acts of the Apostles.[155] Pindar
says[156] that the centaur Chiron cured several enchantments. When
they say that Orpheus rescued from hell his wife Eurydice, who had
died from the bite of a serpent, they simply mean that he cured her by
the power of charms.[157] The poets have employed magic verses to make
themselves beloved, and they have taught them to others for the same
purpose; they may be seen in Theocritus, Catullus, and Virgil.
Theophrastus affirms that there are magical verses which cure
sciatica. Cato mentions (or repeats) some against luxations.[158]
Varro admits that there are some powerful against the gout.

The sacred books testify that enchanters have the secret of putting
serpents to sleep, and of charming them, so that they can never either
bite again or cause any more harm.[159] The crocodile, that terrible
animal, fears even the smell and voice of the Tentyriens.[160] Job,
speaking of the leviathan, which we believe to be the crocodile, says,
"Shall the enchanter destroy it?"[161] And in Ecclesiasticus, "Who
will pity the enchanter that has been bitten by the serpent?"[162]

Everybody knows what is related of the Marsi, people of Italy, and of
the Psyllæ, who possessed the secret of charming serpents. One would
say, says St. Augustine,[163] that these animals understand the
languages of the Marsi, so obedient are they to their orders; we see
them come out of their caverns as soon as the Marsian has spoken. All
this can only be done, says the same father, by the power of the
malignant spirit, whom God permits to exercise this empire over
venomous reptiles, above all, the serpent, as if to punish him for
what he did to the first woman. In fact, it may be remarked that no
animal is more exposed to charms, and the effects of magic art, than
the serpent.

The laws of the Twelve Tables forbid the charming of a neighbor's
crops, _qui fruges excantâsset_. Valerius Flaccus quotes authors who
affirm that when the Romans were about to besiege a town, they
employed their priests to evoke the divinity who presided over it,
promising him a temple in Rome, either like the one dedicated to him
in the besieged place, or on a rather larger scale, and that the
proper worship should be paid to him. Pliny says that the memory of
these evocations is preserved among the priests.

If that which we have just related, and what we read in ancient and
modern writers, is at all real, and produces the effects attributed to
it, it cannot be doubted that there is something supernatural in it,
and that the devil has a great share in the matter.

The Abbot Trithemius speaks of a sorceress who, by means of certain
beverages, changed a young Burgundian into a beast.

Everybody knows the fable of Circé, who changed the soldiers or
companions of Ulysses into swine. We know also the fable of the Golden
Ass, by Apuleius, which contains the account of a man metamorphosed
into an ass. I bring forward these things merely as what they are,
that is to say, simply poetic fictions.

But it is very credible that these fictions are not destitute of some
foundation, like many other fables, which contain not only a hidden
and moral sense, but which have also some relation to an event really
historical: for instance, what is said of the Golden Fleece carried
away by Jason; of the Wooden Horse, made use of to surprise the city
of Troy; the Twelve Labors of Hercules; the metamorphoses related by
Ovid. All fabulous as those things appear in the poets, they have,
nevertheless, their historical truth. And thus the pagan poets and
historians have travestied and disguised the stories of the Old
Testament, and have attributed to Bacchus, Jupiter, Saturn, Apollo,
and Hercules, what is related of Noah, Moses, Aaron, Samson, and
Jonah, &c.

Origen, writing against Celsus, supposes the reality of magic, and
says that the Magi who came to adore Jesus Christ at Bethlehem,
wishing to perform their accustomed operations, not being able to
succeed, a superior power preventing the effect and imposing silence
on the demon, they sought out the cause, and beheld at the same time a
divine sign in the heavens, whence they concluded that it was the
Being spoken of by Balaam, and that the new King whose birth he had
predicted, was born in Judea, and immediately they resolved to go and
seek him. Origen believes that magicians, according to the rules of
their art, often foretell the future, and that their predictions are
followed by the event, unless the power of God, or that of the angels,
prevents the effect of their conjurations, and puts them to


[153] Homer, Iliad, IV.

[154] Acts xix. 19.

[155] Acts viii. 9; xiii. 8.

[156] Pind. Od. iv.

[157] Plin. I. 28.

[158] Cato de Rerustic. c. 160.

[159] Psalm lvii. Jer. vii. 17. Eccles. x. 11.

[160] Plin. lib. viii. c. 50.

[161] Job xl. 25.

[162] Ecclus. xii. 13.

  "Frigidus in pratis cantando rumpitur anguis."--_Virgil_, Ecl. viii.

  "Vipereas rumpo verbis et carmine fauces."--_Ovid._

[163] Plin. lib. xxviii.

[164] The fables of Jason and many others of the same class are said
by Fortuitus Comes to have a reference to alchemy.



St. Augustine[165] remarks that not only the poets, but the historians
even, relate that Diomede, of whom the Greeks have made a divinity,
had not the happiness to return to his country with the other princes
who had been at the siege of Troy; that his companions were changed
into birds, and that these birds have their dwelling in the environs
of the Temple of Diomede, which is situated near Mount Garganos; that
these birds caress the Greeks who come to visit this temple, but fly
at and peck the strangers who arrive there.

Varro, the most learned of Romans, to render this more credible,
relates what everybody knows about Circé, who changed the companions
of Ulysses into beasts; and what is said of the Arcadians, who, after
having drawn lots, swam over a certain lake, after which they were
metamorphosed into wolves, and ran about in the forests like other
wolves. If during the time of their transmutation they did not eat
human flesh, at the end of nine years they repassed the same lake, and
resumed their former shape.

The same Varro relates of a certain Demenotas that, having tasted the
flesh of a child which the Arcadians had immolated to their god Lycæa,
he had also been changed into a wolf, and ten years after he had
resumed his natural form, had appeared at the Olympic games, and won
the prize for pugilism.

St. Augustine testifies that in his time many believed that these
transformations still took place, and some persons even affirmed that
they had experienced them in their own persons. He adds that, when in
Italy, he was told that certain women gave cheese to strangers who
lodged at their houses, when these strangers were immediately changed
into beasts of burden, without losing their reason, and carried the
loads which were placed upon them; after which they returned to their
former state. He says, moreover, that a certain man, named
Præstantius, related that his father, having eaten of this magic
cheese, remained lying in bed, without any one being able to awaken
him for several days, when he awoke, and said that he had been changed
into a horse, and had carried victuals to the army; and the thing was
found to be true, although it appeared to him to be only a dream.

St. Augustine, reasoning on all this, says that either these things
are false, or else so extraordinary that we cannot give faith to them.
It is not to be doubted that God, by his almighty power, can do
anything that he thinks proper, but that the devil, who is of a
spiritual nature, can do nothing without the permission of God, whose
decrees are always just; that the demon can neither change the nature
of the spirit, or the body of a man, to transform him into a beast;
but that he can only act upon the fancy or imagination of a man, and
persuade him that he is what he is not, or that he appears to others
different from what he is; or that he remains in a deep sleep, and
believes during that slumber that he is bearing loads which the devil
carries for him; or that he (the devil) fascinates the eyes of those
who believe they see them borne by animals, or by men metamorphosed
into animals.

If we consider it only a change arising from fancy or imagination, as
it happens in the disorder called lycanthropy, in which a man believes
himself changed into a wolf, or into any other animal, as
Nebuchadnezzar, who believed himself changed into an ox, and acted for
seven years as if he had really been metamorphosed into that animal,
there would be nothing in that more marvelous than what we see in
hypochondriacs, who persuade themselves that they are kings, generals,
popes, and cardinals; that they are snow, glass, pottery, &c. Like him
who, being alone at the theatre, believed that he beheld there actors
and admirable representations; or the man who imagined that all the
vessels which arrived at the port of Pireus, near Athens, belonged to
him; or, in short, what we see every day in dreams, and which appear
to us very real during our sleep. In all this, it is needless to have
recourse to the devil, or to magic, fascination, or illusion; there
is nothing above the natural order of things. But that, by means of
certain beverages, certain herbs, and certain kinds of food, a person
may disturb the imagination, and persuade another that he is a wolf, a
horse, or an ass, appears more difficult of explanation, although we
are aware that plants, herbs, and medicaments possess great power over
the bodies of men, and are capable of deranging the brain,
constitution, and imagination. We have but too many examples of such

Another circumstance which, if true, deserves much reflection, is that
of Apollonius of Tyana, who, being at Ephesus during a great plague
which desolated the city, promised the Ephesians to cause the pest to
cease the very day on which he was speaking to them, and which was
that of his second arrival in their town. He assembled them at the
theatre, and ordered them to stone to death a poor old man, covered
with rags, who asked alms. "Strike," cried he, "that enemy of the
gods! heap stones upon him." They could not make up their minds to do
so, for he excited their pity, and asked mercy in the most touching
manner. But Apollonius pressed it so much, that at last they slew him,
and amassed over him an immense heap of stones. A little while after
he told them to take away these stones, and they would see what sort
of an animal they had killed. They found only a great dog, and were
convinced that this old man was only a phantom who had fascinated
their eyes, and caused the pestilence in their town.

We here see five remarkable things:--1st. The demon who causes the
plague in Ephesus; 2d. This same demon, who, instead of a dog, causes
the appearance of a man; 3d. The fascination of the senses of the
Ephesians, who believe that they behold a man instead of a dog; 4th.
The proof of the magic of Apollonius, who discovers the cause of this
pestilence; 5th. And who makes it cease at the given time.

Æneas Sylvius Picolomini, who was afterwards Pope by the name of Pius
II., writes, in his History of Bohemia, that a woman predicted to a
soldier of King Wratislaus, that the army of that prince would be cut
in pieces by the Duke of Bohemia, and that, if this soldier wished to
avoid death, he must kill the first person he should meet on the road,
cut off their ears, and put them in his pocket; that with the sword he
had used to pierce them he must trace on the ground a cross between
his horse's legs; that he must kiss it, and then take flight. All this
the young soldier performed. Wratislaus gave battle, lost it, and was
killed. The young soldier escaped; but on entering his house, he found
that it was his wife whom he had killed and run his sword through, and
whose ears he had cut off.

This woman was, then, strangely disguised and metamorphosed, since
her husband could not recognize her, and she did not make herself
known to him in such perilous circumstances, when her life was in
danger. These two were, then, apparently magicians; both she who made
the prediction, and the other on whom it was exercised. God permits,
on this occasion, three great evils. The first magician counsels the
murder of an innocent person; the young man commits it on his own wife
without knowing her; and the latter dies in a state of condemnation,
since by the secrets of magic she had rendered it impossible to
recognize her.

A butcher's wife of the town of Jena, in the duchy of Wiemar in
Thuringia,[166] having refused to let an old woman have a calf's head
for which she offered very little, the old woman went away grumbling
and muttering. A little time after this the butcher's wife felt
violent pains in her head. As the cause of this malady was unknown to
the cleverest physicians, they could find no remedy for it; from time
to time a substance like brains came from this woman's left ear, and
at first it was supposed to be her own brain. But as she suspected
that old woman of having cast a spell upon her on account of the
calf's head, they examined the thing more minutely, and they saw that
these were calf's brains; and what strengthened this opinion was that
splinters of calf's-head bones came out with the brains. This disorder
continued some time; at last the butcher's wife was perfectly cured.
This happened in 1685. M. Hoffman, who relates this story in his
dissertation _on the Power of the Demon over Bodies_, printed in 1736,
says that the woman was perhaps still alive.

One day they brought to St. Macarius the Egyptian, a virtuous woman
who had been transformed into a mare by the pernicious arts of a
magician. Her husband, and all those who saw her, thought that she
really was changed into a mare. This woman remained three days and
three nights without tasting any food, proper either for man or horse.
They showed her to the priests of the place, who could apply no

Then they led her to the cell of St. Macarius, to whom God had
revealed that she was to come; his disciples wanted to send her back,
thinking that it was a mare. They informed the saint of her arrival,
and the subject of her journey. "He said to them, You are downright
animals yourselves, thinking you see what is not; that woman is not
changed, but your eyes are fascinated. At the same time he sprinkled
holy water on the woman's head, and all present beheld her in her
former state. He gave her something to eat, and sent her away safe and
sound with her husband. As he sent her away the saint said to her, Do
not keep from church, for this has happened to you for having been
five weeks without taking the sacrament of our Lord, or attending
divine service."

St. Hilarion, much in the same manner, cured by virtue of holy water a
young girl, whom a magician had rendered most violently amorous of a
young man. The demon who possessed her cried aloud to St. Hilarion,
"You make me endure the most cruel torments, for I cannot come out
till the young man who caused me to enter shall unloose me, for I am
enchained under the threshold of the door by a band of copper covered
with magical characters, and by the tow which envelops it." Then St.
Hilarion said to him, "Truly your power is very great, to suffer
yourself to be bound by a bit of copper and a little thread;" at the
same time, without permitting these things to be taken from under the
threshold of the door, he chased away the demon and cured the girl.

In the same place, St. Jerome relates that one Italicus, a citizen of
Gaza and a Christian, who brought up horses for the games in the
circus, had a pagan antagonist who hindered and held back the horses
of Italicus in their course, and gave most extraordinary celerity to
his own. Italicus came to St. Hilarion, and told him the subject he
had for uneasiness. The saint laughed and said to him, "Would it not
be better to give the value of your horses to the poor rather than
employ them in such exercises?" "I cannot do as I please," said
Italicus; "it is a public employment which I fill, because I cannot
help it, and as a Christian I cannot employ malpractices against those
used against me." The brothers, who were present, interceded for him;
and St. Hilarion gave him the earthen vessel out of which he drank,
filled it with water, and told him to sprinkle his horses with it.
Italicus not only sprinkled his horses with this water, but likewise
his stable and chariot all over; and the next day the horses and
chariot of this rival were left far behind his own; which caused the
people to shout in the theatre, "Marnas is vanished--Jesus Christ is
victorious!" And this victory of Italicus produced the conversion of
several persons at Gaza.

Will it be said that this is only the effect of imagination,
prepossession, or the trickery of a clever charlatan? How can you
persuade fifty people that a woman who is present before their eyes
can be changed into a mare, supposing that she has retained her own
natural shape? How was it that the soldier mentioned by Æneas Sylvius
did not recognize his wife, whom he pierced with his sword, and whose
ears he cut off? How did Apollonius of Tyana persuade the Ephesians to
kill a man, who really was only a dog? How did he know that this dog,
or this man, was the cause of the pestilence which afflicted Ephesus?
It is then very credible that the evil spirit often acts on bodies, on
the air, the earth, and on animals, and produces effects which appear
above the power of man.

It is said that in Lapland they have a school for magic, and that
fathers send their children to it, being persuaded that magic is
necessary to them, that they may avoid falling into the snares of
their enemies, who are themselves great magicians. They make the
familiar demons, whose services they command, pass as an inheritance
to their children, that they may make use of them to overcome the
demons of other families who are adverse to their own. They often make
use of a certain kind of drum for their magical operations; for
instance, if they wish to know what is passing in a foreign country,
one amongst them beats this drum, placing upon it at the part where
the image of the sun is represented, a quantity of pewter rings
attached together with a chain of the same metal; then they strike the
drum with a forked hammer made of bone, so that these rings move; at
the same time they sing distinctly a song, called by the Laplanders
_Jonk_; and all those of their nation who are present, men and women,
add their own songs, expressing from time to time the name of the
place whence they desire to have news.

The Laplander having beaten the drum for some time, places it on his
head in a certain manner, and falls down directly motionless on the
ground, and without any sign of life. All the men and all the women
continue singing, till he revives; if they cease to sing, the man
dies, which happens also if any one tries to awaken him by touching
his hand or his foot. They even keep the flies from him, which by
their humming might awaken him and bring him back to life.

When he is recovered he replies to the questions they ask him
concerning the place he has been at. Sometimes he does not awake for
four-and-twenty hours, sometimes more, sometimes less, according to
the distance he has gone; and in confirmation of what he says, and of
the distance he has been, he brings back from the place he has been
sent to the token demanded of him, a knife, a ring, shoes, or some
other object.[167]

These same Laplanders make use also of this drum to learn the cause of
any malady, or to deprive their enemies of their life or their
strength. Moreover, amongst them are certain magicians, who keep in a
kind of leathern game-bag magic flies, which they let loose from time
to time against their enemies or against their cattle, or simply to
raise tempests and hurricanes. They have also a sort of dart which
they hurl into the air, and which causes the death of any one it falls
upon. They have also a sort of little ball called _tyre_, almost
round, which they send in the same way against their enemies to
destroy them; and if by ill luck this ball should hit on its way some
other person, or some animal, it will inevitably cause its death.

Who can be persuaded that the Laplanders who sell fair winds, raise
storms, relate what passes in distant places, where they go, as they
say, in the spirit, and bring back things which they have found
there--who can persuade themselves that all this is done without the
aid of magic? It has been said that in the circumstance of Apollonius
of Tyana, they contrived to send away the man all squalid and
deformed, and put in his place a dog which was stoned, or else they
substituted a dead dog. All which would require a vast deal of
preparation, and would be very difficult to execute in sight of all
the people: it would, perhaps, be better to deny the fact altogether,
which certainly does appear very fabulous, than to have recourse to
such explanations.


[165] Aug. de Civit. Dei, lib. xviii. c. 16-18.

[166] Frederici Hoffman, de Diaboli Potentia in Corpora, p. 382.

[167] See John Schesser, _Laponia_, printed at Frankfort in 4to. an.
1673, chap. xi. entitled, _De sacris Magicis et Magia Laponia_, p.
119, and following.



Were we to believe what is said by the poets concerning the effects of
magic, and what the magicians boast of being able to perform by their
spells, nothing would be more marvelous than their art, and we should
be obliged to acknowledge that the power of the demon was greatly
shown thereby. Pliny[168] relates that Appian evoked the spirit of
Homer, to learn from him which was his country, and who were his
parents. Philostratus says[169] that Apollonius of Tyana went to the
tomb of Achilles, evoked his manes, and implored them to cause the
figure of that hero to appear to him; the tomb trembled, and
afterwards he beheld a young man, who at first appeared about five
cubits, or seven feet and a half high--after which, the phantom
dilated to twelve cubits, and appeared of a singular beauty.
Apollonius asked him some frivolous questions, and as the young man
jested indecently with him, he comprehended that he was possessed by a
demon; this demon he expelled, and cured the young man. But all this
is fabulous.

Lactantius,[170] refuting the philosophers Democritus, Epicurus, and
Dicearchus, who denied the immortality of the soul, says they would
not dare to maintain their opinion before a magician, who, by the
power of his art, and by his spells, possessed the secret of bringing
souls from Hades, of making them appear, speak, and foretell the
future, and give certain signs of their presence.

St. Augustine,[171] always circumspect in his decisions, dare not
pronounce whether magicians possess the power of evoking the spirits
of saints by the might of their enchantments. But Tertullian[172] is
bolder, and maintains that no magical art has power to bring the souls
of the saints from their rest; but that all the necromancers can do is
to call forth some phantoms with a borrowed shape, which fascinate the
eyes, and make those who are present believe that to be a reality
which is only appearance. In the same place he quotes Heraclius, who
says that the Nasamones, people of Africa, pass the night by the tombs
of their near relations to receive oracles from the latter; and that
the Celts, or Gauls, do the same thing in the mausoleums of great men,
as related by Nicander.

Lucan says[173] that the magicians, by their spells, cause thunder in
the skies unknown to Jupiter; that they tear the moon from her sphere,
and precipitate her to earth; that they disturb the course of nature,
prolong the nights, and shorten the days; that the universe is
obedient to their voice, and that the world is chilled as it were when
they speak and command.[174] They were so well persuaded that the
magicians possessed power to make the moon come down from the sky, and
they so truly believed that she was evoked by magic art whenever she
was eclipsed, that they made a great noise by striking on copper
vessels, to prevent the voice which pronounced enchantments from
reaching her.[175]

These popular opinions and poetical fictions deserve no credit, but
they show the force of prejudice.[176] It is affirmed that, even at
this day, the Persians think they are assisting the moon when eclipsed
by striking violently on brazen vessels, and making a great uproar.

Ovid[177] attributes to the enchantments of magic the evocation of the
infernal powers, and their dismissal back to hell; storms, tempests,
and the return of fine weather. They attributed to it the power of
changing men into beasts by means of certain herbs, the virtues of
which are known to them.[178]

Virgil[179] speaks of serpents put to sleep and enchanted by the
magicians. And Tibullus says that he has seen the enchantress bring
down the stars from heaven, and turn aside the thunderbolt ready to
fall upon the earth--and that she has opened the ground and made the
dead come forth from their tombs.

As this matter allows of poetical ornaments, the poets have vied with
each other in endeavoring to adorn their pages with them, not that
they were convinced there was any truth in what they said; they were
the first to laugh at it when an opportunity presented itself, as well
as the gravest and wisest men of antiquity. But neither princes nor
priests took much pains to undeceive the people, or to destroy their
prejudices on those subjects. The Pagan religion allowed them, nay,
authorized them, and part of its practices were founded on similar


[168] Plin. lib. iii. c. 2.

[169] Philost. Vit. Apollon.

[170] Lactant. lib. vi. Divin. Instit. c. 13.

[171] Aug. ad Simplic.

[172] Tertull. de Animâ, c. 57.

[173] Lucan. Pharsal. lib. vi. 450, _et seq._

  "Cessavere vices rerum, dilataque longa,
  Hæsit nocte dies; legi non paruit æther;
  Torpuit et præceps audito carmine mundus;
  Et tonat ignaro coelum Jove."

  "Cantat et e curro tentat deducere Lunam
  Et faceret, si non æra repulsa sonent."
                         _Tibull._ lib. i. Eleg. ix. 21.

[176] Pietro della Valle, Voyage.

  ".... Obscurum verborum ambage nervorum
  Ter novies carmen magico demurmurat ore.
  Jam ciet infernas magico stridore catervas,
  Jam jubet aspersum lacte referre pedem.
  Cùm libet, hæc tristi depellit nubila coelo;
  Cùm libet, æstivo provocat orbe nives."
                         _Ovid. Metamorph._ 14.

  "Naïs nam ut cantu, nimiumque potentibus herbis
  Verterit in tacitos juvenilia corpora pisces."

  "Vipereo generi et graviter spirantibus hydris
  Spargere qui somnos cantuque manque solebat,"



If it were well proved that the oracles of pagan antiquity were the
work of the evil spirit, we could give more real and palpable proofs
of the apparition of the demon among men than these boasted oracles,
which were given in almost every country in the world, among the
nations which passed for the wisest and most enlightened, as the
Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Syrians, even the Hebrews, Greeks, and
Romans. Even the most barbarous people were not without their oracles.

In the pagan religion there was nothing esteemed more honorable, or
more complacently boasted of.

In all their great undertakings they had recourse to the oracle; by
that was decided the most important affairs between town and town, or
province and province. The manner in which the oracles were rendered
was not everywhere the same. It is said[180] the bull Apis, whose
worship was anciently established in Egypt, gave out his oracles on
his receiving food from the hand of him who consulted. If he received
it, say they, it was considered a good omen; if he refused it, this
was a bad augury. When this animal appeared in public, he was
accompanied by a troop of children, who sang hymns in his honor; after
which these boys were filled with sacred enthusiasm, and began to
predict future events. If the bull went quietly into his lodge, it was
a happy sign;[181] if he came out, it was the contrary. Such was the
blindness of the Egyptians.

There were other oracles also in Egypt:[182] as those of Mercury,
Apollo, Hercules, Diana, Minerva, Jupiter Ammon, &c., which last was
consulted by Alexander the Great. But Herodotus remarks that in his
time there were neither priests nor priestesses who uttered oracles.
They were derived from certain presages, which they drew by chance, or
from the movements of the statues of the gods, or from the first voice
which they heard after having consulted. Pausanias says[183] that he
who consults whispers in the ear of Mercury what he requires to know,
then he stops his ears, goes out of the temple, and the first words
which he hears from the first person he meets are held as the answer
of the god.

The Greeks acknowledge that they received from the Egyptians both the
names of their gods and their most ancient oracles; amongst others
that of Dodona, which was already much resorted to in the time of
Homer,[184] and which came from the oracle of Jupiter of Thebes: for
the Egyptian priests related that two priestesses of that god had been
carried off by Phoenician merchants, who had sold them, one into
Libya and the other into Greece.[185] Those of Dodona related that two
black doves had flown from Thebes of Egypt--that the one which had
stopped at Dodona had perched upon a beech-tree, and had declared in an
articulate voice that the gods willed that an oracle of Jupiter should
be established in this place; and that the other, having flown into
Lybia, had there formed or founded the oracle of Jupiter Ammon. These
origins are certainly very frivolous and very fabulous. The Oracle of
Delphi is more recent and more celebrated. Phemonoé was the first
priestess of Delphi, and began in the time of Acrisius, twenty-seven
years before Orpheus, Musæus, and Linus. She is said to have been the
inventress of hexameters.

But I think I can remark vestiges of oracles in Egypt, from the time
of the patriarch Joseph, and from the time of Moses. The Hebrews had
dwelt for 215 years in Egypt, and having multiplied there exceedingly,
had begun to form a separate people and a sort of republic. They had
imbibed a taste for the ceremonies, the superstitions, the customs,
and the idolatry of the Egyptians.

Joseph was considered the cleverest diviner and the greatest expounder
of dreams in Egypt. They believed that he derived his oracles from the
inspection of the liquor which he poured into his cup. Moses, to cure
the Hebrews of their leaning to the idolatry and superstitions of
Egypt, prescribed to them laws and ceremonies which favored his
design; the first, diametrically opposite to those of the Egyptians;
the second, bearing some resemblance to theirs in appearance, but
differing both in their aim and circumstances.

For instance, the Egyptians were accustomed to consult diviners,
magicians, interpreters of dreams, and augurs; all which things are
forbidden to the Hebrews by Moses, on pain of rigorous punishment; but
in order that they might have no room to complain that their religion
did not furnish them with the means of discovering future events and
hidden things, God, with condescension worthy of reverential
admiration, granted them the _Urim and Thummim_, or the Doctrine and
the Truth, with which the high-priest was invested according to the
ritual in the principal ceremonies of religion, and by means of which
he rendered oracles, and discovered the will of the Most High. When
the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle were constructed, the Lord,
consulted by Moses,[186] gave out his replies from between the two
cherubim which were placed upon the mercy-seat above the ark. All
which seems to insinuate that, from the time of the patriarch Joseph,
there had been oracles and diviners in Egypt, and that the Hebrews
consulted them.

God promised his people to raise up a prophet[187] among them, who
should declare to them his will: in fact, we see in almost all ages
among them, prophets inspired by God; and the true prophets reproached
them vehemently for their impiety, when instead of coming to the
prophets of the Lord, they went to consult strange oracles,[188] and
divinities equally powerless and unreal.

We have spoken before of the teraphim of Laban, of the idols or
pretended oracles of Micah and Gideon. King Saul, who, apparently by
the advice of Samuel, had exterminated diviners and magicians from the
land of Israel, desired in the last war to consult the Lord, who would
not reply to him. He then afterwards addressed himself to a witch, who
promised him she would evoke Samuel for him. She did, or feigned to do
so, for the thing offers many difficulties, into which we shall not
enter here.

The same Saul having consulted the Lord on another occasion, to know
whether he must pursue the Philistines whom he had just defeated, God
refused also to reply to him,[189] because his son Jonathan had tasted
some honey, not knowing that the king had forbidden his army to taste
anything whatever before his enemies were entirely overthrown.

The silence of the Lord on certain occasions, and his refusal to
answer sometimes when He was consulted, are an evident proof that He
usually replied, and that they were certain of receiving instructions
from Him, unless they raised an obstacle to it by some action which
was displeasing to Him.


[180] Plin. lib. viii. c. 48.

[181] Herodot. lib. ix.

[182] _Vide_ Joan. Marsham, Sæc. iv. pp. 62, 63.

[183] Pausan. lib. vii. p. 141.

[184] Homer, Iliad, xii. 2, 235.

[185] Herodot. lib. ii. c. 52, 55.

[186] Exod. xxv. 22.

[187] Deut. xviii. 13.

[188] 2 Kings i. 2, 3, 16, &c.

[189] 1 Sam. xiv. 24.



Moses had foreseen that so untractable and superstitious a people as
the Israelites would not rest satisfied with the reasonable, pious,
and supernatural means which he had procured them for discovering
future events, by giving them prophets and the oracle of the
high-priest. He knew that there would arise among them false prophets
and seducers, who would endeavor by their illusions and magical
secrets to mislead them into error; whence it was that he said to
them:[190] "If there should arise among you a prophet, or any one who
boasts of having had a dream, and he foretells a wonder, or anything
which surpasses the ordinary power of man, and what he predicts shall
happen; and after that he shall say unto you, Come, let us go and
serve the strange gods, which you have not known; you shall not
hearken unto him, because the Lord your God will prove you, to see
whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your

Certainly, nothing is more likely to mislead us than to see what has
been foretold by any one come to pass.

"Show the things that are to come," says Isaiah,[191] "that we may
know that ye are gods. Let them come, let them foretell what is to
happen, and what has been done of old, and we will believe in them,"
&c. _Idoneum testimonium divinationis_, says Turtullian,[192] _veritas
divinationis_. And St. Jerome,[193] _Confitentur magi, confitentur
arioli, et omnis scientia sæcularis litteraturæ, præescientiam
futurorum non esse hominum, sed Dei_.

Nevertheless, we have just seen that Moses acknowledges that false
prophets can predict things which will happen. And the Saviour warns
us in the Gospel that at the end of the world several false prophets
will arise, who will seduce many[194]--"They shall shew great signs
and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive
even the elect." It is not, then, precisely either the successful
issue of the event which decides in favor of the false prophet--nor
the default of the predictions made by true prophets which proves that
they are not sent by God.

Jonah was sent to foretell the destruction of Nineveh,[195] which did
not come to pass; and many other threats of the prophets were not put
into execution, because God, moved by the repentance of the sinful,
revoked or commuted his former sentence. The repentance of the
Ninevites guarantied them against the last misfortune.

Isaiah had distinctly foretold to King Hezekiah[196] that he would not
recover from his illness: "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt
die, and not live." Nevertheless, God, moved with the prayer of this
prince, revoked the sentence of death; and before the prophet had left
the court of the king's house, God commanded him to return and tell
the king that God would add yet fifteen years to his life.

Moses assigns the mark of a true prophet to be, when he leads us to
God and his worship--and the mark of a false prophet is, when he
withdraws us from the Lord, and inclines us to superstition and
idolatry. Balaam was a true prophet, inspired by God, who foretold
things which were followed up by the event; but his morals were very
corrupt, and he was extremely self-interested. He did everything he
could to deserve the recompense promised him by the king of Moab, and
to curse and immolate Israel.[197] God did not permit him to do so; he
put into his mouth blessings instead of curses; he did not induce the
Israelites to forsake the Lord; but he advised the Moabites to seduce
the people of God, and cause them to commit fornication, and to worship
the idols of the country, and by that means to irritate God against
them, and draw upon them the effects of his vengeance. Moses caused the
chiefs among the people, who had consented to this crime, to be hung;
and caused to perish the Midianites who had led the Hebrews into it.
And lastly, Balaam, who was the first cause of this evil, was also
punished with death.[198]

In all the predictions of diviners or oracles, when they are followed
by fulfilment, we can hardly disavow that the evil spirit intervenes,
and discovers the future to those who consult him. St. Augustine, in
his book _de Divinatione Dæmonum_,[199] or of predictions made by the
evil spirit, when they are fulfilled, supposes that the demons are of
an aërial nature, and much more subtile than bodies in general;
insomuch that they surpass beyond comparison the lightness both of men
and the swiftest animals, and even the flight of birds, which enables
them to announce things that are passing in very distant places, and
beyond the common reach of men. Moreover, as they are not subject to
death as we are, they have acquired infinitely more experience than
even those who possess the most among mankind, and are the most
attentive to what happens in the world. By that means they can
sometimes predict things to come, announce several things at a
distance, and do some wonderful things; which has often led mortals to
pay them divine honors, believing them to be of a nature much more
excellent than their own.

But when we reflect seriously on what the demons predict, we may
remark that often they announce nothing but what they are to do
themselves.[200] For God permits them, sometimes, to cause maladies,
corrupt the air, and produce in it qualities of an infectious nature,
and to incline the wicked to persecute the worthy. They perform these
operations in a hidden manner, by resources unknown to mortals, and
proportionate to the subtilty of their own nature. They can announce
what they have foreseen must happen by certain natural tokens unknown
to men, like as a physician foresees by the secret of his art the
symptoms and the consequences of a malady which no one else can. Thus,
the demon, who knows our constitution and the secret tendency of our
humors, can foretell the maladies which are the consequences of them.
He can also discover our thoughts and our secret wishes by certain
external motions, and by certain expressions we let fall by chance,
whence he infers that men would do or undertake certain things
consequent upon these thoughts or inclinations.

But his predictions are far from being comparable with those revealed
to us by God, through his angels, or the prophets; these are always
certain and infallible, because they have for their principle God, who
is truth; while the predictions of the demons are often deceitful,
because the arrangements on which they are founded can be changed and
deranged, when they least expect it, by unforeseen and unexpected
circumstances, or by the authority of superior powers overthrowing the
first plans, or by a peculiar disposition of Providence, who sets
bounds to the power of the prince of darkness. Sometimes, also, demons
purposely deceive those who have the weakness to place confidence in
them. But, usually, they throw the fault upon those who have taken on
themselves to interpret their discourses and predictions.

So says St. Augustine;[201] and although we do not quite agree with
him, but hold the opinion that souls, angels and demons are disengaged
from all matter or substance, still we can apply his reasoning to evil
spirits, even upon the supposition that they are immaterial--and own
that sometimes they can predict the future, and that their predictions
may be fulfilled; but that is not a proof of their being sent by God,
or inspired by his Spirit. Even were they to work miracles, we must
anathematize them as soon as they turn us from the worship of the true
God, or incline us to irregular lives.


[190] Deut. xiii. 1, 2.

[191] Isaiah xli. 22, 23.

[192] Tertull. Apolog. c. 20.

[193] Hieronym. in Dan.

[194] Matt. xxiv. 11, 24.

[195] Jonah i. 2.

[196] Kings xx. 1. Isai. xxxviii. 1.

[197] Numb. xxii. xxiii. xxiv.

[198] Numb. xxxi. 8.

[199] Aug. de Divinat. Dæmon. c. 3, pp. 507, 508, _et seq._

[200] Idem. c. 5.

[201] S. August. in his Retract. lib. ii. c. 30, owns that he advanced
this too lightly.



If it is true, as has been thought by many, both among the ancients
and the moderns, that the oracles of pagan antiquity were only
illusions and deceptions on the part of the priests and priestesses,
who said that they were possessed by the spirit of Python, and filled
with the inspiration of Apollo, who discovered to them internally
things hidden and past, or present and future, I must not place them
here in the rank of evil spirits. The devil has no other share in the
matter than he has always in the crimes of men, and in that multitude
of sins which cupidity, ambition, interest, and self-love produce in
the world; the demon being always ready to seize an occasion to
mislead us, and draw us into irregularity and error, employing all
our passions to lead us into these snares. If what he has foretold is
followed by fulfilment, either by chance, or because he has foreseen
certain circumstances unknown to men, he takes to himself all the
credit of it, and makes use of it to gain our confidence and
conciliate credit for his predictions; if the thing is doubtful, and
he knows not what the issue of it will be, the demon, the priest, or
priestess will pronounce an equivocal oracle, in order that at all
events they may appear to have spoken true.

The ancient legislators of Greece, the most skillful politicians, and
generals of armies, dexterously made use of the prepossession of the
people in favor of oracles, to persuade them what they had concerted
was approved of by the gods, and announced by the oracle. These things
and these oracles were often followed by success, not because the
oracle had predicted or ordained it, but because the enterprise being
well concerted and well conducted, and the soldiers also perfectly
persuaded that God was on their side, fought with more than ordinary
valor. Sometimes they gained over the priestess by the aid of
presents, and thus disposed her to give favorable replies. Demosthenes
haranguing at Athens against Philip, King of Macedon, said that the
priestess of Delphi _Philipized_, and only pronounced oracles
conformable to the inclinations, advantage, and interest of that

Porphyry, the greatest enemy of the Christian name,[202] makes no
difficulty of owning that these oracles were dictated by the spirit of
falsehood, and that the demons are the true authors of enchantments,
philtres, and spells; that they fascinate or deceive the eyes by the
spectres and phantoms which they cause to appear; that they
ambitiously desire to pass for gods; that their aërial and spiritual
bodies are nourished by the smell and smoke of the blood and fat of
the animals which are immolated to them; and that the office of
uttering oracles replete with falsehood, equivocation, and deceit has
devolved upon them. At the head of these demons he places _Hecate and
Serapis_. Jamblichus, another pagan author, speaks of them in the same
manner, and with as much contempt.

The ancient fathers who lived so near the times when these oracles
existed, several of whom had forsaken paganism and embraced
Christianity, and who consequently knew more about the oracles than we
can, speak of them as things invented, governed, and maintained by the
demons. The most sensible among the heathens do not speak of them
otherwise, but also they confess that often the malice, imposition,
servility and interest of the priests had great share in the matter,
and that they abused the simplicity, credulity and prepossessions of
the people.

Plutarch says,[203] that a governor of Cilicia having sent to consult
the oracle of Mopsus, as he was going to Malle in the same country,
the man who carried the billet fell asleep in the temple, where he saw
in a dream a handsome looking man, who said to him the single word
_black_. He carried this reply to the governor, whose mysterious
question he knew nothing about. Those who heard this answer laughed at
it, not knowing what was in the billet: but the governor having opened
it showed them these words written in it; _shall I immolate to thee a
black ox or a white one?_ and that the oracle had thus answered his
question without opening the note. But who can answer for their not
having deceived the bearer of the billet in this case, as did
Alexander of Abonotiche, a town of Paphlagonia, in Asia Minor. This
man had the art to persuade the people of his country that he had with
him the god Esculapius, in the shape of a tame serpent, who pronounced
oracles, and replied to the consultations addressed to him on divers
diseases without opening the billets they placed on the altar of the
temple of this pretended divinity; after which, without opening them,
they found the next morning the reply written below. All the trick
consisted in the seal being raised artfully by a heated needle, and
then replaced after having written the reply at the bottom of the
note, in an obscure and enigmatical style, after the manner of other
oracles. At other times he used mastic, which being yet soft, took the
impression of the seal, then when that was hardened he put on another
seal with the same impression. He received about ten sols (five pence)
per billet, and this game lasted all his life, which was a long one;
for he died at the age of seventy, being struck by lightning, near the
end of the second century of the Christian era: all which may be found
more at length in the book of Lucian, entitled _Pseudo Manes_, or _the
false Diviner_. The priest of the oracle of Mopsus could by the same
secret open the billet of the governor who consulted him, and showing
himself during the night to the messenger, declared to him the
above-mentioned reply.

Macrobius[204] relates that the Emperor Trajan, to prove the oracle of
Heliopolis in Phoenicia, sent him a well-sealed letter in which
nothing was written; the oracle commanded that a blank letter should
also be sent to the emperor. The priests of the oracle were much
surprised at this, not knowing the reason of it. Another time the same
emperor sent to consult this same oracle to know whether he should
return safe from his expedition against the Parthians. The oracle
commanded that they should send him some branches of a knotted vine,
which was sacred in his temple. Neither the emperor nor any one else
could guess what that meant; but his body, or rather his bones, having
been brought to Rome after his death, which happened during his journey,
it was supposed that the oracle had intended to predict his death, and
designate his fleshless bones, which somewhat resemble the branches of a

It is easy to explain this quite otherwise. If he had returned
victorious, the vine being the source of wine which rejoices the heart
of man, and is agreeable to both gods and men, would have typified his
victory--and if the expedition had proved fruitless, the wood of the
vine, which is useless for any kind of work, and only good for burning
as firewood, might in that case signify the inutility of this
expedition. It is allowed that the artifice, malice, and inventions of
the heathen priests had much to do with the oracles; but are we to
infer from this that the demon had no part in the matter?

We must allow that as by degrees the light of the Gospel was spread in
the world, the reign of the demon, ignorance, corruption of morals,
and crime, diminished. The priests who pretended to predict, by the
inspiration of the evil spirit, things concealed from mortal
knowledge, or who misled the people by their illusions and impostures,
were obliged to confess that the Christians imposed silence on them,
either by the empire they exercised over the devil, or else by
discovering the malice and knavishness of the priests, which the
people had not dared to sound, from a blind respect which they had for
this mystery of iniquity.

If in our days any one would deny that in former times there were
oracles which were rendered by the inspiration of the demon, we might
convince him of it by what is still practiced in Lapland, and by what
missionaries[205] relate, that in India the demon reveals things
hidden and to come, not by the mouth of idols, but by that of the
priests, who are present when they interrogate either the statues or
the demon. And they remark that there the demon becomes mute and
powerless, in proportion as the light of the Gospel is spread among
these nations. Thus then the silence of the oracles may be
attributed--1. To a superhuman cause, which is the power of Jesus
Christ, and the publication of the Gospel. 2. Mankind are become less
superstitious, and bolder in searching out the cause of these
pretended revelations. 3. To their having become less credulous, as
Cicero says.[206] 4. Because princes have imposed silence on the
oracles, fearing that they might inspire the nation with rebellious
principles. For which reason, Lucan says, that princes feared to
discover the future.[207]

Strabo[208] conjectures that the Romans neglected them because they
had the Sibylline books, and their auspices (aruspices, or
haruspices), which stood them instead of oracles. M. Vandale
demonstrates that some remains of the oracles might yet be seen under
the Christian emperors. It was then only in process of time that
oracles were entirely abolished; and it may be boldly asserted that
sometimes the evil spirit revealed the future, and inspired the
ministers of false gods, by permission of the Almighty, who wished to
punish the confidence of the infidels in their idols. It would be
going too far, if we affirmed that all that was said of the oracles
was only the effect of the artifices or the malice of the priests, who
always imposed on the credulity of mankind. Read on this subject the
learned reply of Father Balthus to the treatises of MM. Vandale and


[202] Porphr. apud Euseb. de Præpar. Evang. lib, iv. c. 5, 6.

[203] Plutarch, de Defectu Oracul. p. 434.

[204] Macrob. Saturnal. lib. i. c. 23.

[205] Lettres édifiantes, tom. x.

[206] Cicero, de Divinat. lib. ii. c. 57.

  "Reges timent futura
  Et superos vetant loqui."
                _Lucan_, Pharsal. lib. v. p. 112.

[208] Strabo, lib. xvii.



The empire of the devil nowhere shines forth with more lustre than in
what is related of the Sabbath (witches' sabbath or assembly), where
he receives the homage of those of both sexes who have abandoned
themselves to him. It is there, the wizards and witches say, that he
exercises the greatest authority, and appears in a visible form, but
always hideous, misshapen, and terrible; always during the night in
out-of-the-way places, and arrayed in a manner more gloomy than gay,
rather sad and dull, than majestic and brilliant. If they pay their
adoration in that place to the prince of darkness, he shows himself
there in a despicable posture, and in a base, contemptible and hideous
form; if people eat there, the viands of the feast are dirty, insipid,
and destitute of solidity and substance--they neither satisfy the
appetite, nor please the palate; if they dance there, it is without
order, without skill, without propriety.

To endeavor to give a description of the infernal sabbath, is to aim
at describing what has no existence and never has existed, except in
the craving and deluded imagination of sorcerers and sorceresses: the
paintings we have of it are conceived after the reveries of those who
fancy they have been transported through the air to the sabbath, both
in body and soul.

People are carried thither, say they, sitting on a broom-stick,
sometimes on the clouds or on a he-goat. Neither the place, the time,
nor the day when they assemble is fixed. It is sometimes in a lonely
forest, sometimes in a desert, usually on the Wednesday or the
Thursday night; the most solemn of all is that of the eve of St. John
the Baptist: they there distribute to every sorcerer the ointment with
which he must anoint himself when he desires to go to the sabbath, and
the spell-powder he must make use of in his magic operations. They
must all appear together in this general assembly, and he who is
absent is severely ill-used both in word and deed. As to the private
meetings, the demon is more indulgent to those who are absent for some
particular reason.

As to the ointment with which they anoint themselves, some authors,
amongst others, John Baptista Porta, and John Wierius,[209] boast that
they know the composition. Amongst other ingredients there are many
narcotic drugs, which cause those who make use of it to fall into a
profound slumber, during which they imagine that they are carried to
the sabbath up the chimney, at the top of which they find a tall black
man,[210] with horns, who transports them where they wish to go, and
afterwards brings them back again by the same chimney. The accounts
given by these people, and the description which they give of their
assemblies, are wanting in unity and uniformity.

The demon, their chief, appears there, either in the shape of a
he-goat, or as a great black dog, or as an immense raven; he is seated
on an elevated throne, and receives there the homage of those present
in a way which decency does not allow us to describe. In this
nocturnal assembly they sing, they dance, they abandon themselves to
the most shameful disorder; they sit down to table, and indulge in
good cheer; while at the same time they see on the table neither knife
nor fork, salt nor oil; they find the viands devoid of savor, and quit
the table without their hunger being satisfied.

One would imagine that the attraction of a better fortune, and a wish
to enrich themselves, drew thither men and women. The devil never
fails to make them magnificent promises, at least the sorcerers say
so, and believe it, deceived, without doubt, by their imagination; but
experience shows us that these people are always ragged, despised, and
wretched, and usually end their lives in a violent and dishonorable

When they are admitted for the first time to the sabbath, the demon
inscribes their name and surname on his register, which he makes them
sign; then he makes them forswear cream and baptism, makes them
renounce Jesus Christ and his church; and, to give them a distinctive
character and make them known for his own, he imprints on their bodies
a certain mark with the nail of the little finger of one of his hands;
this mark, or character, thus impressed, renders the part insensible to
pain. They even pretend that he impresses this character in three
different parts of the body, and at three different times. The demon
does not impress these characters, say they, before the person has
attained the age of twenty-five.

But none of these things deserve the least attention. There may happen
to be in the body of a man, or a woman, some benumbed part, either
from illness, or the effect of remedies, or drugs, or even naturally;
but that is no proof that the devil has anything to do with it. There
are even persons accused of magic and sorcery, on whom no part thus
characterized has been found, nor yet insensible to the touch, however
exact the search. Others have declared that the devil has never made
any such marks upon them. Consult on this matter the second letter of
M. de St. André, Physician to the King, in which he well develops what
has been said about these characters of sorcerers.

The word sabbath, taken in the above sense, is not to be found in
ancient writers; neither the Hebrews nor the Egyptians, the Greeks nor
the Latins have known it.

The thing itself, I mean the _sabbath_ taken in the sense of a
nocturnal assembly of persons devoted to the devil, is not remarked in
antiquity, although magicians, sorcerers, and witches are spoken of
often enough--that is to say, people who boasted that they exercised a
kind of power over the devil, and by his means, over animals, the air,
the stars, and the lives and fortunes of men.

Horace[211] makes use of the word _coticia_ to indicate the nocturnal
meetings of the magicians--_Tu riseris coticia_; which he derives from
_Cotys_, or _Cotto_, Goddess of Vice, who presided in the assemblies
which were held at night, and where the Bacchantes gave themselves up
to all sorts of dissolute pleasures; but this is very different from
the witches' sabbath.

Others derive this term from _Sabbatius_, which is an epithet given to
the god Bacchus, whose nocturnal festivals were celebrated in
debauchery. Arnobius and Julius Firmicus Maternus inform us that in
these festivals they slipped a golden serpent into the bosoms of the
initiated, and drew it downwards; but this etymology is too
far-fetched: the people who gave the name of _sabbath_ to the
assemblies of the sorcerers wished apparently to compare them in
derision to those of the Jews, and to what they practiced in their
synagogues on sabbath days.

The most ancient monument in which I have been able to remark any
express mention of the nocturnal assemblies of the sorcerers is in the
Capitularies,[212] wherein it is said that women led away by the
illusions of the demons, say that they go in the night with the
goddess Diana and an infinite number of other women, borne through the
air on different animals, that they go in a few hours a great
distance, and obey Diana as their queen. It was, therefore, to the
goddess Diana, or the Moon, and not to Lucifer, that they paid homage.
The Germans call witches' dances what we call the sabbath. They say
that these people assemble on Mount Bructere.

The famous Agobard,[213] Archbishop of Lyons, who lived under the
Emperor Louis the Debonair, wrote a treatise against certain
superstitious persons in his time, who believed that storms, hail, and
thunder were caused by certain sorcerers whom they called tempesters
(_tempestarios_, or storm-brewers), who raised the rain in the air,
caused storms and thunder, and brought sterility upon the earth. They
called these extraordinary rains _aura lavatitia_, as if to indicate
that they were raised by magic power. In this place the people still
call these violent rains _alvace_. There were even persons
sufficiently prejudiced to boast that they knew of _tempêtiers_, who
had to conduct the tempests where they choose, and to turn them aside
when they pleased. Agobard interrogated some of them, but they were
obliged to own that they had not been present at the things they

Agobard maintains that this is the work of God alone; that in truth,
the saints, with the help of God, have often performed similar
prodigies; but that neither the devil nor sorcerers can do anything
like it. He remarks that there were among his people superstitious
persons who would pay very punctually what they called _canonicum_,
which was a sort of tribute which they offered to these
tempest-brewers (_tempêtiers_), that they might not hurt them, while
they refused the tithe to the priest and alms to the widow, orphan,
and other indigent persons.

He adds that he had of late found people sufficiently foolish enough
to spread a report that Grimaldus, Duke of Benevento, had sent persons
into France, carrying certain powders which they had scattered over
the fields, mountains, meadows, and springs, and had thus caused the
death of an immense number of animals. Several of these persons were
taken up, and they owned that they carried such powders about with
them and though they made them suffer various tortures, they could not
force them to retract what they had said.

Others affirmed that there was a certain country named Mangonia,
where there were vessels which were borne through the air and took
away the productions; that certain wizards had cut down trees to carry
them to their country. He says, moreover, that one day three men and a
woman were presented to him, who, they said, had fallen from these
ships which floated in the air. They were kept some days in
confinement, and at last having been confronted with their accusers,
the latter were obliged, after contesting the matter, and making
several depositions, to avow that they knew nothing certain concerning
their being carried away, or of their pretended fall from the ship in
the sky.

Charlemagne[214] in his Capitularies, and the authors of his time,
speak also of these wizard tempest-brewers, enchanters, &c., and
commanded that they should be reprimanded and severely chastised.

Pope Gregory IX.[215] in a letter addressed to the Archbishop of
Mayence, the Bishop of Hildesheim, and Doctor Conrad, in 1234, thus
relates the abominations of which they accused the heretic
_Stadingians_. "When they receive," says he, "a novice, and when he
enters their assemblies for the first time, he sees an enormous toad,
as big as a goose, or bigger. Some kiss it on the mouth, some kiss it
behind. Then the novice meets a pale man with very black eyes, and so
thin that he is only skin and bones. He kisses him, and feels that he
is cold as ice. After this kiss, the novice easily forgets the
Catholic faith; afterwards they hold a feast together, after which a
black cat comes down behind a statue, which usually stands in the room
where they assemble.

"The novice first of all kisses the cat on the back, then he who
presides over the assembly, and the others who are worthy of it. The
imperfect receive only a kiss from the master; they promise obedience;
after which they extinguish the lights, and commit all sorts of
disorders. They receive every year, at Easter, the Lord's Body, and
carry it in their mouth to their own houses, when they cast it away.
They believe in Lucifer, and say that the Master of Heaven has
unjustly and fraudulently thrown him into hell. They believe also that
Lucifer is the creator of celestial things, that will re-enter into
glory after having thrown down his adversary, and that through him
they will gain eternal bliss." This letter bears date the 13th of
June, 1233.


[209] Joan. Vier. lib. ii. c. 7.

[210] A remarkably fine print on this subject was published at Paris
some years ago; if we remember right, it was suppressed.

[211] Horat. Epodon. xviii. 4.

[212] "Quædam sceleratæ mulieres dæmonum illusionibus et
phantasmatibus seductæ, credunt se et profitentur nocturnis horis cum
Dianâ Paganorum deâ et innumerâ multitudine mulierum equitare super
quasdam bestias et multa terrarum spalia intempestæ noctis silentio
pertransire ejusque jussionibus veluti dominæ obedire."--Baluz.
Capitular. fragment. c. 13. Vide et Capitul. Herardi, Episc. Turon.

[213] Agobard de Grandine.

[214] Vide Baluzii in Agobard. pp. 68, 69.

[215] Fleury, Hist. Eccles. tom. xvii. p. 53, ann. 1234.



All that is said about witches going to the sabbath is treated as a
fable, and we have several examples which prove that they do not stir
from their bed or their chamber. It is true that some of them anoint
themselves with a certain grease or unguent, which makes them sleepy,
and renders them insensible; and during this swoon they fancy that
they go to the sabbath, and there see and hear what every one says is
there seen and heard.

We read, in the book entitled _Malleus Maleficorum_, or the _Hammer of
the Sorcerers_, that a woman who was in the hands of the Inquisitors
assured them that she repaired really and bodily whither she would,
and that even were she shut up in prison and strictly guarded, and let
the place be ever so far off.

The Inquisitors ordered her to go to a certain place, to speak to
certain persons, and bring back news of them; she promised to obey,
and was directly locked up in a chamber, where she lay down, extended
as if dead; they went into the room, and moved her; but she remained
motionless, and without the least sensation, so that when they put a
lighted candle to her foot and burnt it she did not feel it. A little
after, she came to herself, and gave an account of the commission they
had given her, saying she had had a great deal of trouble to go that
road. They asked her what was the matter with her foot; she said it
hurt her very much since her return, and knew not whence it came.

Then the Inquisitors declared to her what had happened; that she had
not stirred from her place, and that the pain in her foot was caused
by the application of a lighted candle during her pretended absence.
The thing having been verified, she acknowledged her folly, asked
pardon, and promised never to fall into it again.

Other historians relate[216] that, by means of certain drugs with
which both wizards and witches anoint themselves, they are really and
corporally transported to the sabbath. Torquemada relates, on the
authority of Paul Grilland, that a husband suspecting his wife of being
a witch, desired to know if she went to the sabbath, and how she managed
to transport herself thither. He watched her so narrowly, that he saw
her one day anoint herself with a certain unguent, and then take the
form of a bird and fly away, and he saw her no more till the next
morning, when he found her by his side. He questioned her very much,
without making her own anything; at last he told her what he had himself
seen, and by dint of beating her with a stick, he constrained her to
tell him her secret, and to take him with her to the sabbath.

Arrived at this place, he sat down to table with the others; but as
all the viands which were on the table were very insipid, he asked for
some salt; they were some time before they brought any; at last,
seeing a salt-cellar, he said--"God be praised, there is some salt at
last!" At the same instant, he heard a very great noise, all the
company disappeared, and he found himself alone and naked in a field
among the mountains. He went forward and found some shepherds; he
learned that he was more than three leagues from his dwelling. He
returned thither as he could, and, having related the circumstance to
the Inquisitors, they caused the woman and several others, her
accomplices, to be taken up and chastised as they deserved.

The same author relates that a woman, returning from the sabbath and
being carried through the air by the evil spirit, heard in the morning
the bell for the _Angelus_. The devil let her go immediately, and she
fell into a quickset hedge on the bank of a river; her hair fell
disheveled over her neck and shoulders. She perceived a young lad who
after much entreaty came and took her out and conducted her to the
next village, where her house was situated; it required most pressing
and repeated questions on the part of the lad, before she would tell
him truly what had happened to her; she made him presents, and begged
him to say nothing about it, nevertheless the circumstance got spread

If we could depend on the truth of these stories, and an infinite
number of similar ones, which books are full of, we might believe that
sometimes sorcerers are carried bodily to the sabbath; but on
comparing these stories with others which prove that they go thither
only in mind and imagination, we may say boldly, that what is related
of wizards and witches who go or think they go to the sabbath, is
usually only illusion on the part of the devil, and seduction on the
part of those of both sexes who fancy they fly and travel, while they
in reality do not stir from their places. The spirit of malice and
falsehood being mixed up in this foolish prepossession, they confirm
themselves in their follies and engage others in the same impiety; for
Satan has a thousand ways of deceiving mankind and of retaining them
in error. Magic, impiety, enchantments, are often the effects of a
diseased imagination. It rarely happens that these kind of people do
not fall into every excess of licentiousness, irreligion, and theft,
and into the most outrageous consequences of hatred to their

Some have believed that demons took the form of the sorcerers and
sorceresses who were supposed to be at the sabbath, and that they
maintained the simple creatures in their foolish belief, by appearing
to them sometimes in the shape of those persons who were reputed
witches, while they themselves were quietly asleep in their beds. But
this belief contains difficulties as great, or perhaps greater, than
the opinion we would combat. It is far from easy to understand that
the demon takes the form of pretended sorcerers and witches, that he
appears under this shape, that he eats, drinks, and travels, and does
other actions to make simpletons believe that sorcerers go to the
sabbath. What advantage does the devil derive from making idiots
believe these things, or maintaining them in such an error?
Nevertheless it is related[217] that St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre,
traveling one day, and passing through a village in his diocese, after
having taken some refreshment there, remarked that they were preparing
a great supper, and laying out the table anew; he asked if they
expected company, and they told him it was for those good women who go
by night. St. Germain well understood what was meant, and resolved to
watch to see the end of this adventure.

Some time after he beheld a multitude of demons who came in the form
of men and women, and sat down to table in his presence. St. Germain
forbade them to withdraw, and calling the people of the house, he
asked them if they knew those persons: they replied, that they were
such and such among their neighbors: "Go," said he, "and see if they
are in their houses:" they went, and found them asleep in their beds.
The saint conjured the demons, and obliged them to declare that it is
thus they mislead mortals, and make them believe that there are
sorcerers and witches who go by night to the sabbath; they obeyed, and
disappeared, greatly confused.

This history may be read in old manuscripts, and is to be found in
Jacques de Varasse, Pierre de Noëls, in St. Antonine, and in old
Breviaries of Auxerre, as well printed, as manuscript. I by no means
guarantee the truth of this story; I think it is absolutely
apocryphal; but it proves that those who wrote and copied it believed
that these nocturnal journeys of sorcerers and witches to the sabbath,
were mere illusions of the demon. In fact, it is hardly possible to
explain all that is said of sorcerers and witches going to the
sabbath, without having recourse to the ministry of the demon; to which
we must add a disturbed imagination, with a mind misled, and foolishly
prepossessed, and, if you will, a few drugs which affect the brain,
excite the humors, and produce dreams relative to impressions already
in their minds.

In John Baptist Porta Cardan, and elsewhere, may be found the
composition of those ointments with which witches are said to anoint
themselves, to be able to transport themselves to the sabbath; but the
only real effect they produce is to send them to sleep, disturb their
imagination, and make them believe they are going long journeys, while
they remain profoundly sleeping in their beds.

The fathers of the council of Paris, of the year 829, confess that
magicians, wizards, and people of that kind, are the ministers and
instruments of the demon in the exercise of their diabolical art; that
they trouble the minds of certain persons by beverages calculated to
inspire impure love; that they are persuaded they can disturb the sky,
excite tempests, send hail, predict the future, ruin and destroy the
fruit, and take away the milk of cattle belonging to one person, in
order to give it to cattle the property of another.

The bishops conclude that all the rigor of the laws enacted by princes
against such persons ought to be put in force against them, and so
much the more justly, that it is evident they yield themselves up to
the service of the devil.

Spranger, in the _Malleus Maleficorum_, relates, that in Suabia, a
peasant who was walking in his fields with his little girl, a child
about eight years of age, complained of the drought, saying, "Alas!
when will God give us some rain?" Immediately the little girl told him
that she could bring him some down whenever he wished it. He
answered,--"And who has taught you that secret?" "My mother," said
she, "who has strictly forbidden me to tell any body of it."

"And what did she do to give you this power?"

"She took me to a master, who comes to me as many times as I call

"And have you seen this master?"

"Yes," said she, "I have often seen men come to my mother's house; she
has devoted me to one of them."

After this dialogue, the father asked her how she could do to make it
rain upon his field only. She asked but for a little water; he led her
to a neighboring brook, and the girl having called the water in the
name of him to whom she had been devoted by her mother, they beheld
directly abundance of rain falling on the peasant's field.

The father, convinced that his wife was a sorceress, accused her
before the judges, who condemned her to be burnt. The daughter was
baptized and vowed to God, but she then lost the power of making it
rain at her will.


[216] Alphons. à Castro ex Petro Grilland. Tract. de Hæresib.

[217] Bolland, 5 Jul. p. 287.



This is an unheard-of example; a man and woman who declared themselves
to be a sorcerer and sorceress. Louis Gaufredi, Curé of the parish of
Accouls, at Marseilles,[218] was accused of magic, and arrested at the
beginning of the year 1611. Christopher Gaufredi, his uncle, of
Pourrieres, in the neighborhood of Beauversas, sent him, six months
before he (Christopher) died, a little paper book, in 16mo., with six
leaves written upon; at the bottom of every leaf were two verses in
French, and in the other parts were characters or ciphers, which
contained magical mysteries. Louis Gaufredi at first thought very
little of this book, and kept it for five years.

At the end of that time, having read the French verses, the devil
presented himself under a human shape, and by no means deformed, and
told him that he was come to fulfil all his wishes, if he would give
_him_ credit for all his good works. Gaufredi agreed to the condition.
He asked of the demon that he might enjoy a great reputation for
wisdom and virtue among persons of probity, and that he might inspire
with love all the women and young girls he pleased, by simply
breathing upon them.

Lucifer promised him all this in writing, and Gaufredi very soon saw
the perfect accomplishment of his designs. He inspired with love a
young lady named Magdalen, the daughter of a gentleman whose name was
Mandole de la Palud. This girl was only nine years old, when Gaufredi,
on pretence of devotion and spirituality, gave her to understand that,
as her spiritual father, he had a right to dispose of her, and
persuaded her to give herself to the devil; and some years afterwards,
he obliged her to give a schedule, signed with her own blood, to the
devil, to deliver herself up to him still more. It is even said that
he made her give from that time seven or eight other schedules.

After that, he breathed upon her, inspired her with a violent passion
for himself, and took advantage of her; he gave her a familiar demon,
who served her and followed her everywhere. One day he transported her
to the witches' sabbath, held on a high mountain near Marseilles; she
saw there people of all nations, and in particular Gaufredi, who held
there a distinguished rank, and who caused characters to be impressed
or stamped on her head and in several other parts of her body. This girl
afterwards became a nun of the order of St. Ursula, and passed for being
possessed by the devil.

Gaufredi also inspired several other women with an irregular passion,
by breathing on them; and this diabolical power lasted for six years.
For at last they found out that he was a sorcerer and magician; and
Mademoiselle de Mandole having been arrested by the Inquisition, and
interrogated by father Michael Jacobin, owned a great part of what we
have just told, and during the exorcisms discovered several other
things. She was then nineteen years of age.

All this made Gaufredi known to the Parliament of Provence. They
arrested him; and proceedings against him commenced February, 1611.
They heard in particular the deposition of Magdalen de la Palud, who
gave a complete history of the magic of Gaufredi, and the abominations
he had committed with her. That for the last fourteen years he had
been a magician, and head of the magicians; and if he had been taken
by the justiciary power, the devil would have carried him body and
soul to hell.

Gaufredi had voluntarily gone to prison; and from the first
examination which he underwent, he denied everything and represented
himself as an upright man. But from the depositions made against him,
it was shown that his heart was very corrupted, and that he had
seduced Mademoiselle de Mandole, and other women whom he confessed.
This young lady was heard juridically the 21st of February, and gave
the history of her seduction, of Gaufredi's magic, and of the sabbath
whither he had caused her to be transported several times.

Some time after this, being confronted with Gaufredi, she owned that
he was a worthy man, and that all which had been reported against him
was imaginary, and retracted all she herself had avowed. Gaufredi on
his part acknowledged his illicit connection with her, denied all the
rest, and maintained that it was the devil, by whom she was possessed,
that had suggested to her all she had said. He owned that, having
resolved to reform his life, Lucifer had appeared to him, and
threatened him with many misfortunes; that in fact he had experienced
several; that he had burnt the magic book in which he had placed the
schedules of Mademoiselle de la Palud and his own, which he had made
with the devil; but that when he afterwards looked for them, he was
much astonished not to find them. He spoke at length concerning the
sabbath, and said there was, near the town of Nice, a magician, who
had all sorts of garments ready for the use of the sorcerers; that on
the day of the sabbath, there is a bell weighing a hundred pounds,
four ells in width, and with a clapper of wood, which made the sound
dull and lugubrious. He related several horrors, impieties, and
abominations which were committed at the sabbath. He repeated the
schedule which Lucifer had given him, by which he bound himself to
cast a spell on those women who should be to his taste.

After this exposition of the things related above, the
attorney-general drew his conclusions: As the said Gaufredi had been
convicted of having divers marks in several parts of his body, where
if pricked he has felt no pain, neither has any blood come; that he
has been illicitly connected with Magdalen de la Palud, both at church
and in her own house, both by day and by night, by letters in which
were amorous or love characters, invisible to any other but herself;
that he had induced her to renounce her God and her Church--and that
she had received on her body several diabolical characters; that he
has owned himself to be a sorcerer and a magician; that he had kept by
him a book of magic, and had made use of it to conjure and invoke the
evil spirit; that he has been with the said Magdalen to the sabbath,
where he had committed an infinite number of scandalous, impious and
abominable actions, such as having worshiped Lucifer:--for these
causes, the said attorney-general requires that the said Gaufredi be
declared attainted and convicted of the circumstances imputed to him,
and as reparation of them, that he be previously degraded from sacred
orders by the Lord Bishop of Marseilles, his diocesan, and afterwards
condemned to make honorable amends one audience day, having his head
and feet bare, a cord about his neck, and holding a lighted taper in
his hands--to ask pardon of God, the king, and the court of
justice--then, to be delivered into the hands of the executioner of
the high court of law, to be taken to all the chief places and
cross-roads of this city of Aix, and torn with red-hot pincers in all
parts of his body; and after that, in the _Place des Jacobins_, burned
alive, and his ashes scattered to the wind; and before being executed,
let the question be applied to him, and let him be tormented as
grievously as can be devised, in order to extract from him the names
of his other accomplices. Deliberated the 18th of April, 1611, and the
decree in conformity given the 29th of April, 1611.

The same Gaufredi having undergone the question ordinary and
extraordinary, declared that he had seen at the sabbath no person of
his acquaintance except Mademoiselle de Mandole; that he had seen
there also certain monks of certain orders, which he did not name,
neither did he know the names of the monks. That the devil anointed
the heads of the sorcerers with certain unguents, which quite effaced
every thing from their memory.

Notwithstanding this decree of the Parliament of Provence, many people
believed that Gaufredi was a sorcerer only in imagination; and the
author from whom we derive this history says, that there are some
parliaments, amongst others the Parliament of Paris, which do not
punish sorcerers when no other crimes are combined with magic; and
that experience has proved that, in not punishing sorcerers, but
simply treating them as madmen, it has been seen in time that they
were no longer sorcerers, because they no longer fed their imagination
with these ideas; while in those places where sorcerers were burnt,
they saw nothing else, because everybody was strengthened in this
prejudice. That is what this writer says.

But we cannot conclude from thence that God does not sometimes permit
the demon to exercise his power over men, and lead them to the excess
of malice and impiety, and shed darkness over their minds and
corruption in their hearts, which hurry them into an abyss of disorder
and misfortune. The demon tempted Job[219] by the permission of God.
The messenger of Satan and the thorn in the flesh wearied St.
Paul;[220] he asked to be delivered from them; but he was told that
the grace of God would enable him to resist his enemies, and that
virtue was strengthened by infirmities and trials. Satan took
possession of the heart of Judas, and led him to betray Jesus Christ
his Master to the Jews his enemies.[221] The Lord wishing to warn his
disciples against the impostors who would appear after his ascension,
says that, by God's permission, these impostors would work such
miracles as might mislead the very elect themselves,[222] were it
possible. He tells them elsewhere,[223] that Satan has asked
permission of God to sift them as wheat, but that He has prayed for
them that their faith may be steadfast.

Thus then with permission from God, the devil can lead men to commit
such excesses as we have just seen in Mademoiselle de la Palud and in
the priest Louis Gaufredi, perhaps even so far as really to take them
through the air to unknown spots, and to what is called the witches'
sabbath; or, without really conducting them thither, so strike their
imagination and mislead their senses, that they think they move, see,
and hear, when they do not stir from their places, see no object and
hear no sound.

Observe, also, that the Parliament of Aix did not pass any sentence
against even that young girl, it being their custom to inflict no
other punishment on those who suffered themselves to be seduced and
dishonored than the shame with which they were loaded ever after. In
regard to the curé Gaufredi, in the account which they render to the
chancellor of the sentence given by them, they say that this curé was
in truth accused of sorcery; but that he had been condemned to the
flames, as being arraigned and convicted of spiritual incest with
Magdalen de la Palud, his penitent.[224]


[218] Causes Célèbres, tom. vi. p. 192.

[219] Job i. 12, 13, 22.

[220] 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8.

[221] John xiii. 2.

[222] Matt. xxiv. 5.

[223] Luke xxi.

[224] The attentive reader of this horrible narrative will hardly fail
to conclude that Gaufredi's fault was chiefly his seduction of
Mademoiselle de la Palud, and that the rest was the effect of a heated
imagination. The absurd proportions of the "_Sabbath_" bell will be
sufficient to show this. If the bell were metallic, it would have
weighed many tons, and a _wooden_ bell of such dimensions, even were
it capable of sounding, would weigh many hundred weight.



All that has just been said is more fitted to prove that the going of
sorcerers and witches to the sabbath is only an illusion and a
deranged imagination on the part of these persons, and malice and
deceit on that of the devil, who misleads them, and persuades them to
yield themselves to him, and renounce true religion, by the lure of
vain promises that he will enrich them, load them with honors,
pleasures, and prosperity, rather than to convince us of the reality
of the corporeal transportation of these persons to what they call the

Here are some arguments and examples which seem to prove, at least,
that the transportation of sorcerers to the sabbath is not impossible;
for the impossibility of this transportation is one of the strongest
objections which is made to the opinion that supposes it.

There is no difficulty in believing that God may allow the demon to
mislead men, and carry them on to every excess of irregularity, error,
and impiety; and that he may also permit him to perform some things
which to us appear astonishing, and even miraculous; whether the devil
achieves them by natural power, or by the supernatural concurrence of
God, who employs the evil spirit to punish his creature, who has
willingly forsaken Him to yield himself up to his enemy. The prophet
Ezekiel was transported through the air from Chaldea, where he was a
captive, to Judea, and into the temple of the Lord, where he saw the
abominations which the Israelites committed in that holy place; and
thence he was brought back again to Chaldea by the ministration of
angels, as we shall relate in another chapter.

We know by the Gospel that the devil carried our Saviour to the
highest point of the temple at Jerusalem.[225] We know also that the
prophet Habakkuk[226] was transported from Judea to Babylon, to carry
food to Daniel in the lion's den. St. Paul informs us that he was
carried up to the third heaven, and that he heard ineffable things;
but he owns that he does not know whether it was in the body or only
in the spirit. He therefore doubted not the possibility of a man's
being transported in body and soul through the air. The deacon St.
Philip was transported from the road from Gaza to Azotus in a very
little time by the Spirit of God.[227] We learn by ecclesiastical
history, that Simon the magician was carried by the demon up into the
air, whence he was precipitated, through the prayers of St. Peter.
John the Deacon,[228] author of the life of St. Gregory the Great,
relates that one Farold having introduced into the monastery of St.
Andrew, at Rome, some women who led disorderly lives, in order to
divert himself there with them, and offer insult to the monks, that
same night Farold having occasion to go out, was suddenly seized and
carried up into the air by demons, who held him there suspended by his
hair, without his being able to open his mouth to utter a cry, till
the hour of matins, when Pope St. Gregory, the founder and protector
of that monastery, appeared to him, reproached him for his profanation
of that holy place, and foretold that he would die within the
year--which did happen.

I have been told by a magistrate, as incapable of being deceived by
illusions as of imposing any such on other people,[229] that on the
16th of October, 1716, a carpenter, who inhabited a village near Bar,
in Alsace, called Heiligenstein, was found at five o'clock in the
morning in the garret of a cooper at Bar. This cooper having gone up
to fetch the wood for his trade that he might want to use during the
day, and having opened the door, which was fastened with a bolt _on
the outside_, perceived a man lying at full length upon his stomach,
and fast asleep. He recognized him, and having asked him what he did
there, the carpenter in the greatest surprise told him he knew neither
by what means, nor by whom, he had been taken to that place.

The cooper not believing this, told him that assuredly he was come
thither to rob him, and had him taken before the magistrate of Bar,
who having interrogated him concerning the circumstance just spoken
of, he related to him with great simplicity, that, having set off
about four o'clock in the morning to come from Heiligenstein to
Bar--there being but a quarter of an hour's distance between those two
places--he saw on a sudden, in a place covered with verdure and grass,
a magnificent feast, brightly illuminated, where a number of persons
were highly enjoying themselves with a sumptuous repast and by dancing;
that two women of his acquaintance, inhabitants of Bar, having asked him
to join the company, he sat down to table and partook of the good cheer,
for a quarter of an hour at the most; after that, one of the guests
having cried out "_Citò, Citò_," he found himself carried away gently
to the cooper's garret, without knowing how he had been transported there.

This is what he declared in presence of the magistrate. The most
singular circumstance of this history is, that hardly had the
carpenter deposed what we read, than those two women of Bar who had
invited him to join their feast hung themselves, each in her own

The superior magistrates, fearing to carry things so far as to
compromise perhaps half the inhabitants of Bar, judged prudently that
they had better not inquire further; they treated the carpenter as a
visionary, and the two women who hung themselves were considered as
lunatics; thus the thing was hushed up, and the matter ended.

If this is what they call the witches' sabbath, neither the carpenter,
nor the two women, nor apparently the other guests at the festival,
had need to come mounted on a demon; they were too near their own
dwellings to have recourse to superhuman means in order to have
themselves transported to the place of meeting. We are not informed
how these guests repaired to this feast, nor how they returned each
one to their home; the spot was so near the town, that they could
easily go and return without any extraneous assistance.

But if secrecy was necessary, and they feared discovery, it is very
probable that the demon transported them to their homes through the
air before it was day, as he had transported the carpenter to the
cooper's garret. Whatever turn may be given to this event, it is
certainly difficult not to recognize a manifest work of the evil
spirit in the transportation of the carpenter through the air, who
finds himself, without being aware of it, in a well-fastened garret.
The women who hung themselves, showed clearly that they feared
something still worse from the law, had they been convicted of magic
and witchcraft. And had not their accomplices also, whose names must
have been declared, as much to fear?

William de Neubridge relates another story, which bears some
resemblance to the preceding. A peasant having heard, one night as he
was passing near a tomb, a melodious concert of different voices, drew
near, and finding the door open, put in his head, and saw in the
middle a grand feast, well lighted, and a well-covered table, round
which were men and women making merry. One of the attendants having
perceived him, presented him with a cup filled with liquor; he took
it, and having spilled the liquor, he fled with the cup to the first
village, where he stopped. If our carpenter had done the same, instead
of amusing himself at the feast of the witches of Bar, he would have
spared himself much uneasiness.

We have in history several instances of persons full of religion and
piety, who, in the fervor of their orisons, have been taken up into
the air, and remained there for some time. We have known a good monk,
who rises sometimes from the ground, and remains suspended without
wishing it, without seeking to do so, especially on seeing some
devotional image, or on hearing some devout prayer, such as "_Gloria
in excelsis Deo_." I know a nun to whom it has often happened in spite
of herself to see herself thus raised up in the air to a certain
distance from the earth; it was neither from choice, nor from any wish
to distinguish herself, since she was truly confused at it. Was it by
the ministration of angels, or by the artifice of the seducing spirit,
who wished to inspire her with sentiments of vanity and pride? Or was
it the natural effect of Divine love, or fervor of devotion in these

I do not observe that the ancient fathers of the desert, who were so
spiritual, so fervent, and so great in prayer, experienced similar
ecstasies. These risings up in the air are more common among our new
saints, as we may see in the Life[230] of St. Philip of Neri, where
they relate his ecstasies and his elevations from earth into the air,
sometimes to the height of several yards, and almost to the ceiling of
his room, and this quite involuntarily. He tried in vain to hide it
from the knowledge of those present, for fear of attracting their
admiration, and feeling in it some vain complacency. The writers who
give us these particulars do not say what was the cause, whether these
ecstatic elevations from the ground were produced by the fervor of the
Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of good angels, or by a miraculous
favor of God, who desired thus to do honor to his servants in the eyes
of men. God had moreover favored the same St. Philip de Neri, by
permitting him to see the celestial spirits and even the demons, and
to discover the state of holy spirits, by supernatural knowledge.

St. John Columbino, teacher of the Jesuits, made use of St. Catherine
Columbine,[231] a maiden of extraordinary virtue, for the
establishment of nuns of his order. It is related of her, that
sometimes she remained in a trance, and raised up two yards from the
ground, motionless, speechless, and insensible.

The same thing is said of St. Ignatius de Loyola,[232] who remained
entranced by God, and raised up from the ground to the height of two
feet, while his body shone like light. He has been seen to remain in
a trance insensible, and almost without respiration, for eight days

St. Robert de Palentin[233] rose also from the ground, sometimes to
the height of a foot and a half, to the great astonishment of his
disciples and assistants. We see similar trances and elevations in the
Life of St. Bernard Ptolomei, teacher of the congregation of Notre
Dame of Mount Olivet;[234] of St. Philip Benitas, of the order of
Servites; of St. Cajetanus, founder of the Théatins;[235] of St.
Albert of Sicily, confessor, who, during his prayers, rose three
cubits from the ground; and lastly of St. Dominic, the founder of the
order of Preaching Brothers.[236]

It is related of St. Christina,[237] Virgin at S. Tron, that being
considered dead, and carried into the church in her coffin, as they
were performing for her the usual service, she arose suddenly, and
went as high as the beams of the church, as lightly as a bird. Being
returned into the house with her sisters, she related to them that she
had been led first to purgatory, and thence to hell, and lastly to
paradise, where God had given her the choice of remaining there, or of
returning to this world and doing penance for the souls she had seen
in purgatory. She chose the latter, and was brought back to her body
by the holy angels. From that time she could not bear the effluvia of
the human body, and rose up into trees and on the highest towers with
incredible lightness, there to watch and pray. She was so light in
running that she outran the swiftest dogs. Her parents tried in vain
all they could do to stop her, even to loading her with chains, but
she always escaped from them. So many other almost incredible things
are related of this saint, that I dare not repeat them here.

M. Nicole, in his letters, speaks of a nun named Seraphina, who, in
her ecstasies, rose from the ground with so much impetuosity that five
or six of the sisters could hardly hold her down.

This doctor, reasoning on the fact,[238] says, that it proves nothing
at all for Sister Seraphina; but the thing well verified proves God
and the devil--that is to say, the whole of religion; that the
circumstance being proved, is of very great consequence to religion;
that the world is full of certain persons who believe only what cannot
be doubted; that the great heresy of the world is no longer Calvinism
and Lutheranism, but atheism. There are all sorts of atheists--some
real, others pretended; some determined, others vacillating, and
others tempted to be so. We ought not to neglect this kind of people;
the grace of God is all-powerful; we must not despair of bringing them
back by good arguments, and by solid and convincing proofs. Now, if
these facts are certain, we must conclude that there is a God, or bad
angels who imitate the works of God, and perform by themselves or
their subordinates works capable of deceiving even the elect.

One of the oldest instances I remark of persons thus raised from the
ground without any one touching them, is that of St. Dunstan,
Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 988, and who, a little time
before his death, as he was going up stairs to his apartment,
accompanied by several persons, was observed to rise from the ground;
and as all present were astonished at the circumstance, he took
occasion to speak of his approaching death.[239]

Trithemius, speaking of St. Elizabeth, Abbess of Schonau, in the
diocese of Treves, says that sometimes she was in an ecstatic trance,
so that she would remain motionless and breathless during a long time.
In these intervals, she learned, by revelation and by the intercourse
she had with blessed spirits, admirable things; and when she revived,
she would discourse divinely, sometimes in German, her native
language, sometimes in Latin, though she had no knowledge of that
language. Trithemius did not doubt her sincerity and the truth of her
discourse. She died in 1165.

St. Richard, Abbot of S. Vanne de Verdun, appeared in 1036 elevated
from the ground while he was saying mass in presence of the Duke
Galizon, his sons, and a great number of lords and soldiers.

In the last century, the reverend Father Dominic Carme Déchaux, was
raised from the ground before the King of Spain, the queen, and all
the court, so that they had only to blow upon his body to move it
about like a soap-bubble.[240]


[225] Matt. iv. 5.

[226] Dan. xiv. 33, 34. Douay Version.

[227] Acts viii. 40.

[228] Joan. Diacon. Vit. Gregor. Mag.

[229] Lettre de M. G. P. R., 5th October, 1746.

[230] On the 26th of May, of the Bollandists, c. xx. n. 356, 357.

[231] Acta S. J. Bolland. 3 Jul. p. 95.

[232] Ibid. 31 Jul. pp. 432, 663.

[233] Acta S. J. Bolland, 21 Aug. pp. 469, 481.

[234] Ibid. 18 Aug. p. 503.

[235] Ibid. 17 Aug. p. 255.

[236] Ibid. 4 Aug. p. 405.

[237] Vita S. Christina. 24 Jul. Bolland. pp. 652, 653.

[238] Nicole, tom. i. Letters, pp. 203, 205. Letter xlv.

[239] Vita Sancti Dunstani, xi. 42.

[240] It is worthy of remark, that in the cases which Calmet refers to
of persons in his own time, and of his own acquaintance, being thus
raised from the ground, he in no instance states himself to have been
a witness of the wonder.



We cannot reasonably dispute the truth of these ecstatic trances, the
elevations of the body of some saints to a certain distance from the
ground, since these circumstances are supported by so many witnesses.
To apply this to the matter we here treat of, might it not be said
that sorcerers and witches, by the operation of the demon, and with
God's permission, by the help of a lively and subtile temperament, are
rendered light and rise into the air, where their heated imagination
and prepossessed mind lead them to believe that they have done, seen,
and heard, what has no reality except in their own brain?

I shall be told that the parallel I make between the actions of
saints, which can only be attributed to angels and the operation of
the Holy Spirit, or to the fervor of their charity and devotion, with
what happens to wizards and witches, is injurious and odious. I know
how to make a proper distinction between them: do not the books of the
Old and New Testament place in parallel lines the true miracles of
Moses with those of the magicians of Pharaoh; those of antichrist and
his subordinates with those of the saints and apostles; and does not
St. Paul inform us that the angel of darkness often transforms himself
into an angel of light?

In the first edition of this work, we spoke very fully of certain
persons, who boast of having what they call "the garter," and by that
means are able to perform with extraordinary quickness, in a very few
hours, what would naturally take them several days journeying. Almost
incredible things are related on that subject; nevertheless, the
details are so circumstantial, that it is hardly possible there should
not be some foundation for them; and the demon may transport these
people in a forced and violent manner which causes them a fatigue
similar to what they would have suffered, had they really performed
the journey with more than ordinary rapidity.

For instance, the two circumstances related by Torquemada: the first
of a poor scholar of his acquaintance, a clever man, who at last rose
to be physician to Charles V.; when studying at Guadaloupe, was
invited by a traveler who wore the garb of a monk, and to whom he had
rendered some little service, to mount up behind him on his horse,
which seemed a sorry animal and much tired; he got up and rode all
night, without perceiving that he went at an extraordinary pace, but
in the morning he found himself near the city of Granada; the young
man went into the town, but the conductor passed onwards.

Another time, the father of a young man, known to the same Torquemada,
and the young man himself, were going together to Granada, and passing
through the village of Almeda, met a man on horseback like themselves
and going the same way; after having traveled two or three leagues
together, they halted, and the cavalier spread his cloak on the grass,
so that there was no crease in the mantle; they all placed what
provisions they had with them on this extended cloak, and let their
horses graze. They drank and ate very leisurely, and having told
their servants to bring their horses, the cavalier said to them,
"Gentlemen, do not hurry, you will reach the town early"--at the same
time he showed them Granada, at not a quarter of an hour's distance
from thence.

Something equally marvelous is said of a canon of the cathedral of
Beauvais. The chapter of that church had been charged for a long time
to acquit itself of a certain personal duty to the Church of Rome; the
canons having chosen one of their brethren to repair to Rome for this
purpose, the canon deferred his departure from day to day, and set off
after matins on Christmas day--arrived that same day at Rome,
acquitted himself there of his commission, and came back from thence
with the same dispatch, bringing with him the original of the bond,
which obliged the canons to send one of their body to make this
offering in person. However fabulous and incredible this story may
appear, it is asserted that there are authentic proofs of it in the
archives of the cathedral; and that upon the tomb of the canon in
question may still be seen the figures of demons engraved at the four
corners in memory of this event. They even affirm that the celebrated
Father Mabillon saw the authentic voucher.

Now, if this circumstance and the others like it are not absolutely
fabulous, we cannot deny that they are the effects of magic, and the
work of the evil spirit.

Peter, the venerable Abbot of Cluny,[241] relates so extraordinary a
thing which happened in his time, that I should not repeat it here,
had it not been seen by the whole town of Mâcon. The count of that
town, a very violent man, exercised a kind of tyranny over the
ecclesiastics, and against whatever belonged to them, without
troubling himself either to conceal his violence, or to find a
pretext for it; he carried it on with a high hand and gloried in it.
One day, when he was sitting in his palace in company with several
nobles and others, they beheld an unknown person enter on horseback,
who advanced to the count and desired him to follow him. The count
rose and followed him, and having reached the door, he found there a
horse ready caparisoned; he mounts it, and is immediately carried up
into the air, crying out, in a terrible tone to those who were
present, "Here, help me!" All the town ran out at the noise, but they
soon lost sight of him; and no doubt was entertained that the devil
had flown away with him to be the companion of his tortures, and to
bear the pain of his excesses and his violence.

It is, then, not absolutely impossible that a person may be raised
into the air and transported to some very high and distant place, by
order or by permission of God, by good or evil spirits; but we must
own that the thing is of rare occurrence, and that in all that is
related of sorcerers and witches, and their assemblings at the
witches' sabbath, there is an infinity of stories, which are false,
absurd, ridiculous, and even destitute of probability. M. Remi,
attorney-general of Lorraine, author of a celebrated work entitled
_Demonology_, who tried a great number of sorcerers and sorceresses,
with which Lorraine was then infested, produces hardly any proof
whence we can infer the truth and reality of witchcraft, and of
wizards and witches being transported to the sabbath.


[241] Petrus Venerab. lib. ii. de Miraculis, c. 1, p. 1299.



It is with reason that obsessions and possessions of the devil are
placed in the rank of apparitions of the evil spirit among men. We
call it _obsession_ when the demon acts externally against the person
whom he besets, and _possession_ when he acts internally, agitates
them, excites their ill humor, makes them utter blasphemy, speak
tongues they have never learnt, discovers to them unknown secrets, and
inspires them with the knowledge of the obscurest things in philosophy
or theology. Saul was agitated and possessed by the evil spirit,[242]
who at intervals excited his melancholy humor, and awakened his
animosity and jealousy against David, or who, on occasion of the
natural movement or impulsion of these dark moods, seized him,
agitated him, and disturbed from his usual tenor of mind. Those whom
the Gospel speaks of as being possessed,[243] and who cried aloud that
Jesus was the Christ, and that he was come to torment them before the
time, that he was the Son of God, are instances of possession. But the
demon Asmodeus, who beset Sara, the daughter of Raguel,[244] and who
killed her first seven husbands; those spoken of in the Gospel, who
were simply struck with maladies or incommodities which were thought
to be incurable; those whom the Scripture sometimes calls _lunatics_,
who foamed at the mouth, who were convulsed, who fled the presence of
mankind, who were violent and dangerous, so that they were obliged to
be chained to prevent them from striking and maltreating other people;
these kinds of persons were simply beset, or obseded by the devil.

Opinions are much divided on the matter of obsessions and possessions
of the devil. The hardened Jews, and the ancient enemies of the
Christian religion, convinced by the evidence of the miracles which
they saw worked by Jesus Christ, by his apostles, and by Christians,
dared neither dispute their truth nor their reality; but they
attributed them to magic, to the prince of the devils, or to the
virtue of certain herbs, or of certain natural secrets.

St. Justin,[245] Tertullian, Lactantius, St. Cyprian, Minutius, and
the other fathers of the first ages of the church, speak of the power
which the Christian exorcists exercised over the possessed, so
confidently and so freely, that we can doubt neither the certainty nor
the evidence of the thing. They call upon their adversaries to bear
witness, and pique themselves on making the experiment in their
presence, and of forcing to come out of the bodies of the possessed,
to declare their names, and acknowledge that those they adore in the
pagan temples are but devils.

Some opposed to the true miracles of the Saviour those of their false
gods, their magicians, and their heroes of paganism, such as those of
Esculapius, and the famous Apollonius of Tyana. The pretended
freethinkers dispute them in our days upon philosophical principles;
they attribute them to a diseased imagination, the prejudices of
education, and hidden springs of the constitution; they reduce the
expressions of Scripture to hyperbole; they maintain that Jesus Christ
condescended to the understanding of the people, and their
prepossessions or prejudices; that demons being purely spiritual
substances could not by themselves act immediately upon bodies; and
that it is not at all probable God should work miracles to allow of
their doing so.

If we examine closely those who have passed for being possessed, we
shall not perhaps find one amongst them, whose mind had not been
deranged by some accident, or whose body was not attacked by some
infirmity either known or hidden, which had caused some ferment in the
blood or the brain, and which, joined to prejudice, or fear, had given
rise to what was termed in their case obsession or possession.

The possession of King Saul is easily explained by supposing that he
was naturally an atrabilarian, and that in his fits of melancholy he
appeared mad, or furious; therefore they sought no other remedy for
his illness than music, and the sound of instruments proper to enliven
or calm him. Several of the obsessions and possessions noted in the
New Testament were simple maladies, or fantastic fancies, which made
it believed that such persons were possessed by the devil. The
ignorance of the people maintained this prejudice, and their being
totally unacquainted with physics and medicine served to strengthen
such ideas.

In one it was a sombre and melancholy temper, in another the blood was
too fevered and heated; here the bowels were burnt up with heat, there
a concentration of diseased humor, which suffocated the patient, as it
happens with those subject to epilepsy and hypochondria, who fancy
themselves gods, kings, cats, dogs, and oxen. There were others, who,
disturbed at the remembrance of their crimes, fell into a kind of
despair, and into fits of remorse, which irritated their mind and
constitution, and made them believe that the devil pursued and beset
them. Such, apparently, were those women who followed Jesus Christ,
and who had been delivered by him from the unclean spirits that
possessed them, and partly so Mary Magdalen, from whom he expelled
seven devils. The Scripture often speaks of the spirit of impurity, of
the spirit of falsehood, of the spirit of jealousy; it is not
necessary to have recourse to a particular demon to excite these
passions in us; St. James[246] tells us that we are enough tempted by
our own concupiscence, which leads us to evil, without seeking after
external causes.

The Jews attributed the greater part of their maladies to the demon:
they were persuaded that they were a punishment for some crime either
known or unrevealed. Jesus Christ and his apostles wisely supposed
these prejudices, without wishing to attack them openly and reform the
old opinions of the Jews; they cured the diseases, and chased away the
evil spirits who caused them, or who were said to cause them. The real
and essential effect was the cure of the patient; no other thing was
required to confirm the mission of Jesus Christ, his divinity, and the
truth of the doctrine which he preached. Whether he expelled the
demon, or not, is not essentially necessary to his first design; it is
certain that he cured the patient either by expelling the devil, if it
be true that this evil spirit caused the malady, or by replacing the
inward springs and humors in their regular and natural state, which is
always miraculous, and proves the Divinity of the Saviour.

Although the Jews were sufficiently credulous concerning the
operations of the evil spirit, they at the same time believed that in
general the demons who tormented certain persons were nothing else
than the souls of some wretches, who, fearing to repair to the place
destined for them, took possession of the body of some mortal whom
they tormented and endeavored to deprive of life.[247]

Josephus the historian[248] relates that Solomon composed some charms
against maladies, and some formulæ of exorcism to expel evil spirits.
He says, besides, that a Jew named Eleazar cured in the presence of
Vespasian some possessed persons by applying under their nose a ring,
in which was enchased a root, pointed out by that prince. They
pronounced the name of Solomon with a certain prayer, and an exorcism;
directly, the person possessed fell on the ground, and the devil left
him. The generality of common people among the Jews had not the least
doubt that Beelzebub, prince of the devils, had the power to expel
other demons, for they said that Jesus Christ only expelled them in
the name of Beelzebub.[249] We read in history that sometimes the
pagans expelled demons; and the physicians boast of being able to cure
some possessed persons, as they cure hypochondriacs, and imaginary

These are the most plausible things that are said against the reality
of the possessions and obsessions of the devil.


[242] 1 Sam. xvi. 23.

[243] Matt. viii. 16; x. 11; xviii. 28.

[244] Tob. iii. 8.

[245] Justin. Dialog. cum supplem. Tertull. de Corona Militis, c. 11;
and Apolog. c. 23; Cyp. ad Demetriam, &c.; Minutius, in Octavio, &c.

[246] James i. 14.

[247] Joseph. Antiq. lib. vii. c. 25.

[248] Ibid. lib. viii. c. 2.

[249] Matt. xii. 24.



But the possibility, the verity and reality of the obsessions and
possessions of the devil are indubitable, and proved by the Scripture
and by the authority of the Church, the Fathers, the Jews, and the
pagans. Jesus Christ and the apostles believed this truth, and taught
it publicly. The Saviour gives us a proof of his mission that he cures
the possessed; he refutes the Pharisees, who asserted that he expelled
the demons only in the name of Beelzebub; and maintains that he expels
them by the virtue of God.[250] He speaks to the demons; he threatens
them, and puts them to silence. Are these equivocal marks of the
reality of obsessions? The apostles do the same, as did the early
Christians their disciples. All this was done before the eyes of the
heathen, who could not deny it, but who eluded the force and evidence
of these things, by attributing this power to other demons, or to
certain divinities, more powerful than ordinary demons; as if the
kingdom of Satan were divided, and the evil spirit could act against
himself, or as if there were any collusion between Jesus Christ and
the demons whose empire he had just destroyed.

The seventy disciples on their return from their mission came to Jesus
Christ[251] to give him an account of it, and tell him that the demons
themselves are obedient to them. After his resurrection,[252] the
Saviour promises to his apostles that they shall work miracles in his
name, _that they shall cast out devils_, and receive the gift of
tongues. All which was literally fulfilled.

The exorcisms used at all times in the Church against the demons are
another proof of the reality of possessions; they show that at all
times the Church and her ministers have believed them to be true and
real, since they have always practiced these exorcisms. The ancient
fathers defied the heathen to produce a demoniac before the
Christians; they pride themselves on curing them, and expelling the
demon. The Jewish exorcists employed even the name of Jesus Christ to
cure demoniacs;[253] they found it efficacious in producing this
effect; it is true that sometimes they employed the name of Solomon,
and some charms said to have been invented by that prince, or roots
and herbs to which they attributed the same virtues, like as a clever
physician by the secret of his art can cure a hypochondriac or a
maniac, or a man strongly persuaded that he is possessed by the devil,
or as a wise confessor will restore the mind of a person disturbed by
remorse, and agitated by the reflection of his sins, or the fear of
hell. But we are speaking now of real possessions and obsessions which
are cured only by the power of God, by the name of Jesus Christ, and
by exorcisms. The son of Sceva, the Jewish priest,[254] having
undertaken to expel a devil in the name of Jesus Christ, whom Paul
preached, the demoniac threw himself upon him, and would have
strangled him, saying that he knew Jesus Christ, and Paul, but that
for him, he feared him not. We must then distinguish well between
possessions and possessions, exorcists and exorcists. There may be
found demoniacs who counterfeit the possessed, to excite compassion
and obtain alms. There may even be exorcists who abuse the name and
power of Jesus Christ to deceive the ignorant; and how do I know that
there are not even impostors to be found, who would place pretended
possessed persons in the way, in order to pretend to cure them, and
thus gain a reputation?

I do not enter into longer details on this matter; I have treated it
formerly in a particular dissertation on the subject, printed apart
with other dissertations on Scripture, and I have therein replied to
the objections which were raised on this subject.


[250] Luke viii. 21.

[251] Luke x. 17.

[252] Mark xvi. 27.

[253] Mark ix. 36-38. Acts xi. 14.

[254] Acts xix. 14.



We must now report some of the most famous instances of the possession
and obsession of the demon. Every body is talking at this time of the
possession (by the devil) of the nuns of Loudun, on which such
different opinions were given, both at the time and since. Martha
Broissier, daughter of a weaver of Romorantin,[255] made as much noise
in her time; but Charles Miron, Bishop of Orleans, discovered the
fraud, by making her drink holy water as common water; by making them
present to her a key wrapped up in red silk, which was said to be a
piece of the true cross; and in reciting some lines from Virgil, which
Martha Broissier's demon took for exorcisms, agitating her very much
at the approach of the hidden key, and at the recital of the verses
from Virgil. Henri de Gondi, Cardinal Bishop of Paris, had her
examined by five of the faculty; three were of opinion that there was
a great deal of imposture and a little disease. The parliament took
notice of the affair, and nominated eleven physicians, who reported
unanimously that there was nothing demoniacal in this matter.

In the reign of Charles IX.[256] or a little before, a young woman of
the town of Vervins, fifteen or sixteen years of age, named Nicola
Aubry, had different apparitions of a spectre, who called itself her
grandfather, and asked her for masses and prayers for the repose of
his soul.[257] Very soon after, she was transported to different
places by this spectre, and sometimes even was carried out of sight,
and from the midst of those who watched over her.

Then, they had no longer any doubt that it was the devil, which they
had a great deal of trouble to make her believe. The Bishop of Laon
gave his power (of attorney) for conjuring the spirit, and commanded
them to see that the proces-verbaux were exactly drawn up by the
notaries nominated for that purpose. The exorcisms lasted more than
three months, and only serve to prove more and more the fact of the
possession. The poor sufferer was torn from the hands of nine or ten
men, who could hardly retain their hold of her; and on the last day of
the exorcisms sixteen could not succeed in so doing. She had been
lying on the ground, when she stood upright and stiff as a statue,
without those who held her being able to prevent it. She spoke divers
languages, revealed the most secret things, announced others at the
moment they were being done, although at a great distance; she
discovered to many the secret of their conscience, uttered at once
three different voices, or tones, and spoke with her tongue hanging
half a foot out of her mouth. After some exorcisms had been made at
Vervins, they took her to Laon, where the bishop undertook her. He had
a scaffolding erected for this purpose in the cathedral. Such immense
numbers of people went there, that they saw in the church ten or
twelve thousand persons at a time; some even came from foreign
countries. Consequently, France could not be less curious; so the
princes and great people, and those who could not come there
themselves, sent persons who might inform them of what passed. The
Pope's nuncios, the parliamentary deputies, and those of the
university were present.

The devil, forced by the exorcisms, rendered such testimony to the
truth of the Catholic religion, and, above all, to the reality of the
holy eucharist, and at the same time to the falsity of Calvinism, that
the irritated Calvinists no longer kept within bounds. From the time
the exorcisms were made at Vervins, they wanted to kill the possessed,
with the priest who exorcised her, in a journey they made her take to
Nôtre Dame de Liesse. At Laon, it was still worse; as they were the
strongest in numbers there, a revolt was more than once apprehended.
They so intimidated the bishop and the magistrates, that they took
down the scaffold, and did not have the general procession usually
made before exorcisms. The devil became prouder thereupon, insulted
the bishop, and laughed at him. On the other hand, the Calvinists
having obtained the suppression of the procession, and that she should
be put in prison to be more nearly examined, Carlier, a Calvinist
doctor, suddenly drew from his pocket something which was averred to
be a most violent poison, which he threw into her mouth, and she kept
it on her stomach whilst the convulsion lasted, but she threw it up of
herself when she came to her senses.

All these experiments decided them on recommencing the processions,
and the scaffold was replaced. Then the outraged Calvinists conceived
the idea of a writing from M. de Montmorency, forbidding the
continuation of the exorcisms, and enjoining the king's officers to be
vigilant. Thus they abstained a second time from the procession, and
again the devil triumphed at it. Nevertheless, he discovered to the
bishop the trick of this suppositious writing, named those who had
taken part in it, and declared that he had again gained time by this
obedience of the bishop to the will of man rather than that of God.
Besides that, the devil had already protested publicly that it was
against his own will that he remained in the body of this woman; that
he had entered there by the order of God; that it was to convert the
Calvinists or to harden them, and that he was very unfortunate in
being obliged to act and speak against himself.

The chapter then represented to the bishop that it would be proper to
make the processions and the conjurations twice a-day, to excite still
more the devotion of the people. The prelate acquiesced in it, and
everything was done with the greatest _éclât_, and in the most
orthodox manner. The devil declared again more than once that he had
gained time; once because the bishop had not confessed himself;
another time because he was not fasting; and lastly, because it was
requisite that the chapter and all the dignitaries should be present,
as well as the court of justice and the king's officers, in order that
there might be sufficient testimony; that he was forced to warn the
bishop thus of his duty, and that accursed was the hour when he
entered into the body of this person; at the same time, he uttered a
thousand imprecations against the church, the bishop, and the clergy.

Thus, at the last day of possession, everybody being assembled in the
afternoon, the bishop began the last conjurations, when many
extraordinary things took place; amongst others, the bishop desiring
to put the holy eucharist near the lips of this poor woman, the devil
in some way seized hold of his arm, and at the same moment raised this
woman up, as it were, out of the hands of sixteen men who were holding
her. But at last, after much resistance, he came out, and left her
perfectly cured, and thoroughly sensible of the goodness of God. The
_Te Deum_ was sung to the sound of all the bells in the town; nothing
was heard among the Catholics but acclamations of joy, and many of the
Calvinists were converted, whose descendants still dwell in the town.
Florimond de Raimond, counselor of the parliament of Bordeaux, had the
happiness to be of the number, and has written the history of it. For
nine days they made the procession, to return thanks to God; and they
founded a perpetual mass, which is celebrated every year on the 8th of
February, and they represented this story in _bas-relief_ round the
choir, where it may be seen at this day.

In short, God, as if to put the finishing stroke to so important a
work, permitted that the Prince of Condé, who had just left the
Catholic religion, should be misled on this subject by those of his
new communion. He sent for the poor woman, and also the Canon
d'Espinois, who had never forsaken her during all the time of the
exorcisms. He interrogated them separately, and at several different
times, and made every effort, not to discover if they had practiced
any artifice, but to find out if there was any in the whole affair. He
went so far as to offer the canon very high situations if he would
change his religion. But what can you obtain in favor of heresy from
sensible and upright people, to whom God has thus manifested the power
of his church? All the efforts of the prince were useless; the
firmness of the canon, and the simplicity of the poor woman, only
served to prove to him still more the certainty of the event which
displeased him, and he sent them both home.

Yet a return of ill-will caused him to have this woman again arrested,
and he kept her in one of his prisons until her father and mother
having entreated an inquiry into this injustice to King Charles IX.,
she was set at liberty by order of his majesty.[258]

An event of such importance, and so carefully attested, both on the
part of the bishop and the chapter, and on that of the magistrates,
and even by the violence of the Calvinistic party, ought not to be
buried in silence. King Charles IX., on making his entry into Laon
some time after, desired to be informed about it by the dean of the
cathedral, who had been an ocular witness of the affair. His majesty
commanded him to give publicity to the story, and it was then printed,
first in French, then in Latin, Spanish, Italian, and German, with the
approbation of the Sorbonne, supported by the rescripts of Pope Pius
V. and Gregory XIII. his successor. And they made after that a pretty
exact abridgment of it, by order of the Bishop of Laon, printed under
the title of _Le Triomphe du S. Sacrament sur le Diable_.

These are facts which have all the authenticity that can be desired,
and such as a man of honor cannot with any good-breeding affect to
doubt, since he could not after that consider any facts as certain
without being in shameful contradiction with himself.[259]


[255] Jean de Lorres, sur l'an 1599. Thuan. Hist. l. xii.

[256] Charles IX. died in 1574.

[257] This story is taken from a book entitled "Examen et Discussion
Critique de l'Histoire des Diables de Loudun, &c., par M. de la
Ménardaye." A Paris, chez de Bure l'Ainé, 1749.

[258] Trésor et entière Histoire de la Victime du Corps de Dieu,
presentée au Pape, au Roi, au Chancelier de France, au Premier
Président. A Paris, 4to. chez Chesnau. 1578.

[259] This account is one of the many in which the theory of
possession was made use of to impugn the Protestant faith. The
simplicity and credulity of Calmet are very remarkable.--EDITOR.



There was in Lorraine, about the year 1620, a woman, possessed (by the
devil), who made a great noise in the country, but whose case is much
less known among foreigners. I mean Mademoiselle Elizabeth de
Ranfaing, the story of whose possession was written and printed at
Nancy, in 1622, by M. Pichard, a doctor of medicine, and physician in
ordinary to their highnesses of Lorraine. Mademoiselle de Ranfaing was
a very virtuous person, through whose agency God established a kind of
order of nuns _of the Refuge_, the principal object of which is to
withdraw from profligacy the girls or women who have fallen into
libertinism. M. Pichard's work was approved by doctors of theology,
and authorized by M. de Porcelets, Bishop of Toul, and in an assembly
of learned men whom he sent for to examine the case, and the reality
of the possession. It was ardently attacked and loudly denied by a
monk of the Minimite order, named Claude Pithoy, who had the temerity
to say that he would pray to God to send the devil into himself, in
case the woman whom they were exorcising at Nancy was possessed; and
again, that God was not God if he did not command the devil to seize
his body, if the woman they exorcised at Nancy was really possessed.

M. Pichard refutes him fully; but he remarks that persons who are weak
minded, or of a dull and melancholy character, heavy, taciturn,
stupid, and who are naturally disposed to frighten and disturb
themselves, are apt to fancy that they see the devil, that they speak
to him, and even that they are possessed by him; above all, if they
are in places where others are possessed, whom they see, and with whom
they converse. He adds that, thirteen or fourteen years ago, he
remarked at Nancy a great number of this kind, and with the help of
God he cured them. He says the same thing of atrabilarians, and women
who suffer from _furor uterine_, who sometimes do such things and
utter such cries, that any one would believe they were possessed.

Mademoiselle Ranfaing having become a widow in 1617, was sought in
marriage by a physician named Poviot. As she would not listen to his
addresses, he first of all gave her philtres to make her love him,
which occasioned strange derangements in her health. At last he gave
her some magical medicaments (for he was afterwards known to be a
magician, and burnt as such by a judicial sentence). The physicians
could not relieve her, and were quite at fault with her extraordinary
maladies. After having tried all sorts of remedies, they were obliged
to have recourse to exorcisms.

Now these are the principal symptoms which made it believed that
Mademoiselle Ranfaing was really possessed. They began to exorcise her
the 2d September, 1619, in the town of Remirémont, whence she was
transferred to Nancy; there she was visited and interrogated by
several clever physicians, who, after having minutely examined the
symptoms of what happened to her, declared that the casualties they
had remarked in her had no relation at all with the ordinary course of
known maladies, and could only be the result of diabolical possession.

After which, by order of M. de Porcelets, Bishop of Toul, they
nominated for the exorcists M. Viardin, a doctor of divinity,
counselor of state of the Duke of Lorraine, a Jesuit and Capuchin.
Almost all the monks in Nancy, the said lord bishop, the Bishop of
Tripoli, suffragan of Strasburg, M. de Sancy, formerly ambassador from
the most Christian king at Constantinople, and then priest of the
_Oratoire_, Charles de Lorraine, Bishop of Verdun; two doctors of the
Sorbonne sent on purpose to be present at the exorcisms, often
exorcised her in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and she always replied
pertinently to them, she who could hardly read Latin.

They report the certificate given by M. Nicolas de Harley, very well
skilled in the Hebrew tongue, who avowed that Mademoiselle Ranfaing
was really possessed, and had answered him from the movement of his
lips alone, without his having pronounced any words, and had given
several proofs of her possession. The Sieur Garnier, a doctor of the
Sorbonne, having also given her several commands in Hebrew, she
replied pertinently, but in French, saying that the compact was made
that he should speak only in the usual tongue. The demon added, "Is it
not enough that I show thee that I understand what thou sayest?" The
same M. Garnier, speaking to him in Greek, inadvertently put one case
for another; the possessed, or rather the devil, said to him, "_Thou
hast committed an error._" The doctor said to him in Greek, "Point out
my fault;" the devil replied, "_Let it suffice thee that I point out
an error; I shall tell thee no more concerning it._" The doctor
telling him in Greek to hold his tongue, he answered, "Thou commandest
me to hold my tongue, and I will not do so."

M. Midot Ecolâtre de Toul said to him in the same language, "Sit
down;" he replied, "I will not sit down." M. Midot said to him
moreover in Greek, "Sit down on the ground and obey;" but as the demon
was going to throw the possessed by force on the ground, he said to
him in the same tongue, "Do it gently;" he did so. He said in Greek,
"Put out the right foot;" he extended it; he said also in the same
language, "Cause her knees to be cold," the woman replied that she
felt them very cold.

The Sieur Mince, a doctor of the Sorbonne, holding a cross in his
hand, the devil whispered to him in Greek, "Give me the cross," which
was heard by some persons who were near him. M. Mince desired to make
the devil repeat the same sentence; he answered, "I will not repeat it
all in Greek;" but he simply said in French, "Give me," and in Greek,
"the cross."

The Reverend Father Albert, Capuchin, having ordered him in Greek to
make the sign of the cross seven times with his tongue, in honor of
the seven joys of the Virgin, he made the sign of the cross three
times with his tongue, and then twice with his nose; but the holy man
told him anew to make the sign of the cross seven times with his
tongue; he did so; and having been commanded in the same language to
kiss the feet of the Lord Bishop of Toul, he prostrated himself and
kissed his feet.

The same father having observed that the demon wished to overturn the
_Bénitier_, or basin of holy water which was there, he ordered him to
take the holy water and not spill it, and he obeyed. The Father
commanded him to give marks of the possession; he answered, "The
possession is sufficiently known;" he added in Greek, "I command thee
to carry some holy water to the governor of the town." The demon
replied, "It is not customary to exorcise in that tongue." The father
answered in Latin, "It is not for thee to impose laws on us; but the
church has power to command thee in whatever language she may think

Then the demon took the basin of holy water and carried it to the
keeper of the Capuchins, to the Duke Eric of Lorraine, to the Counts
of Brionne, Remonville, la Vaux, and other lords.

The physician, M. Pichard, having told him in a sentence, partly
Hebrew, and partly Greek, to cure the head and eyes of the possessed
woman; hardly had he finished speaking the last words, when the demon
replied: "Faith, we are not the cause of it; her brain is naturally
moist: that proceeds from her natural constitution;" then M. Pichard
said to the assembly, "Take notice, gentlemen, that he replies to
Greek and Hebrew at the same time." "Yes," replied the demon, "you
discover the pot of roses, and the secret; I will answer you no more."
There were several questions and replies in foreign languages, which
showed that he understood them very well.

M. Viardin having asked him in Latin, "Ubi censebaris quandò mane
oriebaris?" He replied, "Between the seraphim." They said to him, "Pro
signo exhibe nobis patibulum fratris Cephæ;" the devil extended his
arms in the form of a St. Andrew's cross. They said to him, "Applica
carpum carpo;" he did so, placing the wrist of one hand over the
other; then, "Admove tarsum tarso et metatarsum metatarso;" he crossed
his feet and raised them one upon the other. Then afterwards he said,
"Excita in calcaneo qualitatem congregantem heterogenea;" the
possessed said she felt her heel cold; after which, "Repræsenta nobis
labarum Venetorum;" he made the figure of the cross. Afterwards they
said, "Exhibe nobis videntum Deum benè precantem nepotibus ex
salvatore Egypti;" he crossed his arms as did Jacob on giving his
blessing to the sons of Joseph; and then, "Exhibe crucem
conterebrantem stipiti," he represented the cross of St. Peter. The
exorcist having by mistake said, "Per eum qui adversus te præliavit,"
the demon did not give him time to correct himself; he said to him, "O
the ass! instead of _præliatus est_." He was spoken to in Italian and
German, and he always answered accordingly.

They said to him one day, "Sume encolpium ejus qui hodiè functus est
officio illius de quo cecinit Psaltes: pro patribus tuis nati sunt
tibi filii;" he went directly and took the cross hanging round the
neck and resting on the breast of the Prince Eric de Lorraine, who
that same day had filled the office of bishop in giving orders,
because the Bishop of Toul was indisposed. He discovered secret
thoughts, and heard words that were said in the ear of some persons
which he was not possibly near enough to overhear, and declared that
he had known the mental prayer that a good priest had made before the
holy sacrament.

Here is a trait still more extraordinary. They said to the demon,
speaking Latin and Italian in the same sentence: "Adi scholastrum
seniorem et osculare ejus pedes, la cui scarpa ha più di sugaro;" that
very moment he went and kissed the foot of the Sieur Juillet, ecolâtre
of St. George, the Elder of M. Viardin, ecolâtre of the Primitiale. M.
Juillet's right foot was shorter than the left, which obliged him to
wear a shoe with a cork heel (or raised by a piece of cork, called in
Italian _sugaro_).

They proposed to him very difficult questions concerning the Trinity,
the Incarnation, the holy sacrament of the altar, the grace of God,
free will, the manner in which angels and demons know the thoughts of
men, &c., and he replied with much clearness and precision. She
discovered things unknown to everybody, and revealed to certain
persons, but secretly and in private, some sins of which they had been

The demon did not obey the voice only of the exorcists; he obeyed even
when they simply moved their lips, or held their hand, or a
handkerchief, or a book upon the mouth. A Calvinist having one day
mingled secretly in the crowd, the exorcist, who was warned of it,
commanded the demon to go and kiss his feet; he went immediately,
rushing through the crowd.

An Englishman having come from curiosity to the exorcist, the devil
told him several particulars relating to his country and religion. He
was a Puritan; and the Englishman owned that everything he had said
was true. The same Englishman said to him in his language, "As a proof
of thy possession, tell me the name of my master who formerly taught
me embroidery;" he replied, "William." They commanded him to recite
the _Ave Maria_; he said to a Huguenot gentleman who was present, "Do
you say it, if you know it; for they don't say it amongst your
people." M. Pichard relates several unknown and hidden things which
the demon revealed, and that he performed several feats which it is
not possible for any person, however agile and supple he may be, to
achieve by natural strength or power; such as crawling on the ground
without making use of hands or feet, appearing to have the hair
standing erect like serpents.

After all the details concerning the exorcisms, marks of possession,
questions and answers of the possessed, M. Pichard reports the
authentic testimony of the theologians, physicians, of the bishops
Eric of Lorraine, and Charles of Lorraine, Bishop of Verdun, of
several monks of every order, who attest the said possession to be
real and veritable; and lastly, a letter from the Rev. Father Cotton,
a Jesuit, who certifies the same thing. The said letter bears date the
5th of June, 1621, and is in reply to the one which the Prince Eric of
Lorraine had written to him.

I have omitted a great many particulars related in the recital of the
exorcisms, and the proofs of the possession of Mademoiselle de
Ranfaing. I think I have said enough to convince any persons who are
sincere and unprejudiced that her possession is as certain as these
things can be. The affair occurred at Nancy, the capital of Lorraine,
in the presence of a great number of enlightened persons, two of whom
were of the house of Lorraine, both bishops, and well informed; in
presence and by the orders of my Lord de Porcelets, Bishop of Toul, a
most enlightened man, and of distinguished merit; of two doctors of
the Sorbonne, called thither expressly to judge of the reality of the
possession; in presence of people of the so-called Reformed religion,
and much on their guard against things of this kind. It has been seen
how far Father Pithoy carried his temerity against the possession in
question; he has been reprimanded by his diocesan and his superiors,
who have imposed silence on him.

Mademoiselle de Ranfaing is known to be personally a woman of
extraordinary virtue, prudence, and merit. No reason can be imagined
for her feigning a possession which has pained her in a thousand ways.
The consequence of this terrible trial has been the establishment of a
kind of religious order, from which the church has received much
edification, and from which God has providentially derived glory.

M. Nicolas de Harlay Sancy and M. Viardin are persons highly to be
respected both for their personal merit, their talent, and the high
offices they have filled; the first having been French ambassador at
Constantinople, and the other resident of the good Duke Henry at the
Court of Rome; so that I do not think I could have given an instance
more fit to convince you of there being real and veritable possessions
than this of Mademoiselle de Ranfaing.

I do not relate that of the nuns of Loudun, on which such various
opinions have been given, the reality of which was doubted at the very
time, and is very problematical to this day. Those who are curious to
know the history of that affair will find it very well detailed in a
book I have already cited, entitled, "Examen et Discussion Critique de
l'Histoire des Diables de Loudun, &c., par M. de la Ménardaye," à
Paris, chez de Bure Ainé, 1749.



Several objections may be raised against the obsessions and
possessions of demons; nothing is subject to greater difficulties than
this matter, but Providence constantly and uniformly permits the
clearest and most certain truths of religion to remain enveloped in
some degree of obscurity; that facts the best averred and the most
indubitable should be subject to doubts and contradictions; that the
most evident miracles should be disputed by some incredulous persons
on account of circumstances which appear to them doubtful and

All religion has its lights and shadows; God has permitted it to be so
in order that the just may have somewhat to exercise their faith in
believing, and the impious and incredulous persist in their wilful
impiety and incredulity. The greatest mysteries of Christianity are to
the one subjects of scandal, and to the others means of salvation;
the one regarding the mystery of the cross as folly, and the others as
the work of sublimest wisdom, and of the most admirable power of God.
Pharaoh hardened his heart when he saw the wonders wrought by Moses;
but the magicians of Egypt were at last obliged to recognize in them
the hand of God. The Hebrews on sight of these wonders take confidence
in Moses and Aaron, and yield themselves to their guidance, without
fearing the dangers to which they may be exposed.

We have already remarked that the demon often seems to act against his
own interest, and destroy his own empire, by saying that everything
which is related of the return of spirits, the obsessions and
possessions of the demon, of spells, magic, and sorcery, are only
tales wherewith to frighten children; that they all have no existence
except in weak and prejudiced minds. How can it serve the demon to
maintain this, and destroy the general opinion of nations on all these
things? If in all there is only falsehood and illusion, what does he
gain by undeceiving people? and if there is any truth in them, why
decry his own work, and take away the credit of his subordinates and
his own operations?

Jesus Christ in the Gospel refutes those who said that he expelled
devils in the name of Beelzebub;[260] he maintains that the accusation
is unfounded, because it was incredible that Satan should destroy his
own work and his own empire. The reasoning is doubtless solid and
conclusive, above all to the Jews, who thought that Jesus Christ did
not differ from other exorcists who expelled demons, unless it was
that he commanded the prince of devils, while the others commanded
only the subaltern demons. Now, on this supposition, the prince of the
demons could not expel his subalterns without destroying his own
empire, without decrying himself, and without ruining the reputation
of those who only acted by his orders.

It may be objected to this argument, that Jesus Christ supposed, as
did the Jews, that the demons whom he expelled really possessed those
whom he cured, in whatever manner he might cure them; and consequently
that the empire of the demons subsisted, both in Beelzebub, the prince
of the demons, and in the other demons who were subordinate to him,
and who obeyed his orders; thus, his empire was not entirely
destroyed, supposing that Jesus Christ expelled them in the name of
Beelzebub; that subordination, on the contrary, supposed that power or
empire of the prince of the demons, and strengthened it.

But Jesus Christ not only expelled demons by his own authority,
without ever making mention of Beelzebub; he expelled them in spite of
themselves, and sometimes they loudly complained that he was come to
torment them before the time.[261] There was neither collusion between
him and them, nor subordination similar to that which might be
supposed to exist between Beelzebub and the other demons.

The Lord pursued them, not only in expelling them from bodies, but
also in overthrowing their bad maxims, by establishing doctrines and
maxims quite contrary to their own; he made war upon every vice,
error, and falsehood; he attacked the demon face to face, everywhere,
unflinchingly; thus, it cannot be said that he spared him, or was in
collusion with him. If the devil will sometimes pass off as chimeras
and illusions all that is said of apparitions, obsessions and
possessions, magic and sorcery; and if he appears so absolutely to
overthrow his reign, even so far as to deny the most marked and
palpable effects of his own power and presence, and impute them to the
weakness of mind of men and their foolish prejudices; in all this he
can only gain advantage for himself: for, if he can persuade people of
the truth of what he advances, his power will only be more solidly
confirmed by it, since it will no longer be attacked, and he will be
left to enjoy his conquests in peace, and the ecclesiastical and
secular powers interested in repressing the effects of his malice and
cruelty will no longer take the trouble to make war upon him, and
caution or put the nations on their guard against his stratagems and
ambuscades. It will close the mouth of parliaments, and stay the hand
of judges and powers; and the simple people will become the sport of
the demon, who will not cease continuing to tempt, persecute, corrupt,
deceive, and cause the perdition of those who shall no longer mistrust
his snares and his malice. The world will relapse into the same state
as when under paganism, given up to error, to the most shameful
passions, and will even deny or doubt those truths which shall be the
best attested, and the most necessary to our salvation.

Moses in the Old Testament well foresaw that the evil spirit would set
every spring to work, to lead the Israelites into error and unruly
conduct; he foresaw that in the midst of the chosen people he would
instigate seducers, who would predict to them the hidden future, which
predictions would come true and be followed up. He always forbids
their listening to any prophet or diviners who wished to mislead them
to impiety or idolatry.

Tertullian, speaking of the delusions performed by demons, and the
foresight they have of certain events, says,[262] that being spiritual
in their nature, they find themselves in a moment in any place they
may wish, and announce at a distance what they have seen and heard.
All this is attributed to the Divinity, because neither the cause nor
the manner is known; often, also, they boast of causing events, which
they do but announce; and it is true that often they are themselves
the authors of the evils they predict, but never of any good.
Sometimes they make use of the knowledge they have derived from the
predictions of the prophets respecting the designs of God, and they
utter them as coming from themselves. As they are spread abroad in the
air, they see in the clouds what must happen, and thus foretell the
rain which they were aware of before it had been felt upon earth. As
to maladies, if they cure them, it is because they have occasioned
them; they prescribe remedies which produce effect, and it is believed
that they have cured maladies simply because they have not continued
them. _Quia desinunt lædere, curasse credentur._

The demon can then foresee the future and what is hidden, and discover
them by means of his votaries; he can also doubtlessly do wonderful
things which surpass the usual and known powers of nature; but it is
never done except to deceive us, and lead us into disorder and
impiety. And even should he wear the semblance of leading to virtue
and practising those things which are praiseworthy and useful to
salvation, it would only be to win the confidence of such as would
listen to his suggestions, to make them afterward fall into
misfortune, and engage them in some sin of presumption or vanity: for
as he is a spirit of malice and lies, it little imports to him by what
means he surprises us, and establishes his reign among us.

But he is very far from always foreseeing the future, or succeeding
always in misleading us; God has set bounds to his malice. He often
deceives himself, and often makes use of disguise and perversion, that
he may not appear to be ignorant of what he is ignorant of, or he will
appear unwilling to do what God will not allow him to do; his power is
always bounded, and his knowledge limited. Often, also, he will
mislead and deceive through malice, because he is the father of
falsehood. He deceives men, and rejoices when he sees them doing
wrong; but not to lose his credit amongst those who consult him
directly or indirectly, he lays the fault on those who undertake to
interpret his words, or the equivocal signs which he has given. For
instance, if he is consulted whether to begin an enterprise, or give
battle, or set off on a journey, if the thing succeeds, he takes all
the glory and merit to himself; if it does not succeed, he imputes it
to the men who have not well understood the sense of his oracle, or to
the aruspices, who have made mistakes in consulting the entrails of
the immolated animals, or the flight of birds, &c.

We must not, then, be surprised to find so many contradictions,
doubts, and difficulties, in the matter of apparitions, angels,
demons, and spirits. Man naturally loves to distinguish himself from
the common herd, and rise above the opinions of the people; it is a
sort of fashion not to suffer one's self to be drawn along by the
torrent, and to desire to sound and examine everything. We know that
there is an infinity of prejudices, errors, vulgar opinions, false
miracles, illusions, and seductions in the world; we know that many
things are attributed to the devil which are purely natural, or that a
thousand apocryphal stories are related. It is then right to hold
one's self on one's guard, in order not to be deceived. It is very
important for religion to distinguish between true and false miracles,
certain or uncertain events, and works wrought by the hand of God,
from those which are the work of the seducing spirit.

In all that he does, the demon mixes up a great many illusions amid
some truths, in order that the difficulty of discerning the true from
the false may make mankind take the side which pleases them most, and
that the incredulous may always have some points to maintain them in
their incredulity. Although the apparitions of spirits, angels, and
demons, and their operations, may not, perhaps, always be miraculous,
nevertheless, as the greater part appear above the common course of
nature, many of the persons of whom we have just spoken, without
giving themselves the trouble to examine the things, and seek for the
causes of them, the authors, and the circumstances, boldly take upon
themselves to deny them all. It is the shortest way, but neither the
most sensible nor the most rational; for in what is said on this
subject, there are effects which can be reasonably attributed to the
Almighty power of God alone, who acts immediately, or makes secondary
causes act to his glory, for the advancement of religion, and the
manifestation of the truth; and other effects there are, which bear
visibly the character of illusion, impiety, and seduction, and in
which it would seem that, instead of the finger of God, we can observe
only the marks of the spirit of deceit and falsehood.


[260] Matt. xii. 24-27. Luke xi. 15-18.

[261] Matt. viii. 29.

[262] Tertullian does not say so much in the passage cited; on the
contrary, he affirms that we are ignorant of their nature: _substantia



We read in works, published and printed, composed by Catholic authors
of our days,[263] that it is proved by reason, that possessions of the
demon are naturally impossible, and that it is not true, in regard to
ourselves and our ideas, that the demon can have any natural power
over the corporeal world; that as soon as we admit in the created
wills a power to act upon bodies, and to move them, it is impossible
to set bounds to it, and that this power is truly infinite.

They maintain that the demon can act upon our souls simply by means of
suggestion; that it is impossible the demon should be the physical
cause of the least external effect; that all the Scripture tells us of
the snares and stratagems of Satan signifies nothing more than the
temptations of the flesh and concupiscence; and that to seduce us, the
demon requires only mental suggestions. His is a moral, not a physical
power; in a word, _that the demon can do neither good nor harm; that
his might is nought_; that we do not know if God has given to any
other spirit than the soul of man the power to move the body; that, on
the contrary, we ought to presume that the wisdom of God has willed
that pure spirits should have no commerce with the body; they maintain
moreover that the pagans never knew what we call bad angels and

All these propositions are certainly contrary to Scripture, to the
opinions of the Fathers, and to the tradition of the Catholic Church.
But these gentlemen do not trouble themselves about that; they affirm
that the sacred writers have often expressed themselves according to
the opinions of their time, whether because the necessity of making
themselves understood forced them to conform to it, or that they
themselves had adopted those opinions. There is, say they, more
likelihood that several infirmities which the Scripture has ascribed
to the demon had simply a natural cause; that in these places the
sacred authors have spoken according to vulgar opinions; the error of
this language is of no importance.

The prophets of Saul, and Saul himself, were never what are properly
termed Prophets; they might be attacked with those (fits) which the
pagans call _sacred_. You must be asleep when you read, not to see
that the temptation of Eve is only an allegory. It is the same with
the permission given by God to Satan to tempt Job. Why wish to explain
the whole book of Job literally, and as a true history, since its
beginning is only a fiction? It is anything but certain that Jesus
Christ was transported by the demon to the highest pinnacle of the

The Fathers were prepossessed on one side by the reigning ideas of the
philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato on the influences of mean
intelligences, and on the other hand by the language of the holy
books, which to conform to popular opinions often ascribed to the
demon effects which were purely natural. We must then return to the
doctrine of reason to decide on the submission which we ought to pay
to the authority of the Scriptures and the Fathers concerning the
power of the demons.

The uniform method of the Holy Fathers in the interpretations of the
Old Testament is human opinion, whence one can appeal to the tribunal
of reason. They go so far as to say that the sacred authors were
informed of the Metempsychosis, as the author of the Book of Wisdom,
chap. viii. 19, 20: "I was an innocent child, and I received a good
spirit; and as I was already good, I entered into an uncorrupted

Persons of this temper will certainly not read this work of ours, or,
if they do read it, it will be with contempt or pity. I do not think
it necessary to refute those paradoxes here; the Bishop of Senez has
done it with his usual erudition and zeal, in a long letter printed at
Utrecht in 1736. I do not deny that the sacred writers may sometimes
have spoken in a popular manner, and in accordance with the prejudice
of the people. But it is carrying things too far to reduce the power
of the demon to being able to act upon us only by means of suggestion;
and it is a presumption unworthy of a philosopher to decide on the
power of spirits over bodies, having no knowledge, either by
revelation or by reason, of the extent of the power of angels and
demons over matter and human bodies. We may exceed due measure by
granting them excessive power, as well as in not according them
enough. But it is of infinite importance to Religion to discern justly
between what is natural, or supernatural, in the operations of angels
and demons, that the simple may not be left in error, nor the wicked
triumph over the truth, and make a bad use of their own wit and
knowledge, to render doubtful what is certain, and deceiving both
themselves and others by ascribing to chance or illusion of the
senses, or a vain prepossession of the mind, what is said of the
apparitions of angels, demons, and deceased persons; since it is
certain that several of these apparitions are quite true, although
there may be a great number of others that are very uncertain, and
even manifestly false.

I shall therefore make no difficulty in owning that even miracles, at
least things that appear such, the prediction of future events,
movements of the body which appear beyond the usual powers of nature,
to speak and understand foreign languages unknown before, to penetrate
the thoughts, discover concealed things, to be raised up, and
transported in a moment from one place to another, to announce truths,
lead a good life externally, preach Jesus Christ, decry magic and
sorcery, make an outward profession of virtue; I readily own that all
these things may not prove invincibly that all who perform them are
sent by God, or that these operations are real miracles; yet we cannot
reasonably suppose the demon to be mixed up in them by God's
permission, or that the demons or the angels do not act upon those
persons who perform prodigies, and foretell things to come, or who can
penetrate the thoughts of the heart, or that God himself does not
produce these effects by the immediate action of his justice or his

The examples which have been cited, or which may be cited hereafter,
will never prove that man can of himself penetrate the sentiments of
another, or discover his secret thoughts. The wonders worked by the
magicians of Pharaoh were only illusion; they appeared, however, to be
true miracles, and passed for such in the eyes of the King of Egypt
and all his court. Balaam, the son of Beor, was a true Prophet,
although a man whose morals were very corrupt.

Pomponatius writes that the wife of Francis Maigret, savetier of
Mantua, spoke divers languages, and was cured by Calderon, a
physician, famous in his time, who gave her a potion of Hellebore.
Erasmus says also[264] that he had seen an Italian, a native of
Spoletta, who spoke German very well, although he had never been in
Germany; they gave him a medicine which caused him to eject a quantity
of worms, and he was cured so as not to speak German any more.

Le Loyer, in his _Book of Spectres_,[265] avows that all those things
appear to him much to be doubted. He rather believes Fernel, one of
the gravest physicians of his age, who maintains[266] that there is
not such power in medicine, and brings forward as an instance the
history of a young gentleman, the son of a Knight of the Order, who
being seized upon by the demon, could be cured neither by potions, by
medicines, nor by diet (_i. e._ fasting), but who was cured by the
conjurations and exorcisms of the church.

As to the reality of the return of souls, or spirits, and their
apparitions, the Sorbonne, the most celebrated school of theology in
France, has always believed that the spirits of the defunct returned
sometimes, either by the order and power of God, or by his permission.
The Sorbonne confessed this in its decisions of the year 1518, and
still more positively the 23d of January, 1724. _Nos respondemus
vestræ petitioni animas defunctorum divinitus, seu divinâ virtute,
ordinatione aut permissione interdum ad vivas redire exploratum esse._
Several jurisconsults and several sovereign companies have decreed
that the apparition of a deceased person in a house could suffice to
break up the lease. We may count it for much, to have proved to
certain persons that there is a God whose providence extends over all
things past, present, and to come; that there is another life, that
there are good and bad spirits, rewards for good works, and
punishments after this life for sins; that Jesus Christ has ruined the
power of Satan; that he exercised in himself, in his apostles, and
continues to exercise in the ministers of his church, an absolute
empire over the infernal powers; that the devil is now chained; he may
bark and threaten, but he can bite only those who approach him, and
voluntarily give themselves up to him.

We have seen in these parts a woman who followed a band of mountebanks
and jugglers, who stretched out her legs in such an extraordinary
manner, and raised up her feet to her head, before and behind, with as
much suppleness as if she had neither nerves nor joints. There was
nothing supernatural in all that; she had exercised herself from
extreme youth in these movements, and had contracted the habit of
performing them.

St. Augustine[267] speaks of a soothsayer whom he had known at
Carthage, an illiterate man, who could discover the secrets of the
heart, and replied to those who consulted him on secret and unknown
affairs. He had himself made an experiment on him, and took to witness
St. Alypius, Licentius, and Trygnius, his interlocutors, in his
dialogue against the Academicians. They, like him, had consulted
Albicerius, and had admired the certainty of his replies. He gives us
an instance--a spoon which had been lost. They told him that some one
had lost something; and he instantly, without hesitation, replied that
such a thing was lost, that such a one had taken it, and had hid it in
such a place, which was found to be quite true.

They sent him a certain quantity of pieces of silver; he who was
charged to carry them had taken away some of them. He made the person
return them, and perceived the theft before the money had been shown
to him. St. Augustine was present. A learned and distinguished man,
named Flaccianus, wishing to buy a field, consulted the soothsayer,
who declared to him the name of the land, which was very
extraordinary, and gave him all the details of the affair in question.
A young student, wishing to prove Albicerius, begged of him to declare
to him what he was thinking of; he told him he was thinking of a verse
of Virgil; and, as he then asked him which verse it was, the diviner
repeated it instantly, though he had never studied the Latin language.

This Albicerius was a scoundrel, as St. Augustine says, who calls him
_flagitiosum hominem_. The knowledge which he had of hidden things was
not, doubtless, a gift of heaven, any more than the Pythonic spirit
which animated that maid in the Acts of the Apostles whom St. Paul
obliged to keep silence.[268] It was then the work of the evil spirit.

The gift of tongues, the knowledge of the future, and power to divine
the thoughts of others, are always adduced, and with reason, as solid
proofs of the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit; but if the
demon can sometimes perform the same things, he does it to mislead and
induce sin, or simply to render true prophecies doubtful; but never to
lead to truth, the fear and love of God, and the edification of those
around. God may allow such corrupt men as Balaam, and such rascals as
Albicerius, to have some knowledge of the future, and secret things,
and even of the hidden thoughts of men; but he never permits their
criminality to remain unrevealed to the end, and so become a
stumbling-block for simple or worthy people. The malice of these
hypocritical and corrupt men will be made manifest sooner or later by
some means; their malice and depravity will be found out, by which it
will be judged, either that they are inspired only by the evil spirit,
or that the Holy Spirit makes use of their agency to foretell some
truth, as he prophesied by Balaam, and by Caïphas. Their morals and
their conduct will throw discredit on them, and oblige us to be
careful in discerning between their true predictions and their bad
example. We have seen hypocrites who died with the reputation of being
worthy people, and who at bottom were scoundrels--as for instance,
that curé, the director of the nuns of Louviers, whose possession was
so much talked of.

Jesus Christ, in the Gospel, tells us to be on our guard against
wolves in sheep's clothing; and, elsewhere, he tells us that there
will be false Christs and false prophets, who will prophesy in his
name, and perform wonders capable of deceiving the very elect
themselves, were it possible. But he refers us to their works to
distinguish them.

To apply all these things to the possessed nuns of Loudun, and to
Mademoiselle de Ranfaing, even to that girl whose hypocrisy was
unmasked by Mademoiselle Acarie, I appeal to their works, and their
conduct both before and after.

       *       *       *       *       *

God will not allow those who sincerely seek the truth to be deceived.

A juggler will guess which card you have touched, or even simply
thought of; but it is known that there is nothing supernatural in
that, and that it is done by the combination of the cards according to
mathematical rules. We have seen a deaf man who understood what they
wished to say to him by simply observing the motion of the lips of
those who spoke. There is nothing more miraculous in this than in two
persons conversing together by signs upon which they have agreed.


[263] See the letter of the Bishop of Senez, printed at Utrecht, in
1736, and the works that he therein cites and refutes.

[264] Erasm. Orat. de laudibus Medicinæ.

[265] Le Loyer, lib. de Spec. cap. ii. p. 288.

[266] Fernel, de abditis Rerum Causis, lib. ii. c. 26.

[267] August. contra Academic. lib. ii. art. 17, 18.

[268] Acts xvi. 16.



If all that is related of spirits which are perceived in houses, in
the cavities of mountains, and in mines, is certain, we cannot disavow
that they also must be placed in the rank of apparitions of the evil
spirit; for, although they usually do neither wrong nor violence to
any one, unless they are irritated or receive abusive words;
nevertheless we do not read that they lead to the love or fear of God,
to prayer, piety, or acts of devotion; it is known, on the contrary,
that they show a distaste to those things, so that we shall place them
in earnest among the spirits of darkness.

I do not find that the ancient Hebrews knew anything of what we call
_esprits follets_, or familiar spirits, which infest houses, or attach
themselves to certain persons, to serve them, watch over and warn
them, and guard them from danger; such as the demon of Socrates, who
warned him to avoid certain misfortunes. Some other examples are also
related of persons who said they had similar genii attached to their

The Jews and Christians confess that every one of us has his good
angel, who guides him from his early youth.[269] Several of the
ancients have thought that we have also our evil angel, who leads us
into error. The Psalmist[270] says distinctly that God has commanded
his angels to guide us in all our ways. But this is not what we
understand here under the name of _esprits follets_.

The prophets in some places speak of _fauns_, or _hairy men_, or
_satyrs_, who have some resemblance to our elves.

Isaiah,[271] speaking of the state to which Babylon shall be reduced
after her destruction, says that the ostriches shall make it their
dwelling, and that the hairy men, _pilosi_, the satyrs, and goats,
shall dance there. And elsewhere the same prophet says,[272]
_Occurrent dæmonia onocentauris et pilosus clamabit alter ad alterum_,
by which clever interpreters understand spectres which appear in the
shape of goats. Jeremiah calls them _fauns_--the dragons with the
fauns, which feed upon figs. But this is not the place for us to go
more fully into the signification of the terms of the original; it
suffices for us to show that in the Scripture, at least in the
Vulgate, are found the names of _lamiæ_, _fauns_, and _satyrs_, which
have some resemblance to _esprits follets_.

Cassian,[273] who had studied deeply the lives of the fathers of the
desert, and who had been much with the hermits or anchorites of Egypt,
speaking of divers sorts of demons, mentions some which they commonly
called _fauns_ or _satyrs_, which the pagans regard as kinds of
divinities of the fields or groves, who delighted, not so much in
tormenting or doing harm to mankind, as in deceiving and fatiguing
them, diverting themselves at their expense, and sporting with their

Pliny[275] the younger had a freed-man named Marcus, a man of letters,
who slept in the same bed with his brother, who was younger than
himself. It seemed to him that he saw a person sitting on the same
bed, who was cutting off his hair from the crown of his head. When he
awoke, he found his head shorn of hair, and his hair thrown on the
ground in the middle of the chamber. A little time after, the same
thing happened to a youth who slept with several others at a school.
This one saw two men dressed in white come in at the window, who cut
off his hair as he slept, and then went out by the same window: on
awaking, he found his hair scattered about on the floor. To what can
these things be attributed, if not to an elf?

Plotinus,[276] a Platonic philosopher, had, it is said, a familiar
demon, who obeyed him from the moment he called him, and was superior
in his nature to the common genii; he was of the order of gods, and
Plotinus paid continual attention to this divine guardian. This it was
which led him to undertake a work on the demon which belongs to each
of us in particular. He endeavors to explain the difference between
the genii which watch over men.

Trithemius, in his Chronicon Hirsauginse,[277] under the year 1130,
relates that in the diocese of Hildesheim, in Saxony, they saw for
some time a spirit which they called in German _heidekind_, as if they
would say _rural genius_, _heide_ signifying vast country, _kind_,
child (or boy). He appeared sometimes in one form, sometimes in
another; and sometimes, without appearing at all, he did several
things by which he proved both his presence and his power. He chose
sometimes to give very important advice to those in power; and often
he has been seen in the bishop's kitchen, helping the cooks and doing
sundry jobs.

A young scullion, who had grown familiar with him, having offered him
some insults, he warned the head cook of it, who made light of it, or
thought nothing about it; but the spirit avenged himself cruelly. This
youth having fallen asleep in the kitchen, the spirit stifled him,
tore him to pieces, and roasted him. He carried his fury still further
against the officers of the kitchen, and the other officers of the
prince. The thing went on to such a point that they were obliged to
proceed against him by (ecclesiastical) censures, and to constrain him
by exorcisms to go out of the country.

I think I may put amongst the number of elves the spirits which are
seen, they say, in mines and mountain caves. They appear clad like the
miners, run here and there, appear in haste as if to work and seek the
veins of mineral ore, lay it in heaps, draw it out, turning the wheel
of the crane; they seem to be very busy helping the workmen, and at
the same time they do nothing at all.

These spirits are not mischievous, unless they are insulted and
laughed at; for then they fall into an ill humor, and throw things at
those who offend them. One of these genii, who had been addressed in
injurious terms by a miner, twisted his neck and placed his head the
hind part before. The miner did not die, but remained all his life
with his neck twisted and awry.

George Agricola,[278] who has treated very learnedly on mines, metals,
and the manner of extracting them from the bowels of the earth,
mentions two or three sorts of spirits which appear in mines. Some are
very small, and resemble dwarfs or pygmies; the others are like old
men dressed like miners, having their shirts tucked up, and a leathern
apron round their loins; others perform, or seem to perform, what they
see others do, are very gay, do no harm to any one, but from all their
labors nothing real results.

In other mines are seen dangerous spirits, who ill-use the workmen,
hunt them away, and sometimes kill them, and thus constrain them to
forsake mines which are very rich and abundant. For instance, at
Anneberg, in a mine called Crown of Rose, a spirit in the shape of a
spirited, snorting horse, killed twelve miners, and obliged those who
worked the mine to abandon the undertaking, though it brought them in
a great deal. In another mine, called St. Gregory, in Siveberg, there
appeared a spirit whose head was covered with a black hood, and he
seized a miner, raised him up to a considerable height, then let him
fall, and hurt him extremely.

Olaus Magnus[279] says that, in Sweden and other northern countries,
they saw formerly familiar spirits, which, under the form of men or
women, waited on certain persons. He speaks of certain nymphs dwelling
in caverns and in the depths of the forest, who announce things to
come; some are good, others bad; they appear and speak to those who
consult them. Travelers and shepherds also often see during the night
divers phantoms which burn the spot where they appear, so that
henceforward neither grass nor verdure are seen there.

He says that the people of Finland, before their conversion to
Christianity, sold the winds to sailors, giving them a string with
three knots, and warning them that by untying the first knot they
would have a gentle and favorable wind, at the second knot a stronger
wind, and at the third knot a violent and dangerous gale. He says,
moreover, that the Bothnians, striking on an anvil hard blows with a
hammer, upon a frog or a serpent of brass, fall down in a swoon, and
during this swoon they learn what passes in very distant places.

But all those things have more relation to magic than to familiar
spirits; and if what is said about them be true, it must be ascribed
to the evil spirit.

The same Olaus Magnus[280] says that in mines, above all in silver
mines, from which great profit may be expected, six sorts of demons
may be seen, who under divers forms labor at breaking the rocks,
drawing the buckets, and turning the wheels; who sometimes burst into
laughter, and play different tricks; all of which are merely to
deceive the miners, whom they crush under the rocks, or expose to the
most imminent dangers, to make them utter blasphemy, and swear and
curse. Several very rich mines have been obliged to be disused through
fear of these dangerous spirits.

Notwithstanding all that we have just related, I doubt very much if
there are any spirits in mountain caves or in mines. I have
interrogated on the subject people of the trade and miners by
profession, of whom there is a great number in our mountains, the
Vosges, who have assured me that all which is related on that point is
fabulous; that if sometimes they see these elves or grotesque figures,
it must be attributed to a heated and prepossessed imagination; or
else that the circumstance is so rare that it ought not to be repeated
as something usual or common.

A new "Traveler in the Northern Countries," printed at Amsterdam, in
1708, says that the people of Iceland are almost all conjurers or
sorcerers; that they have familiar demons, whom they call _troles_,
who wait upon them as servants, and warn them of the accidents or
illnesses which are to happen to them; they awake them to go a-fishing
when the season is favorable, and if they go for that purpose without
the advice of these genii, they do not succeed. There are some persons
among these people who evoke the dead, and make them appear to those
who wish to consult them: they also conjure up the appearance of the
absent far from the spot where they dwell.

Father Vadingue relates, after an old manuscript legend, that a lady
named Lupa had had during thirteen years a familiar demon, who served
her as a waiting-woman, and led her into many secret irregularities,
and induced her to treat her servants with inhumanity. God gave her
grace to see her fault, and to do penance for it, by the intercession
of St. François d'Assise and St. Anthony of Padua, to whom she had
always felt particular devotion.

Cardan speaks of a bearded demon of Niphus, who gave him lessons of

Agrippa had a demon who waited upon him in the shape of a dog. This
dog, says Paulus Jovius, seeing his master about to expire, threw
himself into the Rhone.

Much is said of certain spirits[281] which are kept confined in rings,
that are bought, sold, or exchanged. They speak also of a crystal
ring, in which the demon represented the objects desired to be seen.

Some also speak highly of those enchanted mirrors,[282] in which
children see the face of a robber who is sought for; others will see
it in their nails; all which can only be diabolical illusions.

Le Loyer relates[283] that when he was studying the law at Thoulouse,
he was lodged near a house where an elf never ceased all the night to
draw water from the well, making the pulley creak all the while; at
other times, he seemed to drag something heavy up the stairs; but he
very rarely entered the rooms, and then he made but little noise.


[269] Matt. xviii. 10.

[270] Psalm xc. 11.

[271] Isai. xiii. 22. Pilosi saltabunt ibi.

[272] Isai. xxxiv. 15.

[273] Cassian, Collat. vii. c. 23.

[274] "Quos seductores et joculatores esse manifestum est, cùm
nequaquam tormentis eorum, quos prætereuntes potuerint decipere,
oblectentur, sed de risu tantum modò et illusione contenti, fatigare
potiùs, studeant, quám nocere."

[275] Plin. i. 7. Epist. 27, suiv.

[276] Life of Plotin. art. x.

[277] Chron. Hirsaug. ad ann. 1130.

[278] Geo. Agricola, de Mineral. Subterran. p. 504.

[279] Olaus Mag. lib. iii. Hist. 5, 9-14.

[280] Olaus Mag. lib. vi. c. 9.

[281] Le Loyer, p. 474.

[282] Ibid. liv. ii. p. 258.

[283] Ibid, p. 550.



On the 25th of August, 1746, I received a letter from a very worthy
man, the curé of the parish of Walsche, a village situated in the
mountains of Vosges, in the county of Dabo, or Dasburg, in Lower
Alsatia, Diocese of Metz. In this letter, he tells me that the 10th of
June, 1740, at eight o'clock in the morning, he being in his kitchen,
with his niece and the servant, he saw on a sudden an iron pot that
was placed on the ground turn round three or four times, without its
being set in motion by any one. A moment after, a stone, weighing
about a pound, was thrown from the next room into the same kitchen, in
presence of the same persons, without their seeing the hand which
threw it. The next day, at nine o'clock in the morning, some panes of
glass were broken, and through these panes were thrown some stones,
with what appeared to them supernatural dexterity. The spirit never
hurt anybody, and never did anything in the night time, but always
during the day. The curé employed the prayers marked out in the ritual
to bless his house, and thenceforth the genius broke no more panes of
glass; but he continued to throw stones at the curé's people, without
hurting them, however. If they fetched water from the fountain, he
threw stones into the bucket; and afterwards he began to serve in the
kitchen. One day, as the servant was planting some cabbages in the
garden, he pulled them up as fast as she planted them, and laid them
in a heap. It was in vain that she stormed, threatened, and swore in
the German style; the genius continued to play his tricks.

One day, when a bed in the garden had been dug and prepared, the spade
was found thrust two feet deep into the ground, without any trace
being seen of him who had thus stuck it in; but they observed that on
the spade was a riband, and by the spade were two pieces of two soles,
which the girl had locked up the evening before in a little box.
Sometimes he took pleasure in displacing the earthenware and pewter,
and putting it either all round the kitchen, or in the porch, or even
in the cemetery, and always in broad daylight. One day he filled an
iron pot with wild herbs, bran, and leaves of trees, and, having put
some water in it, carried it to the ally or walk in the garden;
another time he suspended it to the pot-hook over the fire. The
servant having broken two eggs into a little dish for the curé's
supper, the genius broke two more into it in his presence, the maid
having merely turned to get some salt. The curé having gone to say
mass, on his return found all his earthenware, furniture, linen,
bread, milk, and other things scattered about over the house.

Sometimes the spirit would form circles on the paved floor, at one
time with stones, at another with corn or leaves, and in a moment,
before the eyes of all present, all was overturned and deranged. Tired
with these games, the curé sent for the mayor of the place, and told
him he was resolved to quit the parsonage house. Whilst this was
passing, the curé's niece came in, and told them that the genius had
torn up the cabbages in the garden, and had put some money in a hole
in the ground. They went there, and found things exactly as she had
said. They picked up the money, which what the curé had put away in a
place not locked up; and in a moment after they found it anew, with
some liards, two by two, scattered about the kitchen.

The agents of the Count de Linange being arrived at Walsche, went to
the curé's house, and persuaded him that it was all the effect of a
spell; they told him to take two pistols, and fire them off at the
place where he might observe there were any movements. The genius at
the same moment threw out of the pocket of one of these officers two
pieces of silver; and from that time he was no longer perceived in the

The circumstances of two pistols terminating the scenes with which the
elf had disturbed the good curé, made him believe that this tormenting
imp was no other than a certain bad parishioner, whom the curé had
been obliged to send away from his parish, and who to revenge himself
had done all that we have related. If that be the case, he had
rendered himself invisible, or he had had credit enough to send in his
stead a familiar genius who puzzled the curé for some weeks; for, if
he were not bodily in this house, what had he to fear from any pistol
shot which might have been fired at him? And if he was there bodily,
how could he render himself invisible?

I have been told several times that a monk of the Cistercian order had
a familiar genius who attended upon him, arranged his chamber, and
prepared everything ready for him when he was coming back from the
country. They were so accustomed to this, that they expected him home
by these signs, and he always arrived. It is affirmed of another monk
of the same order that he had a familiar spirit, who warned him, not
only of what passed in the house, but also of what happened out of it;
and one day he was awakened three times, and warned that some monks
were quarreling, and were ready to come to blows; he ran to the spot,
and put an end to the dispute.

St. Sulpicius Severus[284] relates that St. Martin often had
conversations with the Holy Virgin, and other saints, and even with
the demons and false gods of paganism; he talked with them, and
learned from them many secret things. One day, when a council was
being held at Nîmes, where he had not thought proper to be present,
but the decisions of which he desired to know, being in a boat with
St. Sulpicius, but apart from others, as usual with him, an angel
appeared, and informed him what had passed in this assembly of
bishops. Inquiry was made as to the day and hour when the council was
held, and it was found to be at the same hour at which the angel had
appeared to Martin.

We have been told several times that a young ecclesiastic, in a
seminary at Paris, had a genius who waited upon him, and arranged his
room and his clothes. One day, when the superior was passing by the
chamber of the seminarist, he heard him talking with some one; he
entered, and asked who he was conversing with. The youth affirmed that
there was no one in his room, and, in fact, the superior could neither
see nor discover any one there. Nevertheless, as he had heard their
conversation, the young man owned that for some years he had been
attended by a familiar genius, who rendered him every service that a
domestic could have done, and had promised him great advantages in
the ecclesiastical profession. The superior pressed him to give some
proofs of what he said. He ordered the genius to set a chair for the
superior; the genius obeyed. Information of this was sent to the
archbishop, who did not think proper to give it publicity. The young
clerk was sent away, and this singular adventure was buried in

Bodin[285] speaks of a person of his acquaintance who was still living
at the time he wrote, which was in 1588. This person had a familiar
who from the age of thirty-seven had given him good advice respecting
his conduct, sometimes to correct his faults, sometimes to make him
practice virtue, or to assist him; resolving the difficulties which he
might find in reading holy books, or giving him good counsel upon his
own affairs. He usually rapped at his door at three or four o'clock in
the morning to awaken him; and as that person mistrusted all these
things, fearing that it might be an evil angel, the spirit showed
himself in broad day, striking gently on a glass bowl, and then upon a
bench. When he desired to do anything good and useful, the spirit
touched his right ear; but if it was anything wrong and dangerous, he
touched his left ear; so that from that time nothing occurred to him
of which he was not warned beforehand. Sometimes he heard his voice;
and one day, when he found his life in imminent danger, he saw his
genius, under the form of a child of extraordinary beauty, who saved
him from it.

William, Bishop of Paris,[286] says that he knew a rope-dancer who had
a familiar spirit which played and joked with him, and prevented him
from sleeping, throwing something against the wall, dragging off the
bed-clothes, or pulling him about when he was in bed. We know by the
account of a very sensible person that it has happened to him in the
open country, and in the day time, to feel his cloak and boots pulled
at, and his hat thrown down; then he heard the bursts of laughter and
the voice of a person deceased and well known to him, who seemed to
rejoice at it.

The discovery of things hidden or unknown, which is made in dreams, or
otherwise, can hardly be ascribed to anything but to familiar spirits.
A man who did not know a word of Greek came to M. de Saumaise, senior,
a counselor of the Parliament of Dijon, and showed him these words,
which he had heard in the night, as he slept, and which he wrote down
in French characters on awaking: "_Apithi ouc osphraine tén sén
apsychian_." He asked him what that meant. M. de Saumaise told him it
meant, "Save yourself; do you not perceive the death with which you
are threatened?" Upon this hint, the man removed, and left his house,
which fell down the following night.[287]

The same story is related, with a little difference, by another
author, who says that the circumstance happened at Paris;[288] that
the genius spoke in Syriac, and that M. de Saumaise being consulted,
replied, "Go out of your house, for it will fall in ruins to-day, at
nine o'clock in the evening." It is but too much the custom in
reciting stories of this kind to add a few circumstances by way of

Gassendi, in the Life of M. Peiresch, relates that M. Peiresch, going
one day to Nismes, with one of his friends, named M. Rainier, the
latter, having heard Peiresch talking in his sleep in the night, waked
him, and asked him what he said. Peiresch answered him, "I dreamed
that, being at Nismes, a jeweler had offered me a medal of Julius
Cæsar, for which he asked four crowns, and as I was going to count him
down his money, you waked me, to my great regret." They arrived at
Nismes, and going about the town, Peiresch recognized the goldsmith
whom he had seen in his dream; and on his asking him if he had nothing
curious, the goldsmith told him he had a gold medal, or coin, of
Julius Cæsar. Peiresch asked him how much he esteemed it worth; he
replied, four crowns. Peiresch paid them, and was delighted to see his
dream so happily accomplished.

Here is a dream much more singular than the preceding, although a
little in the same style.[289] A learned man of Dijon, after having
wearied himself all day with an important passage in a Greek poet,
without being able to comprehend it at all, went to bed thinking of
this difficulty. During his sleep, his genius transported him in
spirit to Stockholm, introduced him into the palace of Queen
Christina, conducted him into the library, and showed him a small
volume, which was precisely what he sought. He opened it, read in it
ten or twelve Greek verses, which absolutely cleared up the difficulty
which had so long beset him; he awoke, and wrote down the verses he
had seen at Stockholm. On the morrow, he wrote to M. Descartes, who
was then in Sweden, and begged of him to look in such a place, and in
such a _division_ of the library, if the book, of which he sent him
the description, were there, and if the Greek verses which he sent him
were to be read in it.

M. Descartes replied that he had found the book in question; and also
the verses he had sent were in the place he pointed out; that one of
his friends had promised him a copy of that work, and he would send it
him by the first opportunity.

We have already said something of the spirit, or familiar genius of
Socrates, which prevented him from doing certain things, but did not
lead him to do others. It is asserted[290] that, after the defeat of
the Athenian army, commanded by Laches, Socrates, flying like the
others, with this Athenian general, and being arrived at a spot where
several roads met, Socrates would not follow the road taken by the
other fugitives; and when they asked him the reason, he replied,
because his genius drew him away from it. The event justified his
foresight. All those who had taken the other road were either killed
or made prisoners by the enemy's cavalry.

It is doubtful whether the elves, of which so many things are related,
are good or bad spirits; for the faith of the church admits nothing
between these two kinds of genii. Every genius is either good or bad;
but as there are in heaven many mansions, as the Gospel says,[291] and
as there are among the blessed, various degrees of glory, differing
from each other, so we may believe that there are in hell various
degrees of pain and punishment for the damned and the demons.

But are they not rather magicians, who render themselves invisible,
and divert themselves in disquieting the living? Why do they attach
themselves to certain spots, and certain persons, rather than to
others? Why do they make themselves perceptible only during a certain
time, and that sometimes a short space?

I could willingly conclude that what is said of them is mere fancy and
prejudice; but their reality has been so often experienced by the
discourse they have held, and the actions they have performed in the
presence of many wise and enlightened persons, that I cannot persuade
myself that among the great number of stories related of them there
are not at least some of them true.

It may be remarked that these elves never lead one to anything good,
to prayer, or piety, to the love of God, or to godly and serious
actions. If they do no other harm, they leave hurtful doubts about the
punishments of the damned, on the efficacy of prayer and exorcisms; if
they hurt not those men or animals which are found on the spot where
they may be perceived, it is because God sets bounds to their malice
and power. The demon has a thousand ways of deceiving us. All those to
whom these genii attach themselves have a horror of them, mistrust and
fear them; and it rarely happens that these familiar demons do not
lead them to a dangerous end, unless they deliver themselves from them
by grave acts of religion and penance.

There is the story of a spirit, "which," says he who wrote it to me,
"I no more doubt the truth of than if I had been a witness of it."
Count Despilliers, the father, being a young man, and captain of
cuirassiers, was in winter quarters in Flanders. One of his men came
to him one day to beg that he would change his landlord, saying that
every night there came into his bed-room a spirit, which would not
allow him to sleep. The Count Despilliers sent him away, and laughed
at his simplicity. Some days after, the same horseman came back and
made the same request to him; the only reply of the captain would
have been a volley of blows with a stick, had not the soldier avoided
them by a prompt flight. At last, he returned a third time to the
charge, and protested to his captain that he could bear it no longer,
and should be obliged to desert if his lodgings were not changed.
Despilliers, who knew the soldier to be brave and reasonable, said to
him, with an oath, "I will go this night and sleep with you, and see
what is the matter."

At ten o'clock in the evening, the captain repaired to his soldier's
lodging, and having laid his pistols ready primed upon the table, he
lay down in his clothes, his sword by his side, with his soldier, in a
bed without curtains. About midnight he heard something which came
into the room, and in a moment turned the bed upside down, covering
the captain and the soldier with the mattress and paillasse.
Despilliers had great trouble to disengage himself and find again his
sword and pistols, and he returned home much confounded. The
horse-soldier had a new lodging the very next day, and slept quietly
in the house of his new host.

M. Despilliers related this adventure to any one who would listen to
it. He was an intrepid man, who had never known what it was to fall
back before danger. He died field-marshal of the armies of the Emperor
Charles VI. and governor of the fortress of Ségedin. His son has
confirmed this adventure to me within a short time, as having heard it
from his father.

The person who writes to me adds: "I doubt not that spirits sometimes
return; but I have found myself in a great many places which it was
said they haunted. I have even tried several times to see them, but I
have never seen any. I found myself once with more than four thousand
persons, who all said they saw the spirit; I was the only one in the
assembly who saw nothing." So writes me a very worthy officer, this
year, 1745, in the same letter wherein he relates the affair of M.


[284] St. Sulpit. Sever. Dialog. ii. c. 14, 15.

[285] Bodin Demonomania, lib. ii. c. 2.

[286] Guillelm. Paris, 2 Part. quæst. 2, c. 8.

[287] Grot. Epist. Part. ii. Ep. 405.

[288] They affirm that it happened at Dijon, in the family of the MM.
Surmin, in which a constant tradition has perpetuated the memory of
the circumstance.

[289] Continuation of the Count de Gabalis, at the Hague, 1708, p. 55.

[290] Cicero, de Divinat. lib. i.

[291] John xiv. 2.



Everybody acknowledges that there is an infinity of riches buried in
the earth, or lost under the waters by shipwrecks; they fancy that the
demon, whom they look upon as the god of riches, the god _Mammon_, the
Pluto of the pagans, is the depositary, or at least the guardian, of
these treasures. He said to Jesus Christ,[292] when he tempted him in
the wilderness, showing to him all the kingdoms of the earth, and
their glory: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall
down and worship me." We know also that the ancients very often
interred vast treasures in the tombs of the dead; either that the dead
might make use of them in the other world, or that their souls might
keep guard over them in those gloomy places. Job seems to make
allusion to this ancient custom, when he says,[293] "Would to God I
had never been born: I should now sleep with the kings and great ones
of the earth, who built themselves solitary places; like unto those
who seek for treasure, and are rejoiced when they find a tomb;"
doubtless because they hope to find great riches therein.

There were very precious things in the tomb of Cyrus. Semiramis caused
to be engraved on her own mausoleum that it contained great riches.
Josephus[294] relates that Solomon placed great treasures in the tomb
of David his father; and that the High-Priest Hyrcanus, being besieged
in Jerusalem by King Antiochus, took thence three thousand talents. He
says, moreover, that years after, Herod the Great having caused this
tomb to be searched, took from it large sums. We see several laws
against those who violate sepulchres to take out of them the precious
things they contain. The Emperor Marcianus[295] forbade that riches
should be hidden in tombs. If such things have been placed in the
mausoleums of worthy and holy persons, and if they have been
discovered through the revelation of the good spirits of persons who
died in the faith and grace of God, we cannot conclude from those
things that all hidden treasures are in the power of the demon, and
that he alone knows anything of them; the good angels know of them;
and the saints may be much more faithful guardians of them than the
demons, who usually have no power to enrich, or to deliver from the
horrors of poverty, from punishment and death itself, those who yield
themselves to them in order to receive some reward from them.

Melancthon relates[296] that the demon informed a priest where a
treasure was hid; the priest, accompanied by one of his friends, went
to the spot indicated; they saw there a black dog lying on a chest.
The priest, having entered to take out the treasure, was crushed and
smothered under the ruins of the cavern.

M. Remy[297], in his Demonology, speaks of several persons whose
causes he had heard in his quality of Lieutenant-General of Lorraine,
at the time when that country swarmed with wizards and witches; those
amongst them who believed they had received money from the demon,
found nothing in their purses but bits of broken pots, coals, or
leaves of trees, or other things equally vile and contemptible.

The Reverend Father Abram, a Jesuit, in his manuscript History of the
University of Pont à Mousson, reports that a youth of good family, but
small fortune, placed himself at first to serve in the army among the
valets and serving men: from thence his parents sent him to school,
but not liking the subjection which study requires, he quitted the
school and returned to his former kind of life. On his way he met a
man dressed in a silk coat, but ill-looking, dark, and hideous, who
asked him where he was going to, and why he looked so sad: "I am able
to set you at your ease," said this man to him, "if you will give
yourself to me."

The young man, believing that he wished to engage him as a servant,
asked for time to reflect upon it; but beginning to mistrust the
magnificent promises which he made him, he looked at him more
narrowly, and having remarked that his left foot was divided like that
of an ox, he was seized with affright, made the sign of the cross, and
called on the name of Jesus, when the spectre directly disappeared.

Three days after, the same figure appeared to him again, and asked him
if he had made up his mind; the young man replied that he did not want
a master. The spectre said to him, "Where are you going?" "I am going
to such a town," replied he. At that moment the demon threw at his
feet a purse which chinked, and which he found filled with thirty or
forty Flemish crowns, amongst which were about twelve which appeared
to be gold, newly coined, and as if from the stamps of the coiner. In
the same purse was a powder, which the spectre said was of a very
subtile quality.

At the same time, he gave him abominable counsels to satisfy the most
shameful passions; and exhorted him to renounce the use of holy water,
and the adoration of the host--which he called in derision that little
cake. The boy was horrified at these proposals, and made the sign of
the cross on his heart; and at the same time he felt himself thrown
roughly down on the ground, where he remained for half an hour, half
dead. Having got up again, he returned home to his mother, did
penance, and changed his conduct. The pieces of money which looked
like gold and newly coined, having been put in the fire, were found to
be only of copper.

I relate this instance to show that the demon seeks only to deceive
and corrupt even those to whom he makes the most specious promises,
and to whom he seems to give great riches.

Some years ago, two monks, both of them well informed and prudent men,
consulted me upon a circumstance which occurred at Orbé, a village of
Alsatia, near the Abbey of Pairis. Two men of that place told them
that they had seen come out of the ground a small box or casket, which
they supposed was full of money, and having a wish to lay hold of it,
it had retreated from them and hidden itself again under ground. This
happened to them more than once.

Theophanes, a celebrated and grave Greek historiographer, under the
year of our era 408, relates that Cabades, King of Persia, being
informed that between the Indian country and Persia there was a castle
called Zubdadeyer, which contained a great quantity of gold, silver,
and precious stones, resolved to make himself master of it; but these
treasures were guarded by demons, who would not permit any one to
approach it. He employed some of the magi and some Jews who were with
him to conjure and exorcise them; but their efforts were useless. The
king bethought himself of the God of the Christians--prayed to him,
and sent for the bishop who was at the head of the Christian church in
Persia, and begged of him to use his efforts to obtain for him these
treasures, and to expel the demons by whom they were guarded. The
prelate offered the holy sacrifice, participated in it, and going to
the spot, drove away the demons who were guardians of these riches,
and put the king in peaceable possession of the castle.

Relating this story to a man of some rank,[298] he told me, that in
the Isle of Malta, two knights having hired a slave, who boasted that
he possessed the secret of evoking demons, and forcing them to
discover the most hidden secrets, they led him into an old castle,
where it was thought that treasures were concealed. The slave
performed his evocations, and at last the demon opened a rock whence
issued a coffer. The slave would have taken hold of it, but the coffer
went back into the rock. This occurred more than once; and the slave,
after vain efforts, came and told the knights what had happened to
him; but he was so much exhausted that he had need of some
restorative; they gave him refreshment, and when he had returned they
after a while heard a noise. They went into the cave with a light, to
see what had happened, and they found the slave lying dead, and all
his flesh full of cuts as of a penknife, in form of a cross; he was so
covered with them that there was not room to place a finger where he
was not thus marked. The knights carried him to the shore, and threw
him into the sea with a great stone hung round his neck. We could name
these persons and note the dates, were it necessary.

The same person related to us, at that same time, that about ninety
years before, an old woman of Malta was warned by a genius that there
was a great deal of treasure in her cellar, belonging to a knight of
high consideration, and desired her to give him information of it; she
went to his abode, but could not obtain an audience. The following
night the same genius returned, and gave her the same command; and as
she refused to obey, he abused her, and again sent her on the same
errand. The next day she returned to seek this lord, and told the
domestics that she would not go away until she had spoken to the
master. She related what had happened to her; and the knight resolved
to go to her dwelling, accompanied by people with the proper
instruments for digging; they dug, and very shortly there sprung up
such a quantity of water from the spot where they inserted their
pickaxes that they were obliged to give up the undertaking.

The knight confessed to the Inquisitor what he had done, and received
absolution for it; but he was obliged to inscribe the fact we have
recounted in the Registers of the Inquisition.

About sixty years after, the canons of the Cathedral of Malta, wishing
for a wider space before their church, bought some houses which it was
necessary to pull down, and amongst others that which had belonged to
that old woman. As they were digging there, they found the treasure,
consisting of a good many gold pieces of the value of a ducat, bearing
the effigy of the Emperor Justinian the First. The Grand Master of the
Order of Malta affirmed that the treasure belonged to him as sovereign
of the isle; the canons contested the point. The affair was carried to
Rome; the grand master gained his suit, and the gold was brought to
him, amounting in value to about sixty thousand ducats; but he gave
them up to the cathedral.

Some time afterwards, the knight of whom we have spoken, who was then
very aged, remembered what had happened to himself, and asserted that
the treasure ought to belong to him; he made them lead him to the
spot, recognized the cellar where he had formerly been, and pointed
out in the Register of the Inquisition what had been written therein
sixty years before. They did not permit him to recover the treasure;
but it was a proof that the demon knew of and kept watch over this
money. The person who told me this story has in his possession three
or four of these gold pieces, having bought them of the canons.


[292] Matt. iv. 8.

[293] Job iii. 13, 14, 22.

[294] Joseph. Ant. lib. xiii.

[295] Martian. lib. iv.

[296] Le Loyer, liv. ii. p. 495.

[297] Remy, Demonol. c. iv. Ann. 1605.

[298] M. le Chevalier Guiot de Marre.



We read in a new work that a man, Honoré Mirable, having found in a
garden near Marseilles a treasure consisting of several Portuguese
pieces of gold, from the indication given him by a spectre, which
appeared to him at eleven o'clock at night, near the _Bastide_, or
country house called _du Paret_, he made the discovery of it in
presence of the woman who farmed the land of this _Bastide_, and the
farm-servant named Bernard. When he first perceived the treasure
buried in the earth, and wrapt up in a bundle of old linen, he was
afraid to touch it, for fear it should be poisoned and cause his
death. He raised it by means of a hook made of a branch of the almond
tree, and carried it into his room, where he undid it without any
witness, and found in it a great deal of gold; to satisfy the wishes
of the spirit who had appeared to him, he caused some masses to be
said for him. He revealed his good fortune to a countryman of his,
named Anquier, who lent him forty livres, and gave him a note by which
he acknowledged he owed him twenty thousand livres and receipted the
payment of the forty livres lent; this note bore date the 27th
September, 1726.

Some time after, Mirable asked Anquier to pay the note. Anquier denied
everything. A great lawsuit ensued; informations were taken and
perquisitions held in Anquier's house; sentence was given on the 10th
of September, 1727, importing that Anquier should be arrested, and
have the question applied to him. An appeal was made to the Parliament
of Aix. Anquier's note was declared a forgery. Bernard, who was said
to have been present at the discovery of the treasure, was not cited
at all; the other witnesses only deposed from hearsay; Magdalen
Caillot alone, who was present, acknowledged having seen the packet
wrapped round with linen, and had heard a ringing as of pieces of gold
or silver, and had seen one of them, a piece about as large as a piece
of two liards.

The Parliament of Aix issued its decree the 17th of February, 1728, by
which it ordained that Bernard, farming servant at the _Bastide du
Paret_, should be heard; he was heard on different days, and deposed
that he had seen neither treasure, nor rags, nor gold pieces. Then
came another decree of the 2d of June, 1728, which ordered that the
attorney-general should proceed by way of ecclesiastical censures on
the facts resulting from these proceedings.

The indictment was published, fifty-three witnesses were heard;
another sentence of the 18th of February, 1729, discharged Anquier
from the courts and the lawsuit; condemned Mirable to the galleys to
perpetuity after having previously undergone the question; and Caillot
was to pay a fine of ten francs. Such was the end of this grand
lawsuit. If we examine narrowly these stories of spectres who watch
over treasures, we shall doubtless find, as here, a great deal of
superstition, deception, and fancy.

Delrio relates some instances of people who have been put to death, or
who have perished miserably as they searched for hidden treasures. In
all this we may perceive the spirit of lying and seduction on the part
of the demon, bounds set to his power, and his malice arrested by the
will of God; the impiety of man, his avarice, his idle curiosity, the
confidence which he places in the angel of darkness, by the loss of
his wealth, his life, and his soul.

John Wierus, in his work entitled "_De Præstigiis Dæmonum_," printed
at Basle in 1577, relates that in his time, 1430, the demon revealed
to a certain priest at Nuremberg some treasures hidden in a cavern
near the town, and enclosed in a crystal vase. The priest took one of
his friends with him as a companion; they began to dig up the ground
in the spot designated, and they discovered in a subterranean cavern a
kind of chest, near which a black dog was lying; the priest eagerly
advanced to seize the treasure, but hardly had he entered the cavern,
than it fell in, crushed the priest, and was filled up with earth as

The following is extracted from a letter, written from Kirchheim,
January 1st, 1747, to M. Schopfflein, Professor of History and
Eloquence at Strasburg. "It is now more than a year ago that M.
Cavallari, first musician of my serene master, and by birth a
Venetian, desired to have the ground dug up at Rothenkirchen, a league
from hence, and which was formerly a renowned abbey, and was destroyed
in the time of the Reformation. The opportunity was afforded him by an
apparition, which showed itself more than once at noonday to the wife
of the Censier of Rothenkirchen, and above all, on the 7th of May for
two succeeding years. She swears, and can make oath, that she has seen
a venerable priest in pontifical garments embroidered with gold, who
threw before her a great heap of stones; and although she is a
Lutheran, and consequently not very credulous in things of that kind,
she thinks nevertheless that if she had had the presence of mind to
put down a handkerchief or an apron, all the stones would have become

"M. Cavallari then asked leave to dig there, which was the more
readily granted, because the tithe or tenth part of the treasure is
due to the sovereign. He was treated as a visionary, and the matter of
treasure was regarded as an unheard-of thing. In the mean time, he
laughed at the anticipated ridicule, and asked me if I would go halves
with him. I did not hesitate a moment to accept this offer; but I was
much surprised to find there were some little earthen pots full of
gold pieces, all these pieces finer than the ducats of the fourteenth
and fifteenth century generally are. I have had for my share 666,
found at three different times. There are some of the Archbishops of
Mayence, Treves, and Cologne, of the towns of Oppenheim, Baccarat,
Bingen, and Coblentz; there are some also of the Palatine Rupert, of
Frederic, Burgrave of Nuremberg, some few of Wenceslaus, and one of
the Emperor Charles IV., &c."

This shows that not only the demons, but also the saints, are
sometimes guardians of treasure; unless you will say that the devil
had taken the shape of the prelate. But what could it avail the demon
to give the treasure to these gentlemen, who did not ask him for it,
and scarcely troubled themselves about him? I have seen two of these
pieces in the hands of M. Schopfflein.

The story we have just related is repeated, with a little difference,
in a printed paper, announcing a lottery of pieces found at
Rothenkirchen, in the province of Nassau, not far from Donnersberg.
They say in this, that the value of these pieces is twelve livres ten
sols, French money. The lottery was to be publicly drawn the first of
February, 1750. Every ticket cost six livres of French money. I repeat
these details only to prove the truth of the circumstance.

We may add to the preceding what is related by Bartholinus in his book
on the cause of the contempt of death shown by the ancient Danes,
(lib. ii. c. 2.) He relates that the riches concealed in the tombs of
the great men of that country were guarded by the shades of those to
whom they belonged, and that these shades or these demons spread
terror in the souls of those who wished to take away those treasures,
either by pouring forth a deluge of water, or by flames which they
caused to appear around the monuments which enclosed those bodies and
those treasures.



Both in ancient and modern writers, we find an infinite number of
stories of spectres. We have not the least doubt that their
apparitions are the work of the demon, if they are real. Now, it
cannot be denied that there is a great deal of illusion and falsehood
in all that is related by them. We shall distinguish two sorts of
spectres: those which appear to mankind to hurt or deceive them, or to
announce things to come, fortunate or unfortunate as circumstances may
occur; the other spectres infest certain houses, of which they have
made themselves masters, and where they are seen and heard. We shall
treat of the latter in another chapter; and show that the greater
number of these spectres and apparitions may be suspected of

Pliny the younger, writing to his friend Sura on the subject of
apparitions, testifies that he is much inclined to believe them true;
and the reason he gives, is what happened to Quintus Curtius Rufus,
who, having gone into Africa in the train of the quæstor or treasurer
for the Romans, walking one day towards evening under a portico, saw a
woman of uncommon height and beauty, who told him that she was Africa,
and assured him that he would one day return into that same country as
proconsul. This promise inspired him with high hopes; and by his
intrigues, and help of friends, whom he had bribed, he obtained the
quæstorship, and afterwards was prætor, through the favor of the
Emperor Tiberius.

This dignity having veiled the obscurity and baseness of his birth, he
was sent proconsul to Africa, where he died, after having obtained the
honors of the triumph. It is said that, on his return to Africa, the
same person who had predicted his future grandeur appeared to him
again at the moment of his landing at Carthage.

These predictions, so precise, and so exactly followed up, made Pliny
the younger believe that predictions of this kind are never made in
vain. The story of Curtius Rufus was written by Tacitus, long enough
before Pliny's time, and he might have taken it from Tacitus.

After the fatal death of Caligula, who was massacred in his palace, he
was buried half burnt in his own gardens. The princesses, his sisters,
on their return from exile, had his remains burnt with ceremony, and
honorably inhumed; but it was averred that before this was done, those
who had to watch over the gardens and the palace had every night been
disturbed by phantoms and frightful noises.

The following instance is so extraordinary that I should not repeat it
if the account were not attested by more than one writer, and also
preserved in the public monuments of a considerable town of Upper
Saxony: this town is Hamelin, in the principality of Kalenberg, at the
confluence of the rivers Hamel and Weser.

In the year 1384, this town was infested by such a prodigious
multitude of rats that they ravaged all the corn which was laid up in
the granaries; everything was employed that art and experience could
invent to chase them away, and whatever is usually employed against
this kind of animals. At that time there came to the town an unknown
person, of taller stature than ordinary, dressed in a robe of divers
colors, who engaged to deliver them from that scourge for a certain
recompense, which was agreed upon.

Then he drew from his sleeve a flute, at the sound of which all the
rats came out of their holes and followed him; he led them straight to
the river, into which they ran and were drowned. On his return he
asked for the promised reward, which was refused him, apparently on
account of the facility with which he had exterminated the rats. The
next day, which was a fête day, he chose the moment when the elder
inhabitants of the burgh were at church, and by means of another flute
which he began to play, all the boys in the town above the age of
fourteen, to the number of a hundred and thirty, assembled around him:
he led them to the neighboring mountain, named Kopfelberg, under which
is a sewer for the town, and where criminals are executed; these boys
disappeared and were never seen afterwards.

A young girl, who had followed at a distance, was witness of the
matter, and brought the news of it to the town.

They still show a hollow in this mountain, where they say that he made
the boys go in. At the corner of this opening is an inscription, which
is so old that it cannot now be deciphered; but the story is
represented on the panes of the church windows; and it is said, that
in the public deeds of this town it is still the custom to put the
dates in this manner--_Done in the year ----, after the disappearance
of our children._[299]

If this recital is not wholly fabulous, as it seems to be, we can only
regard this man as a spectre and an evil genius, who, by God's
permission, punished the bad faith of the burghers in the persons of
their children, although innocent of their parents' fault. It might
be, that a man could have some natural secret to draw the rats
together and precipitate them into the river; but only diabolical
malice would cause so many innocent children to perish, out of revenge
on their fathers.

Julius Cæsar[300] having entered Italy, and wishing to pass the
Rubicon, perceived a man of more than ordinary stature, who began to
whistle. Several soldiers having run to listen to him, this spectre
seized the trumpet of one of them, and began to sound the alarm, and
to pass the river. Cæsar at that moment, without further deliberation,
said, "Let us go where the presages of the gods and the injustice of
our enemies call upon us to advance."

The Emperor Trajan[301] was extricated from the town of Antioch by a
phantom, which made him go out at a widow, in the midst of that
terrible earthquake which overthrew almost all the town. The
philosopher Simonides[302] was warned by a spectre that his house was
about to fall; he went out of it directly, and soon after it fell

The Emperor Julian, the apostate, told his friends that at the time
when his troops were pressing him to accept the empire, being at
Paris, he saw during the night a spectre in the form of a woman, as
the genius of an empire is depicted, who presented herself to remain
with him; but she gave him notice that it would be only for a short
time. The same emperor related, moreover, that writing in his tent a
little before his death, his familiar genius appeared to him, leaving
the tent with a sad and afflicted air. Shortly before the death of the
Emperor Constans, the same Julian had a vision in the night, of a
luminous phantom, who pronounced and repeated to him, more than once,
four Greek verses, importing that when Jupiter should be in the sign
of the water-pot, or Aquarius, and Saturn in the 25th degree of the
Virgin, Constans would end his life in Asia in a shocking manner.

The same Emperor Julian takes Jupiter[303] to witness that he has
often seen Esculapius, who cured him of his sicknesses.


[299] See Vagenseil _Opera liborum Juvenil._ tom. ii. p. 295, the
Geography of Hubner, and the Geographical Dictionary of la Martinière,
under the name Hamelen.

[300] Sueton. in Jul. Cæsar.

[301] Dio. Cassius. lib. lxviii.

[302] Diogen. Laert. in Simon. Valer. Maxim. lib. xxiii.

[303] Julian, apud Cyrill. Alex.



Plutarch, whose gravity and wisdom are well known, often speaks of
spectres and apparitions. He says, for instance, that at the famous
battle of Marathon against the Persians, several soldiers saw the
phantom of Thesus, who fought for the Greeks against the enemy.

The same Plutarch, in the life of Sylla, says that that general saw in
his sleep the goddess whom the Romans worshiped according to the rites
of the Cappadocians (who were fire-worshipers), whether it might be
Bellona or Minerva, or the moon. This divinity presented herself
before Sylla, and put into his hand a kind of thunderbolt, telling him
to launch it against his enemies, whom she named to him one after the
other; at the same time that he struck them, he saw them fall and
expire at his feet. There is reason to believe that this same goddess
was Minerva, to whom, as to Jupiter Paganism attributes the right to
hurl the thunderbolt; or rather that it was a demon.

Pausanias, general of the Lacedemonians,[304] having inadvertently
killed Cleonice, a daughter of one of the first families of Byzantium,
was tormented night and day by the ghost of that maiden, who left him
no repose, repeating to him angrily a heroic verse, the sense of which
was, _Go before the tribunal of justice, which punishes crime and
awaits thee. Insolence is in the end fatal to mortals_.

Pausanias, always disturbed by this image, which followed him
everywhere, retired to Heraclea in Elis, where there was a temple
served by priests who were magicians, called _Psychagogues_, that is
to say, who profess to evoke the souls of the dead. There Pausanias,
after having offered the customary libations and funeral effusions,
called upon the spirit of Cleonice, and conjured her to renounce her
anger against him. Cleonice at last appeared, and told him that very
soon, when he should be arrived at Sparta, he would be freed from his
woes, wishing apparently by these mysterious words to indicate that
death which awaited him there.

We see there the custom of evocations of the dead distinctly pointed
out, and solemnly practiced in a temple consecrated to these
ceremonies; that demonstrates at least the belief and custom of the
Greeks. And if Cleonice really appeared to Pausanias and announced his
approaching death, can we deny that the evil spirit, or the spirit of
Cleonice, is the author of this prediction, unless indeed it were a
trick of the priests, which is likely enough, and as the ambiguous
reply given to Pausanias seems to insinuate.

Pausanias the historian[305] writes that, 400 years after the battle
of Marathon, every night a noise was heard there of the neighing of
horses, and cries like those of soldiers exciting themselves to
combat. Plutarch speaks also of spectres which were seen, and
frightful howlings that were heard in some public baths, where they
had put to death several citizens of Chæronea, his native place; they
had even been obliged to shut up these baths, which did not prevent
those who lived near from continuing to hear great noises, and seeing
from time to time spectres.

Dion the philosopher, the disciple of Plato, and general of the
Syracusans, being one day seated, towards the evening, very full of
thought, in the portico of his house, heard a great noise, then
perceived a terrible spectre of a woman of monstrous height, who
resembled one of the furies, as they are depicted in tragedies; there
was still daylight, and she began to sweep the house. Dion, quite
alarmed, sent to beg his friends to come and see him, and stay with
him all night; but this woman appeared no more. A short time
afterwards, his son threw himself down from the top of the house, and
he himself was assassinated by conspirators.

Marcus Brutus, one of the murderers of Julius Cæsar, being in his tent
during a night which was not very dark, towards the third hour of the
night, beheld a monstrous and terrific figure enter. "Who art thou? a
man or a God? and why comest thou here?" The spectre answered, "I am
thine evil genius. Thou shalt see me at Philippi!" Brutus replied
undauntedly, "I will meet thee there." And on going out, he went and
related the circumstance to Cassius, who being of the sect of
Epicurus, and a disbeliever in that kind of apparition, told him that
it was mere imagination; that there were no genii or other kind of
spirits which could appear unto men, and that even did they appear,
they would have neither the human form nor the human voice, and could
do nothing to harm us. Although Brutus was a little reassured by this
reasoning, still it did not remove all his uneasiness.

But the same Cassius, in the campaign of Philippi, and in the midst of
the combat, saw Julius Cæsar, whom he had assassinated, who came up to
him at full gallop: which frightened him so much that at last he threw
himself upon his own sword. Cassius of Parma, a different person from
him of whom we have spoken above, saw an evil genius, who came into
his tent, and declared to him his approaching death.

Drusus, when making war on the Germans (Allemani) during the time of
Augustus, desiring to cross the Elbe, in order to penetrate farther
into the country, was prevented from so doing by a woman of taller
stature than common, who appeared to him and said, "Drusus, whither
wilt thou go? wilt thou never be satisfied? Thy end is near--go back
from hence." He retraced his steps, and died before he reached the
Rhine, which he desired to recross.

St. Gregory of Nicea, in the Life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, says
that, during a great plague which ravaged the city of Neocesarea,
spectres were seen in open day, who entered houses, into which they
carried certain death.

After the famous sedition which happened at Antioch, in the time of
the Emperor Theodosius, they beheld a kind of fury running about the
town, with a whip, which she lashed about like a coachman who hastens
on his horses.

St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, being at Trèves, entered a house, where
he found a spectre which frightened him at first. Martin commanded him
to leave the body which he possessed: instead of going out (of the
place), he entered the body of another man who was in the same
dwelling; and throwing himself upon those who were there, began to
attack and bite them. Martin threw himself across his way, put his
fingers in his mouth, and defied him to bite him. The demoniac
retreated, as if a bar of red-hot iron had been placed in his mouth,
and at last the demon went out of the body of the possessed, not by
the mouth but behind.

John, Bishop of Atria, who lived in the sixth century, in speaking of
the great plague which happened under the Emperor Justinian, and which
is mentioned by almost all the historians of that time, says that they
saw boats of brass, containing black men without heads, which sailed
upon the sea, and went towards the places where the plague was
beginning its ravages; that this infection having depopulated a town
of Egypt, so that there remained only seven men and a boy ten years of
age, these persons, wishing to get away from the town with a great
deal of money, fell down dead suddenly.

The boy fled without carrying anything with him, but at the gate of
the town he was stopped by a spectre, who dragged him, in spite of his
resistance, into the house where the seven dead men were. Some time
after, the steward of a rich man having entered therein, to take away
some furniture belonging to his master, who had gone to reside in the
country, was warned by the same boy to go away--but he died suddenly.
The servants who had accompanied the steward ran away, and carried the
news of all this to their master.

The same Bishop John relates that he was at Constantinople during a
very great plague, which carried off ten, twelve, fifteen, and sixteen
thousand persons a-day, so that they reckon that two hundred thousand
persons died of this malady--he says, that during this time demons
were seen running from house to house, wearing the habits of
ecclesiastics or monks, and who caused the death of those whom they
met therein.

The death of Carlostadt was accompanied by frightful circumstances,
according to the ministers of Basle, his colleagues, who bore witness
to it at the time. They[306] relate, that at the last sermon which
Carlostadt preached in the temple of Basle, a tall black man came and
seated himself near the consul. The preacher perceived him, and
appeared disconcerted at it. When he left the pulpit, he asked who
that stranger was who had taken his seat next to the chief magistrate;
no one had seen him but himself. When he went home, he heard more news
of the spectre. The black man had been there, and had caught up by the
hair the youngest and most tenderly loved of his children. After he
had thus raised the child from the ground, he appeared disposed to
throw him down so as to break his head; but he contented himself with
ordering the boy to warn his father that in three days he should
return, and he must hold himself in readiness. The child having
repeated to his father what had been said to him, Carlostadt was
terrified. He went to bed in alarm, and in three days he expired.
These apparitions of the demon's, by Luther's own avowal, were pretty
frequent, in the case of the first reformers.

These instances of the apparitions of spectres might be multiplied to
infinity; but if we undertook to criticise them, there is hardly one
of them very certain, or proof against a serious and profound
examination. Here follows one, which I relate on purpose because it
has some singular features, and its falsehood has at last been


[304] Plutarch in Cimone.

[305] Pausanias, lib. i. c. 324.

[306] Moshovius, p. 22.

[307] See the following chapter.



Business[308] having led the Count d'Alais[309] to Marseilles, a most
extraordinary adventure happened to him there: he desired Neuré to
write to our philosopher (Gassendi) to know what he thought of it;
which he did in these words: the count and countess being come to
Marseilles, saw, as they were lying in bed, a luminous spectre; they
were both wide awake. In order to be sure that it was not some
illusion, they called their valets de chambre; but no sooner had
these appeared with their flambeaux, than the spectre disappeared.
They had all the openings and cracks which they found in the chamber
stopped up, and then went to bed again; but hardly had the valets de
chambre retired than it appeared again.

Its light was less shining than that of the sun; but it was brighter
than that of the moon. Sometimes this spectre was of an angular form,
sometimes a circle, and sometimes an oval. It was easy to read a
letter by the light it gave; it often changed its place, and sometimes
appeared on the count's bed. It had, as it were, a kind of little
bucklers, above which were characters imprinted. Nevertheless, nothing
could be more agreeable to the sight; so that instead of alarming, it
gave pleasure. It appeared every night whilst the count stayed at
Marseilles. This prince, having once cast his hands upon it, to see if
it was not something attached to the bed curtain, the spectre
disappeared that night, and reappeared the next.

Gassendi being consulted upon this circumstance, replied on the 13th
of the same month. He says, in the first place, that he knows not what
to think of this vision. He does not deny that this spectre might be
sent from God to tell them something. What renders this idea probable
is the great piety of them both, and that this spectre had nothing
frightful in it, but quite the contrary. What deserves our attention
still more is this, that if God had sent it, he would have made known
why he sent it. God does not jest; and since it cannot be understood
what is to be hoped or feared, followed up or avoided, it is clear
that this spectre cannot come from him; otherwise his conduct would be
less praiseworthy than that of a father, or a prince, or a worthy, or
even a prudent man, who, being informed of somewhat which greatly
concerned those in subjection to them, would not content themselves
with warning them enigmatically.

If this spectre is anything natural, nothing is more difficult than to
discover it, or even to find any conjecture which may explain it.
Although I am well persuaded of my ignorance, I will venture to give
my idea. Might it not be advanced that this light has appeared because
the eye of the count was internally affected, or because it was so
externally? The eye may be so internally in two ways. First, if the
eye was affected in the same manner as that of the Emperor Tiberius
always was when he awoke in the night and opened his eyes; a light
proceeded from them, by means of which he could discern objects in the
dark by looking fixedly at them. I have known the same thing happen to
a lady of rank. Secondly, if his eyes were disposed in a certain
manner, as it happens to myself when I awake: if I open my eyes, they
perceive rays of light though there has been none. No one can deny
that some flash may dart from our eyes which represents objects to
us--which objects are reflected in our eyes, and leave their traces
there. It is known that animals which prowl by night have a piercing
sight, to enable them to discern their prey and carry it off; that the
animal spirit which is in the eye, and which may be shed from it, is
of the nature of fire, and consequently lucid. It may happen that the
eyes being closed during sleep, this spirit heated by the eyelids
becomes inflamed, and sets some faculty in motion, as the imagination.
For, does it not happen that wood of different kinds, and fish bones,
produce some light when their heat is excited by putrefaction? Why
then may not the heat excited in this confined spirit produce some
light? He proves afterwards that imagination alone may do it.

The Count d'Alais having returned to Marseilles, and being lodged in
the same apartment, the same spectre appeared to him again. Neuré
wrote to Gassendi that they had observed that this spectre penetrated
into the chamber by the wainscot; which obliged Gassendi to write to
the count to examine the thing more attentively; and notwithstanding
this discovery, he dare not yet decide upon it. He contents himself
with encouraging the count, and telling him that if this apparition is
from God, he will not allow him to remain long in expectation, and
will soon make known his will to him; and also, if this vision does
not come from him, he will not permit it to continue, and will soon
discover that it proceeds from a natural cause. Nothing more is said
of this spectre any where.

Three years afterwards, the Countess d'Alais avowed ingenuously to the
count that she herself had caused this farce to be played by one of
her women, because she did not like to reside at Marseilles; that her
woman was under the bed, and that she from time to time caused a
phosphoric light to appear. The Count d'Alais related this himself to
M. Puger of Lyons, who told it, about thirty-five years ago, to M.
Falconet, a medical doctor of the Royal Academy of Belle-Lettres, from
whom I learnt it. Gassendi, when consulted seriously by the count,
answered like a man who had no doubt of the truth of this apparition;
so true it is that the greater number of these extraordinary facts
require to be very carefully examined before any opinion can be passed
upon them.


[308] Vie de Gassendi, tom. i. p. 258.

[309] Alais is a town in Lower Languedoc, the lords of which bear the
title of prince, since this town has passed into the House of
Angoulême and De Conty.



There are several kinds of spectres or ghosts which haunt certain
houses, make noises, appear there, and disturb those who live in them:
some are sprites, or elves, which divert themselves by troubling the
quiet of those who dwell there; others are spectres or ghosts of the
dead, who molest the living until they have received sepulture: some
of them, as it is said, make the place their purgatory; others show
themselves or make themselves heard, because they have been put to
death in that place, and ask that their death may be avenged, or that
their bodies may be buried. So many stories are related concerning
those things that now they are not cared for, and nobody will believe
any of them. In fact, when these pretended apparitions are thoroughly
examined into, it is easy to discover their falsehood and illusion.

Now, it is a tenant who wishes to decry the house in which he resides,
to hinder others from coming who would like to take his place; then a
band of coiners have taken possession of a dwelling, whose interest it
is to keep their secret from being found out; or a farmer who desires
to retain his farm, and wishes to prevent others from coming to offer
more for it; in this place it will be cats or owls, or even rats,
which by making a noise frighten the master and domestics, as it
happened some years ago at Mosheim, where large rats amused themselves
in the night by moving and setting in motion the machines with which
the women bruise hemp and flax. An honest man who related it to me,
desiring to behold the thing nearer, mounted up to the garret armed
with two pistols, with his servant armed in the same manner. After a
moment of silence, they saw the rats begin their game; they let fire
upon them, killed two, and dispersed the rest. The circumstance was
reported in the country and served as an excellent joke.

I am about to relate some of these spectral apparitions upon which the
reader will pronounce judgment for himself. Pliny[310] the younger
says that there was a very handsome mansion at Athens which was
forsaken on account of a spectre which haunted it. The philosopher
Athenodorus, having arrived in the city, and seeing a board which
informed the public that this house was to be sold at a very low
price, bought it and went to sleep there with his people. As he was
busy reading and writing during the night, he heard on a sudden a
great noise, as if of chains being dragged along, and perceived at the
same time something like a frightful old man loaded with iron chains,
who drew near to him. Athenodorus continuing to write, the spectre
made him a sign to follow him; the philosopher in his turn made signs
to him to wait, and continued to write; at last he took his light and
followed the spectre, who conducted him into the court of the house,
then sank into the ground and disappeared.

Athenodorus, without being frightened, tore up some of the grass to
mark the spot, and on leaving it, went to rest in his room. The next
day he informed the magistrates of what had happened; they came to the
house and searched the spot he designated, and there found the bones
of a human body loaded with chains. They caused him to be properly
buried, and the dwelling house remained quiet.

Lucian[311] relates a very similar story. There was, says he, a house
at Corinth which had belonged to one Eubatides, in the quarter named
Cranaüs: a man named Arignotes undertook to pass the night there,
without troubling himself about a spectre which was said to haunt it.
He furnished himself with certain magic books of the Egyptians to
conjure the spectre. Having gone into the house at night with a light,
he began to read quietly in the court. The spectre appeared in a
little while, taking sometimes the shape of a dog, then that of a
bull, and then that of a lion. Arignotes very composedly began to
pronounce certain magical invocations, which he read in his books, and
by their power forced the spectre into a corner of the court, where he
sank into the earth and disappeared.

The next day Arignotes sent for Eubatides, the master of the house,
and having had the ground dug up where the phantom had disappeared,
they found a skeleton, which they had properly interred, and from that
time nothing more was seen or heard.

It is Lucian, that is to say, the man in the world the least credulous
concerning things of this kind, who makes Arignotes relate this event.
In the same passage he says that Democritus, who believed in neither
angels, nor demons, nor spirits, having shut himself up in a tomb
without the city of Athens, where he was writing and studying, a party
of young men, who wanted to frighten him, covered themselves with
black garments, as the dead are represented, and having taken hideous
disguises, came in the night, shrieking and jumping around the place
where he was; he let them do what they liked, and without at all
disturbing himself, coolly told them to have done with their jesting.

I know not if the historian who wrote the life of St. Germain
l'Auxerrois[312] had in his eye the stories we have just related, and
if he did not wish to ornament the life of the saint by a recital very
much like them. The saint traveling one day through his diocese, was
obliged to pass the night with his clerks in a house forsaken long
before on account of the spirits which haunted it. The clerk who read
to him during the night saw on a sudden a spectre, which alarmed him
at first; but having awakened the holy bishop, the latter commanded
the spectre in the name of Jesus Christ to declare to him who he was,
and what he wanted. The phantom told him that he and his companion had
been guilty of several crimes; that having died and been interred in
that house, they disturbed those who lodged there until the burial
rites should have been accorded them. St. Germain commanded him to
point out where their bodies were buried, and the spectre led him
thither. The next day he assembled the people in the neighborhood;
they sought amongst the ruins of the building where the brambles had
been disturbed, and they found the bones of two men thrown in a heap
together, and also loaded with chains; they were buried, prayers were
said for them, and they returned no more.

If these men were wretches dead in crime and impenitence, all this can
be attributed only to the artifice of the devil, to show the living
that the reprobate take pains to procure rest for their bodies by
getting them interred, and to their souls by getting them prayed for.
But if these two men were Christians who had expiated their crimes by
repentance, and who died in communion with the church, God might
permit them to appear, to ask for clerical sepulture and those prayers
which the church is accustomed to say for the repose of defunct
persons who die while yet some slight fault remains to be expiated.

Here is a fact of the same kind as those which precede, but which is
attended by circumstances which may render it more credible. It is
related by Antonio Torquemada, in his work entitled _Flores Curiosas_,
printed at Salamanca in 1570. He says that a little before his own
time, a young man named Vasquez de Ayola, being gone to Bologna with
two of his companions to study the law there, and not having found
such a lodging in the town as they wished to have, lodged themselves
in a large and handsome house, which was abandoned by everybody,
because it was haunted by a spectre which frightened away all those
who wished to live in it; they laughed at such discourse, and took up
their abode there.

At the end of a month, as Ayola was sitting up alone in his chamber,
and his companions sleeping quietly in their beds, he heard at a
distance a noise as of several chains dragged along upon the ground,
and the noise advanced towards him by the great staircase; he
recommended himself to God, made the sign of the cross, took a shield
and sword, and having his taper in his hand, he saw the door opened by
a terrific spectre that was nothing but bones, but loaded with chains.
Ayola conjured him, and asked him what he wished for; the phantom
signed to him to follow, and he did so; but as he went down the
stairs, his light blew out; he went back to light it, and then
followed the spirit, which led him along a court where there was a
well. Ayola feared that he might throw him into it, and stopped short.
The spectre beckoned to him to continue to follow him; they entered
the garden, where the phantom disappeared. Ayola tore up some handfuls
of grass upon the spot, and returning to the house, related to his
companions what had happened. In the morning he gave notice of this
circumstance to the Principals of Bologna.

They came to reconnoitre the spot, and had it dug up; they found there
a fleshless body, but loaded with chains. They inquired who it could
be, but nothing certain could be discovered, and the bones were
interred with suitable obsequies, and from that time the house was
never disquieted by such visits. Torquemada asserts that in his time
there were still living at Bologna and in Spain some who had been
witnesses of the fact; and that on his return to his own country,
Ayola was invested with a high office, and that his son, before this
narration was written, was President in a good city of the kingdom (of

Plautus, still more ancient than either Lucian or Pliny, composed a
comedy entitled "Mostellaria," or "Monstellaria," a name derived from
"Monstrum," or "Monstellum," from a monster, a spectre, which was said
to appear in a certain house, and which on that account had been
deserted. We agree that the foundation of this comedy is only a fable,
but we may deduce from it the antiquity of this idea among the Greeks
and Romans.

The poet[313] makes this pretended spirit say that, having been
assassinated about sixty years before by a perfidious comrade who had
taken his money, he had been secretly interred in that house; that the
god of Hades would not receive him on the other side of Acheron, as he
had died prematurely; for which reason he was obliged to remain in
that house of which he had taken possession.

  "Hæc mihi dedita habitatio;
  Nam me Acherontem recipere noluit,
  Quia præmaturè vitâ careo."

The pagans, who had the simplicity to believe that the Lamiæ and evil
spirits disquieted those who dwelt in certain houses and certain
rooms, and who slept in certain beds, conjured them by magic verses,
and pretended to drive them away by fumigations composed of sulphur
and other stinking drugs, and certain herbs mixed with sea water.
Ovid, speaking of Medea, that celebrated magician, says[314]--

  "Terque senem flammâ, ter aquâ, ter sulphure lustrat."

And elsewhere he adds eggs:--

  "Adveniat quæ lustret anus lectumque locumque,
  Deferat et tremulâ sulphur et ova manu."

In addition to this they adduce the instance of the archangel
Raphael,[315] who drove away the devil Asmodeus from the chamber of
Sarah by the smell of the liver of a fish which he burnt upon the
fire. But the instance of Raphael ought not to be placed along with
the superstitious ceremonies of magicians, which were laughed at by
the pagans themselves; if they had any power, it could only be by the
operation of the demon with the permission of God; whilst what is told
of the archangel Raphael is certainly the work of a good spirit, sent
by God to cure Sarah the daughter of Raguel, who was as much
distinguished by her piety as the magicians are degraded by their
malice and superstition.


[310] Plin. junior, Epist. ad Suram. lib. vii. cap. 27.

[311] In Philo pseud. p. 840.

[312] Bolland, 31 Jul. p. 211.

[313] Plaut. Mostell. act. ii. v. 67.

[314] Vide Joan. Vier. de Curat. Malific. c. 215.

[315] Tob. viii.



Father Pierre Thyree,[316] a Jesuit, relates an infinite number of
anecdotes of houses haunted by ghosts, spirits, and demons; for
instance, that of a tribune, named Hesperius, whose house was infested
by a demon who tormented the domestics and animals, and who was driven
away, says St. Augustin,[317] by a good priest of Hippo, who offered
therein the divine sacrifice of the body of our Lord.

St. Germain,[318] Bishop of Capua, taking a bath in one particular
quarter of the town, found there Paschaus, a deacon of the Roman
Church, who had been dead some time, and who began to wait upon him,
telling him that he underwent his purgatory in that place for having
favored the party of Laurentius the anti-pope, against Pope Symachus.

St. Gregory of Nicea, in the life of St. Gregory of Neocæsarea, says
that a deacon of this holy bishop, having gone into a bath where no
one dared go after a certain hour in the evening, because all those
who had entered there had been put to death, beheld spectres of all
kinds, which threatened him in a thousand ways, but he got rid of them
by crossing himself and invoking the name of Jesus.

Alexander ab Alexandro,[319] a learned Neapolitan lawyer of the
fifteenth century, says that all the world knows that there are a
number of houses at Rome so much out of repute on account of the
ghosts which appear in them every night that nobody dares to inhabit
them. Nicholas Tuba, his friend, a man well known for his probity and
veracity, who came once with some of his comrades to try if all that
was said of those houses was true, would pass the night in one of them
with Alexander. As they were together, wide awake, and with plenty of
light, they beheld a horrible spectre, which frightened them so much
by its terrific voice and the great noise which it made, that they
hardly knew what they did, nor what they said; "and by degrees, as we
approached," says he, "with the light, the phantom retreated; at last,
after having thrown all the house into confusion, it disappeared

I might also relate here the spectre noticed by Father Sinson the
Jesuit, which he saw, and to which he spoke at Pont-à-Mousson, in the
cloister belonging to those fathers; but I shall content myself with
the instance which is reported in the _Causes Célèbres_,[320] and
which may serve to undeceive those who too lightly give credit to
stories of this kind.

At the Château d' Arsillier, in Picardy, on certain days of the year,
towards November, they saw flames and a horrible smoke proceeding
thence. Cries and frightful howlings were heard. The bailiff, or
farmer of the château, had got accustomed to this uproar, because he
himself caused it. All the village talked of it, and everybody told
his own story thereupon. The gentleman to whom the château belonged,
mistrusting some contrivance, came there near All-saints' day with two
gentlemen his friends, resolved to pursue the spirit, and fire upon it
with a brace of good pistols. A few days after they arrived, they
heard a great noise above the room where the owner of the château
slept; his two friends went up thither, holding a pistol in one hand
and a candle in the other; and a sort of black phantom with horns and
a tail presented itself, and began to gambol about before them.

One of them fired off his pistol; the spectre, instead of falling,
turns and skips before him: the gentleman tries to seize it, but the
spirit escapes by the back staircase; the gentleman follows it, but
loses sight of it, and after several turnings, the spectre throws
itself into a granary, and disappears at the moment its pursuer
reckoned on seizing and stopping it. A light was brought, and it was
remarked that where the spectre had disappeared there was a trapdoor,
which had been bolted after it entered; they forced open the trap,
and found the pretended spirit. He owned all his artifices, and that
what had rendered him proof against the pistol shot was buffalo's hide
tightly fitted to his body.

Cardinal de Retz,[321] in his Memoirs, relates very agreeably the
alarm which seized himself and those with him on meeting a company of
black Augustine friars, who came to bathe in the river by night, and
whom they took for a troop of quite another description.

A physician, in a dissertation which he has given on spirits or
ghosts, says that a maid servant in the Rue St. Victor, who had gone
down into the cellar, came back very much frightened, saying she had
seen a spectre standing upright between two barrels. Some persons who
were bolder went down, and saw the same thing. It was a dead body,
which had fallen from a cart coming from the Hôtel-Dieu. It had slid
down by the cellar window (or grating), and had remained standing
between two casks. All these collective facts, instead of confirming
one another, and establishing the reality of those ghosts which appear
in certain houses, and keep away those who would willingly dwell in
them, are only calculated, on the contrary, to render such stories in
general very doubtful; for on what account should those people who
have been buried and turned to dust for a long time find themselves
able to walk about with their chains? How do they drag them? How do
they speak? What do they want? Is it sepulture? Are they not interred?
If they are heathens and reprobates, they have nothing to do with
prayers. If they are good people, who died in a state of grace, they
may require prayers to take them out of purgatory; but can that be
said of the spectres spoken of by Pliny and Lucian? It is the devil,
who sports with the simplicity of men? Is it not ascribing to him most
excessive power, by making him the author of all these apparitions,
which we conceive he cannot cause without the permission of God? And
we can still less imagine that God will concur in the deceptions and
illusions of the demon. There is then reason to believe that all the
apparitions of this kind, and all these stories, are false, and must
be absolutely rejected, as more fit to keep up the superstition and
idle credulity of the people than to edify and instruct them.


[316] Thyræi Demoniaci cum locis infestis.

[317] S. Aug. de Civ. lib. xxii. 8.

[318] S. Greg. Mag. Dial. cap. 39.

[319] Alexander ab Alexandro, lib. v. 23.

[320] Causes Célèbres, tom. xi. p. 374.

[321] Mém. de Cardinal de Retz, tom. i. pp. 43, 44



As soon as we admit it as a principle that angels and demons are
purely spiritual substances, we must consider, not only as chimerical
but also as impossible, all personal intercourse between a demon and a
man, or a woman, and consequently regard as the effect of a depraved
or deranged imagination all that is related of demons, whether incubi
or succubi, and of the _ephialtes_ of which such strange tales are

The author of the Book of Enoch, which is cited by the fathers, and
regarded as canonical Scripture by some ancient writers, has taken
occasion, from these words of Moses,[322] "The children of God, seeing
the daughters of men, who were of extraordinary beauty, took them for
wives, and begat the giants of them," of setting forth that the
angels, smitten with love for the daughters of men, wedded them, and
had by them children, which are those giants so famous in
antiquity.[323] Some of the ancient fathers have thought that this
irregular love of the angels was the cause of their fall, and that
till then they had remained in the just and due subordination which
they owed to their Creator.

It appears from Josephus that the Jews of his day seriously
believed[324] that the angels were subject to these weaknesses like
men. St. Justin Martyr[325] thought that the demons were the fruit of
this commerce of the angels with the daughters of men.

But these ideas are now almost entirely given up, especially since the
belief in the spirituality of angels and demons has been adopted.
Commentators and the fathers have generally explained the passage in
Genesis which we have quoted as relating to the children of Seth, to
whom the Scripture gives the name of _children of God_, to distinguish
them from the sons of Cain, who were the fathers of those here called
_the daughters of men_. The race of Seth having then formed alliances
with the race of Cain, by means of those marriages before alluded to,
there proceeded from these unions powerful, violent, and impious men,
who drew down upon the earth the terrible effects of God's wrath,
which burst forth at the universal deluge.

Thus, then, these marriages between the _children of God_ and the
_daughters of men_ have no relation to the question we are here
treating; what we have to examine is--if the demon can have personal
commerce with man or woman, and if what is said on that subject can be
connected with the apparitions of evil spirits amongst mankind, which
is the principal object of this dissertation.

I will give some instances of those persons who have believed that
they held such intercourse with the demon. Torquemada relates, in a
detailed manner, what happened in his time, and to his knowledge, in
the town of Cagliari, in Sardinia, to a young lady, who suffered
herself to be corrupted by the demon; and having been arrested by the
Inquisition, she suffered the penalty of the flames, in the mad hope
that her pretended lover would come and deliver her.

In the same place he speaks of a young girl who was sought in marriage
by a gentleman of good family; when the devil assumed the form of this
young man, associated with the young lady for several months, made her
promises of marriage, and took advantage of her. She was only
undeceived when the young lord who sought her in marriage informed her
that he was absent from town, and more than fifty leagues off, the day
that the promise in question had been given, and that he never had the
slightest knowledge of it. The young girl, thus disabused, retired
into a convent, and did penance for her double crime.

We read in the life of St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux,[326] that a
woman of Nantes, in Brittany, saw, or thought she saw the demon every
night, even when lying by her husband. She remained six years in this
state; at the end of that period, having her disorderly life in
horror, she confessed herself to a priest, and by his advice began to
perform several acts of piety, as much to obtain pardon for her crime
as to deliver herself from her abominable lover. But when the husband
of this woman was informed of the circumstance, he left her, and would
never see her again.

This unhappy woman was informed by the devil himself that St. Bernard
would soon come to Nantes, but she must mind not to speak to him, for
this abbot could by no means assist her; and if she did speak to him,
it would be a great misfortune to her; and that from being her lover,
he who warned her of it would become her most ardent persecutor.

The saint reassured this woman, and desired her to make the sign of
the cross on herself on going to bed, and to place next her in the bed
the staff which he gave her. "If the demon comes," said he, "let him
do what he can." The demon came; but, without daring to approach the
bed, he threatened the woman greatly, and told her that after the
departure of St. Bernard he would come again to torment her.

On the following Sunday, St. Bernard repaired to the Cathedral church,
with the Bishop of Nantes and the Bishop of Chartres, and having
caused lighted tapers to be given to all the people, who had assembled
in a great crowd, the saint, after having publicly related the
abominable action of the demon, exorcised and anathematized the evil
spirit, and forbade him, by the authority of Jesus Christ, ever again
to approach that woman, or any other. Everybody extinguished their
tapers, and the power of the demon was annihilated.

This example and the two preceding ones, related in so circumstantial
a manner, might make us believe that there is some reality in what is
said of demons incubi and succubi; but if we deeply examine the facts,
we shall find that an imagination strongly possessed, and violent
prejudice, may produce all that we have just repeated.

St. Bernard begins by curing the woman's mind, by giving her a stick,
which she was to place by her side in the bed. This staff sufficed for
the first impression; but to dispose her for a complete cure, he
exorcises the demon, and then anathematizes him, with all the _éclat_
he possibly could: the bishops are assembled in the cathedral, the
people repair thither in crowds; the circumstance is recounted in
pompous terms; the evil spirit is threatened; the tapers are
extinguished--all of them striking ceremonies: the woman is moved by
them, and her imagination is restored to a healthy tone.

Jerome Cardan[327] relates two singular examples of the power of
imagination in this way; he had them from Francis Pico de Mirandola.
"I know," says the latter, "a priest, seventy-five years of age, who
lived with a pretended woman, whom he called Hermeline, with whom he
slept, conversed, and conducted in the streets as if she had been his
wife. He alone saw her, or thought he saw her, so that he was looked
upon as a man who had lost his senses. This priest was named Benedict
Beïna. He had been arrested by the Inquisition, and punished for his
crimes; for he owned that in the sacrifice of the mass he did not
pronounce the sacramental words, that he had given the consecrated
wafer to women to make use of in sorcery, and that he had sucked the
blood of children. He avowed all this while undergoing the question.

Another, named Pineto, held converse with a demon, whom he kept as his
wife, and with whom he had intercourse for more than forty years. This
man was still living in the time of Pico de Mirandola.

Devotion and spirituality, when too contracted and carried to excess,
have also their derangements of imagination. Persons so affected often
believe they see, hear, and feel, what passes only in their brain, and
which takes all its reality from their prejudices and self-love. This
is less mistrusted, because the object of it is holy and pious; but
error and excess, even in matters of devotion, are subject to very
great inconveniences, and it is very important to undeceive all those
who give way to this kind of mental derangement.

For instance, we have seen persons eminent for their devotion, who
believed they saw the Holy Virgin, St. Joseph, the Saviour, and their
guardian angel, who spoke to them, conversed with them, touched the
wounds of the Lord, and tasted the blood which flowed from his side
and his wounds. Others thought they were in company with the Holy
Virgin and the Infant Jesus, who spoke to them and conversed with
them; in idea, however, and without reality.

In order to cure the two ecclesiastics of whom we have spoken, gentler
and perhaps more efficacious means might have been made use of than
those employed by the tribunal of the Inquisition. Every day
hypochondriacs, or maniacs, with fevered imaginations, diseased
brains, or with the viscera too much heated, are cured by simple and
natural remedies, either by cooling the blood, and creating a
diversion in the humors thereof, or by striking the imagination
through some new device, or by giving so much exercise of body and
mind to those who are afflicted with such maladies of the brain that
they may have something else to do or to think of, than to nourish
such fancies, and strengthen them by reflections daily recurring, and
having always the same end and object.


[322] Gen. vi. 1, 2.

[323] Athenagorus and Clem. Alex. lib. iii. & v. Strom. & lib. ii.

[324] Joseph. Antiq. lib. i. c. 4.

[325] Justin. Apolog. utroque.

[326] Vita St. Bernard, tom. i. lib. 20.

[327] Cardan, de Variet. lib. xv. c. lxxx. p. 290.



The dogma of the immortality of the soul, and of its existence after
its separation from the body which it once animated, being taken for
indubitable, and Jesus Christ having invincibly established it against
the Sadducees, the return of souls and their apparition to the
living, by the command or permission of God, can no longer appear so
incredible, nor even so difficult.

It was a known and received truth among the Jews in the time of our
Saviour; he assumed it as certain, and never pronounced a word which
could give any one reason to think that he disapproved of, or
condemned it; he only warned us that in common apparitions spirits
have neither flesh nor bones, as he had himself after his
resurrection. If St. Thomas doubted of the reality of the resurrection
of his Master, and the truth of his appearance, it was because he was
aware that those who suppose they see apparitions of spirits are
subject to illusion; and that one strongly prepossessed will often
believe he beholds what he does not see, and hear that which he hears
not; and even had Jesus Christ appeared to his apostles, that would
not prove that he was resuscitated, since a spirit can appear, while
its body is in the tomb and even corrupted or reduced to dust and

The apostles doubted not of the possibility of the apparition of
spirits: when they saw the Saviour coming towards them, walking upon
the waves of the Lake of Gennesareth,[328] they at first believed that
it was a phantom.

After St. Peter had left the prison by the aid of an angel, and came
and knocked at the door of the house where the brethren were
assembled, the servant whom they sent to open it, hearing Peter's
voice, thought it was his spirit, or an angel[329] who had assumed his
form and voice. The wicked rich man, being in the flames of hell,
begged of Abraham to send Lazarus to earth, to warn his brothers[330]
not to expose themselves to the danger of falling like him in the
extreme of misery: he believed, without doubt, that souls could return
to earth, make themselves visible, and speak to the living.

In the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, Moses, who had been dead for
ages, appeared on Mount Tabor with Elias, conversing with Jesus Christ
then transfigured.[331] After the resurrection of the Saviour, several
persons, who had long been dead, arose from their graves, went into
Jerusalem and appeared unto many.[332]

In the Old Testament, King Saul addresses himself to the witch of
Endor, to beg of her to evoke for him the soul of Samuel;[333] that
prophet appeared and spoke to Saul. I know that considerable
difficulties and objections have been formed as to this evocation and
this apparition of Samuel. But whether he appeared or not--whether the
Pythoness did really evoke him, or only deluded Saul with a false
appearance--I deduce from it that Saul and those with him were
persuaded that the spirits of the dead could appear to the living, and
reveal to them things unknown to men.

St. Augustine, in reply to Simplicius, who had proposed to him his
difficulties respecting the truth of this apparition, says at
first,[334] that it is no more difficult to understand that the demon
could evoke Samuel by the help of a witch than it is to comprehend how
that Satan could speak to God, and tempt the holy man Job, and ask
permission to tempt the apostles; or that he could transport Jesus
Christ himself to the highest pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem.

We may believe also that God, by a particular dispensation of his
will, may have permitted the demon to evoke Samuel, and make him
appear before Saul, to announce to him what was to happen to him, not
by virtue of magic, not by the power of the demon alone, but solely
because God willed it, and ordained it thus to be.

He adds that it may be advanced that it is not Samuel who appears to
Saul, but a phantom, formed by the illusive power of the demon, and by
the force of magic; and that the Scripture, in giving the name of
Samuel to this phantom, has made use of ordinary language, which gives
the name of things themselves to that which is but their image or
representation in painting or in sculpture.

If it should be asked how this phantom could discover the future, and
predict to Saul his approaching death, we may likewise ask how the
demon could know Jesus Christ for God alone, while the Jews knew him
not, and the girl possessed with a spirit of divination, spoken of in
the Acts of the Apostles,[335] could bear witness to the apostles, and
undertake to become their advocate in rendering good testimony to
their mission.

Lastly, St. Augustine concludes by saying that he does not think
himself sufficiently enlightened to decide whether the demon can, or
cannot, by means of magical enchantments, evoke a soul after the death
of the body, so that it may appear and become visible in a corporeal
form, which may be recognized, and capable of speaking and revealing
the hidden future. And if this potency be not accorded to magic and
the demon, we must conclude that all which is related of this
apparition of Samuel to Saul is an illusion and a false apparition
made by the demon to deceive men.

In the books of the Maccabees,[336] the High-Priest Onias, who had
been dead several years before that time, appeared to Judas Maccabæus,
in the attitude of a man whose hands were outspread, and who was
praying for the people of the Lord: at the same time the Prophet
Jeremiah, long since dead, appeared to the same Maccabæus; and Onias
said to him, "Behold that holy man, who is the protector and friend of
his brethren; it is he who prays continually for the Lord's people,
and for the holy city of Jerusalem." So saying, he put into the hands
of Judas a golden sword, saying to him, "Receive this sword as a gift
from heaven, by means of which you shall destroy the enemies of my
people Israel."

In the same second book of the Maccabees,[337] it is related that in
the thickest of the battle fought by Timotheus, general of the armies
of Syria, against Judas Maccabæus, they saw five men as if descended
from heaven, mounted on horses with golden bridles, who were at the
head of the army of the Jews, two of them on each side of Judas
Maccabæus, the chief captain of the army of the Lord; they shielded
him with their arms, and launched against the enemy such fiery darts
and thunderbolts that they were blinded and mortally afraid and

These five armed horsemen, these combatants for Israel, are apparently
no other than Mattathias, the father of Judas Maccabæus,[338] and
four of his sons, who were already dead; there yet remained of his
seven sons but Judas Maccabæus, Jonathan, and Simon. We may also
understand it as five angels, who were sent by God to the assistance
of the Maccabees. In whatever way we regard it, these are not doubtful
apparitions, both on account of the certainty of the book in which
they are related, and the testimony of a whole army by which they
were seen.

Whence I conclude, that the Hebrews had no doubt that the spirits of
the dead could return to earth, that they did return in fact, and that
they discovered to the living things beyond our natural knowledge.
Moses expressly forbids the Israelites to consult the dead.[339] But
these apparitions did not show themselves in solid and material
bodies; the Saviour assures us of it when he says, "Spirits have
neither flesh nor bones." It was often only an aërial figure which
struck the senses and the imagination, like the images which we see in
sleep, or that we firmly believe we hear and see. The inhabitants of
Sodom were struck with a species of blindness,[340] which prevented
them from seeing the door of Lot's house, into which the angels had
entered. The soldiers who sought for Elisha were in the same way
blinded in some sort,[341] although they spoke to him they were
seeking for, who led them into Samaria without their perceiving him.
The two disciples who went on Easter-day to Emmaus, in company with
Jesus Christ their Master, did not recognize him till the breaking of
the bread.[342]

Thus, the apparitions of spirits to mankind are not always in a
corporeal form, palpable and real; but God, who ordains or permits
them, often causes the persons to whom these apparitions appear, to
behold, in a dream or otherwise, those spirits which speak to, warn,
or threaten them; who makes them see things as if present, which in
reality are not before their eyes, but only in their imagination;
which does not prove these visions and warnings not to be sent from
God, who, by himself, or by the ministration of his angels, or by
souls disengaged from the body, inspired the minds of men with what he
judges proper for them to know, whether in a dream, or by external
signs, or by words, or else by certain impressions made on their
senses, or in their imagination, in the absence of every external

If the apparitions of the souls of the dead were things in nature and
of their own choice, there would be few persons who would not come
back to visit the things or the persons which have been dear to them
during this life. St. Augustine says it of his mother, St.
Monica,[343] who had so tender and constant an affection for him, and
who, while she lived, followed him and sought him by sea and land.
The bad rich man would not have failed, either, to come in person to
his brethren and relations to inform them of the wretched condition in
which he found himself in hell. It is a pure favor of the mercy or the
power of God, and which he grants to very few persons, to make their
appearance after death; for which reason we should be very much on our
guard against all that is said, and all that we find written on the
subject in books.


[328] Matt. vi. 16. Mark vi. 43.

[329] Acts xii. 13, 14.

[330] Luke xxi. 14, 15.

[331] Luke ix. 32.

[332] Matt. xxvii. 34.

[333] 1 Sam. xxviii. 7, ad finem.

[334] Augustin de Diversis Quæst. ad Simplicium, Quæst. cxi.

[335] Acts xxvi. 17.

[336] Macc. x. 29.

[337] 2 Macc. x. 29.

[338] 1 Macc. xi. 1.

[339] Deut. xviii. 11.

[340] Gen. xix. 11.

[341] 2 Kings vi. 19.

[342] Luke xxvi. 16.

[343] Aug. de Curâ gerendâ pro Mortuis, c. xiii.



St. Augustine[344] acknowledges that the dead have often appeared to
the living, have revealed to them the spot where their body remained
unburied, and have shown them that where they wished to be interred.
He says, moreover, that a noise was often heard in churches where the
dead were inhumed, and that dead persons have been seen often to enter
the houses wherein they dwelt before their decease.

We read that in the Council of Elvira,[345] which was held about the
year 300, it was forbidden to light tapers in the cemeteries, that the
souls of the saints might not be disturbed. The night after the death
of Julian the Apostate, St. Basil[346] had a vision in which he
fancied he saw the martyr, St. Mercurius, who received an order from
God to go and kill Julian. A little time afterwards the same saint
Mercurius returned and cried out, "Lord, Julian is pierced and wounded
to death, as thou commandedst me." In the morning St. Basil announced
this news to the people.

St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who suffered martyrdom in 107,[347]
appeared to his disciples, embracing them, and standing near them; and
as they persevered in praying with still greater fervor, they saw him
crowned with glory, as if in perspiration, coming from a great combat,
environed with light.

After the death of St. Ambrose, which happened on Easter Eve, the same
night in which they baptized neophytes, several newly baptized
children saw the holy bishop,[348] and pointed him out to their
parents, who could not see him because their eyes were not
purified--at least says St. Paulinus, a disciple of the saint, and who
wrote his life.

He adds that on the day of his death the saint appeared to several
holy persons dwelling in the East, praying with them and giving them
the imposition of hands; they wrote to Milan, and it was found, on
comparing the dates, that this occurred on the very day he died. These
letters were still preserved in the time of Paulinus, who wrote all
these things. This holy bishop was also seen several times after his
death praying in the Ambrosian church at Milan, which he promised
during his life that he would often visit. During the siege of Milan,
St. Ambrose appeared to a man of that same city, and promised that the
next day succor would arrive, which happened accordingly. A blind man
having learnt in a vision that the bodies of the holy martyrs Sicineus
and Alexander would come by sea to Milan, and that Bishop Ambrose was
going to meet them, he prayed the same bishop to restore him to sight,
in a dream. Ambrose replied; "Go to Milan; come and meet my brethren;
they will arrive on such a day, and they will restore you to sight."
The blind man went to Milan, where he had never been before, touched
the shrine of the holy martyrs, and recovered his eyesight. He himself
related the circumstance to Paulinus.

The lives of the saints are full of apparitions of deceased persons;
and if they were collected, large volumes might be filled. St.
Ambrose, of whom we have just spoken, discovered after a miraculous
fashion the bodies of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius,[349] and those
of St. Nazairius and St. Celsus.

Evodius, Bishop of Upsal in Africa,[350] a great friend of St.
Augustine, was well persuaded of the reality of apparitions of the
dead, from his own experience, and he relates several instances of
such things which happened in his own time; as that of a good widow to
whom a deacon appeared who had been dead for four years. He was
accompanied by several of the servants of God, of both sexes, who were
preparing a palace of extraordinary beauty. This widow asked him for
whom they were making these preparations; he replied that it was for
the youth who died the preceding day. At the same time, a venerable
old man, who was in the same palace, commanded two young men, arrayed
in white, to take the deceased young man out of his grave and conduct
him to this place. As soon as he had left the grave, fresh roses and
rose-beds sprang up; and the young man appeared to a monk, and told
him that God had received him into the number of his elect, and had
sent him to fetch his father, who in fact died four days after of slow

Evodius asks himself diverse questions on this recital: If the soul on
quitting its (mortal) body does not retain a certain subtile body,
with which it appears, and by means of which it is transported from
one spot to another? If the angels even have not a certain kind of
body?--for if they are incorporeal, how can they be counted? And if
Samuel appeared to Saul, how could it take place if Samuel had no
members? He adds, "I remember well that Profuturus, Privatus and
Servitus, whom I had known in the monastery here, appeared to me, and
talked with me after their decease; and what they told me, happened.
Was it their soul which appeared to me, or was it some other spirit
which assumed their form?" He concludes from this that the soul is not
absolutely bodiless, since God alone is incorporeal.[351]

St. Augustine, who was consulted on this matter by Evodius, does not
think that the soul, after the death of the body, is clothed with any
material substantial form; but he confesses that it is very difficult
to explain how an infinite number of things are done, which pass in
our minds, as well in our sleep as when we are awake, in which we seem
to see, feel, and discourse, and do things which it would appear could
be done only by the body, although it is certain that nothing bodily
occurs. And how can we explain things so unknown, and so far beyond
anything that we experience every day, since we cannot explain even
what daily experience shows us.[352] Evodius adds that several persons
after their decease have been going and coming in their houses as
before, both day and night; and that in churches where the dead were
buried, they often heard a noise in the night as of persons praying

St. Augustine, to whom Evodius writes all this, acknowledges that
there is a great distinction to be made between true and false
visions, and that he could wish he had some sure means of discerning
them correctly. The same saint relates on this occasion a remarkable
story, which has much connection with the matter we are treating upon.
A physician named Gennadius, a great friend of St. Augustine's, and
well known at Carthage for his great talent and his kindness to the
poor, doubted whether there was another life. One day he saw, in a
dream, a young man who said to him, "Follow me;" he followed him in
spirit, and found himself in a city, where, on his right hand, he
heard most admirable melody; he did not remember what he heard on his

Another time he saw the same young man, who said to him, "Do you know
me?" "Very well," answered he. "And whence comes it that you know me?"
He related to him what he had showed him in the city whither he had
led him. The young man added, "Was it in a dream, or awake, that you
saw all that?" "In a dream?" he replied. The young man then asked,
"Where is your body now?" "In my bed," said he. "Do you know that now
you see nothing with the eyes of your body?" "I know it," answered he.
"Well, then, with what eyes do you behold me?" As he hesitated, and
knew not what to reply, the young man said to him, "In the same way
that you see and hear me now that your eyes are shut, and your senses
asleep; thus after death you will live, you will see, you will hear,
but with eyes of the spirit; so doubt not that there is another life
after the present one."

The great St. Anthony, one day when he was wide awake, saw the soul of
the hermit St. Ammon being carried into heaven in the midst of choirs
of angels. Now, St. Ammon died that same day, at five days' journey
from thence, in the desert of Nitria. The same St. Anthony saw also
the soul of St. Paul Hermitus ascending to heaven surrounded by choirs
of angels and prophets. St. Benedict beheld the spirit of St. Germain,
Bishop of Capua, at the moment of his decease, who was carried into
heaven by angels. The same saint saw the soul of his sister, St.
Scholastica, rising to heaven in the form of a dove. We might multiply
such instances without end. They are true apparitions of souls
separated from their bodies.

St. Sulpicius Severus, being at some distance from the city of Tours,
and ignorant of what was passing there, fell one morning into a light
slumber; as he slept he beheld St. Martin, who appeared to him in a
white garment, his countenance shining, his eyes sparkling, his hair
of a purple color; it was, nevertheless, very easy to recognise him by
his air and his face. St. Martin showed himself to him with a smiling
countenance, and holding in his hand the book which St. Sulpicius
Severus had composed upon his life. Sulpicius threw himself at his
feet, embraced his knees, and implored his benediction, which the
saint bestowed upon him. All this passed in a vision; and as St.
Martin rose into the air, Sulpicius Severus saw still in the spirit
the priest Clarus, a disciple of the saint, who went the same way and
rose towards heaven. At that moment Sulpicius awoke, and a lad who
served him, on entering, told him that two monks who were just arrived
from Tours, had brought word that St. Martin was dead.

The Baron de Coussey, an old and respectable magistrate, has related
to me more than once that, being at more than sixty leagues from the
town where his mother died the night she breathed her last, he was
awakened by the barking of a dog which laid at the foot of his bed;
and at the same moment he perceived the head of his mother environed
by a great light, who, entering by the window into his chamber, spoke
to him distinctly, and announced to him various things concerning the
state of his affairs.

St. Chrysostom, in his exile,[353] and the night preceding his death,
saw the martyr St. Basilicus, who said to him--"Courage, brother John;
to-morrow we shall be together." The same thing was foretold to a
priest who lived in the same place. St. Basilicus said to him,
"Prepare a place for my brother John; for, behold, he is coming."

The discovery of the body of St. Stephen, the first martyr, is very
celebrated in the Church; this occurred in the year 415. St. Gamaliel,
who had been the master of St. Paul before his conversion, appeared to
a priest named Lucius, who slept in the baptistery of the Church at
Jerusalem to guard the sacred vases, and told him that his own body
and that of St. Stephen the proto-martyr were interred at
Caphargamala, in the suburb named Dilagabis; that the body of his son
named Abibas, and that of Nicodemus, reposed in the same spot. Lucius
had the same vision three times following, with an interval of a few
days between. John, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was then at the
Council of Dioscopolis, repaired to the spot, made the discovery and
translation of the relics, which were transported to Jerusalem, and a
great number of miracles were performed there.

Licinius, being in his tent,[354] thinking of the battle he was to
fight on the morrow, saw an angel, who dictated to him a form of
prayer which he made his soldiers learn by heart, and by means of
which he gained the victory over the Emperor Maximian.

Mascezel, general of the Roman troops which Stilicho sent into Africa
against Gildas, prepared himself for this war, in imitation of
Theodosius the Great, by prayer and the intervention of the servants
of God. He took with him in his vessel some monks, whose only
occupation during the voyage was to pray, fast, and sing psalms.
Gildas had an army of seventy thousand men; Mascezel had but five
thousand, and did not think he could without rashness attempt to
compete with an enemy so powerful and so far superior in the number of
his forces. As he was pondering uneasily on these things, St. Ambrose,
who died the year before, appeared to him by night, holding a staff in
his hand, and struck the ground three times, crying, "Here, here,
here!" Mascezel understood that the saint promised him the victory in
that same spot three days after. In fact, the third day he marched
upon the enemy, offering peace to the first whom he met; but an ensign
having replied to him very arrogantly, he gave him a severe blow with
his sword upon his arm, which made his standard swerve; those who were
afar off thought that he was yielding, and that he lowered his
standard in sign of submission, and they hastened to do the same.
Paulinus, who wrote the life of St. Ambrose, assures us that he had
these particulars from the lips of Mascezel himself; and Orosius heard
them from those who had been eye-witnesses of the fact.

The persecutors having inflicted martyrdom on seven Christian
virgins,[355] one of them appeared the following night to St.
Theodosius of Ancyra, and revealed to him the spot where herself and
her companions had been thrown into the lake, each one with a stone
tied around her neck. As Theodosius and his people were occupied in
searching for their bodies, a voice from heaven warned Theodosius to
be on his guard against the traitor, meaning to indicate Polycronius,
who betrayed Theodosius, and was the occasion of his being arrested
and martyred.

St. Potamienna,[356] a Christian virgin who suffered martyrdom at
Alexandria, appeared after her death to several persons, and was the
cause of their conversion to Christianity. She appeared in particular
to a soldier named Basilidus, who, as he was conducting her to the
place of execution, had protected her from the insults of the
populace. This soldier, encouraged by Potamienna, who in a vision
placed a garland upon his head, was baptized, and received the crown
of martyrdom.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neocæsarea in Pontus, being
greatly occupied with certain theological difficulties, raised by
heretics concerning the mysteries of religion, and having passed great
part of the night in studying those matters, saw a venerable old man
enter his room, having by his side a lady of august and divine form;
he comprehended that these were the Holy Virgin and St. John the
Evangelist. The Virgin exhorted St. John to instruct the bishop, and
dissipate his embarrassment, by explaining clearly to him the mystery
of the Trinity and the Divinity of the Verb or Word. He did so, and
St. Gregory wrote it down instantly. It is the doctrine which he left
to his church, and which they have to this very day.


[344] Aug. de Curâ gerend. pro Mortuis, c. x.

[345] Concil. Eliber, auno circiter 300.

[346] Amplilo. vita S. Basil. and Chronic. Alex. p. 692.

[347] Acta sincera Mart. pp. 11, 22. Edit. 1713.

[348] Paulin. vit. S. Ambros. n. 47, 48.

[349] Ambros. Epist. 22, p. 874; vid. notes, ibid.

[350] Evod. Upsal. apud Aug. Epist. clviii. Idem, Aug. Epist. clix.

[351] "Animan igitur omni corpore carere omnino non posse, illud, ut
puto, ostendit quia Deus solus omni corpore semper caret."

[352] "Quid se præcipitat de rarissimis aut inexpertis quasi definitam
ferre sententiam, cum quotidiana et continua non solvat?"

[353] Palladius, Dialog, de Vita Chrysost. c. xi.

[354] Lactant. de Mort. Persec. c. 46.

[355] Acta sincera Martyr. passion. S. Theodos. M. pp. 343, 344.

[356] Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. c. 8.



Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, relates that a good priest named
Stephen, having received the confession of a lord named Guy, who was
mortally wounded in a combat, this lord appeared to him completely
armed some time after his death, and begged of him to tell his brother
Anselm to restore an ox which he Guy had taken from a peasant, whom he
named, and repair the damage which he had done to a village which did
not belong to him, and which he had taxed with undue charges; that he
had forgotten to declare these two sins in his last confession, and
that he was cruelly tormented for it. "And as assurance of the truth
of what I tell you," added he, "when you return home, you will find
that you have been robbed of the money you intended for your expenses
in going to St. Jacques." The curé, on his return to his house, found
his money gone, but could not acquit himself of his commission,
because Anselm was absent. A few days after, Guy appeared to him
again, and reproached him for having neglected to perform what he had
asked of him. The curé excused himself on account of the absence of
Anselm; and at length went to him and told him what he was charged to
do. Anselm answered him harshly that he was not obliged to do penance
for his brother's sins.

The dead man appeared a third time, and implored the curé to assist
him in this extremity; he did so, and restored the value of the ox;
but as the rest exceeded his power, he gave alms, and recommended Guy
to the worthy people of his acquaintance; and he appeared no more.

Richer, a monk of Senones,[357] speaks of a spirit which returned in
his time, in the town of Epinal, about the year 1212, in the house of
a burgess named Hugh de la Cour, and who, from Christmas to Midsummer,
did a variety of things in that same house, in sight of everybody.
They could hear him speak, they could see all he did, but nobody could
see him. He said he belonged to Cléxenteine, a village seven leagues
from Epinal; and what is also remarkable is that, during the six
months he was heard about the house, he did no harm to any one. One
day, Hugh having ordered his domestic to saddle his horse, and the
valet being busy about something else, deferred doing it, when the
spirit did his work, to the great astonishment of all the household.
Another time, when Hugh was absent, the spirit asked Stephen, the
son-in-law of Hugh, for a penny, to make an offering of it to St.
Goëric, the patron saint of Epinal. Stephen presented him with an old
denier of Provence; but the spirit refused it, saying he would have a
good denier of Thoulouse. Stephen placed on the threshold of the door
a Thoulousian denier, which disappeared immediately; and the following
night, a noise, as of a man who was walking therein, was heard in the
church of St. Goëric.

Another time, Hugh having bought some fish to make his family a
repast, the spirit transported the fish to the garden which was behind
the house, put half of it on a tile (_scandula_), and the rest in a
mortar, where it was found again. Another time, Hugh desiring to be
bled, told his daughter to get ready some bandages. Immediately the
spirit went into another room, and fetched a new shirt, which he tore
up into several bandages, presented them to the master of the house,
and told him to choose the best. Another day, the servant having
spread out some linen in the garden to dry, the spirit carried it all
up stairs, and folded them more neatly than the cleverest laundress
could have done.

A man named Guy de la Torre,[358] who died at Verona in 1306, at the
end of eight days spoke to his wife and the neighbors of both sexes,
to the prior of the Dominicians, and to the professor of theology, who
asked him several questions in theology, to which he replied very
pertinently. He declared that he was in purgatory for certain
unexpatiated sins. They asked him how he possibly could speak, not
having the organs of the voice; he replied that souls separated from
the body have the faculty of forming for themselves instruments of the
air capable of pronouncing words; he added that the fire of hell acted
upon spirits, not by its natural virtue, but by the power of God, of
which that fire is the instrument.

Here follows another remarkable instance of an apparition, related by
M. d'Aubigné. "I affirm upon the word of the king[359] the second
prodigy, as being one of the three stories which he reiterated to us,
his hair standing on end at the time, as we could perceive. This one
is, that the queen having gone to bed at an earlier hour than usual,
and there being present at her _coucher_, amongst other persons of
note, the king of Navarre,[360] the Archbishop of Lyons, the Ladies de
Retz, de Lignerolles, and de Sauve, two of whom have since confirmed
this conversation. As she was hastening to bid them good night, she
threw herself with a start upon her bolster, put her hands before her
face, and crying out violently, she called to her assistance those who
were present, wishing to show them, at the foot of the bed, the
Cardinal (de Lorraine), who extended his hand towards her; she cried
out several times, 'M. the Cardinal, I have nothing to do with you.'
The King of Navarre at the same time sent out one of his gentlemen,
who brought back word that he had expired at that same moment."

I take from Sully's Memoirs,[361] which have just been reprinted in
better order than they were before, another singular fact, which may
be related with these. We still endeavor to find out what can be the
nature of that illusion, seen so often and by the eyes of so many
persons in the Forest of Fontainebleau; it was a phantom surrounded by
a pack of hounds, whose cries were heard, while they might be seen at
a distance, but all disappeared if any one approached.

The note of M. d'Ecluse, editor of these Memoirs, enters into longer
details. He observes that M. de Peréfixe makes mention of this
phantom; and he makes him say, with a hoarse voice, one of these three
sentences: Do you expect me? or, Do you hear me? or, Amend yourself.
"And they believe," says he, "that these were sports of sorcerers, or
of the malignant spirit." The Journal of Henry IV., and the Septenary
Chronicle, speak of them also, and even assert that this phenomenon
alarmed Henry IV. and his courtiers very much. And Peter Matthew says
something of it in his History of France, tom. ii. p. 68. Bongars
speaks of it as others do,[362] and asserts that it was a hunter who
had been killed in this forest in the time of Francis I. But now we
hear no more of this spectre, though there is still a road in this
forest which retains the name of the _Grand Veneur_, in memory, it is
said, of this visionary scene.

A Chronicle of Metz,[363] under the date of the year 1330, relates the
apparition of a spirit at Lagni sur Marne, six leagues from Paris. It
was a good lady, who after her death spoke to more than twenty
people--her father, sister, daughter, and son-in-law, and to her other
friends--asking them to have said for her particular masses, as being
more efficacious than the common mass. As they feared it might be an
evil spirit, they read to it the beginning of the Gospel of St. John;
and they made it say the _Pater_, _credo_, and _confiteor_. She said
she had beside her two angels, one bad and one good; and that the good
angel revealed to her what she ought to say. They asked her if they
should go and fetch the Holy Sacrament from the altar. She replied it
was with them, for her father, who was present, and several others
among them, had received it on Christmas day, which was the Tuesday

Father Taillepied, a Cordelier, and professor of theology at
Rouen,[364] who composed a book expressly on the subject of
apparitions, which was printed at Rouen in 1600, says that one of his
fraternity with whom he was acquainted, named Brother Gabriel,
appeared to several monks of the convent at Nice, and begged of them
to satisfy the demand of a shopkeeper at Marseilles, of whom he had
taken a coat he had not paid for. On being asked why he made so much
noise, he replied that it was not himself, but a bad spirit who wished
to appear instead of him, and prevent him from declaring the cause of
his torment.

I have been told by two canons of St. Diez, in our neighborhood, that
three months after the death of M. Henri, canon of St. Diez, of their
brotherhood, the canon to whom the house devolved, going with one of
his brethren, at two o'clock in the afternoon, to look at the said
house, and see what alterations it might suit him to make in it, they
went into the kitchen, and both of them saw in the next room, which
was large and very light, a tall ecclesiastic of the same height and
figure as the defunct canon, who, turning towards them, looked them in
the face for two minutes, then crossed the said room, and went up a
little dark staircase which led to the garret.

These two gentlemen, being much frightened, left the house instantly,
and related the adventure to some of the brotherhood, who were of
opinion that they ought to return and see if there was not some one
hidden in the house; they went, they sought, they looked everywhere,
without finding any one.

We read in the History of the Bishops of Mans,[365] that in the time
of Bishop Hugh, who lived in 1135, they heard, in the house of Provost
Nicholas, a spirit who alarmed the neighbors and those who lived in
the house, by uproar and frightful noises, as if he had thrown
enormous stones against the walls, with a force which shook the roof,
walls, and ceilings; he transported the dishes and the plates from one
place to another, without their seeing the hand which moved them. This
genius lighted a candle, though very far from the fire. Sometimes,
when the meat was placed on the table, he would scatter bran, ashes,
or soot, to prevent them from touching any of it. Amica, the wife of
the Provost Nicholas, having prepared some thread to be made into
cloth, the spirit twisted and raveled it in such a way that all who
saw it could not sufficiently admire the manner in which it was done.

Priests were called in, who sprinkled holy water everywhere, and
desired all those who were there to make the sign of the cross.
Towards the first and second night, they heard as it were the voice of
a young girl, who, with sighs that seemed drawn from the bottom of her
heart, said, in a lamentable and sobbing voice, that her name was
Garnier; and addressing itself to the provost, said, "Alas! whence do
I come? from what distant country, through how many storms, dangers,
through snow, cold, fire, and bad weather, have I arrived at this
place! I have not received power to harm any one--but prepare
yourselves with the sign of the cross against a band of evil spirits,
who are here only to do you harm; have a mass of the Holy Ghost said
for me, and a mass for those defunct; and you, my dear sister-in-law,
give some clothes to the poor, for me."

They asked this spirit several questions on things past and to come,
to which it replied very pertinently; it explained even the salvation
and damnation of several persons; but it would not enter into any
argument, nor yet into conference with learned men, who were sent by
the Bishop of Mans; this last circumstance is very remarkable, and
casts some suspicion on this apparition.


[357] Richer Senon. in Chronic. m. (Hoc non exstat in impresso).

[358] Herman Contraet. Chronic. p. 1006.

[359] D'Aubigné, Hist. Univ. lib. ii. c. 12. Ap. 1574.

[360] Henry IV.

[361] Mém. de Sully, in 4to. tom. i. liv. x. p. 562, note 26. Or Edit.
in 12mo. tom. iii. p. 321, note 26.

[362] Bongars, Epist. ad Camerarium.

[363] Chronic. Metens. Anno, 1330.

[364] Taillepied, Traité de l'Apparition des Esprits, c. xv. p. 173.

[365] Anecdote Mabill, p. 320. Edition in fol.



Within a short time, a work composed by a Father Prémontré, of the
Abbey of Toussaints, in the Black Forest, has been communicated to me.
His work is in manuscript, and entitled, "Umbra Humberti, hoc est
historia memorabilis D. Humberti Birkii, mirâ post mortem apparitione,
per A. G. N."

This Humbert Birck was a burgess of note, in the town of Oppenheim,
and master of a country house called Berenbach; he died in the month
of November, 1620, a few days before the feast of St. Martin. On the
Saturday which followed his funeral, they began to hear certain noises
in the house where he had lived with his first wife; for at the time
of his death he had married again.

The master of this house, suspecting that it was his brother-in-law
who haunted it, said to him, "If you are Humbert, my brother-in-law,
strike three times against the wall." At the same time, they heard
three strokes only, for ordinarily he struck several times. Sometimes,
also, he was heard at the fountain where they went for water, and he
frightened all the neighborhood; he did not always utter articulate
sounds, but he would knock repeatedly, make a noise, or a groan, or a
shrill whistle, or sounds as a person in lamentation; all this lasted
for six months, and then it suddenly ceased. At the end of a year he
made himself heard more loudly than ever. The master of the house, and
his domestics, the boldest amongst them, at last asked him what he
wished for, and in what they could help him? He replied, but in a
hoarse, low tone, "Let the curé come here next Saturday with my
children." The curé being indisposed, could not go thither on the
appointed day; but he went on the Monday following, accompanied by a
good many people.

Humbert received notice of this, and he answered in a very
intelligible manner. They asked him if he required any masses to be
said? He asked for three. Then they wished to know if alms should be
given in his name? He said, "I wish them to give eight measures of
corn to the poor, and that my widow may give something to all my
children." He afterwards ordered that what had been badly distributed
in his succession, which amounted to about twenty florins, should be
set aside. They asked why he infested that house rather than another?
He answered that he was forced to it by conjuration and maledictions.
Had he received the sacraments of the Church? "I received them from
the curé, your predecessor." He was made to say the _Pater_ and the
_Ave_; he recited them with difficulty, saying that he was prevented
by an evil spirit, who would not let him tell the curé many other

The curé, who was named Prémontré, of the abbey of Toussaints, came to
the monastery on Tuesday the 12th of January, 1621, in order to take
the opinion of the Superior on this singular affair; they let him have
three monks to help him with their counsels. They all repaired to the
house wherein Humbert continued his importunity; for nothing that he
had requested had as yet been executed. A great number of those who
lived near were assembled in the house. The master of it told Humbert
to rap against the wall; he knocked very gently: then the master
desired him to go and fetch a stone and knock louder; he deferred a
little, as if he had been to pick up a stone, and gave a stronger blow
upon the wall: the master whispered in his neighbor's ear as softly as
he could that he should rap seven times, and directly he rapped seven
times. He always showed great respect to the priests, and did not
reply to them so boldly as to the laity; and when he was asked
why--"It is," said he, "because they have with them the Holy
Sacrament." However, they had it no otherwise than because they had
said mass that day. The next day the three masses which he had
required were said, and all was disposed for a pilgrimage, which he
had specified in the last conversation they had with him; and they
promised to give alms for him the first day possible. From that time
Humbert haunted them no more.

The same monk, Prémontré, relates that on the 9th of September, 1625,
a man named John Steinlin died at a place called Altheim, in the
diocese of Constance. Steinlin was a man in easy circumstances, and a
common-councilman of his town. Some days after his death he appeared
during the night to a tailor, named Simon Bauh, in the form of a man
surrounded by a sombre flame, like that of lighted sulphur, going and
coming in his own house, but without speaking. Bauh, who was
disquieted by this sight, resolved to ask him what he could do to
serve him. He found an opportunity to do so the 17th of November in
the same year, 1625; for, as he was reposing at night near his stove,
a little after eleven o'clock, he beheld this spectre environed by
fire like sulphur, who came into his room, going and coming, shutting
and opening the windows. The tailor asked him what he desired. He
replied, in a hoarse, interrupted voice, that he could help very much,
if he would; "but," added he, "do not promise me to do so, if you are
not resolved to execute your promises." "I will execute them, if they
are not beyond my power," replied he.

"I wish, then," replied the spirit, "that you would cause a mass to be
said in the chapel of the Virgin at Rotembourg; I made a vow to that
intent during my life, and I have not acquitted myself of it.
Moreover, you must have two masses said at Altheim, the one of the
Defunct and the other of the Virgin; and as I did not always pay my
servants exactly, I wish that a quarter of corn should be distributed
to the poor." Simon promised to satisfy him on all these points. The
spectre held out his hand, as if to ensure his promise; but Simon,
fearing that some harm might happen to himself, tendered him the board
which come to hand, and the spectre having touched it, left the print
of his hand with the four fingers and thumb, as if fire had been
there, and had left a pretty deep impression. After that, he vanished
with so much noise that it was heard three houses off.

I related in the first edition of this dissertation on the return of
spirits, an adventure which happened at Fontenoy on the Moselle, where
it was affirmed that a spirit had in the same manner made the
impression of its hand on a handkerchief, and had left the impress of
the hand and of the palm well marked. The handkerchief is in the hands
of one Casmar, a constable living at Toul, who received it from his
uncle, the curé of Fontenoy; but, on a careful investigation of the
thing, it was found that a young blacksmith, who courted a young girl
to whom the handkerchief belonged, had forged an iron hand to print it
on the handkerchief, and persuade people of the reality of the

At St. Avold, a town of German Lorraine, in the house of the curé,
named M. Royer de Monelos, there was something very similar which
appears to have been performed by a servant girl, sixteen years of
age, who heard and saw, as she said, a woman who made a great noise in
the house; but she was the only person who saw and heard her, although
others heard also the noise which was made in the house. They saw also
the young servant, as it were, pushed, dragged, and struck by the
spirit, but never saw it, nor yet heard his voice. This contrivance
began on the night of the 31st of January, 1694, and finished about
the end of February the same year. The curé conjured the spirit in
German and French. He made no reply to the exorcisms in French but
sighs; and as they terminated the German exorcism, saying, "Let every
spirit praise the Lord," the girl said that the spirit had said, "And
me also;" but she alone heard it.

Some monks of the abbey were requested to come also and exorcise the
spirit. They came, and with them some burgesses of note of St. Avold;
and neither before nor after the exorcisms did they see or hear
anything, except that the servant girl seemed to be pushed violently,
and the doors were roughly knocked at. By dint of exorcisms they
forced the spirit, or rather the servant who alone heard and saw it,
to declare that she was neither maid nor wife; that she was called
Claire Margaret Henri; that a hundred and fifty years ago she had died
at the age of twenty, after having lived servant at the curé of St.
Avold's first of all for eight years, and that she had died at
Guenviller of grief and regret for having killed her own child. At
last, the servant maintaining that she was not a good spirit, she said
to her, "Give me hold of your petticoat (or skirt)." She would do no
such thing; at the same time the spirit said to her, "Look at your
petticoat; my mark is upon it." She looked and saw upon her skirt the
five fingers of the hand so distinctly that it did not appear possible
for any living creature to have marked them better. This affair lasted
about two months; and at this day, at St. Avold, as in all the
country, they talk of the spirit of St. Avold as of a game played by
that girl, in concert, doubtless, with some persons who wished to
divert themselves by puzzling the good curé with his sisters, and all
those who fell into the trap. They printed at Cusson's, at Nancy, in
1718, a relation of this event, which at first gained credence with a
number of people, but who were quite undeceived in the end.

I shall add to this story that which is related by Philip
Melancthon,[366] whose testimony in this matter ought not to be
doubted. He says that his aunt having lost her husband when she was
enceinte and near her time, she saw one day, towards evening, two
persons come into her house; one of them wore the form of her deceased
husband, the other that of a tall Franciscan. At first she was
frightened, but her husband reassured her, and told her that he had
important things to communicate to her; at the same time he begged the
Franciscan to pass into the next room, whilst he imparted his wishes
to his wife. Then he begged of her to have some masses said for the
relief of his soul, and tried to persuade her to give her hand without
fear; as she was unwilling to give it, he assured her she would feel
no pain. She gave him her hand, and her hand felt no pain when she
withdrew it, but was so blackened that it remained discolored all her
life. After that, the husband called in the Franciscan; they went out,
and disappeared. Melancthon believes that these were two spectres; he
adds that he knows several similar instances related by persons worthy
of credit.

If these two men were only spectres, having neither flesh nor bones,
how could one of them imprint a black color on the hand of this widow?
How could he who appeared to the tailor Bauh imprint his hand on the
board which he presented to him? If they were evil genii, why did they
ask for masses and order restitution? Does Satan destroy his own
empire, and does he inspire the living with the idea of doing good
actions and of fearing the pains which the sins of the wicked are
punished by God?

But on looking at the affair in another light, may not the demon in
this kind of apparitions, by which he asks for masses and prayers,
intend to foment superstition, by making the living believe that
masses and prayers made for them after their death would free them
from the pains of hell, even if they died in habitual crime and
impenitence? Several instances are cited of rascals who have appeared
after their death, asking for prayers like the bad rich man, and to
whom prayers and masses can be of no avail from the unhappy state in
which they died. Thus, in all this, Satan seeks to establish his
kingdom, and not to destroy it or diminish it.

We shall speak hereafter, in the Dissertation on Vampires, of
apparitions of dead persons who have been seen, and acted like living
ones in their own bodies.

The same Melancthon relates that a monk came one day and rapped loudly
at the door of Luther's dwelling, asking to speak to him; he entered
and said, "I entertained some popish errors upon which I shall be very
glad to confer with you." "Speak," said Luther. He at first proposed
to him several syllogisms, to which he easily replied; he then
proposed others, that were more difficult. Luther, being annoyed,
answered him hastily, "Go, you embarrass me; I have something else to
do just now besides answering you." However, he rose and replied to
his arguments. At the same time, having remarked that the pretended
monk had hands like the claws of a bird, he said to him, "Art not thou
he of whom it is said, in Genesis, 'He who shall be born of woman
shall break the head of the serpent?'" The demon added, "But _thou_
shalt engulf them all." At these words the confused demon retired
angrily and with much fracas; he left the room infested with a very
bad smell, which was perceptible for some days.

Luther, who assumes so much the _esprit fort_, and inveighs with so
much warmth against private masses wherein they pray for the souls of
the defunct,[367] maintains boldly that all the apparitions of spirits
which we read in the lives of the saints, and who ask for masses for
the repose of their souls, are only illusions of Satan, who appears to
deceive the simple, and inspire them with useless confidence in the
sacrifice of the mass. Whence he concludes that it is better at once
to deny absolutely that there is any purgatory.

He, then, did not deny either apparitions or the operations of the
devil; and he maintained that Ecolampadius died under the blows of the
devil,[368] whose efforts he could not rebut; and, speaking of
himself, he affirms that awaking once with a start in the middle of
the night, the devil appeared, to argue against him, when he was
seized with moral terror. The arguments of the demon were so pressing
that they left him no repose of mind; the sound of his powerful voice,
his overwhelming manner of disputing when the question and the reply
were perceived at once, left him no breathing time. He says again that
the devil can kill and strangle, and without doing all that, press a
man so home by his arguments that it is enough to kill one; "as I,"
says he, "have experienced several times." After such avowals, what
can we think of the doctrine of this chief of the innovators?


[366] Philipp. Melancth. Theolog. c. i. Oper. fol. 326, 327.

[367] Martin Luther, de Abroganda Missa Privata, part. ii.

[368] Ibid. tom. vii. 226.



The ancient Hebrews, as well as the greater number of other nations,
were very careful in burying their dead. That appears from all
history; we see in the Scripture how much attention the patriarchs
paid in that respect to themselves and those belonging to them; we
know what praises are bestowed on the holy man Tobit, whose principal
devotion consisted in giving sepulture to the dead.

Josephus the historian[369] says that the Jews refused burial only to
those who committed suicide. Moses commanded them[370] to give
sepulture the same day and before sunset to any who were executed and
hanged on a tree; "because," says he, "he who is hung upon the tree is
accursed of God; you will take care not to pollute the land which the
Lord your God has given you." That was practiced in regard to our
Saviour, who was taken down from the cross the same day that he had
been crucified, and a few hours after his death.

Homer,[371] speaking of the inhumanity of Achilles, who dragged the
body of Hector after his car, says that he dishonored and outraged the
earth by this barbarous conduct. The Rabbis write that the soul is not
received into heaven until the gross body is interred, and entirely
consumed. They believe, moreover, that after death the souls of the
wicked are clothed with a kind of covering with which they accustom
themselves to suffer the torments which are their due; and that the
souls of the just are invested with a resplendent body and a luminous
garment, with which they accustom themselves to the glory which awaits

Origen[372] acknowledges that Plato, in his Dialogue of the Soul,
advances that the images and shades of the dead appeared sometimes
near their tombs. Origen concludes from that, that those shades and
those images must be produced by some cause; and that cause, according
to him, can only be that the soul of the dead is invested with a
subtile body like that of light, on which they are borne as in a car,
where they appear to the living. Celsus maintained that the
apparitions of Jesus Christ after his resurrection were only the
effects of an imagination smitten and prepossessed, which formed to
itself the object of its illusions according to its wishes. Origen
refutes this solidly by the recital of the evangelists, of the
appearance of our Saviour to Thomas, who would not believe it was
truly our Saviour until he had seen and touched his wounds; it was
not, then, purely the effect of his imagination.

The same Origen,[373] and Theophylact after him, assert that the Jews
and pagans believe that the soul remained for some time near the body
it had formerly animated; and that it is to destroy that futile
opinion that Jesus Christ, when he would resuscitate Lazarus, cries
with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth;" as if he would call from a
distance the soul of this man who had been dead three days.

Tertullian places the angels in the category of extension,[374] in
which he places God himself, and maintains that the soul is corporeal.
Origen believes also that the soul is material, and has a form;[375]
an opinion which he may have taken from Plato. Arnobius, Lactantius,
St. Hilary, several of the ancient fathers, and some theologians, have
been of the same opinion; and Grotius is displeased with those who
have absolutely spiritualized the angels, demons and souls separated
from the body.

The Jews of our days[376] believe that after the body of a man is
interred, his spirit goes and comes, and departs from the spot where
it is destined to visit his body, and to know what passes around him;
that it is wandering during a whole year after the death of the body,
and that it was during that year of delay that the Pythoness of Endor
evoked the soul of Samuel, after which time the evocation would have
had no power over his spirit.

The pagans thought much in the same manner upon it. Lucan introduces
Pompey, who consults a witch, and commands her to evoke the soul of a
dead man to reveal to him what success he would meet with in his war
against Cæsar; the poet makes this woman say, "Shade, obey my spells,
for I evoke not a soul from gloomy Tartarus, but one which hath gone
down thither a little while since, and which is still at the gate of

The Egyptians[378] believed that when the spirit of an animal is
separated from its body by violence, it does not go to a distance, but
remains near it. It is the same with the soul of a man who has died a
violent death; it remains near the body--nothing can make it go away;
it is retained there by sympathy; several have been seen sighing near
their bodies which were interred. The magicians abuse their power over
such in their incantations; they force them to obey, when they are
masters of the dead body, or even part of it. Frequent experience
taught them that there is a secret virtue in the body, which draws
towards it the spirit which has once inhabited it; wherefore those who
wish to receive or become the receptacles of the spirits of such
animals as know the future, eat the principle parts of them, as the
hearts of crows, moles, or hawks. The spirit of these creatures enters
into them at the moment they eat this food, and makes them give out
oracles like divinities.

The Egyptians believed[379] that when the spirit of a beast is
delivered from its body, it is rational and predicts the future, gives
oracles, and is capable of all that the soul of man can do when
disengaged from the body--for which reason they abstained from eating
the flesh of animals, and worshiped the gods in the form of beasts.

At Rome and at Metz there were colleges of priests consecrated to the
service of the manes,[380] lares, images, shades, spectres, Erebus,
Avernus or hell, under the protection of the god Sylvanus; which
demonstrates that the Latins and the Gauls recognized the return of
souls and their apparition, and considered them as divinities to whom
sacrifices should be offered to appease them and prevent them from
doing harm. Nicander confirms the same thing, when he says that the
Celts or the Gauls watched near the tombs of their great men to derive
from them knowledge concerning the future.

The ancient northern nations were fully persuaded that the spectres
which sometimes appear are no other than the souls of persons lately
deceased, and in their country they knew no remedy so proper to put a
stop to this kind of apparition as to cut off the head of the dead
person, or to impale him, or pierce him through the body with a stake,
or to burn it, as is now practiced at this day in Hungary and Moravia
with regard to vampires.

The Greeks, who had derived their religion and theology from the
Egyptians and Orientals, and the Latins, who took it from the Greeks,
believed that the souls of the dead sometimes appeared to the living;
that the necromancers evoked them, and thus obtained answers
concerning the future, and instructions relating to the time present.
Homer, the greatest theologian, and perhaps the most curious of the
Grecian writers, relates several apparitions, both of gods and heroes,
and of men after their death.

In the Odyssey,[381] Ulysses goes to consult the diviner Tyresias; and
this sorcerer having prepared a grave full of blood to evoke the
manes, Ulysses draws his sword, and prevents them from coming to drink
this blood, for which they appear to thirst, and of which they would
not permit them to taste before they had replied to what was asked of
them; they (the Greeks and Latins) believed also that souls were not
at rest, and that they wandered around the corpses, so long as they
remained uninhumed.[382] When they gave burial to a body, they called
that _animam condere_,[383] to cover the soul, put it under the earth
and shelter it. They called it with a loud voice, and offered it
libations of milk and blood. They also called that ceremony, hiding
the shades,[384] sending them with their body under ground.

The sybil, speaking to Æneas, shows him the manes or shades wandering
on the banks of the Acheron; and tells him that they are souls of
persons who have not received sepulture, and who wander about for a
hundred years.[385]

The philosopher Sallust[386] speaks of the apparitions of the dead
around their tombs in dark bodies; he tries to prove thereby the dogma
of the metempsychosis.

Here is a singular instance of a dead man, who refuses the rite of
burial, acknowledging himself unworthy of it. Agathias relates[387]
that some pagan philosophers, not being able to relish the dogma of
the unity of a God, resolved to go from Constantinople to the court of
Chosroes, King of Persia, who was spoken of as a humane prince, and
one who loved learning. Simplicius of Silicia, Eulamius the Phrygian,
Protanus the Lydian, Hermenes and Philogenes of Phoenicia, and
Isidorus of Gaza, repaired then to the court of Chosroes, and were
well received there; but they soon perceived that that country was
much more corrupt than Greece, and they resolved to return to
Constantinople, where Justinian then reigned.

As they were on their way, they found an unburied corpse, took pity on
it, and had it put in the ground by their own servants. The following
night this man appeared to one of them, and told him not to inter him,
who was not worthy of receiving sepulture; for the earth abhorred one
who had defiled his own mother. The next day they found the same
corpse cast out of the ground, and they comprehended that it was
defiled by incest, which rendered it unworthy of the honor of
receiving burial, although such crimes were known in Persia, and did
not excite the same horror there as in other countries.

The Greeks and Latins believed that the souls of the dead came and
tasted what was presented on their tombs, especially honey and wine;
that the demons loved the smoke and odor of sacrifices, melody, the
blood of victims, commerce with women; that they were attached for a
time to certain spots or to certain edifices, which they haunted, and
where they appeared; that souls separated from their terrestrial body,
retained after death a subtile one, flexible, aërial, which preserved
the form of that they once had animated during their life; that they
haunted those who had done them wrong and whom they hated. Thus Virgil
describes Dido, in a rage, threatening to haunt the perfidious

When the spirit of Patroclus appeared to Achilles,[389] it had his
voice, his shape, his eyes, his garments, but not his palpable body.
When Ulysses went down to the infernal regions, he saw there the
divine Hercules,[390] that is to say, says Homer, his likeness; for he
himself is with the immortal gods, seated at their feast. Æneas
recognized his wife Creüsa, who appeared to him in her usual form,
only taller and more majestic.[391]

We might cite a quantity of passages from the ancient poets, even from
the fathers of the church, who believed that spirits often appeared to
the living. Tertullian[392] believes that the soul is corporeal, and
that it has a certain figure. He appeals to the experience of those to
whom the ghosts of dead persons have appeared, and who have seen them
sensibly, corporeally, and palpably, although of an aërial color and
consistency. He defines the soul[393] a breath sent from God,
immortal, and having body and form. Speaking of the fictions of the
poets, who have asserted that souls were not at rest while their
bodies remain uninterred, he says all this is invented only to inspire
the living with that care which they ought to take for the burial of
the dead, and to take away from the relations of the dead the sight of
an object which would only uselessly augment their grief, if they kept
it too long in their houses; _ut instantiâ funeris et honor corporum
servetur et moeror affectuum temperetur_.

St. Irenæus[394] teaches, as a doctrine received from the Lord, that
souls not only subsist after the death of the body--without however
passing from one body into another, as those will have it who admit
the metempsychosis--but that they retain the form and remain near this
body, as faithful guardians of it, and remember naught of what they
have done or not done in this life. These fathers believed, then, in
the return of souls, their apparition, and their attachment to their
body; but we do not adopt their opinion on the corporeality of souls;
we are persuaded that they can appear with God's permission,
independently of all matter and of any corporeal substance which may
belong to them.

As to the opinion of the soul being in a state of unrest while its
body is not interred, that it remains for some time near the tomb of
the body, and appears there in a bodily form; those are opinions which
have no solid foundation, either in Scripture or in the traditions of
the Church, which teach us that directly after death the soul is
presented before the judgment-seat of God, and is there destined to
the place that its good or bad actions have deserved.


[369] Joseph Bell. Jud. lib. iii c. 25.

[370] Deut. xxi. 23.

[371] Homer, Iliad, XXIV.

[372] Origenes contra Celsum, p. 97.

[373] Origenes in Joan. ix. &c. Theophylac. ibid.

[374] Tertull. lib. de Anima.

[375] Origenes contra Cels. lib. ii.

[376] Bereseith Rabbæ. c. 22. Vide Menasse de Resurrect. Mort.

                          "Parete precanti
  Non in Tartareo latitantem poscimus antro,
  Assuetamque diù tenebris; modò luce fugatâ
  Descendentem animam primo pallentis hiatu
  Hæret adhuc orci."
                       _Lucan, Pharsal._ 16.

[378] Porphyr. de Abstin. lib. ii. art. 47.

[379] Demet. lib. iv. art. 10.

[380] Gruter, p. lxiii. Mauric. Hist. de Metz, preface, p. 15.

[381] Homer, Odyss. sub finem. Horat. lib. i. satyr. 8. Aug. de Civit.
Dei, lib. vii. c. 35. Clem. Alex. Pædag. lib. ii. c. 1. Prudent.
lib. iv. contra Symmach. Tertull. de Anim. Lactantius, lib. iii.

[382] Virgil, Æn. iii. 150, _et seq._

  "Proptereà jacet exanimum tibi corpus amici,
  Heu nescis! totamque incestat funere classem.
  Sedibus hunc refer ante suis et conde sepulcre."

                "Animamque sepulchro
  Condimus, et magnâ supremum voce ciemus."

  "Romulus ut tumulo fraternas condidit umbras,
  Et malè veloci justa soluta Remo."

  "Hæc omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est.
  Centum errant annos, volitantque hæc littora circum."

[386] Sallust. Philos. c. 19, 20.

[387] Stolust. lib. ii. de Bella Persico, sub fin.

              "Sequar atris ignibus absens;
  Et cum frigida mors animæ subduxerit artus,
  Omnibus umbra lecis adero: dubis, improbe, poenas."

[389] Homer, Iliad, XXIII.

[390] Ibid. Odyss. V.

  "Infelix simulacrum etque ipsius umbra Creüsæ
  Visa mihi ante oculos, et notâ major imago." _Virgil, Æneid_ I.

[392] Tertull. de Anim.

[393] Ibid.

[394] Iren. lib. ii. c. 34.



The apparitions which are seen are those of good angels, or of demons,
or the spirits of the dead, or of living persons to others still

Good angels usually bring only good news, and announce nothing but
what is fortunate; or if they do announce any future misfortunes, it
is to persuade men to prevent them, or turn them aside by repentance,
or to profit by the evils which God sends them by exercising their
patience, and showing submission to his orders.

Bad angels generally foretell only misfortune; wars, the effect of the
wrath of God on nations; and often even they execute the evils, and
direct the wars and public calamities which desolate kingdoms,
provinces, cities, and families. The spectres whose appearance to
Brutus, Cassius, and Julian the Apostate we have related, are only
bearers of the fatal orders of the wrath of God. If they sometimes
promise any prosperity to those to whom they appear, it is only for
the present time, never for eternity, nor for the glory of God, nor
for the eternal salvation of those to whom they speak. It only extends
to a temporal fortune, always of short duration, and very often

The souls of the defunct, if these be Christians, ask very often that
the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ should be offered,
according to the observation of St. Gregory the Great;[395] and, as
experience shows, there is hardly any apparition of a Christian that
does not ask for masses, pilgrimages, restitutions, or that alms
should be distributed, or that they would satisfy those to whom the
deceased died indebted. They also often give salutary advice for the
salvation or correction of the morals, or good regulation of families.
They reveal the state in which certain persons find themselves in the
other world, in order to relieve their pain, or to put the living on
their guard, that the like misfortune may not befall them. They talk
of hell, paradise, purgatory, angels, demons, of the Supreme Judge, of
the rigor of his judgments, of the goodness he exercises towards the
just, and the rewards with which he crowns their good works.

But we must greatly mistrust those apparitions which ask for masses,
pilgrimages and restitution. St. Paul warns us that the demon often
transforms himself into an angel of light;[396] and St. John[397]
warns us to distrust the "depths of Satan," his illusions, and
deceitful appearances; that spirit of malice and falsehood is found
among the true prophets to put into the mouth of the false prophets
falsehood and error. He makes a wrong use of the text of the
Scriptures, of the most sacred ceremonies, even of the sacraments and
prayers of the church, to seduce the simple, and win their confidence,
to share as much as in him lies the glory which is due to the Almighty
alone, and to appropriate it to himself. How many false miracles has
he not wrought? How many times has he foretold future events? What
cures has he not operated? How many holy actions has he not counseled?
How many enterprises, praiseworthy in appearance, has he not inspired,
in order to draw the faithful into his snare?

Boden, in his Demonology,[398] cites more than one instance of demons
who have requested prayers, and have even placed themselves in the
posture of persons praying over a grave, to point out that the dead
persons wanted prayers. Sometimes it will be the demon in the shape of
a wretch dead in crime, who will come and ask for masses, to show that
his soul is in purgatory, and has need of prayers, although it may be
certain that he finally died impenitent, and that prayers are useless
for his salvation. All this is only a stratagem of a demon, who seeks
to inspire the wicked with foolish and dangerous confidence in their
being saved, notwithstanding their criminal life and their
impenitence; and that they can obtain salvation by means of a few
prayers, and a few alms, which shall be made after their death; not
regarding that these good works can be useful only to those who died
in a state of grace, although stained by some venial fault, since the
Scripture informs us[399] that nothing impure will enter the kingdom
of heaven.

It is believed that the reprobate can sometimes return to earth by
permission, as persons dead in idolatry, and consequently in sin, and
excluded from the kingdom of God, have been seen to come to life
again, be converted, and receive baptism. St. Martin was as yet only
the simple abbot of his monastery of Ligugé,[400] when, in his
absence, a catechumen who had placed himself under his discipline to
be instructed in the truths of the Christian religion died without
having been baptized. He had been three days deceased when the saint
arrived. He sent everybody away, prayed over the dead man,
resuscitated him, and administered to him the baptismal rite.

This catechumen related that he had been led before the tribunal of
the Supreme Judge, who had condemned him to descend into the darkness
with an infinity of other persons condemned like himself; but that two
angels having represented to the Judge that it was this man for whom
St. Martin interceded, God commanded the two angels to bring him back
to earth, and restore him to Martin. This is an instance which proves
what I have just said, that the reprobate can return to life, do
penance, and receive baptism.

But as to what some have affirmed of the salvation of Falconila,
procured by St. Thecla, of that of Trajan, saved by the prayers of St.
Gregory, pope, and of some others who died heathens, this is all
entirely contrary to the faith of the church and to the holy
Scripture, which teach us that without faith it is impossible to
please God, and that he who believes not and has not received baptism
is already judged and condemned. Thus the opinions of those who accord
salvation to Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, &c., because it may appear to
them that they lived in a praiseworthy manner, according to the rules
of a merely human and philosophical morality, must be considered as
rash, erroneous, false, and dangerous.

Philip, Chancellor of the Church of Paris, maintained that it was
permitted to one man to hold a plurality of benefices. Being on his
death-bed, he was visited by William, Bishop of Paris, who died in
1248. This prelate urged the chancellor to give up all his benefices
save one only; he refused, saying that he wished to try if the holding
a plurality of livings was so wrong as it was said to be; and in this
disposition of mind he died in 1237.

Some days after his decease, Bishop William, or Guillaume, praying by
night, after matins, in his cathedral, beheld before him the hideous
and frightful figure of a man. He made the sign of the cross, and said
to him, "If you are sent by God, speak." He spoke, and said: "I am
that wretched chancellor, and have been condemned to eternal
punishment." The bishop having asked him the cause, he replied, "I am
condemned, first, for not having distributed the superfluity of my
benefices; secondly, for having maintained that it was allowable to
hold several at once; thirdly, for having remained for several days in
the guilt of incontinence."

The story was often preached by Bishop William to his clerks. It is
related by the Bishop Albertus Magnus, who was a cotemporary, in his
book on the sacraments; by William Durand, Bishop of Mande, in his
book _De Modo celebrandi Concilia_; and in Thomas de Cantimpré, in his
work _Des Abeilles_. He believed, then, that God sometimes permitted
the reprobate to appear to the living.

Here is an instance of the apparition of a man and woman who were in a
state of reprobation. The Prince of Ratzivil,[401] in his Journey to
Jerusalem, relates that when in Egypt he bought two mummies, had them
packed up, and secretly as possible conveyed on board his vessel, so
that only himself and his two servants were aware of it; the Turks
making a great difficulty of allowing mummies to be carried away,
because they fancy that the Christians make use of them for magical
operations. When they were at sea, there arose at sundry times such a
violent tempest that the pilot despaired of saving the vessel. A good
Polish priest, of the suite of the Prince de Ratzivil, recited the
prayers suitable to the circumstance; but he was tormented, he said,
by two hideous black spectres, a man and a woman, who were on each
side of him, and threatened to take away his life. It was thought at
first that terror disturbed his mind.

A calm coming on, he appeared tranquil; but very soon, the storm
beginning again, he was more tormented than before, and was only
delivered from these haunting spectres when the two mummies, which he
had not seen, were thrown into the sea, and neither himself nor the
pilot knew of their being in the ship. I will not deny the fact, which
is related by a prince incapable of desiring to impose on any one. But
how many reflections may we make on this event! Were they the souls of
these two pagans, or two demons who assumed their form? What interest
could the demon have in not permitting these bodies to come under the
power of the Christians?


[395] Greg. Mag. lib. iv. Dialog. c. 55.

[396] Cor. xi. 14.

[397] Rev. xxi. 14.

[398] Bodin, Dæmon. tom. iii. c. 6.

[399] Rev. xxi. 27.

[400] Sulpit. Sever. Vita St. Martin. c. 5.

[401] Ratzivil, Peregrin, Jerosol. p. 218.



We find in all history, both sacred and profane, ancient and modern,
an infinite number of examples of the apparition of persons alive to
other living persons. The prophet Ezekiel says of himself,[402] "I was
seated in my house, in the midst of the elders of my people, when on a
sudden a hand, which came from a figure shining like fire, seized me
by the hair; and the spirit transported me between heaven and earth,
and took me to Jerusalem, where he placed me near the inner gate,
which looks towards the north, where I saw the idol of jealousy"
(apparently Adonis), "and I there remarked the majesty of the Lord, as
I had seen it in the field; he showed me the idol of jealousy, to
which the Israelites burned incense; and the angel of the Lord said to
me: Thou seest the abominations which the children of Israel commit,
in turning away from my sanctuary; thou shalt see still greater.

"And having pierced the wall of the temple, I saw figures of reptiles
and animals, the abominations and idols of the house of Israel, and
seventy men of the elders of Israel, who were standing before these
figures, each one bearing a censer in his hand; after that the angel
said to me, Thou shalt see yet something yet more abominable; and he
showed me women who were mourning for Adonis. Lastly, having
introduced me into the inner court of the temple, I saw twenty men
between the vestibule and the altar, who turned their back upon the
temple of the Lord, and stood with their faces to the _east_, and paid
adoration to the rising sun."

Here we may remark two things; first, that Ezekiel is transported from
Chaldæa to Jerusalem, through the air between heaven and earth by the
hand of an angel; which proves the possibility of transporting a
living man through the air to a very great distance from the place
where he was.

The second is, the vision or apparition of those prevaricators who
commit even within the temple the greatest abominations, the most
contrary to the majesty of God, the sanctity of the spot, and the law
of the Lord. After all these things, the same angel brings back
Ezekiel into Chaldæa; but it was not until after God had showed him
the vengeance he intended to exercise upon the Israelites.

It will, perhaps, be said that all this passed only in a vision; that
Ezekiel thought that he was transported to Jerusalem and afterwards
brought back again to Babylon; and that what he saw in the temple he
saw only by revelation. I reply, that the text of this prophet
indicates a real removal, and that he was transported by the hair of
his head between heaven and earth. He was brought back from Jerusalem
in the same way.

I do not deny that the thing might have passed in a vision, and that
Ezekiel might have seen in spirit what was passing in the temple of
Jerusalem. But I shall still deduce from it a consequence which is
favorable to my design, that is, the possibility of a living man being
carried through the air to a very great distance from the place he was
in, or at least that a living man can imagine strongly that he is
being carried from one place to another, although this transportation
may be only imaginary and in a dream or vision, as they pretend it
happens in the transportation of sorcerers to the witches' sabbath.

In short, there are true appearances of the living to others who are
also alive. How is this done? The thing is not difficult to explain in
following the recital of the prophet, who is transferred from Chaldæa
into Judea in his own body by the ministration of angels; but the
apparitions related in St. Augustine and in other authors are not of
the same kind: the two persons who see and converse with each other go
not from their places; and the one who appears knows nothing of what
is passing in regard to him to whom he appears, and to whom he
explains several things of which he did not even think at that moment.

In the third book of Kings, Obadiah, steward of king Ahab, having met
the prophet Elijah, who had for some time kept himself concealed,
tells him that king Ahab had him sought for everywhere, and that not
having been able to discover him anywhere, had gone himself to seek
him out. Elijah desired him to go and tell the king that Elijah had
appeared; but Obadiah replied, "See to what you expose me; for if I go
and announce to Ahab that I have spoken to you, the spirit of God will
transport you into some unknown place, and the king, not finding you,
will put me to death."

There again is an instance which proves the possibility of the
transportation of a living man to a very distant spot. The same
prophet, being on Mount Carmel, was seized by the Spirit of God, which
transported him thence to Jezreel in very little time, not through the
air, but by making him walk and run with a promptitude that was quite

In the Gospel, Elias[403] appeared with Moses on Mount Tabor, at the
transfiguration of the Saviour. Moses had long been dead; but the
Church believes that Elijah (or Elias) is still living. In the Acts of
the Apostles,[404] Annanias appeared to St. Paul, and put his hands on
him in a vision before he arrived at his house in Damascus.

Two men of the court of the Emperor Valens, wishing to discover by the
aid of magical secrets who would succeed that emperor,[405] caused a
table of laurel-wood to be made into a tripod, on which they placed a
basin made of divers metals. On the border of this basin were
engraved, at some distance from each other, the twenty-four letters of
the Greek alphabet. A magician with certain ceremonies approached the
basin, and holding in his hand a ring suspended by a thread, suffered
it at intervals to fall upon the letters of the alphabet whilst they
were rapidly turning the table; the ring falling on the different
letters formed obscure and enigmatical verses like those pronounced by
the oracle of Delphi.

At last they asked what was the name of him who should succeed to the
Emperor Valens? The ring touched the four letters [Greek: THEOD],
which they interpreted of Theodosius, the second secretary of the
Emperor Valens. Theodosius was arrested, interrogated, convicted, and
put to death; and with him all the culprits or accomplices in this
operation; search was made for all the books of magic, and a great
number were burnt. The great Theodosius, of whom they thought not at
all, and who was at a great distance from the court, was the person
designated by these letters. In 379, he was declared Augustus by the
Emperor Gratian, and in coming to Constantinople in 380, he had a
dream, in which it seemed to him that Melitus, Bishop of Antioch, whom
he had never seen, and knew only by reputation, invested him with the
imperial mantle and placed the diadem on his head.

They were then assembling the Eastern bishops to hold the Council of
Constantinople. Theodosius begged that Melitus might not be pointed
out to him, saying that he should recognize him by the signs he had
seen in his dream. In fact, he distinguished him amongst all the other
bishops, embraced him, kissed his hands, and looked upon him ever
after as his father. This was a distinct apparition of a living

St. Augustine relates[407] that a certain man saw, in the night before
he slept, a philosopher, who was known to him, enter his house, and
who explained to him some of Plato's opinions which he would not
explain to him before. This apparition of the Platonician was merely
fantastic; for the person to whom he had appeared having asked him why
he would not explain to him at his house what he had come to explain
to him when at home, the philosopher replied, "I did not do so, but I
dreamt I did so." Here, then, are two persons both alive, one of whom,
in his sleep and dreaming, speaks to another who is wide awake, and
sees him only in imagination.

The same St. Augustine[408] acknowledges in the presence of his people
that he had appeared to two persons who had never seen him, and knew
him only by reputation, and that he advised them to come to Hippo, to
be there cured by the merit of the martyr St. Stephen:--they came
there, and recovered their health.

Evodius, teaching rhetoric at Carthage,[409] and finding himself
puzzled concerning the sense of a passage in the books of the Rhetoric
of Cicero, which he was to explain the next day to his scholars, was
much disquieted when he went to bed, and could hardly get to sleep.
During his sleep he fancied he saw St. Augustine, who was then at
Milan, a great way from Carthage, who was not thinking of him at all,
and was apparently sleeping very quietly in his bed at Milan, who came
to him and explained the passage in question. St. Augustine avows that
he does not know how it happens; but in whatever way it may occur, it
is very possible for us to see in a dream a dead person as we see a
living one, without either one or the other knowing how, when, or
where, these images are formed in our mind. It is also possible that a
dead man may appear to the living without being aware of it, and
discover to them secrets and hidden things, the result of which
reveals their truth and reality. When a living man appears in a dream
to another man, we do not say that his body or his spirit have
appeared, but simply that such a one has appeared to him. Why can we
not say that the dead appear without body and without soul, but simply
that their form presents itself to the mind and imagination of the
living person?

St. Augustine, in the book which he has composed on the care which we
ought to take of the dead,[410] says that a holy monk, named John,
appeared to a pious woman, who ardently desired to see him. The
saintly doctor reasons a great deal on this apparition;--whether this
solitary foresaw what would happen to him; if he went in spirit to
this woman; if it is his angel or his spirit in his bodily form which
appeared to her in her sleep, as we behold in our dreams absent
persons who are known to us. We should be able to speak to the monk
himself, to know from himself how that occurred, if by the power of
God, or by his permission; for there is little appearance that he did
it by any natural power.

It is said that St. Simeon Stylites[411] appeared to his disciple St.
Daniel, who had undertaken the journey to Jerusalem, where he would
have to suffer much for Jesus Christ's sake. St. Benedict[412] had
promised to comply with the request of some architects, who had begged
him to come and show them how he wished them to build a certain
monastery; the saint did not go to them bodily, but he went thither in
spirit, and gave them the plan and design of the house which they were
to construct. These men did not comprehend that it was what he had
promised them, and came to him again to ask what were his intentions
relative to this edifice: he said to them, "I have explained it to you
in a dream; you can follow the plan which you have seen."

The Cæsar Bardas, who had so mightily contributed to the deposition of
St. Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, had a vision, which he thus
related to Philothes his friend. "I thought I was that night going in
procession to the high church with the Emperor Michael. When we had
entered and were near the ambe, there appeared two eunuchs of the
chamber, with a cruel and ferocious mien, one of whom, having bound
the emperor, dragged him out of the choir on the right side; the other
dragged me in the same manner to the left. Then I saw on a sudden an
old man seated on the throne of the sanctuary. He resembled the image
of St. Peter, and two terrific men were standing near him, who looked
like provosts. I beheld, at the knees of St. Peter, St. Ignatius
weeping, and crying aloud, 'You have the keys of the kingdom of
heaven; if you know the injustice which has been done me, console my
afflicted old age.'

"St. Peter replied, 'Point out the man who has used you ill.'
Ignatius, turning round, pointed to me, saying, 'That is he who has
done me most wrong.' St. Peter made a sign to the one at his right,
and placing in his hand a short sword, he said to him aloud, 'Take
Bardas, the enemy of God, and cut him in pieces before the vestibule.'
As they were leading me to death, I saw that he said to the emperor,
holding up his hand in a threatening manner, 'Wait, unnatural son!'
after which I saw them cut me absolutely in pieces."

This took place in 866. The year following, in the month of April, the
emperor having set out to attack the Isle of Crete, was made so
suspicious of Bardas, that he resolved to get rid of him. He
accompanied the Emperor Michael in this expedition. Bardas, seeing the
murderers enter the emperor's tent, sword in hand, threw himself at
his feet to ask his pardon; but they dragged him out, cut him in
pieces, and in derision carried some of his members about at the end
of a pike. This happened the 29th of April, 867.

Roger, Count of Calabria and Sicily, besieging the town of Capua, one
named Sergius, a Greek by birth, to whom he had given the command of
200 men, having suffered himself to be bribed, formed the design of
betraying him, and of delivering the army of the count to the Prince
of Capua, during the night. It was on the 1st of March that he was to
execute his intention. St. Bruno, who then dwelt in the Desert of
Squilantia, appeared to Count Roger, and told him to fly to arms
promptly, if he would not be oppressed by his enemies. The count
starts from his sleep, commands his people to mount their horses and
see what is going on in the camp. They met the men belonging to
Sergius, with the Prince of Capua, who having perceived them retired
promptly into the town; those of Count Roger took 162 of them, from
whom they learned all the secret of the treason. Roger went, on the
29th of July following, to Squilantia, and having related to Bruno
what had happened to him, the saint said to him, "It was not I who
warned you; it was the angel of God, who is near princes in time of
war." Thus Count Roger relates the affair himself, in a privilege
granted to St. Bruno.

A monk[413] named Fidus, a disciple of St. Euthymius, a celebrated
abbot in Palestine, having been sent by Martyrius, the patriarch of
Jerusalem, on an important mission concerning the affairs of the
church, embarked at Joppa, and was shipwrecked the following night; he
supported himself above water for some time by clinging to a piece of
wood, which he found by chance. Then he invoked the help of St.
Euthymius, who appeared to him walking on the sea, and who said to
him, "Know that this voyage is not pleasing to God, and will be of no
utility to the mother of the Churches, that is to say, to Jerusalem.
Return to him who sent you, and tell him from me not to be uneasy at
the separation of the schismatics--union will take place ere long; for
you, you must go to my laurel grove, and you must build there a

Having said this, he enveloped Fidus in his mantle, and Fidus found
himself immediately at Jerusalem, and in his house, without knowing
how he came there; he related it all to the Patriarch Martyrius, who
remembered the prediction of St. Euthymius concerning the building in
the laurel grove a monastery.

Queen Margaret, in her memoirs, asserts that God protects the great in
a particular manner, and that he lets them know, either in dreams or
otherwise, what is to happen to them. "As Queen Catherine de Medicis,
my mother," says she, "who the night before that unhappy day dreamt
she saw the king, Henry II., my father, wounded in the eye, as it
really happened; when she awoke she several times implored the king
not to tilt that day.

"The same queen being dangerously ill at Metz, and having around her
bed the king (Charles IX.), my sister, and brother of Lorraine, and
many ladies and princesses, she cried out as if she had seen the
battle of Jarnac fought: 'See how they fly! my son has the victory! Do
you see the Prince of Condè dead in that hedge?' All those who were
present fancied she was dreaming; but the night after, M. de Losse
brought her the news. 'I knew it well,' said she; 'did I not behold it
the day before yesterday?'"

The Duchess Philippa, of Gueldres, wife of the Duke of Lorraine, René
II., being a nun at St. Claire du Pont-à-Mousson, saw during her
orisons the unfortunate battle of Pavia. She cried out suddenly, "Ah!
my sisters, my dear sisters, for the love of God, say your prayers; my
son De Lambesc is dead, and the king (Francis I.) my cousin is made
prisoner." Some days after, news of this famous event, which happened
the day on which the duchess had seen it, was received at Nancy.
Certainly, neither the young Prince de Lambesc nor the king Francis I.
had any knowledge of this revelation, and they took no part in it. It
was, then, neither their spirit nor their phantoms which appeared to
the princess; it was apparently their angel, or God himself, who by
his power struck her imagination, and represented to her what was
passing at that moment.

Mezeray affirms that he had often heard people of quality relate that
the duke (Charles the Third) of Lorraine, who was at Paris when King
Henry II. was wounded with the splinter of a lance, of which he died,
told the circumstance often of a lady who lodged in his hotel having
seen in a dream, very distinctly, that the king had been struck and
brought to the ground by a blow from a lance.

To these instances of the apparition of living persons to other living
persons in their sleep, we may add an infinite number of other
instances of apparitions of angels and holy personages, or even of
dead persons, to the living when asleep, to give them instructions,
warn them of dangers which menace them, inspire them with salutary
counsel relative to their salvation, or to give them aid; thick
volumes might be composed on such matters. I shall content myself with
relating here some examples of those apparitions drawn from profane

Xerxes, king of Persia, when deliberating in council whether he should
carry the war into Greece, was strongly dissuaded from it by
Artabanes, his paternal uncle. Xerxes took offence at this liberty,
and uttered some very disobliging words to him. The following night he
reflected seriously on the arguments of Artabanes, and changed his
resolution. When he was asleep, he saw in a dream a man of
extraordinary size and beauty, who said to him, "You have then
renounced your intention of making war on the Greeks, although you
have already given orders to the Persian chiefs to assemble your army.
You have not done well to change your resolve, even should no one be
of your opinion. Go forward; believe me. Follow your first design."
Having said this, the vision disappeared. The next day he again
assembled his council, and without speaking of his dream, he testified
his regret for what he said in his rage the preceding day to his uncle
Artabanes, and declared that he had renounced his design of making war
upon the Greeks. Those who composed the council, transported with joy,
prostrated themselves before him, and congratulated him upon it.

The following night he had a second time the same vision, and the same
phantom said to him, "Son of Darius, thou hast then abandoned thy
design of declaring war against the Greeks, regardless of what I said
to thee. Know that if thou dost not instantly undertake this
expedition, thou wilt soon be reduced to a situation as low as that in
which thou now findest thyself elevated." The king directly rose from
his bed, and sent in all haste for Artabanes, to whom he related the
two dreams which he had had two nights consecutively. He added, "I
pray you to put on my royal ornaments, sit down on my throne, and then
lie down in my bed. If the phantom which appeared to me appears to you
also, I shall believe that the thing is ordained by the decrees of the
gods, and I shall yield to their commands."

Artabanes would in vain have excused himself from putting on the royal
ornaments, sitting on the king's throne, and lying down in his bed,
alleging that all those things would be useless if the gods had
resolved to let him know their will; that it would even be more likely
to exasperate the gods, as if he desired to deceive them by external
appearances. As for the rest, dreams in themselves deserve no
attention, and usually they are only the consequences and
representations of what is most strongly in the mind when awake.

Xerxes did not yield to his arguments, and Artabanes did what the king
desired, persuaded that if the same thing should occur more than once,
it would be a proof of the will of the gods, of the reality of the
vision, and the truth of the dream. He then laid down in the king's
bed, and the same phantom appeared to him, and said, "It is you, then,
who prevent Xerxes from executing his resolve and accomplishing what
is decreed by fate. I have already declared to the king what he has to
fear if he disobeys my orders." At the same time it appeared to
Artabanes that the spectre would burn his eyes with a red-hot iron. He
directly sprang from the couch, and related to Xerxes what had
appeared to him and what had been said to him, adding, "I now
absolutely change my opinion, since it pleases the gods that we should
make war, and that the Greeks be threatened with great misfortunes;
give your orders and dispose everything for this war:"--which was
executed immediately.

The terrible consequences of this war, which was so fatal to Persia,
and at last caused the overthrow of that famous monarchy, leads us to
judge that this apparition, if a true one, was announced by an evil
spirit, hostile to that monarchy, sent by God to dispose things for
events predicted by the prophets, and the succession of great empires
predestined by the decrees of the Almighty.

Cicero remarks that two Arcadians, who were traveling together,
arrived at Megara, a city of Greece, situated between Athens and
Corinth. One of them, who could claim hospitality in the town, was
lodged at a friend's, and the other at an inn. After supper, he who
was at a friend's house retired to rest. In his sleep, it seemed to
him that the man whom he had left at the inn appeared to him, and
implored his help, because the innkeeper wanted to kill him. He arose
directly, much alarmed at this dream, but having reassured himself,
and fallen asleep again, the other again appeared to him, and told him
that since he had not had the kindness to aid him, at least he must
not leave his death unpunished; that the innkeeper, after having
killed him, had hidden his body in a wagon, and covered it over with
dung, and that he must not fail to be the next morning at the opening
of the city gate, before the wagon went forth. Struck with this new
dream, he went early in the morning to the city gate, saw the wagon,
and asked the driver what he had got under the manure. The carter took
flight directly, the body was extricated from the wagon, and the
innkeeper arrested and punished.

Cicero relates also some other instances of similar apparitions which
occurred in sleep; one is of Sophocles, the other of Simonides. The
former saw Hercules in a dream, who told him the name of a robber who
had taken a golden patera from his temple. Sophocles neglected this
notice, as an effect of disturbed sleep; but Hercules appeared to him
a second time, and repeated to him the same thing, which induced
Sophocles to denounce the robber, who was convicted by the Areopagus,
and from that time the temple was dedicated to Hercules the Revealer.

The dream or apparition of Simonides was more useful to himself
personally. He was on the point of embarking, when he found on the
shore the corpse of an unknown person, as yet without sepulture.
Simonides had him interred, from humanity. The next night the dead man
appeared to Simonides, and, through gratitude, counseled him not to
embark in the vessel then riding in the harbor, because he would be
shipwrecked if he did. Simonides believed him, and a few days after,
he heard of the wreck of the vessel in which he was to have embarked.

John Pico de la Mirandola assures us in his treatise, _De Auro_, that
a man, who was not rich, finding himself reduced to the last
extremity, and without any resources either to pay his debts or
procure nourishment for a numerous family in a time of scarcity,
overcome with grief and uneasiness, fell asleep. At the same time, one
of the blessed appeared to him in a dream, taught him by some
enigmatical words the means of making gold, and pointed out to him at
the same moment the water he must make use of to succeed in it. On his
awaking, he took some of that water, and made gold of it, in small
quantity, indeed, but enough to maintain his family. He made some
twice with iron, and three times with orpiment. "He has convinced me
by my own eyes," says Pico de la Mirandola, "that the means of making
gold artificially is not a falsehood, but a true art."

Here is another sort of apparition of one living man to another, which
is so much the more singular, because it proves at once the might of
spells, and that a magician can render himself invisible to several
persons, while he discovers himself to one man alone. The fact is
taken from the Treatise on Superstitions, of the reverend father Le
Brun,[414] and is characterized by all which can render it
incontestible. On Friday, the first day of May, 1705, about five
o'clock in the evening, Denis Misanger de la Richardière, eighteen
years of age, was attacked with an extraordinary malady, which began
by a sort of lethargy. They gave him every assistance that medicine
and surgery could afford. He fell afterwards into a kind of furor or
convulsion, and they were obliged to hold him, and have five or six
persons to keep watch over him, for fear that he should throw himself
out of the windows, or break his head against the wall. The emetic
which they gave him made him throw up a quantity of bile, and for four
or five days he remained pretty quiet.

At the end of the month of May, they sent him into the country to take
the air; and some other circumstances occurred, so unusual, that they
judged he must be bewitched. And what confirmed this conjecture was
that he never had any fever, and retained all his strength,
notwithstanding all the pains and violent remedies which he had been
made to take. They asked him if he had not had some dispute with a
shepherd, or some other person suspected of sorcery or malpractices.

He declared that on the 18th of April preceding, when he was going
through the village of Noysi on horseback for a ride, his horse
stopped short in the midst of the _Rue Feret_, opposite the chapel,
and he could not make him go forward, though he touched him several
times with the spur. There was a shepherd standing leaning against the
chapel, with his crook in his hand, and two black dogs at his side.
This man said to him, "Sir, I advise you to return home, for your
horse will not go forward." The young La Richardière, continuing to
spur his horse, said to the shepherd, "I do not understand what you
say." The shepherd replied, in a low tone, "I will make you
understand." In effect, the young man was obliged to get down from his
horse, and lead it back by the bridle to his father's dwelling in the
same village. Then the shepherd cast a spell upon him, which was to
take effect on the 1st of May, as was afterwards known.

During this malady, they caused several masses to be said in different
places, especially at St. Maur des Fossés, at St. Amable, and at St.
Esprit. Young La Richardière was present at some of these masses
which were said at St. Maur; but he declared that he should not be
cured till Friday, the 26th of June, on his return from St. Maur. On
entering his chamber, the key of which he had in his pocket, he found
there that shepherd, seated in his arm-chair, with his crook, and his
two black dogs. He was the only person who saw him; none other in the
house could perceive him. He said even that this man was called Damis,
although he did not remember that any one had before this revealed his
name to him. He beheld him all that day, and all the succeeding night.
Towards six o'clock in the evening, as he felt his usual sufferings,
he fell on the ground, exclaiming that the shepherd was upon him, and
crushing him; at the same time he drew his knife, and aimed five blows
at the shepherd's face, of which he retained the marks. The invalid
told those who were watching over him that he was going to be very
faint at five different times, and begged of them to help him, and
move him violently. The thing happened as he had predicted.

On Friday, the 26th of June, M. de la Richardière, having gone to the
mass at St. Maur, asserted that he should be cured on that day. After
mass, the priest put the stole upon his head and recited the Gospel of
St. John, during which prayer the young man saw St. Maur standing, and
the unhappy shepherd at his left, with his face bleeding from the five
knife-wounds which he had given him. At that moment, the youth cried
out, unintentionally, "A miracle! a miracle!" and asserted that he was
cured, as in fact he was.

On the 29th of June, the same M. de la Richardière returned to Noysi,
and amused himself with shooting. As he was shooting in the vineyards,
the shepherd presented himself before him; he hit him on the head with
the butt-end of his gun. The shepherd cried out, "Sir, you are killing
me!" and fled. The next day, this man presented himself again before
him, and asked his pardon, saying, "I am called Damis; it was I who
cast a spell over you which was to have lasted a year. By the aid of
masses and prayers which have been said for you, you have been cured
at the end of eight weeks. But the charm has fallen back upon myself,
and I can be cured of it only by a miracle. I implore you then to pray
for me."

During all these reports, the _maré chausée_ had set off in pursuit of
the shepherd; but he escaped them, having killed his two dogs and
thrown away his crook. On Sunday, the 13th of September, he came to M.
de la Richardière, and related to him his adventure; that after having
passed twenty years without approaching the sacraments, God had given
him grace to confess himself at Troyes; and that after divers delays
he had been admitted to the holy communion. Eight days after, M. de la
Richardière received a letter from a woman who said she was a relation
of the shepherd's, informing him of his death, and begging him to
cause a requiem mass to be said for him, which was done.

How many difficulties may we make about this story! How could this
wretched shepherd cast the spell without touching the person? How
could he introduce himself into young M. de la Richardière's chamber
without either opening or forcing the door? How could he render
himself visible to him alone, whilst none other beheld him? Can one
doubt of his corporeal presence, since he received five cuts from a
knife in his face, of which he afterwards bore the marks, when, by the
merit of the holy mass and the intercession of the saints, the spell
was taken off? How could St. Maur appear to him in his Benedictine
habit, having the wizard on his left hand? If the circumstance is
certain, as it appears, who shall explain the manner in which all
passed or took place?


[402] Ezek. viii. 1, 2, &c.

[403] Matt. xvii. 3.

[404] Acts ix. 10.

[405] Acts ix. 2.

[406] Ammian. Marcell. lib. xix. Sozomen. lib. vi. c. 35.

[407] Aug. lib. viii. de Civit. c. 18.

[408] Aug. Serm. cxxiii. pp. 1277, 1278.

[409] Aug. de curâ gerendâ pro Mortuis, c. 11, 12.

[410] Aug. de curâ gerend. pro Mort. c. xxvii. p. 529.

[411] Vita Daniel Stylit. xi. Decemb.

[412] Gregor. lib. ii. Dialog. c. xxii.

[413] Vita Sancti Euthym. pp. 86, 87.

[414] Le Brun, Traité des Superstit. tom. i. pp. 281, 282, et seq.



After having spoken at some length upon apparitions, and after having
established the truth of them, as far as it has been possible for us
to do so, from the authority of the Scripture, from examples, and by
arguments, we must now exercise our judgment on the causes, means, and
reasons for these apparitions, and reply to the objections which may
be made to destroy the reality of them, or at least to raise doubts on
the subject.

We have supposed that apparitions were the work of angels, demons, or
souls of the defunct; we do not talk of the appearance of God himself;
his will, his operations, his power, are above our reach; we
acknowledge that he can do all that he wills to do, that his will is
all-powerful, and that he places himself, when he chooses, above the
laws which he has made. As to the apparitions of the living to others
also living, they are of a different nature from what we propose to
examine in this place; we shall not fail to speak of them hereafter.

Whatever system we may follow on the nature of angels, or demons, or
souls separated from the body; whether we consider them as purely
spiritual substances, as the Christian church at this day holds;
whether we give them an aërial body, subtile, and invisible, as many
have taught; it appears almost as difficult to render palpable,
perceptible, and thick a subtile and aërial body, as it is to condense
the air, and make it seem like a solid and perceptible body; as, when
the angels appeared to Abraham and Lot, the angel Raphael to Tobias,
whom he conducted into Mesopotamia; or when the demon appeared to
Jesus Christ, and led him to a high mountain, and on the pinnacle of
the Temple at Jerusalem; or when Moses appeared with Elias on Mount
Tabor: for those apparitions are certain from Scripture.

If you will say that these apparitions were seen only in the
imagination and mind of those who saw, or believed they saw angels,
demons, or souls separated from the body, as it happens every day in
our sleep, and sometimes when awake, if we are strongly occupied with
certain objects, or struck with certain things which we desire
ardently or fear exceedingly--as when Ajax, thinking he saw Ulysses
and Agamemnon, or Menelaüs, threw himself upon some animals, which he
killed, thinking he was killing those two men his enemies, and whom he
was dying with the desire to wreak his vengeance upon--on this
supposition, the apparition will not be less difficult to explain.
There was neither prepossession nor disturbed imagination, nor any
preceding emotion, which led Abraham to figure to himself that he saw
three persons, to whom he gave hospitality, to whom he spoke, who
promised him the birth of a son, of which he was scarcely thinking at
that time. The three apostles who saw Moses conversing with Jesus
Christ on Mount Tabor were not prepared for that appearance; there was
no emotion of fear, love, revenge, ambition, or any other passion
which struck their imagination, to dispose them to see Moses; as
neither was there in Abraham, when he perceived the three angels who
appeared to him.

Often in our sleep we see, or we believe we see, what has struck our
attention very much when awake; sometimes we represent to ourselves in
sleep things of which we have never thought, which even are repugnant
to us, and which present themselves to our mind in spite of ourselves.
None bethink themselves of seeking the causes of these kinds of
representations; they are attributed to chance, or to some disposition
of the humors of the blood or of the brain, or even of the way in
which the body is placed in bed; but nothing like that is applicable
to the apparitions of angels, demons, or spirits, when these
apparitions are accompanied and followed by converse, predictions and
real effects preceded and predicted by those which appear.

If we have recourse to a pretended fascination of the eyes or the
other senses, which sometimes make us believe that we see and hear
what we do not, or that we neither see nor hear what is passing before
our eyes, or which strikes our ears; as when the soldiers sent to
arrest Elisha spoke to him and saw him before they recognized him, or
when the inhabitants of Sodom could not discover Lot's door, although
it was before their eyes, or when the disciples of Emmaus knew not
that it was Jesus Christ who accompanied them and expounded the
Scriptures; they opened their eyes and knew him _only by the breaking
of bread_.

That fascination of the senses which makes us believe that we see what
we do not see, or that suspension of the exercise and natural
functions of our senses which prevents us from seeing and recognizing
what is passing before our eyes, is all of it hardly less miraculous
than to condense the air, or rarefy it, or give solidity and
consistence to what is purely spiritual and disengaged from matter.

From all this, it follows that no apparition can take place without a
sort of miracle, and without a concurrence, both extraordinary and
supernatural, of the power of God who commands, or causes, or permits
an angel, or a demon, or a disembodied soul to appear, act, speak,
walk, and perform other functions which belong only to an organized

I shall be told that it is useless to recur to the miraculous and the
supernatural, if we have acknowledged in spiritual substances a
natural power of showing themselves, whether by condensing the air, or
by producing a massive and palpable body, or in raising up some dead
body, to which these spirits give life and motion for a certain time.

I own it all; but I dare maintain that that is not possible either to
angel or demon, nor to any spiritual substance whatsoever. The soul
can produce in herself thoughts, will, and wishes; she can give her
impulsion to the movements of her body, and repress its sallies and
agitations; but how does she do that? Philosophy can hardly explain
it, but by saying that by virtue of the union between herself and the
body, God, by an effect of his wisdom, has given her power to act upon
the humors, its organs, and impress them with certain movements; but
there is reason to believe that the soul performs all that only as an
occasional cause, and that it is God as the first, necessary,
immediate, and essential cause, which produces all the movements of
the body that are made in a natural way.

Neither angel nor demon has more privilege in this respect over matter
than the soul of man has over its own body. They can neither modify
matter, change it, nor impress it with action and motion, save by the
power of God, and with his concurrence both necessary and immediate;
our knowledge does not permit us to judge otherwise; there is no
physical proportion between the spirit and the body; those two
substances cannot act mutually and immediately one upon the other;
they can act only occasionally, by determining the first cause, in
virtue of the laws which wisdom has judged it proper to prescribe to
herself for the reciprocal action of the creatures upon each other, to
give them being, to preserve it, and perpetuate movement in the mass
of matter which composes the universe, in himself giving life to
spiritual substances, and permitting them with his concurrence, as the
First Cause, to act, the body on the soul, and the soul on the body,
one on the other, as secondary causes.

Porphyry, when consulted by Anebo, an Egyptian priest, if those who
foretell the future and perform prodigies have more powerful souls, or
whether they receive power from some strange spirit, replies that,
according to appearance, all these things are done by means of certain
evil spirits that are naturally knavish, and take all sorts of shapes,
and do everything that one sees happen, whether good or evil; but that
in the end they never lead men to what is truly good.

St. Augustine,[415] who cites this passage of Porphyry, lays much
stress on his testimony, and says that every extraordinary thing which
is done by certain tones of the voice, by figures or phantoms, is
usually the work of the demon, who sports with the credulity and
blindness of men; that everything marvellous which is transacted in
nature, and has no relation to the worship of the true God, ought to
pass for an illusion of the devil. The most ancient Fathers of the
Church, Minutius Felix, Arnobius, St. Cyprian, attribute equally all
these kinds of extraordinary effects to the evil spirit.

Tertullian[416] had no doubt that the apparitions which are produced
by magic, and by the evocation of souls, which, forced by
enchantments, come out, say they, from the depth of hell (or Hades),
are but pure illusions of the demon, who causes to appear to those
present a fantastical form, which fascinates the eyes of those who
think they see what they see not; "which is not more difficult for the
demon," says he, "than to seduce and blind the souls which he leads
into sin. Pharaoh thought he saw real serpents produced by his
magicians: it was mere illusion. The truth of Moses devoured the
falsehood of these impostors."

Is it more easy to cause the fascination of the eyes of Pharaoh and
his servants than to produce serpents, and can it be done without
God's concurring thereto? And how can we reconcile this concurrence
with the wisdom, independence, and truth of God? Has the devil in this
respect a greater power than an angel and a disembodied soul? And if
once we open the door to this fascination, everything which appears
supernatural and miraculous will become uncertain and doubtful. It
will be said that the wonders related in the Old and New Testament are
in this respect, in regard both to those who are witnesses of them,
and those to whom they happened, only illusions and fascinations: and
whither may not these premises lead? It leads us to doubt everything,
to deny everything; to believe that God in concert with the devil
leads us into error, and fascinates our eyes and other senses, to make
us believe that we see, hear, and know what is neither present to our
eyes, nor known to our mind, nor supported by our reasoning power,
since by that the principles of reasoning are overthrown.

We must, then, have recourse to the solid and unshaken principles of
religion, which teach us--

1. That angels, demons, and souls disembodied are pure spirit, free
from all matter.

2. That it is only by the order or permission of God that spiritual
substances can appear to men, and seem to them to be true and tangible
bodies, in which and by which they perform what they are seen to do.

3. That to make these bodies appear, and make them act, speak, walk,
eat, &c, they must produce tangible bodies, either by condensing the
air or substituting other terrestrial, solid bodies, capable of
performing the functions we speak of.

4. That the way in which this production and apparition of a
perceptible body is achieved is absolutely unknown to us; that we have
no proof that spiritual substances have a natural power of producing
this kind of change when it pleases them, and that they cannot produce
them independently of God.

5. That although there may be often a great deal of illusion,
prepossession, and imagination in what is related of the operations
and apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls, there is
still some reality in many of these things; and we cannot reasonably
doubt of them all, and still less deny them all.

6. That there are apparitions which bear about them the character and
proof of truth, from the quality of him who relates them; from the
circumstances which accompany them; from the events following those
apparitions that announce things to come; which perform things
impossible to the natural strength of man, and too much in opposition
to the interest of the demon, and his malicious and deceitful
character, for us to be able to suspect him to be the author or
contriver of them. In short, these apparitions are certified by the
belief, the prayers, and the practice of the church, which recognizes
them, and supposes their reality.

7. That although what appears miraculous is not so always, we must at
least usually perceive in it _some_ illusion and operation of the
demon; consequently, that the demon can, with the permission of God,
do many things which surpass our knowledge, and the natural power
which we suppose him to have.

8. That those who wish to explain them by fascination of the eyes and
other senses, do not resolve the difficulty, and throw themselves into
still greater embarrassment than those who admit simply that
apparitions appear by the order or the permission of God.


[415] Aug. de Civit. Dei, lib. x. c. 11, 12.

[416] Tertull. de Animâ, c. 57.



The greatest objection that can be raised against the apparitions of
angels, demons, and disembodied souls, takes its rise in the nature of
these substances, which being purely spiritual, cannot appear with
evident, solid, and palpable bodies, nor perform those functions which
belong only to matter, and living or animated bodies.

For, either spiritual substances are united to the bodies which appear
or not. If they are not united to them, how can they move them, and
cause them to act, walk, speak, reason, and eat? If they are united to
them, then they form but one individual; and how can they separate
themselves from them, after being united to them? Do they take them
and leave them at will, as we lay aside a habit or a mask? That would
be to suppose that they are at liberty to appear or disappear, which
is not the case, since all apparitions are solely by the order or
permission of God. Are those bodies which appear only instruments
which the angels, demons, or souls make use of to affright, warn,
chastise, or instruct the person or persons to whom they appear? This
is, in fact, the most rational thing that can be said concerning these
apparitions; the exorcisms of the church fall directly on the agent
and cause of these apparitions, and not on the phantom which appears,
nor on the first author, which is God, who orders and permits it.

Another objection, both very common and very striking, is that which
is drawn from the multitude of false stories and ridiculous reports
which are spread amongst the people, of the apparitions of spirits,
demons, and elves, of possessions and obsessions.

It must be owned that, out of a hundred of these pretended
appearances, hardly two will be found to be true. The ancients are not
more to be credited on that point than the moderns, since they were,
at least, equally as credulous as people are in our own age, or rather
they were more credulous than we are at this day.

I grant that the foolish credulity of the people, and the love of
everything that seems marvelous and extraordinary, have produced an
infinite number of false histories on the subject we are now treating
of. There are here two dangers to avoid: a too great credulity, and an
excessive difficulty in believing what is above the ordinary course of
nature; as likewise, we must not conclude what is general from what is
particular, or make a general case of a particular one, nor say that
all is false because some stories are so; also, we must not assert
that such a particular history is a mere invention, because there are
many stories of this latter kind. It is allowable to examine, prove,
and select; we must never form our judgment but with knowledge of the
case; a story may be false in many of its circumstances (as related),
but true in its foundation.

The history of the deluge, and that of the passage across the Red Sea,
are certain in themselves, and in the simple and natural recital given
of them by Moses. The profane historians, and some Hebrew writers, and
even Christians, have added some embellishment which must militate
against the story in itself. Josephus the historian has much
embellished the history of Moses; Christian authors have added much to
that of Josephus; the Mahometans have altered several points of the
sacred history of the Old and New Testament. Must we, on this account,
consider these histories as problematical? The life of St. Gregory
Thaumaturgus is full of miracles, as are also those of St. Martin and
St. Bernard. St. Augustine relates several miraculous cures worked by
the relics of St. Stephen. Many extraordinary things are related in
the life of St. Ambrose. Why not give faith to them after the
testimony of these great men, and that of their disciples, who had
lived with them, and had been witnesses of a good part of what they

It is not permitted us to dispute the truth of the apparitions noted
in the Old and New Testament; but we may be permitted to explain them.
For instance, it is said that the Lord appeared to Abraham in the
valley of Mamre;[417] that he entered Abraham's tent, and that he
promised him the birth of a son; also, it is allowed that he received
three angels, who went from thence to Sodom. St. Paul[418] notices it
expressly in his Epistle to the Hebrews; _angelis hospitio receptis_.
It is also said that the Lord appeared unto Moses, and gave him the
law; and St. Stephen, in the Acts,[419] informs us that it was an
angel who spoke to him from the burning bush, and on Mount Horeb; and
St. Paul, writing to the Galatians, says, that the law was given by

Sometimes, the name of angel of the Lord is taken for a prophet, a man
filled with his Spirit, and deputed by him. It is certain that the
Hebrew _malae_ and the Greek _angelos_ bear the same signification as
our _envoy_. For instance, at the beginning of the Book of
Judges,[421] it is said that there came an angel of the Lord from
Gilgal to the place of tears (or Bochim), and that he there reproved
the Israelites for their infidelity and ingratitude. The ablest
commentators[422] think that this _angel of the Lord_ is no other than
Phineas, or the then high priest, or rather a prophet, sent expressly
to the people assembled at Gilgal.

In the Scripture, the prophets are sometimes styled angels of the
Lord.[423] "Here is what saith the envoy of the Lord, amongst the
envoys of the Lord," says Haggai, speaking of himself.

The prophet Malachi, the last of the lesser prophets, says that "the
Lord will send his angel, who will prepare the way before his
face."[424] This angel is St. John the Baptist, who prepares the way
for Jesus Christ, who is himself styled the Angel of the Lord--"And
soon the Lord whom ye demand, and the so much desired Angel of the
Lord, will come into his temple." This same Saviour is designated by
Moses under the name of a prophet:[425] "The Lord will raise up in the
midst of your nation, a prophet like myself." The name of angel is
given to the prophet Nathan, who reproved David for his sin. I do not
pretend, by these testimonies, to deny that the angels have often
appeared to men; but I infer from them that sometimes these angels
were only prophets or other persons, raised up and sent by God to his

As to apparitions of the demon, it is well to observe that in
Scripture the greater part of public calamities and maladies are
attributed to evil spirits; for example, it is said that Satan
inspired David[426] with the idea of numbering his people; but in
another place it is simply said that the anger of the Lord was
inflamed[427] against Israel, and led David to cause his subjects to
be numbered. There are several other passages in the Holy Books, where
they relate what the demon said and what he did, in a popular manner,
by the figure termed prosopopoeia; for instance, the conversation
between Satan and the first woman,[428] and the discourse which the
demon holds in company with the good angels before the Lord, when he
talks to him of Job,[429] and obtains permission to tempt and afflict
him. In the New Testament, it appears that the Jews attributed to the
malice of the demon and to his possession almost all the maladies with
which they were afflicted. In St. Luke,[430] the woman who was bent
and could not raise herself up, and had suffered this for eighteen
years, "had," says the evangelist, "a spirit of infirmity;" and Jesus
Christ, after having healed her, says "that Satan held her bound for
eighteen years;" and in another place, it is said that a lunatic or
epileptic person was possessed by the demon. It is clear, from what is
said by St. Matthew and St. Luke,[431] that he was attacked by
epilepsy. The Saviour cured him of this evil malady, and by that means
took from the demon the opportunity of tormenting him still more; as
David, by dissipating with the sound of his harp the sombre melancholy
of Saul, delivered him from the evil spirit, who abused the power of
those inclinations which he found in him, to awaken his jealousy
against David. All this means, that we often ascribed to the demon
things of which he is not guilty, and that we must not lightly adopt
all the prejudices of the people, nor take literally all that is
related of the works of Satan.


[417] Gen. xviii. 10.

[418] Heb. xiii. 2.

[419] Acts vii. 30, 33.

[420] Gal. iii.

[421] Judges ii. 1.

[422] Vide commentar. in Judic. ii.

[423] Hagg. i. 13.

[424] Malac. iii. 1.

[425] Deut. xviii. 18.

[426] Chron. xxi. 1.

[427] 2 Sam. xxiv. 1.

[428] Gen. iii. 2, 3.

[429] Job i. 7-9.

[430] Luke xiii. 16.

[431] Matt. xvii. 14. Luke ix. 37.



In order to combat the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied
souls, we still bring forward the effects of a prepossessed fancy,
struck with an idea, and of a weak and timid mind, which imagine they
see and hear what subsists only in idea; we advert to the inventions
of the malignant spirits, who like to make sport of and to delude us;
we call to our assistance the artifices of the charlatans, who do so
many things which pass for supernatural in the eyes of the ignorant.
Philosophers, by means of certain glasses, and what are called magic
lanterns, by optical secrets, sympathetic powders, by their
phosphorus, and lately by means of the electrical machine, show us an
infinite number of things which the simpletons take for magic, because
they know not how they are produced.

Eyes that are diseased do not see things as others see them, or else
behold them differently. A drunken man will see objects double; to one
who has the jaundice, they will appear yellow; in the obscurity,
people fancy they see a spectre, when they see only the trunk of a

A mountebank will appear to eat a sword; another will vomit coals or
pebbles; one will drink wine and send it out again at his forehead;
another will cut off his companion's head, and put it on again. You
will think you see a chicken dragging a beam. The mountebank will
swallow fire and vomit it forth, he will draw blood from fruit, he
will send from his mouth strings of iron nails, he will put a sword on
his stomach and press it strongly, and instead of running into him, it
will bend back to the hilt; another will run a sword through his body
without wounding himself; you will sometimes see a child without a
head, then a head without a child, and all of them alive. That appears
very wonderful; nevertheless, if it were known how all those things
are done, people would only laugh, and be surprised that they could
wonder at and admire such things.

What has not been said for and against the divining-rod of Jacques
Aimar? Scripture proves to us the antiquity of divination by the
divining-rod, in the instance of Nebuchadnezzar,[432] and in what is
said of the prophet Hosea.[433] Fable speaks of the wonders wrought by
the golden rod of Mercury. The Gauls and Germans also used the rod for
divination; and there is reason to believe that often God permitted
that the rods should make known by their movements what was to happen;
for that reason they were consulted. Every body knows the secret of
Circé's wand, which changed men into beasts. I do not compare it with
the rod of Moses, by means of which God worked so many miracles in
Egypt; but we may compare it with those of the magicians of Pharaoh,
which produced so many marvelous effects.

Albertus Magnus relates that there had been seen in Germany two
brothers, one of whom passing near a door securely locked, and
presenting his left side, would cause it to open of itself; the other
brother had the same virtue in the right side. St. Augustine says that
there are men[434] who move their two ears one after another, or both
together, without moving their heads; others, without moving it also,
make all the skin of their head with the hair thereon come down over
their forehead, and put it back as it was before; some imitate so
perfectly the voices of animals, that it is almost impossible not to
mistake them. We have seen men speak from the hollow of the stomach,
and make themselves heard as if speaking from a distance, although
they were close by. Others swallow an incredible quantity of different
things, and by tightening their stomachs ever so little, throw up
whole, as from a bag, whatever they please. Last year, in Alsatia,
there was seen and heard a German who played on two French horns at
once, and gave airs in two parts, the first and the second, at the
same time. Who can explain to us the secret of intermitting fevers, of
the flux and reflux of the sea, and the cause of many effects which
are certainly all natural?

Galen relates[435] that a physician named Theophilus, having fallen
ill, fancied that he saw near his bed a great number of musicians,
whose noise split his head and augmented his illness. He cried out
incessantly for them to send those people away. Having recovered his
health and good sense, he perfectly well remembered all that had been
said to him; but he could not get those players on musical instruments
out of his head, and he affirmed that they tired him to death.

In 1629, Desbordes, valet-de-chambre of Charles IV., Duke of Lorraine,
was accused of having hastened the death of the Princess Christina of
Salms, wife of Duke Francis II., and mother of the Duke Charles IV.,
and of having inflicted maladies on different persons, which maladies
the doctors attribute to evil spells. Charles IV. had conceived
violent suspicions against Desbordes, since one day when in a
hunting-party this valet-de-chambre had served a grand dinner to the
duke and his company, without any other preparation than having to
open a box with three shelves; and to wind up the wonders, he had
ordered three robbers, who were dead and hung to a gibbet, to come
down from it, and come and make their bow to the duke, and then to go
back and resume their place at the gallows. It was said, moreover,
that on another occasion he had commanded the personages in a piece of
tapestry to detach themselves from it, and to come and present
themselves in the middle of the room.

Charles IV. was not very credulous; nevertheless, he allowed Desbordes
to be tried. He was, it is said, convicted of magic, and condemned to
the flames; but I have since been assured[436] that he made his
escape; and some years after, on presenting himself before the duke,
and clearing himself, he demanded the restitution of his property,
which had been confiscated; but he recovered only a very small part of
it. Since the adventure of Desbordes, the partisans of Charles IV.
wished to cast a doubt on the validity of the baptism of the Duchess
Nichola, his wife, because she had been baptized by Lavallée, Chantre
de St. George, a friend of Desbordes, and like him convicted of
several crimes, which drew upon him similar condemnation. From a doubt
of the baptism of the duchess, they wished to infer the invalidity of
her marriage with Charles, which was then the grand business of
Charles IV.

Father Delrio, a Jesuit, says that the magician called Trois-Echelles,
by his enchantments, detached in the presence of King Charles IX. the
rings or links of a collar of the Order of the King, worn by some
knights who were at a great distance from him; he made them come into
his hand, and after that replaced them, without the collar appearing

John Faust Cudlingen, a German, was requested, in a company of gay
people, to perform in their presence some tricks of his trade; he
promised to show them a vine loaded with grapes, ripe and ready to
gather. They thought, as it was then the month of December, he could
not execute his promise. He strongly recommended them not to stir
from their places, and not to lift up their hands to cut the grapes,
unless by his express order. The vine appeared directly, covered with
leaves and loaded with grapes, to the great astonishment of all
present; every one took up his knife, awaiting the order of Cudlingen
to cut some grapes; but after having kept them for some time in that
expectation, he suddenly caused the vine and the grapes to disappear:
then every one found himself armed with his knife and holding his
neighbor's nose with one hand, so that if they had cut off a bunch
without the order of Cudlingen, they would have cut off one another's

We have seen in these parts a horse which appeared gifted with wit and
discernment, and to understand what his master said. All the secret
consisted in the horse's having been taught to observe certain motions
of his master; and from these motions he was led to do certain things
to which he was accustomed, and to go to certain persons, which he
would never have done but for the sign or motion which he saw his
master make.

A hundred other similar facts might be cited, which might pass for
magical operations, if we did not know that they are simple
contrivances and tricks of art, performed by persons well exercised in
such things. It may be that sometimes people have ascribed to magic
and the evil spirit operations like those we have just related, and
that what have been taken for the spirits of deceased persons were
often arranged on purpose by young people to frighten passers-by. They
will cover themselves with white or black, and show themselves in a
cemetery in the posture of persons requesting prayers; after that they
will be the first to exclaim that they have seen a spirit: at other
times it will be pick-pockets, or young men, who will hide their
amorous intrigues, or their thefts and knavish tricks, under this

Sometimes a widow, or heirs, from interested motives, will publicly
declare that the deceased husband appears in his house, and is in
torment; that he has asked or commanded such and such things, or such
and such restitutions. I own that this may happen, and does happen
sometimes; but it does not follow that spirits never return. The
return of souls is infinitely more rare than the common people
believe; I say the same of pretended magical operations and
apparitions of the demon.

It is remarked that the greater the ignorance which prevails in a
country, the more superstition reigns there; and that the spirit of
darkness there exercises greater power, in proportion as the nations
we plunged in irregularity, and into deeper moral darkness. Louis
Vivez[437] testifies that, in the newly-discovered countries in
America, nothing is more common than to see spirits which appear at
noonday, not only in the country, but in towns and villages, speaking,
commanding, sometimes even striking men. Olaüs Magnus, Archbishop of
Upsal, who has written on the antiquities of the northern nations,
observes that in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Finmark, and Lapland, they
frequently see spectres or spirits, which do many wonderful things;
that there are even some amongst them who serve as domestics to men,
and take the horses and other cattle to pasture.

The Laplanders, even at this day, as well those who have remained in
idolatry as those who have embraced Christianity, believe the
apparition of the manes or ghosts, and offer them a kind of sacrifice.
I believe that prepossession, and the prejudices of childhood, have
much more to do with this belief than reason and experience. In
effect, among the Tartars, where barbarism and ignorance reign as much
as in any country in the world, they talk neither of spirits nor of
apparitions, no more than among the Mahometans, although they admit
the apparitions of angels made to Abraham and the patriarchs, and that
of the Archangel Gabriel to Mahomet himself.

The Abyssinians, a very rude and ignorant people, believe neither in
sorcerers, nor spells, nor magicians; they say that it is giving too
much power to the demon, and by that they fall into the error of the
Manichæans, who admit two principles, the one of good, which is God,
and the other of evil, which is the devil. The Minister Becker, in his
work entitled "The Enchanted World," (Le Monde Enchanté,) laughs at
apparitions of spirits and evil angels, and ridicules all that is said
of the effects of magic: he maintains that to believe in magic is
contrary to Scripture and religion.

But whence comes it, then, that the Scriptures forbid us to consult
magicians, and that they make mention of Simon the magician, of
Elymas, another magician, and of the works of Satan? What will become
of the apparitions of angels, so well noted in the Old and New
Testaments? What will become of the apparitions of Onias to Judas
Maccabeus, and of the devil to Jesus Christ himself, after his fast of
forty days? What will be said of the apparition of Moses at the
transfiguration of the Saviour; and an infinity of other appearances
made to all kinds of persons, and related by wise, grave, and
enlightened authors? Are the apparitions of devils and spirits more
difficult to explain and conceive than those of angels, which we
cannot rationally dispute without overthrowing the entire Scriptures,
and practices and belief of the churches?

Does not the apostle tell us that the angel of darkness transforms
himself into an angel of light? Is not the absolute renunciation of
all belief in apparitions assaulting Christianity in its most sacred
authority, in the belief of another life, of a church still subsisting
in another world, of rewards for good actions, and of punishments for
bad ones; the utility of prayers for the dead, and the efficacy of
exorcisms? We must then in these matters keep the medium between
excessive credulity and extreme incredulity; we must be prudent,
moderate, and enlightened; we must, according to the advice of St.
Paul, test everything, examine everything, yield only to evidence and
known truth.


[432] Ezek. xxi. 21.

[433] Hosea iv. 12.

[434] Aug. lib. xiv. de Civit. Dei, c. 24.

[435] Galen. de Differ. Sympt.

[436] By M. Fransquin Chanoine de Taul.

[437] Ludov. Vives, lib. i. de Veritate Fidei, p. 540.



It is possible to allege against my reasoning the secrets of physics
and chemistry, which produce an infinity of wonderful effects, and
appear beyond the power of natural agency. We have the composition of
a phosphorus, with which they write; the characters do not appear by
daylight, but in the dark we see them shine; with this phosphorus,
figures can be traced which would surprise and even alarm during the
night, as has been done more than once, apparently to cause
maliciously useless fright. _La poudre ardente_ is another phosphorus,
which, provided it is exposed to the air, sheds a light both by night
and by day. How many people have been frightened by those little worms
which are found in certain kinds of rotten wood, and which give a
brilliant flame by night.

We have the daily experience of an infinite number of things, all of
them natural, which appear above the ordinary course of nature,[438]
but which have nothing miraculous in them, and ought not to be
attributed to angels or demons; for instance, teeth and noses taken
from other persons, and applied to those who have lost similar parts;
of this we find many instances in authors. These teeth and noses fall
off directly when the person from whom they were taken dies, however
great the distance between these two persons may be.

The presentiments experienced by certain persons of what happens to
their relations and friends, and even of their own death, are not at
all miraculous. There are many instances of persons who are in the
habit of feeling these presentiments, and who in the night, even when
asleep, will say that such a thing has happened, or is about to
happen; that such messengers are coming, and will announce to them
such and such things.

There are dogs that have the sense of smelling so keen that they scent
from a good distance the approach of any person who has done them good
or harm. This has been proved many times, and can only proceed from
the diversity of organs in those animals, some of which have the scent
much keener than others, and upon which the spirits which exhale from
other bodies act more quickly and at a greater distance than in
others. Certain persons have such an acute sense of hearing that they
can hear what is whispered even in another chamber, of which the door
is well closed. They cite as an example of this, a certain Marie
Bucaille, to whom it was thought that her guardian angel discovered
what was said at a great distance from her.

Others have the smell so keen that they distinguish by the odor all
the men and animals they have ever seen, and scent their approach a
long way off. Blind persons pretty often possess this faculty, as well
as that of discerning the color of different stuffs by the touch, from
horse-hair to playing-cards.

Others discern by the taste everything that composes a ragoût, better
than the most expert cook could do. Others possess so piercing a sight
that at the first glance they can distinguish the most confused and
distant objects, and remark the least change which takes place in

There are both men and women who, without intending to hurt, do a
great deal of harm to children, and all the tender and delicate
animals which they look at attentively, or which they touch. This
happens particularly in hot countries; and many examples might be
cited of it; from which arises what both ancients and moderns call
fascination (or the evil eye); hence the precautions which were taken
against these effects by amulets and preservatives, which were
suspended to children's necks.

There have been known to be men from whose eyes there proceeded such
venomous spirits that they did harm to everybody or thing they looked
at, even to the breast of nurses, which they caused to dry up--to
plants, flowers, the leaves of trees, which were seen to wither and
fall off. They dare not enter any place till they had warned the
people beforehand to send away the children and nurses, new-born
animals, and, generally speaking, everything which they could infect
by their breath or their looks.

We should laugh, and with reason, at those who, to explain all these
singular effects, should have recourse to charms, spells, to the
operations of demons, or of good angels. The evaporation of
corpuscles, or atoms, or the insensible perspiration of the bodies
which produce all these effects, suffice to account for it. We have
recourse neither to miracles, nor to superior causes, above all when
these effects are produced near, and at a short distance; but when the
distance is great, the exhalation of the spirits, or essence, and of
insensible corpuscles, does not equally satisfy us, no more than when
we meet with things and effects which go beyond the known force of
nature, such as foretelling future events, speaking unknown languages,
_i. e._, languages unknown to the speaker, to be in such ecstasy that
the person is beyond earthly feeling, to rise up from the ground, and
remain so a long time.

The chemists demonstrate that the ____________________ or a sort of
restoration or resurrection of animals, insects, and plants, is
possible and natural. When the ashes of a plant are placed in a phial,
these ashes rise, and arrange themselves as much as they can in the
form which was first impressed on them by the Author of Nature.

Father Schol, a Jesuit, affirms that he has often seen a rose which
was made to arise from its ashes every time they wished to see it
done, by means of a little heat.

The secret of a mineral water has been found by means of which a dead
plant which has its root can be made green again, and brought to the
same state as if it were growing in the ground. Digby asserts that he
has drawn from dead animals, which were beaten and bruised in a
mortar, the representation of these animals, or other animals of the
same species.

Duchesne, a famous chemist, relates that a physician of Cracow
preserved in phials the ashes of almost every kind of plant, so that
when any one from curiosity desired to see, for instance, a rose in
these phials, he took that in which the ashes of the rose-bush were
preserved, and placing it over a lighted candle, as soon as it felt a
little warmth, they saw the ashes stir and rise like a little dark
cloud, and, after some movements, they represented a rose as beautiful
and fresh as if newly gathered from the rose-tree.

Gaffard assures us that M. de Cleves, a celebrated chemist, showed
every day plants drawn from their own ashes. David Vanderbroch affirms
that the blood of animals contains the idea of their species as well
as their seed; he relates on this subject the experiment of M.
Borelli, who asserts that the human blood, when warm, is still full of
its spirits or sulphurs, acid and volatile, and that, being excited in
cemeteries and in places where great battles are fought by some heat
in the ground, the phantoms or ideas of the persons who are there
interred are seen to rise; that we should see them as well by day as
by night, were it not for the excess of light which prevents us even
from seeing the stars. He adds that by this means we might behold the
idea, and represent by a lawful and natural necromancy the figure or
phantom of all the great men of antiquity, our friends and our
ancestors, provided we possess their ashes.

These are the most plausible objections intended to destroy or obviate
all that is said of the apparitions of spirits. Whence some conclude
that these are either very natural phenomena and exhalations produced
by the heat of the earth imbued with blood and the volatile spirit of
the dead, above all, those dead by violence; or that they are the
consequences of a stricken and prepossessed fancy, or simply illusions
of the mind, or sports of persons who like to divert themselves by the
panics into which they terrify others; or, lastly, movements produced
naturally by men, rats, monkeys, and other animals; for it is true
that the oftener we examine into what have been taken for apparitions,
nothing is found that is real, extraordinary, or supernatural; but to
conclude from thence that all the apparitions and operations
attributed to angels, spirits or souls, and demons are chimerical, is
carrying things to excess; it is to conclude that we mistake always,
because we mistake often.


[438] M. de S. André, Lett. iii. sur les Maléfices.



After having made this exposition of my opinion concerning the
apparitions of angels, demons, souls of the dead, and even of one
living person to another, and having spoken of magic, of oracles, of
obsessions and possessions of the demon; of sprites and familiar
spirits; of sorcerers and witches; of spectres which predict the
future; of those which haunt houses--after having stated the
objections which are made against apparitions, and having replied to
them in as weighty a manner as I possibly could, I think I may
conclude that although this matter labors still under very great
difficulties, as much respecting the foundation of the thing--I mean
as regards the truth and reality of apparitions in general--as for the
way in which they are made, still we cannot reasonably disallow that
there may be true apparitions of all the kinds of which we have
spoken, and that there may be also a great number very disputable, and
some others which are manifestly the work of knavery, of
maliciousness, of the art of charlatans, and flexibility of those who
play sleight of hand tricks.

I acknowledge, moreover, that imagination, prepossession, simplicity,
superstition, excess of credulity, and weakness of mind have given
rise to several stories which are related; that ignorance of pure
philosophy has caused to be taken for miraculous effects, and black
magic, what is the simple effect of white magic, and the secrets of a
philosophy hidden from the ignorant and common herd of men. Moreover,
I confess that I see insurmountable difficulties in explaining the
manner or properties of apparitions, whether we admit with several
ancients that angels, demons, and disembodied souls have a sort of
subtile transparent body of the nature of air, whether we believe them
purely spiritual and disengaged from all matter, visible, gross, or

I lay down as a principle that to explain the affair of apparitions,
and to give on this subject any certain rules, we should--

1st. Know perfectly the nature of spirits, angels and souls, and
demons. We should know whether souls by nature are so spiritualized
that they have no longer any relation to matter; or if they have,
again, any alliance with an aërial, subtile, invisible body, which
they still govern after death; or whether they exert any power over
the body they once animated, to impel it to certain movements, as the
soul which animates us gives to our bodies such impulsions as she
thinks proper; or whether the soul determines simply by its will, as
occasional or secondary cause, the first cause, which is God, to put
in motion the machine which it once animated.

2d. If after death the soul still retains that power over its own
body, or over others; for instance, over the air and other elements.

3d. If angels and demons have respectively the same power over
sublunary bodies--for instance, to thicken air, inflame it, produce in
it clouds and storms; to make phantoms appear in it; to spoil or
preserve fruits and crops; to cause animals to perish, produce
maladies, excite tempests and shipwrecks at sea; or even to fascinate
the eyes and deceive the other senses.

4th. If they can do all these things naturally, and by their own
virtue, as often as they think proper; or if there must be a
particular order, or at least permission from God, for them to do what
we have just said.

5th. Lastly, we should know exactly what power is possessed by these
substances which we suppose to be purely spiritual, and how far the
power of the angels, demons, and souls separated from their gross
bodies, extends, in regard to the apparitions, operations and
movements attributed to them. For whilst we are ignorant of the power
which the Creator has given or left to disembodied souls, or to
demons, we can in no way define what is miraculous, or prescribe the
just bound to which may extend, or within which may be limited, the
natural operations of spirits, angels, and demons.

If we accord the demon the faculty of fascinating our eyes when it
pleases him, or of disposing the air so as to form the appearance of a
phantom, or phenomenon; or of restoring movement to a body which is
dead but not entirely corrupted; or of disturbing the living by ill
dreams, or terrific representations, we should no longer admire many
things which we admire at present, nor regard as miracles certain
cures and certain apparitions, if they are only the natural effects of
the power of souls, angels and demons.

If a man invested with his body produced such effects of himself, we
should say with reason that they are supernatural operations, because
they exceed the known ordinary and natural power of the living man;
but if a man held commerce with a spirit, an angel, or a demon, whom
by virtue of some compact, explicit or implicit, he commanded to
perform certain things which would be above his natural powers, but
not beyond the powers of the spirit whom he commanded, would the
effect resulting from it be miraculous or supernatural? No, without
doubt, supposing that the spirit which produced the result did nothing
that was above his natural powers and faculties.

But would it be a miracle if a man had anything to do with an angel or
a demon, and that he should make an explicit and implicit compact with
them, to oblige them on certain conditions, and with certain
ceremonies, to produce effects which would appear externally, and in
our minds, to be beyond the power of man? For instance, in the
operations of certain magicians who boast of having an explicit
compact with the devil, and who by this means raise tempests, or go
with extraordinary haste when they walk, or cause the death of
animals, and to men incurable maladies; or who enchant arms; or in
other operations, as in the use of the divining rod, and in certain
remedies against the maladies of men and horses, which having no
natural proportion to these maladies do not fail to cure them,
although those who use these remedies protest that they have never
thought of contracting any alliance with the devil.

To reply to this question, the difficulty always recurs to know if
there is between living and mortal man a proportion or natural
relation, which renders him capable of contracting an alliance with
the angel or the demon, by virtue of which these spirits obey him and
exert, under his empire over them, by virtue of the preceding compact,
a power which is natural to them; for if in all that there is nothing
beyond the ordinary force of nature, either on the side of man, or on
that of angels and demons, there is nothing miraculous in one or the
other; neither is there either in God's permitting secondary causes to
act according to their natural faculties, of which he is nevertheless
always the principle, and the absolute master, to limit, stop,
suspend, extend, or augment them, according to his good pleasure.

But as we know not, and it seems even impossible that we should know
by the light of reason, the nature and natural extent of the power of
angels, demons, and disembodied souls, it seems that it would be rash
to decide in this matter, as deriving consequences of causes by their
effects, or effects by causes. For instance, to say that souls,
demons, and angels have sometimes appeared to men--_then_ they have
naturally the faculty of returning and appearing, is a bold and rash
proposition. For it is very possible that angels and demons appear
only by the particular will of God, and not in consequence of his
general will, and by virtue of his natural and physical concurrence
with his creatures.

In the first case, these apparitions are miraculous, as being above
the natural power of the agents in question; in the second case, there
is nothing supernatural in them except the permission which God rarely
grants to souls to return, to angels and demons to appear, and to
produce the effects of which we have spoken.

According to these principles we may advance without temerity--

1st. That angels and demons have often appeared unto men, that souls
separated from the body have often returned, and that both the one and
the other may do the same thing again.

2d. That the manner of these apparitions, and of these returns to
earth, is perfectly unknown, and given up by God to the discussions
and researches of mankind.

3d. That there is some likelihood that these kinds of apparitions are
not absolutely miraculous on the part of the good and evil angels, but
that God allows them sometimes to take place, for reasons the
knowledge of which is reserved to himself alone.

4th. That no certain rule on this point can be given, nor any
demonstrative argument formed, for want of knowing perfectly the
nature and extent of the power of the spiritual beings in question.

5th. That we should reason upon those apparitions which appear in
dreams otherwise than upon those which appear when we are awake;
differently also upon apparitions wearing solid bodies, speaking,
walking, eating and drinking, and those which seem like a shade, or a
nebulous and aërial body.

6th. Thus it would be rash to lay down principles, and raise uniform
arguments, and all these things in common, every species of apparition
demanding its own particular explanation.



Apparitions in dreams, for instance, that of the angel[439] who told
St. Joseph to carry the infant Jesus into Egypt because King Herod
wished to put him to death; there are two things appertaining to this
apparition--the first is, the impression made on the mind of St.
Joseph that an angel appeared to him; the second is, the prediction or
revelation of the ill-will of Herod. Both these are above the ordinary
powers of our nature, but we know not if they be above the power of
angels; it is certain that it could not have been done except by the
will and command of God.

The apparitions of a spirit, or of an angel and a demon, which show
themselves clothed in an apparent body, and only as a shadow or a
phantom, as that of the angel who showed himself to Manoah the father
of Samson, and vanished with the smoke of the sacrifice, and of him
who extricated St. Peter from prison, and disappeared in the same way
after having conducted him the length of a street; the bodies which
these angels assumed, and which we suppose to have been only apparent
and aërial, present great difficulties; for either those bodies were
their own, or they were assumed or borrowed.

If those forms were their own, and we suppose with several ancient and
some new writers that angels, demons, and even human souls have a kind
of subtile, transparent, and aërial body, the difficulty lies in
knowing how they can condense the transparent body, and render it
visible when it was before invisible; for if it was always and
naturally evident to the senses and visible, there would be another
kind of continual miracle to render it invisible, and hide it from our
sight; and if of its nature it is invisible, what might can render it
visible? On whatever side we regard this object it seems equally
miraculous, whether to make evident to the senses that which is purely
spiritual, or to render invisible that which in its nature is palpable
and corporeal.

The ancient fathers of the church, who gave to angels subtile bodies
of an airy nature, explained, according to their principles, more
easily the predictions made by the demons, and the wonderful
operations which they cause in the air, in the elements, in our
bodies, and which are far beyond what the cleverest and the most
learned men can know, predict, and perform. They likewise conceived
more easily that evil angels can cause maladies, render the air impure
and contagious, that they inspire the wicked with wrong thoughts and
unjust desires, that they can penetrate our thoughts and wishes, that
they foresee tempests and changes in the air, and derangements in the
seasons; all that can be explained with much more facility on the
hypothesis that demons have bodies composed of very fine and subtile

St. Augustine[440] had written that they could also discover what is
passing in our mind, and at the bottom of our heart, not only by our
words, but also by certain signs and movements, which escape from the
most circumspect; but reflecting on what he had advanced in this
passage, he retracted, and owned that he had spoken too affirmatively
upon a subject but little known, and that the manner in which the evil
angels penetrate our thoughts is a very hidden thing, and very
difficult for men to discover and explain; thus he preferred
suspending his judgment upon it, and remaining in doubt.


[439] Matt. ii. 13,14.

[440] S. Aug. lib. ii. retract. c. 30.



The difficulty is much greater, if we suppose that these spirits are
absolutely disengaged from any kind of matter; for how can they
assemble about them a certain quantity of matter, clothe themselves
with it, give it a human form, which can be discerned; is capable of
acting, speaking, conversing, eating and drinking, as did the angels
who appeared to Abraham,[441] and the one who appeared to the young
Tobias,[442] and conducted him to Ragés! Is all that accomplished by
the natural power of these spirits? Has God bestowed on them this
power in creating them, and has he engaged himself by virtue of his
natural laws, and by a consequence of his acting intimately and
essentially on the creature, in his quality of Creator, to impress on
occasion at the will of these spirits certain motions in the air, and
in the bodies which they would move, condense, and cause to act, in
the same manner proportionally that he has willed by virtue of the
union of the soul with a living body, that that soul should impress on
that body motions proportioned to its own will, although, naturally,
there is no natural proportion between matter and spirit, and,
according to the laws of physics, the one cannot act upon the other,
unless the first cause, the Creator, has chosen to subject himself to
create this movement, and to produce these effects at the will of man,
movements which without that would pass for superhuman (supernatural).

Or shall we say, with some new philosophers,[443] that although we may
have ideas of matter and thought, perhaps we shall never be capable of
knowing whether a being purely material thinks or not, because it is
impossible for us to discover by the contemplative powers of our own
minds without revelation, if God has not given to some collections of
matter, disposed as he thinks proper, the power to perceive and to
think, or whether he has joined and united to the matter thus
arranged, an immaterial substance which thinks? Now in relation to our
notions, it is not less easy for us to conceive that God can add to
our idea of matter the faculty of thinking, since we know not in what
thought consists, and to what species of substance that Almighty being
has judged proper to grant this faculty, which could exist in no
created being except by virtue of the goodness and the will of the

This system certainly embraces great absurdities, and greater to my
mind than those it would fain avoid. We conceive clearly that matter
is divisible, and capable of motion; but we do not conceive that it is
capable of thought, nor that thought can consist of a certain
configuration or a certain motion of matter. And even could thought
depend on an arrangement, or on a certain subtility, or on a certain
motion of matter, as soon as that arrangement should be disturbed, or
the motion interrupted, or this heap of subtile matter dispersed,
thought would cease to be produced, and consequently that which
constitutes man, or the reasoning animal, would no longer subsist;
thus all the economy of our religion, all our hopes of a future life,
all our fears of eternal punishment would vanish; even the principles
of our philosophy would be overthrown.

God forbid that we should wish to set bounds to the almighty power of
God; but that all-powerful Being having given us as a rule of our
knowledge the clearness of the ideas which we form of everything, and
not being permitted to affirm that which we know but indistinctly, it
follows that we ought not to assert that thought can be attributed to
matter. If the thing were known to us through revelation, and taught
by the authority of the Scriptures, then we might impose silence on
human reason, and make captive our judgment in obedience to faith; but
it is owned that the thing is not at all revealed; neither is it
demonstrated, either by its cause, or by its effects. It must, then,
be considered as a simple system, invented to do away certain
difficulties which result from the opinion opposed to it.

If the difficulty of explaining how the soul acts upon our bodies
appears so great, how can we comprehend that the soul itself should be
material and extended? In the latter case will it act upon itself, and
give itself the impulsion to think, or will this movement or impulsion
be thought itself, or will it produce thought? Will this thinking
matter think on always, or only at times; and when it has ceased to
think, who will make it think anew? Will it be God, will it be itself?
Can so simple an agent as the soul act upon itself, and reproduce it
in some sort by thinking, after it has ceased to think?

My reader will say that I leave him here embarrassed, and that instead
of giving him any light on the subject of the apparition of spirits, I
cast doubt and uncertainty on the subject. I own it; but I better like
to doubt prudently, than to affirm that which I know not. And if I
hold by what my religion teaches me concerning the nature of souls,
angels, and demons, I shall say that being purely spiritual, it is
impossible that they should appear clothed with a body except through
a miracle; always in the supposition that God has not created them
naturally capable of these operations, with subordination to his
sovereignly powerful will, which but rarely allows them to use this
faculty of showing themselves corporeally to mortals.

If sometimes angels have eaten, spoken, acted, walked, like men, it
was not from any need they had to drink or eat to sustain themselves
and to be able to live, but to execute the designs of God, whose will
it was that they should appear to men acting, drinking, and eating, as
the angel Raphael observes,[444]--"When I was staying with you, I was
there by the will of God; I seemed to you to eat and drink, but for my
part I make use of an invisible nourishment which is unknown to men."

It is true that we know not what may be the food of angels who are
substances which are purely spiritual, nor what became of that food
which Raphael and the angels that Abraham entertained in his tent,
took, or seemed to take, in the company of men. But there are so many
other things in nature which are unknown and incomprehensible to us,
that we may very well console ourselves for not knowing how it is that
the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls are made to


[441] Gen. xviii.

[442] Tob. xii. 19.

[443] M. Lock. de Intellectu Human. lib. iv. c. 3.

[444] Tob. xii. 18, 19.




Every age, every nation, every country has its prejudices, its
maladies, its customs, its inclinations, which characterize them, and
which pass away, and succeed to one another; often that which has
appeared admirable at one time, becomes pitiful and ridiculous at
another. We have seen that in some ages all was turned towards a
certain kind of devotion, of studies and of exercises. It is known
that, for more than one century, the prevailing taste of Europe was
the journey to Jerusalem. Kings, princes, nobles, bishops,
ecclesiastics, monks, all pressed thither in crowds. The pilgrimages
to Rome were formerly very frequent and very famous. All that is
fallen away. We have seen provinces over-run with flagellants, and now
none of them remain except in the brotherhoods of penitents which are
still found in several parts.

We have seen in these countries jumpers and dancers, who every moment
jumped and danced in the streets, squares or market-places, and even
in the churches. The convulsionaries of our own days seem to have
revived them; posterity will be surprised at them, as we laugh at them
now. Towards the end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, nothing was talked of in Lorraine but wizards and
witches. For a long time we have heard nothing of them. When the
philosophy of M. Descartes appeared, what a vogue it had! The ancient
philosophy was despised; nothing was talked of but experiments in
physics, new systems, new discoveries. M. Newton appears; all minds
turn to him. The system of M. Law, bank notes, the rage of the Rue
Quinquampoix, what movements did they not cause in the kingdom? A sort
of convulsion had seized on the French. In this age, a new scene
presents itself to our eyes, and has done for about sixty years in
Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland: they see, it is said, men who
have been dead for several months, come back to earth, talk, walk,
infest villages, ill use both men and beasts, suck the blood of their
near relations, make them ill, and finally cause their death; so that
people can only save themselves from their dangerous visits and their
hauntings by exhuming them, impaling them, cutting off their heads,
tearing out the heart, or burning them. These _revenans_ are called by
the name of oupires or vampires, that is to say, leeches; and such
particulars are related of them, so singular, so detailed, and
invested with such probable circumstances and such judicial
information, that one can hardly refuse to credit the belief which is
held in those countries, that these _revenans_ come out of their tombs
and produce those effects which are proclaimed of them.

Antiquity certainly neither saw nor knew anything like it. Let us read
through the histories of the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and
the Latins; nothing approaching to it will be met with.

It is true that we remark in history, though rarely, that certain
persons after having been some time in their tombs and considered as
dead, have returned to life. We shall see even that the ancients
believed that magic could cause death and evoke the souls of the dead.
Several passages are cited, which prove that at certain times they
fancied that sorcerers sucked the blood of men and children, and
caused their death. They saw also in the twelfth century in England
and Denmark, some _revenans_ similar to those of Hungary. But in no
history do we read anything so usual or so pronounced, as what is
related to us of the vampires of Poland, Hungary, and Moravia.

Christian antiquity furnishes some instances of excommunicated persons
who have visibly come out of their tombs and left the churches, when
the deacon commanded the excommunicated, and those who did not partake
of the communion, to retire. For several centuries nothing like this
has been seen, although it is known that the bodies of several
excommunicated persons who died while under sentence of
excommunication and censure of the Church are buried in churches.

The belief of the modern Greeks, who will have it that the bodies of
the excommunicated do not decay in their tombs or graves, is an
opinion which has no foundation, either in antiquity, in good
theology, or even in history. This idea seems to have been invented by
the modern Greek schismatics, only to authorize and confirm them in
their separation from the church of Rome. Christian antiquity
believed, on the contrary, that the incorruptibility of a body was
rather a probable mark of the sanctity of the person and a proof of
the particular protection of God, extended to a body which during its
lifetime had been the temple of the Holy Spirit, and of one who had
retained in justice and innocence the mark of Christianity.

The vroucolacas of Greece and the Archipelago are again _revenans_ of
a new kind. We can hardly persuade ourselves that a nation so witty as
the Greeks could fall into so extraordinary an opinion. Ignorance or
prejudice, must be extreme among them since neither an ecclesiastic
nor any other writer has undertaken to undeceive them.

The imagination of those who believe that the dead chew in their
graves, with a noise similar to that made by hogs when they eat, is so
ridiculous that it does not deserve to be seriously refuted. I
undertake to treat here on the matter of the _revenans_ or vampires of
Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, at the risk of being criticised
however I may discuss it; those who believe them to be true, will
accuse me of rashness and presumption, for having raised a doubt on
the subject, or even of having denied their existence and reality;
others will blame me for having employed my time in discussing this
matter which is considered as frivolous and useless by many sensible
people. Whatever may be thought of it, I shall be pleased with myself
for having sounded a question which appeared to me important in a
religious point of view. For if the return of vampires is real, it is
of import to defend it, and prove it; and if it is illusory, it is of
consequence to the interests of religion to undeceive those who
believe in its truth, and destroy an error which may produce dangerous





After having treated in a separate dissertation on the matter of the
apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls, the connection
of the subject invites me to speak also of the ghosts and
excommunicated persons, whom, it is said, the earth rejects from her
bosom; of the vampires of Hungary, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, and
Poland; and of the vroucolacas of Greece. I shall report first of all,
what has been said and written of them; then I shall deduce some
consequences, and bring forward the reasons or arguments that may be
adduced for, and against, their existence and reality.

The _revenans_ of Hungary, or vampires, which form the principal
object of this dissertation, are men who have been dead a considerable
time, sometimes more, sometimes less; who leave their tombs, and come
and disturb the living, sucking their blood, appearing to them, making
a racket at their doors, and in their houses, and lastly, often
causing their death. They are named vampires, or oupires, which
signifies, they say, in Sclavonic, a leech. The only way to be
delivered from their haunting, is to disinter them, cut off their
head, impale them, burn them, or pierce their heart.

Several systems have been propounded to explain the return, and these
apparitions of the vampires. Some persons have denied and rejected
them as chimerical, and as an effect of the prepossession and
ignorance of the people of those countries, where they are said to
come back or return.

Others have thought that these people were not really dead, but that
they had been interred alive, and returned naturally to themselves,
and came out of their tombs.

Others believe that these people are very truly dead, but that God, by
a particular permission, or command, permits or commands them to come
back to earth, and resume for a time their own body; for when they are
exhumed, their bodies are found entire, their blood vermilion and
fluid, and their limbs supple and pliable.

Others maintain that it is the demon who causes these _revenans_ to
appear, and by their means does all the harm he occasions both men and

In the supposition that vampires veritably resuscitate, we may raise
an infinity of difficulties on the subject. How is this resurrection
accomplished? It is by the strength of the _revenant_, by the return
of his soul into his body? Is it an angel, is it a demon who
reanimates it? Is it by the order, or by the permission of God that he
resuscitates? Is this resurrection voluntary on his part, and by his
own choice? Is it for a long time, like that of the persons who were
restored to life by Jesus Christ? or that of persons resuscitated by
the Prophets and Apostles? Or is it only momentary, and for a few days
and a few hours, like the resurrection operated by St. Stanislaus upon
the lord who had sold him a field; or that spoken of in the life of
St. Macarius of Egypt, and of St. Spiridion, who made the dead to
speak, simply to bear testimony to the truth, and then left them to
sleep in peace, awaiting the last, the judgment day.

First of all, I lay it down as an undoubted principle, that the
resurrection of a person really dead is effected by the power of God
alone. No man can either resuscitate himself, or restore another man
to life, without a visible miracle.

Jesus Christ resuscitated himself, as he had promised he would; he did
it by his own power; he did it with circumstances which were all
miraculous. If he had returned to life as soon as he was taken down
from the cross, it might have been thought that he was not quite dead,
that there remained yet in him some remains of life, that they might
have been revived by warming him, or by giving him cordials and
something capable of bringing him back to his senses.

But he revives only on the third day. He had, as it were, been killed
after his death, by the opening made in his side with a lance, which
pierced him to the heart, and would have put him to death, if he had
not then been beyond receiving it.

When he resuscitated Lazarus,[445] he waited until he had been four
days in the tomb, and began to show corruption; which is the most
certain mark that a man is really deceased, without a hope of
returning to life, except by supernatural means.

The resurrection which Job so firmly expected,[446] and that of the
man who came to life, on touching the body of the prophet Elisha in
his tomb;[447] and the child of the widow of Shunem, whom the same
Elisha restored to life;[448] that army of skeletons, whose
resurrection was predicted by Ezekiel,[449] and which in spirit he saw
executed before his eyes, as a type and pledge as the return of the
Hebrews from their captivity at Babylon;--in short, all the
resurrections related in the sacred books of the Old and New
Testament, are manifestly miraculous effects, and attributed solely to
the Almighty power of God. Neither angels, nor demons, nor men, the
holiest and most favored of God, could by their own power restore to
life a person really dead. They can do it by the power of God alone,
who when he thinks proper so to do, is free to grant this favor to
their prayers and intercession.


[445] John xi. 39.

[446] Job xxi. 25.

[447] 1 Kings xiii. 21, 22.

[448] 2 Kings iv.

[449] Ezek. xxxvii. 1, 2, 3.



The resuscitation of some persons who were believed to be dead, and
who were not so, but simply asleep, or in a lethargy; and of those who
were supposed to be dead, having been drowned, and who came to life
again through the care taken of them, or by medical skill. Such
persons must not pass for being really resuscitated; they were not
dead, or were so only in appearance.

We intend to speak in this place of another order of resuscitated
persons, who had been buried sometimes for several months, or even
several years; who ought to have been suffocated in their graves, had
they been interred alive, and in whom are still found signs of life:
the blood in a liquid state, the flesh entire, the complexion fine and
florid, the limbs flexible and pliable. Those persons who return
either by night or by day, disturb the living, suck their blood, kill
them, appear in their clothes, in their families, sit down to table,
and do a thousand other things; then return to their graves without
any one seeing how they re-enter them. This is a kind of momentary
resurrection, or revival; for whereas the other dead persons spoken of
in Scripture have lived, drank, eaten and conversed with other men
after their return to life, as Lazarus, the brother of Mary and
Martha,[450] and the son of the widow of Shunem, resuscitated by
Elisha.[451] These appeared during a certain time, in certain places,
in certain circumstances; and appear no more as soon as they have been
impaled, or burned, or have had their heads cut off.

If this last order of resuscitated persons were not really dead, there
is nothing wonderful in their revisiting the world, except the manner
in which it is done, and the circumstances by which that return is
accompanied. Do these _revenans_ simply awaken from their sleep, or do
they recover themselves like those who fall down in syncope, in
fainting fits, or in swoons, and who at the end of a certain time come
naturally to themselves when the blood and animal spirits have resumed
their natural course and motion.

But how can they come out of their graves without opening the earth,
and how re-enter them again without its appearing? Have we ever seen
lethargies, or swoons, or syncopes last whole years together? If
people insist on these resurrections being real ones, did we ever see
dead persons resuscitate themselves, and by their own power?

If they are not resuscitated by themselves, is it by the power of God
that they have left their graves? What proof is there that God has
anything to do with it? What is the object of these resurrections? Is
it to show forth the works of God in these vampires? What glory does
the Divinity derive from them? If it is not God who drags them from
their graves, is it an angel? is it a demon? is it their own spirit?
Can the soul when separated from the body re-enter it when it will,
and give it new life, were it but for a quarter of an hour? Can an
angel or a demon restore a dead man to life? Undoubtedly not, without
the order, or at least the permission of God. This question of the
natural power of angels and demons over human bodies has been examined
in another place, and we have shown that neither revelation nor reason
throws any certain light on the subject.


[450] 1 John xii. 2.

[451] 2 Kings viii. 5.



All the lives of the saints are full of resurrections of the dead;
thick volumes might be composed on the subject.

These resurrections have a manifest relation to the matter which we
are here treating of, since it relates to persons who are dead, or
held to be so, who appear bodily and animated to the living, and who
live after their return to life. I shall content myself with relating
the history of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, who restored to life
a man that had been dead for three years, attended by such singular
circumstances, and in so public a manner, that the thing is beyond the
severest criticism. If it is really true, it must be regarded as one
of the most unheard of miracles which are read of in history. They
assert that the life of this saint was written either at the time of
martyrdom,[452] or a short time afterwards, by different well-informed
authors; for the martyrdom of the saint, and, above all, the
restoration to life of the dead man of whom we are about to speak,
were seen and known by an infinite number of persons, by all the court
of king Boleslaus. And this event having taken place in Poland, where
vampires are frequently met with even in our days, it concerns, for
that reason, more particularly the subject we are treating.

The bishop, St. Stanislaus, having bought of a gentleman, named
Pierre, an estate situated on the banks of the Vistula, in the
territory of Lublin, for the profit of his church at Cracow, gave the
price of it to the seller, in the presence of witnesses, and with the
solemnities requisite in that country, but without written deeds, for
they then wrote but seldom in Poland on the occasion of sales of this
kind; they contented themselves with having witnesses. Stanislaus took
possession of this estate by the king's authority, and his church
enjoyed it peaceably for about three years.

In the interim, Pierre, who had sold it, happened to die. The king of
Poland, Boleslaus, who had conceived an implacable hatred against the
holy bishop, because he had freely reproved him for his excesses,
seeking occasion to cause him trouble, excited against him the three
sons of Pierre, and his heirs, and told them to claim the estate which
their father had sold, on pretence of its not having been paid for. He
promised to support their demand, and to cause it to be restored to
them. Thus these three gentlemen had the bishop cited to appear before
the king, who was then at Solech, occupied in rendering justice under
some tents in the country, according to the ancient custom of the
land, in the general assembly of the nation. The bishop was cited
before the king, and maintained that he had bought and paid for the
estate in question. The day was beginning to close, and the bishop ran
great risk of being condemned by the king and his counselors.
Suddenly, as if inspired by the Divine Spirit, he promised the king to
bring him in three days Pierre, of whom he had bought it, and the
condition was accepted mockingly, as a thing impossible to be

The holy bishop repairs to Pictravin, remains in prayer, and keeps
fast with his household for three days; on the third day he goes in
his pontifical robes, accompanied by his clergy and a multitude of
people, causes the grave-stone to be raised, and makes them dig until
they found the corpse of the defunct all fleshless and corrupted. The
saint commands him to come forth and bear witness to the truth before
the king's tribunal. He rises; they cover him with a cloak; the saint
takes him by the hand, and leads him alive to the feet of the king. No
one had the boldness to interrogate him; but he took the word, and
declared that he had in good faith sold the estate to the prelate, and
that he had received the value of it; after which he severely
reprimanded his sons, who had so maliciously accused the holy bishop.

Stanislaus asked Pierre if he wished to remain alive to do penance. He
thanked him, and said he would not anew expose himself to the danger
of sinning. Stanislaus reconducted him to his tomb, and being arrived
there, he again fell asleep in the Lord. It may be supposed that such
a scene had an infinite number of witnesses, and that all Poland was
quickly informed of it. The king was only the more irritated against
the saint. He some time after killed him with his own hand, as he was
coming from the altar, and had his body cut into seventy-two parts, in
order that they might never more be collected together in order to pay
them the worship which was due to them as the body of a martyr for the
truth and for pastoral liberty.

Now then let us come to that which is the principal subject of these
researches, the vampires, or _revenans_, of Hungary, Moravia, and
similar ones, which appear only for a little time in their natural


[452] The reverend fathers the Bollandists, believed that the life of
St. Stanislaus, which they had printed, was very old, and nearly of
the time of the martyrdom of the saint; or at least that it was taken
from a life by an author almost his cotemporary, and original. But
since the first edition of this dissertation it has been observed to
me that the thing was by no means certain; that M. Baillet, on the 7th
of May, in the critical table of authors, asserts that the life of St.
Stanislaus was only written 400 years after his death, from uncertain
and mutilated memoirs. And in the life of the saint he owns that it is
only the tradition of the writers of the country which can render
credible the account of the resurrection of Pierre. The Abbé Fleuri,
tom. xiii. of the Ecclesiastical History, l. 62, year 1079, does not
agree either to what is written in that life or to what has followed
it. At any rate, the miracle of the resurrection of Pierre is related
as certain in a discourse of John de Polemac, delivered at the Council
of Constance, 1433; tom. xii. Councils, p. 1397.



If what is related of vampires were certainly true, the question here
proposed would be frivolous and useless; they would reply to us
directly--In Hungary, Moravia, and Poland, persons who were dead and
interred a long time, have been seen to return, to appear, and torment
men and animals, suck their blood, and cause their death.

These persons come back to earth in their own bodies; people see them,
know them, exhume them, try them, impale them, cut off their heads,
burn them. It is then not only possible, but very true and very real,
that they appear in their own bodies.

It might be added in support of this belief, that the Scriptures
themselves give instances of these apparitions: for example, at the
Transfiguration of our Saviour, Elias and Moses appeared on Mount
Tabor,[453] there conversing with Jesus Christ. We know that Elias is
still alive. I do not cite him as an instance; but in regard to Moses,
his death is not doubtful; and yet he appeared bodily talking with
Jesus Christ. The dead who came out of their graves at the
resurrection of the Saviour,[454] and who appeared to many persons in
Jerusalem, had been in their sepulchres for several years; there was
no doubt of their being dead; and nevertheless they appeared and bore
testimony to the resurrection of the Saviour.

When Jeremiah appeared to Judas Maccabæus,[455] and placed in his hand
a golden sword, saying to him, "Receive this sword as a gift from God,
with which you will vanquish the enemies of my people of Israel;" it
was apparently this prophet in his own person who appeared to him and
made him that present, since by his mien he was recognized as the
prophet Jeremiah.

I do not speak of those persons who were really restored to life by a
miracle, as the son of the widow of Shunem resuscitated by Elijah; nor
of the dead man who, on touching the coffin of the same prophet, rose
upon his feet and revived; nor of Lazarus, to whom Jesus Christ
restored life in a way so miraculous and striking. Those persons
lived, drank, ate, and conversed with mankind, after, as before their
death and resurrection.

It is not of such persons that we now speak. I speak, for instance, of
Pierre resuscitated by Stanislaus for a few hours; of those persons of
whom I made mention in the treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits, who
appeared, spoke, and revealed hidden things, and whose resurrection
was but momentary, and only to manifest the power of God, in order to
bear witness to truth and innocence, or to maintain the credit of the
church against obstinate heretics, as we read in various instances.

St. Martin, being newly made Archbishop of Tours, conceived some
suspicions against an altar which the bishops his predecessors had
erected to a pretended martyr, of whom they knew neither the name nor
the history, and of whom none of the priests or ministers of the
chapel could give any certain account. He abstained for some time from
going to this spot, which was not far from the city; but one day he
repaired thither accompanied by a few monks, and having prayed, he
besought God to let him know who it was that was interred there. He
then perceived on his left a hideous and dirty-looking apparition; and
having commanded it to tell him who he was, the spectre declared his
name, and confessed to him that he was a robber, who had been put to
death for his crimes and acts of violence, and that he had nothing in
common with the martyrs. Those who were present heard distinctly what
he said, but saw no one. St. Martin had the tomb overthrown, and cured
the ignorant people of their superstitions.

The philosopher Celsus, writing against the Christians, maintained
that the apparitions of Jesus Christ to his apostles were not real,
but that they were simply shadowy forms which appeared. Origen,
retorting his reasoning, tells him[456] that the pagans give an
account of various apparitions of Æsculapius and Apollo, to which they
attribute the power of predicting future events. If these appearances
are admitted to be real, because they are attested by some, why not
receive as true those of Jesus Christ, which are related by ocular
witnesses, and believed by millions of persons?

He afterwards relates this history. Aristeus, who belonged to one of
the first families of Proconnesus, having one day entered a foulon
shop, died there suddenly. The __________ having locked the door, ran
directly to inform the relations of the deceased; but as the report
was instantly spread in the town, a man of Cyzica, who came from
Astacia, affirmed that it could not be, because he had met Aristeus on
the road from Cyzica, and had spoken to him, which he loudly
maintained before all the people of Proconnesus.

Thereupon the relations arrive at the foulon's, with all the necessary
apparatus for carrying away the body; but when they entered the house,
they could not find Aristeus there, either dead or alive. Seven years
after, he showed himself in the very town of Proconnesus; made there
those verses which are termed Arimaspean, and then disappeared for the
second time. Such is the story related of him in those places.

Three hundred and forty years after that event, the same Aristeus
showed himself in Metapontus, in Italy, and commanded the Metapontines
to build an altar to Apollo, and afterwards to erect a statue in honor
of Aristeus of Proconnesus, adding that they were the only people of
Italy whom Apollo had honored with his presence; as for himself who
spoke to them, he had accompanied that god in the form of a crow; and
having thus spoken he disappeared.

The Metapontines sent to consult the oracle of Delphi concerning this
apparition; the Delphic oracle told them to follow the counsel which
Aristeus had given them, and it would be well for them; in fact, they
did erect a statue to Apollo, which was still to be seen there in the
time of Herodotus;[457] and at the same time, another statue to
Aristeus, which stood in a small plantation of laurels, in the midst
of the public square of Metapontus. Celsus made no difficulty of
believing all that on the word of Herodotus, though Pindar and he
refused credence to what the Christians taught of the miracles wrought
by Jesus Christ, related in the Gospel and sealed with the blood of
martyrs. Origen adds, What could Providence have designed in
performing for this Proconnesian the miracles we have just mentioned?
What benefit could mankind derive from them? Whereas, what the
Christians relate of Jesus Christ serves to confirm a doctrine which
is beneficial to the human race. We must, then, either reject this
story of Aristeus as fabulous, or ascribe all that is told of it as
the work of the evil spirit.


[453] Matt. ix. 34.

[454] Matt. xxvii. 53.

[455] Macc. xiv. 14, 15.

[456] Origen. contra Celsum, lib. i. pp. 123, 124.

[457] Herodot. lib. iv.



Phlegonus, freed-man of the Emperor Adrian,[458] in the fragment of
the book which he wrote on wonderful things, says that at Tralla, in
Asia, a certain man named Machates, an innkeeper, was connected with a
girl named Philinium, the daughter of Demostrates and Chariton. This
girl being dead, and placed in her grave, continued to come every
night for six months to see her gallant, to drink, eat, and sleep with
him. One day this girl was recognized by her nurse, when she was
sitting by Machates. The nurse ran to give notice of this to Chariton,
the girl's mother, who, after making many difficulties, came at last
to the inn; but as it was very late, and everybody gone to bed, she
could not satisfy her curiosity. However, she recognized her
daughter's clothes, and thought she recognized the girl herself in bed
with Machates. She returned the next morning, but having missed her
way, she no longer found her daughter, who had already withdrawn.
Machates related everything to her; how, since a certain time, she had
come to him every night; and in proof of what he said, he opened his
casket and showed her the gold ring which Philinium had given him, and
the band with which she covered her bosom, and which she had left with
him the preceding night.

Chariton, who could no longer doubt the truth of the circumstance, now
gave way to cries and tears; but as they promised to inform her the
following night, when Philinium should return, she went away home. In
the evening the girl came back as usual, and Machates sent directly to
let her father and mother know, for he began to fear that some other
girl might have taken Philinium's clothes from the sepulchre, in order
to deceive him by the illusion.

Demostrates and Chariton, on arriving, recognized their daughter and
ran to embrace her; but she cried out, "Oh, father and mother, why
have you grudged me my happiness, by preventing me from remaining
three days longer with this innkeeper without injury to any one? for I
did not come here without permission from the gods, that is to say,
from the demon, since we cannot attribute to God, or to a good spirit,
a thing like that. Your curiosity will cost you dear." At the same
time, she fell down stiff and dead, and extended on the bed.

Phlegon, who had some command in the town, stayed the crowd and
prevented a tumult. The next day, the people being assembled at the
theatre, they agreed to go and inspect the vault in which Philinium,
who had died six months before, had been laid. They found there the
corpses of her family arranged in their places, but they found not the
body of Philinium. There was only an iron ring, which Machates had
given her, with a gilded cup, which she had also received from him.
Afterwards they went back to the dwelling of Machates, where the body
of the girl remained lying on the ground.

They consulted a diviner, who said that she must be interred beyond
the limits of the town; they must appease the furies and terrestrial
Mercury, make solemn funeral ceremonies to the god Manes, and
sacrifice to Jupiter Hospitaller, to Mercury, and Mars. Phlegon adds,
speaking to him to whom he was writing: "If you think proper to inform
the emperor of it, write to me, that I may send you some of those
persons who were eye-witnesses of all these things."

Here is the fact circumstantially related, and invested with all the
marks which can make it pass for true. Nevertheless, how numerous are
the difficulties it presents! Was this young girl really dead, or only
sleeping? Was her resurrection effected by her own strength and will,
or was it a demon who restored her to life? It appears that it cannot
be doubted that it was her own body; all the circumstances noted in
the recital of Phlegon persuade us of it. If she was not dead, and all
she did was merely a game and a play which she performed to satisfy
her passion for Machates, there is nothing in all this recital very
incredible. We know what illicit love is capable of, and how far it
may lead any one who is devoured by a violent passion. The same
Phlegon says that a Syrian soldier of the army of Antiochus, after
having been killed at Thermopylæ, appeared in open day in the Roman
camp, where he spoke to several persons.

Haralde, or Harappe, a Dane, who caused himself to be buried at the
entrance of his kitchen, appeared after his death, and was wounded by
one Olaüs Pa, who left the iron of his lance in the wound. This Dane,
then, appeared bodily. Was it his soul which moved his body, or a
demon which made use of this corpse to disturb and frighten the
living? Did he do this by his own strength, or by the permission of
God? And what glory to God, what advantage to men, could accrue from
these apparitions? Shall we deny all these facts, related in so
circumstantial a manner by enlightened authors, who have no interest
in deceiving us, nor any wish to do so?

St. Augustine relates that, during his abode at Milan,[459] a young
man had a suit instituted against him by a person who repeated his
demand for a debt already paid the young man's father, but the receipt
for which could not be found. The ghost of the father appeared to the
son, and informed him where the receipt was which occasioned him so
much trouble.

St. Macarius, the Egyptian, made a dead man[460] speak who had been
interred some time, in order to discover a deposit which he had
received and hidden unknown to his wife. The dead man declared that
the money was slipt down at the foot of his bed.

The same St. Macarius, not being able to refute in any other way a
heretic Eunomian, according to some, or Hieracitus, according to
others, said to him, "Let us go to the grave of a dead man, and ask
him to inform us of the truth which you will not agree to." The
heretic dared not present himself at the grave; but St. Macarius went
thither, accompanied by a multitude of persons. He interrogated the
dead, who replied from the depth of the tomb, that if the heretic had
appeared in the crowd he should have arisen to convince him, and to
bear testimony to the truth. St. Macarius commanded him to fall asleep
again in the Lord, till the time when Jesus Christ should awaken him
in his place at the end of the world.

The ancients, who have related the same fact, vary in some of the
circumstances, as is usual enough when those things are related only
from memory.

St. Spiridion, Bishop of Trinitontis, in Egypt,[461] had a daughter
named Irene, who lived in virginity till her death. After her decease,
a person came to Spiridion and asked him for a deposit which he had
confided to Irene unknown to her father. They sought in every part of
the house, but could find nothing. At last Spiridion went to his
daughter's tomb, and calling her by her name, asked her where the
deposit was. She declared the same, and Spiridion restored it.

A holy abbot named Erricles resuscitated for a moment a man who had
been killed,[462] and of whose death they accused a monk who was
perfectly innocent. The dead man did justice to the accused, and the
Abbot Erricles said to him, "Sleep in peace, till the Lord shall come
at the last day to resuscitate you to all eternity."

All these momentary resurrections may serve to explain how the
_revenans_ of Hungary come out of their graves, then return to them,
after having caused themselves to be seen and felt for some time. But
the difficulty will always be to know, 1st, If the thing be true; 2d,
If they can resuscitate themselves; and, 3d, If they are really dead,
or only asleep. In what way soever we regard this circumstance, it
always appears equally impossible and incredible.


[458] Phlegon. de Mirabilib. 18. Gronov. Antiq. Græc. p. 2694.

[459] Aug. de Curâ pro Mortuis.

[460] Rosweid. vit. P. P. lib. ii. p. 480.

[461] Sozomen, Hist. Eccl. lib. i. c. 11.

[462] Vit. P. P. lib. ii. p. 650.



We read in a new work, a story which has some connection with this
subject. A shopkeeper of the Rue St. Honoré, at Paris, had promised
his daughter to one of his friends, a shopkeeper like himself,
residing also in the same street. A financier having presented himself
as a husband for this young girl, was accepted instead of the young
man to whom she had been promised. The marriage was accomplished, and
the young bride falling ill, was looked upon as dead, enshrouded and
interred. The first lover having an idea that she had fallen into a
lethargy or a trance, had her taken out of the ground during the
night; they brought her to herself and he espoused her. They crossed
the channel, and lived quietly in England for some years. At the end
of ten years, they returned to Paris, where the first husband having
recognized his wife in a public walk, claimed her in a court of
justice; and this was the subject of a great law suit.

The wife and her (second) husband defended themselves on the ground
that death had broken the bonds of the first marriage. The first
husband was even accused of having caused his wife to be too
precipitately interred. The lovers foreseeing that they might be
non-suited, again withdrew to a foreign land, where they ended their
days. This circumstance is so singular that our readers will have some
difficulty in giving credence to it. I only give it as it is told. It
is for those who advance the fact to guarantee and prove it.

Who can say that, in the story of Phlegon, the young Philinium was not
thus placed in the vault without being dead, and that every night she
came to see her lover Machates? That was much easier for her than
would have been the return of the Parisian woman, who had been
enshrouded, buried, and remained covered with earth, and enveloped in
linen, during a pretty long time.

The other example related in the same work, is of a girl who fell into
a trance and was regarded as dead, and became enceinte during this
interval, without knowing the author of her pregnancy. It was a monk,
who, having made himself known, asserted that his vows should be
annulled, he having been forced into the sacred profession. A great
lawsuit ensued upon it, of which the documents are preserved to this
day. The monk obtained a dispensation from his vows, and married the
young girl.

This instance may be adduced with that of Philinium, and the young
woman of the Rue St. Honoré. It is possible that these persons might
not be dead, and consequently not restored to life.



I have been told by the late Monsieur de Vassimont, counsellor of the
Chamber of the Counts of Bar, that having been sent into Moravia by
his late Royal Highness Leopold, first Duke of Lorraine, for the
affairs of my Lord the Prince Charles his brother, Bishop of Olmutz
and Osnaburgh, he was informed by public report that it was common
enough in that country to see men who had died some time before,
present themselves in a party, and sit down to table with persons of
their acquaintance without saying anything; but that nodding to one of
the party, he would infallibly die some days afterwards. This fact was
confirmed by several persons, and amongst others by an old curé, who
said he had seen more than one instance of it.

The bishops and priests of the country consulted Rome on so
extraordinary a fact; but they received no answer, because,
apparently, all those things were regarded there as simple visions, or
popular fancies. They afterwards bethought themselves of taking up the
corpses of those who came back in that way, of burning them, or of
destroying them in some other manner. Thus they delivered themselves
from the importunity of these spectres, which are now much less
frequently seen than before. So said that good priest.

These apparitions have given rise to a little work, entitled _Magia
Posthuma_, printed at Olmutz, in 1706, composed by Charles Ferdinand
de Schertz, dedicated to Prince Charles, of Lorraine, Bishop of Olmutz
and Osnaburgh. The author relates that, in a certain village, a woman
being just dead, who had taken all her sacraments, she was buried in
the usual way in the cemetery. Four days after her decease, the
inhabitants of this village heard a great noise and extraordinary
uproar, and saw a spectre, which appeared sometimes in the shape of a
dog, sometimes in the form of a man, not to one person only, but to
several, and caused them great pain, grasping their throats, and
compressing their stomachs, so as to suffocate them. It bruised almost
the whole body, and reduced them to extreme weakness, so that they
became pale, lean and attenuated.

The spectre attacked even the animals, and some cows were found
debilitated and half dead. Sometimes it tied them together by their
tails. These animals gave sufficient evidence by their bellowing of
the pain they suffered. The horses seemed overcome with fatigue, all
in a perspiration, principally on the back; heated, out of breath,
covered with foam, as they are after a long and rough journey. These
calamities lasted several months.

The author whom I have mentioned examines the affair in a lawyer-like
way, and reasons much on the fact and the law. He asks if, supposing
that those disturbances, those noises and vexations proceeded from
that person who is suspected of causing them, they can burn her, as is
done to other ghosts who do harm to the living. He relates several
instances of similar apparitions, and of the evils which ensued; as of
a shepherd of the village of Blow, near the town of Kadam, in Bohemia,
who appeared during some time, and called certain persons, who never
failed to die within eight days after. The peasants of Blow took up
the body of this shepherd, and fixed it in the ground with a stake
which they drove through it.

This man, when in that condition, derided them for what they made him
suffer, and told them they were very good to give him thus a stick to
defend himself from the dogs. The same night he got up again, and by
his presence alarmed several persons, and strangled more amongst them
than he had hitherto done. Afterwards, they delivered him into the
hands of the executioner, who put him in a cart to carry him beyond
the village and there burn him. This corpse howled like a madman, and
moved his feet and hands as if alive. And when they again pierced him
through with stakes he uttered very loud cries, and a great quantity
of bright vermilion blood flowed from him. At last he was consumed,
and this execution put an end to the appearance and hauntings of this

The same has been practiced in other places, where similar ghosts have
been seen; and when they have been taken out of the ground they have
appeared red, with their limbs supple and pliable, without worms or
decay; but not without a great stink. The author cites divers other
writers, who attest what he says of these spectres, which still
appear, he says, pretty often in the mountains of Silesia and Moravia.
They are seen by night and by day; the things which once belonged to
them are seen to move themselves and change their place without being
touched by any one. The only remedy for these apparitions is to cut
off the heads and burn the bodies of those who come back to haunt

At any rate, they do not proceed to this without a form of justicial
law. They call for and hear the witnesses; they examine the arguments;
they look at the exhumed bodies, to see if they can find any of the
usual marks which lead them to conjecture that they are the parties
who molest the living, as the mobility and suppleness of the limbs,
the fluidity of the blood, and the flesh remaining uncorrupted. If all
these marks are found, then these bodies are given up to the
executioner, who burns them. It sometimes happens that the spectres
appear again for three or four days after the execution. Sometimes the
interment of the bodies of suspicious persons is deferred for six or
seven weeks. When they do not decay, and their limbs remain as supple
and pliable as when they were alive, then they burn them. It is
affirmed as certain that the clothes of these persons move without any
one living touching them; and within a short time, continues our
author, a spectre was seen at Olmutz, which threw stones, and gave
great trouble to the inhabitants.



About fifteen years ago, a soldier who was billeted at the house of a
Haidamagne peasant, on the frontiers of Hungary, as he was one day
sitting at table near his host, the master of the house saw a person
he did not know come in and sit down to table also with them. The
master of the house was strangely frightened at this, as were the rest
of the company. The soldier knew not what to think of it, being
ignorant of the matter in question. But the master of the house being
dead the very next day, the soldier inquired what it meant. They told
him that it was the body of the father of his host, who had been dead
and buried for ten years, which had thus come to sit down next to him,
and had announced and caused his death.

The soldier informed the regiment of it in the first place, and the
regiment gave notice of it to the general officers, who commissioned
the Count de Cabreras, captain of the regiment of Alandetti infantry,
to make information concerning this circumstance. Having gone to the
place, with some other officers, a surgeon and an auditor, they heard
the depositions of all the people belonging to the house, who attested
unanimously that the ghost was the father of the master of the house,
and that all the soldier had said and reported was the exact truth,
which was confirmed by all the inhabitants of the village.

In consequence of this, the corpse of this spectre was exhumed, and
found to be like that of a man who has just expired, and his blood
like that of a living man. The Count de Cabreras had his head cut off,
and caused him to be laid again in his tomb. He also took information
concerning other similar ghosts, amongst others, of a man dead more
than thirty years, who had come back three times to his house at meal
time. The first time he had sucked the blood from the neck of his own
brother, the second time from one of his sons, and the third from one
of the servants in the house; and all three died of it instantly and
on the spot. Upon this deposition the commissary had this man taken
out of his grave, and finding that, like the first, his blood was in a
fluid state, like that of a living person, he ordered them to run a
large nail into his temple, and then to lay him again in the grave.

He caused a third to be burnt, who had been buried more than sixteen
years, and had sucked the blood and caused the death of two of his
sons. The commissary having made his report to the general officers,
was deputed to the court of the emperor, who commanded that some
officers, both of war and justice, some physicians and surgeons, and
some learned men, should be sent to examine the causes of these
extraordinary events. The person who related these particulars to us
had heard them from Monsieur the Count de Cabreras, at Fribourg en
Brigau, in 1730.



This is what we read in the "Lettres Juives," new edition, 1738,
Letter 137.

We have just had in this part of Hungary a scene of vampirism, which
is duly attested by two officers of the tribunal of Belgrade, who went
down to the places specified; and by an officer of the emperor's
troops at Graditz, who was an ocular witness of the proceedings.

In the beginning of September there died in the village of Kivsiloa,
three leagues from Graditz, an old man who was sixty-two years of age.
Three days after he had been buried, he appeared in the night to his
son, and asked him for something to eat; the son having given him
something, he ate and disappeared. The next day the son recounted to
his neighbors what had happened. That night the father did not appear;
but the following night he showed himself, and asked for something to
eat. They know not whether the son gave him anything or not; but the
next day he was found dead in his bed. On the same day, five or six
persons fell suddenly ill in the village, and died one after the other
in a few days.

The officer or bailiff of the place, when informed of what had
happened, sent an account of it to the tribunal of Belgrade, which
dispatched to the village two of these officers and an executioner to
examine into this affair. The imperial officer from whom we have this
account repaired thither from Graditz, to be witness of a circumstance
which he had so often heard spoken of.

They opened the graves of those who had been dead six weeks. When they
came to that of the old man, they found him with his eyes open, having
a fine color, with natural respiration, nevertheless motionless as the
dead; whence they concluded that he was most evidently a vampire. The
executioner drove a stake into his heart; they then raised a pile and
reduced the corpse to ashes. No mark of vampirism was found either on
the corpse of the son or on the others.

Thanks be to God, we are by no means credulous. We avow that all the
light which physics can throw on this fact discovers none of the
causes of it. Nevertheless, we cannot refuse to believe that to be
true which is juridically attested, and by persons of probity. We will
here give a copy of what happened in 1732, and which we inserted in
the Gleaner (_Glaneur_), No. XVIII.



In a certain canton of Hungary, named in Latin _Oppida Heidanum_,
beyond the Tibisk, _vulgo_ Teiss, that is to say, between that river
which waters the fortunate territory of Tokay and Transylvania, the
people known by the name of _Heyducqs_[463] believe that certain dead
persons, whom they call vampires, suck all the blood from the living,
so that these become visibly attenuated, whilst the corpses, like
leeches, fill themselves with blood in such abundance that it is seen
to come from them by the conduits, and even oozing through the pores.
This opinion has just been confirmed by several facts which cannot be
doubted, from the rank of the witnesses who have certified them. We
will here relate some of the most remarkable.

About five years ago, a certain Heyducq, inhabitant of Madreiga, named
Arnald Paul, was crushed to death by the fall of a wagonload of hay.
Thirty days after his death four persons died suddenly, and in the
same manner in which according to the tradition of the country, those
die who are molested by vampires. They then remembered that this
Arnald Paul had often related that in the environs of Cassovia, and on
the frontiers of Turkish Servia, he had often been tormented by a
Turkish vampire; for they believe also that those who have been
passive vampires during life become active ones after their death,
that is to say, that those who have been sucked suck also in their
turn; but that he had found means to cure himself by eating earth from
the grave of the vampire, and smearing himself with his blood; a
precaution which, however, did not prevent him from becoming so after
his death, since, on being exhumed forty days after his interment,
they found on his corpse all the indications of an arch-vampire. His
body was red, his hair, nails, and beard had all grown again, and his
veins were replete with fluid blood, which flowed from all parts of
his body upon the winding-sheet which encompassed him. The hadnagi, or
bailli of the village, in whose presence the exhumation took place,
and who was skilled in vampirism, had, according to custom, a very
sharp stake driven into the heart of the defunct Arnald Paul, and
which pierced his body through and through, which made him, as they
say, utter a frightful shriek, as if he had been alive: that done,
they cut off his head, and burnt the whole body. After that they
performed the same on the corpses of the four other persons who died
of vampirism, fearing that they in their turn might cause the death of

All these performances, however, could not prevent the recommencement
of these fatal prodigies towards the end of last year, that is to say,
five years after, when several inhabitants of the same village
perished miserably. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of
different sexes and different ages died of vampirism; some without
being ill, and others after languishing two or three days. It is
reported, amongst other things, that a girl named Stanoska, daughter
of the Heyducq Jotiützo, who went to bed in perfect health, awoke in
the middle of the night all in a tremble, uttering terrible shrieks,
and saying that the son of the Heyducq Millo who had been dead nine
weeks, had nearly strangled her in her sleep. She fell into a languid
state from that moment, and at the end of three days she died. What
this girl had said of Millo's son made him known at once for a
vampire: he was exhumed, and found to be such. The principal people of
the place, with the doctors and surgeons, examined how vampirism could
have sprung up again after the precautions they had taken some years

They discovered at last, after much search, that the defunct Arnald
Paul had killed not only the four persons of whom we have spoken, but
also several oxen, of which the new vampires had eaten, and amongst
others the son of Millo. Upon these indications they resolved to
disinter all those who had died within a certain time, &c. Amongst
forty, seventeen were found with all the most evident signs of
vampirism; so they transfixed their hearts and cut off their heads
also, and then cast their ashes into the river.

All the informations and executions we have just mentioned were made
juridically, in proper form, and attested by several officers who were
garrisoned in the country, by the chief surgeons of the regiments, and
by the principal inhabitants of the place. The verbal process of it
was sent towards the end of last January to the Imperial Counsel of
War at Vienna, which had established a military commission to examine
into the truth of all these circumstances.

Such was the declaration of the Hadnagi Barriarar and the ancient
Heyducqs; and it was signed by Battuer, first lieutenant of the
regiment of Alexander of Wurtemburg, Clickstenger, surgeon-in-chief of
the regiment of Frustemburch, three other surgeons of the company, and
Guoichitz, captain at Stallach.


[463] This story is apparently the same which we related before under
the name of Haidamaque, and which happened in 1729 or 1730.



There are two different ways of effacing the opinion concerning these
pretended ghosts, and showing the impossibility of the effects which
are made to be produced by corpses entirely deprived of sensation. The
first is, to explain by physical causes all the prodigies of
vampirism; the second is, to deny totally the truth of these stories;
and the latter means, without doubt, is the surest and the wisest. But
as there are persons to whom the authority of a certificate given by
people in a certain place appears a plain demonstration of the
reality of the most absurd story, before I show how little they ought
to rely on the formalities of the law in matters which relate solely
to philosophy, I will for a moment suppose that several persons do
really die of the disease which they term vampirism.

I lay down at first this principle, that it may be that there are
corpses which, although interred some days, shed fluid blood through
the conduits of their body. I add, moreover, that it is very easy for
certain people to fancy themselves sucked by vampires, and that the
fear caused by that fancy should make a revolution in their frame
sufficiently violent to deprive them of life. Being occupied all day
with the terror inspired by these pretended ghosts or _revenans_, is
it very extraordinary, that during their sleep the idea of these
phantoms should present itself to their imagination and cause them
such violent terror? that some of them die of it instantaneously, and
others a short time afterwards? How many instances have we not seen of
people who expired with fright in a moment? and has not joy itself
sometimes produced an equally fatal effect?

I have seen in the Leipsic journals[464] an account of a little work
entitled, _Philosophicæ et Christianæ Cogitationes de Vampiriis, à
Joanne Christophoro Herenbergio_; "Philosophical and Christian
Thoughts upon Vampires, by John Christopher Herenberg," at
Gerolferliste, in 1733, in 8vo. The author names a pretty large number
of writers who have already discussed this matter; he speaks, _en
passant_, of a spectre which appeared to him at noonday. He maintains
that the vampires do not cause the death of the living, and that all
that is said about them ought to be attributed only to the troubled
fancy of the invalids; he proves by divers experiments that the
imagination is capable of causing very great derangements in the body,
and the humors of the body; he shows that in Sclavonia they impaled
murderers, and drove a stake through the heart of the culprit; that
they used the same chastisement for vampires, supposing them to be the
authors of the death of those whose blood they were said to suck. He
gives some examples of this punishment exercised upon them, the one in
the year 1337, and the other in 1347. He speaks of the opinion of
those who believe that the dead eat in their tombs; a sentiment of
which he endeavors to prove the antiquity by the authority of
Tertullian, at the beginning of his book on the Resurrection, and by
that of St. Augustine, b. viii. c. 27, on the City of God, and in
Sermon xv. on the Saints.

Such are nearly the contents of the work of M. Herenberg on vampires.
The passage of Tertullian[465] which he cites, proves very well that
the pagans offered food to their dead, even to those whose bodies had
been burned, believing that their spirits regaled themselves with it:
_Defunctis parentant, et quidem impensissimo studio, pro moribus eorum
pro temporibus esculentorum, ut quos sentire quicquam negant escam
desiderare proesumant._ This concerns only the pagans.

But St. Augustine, in several places, speaks of the custom of the
Christians, above all those of Africa, of carrying to the tombs meats
and wine, which they placed upon them as a repast of devotion, and to
which the poor were invited, in whose favor these offerings were
principally instituted. This practice is founded on the passage of the
book of Tobit;--"Place your bread and wine on the sepulchre of the
just, and be careful not to eat or drink of it with sinners." St.
Monico, the mother of St. Augustine,[466] having desired to do at
Milan what she had been accustomed to do in Africa, St. Ambrose,
bishop of Milan, testified that he did not approve of this practice,
which was unknown in his church. The holy woman restrained herself to
carrying thither a basket full of fruits and wine, of which she
partook very soberly with the women who accompanied her, leaving the
rest for the poor. St. Augustine remarks, in the same passage, that
some intemperate Christians abused these offerings by drinking wine to
excess: _Ne ulla occasio se ingurgitandi daretur ebriosis._

St. Augustine,[467] however, by his preaching and remonstrances, did
so much good, that he entirely uprooted this custom, which was common
throughout the African Church, and the abuse of which was too general.
In his books on the City of God,[468] he avows that this usage is
neither general nor approved in the Church, and that those who
practice it content themselves with offering this food upon the tombs
of the martyrs, in order that through their merits these offerings
should be sanctified; after which they carry them away, and make use
of them for their own nourishment and that of the poor: _Quicumque
suas epulas eò deferant, quad quidem à melioribus Christianis non fit,
et in plerisque terrarum nulla talis est consuetudo; tamen quicumque
id faciunt, quas cùm appossuerint, orant, et auferunt, ut vescantur
vel ex eis etiam indigentibus largiantur._ It appears, from two
sermons which have been attributed to St. Augustine,[469] that in
former times this custom had crept in at Rome, but did not subsist
there any time, and was blamed and condemned.

Now, if it were true that the dead could eat in their tombs, and that
they had a wish or occasion to eat, as is believed by those of whom
Tertullian speaks, and as it appears may be inferred from the custom
of carrying fruit and wine to be placed on the graves of martyrs and
other Christians, I think even that I have good proof that in certain
places they placed near the bodies of the dead, whether buried in the
cemeteries or the churches, meat, wine, and other liquors. I have in
our study several vases of clay and glass, and even plates, where may
be seen small bones of pig and fowls, all found deep underground in
the church of the Abbey of St. Mansuy, near the town of Toul.

It has been remarked to me that these vestiges found in the ground
were plunged in virgin earth which had never been disturbed, and near
certain vases or urns filled with ashes, and containing some small
bones which the flames could not consume; and as it is known that the
Christians did not burn their dead, and that these vases we are
speaking of are placed beneath the disturbed earth, in which the
graves of Christians are found, it has been inferred, with much
semblance of probability, that these vases with the food and beverage
buried near them, were intended not for Christians but for heathens.
The latter, then, at least, believed that the dead ate in the other
life. There is no doubt that the ancient Gauls[470] were persuaded of
this; they are often represented on their tombs with bottles in their
hands, and baskets and other comestibles, or drinking vessels and
goblets;[471] they carried with them even the contracts and bonds for
what was due to them, to have it paid to them in Hades. _Negotiorum
ratio, etiam exactio crediti deferebatur ad inferos._

Now, if they believed that the dead ate in their tombs, that they
could return to earth, visit, console, instruct, or disturb the
living, and predict to them their approaching death, the return of
vampires is neither impossible nor incredible in the opinion of these

But as all that is said of dead men who eat in their graves and out of
their graves is chimerical and beyond all likelihood, and the thing is
even impossible and incredible, whatever may be the number and quality
of those who have believed it, or appeared to believe it, I shall
always say that the return (to earth) of the vampires is
unmaintainable and impracticable.


[464] Supplem. ad visu Erudit. Lips. an. 1738, tom. ii.

[465] Tertull. de Resurrect. initio.

[466] Aug. Confess. lib. vi. c. 2.

[467] Aug. Epist. 22, ad Aurel. Carthag. et Epist. 29, ad Alipi. Item
de Moribus Eccl. c. 34.

[468] Aug. lib. viii. de Civit. Dei, c. 27.

[469] Aug. Serm. 35, de Sanctis, nunc in Appendice, c. 5. Serm. cxc.
cxci. p. 328.

[470] Antiquité expliquée, tom. iv. p. 80.

[471] Mela. lib. ii. c. 4.



On examining the narrative of the death of the pretended martyrs of
vampirism, I discover the symptoms of an epidemical fanaticism; and I
see clearly that the impression made upon them by fear is the true
cause of their being lost. A girl named Stanoska, say they, daughter
of the Heyducq Sovitzo, who went to bed in perfect health, awoke in
the middle of the night all in a tremble, and shrieking dreadfully,
saying that the son of the Heyducq Millo, who had been dead for nine
weeks, had nearly strangled her in her sleep. From that moment she
fell into a languishing state, and at the end of three days died.

For any one who has eyes, however little philosophical they may be,
must not this recital alone clearly show him that this pretended
vampirism is merely the result of a stricken imagination? There is a
girl who awakes and says that some one wanted to strangle her, and who
nevertheless has not been sucked, since her cries have prevented the
vampire from making his repast. She apparently was not so served
afterwards either, since, doubtlessly, they did not leave her by
herself during the other nights; and if the vampire had wished to
molest her, her moans would have warned those of it who were present.
Nevertheless, she dies three days afterwards. Her fright and lowness,
her sadness and languor, evidently show how strongly her imagination
had been affected.

Those persons who find themselves in cities afflicted with the plague,
know by experience how many people lose their lives through fear. As
soon as a man finds himself attacked with the least illness, he
fancies that he is seized with the epidemical disease, which idea
occasions him so great a sensation, that it is almost impossible for
the system to resist such a revolution. The Chevalier de Maifin
assured me, when I was at Paris, that being at Marseilles during the
contagion which prevailed in that city, he had seen a woman die of the
fear she felt at a slight illness of her servant, whom she believed
attacked with the pestilence. This woman's daughter was sick and near

Other persons who were in the same house went to bed, sent for a
doctor, and assured him they had the plague. The doctor, on arriving,
visited the servant, and the other patients, and none of them had the
epidemical disorder. He tried to calm their minds, and ordered them to
rise, and live in their usual way; but his care was useless as
regarded the mistress of the family, who died in two days of the
fright alone.

Reflect upon the second narrative of the death of a passive vampire,
and you will see most evident proofs of the terrible effects of fear
and prejudice. (See the preceding chapter.) This man, three days after
he was buried, appears in the night to his son, asks for something to
eat, eats, and disappears. On the morrow, the son relates to his
neighbors what had happened to him. That night the father does not
appear; but the following night they find the son dead in his bed. Who
cannot perceive in these words the surest marks of prepossession and
fear? The first time these act upon the imagination of the pretended
victim of vampirism they do not produce their entire effect, and not
only dispose his mind to be more vividly struck by them; that also
does not fail to happen, and to produce the effect which would
naturally follow.

Notice well that the dead man did not return on the night of the day
that his son communicated his dream to his friends, because, according
to all appearances, these sat up with him, and prevented him from
yielding to his fear.

I now come to those corpses full of fluid blood, and whose beard, hair
and nails had grown again. One may dispute three parts of these
prodigies, and be very complaisant if we admit the truth of a few of
them. All philosophers know well enough how much the people, and even
certain historians, enlarge upon things which appear but a little
extraordinary. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to explain their
cause physically.

Experience teaches us that there are certain kinds of earth which will
preserve dead bodies perfectly fresh. The reasons of this have been
often explained, without my giving myself the trouble to make a
particular recital of them. There is at Thoulouse a vault in a church
belonging to some monks, where the bodies remain so entirely perfect
that there are some which have been there nearly two centuries, and
appear still living.

They have been ranged in an upright posture against the wall, and are
clothed in the dress they usually wore. What is very remarkable is,
that the bodies which are placed on the other side of this same vault
become in two or three days the food of worms.

As to the growth of the nails, the hair and the beard, it is often
perceived in many corpses. While there yet remains a great deal of
moisture in the body, it is not surprising that during some time we
see some augmentation in those parts which do not demand a vital

The fluid blood flowing through the canals of the body seems to form a
greater difficulty; but physical reasons may be given for this. It
might very well happen that the heat of the sun warming the nitrous
and sulphureous particles which are found in those earths that are
proper for preserving the body, those particles having incorporated
themselves in the newly interred corpses, ferment, decoagulate, and
melt the curdled blood, render it liquid, and give it the power of
flowing by degrees through all the channels.

This opinion appears so much the more probable from its being
confirmed by an experiment. If you boil in a glass or earthen vessel
one part of chyle, or milk, mixed with two parts of cream of tartar,
the liquor will turn from white to red, because the tartaric salt will
have rarified and entirely dissolved the most oily part of the milk,
and converted it into a kind of blood. That which is formed in the
vessels of the body is a little redder, but it is not thicker; it is,
then, not impossible that the heat may cause a fermentation which
produces nearly the same effects as this experiment. And this will be
found easier, if we consider that the juices of the flesh and bones
resemble chyle very much, and that the fat and marrow are the most
oily parts of the chyle. Now all these particles in fermenting must,
by the rule of the experiment, be changed into a kind of blood. Thus,
besides that which has been discoagulated and melted, the pretended
vampires shed also that blood which must be formed from the melting of
the fat and marrow.



The public memorials of the years 1693 and 1694 speak of _oupires_,
vampires or ghosts, which are seen in Poland, and above all in Russia.
They make their appearance from noon to midnight, and come and suck the
blood of living men or animals in such abundance that sometimes it flows
from them at the nose, and principally at the ears, and sometimes the
corpse swims in its own blood oozed out in its coffin.[472] It is said
that the vampire has a sort of hunger, which makes him eat the linen
which envelops him. This reviving being, or _oupire_, comes out of his
grave, or a demon in his likeness, goes by night to embrace and hug
violently his near relations or his friends, and sucks their blood so
much as to weaken and attenuate them, and at last cause their death.
This persecution does not stop at one single person; it extends to the
last person of the family, if the course be not interrupted by cutting
off the head or opening the heart of the ghost, whose corpse is found in
his coffin, yielding, flexible, swollen, and rubicund, although he may
have been dead some time. There proceeds from his body a great quantity
of blood, which some mix up with flour to make bread of; and that bread
eaten in ordinary protects them from being tormented by the spirit,
which returns no more.


[472] V. Moréri on the word _stryges_.



The Dutch Gleaner, who is by no means credulous, supposes the truth of
these facts as certain, having no good reason for disputing them, and
reasons upon them in a way which shows he thinks lightly of the
matter; he asserts that the people, amongst whom vampires are seen,
are very ignorant and very credulous, so that the apparitions we are
speaking of are only the effects of a prejudiced fancy. The whole is
occasioned and augmented by the bad nourishment of these people, who,
the greater part of their time, eat only bread made of oats, roots,
and the bark of trees--aliments which can only engender gross blood,
which is consequently much disposed to corruption, and produces dark
and bad ideas in the imagination.

He compares this disease to the bite of a mad dog, which communicates
its venom to the person who is bitten; thus, those who are infected by
vampirism communicate this dangerous poison to those with whom they
associate. Thence the wakefulness, dreams, and pretended apparitions
of vampires.

He conjectures that this poison is nothing else than a worm, which
feeds upon the purest substance of man, constantly gnaws his heart,
makes the body die away, and does not forsake it even in the depth of
the grave. It is certain that the bodies of those who have been
poisoned, or who die of contagion, do not become stiff after their
death, because the blood does not congeal in the veins; on the
contrary, it rarifies and bubbles much the same as in vampires, whose
beard, hair, and nails grow, whose skin is rosy, who appear to have
grown fat, on account of the blood which swells and abounds in them

As to the cry uttered by the vampires when the stake is driven through
their heart, nothing is more natural; the air which is there confined,
and thus expelled with violence, necessarily produces that noise in
passing through the throat. Dead bodies often do as much without being
touched. He concludes that it is only an imagination that is deranged
by melancholy or superstition, which can fancy that the malady we have
just spoken of can be produced by vampire corpses, which come and suck
away, even to the last drop, all the blood in the body.

A little before, he says that in 1732 they discovered again some
vampires in Hungary, Moravia, and Turkish Servia; that this phenomenon
is too well averred for it to be doubted; that several German
physicians have composed pretty thick volumes in Latin and German on
this matter; that the Germanic Academies and Universities still
resound with the names of Arnald Paul, of Stanoska, daughter of
Sovitzo, and of the Heyducq Millo, all famous vampires of the quarter
of Médreiga, in Hungary.

Here is a letter which has been written to one of my friends, to be
communicated to me; it is on the subject of the ghosts of
Hungary;[473] the writer thinks very differently from the Gleaner on
the subject of vampires.

"In reply to the questions of the Abbé dom Calmet concerning vampires,
the undersigned has the honor to assure him that nothing is more true
or more certain than what he will doubtless have read about it in the
deeds or attestations which have been made public, and printed in all
the Gazettes in Europe. But amongst all these public attestations
which have appeared, the Abbé must fix his attention as a true and
notorious fact on that of the deputation from Belgrade, ordered by his
late Majesty Charles VI., of glorious memory, and executed by his
Serene Highness the late Duke Charles Alexander of Wirtemberg, then
Viceroy or Governor of the kingdom of Servia; but I cannot at present
cite the year or the day, for want of papers which I have not now by

"That prince sent off a deputation from Belgrade, half consisting of
military officers and half of civil, with the auditor-general of the
kingdom, to go to a village where a famous vampire, several years
deceased, was making great havoc amongst his kin; for note well, that
it is only in their family and amongst their own relations that these
blood-suckers delight in destroying our species. This deputation was
composed of men and persons well known for their morality and even
their information, of irreproachable character; and there were even
some learned men amongst the two orders: they were put to the oath,
and accompanied by a lieutenant of the grenadiers of the regiment of
Prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, and by twenty-four grenadiers of the
said regiment.

"All that were most respectable, and the duke himself, who was then at
Belgrade, joined this deputation in order to be ocular spectators of
the veracious proof about to be made.

"When they arrived at the place, they found that in the space of a
fortnight the vampire, uncle of five persons, nephews and nieces, had
already dispatched three of them and one of his own brothers. He had
begun with his fifth victim, the beautiful young daughter of his
niece, and had already sucked her twice, when a stop was put to this
sad tragedy by the following operations.

"They repaired with the deputed commissaries to a village not far from
Belgrade, and that publicly, at night-fall, and went to the vampire's
grave. The gentleman could not tell me the time when those who had
died had been sucked, nor the particulars of the subject. The persons
whose blood had been sucked found themselves in a pitiable state of
languor, weakness, and lassitude, so violent is the torment. He had
been interred three years, and they saw on this grave a light
resembling that of a lamp, but not so bright.

"They opened the grave, and found there a man as whole and apparently
as sound as any of us who were present; his hair, and the hairs on his
body, the nails, teeth, and eyes as firmly fast as they now are in
ourselves who exist, and his heart palpitating.

"Next they proceeded to draw him out of his grave, the body in truth
not being flexible, but wanting neither flesh nor bone; then they
pierced his heart with a sort of round, pointed, iron lance; there
came out a whitish and fluid matter mixed with blood, but the blood
prevailing more than the matter, and all without any bad smell. After
that they cut off his head with a hatchet, like what is used in
England at executions; there came out also a matter and blood like
what I have just described, but more abundantly in proportion to what
had flowed from the heart.

"And after all this they threw him back again into his grave, with
quicklime to consume him promptly; and thenceforth his niece, who had
been twice sucked, grew better. At the place where these persons are
sucked a very blue spot is formed; the part whence the blood is drawn
is not determinate, sometimes it is in one place and sometimes in
another. It is a notorious fact, attested by the most authentic
documents, and passed or executed in sight of more than 1,300 persons,
all worthy of belief.

"But I reserve, to satisfy more fully the curiosity of the learned
Abbé dom Calmet, the pleasure of detailing to him more at length what
I have seen with my own eyes on this subject, and will give it to the
Chevalier de St. Urbain to send to him; too glad in that, as in
everything else, to find an occasion of proving to him that no one is
with such perfect veneration and respect as his very humble, and very
obedient servant, L. de Beloz, ci-devant Captain in the regiment of
his Serene Highness the late Prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, and his
Aid-de-Camp, and at this time first Captain of grenadiers in the
regiment of Monsieur the Baron Trenck."


[473] There is reason to believe that this is only a repetition of
what has already been said in Chapter X.



In order to omit nothing which can throw light on this matter, I shall
insert here the letter of a very honest man, who is well informed
respecting ghosts. This letter was written to a relation.

"You wish, my dear cousin, to be exactly informed of what takes place
in Hungary concerning ghosts who cause the death of many people in
that country. I can write to you learnedly upon it, for I have been
several years in those quarters, and I am naturally curious. I have
heard in my lifetime an infinite number of stories, true, or pretended
to be such, concerning spirits and sorceries, but out of a thousand I
have hardly believed a single one. We cannot be too circumspect on
this point without running the risk of being duped. Nevertheless,
there are certain facts so well attested that one cannot help
believing them. As to the ghosts of Hungary, the thing takes place in
this manner: A person finds himself attacked with languor, loses his
appetite, grows visibly thinner, and, at the end of eight or ten days,
sometimes a fortnight, dies, without fever, or any other symptom than
thinness and drying up of the blood.

"They say in that country that it is a ghost which attaches itself to
such a person and sucks his blood. Of those who are attacked by this
malady the greater part think they see a white spectre which follows
them everywhere as the shadow follows the body. When we were quartered
among the Wallachians, in the ban of Temeswar, two horsemen of the
company in which I was cornet, died of this malady, and several
others, who also were attacked by it, would have died in the same
manner, if a corporal of our company had not put a stop to the
disorder by employing the remedy used by the people of the country in
such case. It is very remarkable, and although infallible, I never
read it in any ritual. This is it:--

"They choose a boy young enough to be certain that he is innocent of
any impurity; they place him on an unmutilated horse, which has never
stumbled, and is absolutely black. They make him ride about the
cemetery and pass over all the graves; that over which the animal
refuses to pass, in spite of repeated blows from a switch that is
delivered to his rider, is reputed to be filled by a vampire. They
open this grave, and find therein a corpse as fat and handsome as if
he were a man happily and quietly sleeping. They cut the throat of
this corpse with the stroke of a spade, and there flows forth the
finest vermilion blood in a great quantity. One might swear that it
was a healthy living man whose throat they were cutting. That done,
they fill up the grave, and we may reckon that the malady will cease,
and that all those who had been attacked by it will recover their
strength by degrees, like people recovering from a long illness, and
who have been greatly extenuated. That happened precisely to our
horsemen who had been seized with it. I was then commandant of the
company, my captain and my lieutenant being absent. I was piqued at
that corporal's having made the experiment without me, and I had all
the trouble in the world to resist the inclination I felt to give him
a severe caning--a merchandize which is very cheap in the emperor's
troops. I would have given the world to be present at this operation;
but I was obliged to make myself contented as it was."

A relation of this same officer has written me word, the 17th of
October, 1746, that his brother, who has served during twenty years in
Hungary, and has very curiously examined into everything which is said
there concerning ghosts, acknowledges that the people of that country
are more credulous and superstitious than other nations, and they
attribute the maladies which happen to them to spells. That as soon as
they suspect a dead person of having sent them this illness, they
inform the magistrate of it, who, on the deposition of some witnesses,
causes the dead body to be exhumed. They cut off the head with a
spade, and if a drop of blood comes from it, they conclude that it is
the blood which he has sucked from the sick person. But the person who
writes appears to me very far from believing what is thought of these
things in that country.

At Warsaw, a priest having ordered a saddler to make him a bridle for
his horse, died before the bridle was made, and as he was one of those
whom they call vampires in Poland, he came out of his grave dressed as
the ecclesiastics usually are when inhumed, took his horse from the
stable, mounted it, and went in the sight of all Warsaw to the
saddler's shop, where at first he found only the saddler's wife, who
was frightened, and called her husband; he came, and the priest having
asked for his bridle, he replied, "But you are dead, Mr. Curé." To
which he answered, "I am going to show you I am not," and at the same
time struck him so hard that the poor saddler died a few days after,
and the priest returned to his grave.

The steward of Count Simon Labienski, starost of Posnania, being dead,
the Countess Dowager de Labienski wished, from gratitude for his
services, to have him inhumed in the vault of the lords of that
family. This was done; and some time after, the sexton, who had the
care of the vault, perceived that there was some derangement in the
place, and gave notice of it to the ________, who desired, according to
the received custom in Poland, that the steward's head might be cut
off, which was done in the presence of several persons, and amongst
others of the Sieur Jouvinski, a Polish officer, and governor of the
young Count Simon Labienski, who saw that when the sexton took this
corpse out of his tomb to cut off his head, he ground his teeth, and
the blood came from him as fluidly as that of a person who died a
violent death, which caused the hair of all those who were present to
stand on end; and they dipped a white pocket-handkerchief in the blood
of this corpse, and made all the family drink some of the blood, that
they might not be tormented.



Some learned men have thought they discovered some vestiges of
vampirism in the remotest antiquity; but all that they say of it does
not come near what is related of the vampires. The lamiæ, the strigæ,
the sorcerers whom they accused of sucking the blood of living
persons, and of thus causing their death, the magicians who were said
to cause the death of new-born children by charms and malignant
spells, are nothing less than what we understand by the name of
vampires; even were it to be owned that these lamiæ and strigæ have
really existed, which we do not believe can ever be well proved.

I own that these terms are found in the versions of Holy Scripture.
For instance, Isaiah, describing the condition to which Babylon was to
be reduced after her ruin, says that she shall become the abode of
satyrs, lamiæ, and strigæ (in Hebrew, _lilith_). This last term,
according to the Hebrews, signifies the same thing, as the Greeks
express by _strix_ and _lamiæ_, which are sorceresses or magicians,
who seek to put to death new-born children. Whence it comes that the
Jews are accustomed to write in the four corners of the chamber of a
woman just delivered, "Adam, Eve, begone from hence _lilith_."

The ancient Greeks knew these dangerous sorceresses by the name of
_lamiæ_, and they believed that they devoured children, or sucked away
all their blood till they died.[474]

The Seventy, in Isaiah, translate the Hebrew _lilith_ by _lamia_.
Euripides and the Scholiast of Aristophanes also make mention of it as
a fatal monster, the enemy of mortals. Ovid, speaking of the strigæ,
describes them as dangerous birds, which fly by night, and seek for
infants to devour them and nourish themselves with their blood.[475]

These prejudices had taken such deep root in the minds of the
barbarous people that they put to death persons suspected of being
strigæ, or sorceresses, and of eating people alive. Charlemagne, in
his Capitularies, which he composed for his new subjects,[476] the
Saxons, condemns to death those who shall believe that a man or a
woman are sorcerers (striges esse) and eat living men. He condemns in
the same manner those who shall have them burnt, or give their flesh
to be eaten, or shall eat of it themselves.

Wherein it may be remarked, first of all, that they believed there
were people who ate men alive; that they killed and burnt them; that
sometimes their flesh was eaten, as we have seen that in Russia they
eat bread kneaded with the blood of vampires; and that formerly their
corpses were exposed to wild beasts, as is still done in countries
where these ghosts are found, after having impaled them, or cut off
their head.

The laws of the Lombards, in the same way, forbid that the servant of
another person should be put to death as a witch, _strix_, or _masca_.
This last word, _masca_, whence _mask_, has the same signification as
the Latin _larva_, a spirit, a phantom, a spectre.

We may class in the number of ghosts the one spoken of in the
Chronicle of Sigibert, in the year 858.

Theodore de Gaza[477] had a little farm in Campania, which he had
cultivated by a laborer. As he was busy digging up the ground, he
discovered a round vase, in which were the ashes of a dead man;
directly, a spectre appeared to him, who commanded him to put this
vase back again in the ground, with what it contained, or if he did
not do so he would kill his eldest son. The laborer gave no heed to
these threats, and in a few days his eldest son was found dead in his
bed. A little time after, the same spectre appeared to him again,
reiterating the same order, and threatening to kill his second son.
The laborer gave notice of all this to his master, Theodore de Gaza,
who came himself to his farm, and had everything put back into its
place. This spectre was apparently a demon, or the spirit of a pagan
interred in that spot.

Michael Glycas[478] relates that the emperor Basilius, having lost his
beloved son, obtained by means of a black monk of Santabaren, power to
behold his said son, who had died a little while before; he saw him,
and held him embraced a pretty long time, until he vanished away in
his arms. It was, then, only a phantom which appeared in his son's

In the diocese of Mayence, there was a spirit that year which made
itself manifest first of all by throwing stones, striking against the
walls of a house, as if with strong blows of a mallet; then talking,
and revealing unknown things; the authors of certain thefts, and other
things fit to spread the spirit of discord among the neighbors. At
last he directed his fury against one person in particular, whom he
liked to persecute and render odious to all the neighborhood,
proclaiming that he it was who excited the wrath of God against all
the village. He pursued him in every place, without giving him the
least moment of relaxation. He burnt all his harvest collected in his
house, and set fire to all the places he entered.

The priests exorcised, said their prayers, dashed holy water about.
The spirit threw stones at them, and wounded several persons. After
the priests had withdrawn, they heard him bemoaning himself, and
saying that he had hidden himself under the hood of a priest, whom he
named, and accused of having seduced the daughter of a lawyer of the
place. He continued these troublesome hauntings for three years, and
did not leave off till he had burnt all the houses in the village.

Here follows an instance which bears connection with what is related
of the ghosts of Hungary, who come to announce the death of their near
relations. Evodius, Bishop of Upsala, in Africa, writes to St.
Augustine, in 415,[479] that a young man whom he had with him, as a
writer, or secretary, and who led a life of rare innocence and purity,
having just died at the age of twenty-two, a virtuous widow saw in a
dream a certain deacon who, with other servants of God, of both sexes,
ornamented a palace which seemed to shine as if it were of silver.
She asked who they were preparing it for, and they told her it was for
a young man who died the day before. She afterwards beheld in the same
palace an old man, clad in white, who commanded two persons to take
this young man out of his tomb and lead him to heaven.

In the same house where this young man died, an aged man, half asleep,
saw a man with a branch of laurel in his hand, upon which something
was written.

Three days after the death of the young man, his father, who was a
priest named Armenius, having retired to a monastery to console
himself with the saintly old man, Theasus, Bishop of Manblosa, the
deceased son appeared to a monk of this monastery, and told him that
God had received him among the blessed, and that he had sent him to
fetch his father. In effect, four days after, his father had a slight
degree of fever, but it was so slight that the physician assured him
there was nothing to fear. He nevertheless took to his bed, and at the
same time, as he was yet speaking, he expired.

It was not of fright that he died, for it does not appear that he knew
anything of what the monk had seen in his dream.

The same bishop, Evodius, relates that several persons had been seen
after their death to go and come in their houses as during their
lifetime, either in the night, or even in open day. "They say also,"
adds Evodius, "that in the places where bodies are interred, and
especially in the churches, they often hear a noise at a certain hour
of the night like persons praying aloud. I remember," continues
Evodius, "having heard it said by several, and, amongst others, by a
holy priest, who was witness to these apparitions, that they had seen
coming out of the baptistry a great number of these spirits, with
shining bodies of light, and had afterwards heard them pray in the
middle of the church." The same Evodius says, moreover, that
Profuturus, Privus, and Servilius, who had lived very piously in the
monastery, had talked with himself since their death, and what they
had told him had come to pass.

St. Augustine, after having related what Evodius said, acknowledges
that a great distinction is to be made between true and false visions,
and testifies that he could wish to have some sure means of justly
discerning between them.

But who shall give us the knowledge necessary for such discerning, so
difficult and yet so requisite, since we have not even any certain and
demonstrative marks by which to discern infallibly between true and
false miracles, or to distinguish the works of the Almighty from the
illusions of the angel of darkness.


  "Neu pransæ lamiæ vivum puerum ex trahat alvo."
                   _Horat. Art. Poet._ 340.

  "Carpere dicuntur lactentia viscera rostris,
           Et plenum poco sanguine guttur habent,
           Est illis strigibus nomen."

[476] Capitul. Caroli Magni pro partibus Saxoniæ, i. 6:--"Si quis à
Diabolo deceptus crediderit secundùm morem Paganorum, virum aliquem
aut foeminam strigem esse, et homines comedere; et propter hoc ipsum
incenderit, vel carnem ejus ad comedendum dederit, vel ipsam comederit
capitis sententià puniatur."

[477] Le Loyer, des Spectres, lib. ii. p. 427.

[478] Mich. Glycas, part iv. Annal.

[479] Aug. Epist. 658, and Epist. 258, p. 361.



Thomas Bartholin, the son, in his treatise entitled "_Of the Causes of
the contempt of Death felt by the Ancient Danes while yet Gentiles_,"
remarks[480] that a certain Hordus, an Icelander, saw spectres with
his bodily eyes, fought against them and resisted them. These
thoroughly believed that the spirits of the dead came back with their
bodies, which they afterwards forsook and returned to their graves.
Bartholinus relates in particular that a man named Asmond, son of
Alfus, having had himself buried alive in the same sepulchre with his
friend Asvitus, and having had victuals brought there, was taken out
from thence some time after covered with blood, in consequence of a
combat he had been obliged to maintain against Asvitus, who had
haunted him and cruelly assaulted him.

He reports after that what the poets teach concerning the vocation of
spirits by the power of magic, and of their return into bodies which
are not decayed although a long time dead. He shows that the Jews have
believed the same--that the souls came back from time to time to
revisit their dead bodies during the first year after their decease.
He demonstrates that the ancient northern nations were persuaded that
persons recently deceased often made their bodily appearance; and he
relates some examples of it: he adds that they attacked these
dangerous spectres, which haunted and maltreated all who had any
fields in the neighborhood of their tombs; that they cut off the head
of a man named Gretter, who also returned to earth. At other times
they thrust a stake through the body and thus fixed them to the

  "Nam ferro secui mox caput ejus,
  Perfodique nocens stipite corpus."

Formerly, they took the corpse from the tomb and reduced it to ashes;
they did thus towards a spectre named Gardus, which they believed the
author of all the fatal apparitions that had appeared during the


[480] Thomas Bartolin, de Causis Contemptûs Mortis à Danis, lib. ii.
c. 2.



William of Malmsbury says[481] that in England they believed that the
wicked came back to earth after their death, and were brought back in
their own bodies by the devil, who governed them and caused them to
act; _Nequam hominis cadaver post mortem dæmone agente discurrere._

William of Newbridge, who flourished after the middle of the twelfth
century, relates that in his time was seen in England, in the county
of Buckingham, a man who appeared bodily, as when alive, three
succeeding nights to his wife, and after that to his nearest
relatives. They only defended themselves from his frightful visits by
watching and making a noise when they perceived him coming. He even
showed himself to a few persons in the day time. Upon that, the Bishop
of Lincoln assembled his council, who told him that similar things had
often happened in England, and that the only known remedy against this
evil was to burn the body of the ghost. The bishop was averse to this
opinion, which appeared cruel to him: he first of all wrote a schedule
of absolution, which was placed on the body of the defunct, which was
found in the same state as if he had been buried that very day; and
from that time they heard no more of him.

The author of this narrative adds, that this sort of apparitions would
appear incredible, if several instances had not occurred in his time,
and if they did not know several persons who believed in them.

The same Newbridge says, in the following chapter, that a man who had
been interred at Berwick, came out of his grave every night and caused
great confusion in all the neighborhood. It was even said that he had
boasted that he should not cease to disturb the living till they had
reduced him to ashes. Then they selected ten bold and vigorous young
men, who took him up out of the ground, cut his body to pieces, and
placed it on a pile, whereon it was burned to ashes; but beforehand,
some one amongst them having said that he could not be consumed by
fire until they had torn out his heart, his side was pierced with a
stake, and when they had taken out his heart through the opening, they
set fire to the pile; he was consumed by the flames and appeared no

The pagans also believed that the bodies of the dead rested not,
neither were they safe from magical evocations, so long as they
remained unconsumed by fire, or undecayed underground.

  "Tali tua membra sepulchro,
  Talibus exuram Stygio cum carmine Sylvis,
  Ut nullos cantata Magos exaudiat umbra,"

said an enchantress, in Lucan, to a spirit she evoked.


[481] William of Malms. lib. ii. c. 4.



The instance we are about to relate occurred in Peru, in the country
of the Ititans. A girl named Catharine died at the age of sixteen an
unhappy death, and she had been guilty of several sacrilegious
actions. Her body immediately after her decease was so putrid that
they were obliged to put it out of the dwelling in the open air, to
escape from the bad smell which exhaled from it. At the same time they
heard as it were dogs howling; and a horse which before then was very
gentle began to rear, to prance, strike the ground with its feet, and
break its bonds; a young man who was in bed was pulled out of bed
violently by the arm; a servant maid received a kick on the shoulder,
of which she bore the marks for several days. All that happened before
the body of Catharine was inhumed. Some time afterwards, several
inhabitants of the place saw a great quantity of tiles and bricks
thrown down with a great noise in the house where she died. The
servant of the house was dragged about by the foot, without any one
appearing to touch her, and that in the presence of her mistress and
ten or twelve other women.

The same servant, on entering a room to fetch some clothes, perceived
Catharine, who rose up to seize hold of an earthen pot; the girl ran
away directly, but the spectre took the vase, dashed it against the
wall, and broke it into a thousand pieces. The mistress, who ran
thither on hearing the noise, saw that a quantity of bricks were
thrown against the wall. The next day an image of the crucifix fixed
against the wall was all on a sudden torn from its place in the
presence of them all, and broken into three pieces.



Vestiges of these ghosts are still found in Lapland, where it is said
they see a great number of spectres, who appear among those people,
speak to them, and eat with them, without their being able to get rid
of them; and as they are persuaded that these are the manes or shades
of their relations who thus disturb them, they have no means of
guarding against their intrusions more efficacious than to inter the
bodies of their nearest relatives under the hearthstone, in order,
apparently, that there they may be sooner consumed. In general, they
believe that the manes, or spirits, which come out of bodies, or
corpses, are usually malevolent till they have re-entered other
bodies. They pay some respect to the spectres, or demons, which they
believe roam about rocks, mountains, lakes, and rivers, much as in
former times the Romans paid honor to the fauns, the gods of the
woods, the nymphs, and the tritons.

Andrew Alciat[482] says that he was consulted concerning certain women
whom the Inquisition had caused to be burnt as witches for having
occasioned the death of some children by their spells, and for having
threatened the mothers of other children to kill these also; and in
fact they did die the following night of disorders unknown to the
physicians. Here we again see those strigæ, or witches, who delight in
destroying children.

But all this relates to our subject very indirectly. The vampires of
which we are discoursing are very different from all those just


[482] Andr. Alciat. Parergon Juris, viii. c. 22.



Peter, the venerable[483] abbot of Clugni, relates the conversation
which he had in the presence of the bishops of Oleron and of Osma, in
Spain, together with several monks, with an old monk named Pierre
d'Engelbert, who, after living a long time in his day in high
reputation for valor and honor, had withdrawn from the world after the
death of his wife, and entered the order of Clugni. Peter the
Venerable having come to see him, Pierre d'Engelbert related to him
that one day when in his bed and wide awake, he saw in his chamber,
whilst the moon shone very brightly, a man named Sancho, whom he had
several years before sent at his own expense to the assistance of
Alphonso, king of Arragon, who was making war on Castile. Sancho had
returned safe and sound from this expedition, but some time after he
fell sick and died in his house.

Four months after his death, Sancho showed himself to Pierre
d'Engelbert, as we have said. Sancho was naked, with the exception of
a rag for mere decency round him. He began to uncover the burning
wood, as if to warm himself, or that he might be more distinguishable.
Peter asked him who he was. "I am," replied he, in a broken and hoarse
voice, "Sancho, your servant." "And what do you come here for?" "I am
going," said he, "into Castile, with a number of others, in order to
expiate the harm we did during the last war, on the same spot where it
was committed: for my own part, I pillaged the ornaments of a church,
and for that I am condemned to take this journey. You can assist me
very much by your good works; and madame, your spouse, who owes me yet
eight sols for the remainder of my salary, will oblige me infinitely
if she will bestow them on the poor in my name." Peter then asked him
news of one Pierre de Fais, his friend, who had been dead a short
time. Sancho told him that he was saved.

"And Bernier, our fellow-citizen, what is become of him?" "He is
damned," said he, "for having badly performed his office of judge, and
for having troubled and plundered the widow and the innocent."

Peter added, "Could you tell me any news of Alphonso, king of Arragon,
who died a few years ago?"

Then another spectre, that Peter had not before seen, and which he now
observed distinctly by the light of the moon, seated in the recess of
the window, said to him--"Do not ask him for news of King Alphonso; he
has not been with us long enough to know anything about him. I, who
have been dead five years, can give you news of him. Alphonso was with
us for some time, but the monks of Clugni extricated him from thence.
I know not where he is now." Then, addressing himself to his
companion, Sancho, "Come," said he, "let us follow our companions; it
is time to set off." Sancho reiterated his entreaties to Peter, his
lord, and went out of the house.

Peter waked his wife who was lying by him, and who had neither seen
nor heard anything of all this dialogue, and asked her the question,
"Do not you owe something to Sancho, that domestic who was in our
service, and died a little while ago?" She answered, "I owe him still
eight sols." From this, Peter had no more doubt of the truth of what
Sancho had said to him, gave these eight sols to the poor, adding a
large sum of his own, and caused masses and prayers to be said for the
soul of the defunct. Peter was then in the world and married; but when
he related this to Peter the Venerable, he was a monk of Clugni.

St. Augustine relates that Sylla,[484] on arriving at Tarentum,
offered there sacrifices to the gods, that is to say, to the demons;
and having observed on the upper part of the liver of the victim a
sort of crown of gold, the aruspice assured him that this crown was
the presage of a certain victory, and told him to eat alone that liver
whereon he had seen the crown.

Almost at the same moment, a servitor of Lucius Pontius came to him
and said, "Sylla, I am come from the goddess Bellona. The victory is
yours; and as a proof of my prediction, I announce to you that, ere
long, the capitol will be reduced to ashes." At the same time, this
man left the camp in great haste, and on the morrow he returned with
still more eagerness, and affirmed that the capitol had been burnt,
which was found to be true.

St. Augustine had no doubt but that the demon who had caused the crown
of gold to appear on the liver of the victim had inspired this
diviner, and that the same bad spirit having foreseen the
conflagration of the capitol had announced it after the event by that
same man.

The same holy doctor relates,[485] after Julius Obsequens, in his Book
of Prodigies, that in the open country of Campania, where some time
after the Roman armies fought with such animosity during the civil
war, they heard at first loud noises like soldiers fighting; and
afterwards several persons affirmed that they had seen for some days
two armies, who joined battle; after which they remarked in the same
part as it were vestiges of the combatants, and the marks of horses'
feet, as if the combat had really taken place there. St. Augustine
doubts not that all this was the work of the devil, who wished to
reassure mankind against the horrors of civil warfare, by making them
believe that their gods being at war amongst themselves, mankind need
not be more moderate, nor more touched by the evils which war brings
with it.

The abbot of Ursperg, in his Chronicle, year 1123, says that in the
territory of Worms they saw during many days a multitude of armed men,
on foot and on horseback, going and coming with great noise, like
people who are going to a solemn assembly. Every day they marched,
towards the hour of noon, to a mountain, which appeared to be their
place of rendezvous. Some one in the neighborhood bolder than the
rest, having guarded himself with the sign of the cross, approached
one of these armed men, conjuring him in the name of God to declare
the meaning of this army, and their design. The soldier or phantom
replied, "We are not what you imagine; we are neither vain phantoms,
nor true soldiers; we are the spirits of those who were killed on this
spot a long time ago. The arms and horses which you behold are the
instruments of our punishment, as they were of our sins. We are all on
fire, though you can see nothing about us which appears inflamed." It
is said that they remarked in this company the Count Emico, who had
been killed a few years before, and who declared that he might be
extricated from that state by alms and prayers.

Trithemius, in his _Annales Hirsauginses_, year 1013,[486] asserts
that there was seen in broad day, on a certain day in the year, an
army of cavalry and infantry, which came down from a mountain and
ranged themselves on a neighboring plain. They were spoken to and
conjured to speak, and they declared themselves to be the spirits of
those who a few years before had been killed, with arms in their
hands, in that same spot.

The same Trithemius relates elsewhere[487] the apparition of the Count
of Spanheim, deceased a little while before, who appeared in the
fields with his pack of hounds. This count spoke to his curé, and
asked his prayers.

Vipert, Archdeacon of the Church of Toul, cotemporary author of the
Life of the holy Pope Leo IX., who died 1059, relates[488] that, some
years before the death of this holy pope, an infinite multitude of
persons, habited in white, was seen to pass by the town of Narni,
advancing from the eastern side. This troop defiled from the morning
until three in the afternoon, but towards evening it notably
diminished. At this sight all the population of the town of Narni
mounted upon the walls, fearing they might be hostile troops, and saw
them defile with extreme surprise.

One burgher, more resolute than the others, went out of the town, and
having observed in the crowd a man of his acquaintance, called to him
by name, and asked him the meaning of this multitude of travelers: he
replied, "We are spirits which not having yet expiated all our sins,
and not being as yet sufficiently pure to enter the kingdom of heaven,
we are going into holy places in a spirit of repentance; we are now
coming from visiting the tomb of St. Martin, and we are going straight
to Notre-Dame de Farse." The man was so frightened at this vision that
he was ill for a twelvemonth--it was he who recounted the circumstance
to Pope Leo IX. All the town of Narni was witness to this procession,
which took place in broad day.

The night preceding the battle which was fought in Egypt between Mark
Antony and Cæsar,[489] whilst all the city of Alexandria was in
extreme uneasiness in expectation of this action, they saw in the city
what appeared a multitude of people, who shouted and howled like
bacchanals, and they heard a confused sound of instruments in honor of
Bacchus, as Mark Antony was accustomed to celebrate this kind of
festivals. This troop, after having run through the greater part of
the town, went out of it by the door leading to the enemy, and

That is all which has come to my knowledge concerning the vampires and
ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, and of the other
ghosts of France and Germany. We will explain our opinion after this
on the reality, and other circumstances of these sorts of revived and
resuscitated beings. Here follows another species, which is not less
marvelous--I mean the excommunicated, who leave the church and their
graves with their bodies, and do not re-enter till after the sacrifice
is completed.


[483] Betrus Venerab. Abb. Cluniac. de miracul. lib. i. c. 28. p.

[484] Lib. ii. de Civ. Dei, cap. 24.

[485] Aug. lib. ii. de Civ. Dei, c. 25.

[486] Trith. Chron. Hirs. p. 155, ad an. 1013.

[487] Idem, tom. ii. Chron. Hirs. p. 227.

[488] Vita S. Leonis Papæ.

[489] Plutarch, in Anton.



St. Gregory the Great relates[490] that St. Benedict having threatened
to excommunicate two nuns, these nuns died in that state. Some time
after, their nurse saw them go out of the church, as soon as the
deacon had cried out, "Let all those who do not receive the communion
withdraw." The nurse having informed St. Benedict of the circumstance,
that saint sent an oblation, or a loaf, in order that it might be
offered for them in token of reconciliation; and from that time the
two nuns remained in quiet in their sepulchres.

St. Augustine says[491] that the names of martyrs were recited in the
diptychs not to pray for them, and the names of the virgin nuns
deceased to pray for them. "Perhibet præclarissimum testimonium
ecclesiastica auctoritas, in quâ fidelibus notum est quo loco martyres
et que defunctæ sanctimoniales ad altaris sacramenta recitantur." It
was then, perhaps, when they were named at the altar, that they left
the church. But St. Gregory says expressly, that it was when the
deacon cried aloud, "Let those who do not receive the communion

The same St. Gregory relates that a young priest of the same St.
Benedict,[492] having gone out of his monastery without leave and
without receiving the benediction of the abbot, died in his
disobedience, and was interred in consecrated ground. The next day
they found his body out of the grave: the relations gave notice of it
to St. Benedict, who gave them a consecrated wafer, and told them to
place it with proper respect on the breast of the young priest; it was
placed there, and the earth no more rejected him from her bosom.

This usage, or rather this abuse, of placing the holy wafer in the
grave with the dead, is very singular; but it was not unknown to
antiquity. The author of the Life of St. Basil[493] the Great, given
under the name of St. Amphilochus, says that that saint reserved the
third part of a consecrated wafer to be interred with him; he received
it and expired while it was yet in his mouth; but some councils had
already condemned this practice, and others have since then proscribed
it, as contrary to the institutions of Jesus Christ.[494]

Still, they did not omit in a few places putting holy wafers in the
tombs or graves of some persons who were remarkable for their
sanctity, as in the tomb of St. Othmar, abbot of St. Gal,[495] wherein
were found under his head several round leaves, which were indubitably
believed to be the Host.

In the Life of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarn,[496] we read that a
quantity of consecrated wafers were found on his breast. Amalarius
cites of the Venerable Bede, that a holy wafer was placed on the
breast of this saint before he was inhumed; "oblata super sanctum
pectus positâ."[497] This particularity is not noted in Bede's
History, but in the second Life of St. Cuthbert. Amalarius remarks
that this custom proceeds doubtless from the Church of Rome, which had
communicated it to the English; and the Reverend Father Menard[498]
maintains that it is not this practice which is condemned by the
above-mentioned Councils, but that of giving the communion to the dead
by insinuating the holy wafer into their mouths. However it may be
regarding this practice, we know that Cardinal Humbert,[499] in his
reply to the ____________ of the patriarch Michael Cerularius,
reproves the Greeks for burying the Host, when there remained any of
it after the communion of the faithful.


[490] Greg. Magn. lib. ii. Dialog. c. 23.

[491] Aug. de St. Virgin. c. xlv. 364.

[492] Greg. lib. ii. Dialog. c. 34.

[493] Amphil. in Vit. S. Basilii.

[494] Vide Balsamon. ad Canon. 83. Concil. in Trullo, et Concil.
Carthagin. III. c. 6. Hippon. c. 5. Antissiod. c. 12.

[495] Vit. S. Othmari, c. 3.

[496] Vit. S. Cuthberti, lib. iv. c. 2. apud Bolland. 26 Martii.

[497] Amalar. de Offic. Eccles. lib. iv. c. 41.

[498] Menard. not. in Sacrament. S. Greg. Magn. pp. 484, 485.

[499] Humbert. Card. Bibliot. P. P. lib. xviii. et tom. iv. Concil.



We see again in history, several other examples of the dead bodies of
excommunicated persons being cast out of consecrated earth; for
instance, in the life of St. Gothard, Bishop of Hildesheim,[500] it is
related that this saint having excommunicated certain persons for
their rebellion and their sins, they did not cease, in spite of his
excommunications, to enter the church, and remain there though
forbidden by the saint, whilst even the dead, who had been interred
there years since, and had been placed there without their sentence of
excommunication being removed, obeyed him, arose from their tombs, and
left the church. After mass, the saint, addressing himself to these
rebels, reproached them for their hardness of heart, and told them
those dead people would rise against them in the day of judgment. At
the same time, going out of the church, he gave absolution to the
excommunicated dead, and allowed them to re-enter it, and repose in
their graves as before. The Life of St. Gothard was written by one of
his disciples, a canon of his cathedral; and this saint died on the
4th of May, 938.

In the second Council, held at Limoges,[501] in 1031, at which a great
many bishops, abbots, priests and deacons were present, they reported
the instances which we had just cited from St. Benedict, to show the
respect in which sentences of excommunication, pronounced by
ecclesiastical superiors, were held. Then the Bishop of Cahors, who
was present, related a circumstance which had happened to him a short
time before. "A cavalier of my diocese, having been killed in
excommunication, I would not accede to the prayers of his friends, who
implored to grant him absolution; I desired to make an example of him,
in order to inspire others with fear. But he was interred by soldiers
or gentlemen (_milites_) without my permission, without the presence
of the priests, in a church dedicated to St. Peter. The next morning
his body was found out of the ground, and thrown naked far from the
spot; his grave remaining entire, and without any sign of having been
touched. The soldiers or gentlemen (_milites_) who had interred him,
having opened the grave, found in it only the linen in which he had
been wrapped; they buried him again, and covered him with an enormous
quantity of earth and stones. The next day they found the corpse
outside the tomb, without its appearing that any one had worked at it.
The same thing happened five times; at last they buried him as they
could, at a distance from the cemetery, in unconsecrated ground; which
filled the neighboring seigneurs with so much terror that they all
came to me to make their peace. That is a fact, invested with
everything which can render it incontestable."


[500] Vit. S. Gothardi, Sæcul. vi. Bened. parte c. p. 434.

[501] Tom. ix. Concil. an 1031, p. 702.



We read in the _menées_ of the Greeks, on the 15th of October, that a
monk of the Desert of Sheti, having been excommunicated by him who had
the care of his conduct, for some act of disobedience, he left the
desert, and came to Alexandria, where he was arrested by the governor
of the city, despoiled of his conventual habit, and ardently solicited
to sacrifice to false gods. The solitary resisted nobly, and was
tormented in various ways, until at last they cut off his head, and
threw his body outside of the city, to be devoured by dogs. The
Christians took it away in the night, and having embalmed it and
enveloped it in fine linen, they interred it in the church as a
martyr, in an honorable place; but during the holy sacrifice, the
deacon having cried aloud, as usual, that the catechumens and those
who did not take the communion were to withdraw, they suddenly beheld
the martyr's tomb open of itself, and his body retire into the
vestibule of the church; after the mass, it returned to its sepulchre.

A pious person having prayed for three days, learnt by the voice of an
angel that this monk had incurred excommunication for having disobeyed
his superior, and that he would remain bound until that same superior
had given him absolution. Then they went to the desert directly, and
brought the saintly old man, who caused the coffin of the martyr to
be opened, and absolved him, after which he remained in peace in his

This instance appears to me rather suspicious. 1. In the time that the
Desert of Sheti was peopled with solitary monks, there were no longer
any persecutors at Alexandria. They troubled no one there, either
concerning the profession of Christianity, or on the religious
profession--they would sooner have persecuted these idolators and
pagans. The Christian religion was then dominant and respected
throughout all Egypt, above all, in Alexandria. 2. The monks of Sheti
were rather hermits than cenobites, and a monk had no authority there
to excommunicate his brother. 3. It does not appear that the monk in
question had deserved excommunication, at least major excommunication,
which deprives the faithful of the entry of the church, and the
participation of the holy mysteries. The bearing of the Greek text is
simply, that he remained obedient for some time to his spiritual
father, but that having afterwards fallen into disobedience, he
withdrew from the hands of the old man without any legitimate cause,
and went away to Alexandria. All that deserves doubtlessly even major
excommunication, if this monk had quitted his profession and retired
from the monastery to lead a secular life; but at that time the monks
were not, as now, bound by vows of stability and obedience to their
regular superiors, who had not a right to excommunicate them with
grand excommunication. We will speak of this again by-and-by.



John Brompton, Abbot of Sornat in England,[502] says that we may read
in very old histories that St. Augustin, the Apostle of England,
wishing to persuade a gentleman to pay the tithes, God permitted that
this saint having said before all the people, before the commencement
of the mass, that no excommunicated person should assist at the holy
sacrifice, they saw a man who had been interred for 150 years leave
the church.

After mass, St. Augustin, preceded by the cross, went to ask this dead
man why he went out? The dead man replied that it was because he had
died in a state of excommunication. The saint asked him, where was the
sepulchre of the priest who had pronounced against him the sentence
of excommunication? They went thither; St. Augustin commanded him to
rise; he came to life, and avowed that he had excommunicated the man
for his crimes, and particularly for his obstinacy in refusing to pay
tithes; then, by order of St. Augustin, he gave him absolution, and
the dead man returned to his tomb. The priest entreated the saint to
permit him also to return to his sepulchre, which was granted him.
This story appears to me still more suspicious than the preceding one.
In the time of St. Augustin, the Apostle of England, there was no
obligation as yet to pay tithes on pain of excommunication, and much
less a hundred and fifty years before that time--above all in England.


[502] John Brompton, Chronic. vide ex Bolland. 26 Maii, p. 396.



Tertullian relates[503] an instance to which he had been witness--_de
meo didici_. A woman who belonged to the church, to which she had been
given as a slave, died in the prime of life, after being once married
only, and that for a short time, was brought to the church. Before
putting her in the ground, the priest offering the sacrifice and
raising his hands in prayer, this woman, who had her hands extended at
her side, raised them at the same time, and put them together as a
supplicant; then, when the peace was given, she replaced herself in
her former position.

Tertullian adds that another body, dead, and buried in a cemetery,
withdrew on one side to give place to another corpse which they were
about to inter near it. He relates these instances as a suite to what
was said by Plato and Democritus, that souls remained some time near
the dead bodies they had inhabited, which they preserved sometimes
from corruption, and often caused their hair, beard, and nails to grow
in their graves. Tertullian does not approve of the opinion of these;
he even refutes them pretty well; but he owns that the instances I
have just spoken of are favorable enough to that opinion, which is
also that of the Hebrews, as we have before seen.

It is said that after the death of the celebrated Abelard,[504] who
was interred at the Monastery of the Paraclete, the Abbess Heloisa,
his spouse, being also deceased, and having requested to be buried in
the same grave, at her approach Abelard extended his arms and received
her into his bosom: _elevatis brachiis illam recepit, et ita eam
amplexatus brachia sua strinxit_. This circumstance is certainly
neither proved nor probable; the Chronicle whence it is extracted had
probably taken it from some popular rumor.

The author of the Life of St. John the Almoner,[505] which was written
immediately after his death by Leontius, Bishop of Naples, a town in
the Isle of Cyprus, relates that St. John the Almoner being dead at
Amatunta, in the same island, his body was placed between that of two
bishops, who drew back on each side respectfully to make room for him
in sight of all present; _non unus, neque decem, neque centum
viderunt, sed omnis turba, quæ convenit ad ejus sepulturam_, says the
author cited. Metaphrastes, who had read the life of the saint in
Greek, repeats the same fact.

Evagrius de Pont[506] says, that a holy hermit named Thomas, and
surnamed Salus, because he counterfeited madness, dying in the
hospital of Daphné, near the city of Antioch, was buried in the
strangers' cemetery, but every day he was found out of the ground at a
distance from the other dead bodies, which he avoided. The inhabitants
of the place informed Ephraim, Bishop of Antioch, of this, and he had
him solemnly carried into the city and honorably buried in the
cemetery, and from that time the people of Antioch keep the feast of
his translation.

John Mosch[507] reports the same story, only he says that it was some
women who were buried near Thomas Salus, who left their graves through
respect for the saint.

The Hebrews ridiculously believe that the Jews who are buried without
Judea will roll underground at the last day, to repair to the Promised
Land, as they cannot come to life again elsewhere than in Judea.

The Persians recognize also a transporting angel, whose care it is to
assign to dead bodies the place and rank due to their merits: if a
worthy man is buried in an infidel country, the transporting angel
leads him underground to a spot near one of the faithful, while he
casts into the sewer the body of any infidel interred in holy ground.
Other Mahometans have the same notion; they believe that the
transporting angel placed the body of Noah, and afterwards that of
Ali, in the grave of Adam. I relate these fantastical ideas only to
show their absurdity. As to the other stories related in this same
chapter, they must not be accepted without examination, for they
require confirmation.


[503] Tertull. de Animo, c. 5. p. 597. Edit. Pamelii.

[504] Chronic. Turon. inter opera Abælardi, p. 1195.

[505] Bolland. tom. ii. p. 315, 13 Januar.

[506] Evagrius Pont. lib. iv. c. 53.

[507] Jean Mosch. pras. spirit. c. 88.



A scholar of the town of Saint Pons, near Narbonne,[508] having died
in a state of excommunication, appeared to one of his friends, and
begged of him to go to the city of Rhodes, and ask the bishop to grant
him absolution. He set off in snowy weather; the spirit, who
accompanied him without being seen by him showed him the road and
cleared away the snow. On arriving at Rhodes, he asked and obtained
for his friend the required absolution, when the spirit reconducted
him to Saint Pons, gave him thanks for this service, and took leave,
promising to testify to him his gratitude.

Here follows a letter written to me on the 5th of April, 1745, and
which somewhat relates to what we have just seen. "Something has
occurred here within the last few days, relatively to your
Dissertation upon Ghosts, which I think I ought to inform you of. A
man of Letrage, a village a few miles from Remiremont, lost his wife
at the beginning of February last, and married again the week before
Lent. At eleven o'clock in the evening of his wedding-day, his wife
appeared and spoke to his new spouse; the result of the conversation
was to oblige the bride to perform seven pilgrimages for the defunct.
From that day, and always at the same hour, the defunct appeared, and
spoke in presence of the curé of the place and several other persons;
on the 15th of March, at the moment that the bride was preparing to
repair to St. Nicholas, she had a visit from the defunct, who told her
to make haste, and not to be alarmed at any pain or trouble which she
might undergo on her journey.

This woman with her husband and her brother and sister-in-law, set off
on their way, not expecting that the dead wife would be of the party;
but she never left them until they were at the door of the Church of
St. Nicholas. These good people, when they were arrived at two
leagues' distance from St. Nicholas, were obliged to put up at a
little inn called the Barracks. There the wife found herself so ill,
that the two men were obliged to carry her to the burgh of St.
Nicholas. Directly she was under the church porch, she walked easily,
and felt no more pain. This fact has been reported to me by the
sacristan and the four persons. The last thing that the defunct said
to the bride was, that she should neither speak to nor appear to her
again until half the pilgrimages should be accomplished. The simple
and natural manner in which these good people related this fact to us
makes me believe that it is certain.

It is not said that this young woman had incurred excommunication, but
apparently she was bound by a vow or promise which she had made, to
accomplish these pilgrimages, which she imposed upon the other young
wife who succeeded her. Also, we see that she did not enter the Church
of St. Nicholas; she only accompanied the pilgrims to the church door.

We may here add the instance of that crowd of pilgrims who, in the
time of Pope Leo IX., passed at the foot of the wall of Narne, as I
have before related, and who performed their purgatory by going from
pilgrimage to pilgrimage.


[508] Melchior. lib. de Statu Mortuorum.



All that we have just reported concerning the bodies of persons who
had been excommunicated leaving their tombs during mass, and returning
into them after the service, deserves particular attention.

It seems that a thing which passed before the eyes of a whole
population in broad day, and in the midst of the most redoubtable
mysteries, can be neither denied nor disputed. Nevertheless, it may be
asked, How these bodies came out? Were they whole, or in a state of
decay? naked, or clad in their own dress, or in the linen and bandages
which had enveloped them in the tomb? Where, also, did they go?

The cause of their forthcoming is well noted; it was the major
excommunication. This penalty is decreed only to mortal sin.[509]
Those persons had, then, died in the career of deadly sin, and were
consequently condemned and in hell; for if there is naught in question
but a minor excommunication, why should they go out of the church
after death with such terrible and extraordinary circumstances, since
that ecclesiastical excommunication does not deprive one absolutely
of communion with the faithful, or of entrance to church?

If it be said that the crime was remitted, but not the penalty of
excommunication, and that these persons remained excluded from church
communion until after their absolution, given by the ecclesiastical
judge, we ask if a dead man can be absolved and be restored to
communion with the church, unless there are unequivocal proofs of his
repentance and conversion preceding his death.

Moreover, the persons just cited as instances do not appear to have
been released from crime or guilt, as might be supposed. The texts
which we have cited sufficiently note that they died in their guilt
and sins; and what St. Gregory the Great says in the part of his
Dialogues there quoted, replying to his interlocutor, Peter, supposes
that these nuns had died without doing penance.

Besides, it is a constant rule of the church that we cannot
communicate or have communion with a dead man, whom we have not had
any communication with during his lifetime. "Quibus viventibus non
communicavimus, mortuis, communicare non possumus," says Pope St.
Leo.[510] At any rate, it is allowed that an excommunicated person who
has given signs of sincere repentance, although there may not have
been time for him to confess himself, can be reconciled to the
church[511] and receive ecclesiastical sepulture after his death. But,
in general, before receiving absolution from sin, they must have been
absolved from the censures and excommunication, if such have been
incurred: "Absolutio ab excommunicatione debet præcedere absolutionem
à peccatis; quia quandiu aliquis est excommunicatus, non potest
recipere aliquod Ecclesiæ Sacramentum," says St. Thomas.[512]

Following this decision, it would have been necessary to absolve these
persons from their excommunication, before they could receive
absolution from the guilt of their sins. Here, on the contrary, they
are supposed to be absolved from their sins as to their criminality,
in order to be able to receive absolution from the censures of the

I do not see how these difficulties can be resolved.

1. How can you absolve the dead? 2. How can you absolve him from
excommunication before he has received absolution from sin? 3. How can
he be absolved without asking for absolution, or its appearing that he
hath requested it? 4. How can people be absolved who died in mortal
sin, and without doing penance? 5. Why do these excommunicated persons
return to their tombs after mass? 6. If they dared not stay in the
church during the mass, when were they?

It appears certain that the nuns and the young monk spoken of by St.
Gregory died in their sins, and without having received absolution
from them. St. Benedict, probably, was not a priest, and had not
absolved them as regards their guilt.

It may be said that the excommunication spoken of by St. Gregory was
not major, and in that case the holy abbot could absolve them; but
would this minor and regular excommunication deserve that they should
quit the church in so miraculous and public a manner? The persons
excommunicated by St. Gothard, and the gentleman mentioned at the
Council of Limoges, in 1031, had died unrepentant, and under sentence
of excommunication; consequently in mortal sin; and yet they are
granted peace and absolution after their death, at the simple entreaty
of their friends.

The young solitary spoken of in the _acta sanctorum_ of the Greeks,
who after having quitted his cell through incontinency and
disobedience, had incurred excommunication, could he receive the crown
of martyrdom in that state? And if he had received it, was he not at
the same time reconciled to the church? Did he not wash away his fault
with his blood? And if his excommunication was only regular and minor,
would he deserve after his martyrdom to be excluded from the presence
of the holy mysteries?

I see no other way of explaining these facts, if they are as they are
related, than by saying that the story has not preserved the
circumstances which might have deserved the absolution of these
persons, and we must presume that the saints--above all, the bishops
who absolved them--knew the rules of the church, and did nothing in
the matter but what was right and conformable to the canons.

But it results from all that we have just said, that as the bodies of
the wicked withdraw from the company of the holy through a principle
of veneration and a feeling of their own unworthiness, so also the
bodies of the holy separate themselves from the wicked, from opposite
motives, that they may not appear to have any connection with them,
even after death, or to approve of their bad life. In short, if what
is just related be true, the righteous and the saints feel deference
for one another, and honor each other ever in the other world; which
is probable enough.

We are about to see some instances which seem to render equivocal and
uncertain, as a proof of sanctity, the uncorrupted state of the body
of a just man, since it is maintained that the bodies of the
excommunicated do not rot in the earth until the sentence of
excommunication pronounced against them be taken off.


[509] Concil. Meli. in Can. Nemo. 41, n. 43. D. Thom. iv. distinct.
18, 9. 2, art. 1. quæstiuncula in corpore, &c.

[510] S. Leo canone Commun. 1. a. 4. 9. 2. See also Clemens III. in
Capit. Sacris, 12. de Sepult. Eccl.

[511] Eveillon, traité des Excommunicat. et Manitoires.

[512] D. Thom. in iv. Sentent. dist. 1. qu. 1. art. 3. quæstiunc. 2.
ad. 2.



It is a very ancient opinion that the bodies of the excommunicated do
not decompose; it appears in the Life of St Libentius, Archbishop of
Bremen, who died on the 4th of January, 1013. That holy prelate having
excommunicated some pirates, one of them died, and was buried in
Norway; at the end of seventy years they found his body entire and
without decay, nor did it fall to dust until after absolution received
from Archbishop Alvaridius.

The modern Greeks, to authorize their schism, and to prove that the
gift of miracles, and the power of binding and unbinding, subsist in
their church even more visibly and more certainly than in the Latin
and Roman church, maintain that amongst themselves the bodies of those
who are excommunicated do not decay, but become swollen
extraordinarily, like drums, and can neither be corrupted nor reduced
to ashes till after they have received absolution from their bishops
or their priests. They relate divers instances of this kind of dead
bodies, found uncorrupted in their graves, and which are afterwards
reduced to ashes as soon as the excommunication is taken off. They do
not deny, however, that the uncorrupted state of a body is sometimes a
mark of sanctity,[513] but they require that a body thus preserved
should exhale a good smell, be white or reddish, and not black,
offensive and swollen.

It is affirmed that persons who have been struck dead by lightning do
not decay, and for that reason the ancients neither burnt them nor
buried them. That is the opinion of the physician Zachias; but Paré,
after Comines, thinks that the reason they are not subject to
corruption is because they are, as it were, embalmed by the sulphur of
the thunderbolt, which serves them instead of salt.

In 1727, they discovered in the vault of an hospital near Quebec the
unimpaired corpses of five nuns, who had been dead for more than
twenty years; and these corpses, though covered with quicklime, still
contained blood.


[513] Goar, not. in Eucholog. p. 688.



The Greeks relate[514] that under the Patriarch of Constantinople
Manuel, or Maximus, who lived in the fifteenth century, the Turkish
Emperor of Constantinople wished to know the truth of what the Greeks
asserted concerning the uncorrupted state of those who died under
sentence of excommunication. The patriarch caused the tomb of a woman
to be opened; she had had a criminal connection with an archbishop of
Constantinople; her body was whole, black, and much swollen. The Turks
shut it up in a coffin, sealed with the emperor's seal; the patriarch
said his prayer, gave absolution to the dead woman, and at the end of
three days the coffin or box being opened they found the body fallen
to dust.

I see no miracle in this: everybody knows that bodies which are
sometimes found quite whole in their tombs fall to dust as soon as
they are exposed to the air. I except those which have been well
embalmed, as the mummies of Egypt, and bodies which are buried in
extremely dry spots, or in an earth replete with nitre and salt, which
dissipate in a short time all the moisture there may be in the dead
bodies, either of men or animals; but I do not understand that the
Archbishop of Constantinople could validly absolve after death a
person who died in deadly sin and bound by excommunication. They
believe also that the bodies of these excommunicated persons often
appear to the living, whether by day or by night, speaking to them,
calling them, and molesting them. Leon Allatius enters into long
details on this subject; he says that in the Isle of Chio the
inhabitants do not answer to the first voice that calls them, for fear
that it should be a spirit or ghost; but if they are called twice, it
is not a vroucolaca,[515] which is the name they give those spectres.
If any one answers to them at the first sound, the spectre disappears;
but he who has spoken to it infallibly dies.

There is no other way of guarding against these bad genii than by
taking up the corpse of the person who has appeared, and burning it
after certain prayers have been recited over it; then the body is
reduced to ashes, and appears no more. They have then no doubt that
these are the bodies of criminal and malevolent men, which come out of
their graves and cause the death of those who see and reply to them;
or that it is the demon, who makes use of their bodies to frighten
mortals, and cause their death.

They know of no means more certain to deliver themselves from being
infested by these dangerous apparitions than to burn and hack to
pieces these bodies, which served as instruments of malice, or to tear
out their hearts, or to let them putrefy before they are buried, or to
cut off their heads, or to pierce their temples with a large nail.


[514] Vide Malva. lib. i. Turco-græcia, pp. 26, 27.

[515] Vide Bolland. mense Augusto, tom. ii. pp. 201-203, et Allat.
Epist. ad Zachiam, p. 12.



Ricaut, in the history he has given us of the present state of the
Greek church, acknowledges that this opinion, that the bodies of
excommunicated persons do not decay, is general, not only among the
Greeks of the present day, but also among the Turks. He relates a fact
which he heard from a Candiote caloyer, who had affirmed the thing to
him on oath; his name was Sophronius, and he was well known and highly
respected at Smyrna. A man who died in the Isle of Milo, had been
excommunicated for some fault which he had committed in the Morea, and
he was interred without any funeral ceremony in a spot apart, and not
in consecrated ground. His relations and friends were deeply moved to
see him in this plight; and the inhabitants of the isle were every
night alarmed by baneful apparitions, which they attributed to this
unfortunate man.

They opened his grave, and found his body quite entire, with the veins
swollen with blood. After having deliberated upon it, the caloyers
were of opinion that they should dismember the body, hack it to
pieces, and boil it in wine; for it is thus they treat the bodies of

But the relations of the dead man, by dint of entreaties, succeeded in
deferring this execution, and in the mean time sent in all haste to
Constantinople, to obtain the absolution of the young man from the
patriarch. Meanwhile, the body was placed in the church, and every day
prayers were offered up for the repose of his soul. One day when the
caloyer Sophronius, above mentioned, was performing divine service,
all on a sudden a great noise was heard in the coffin; they opened it,
and found his body decayed as if he had been dead seven years. They
observed the moment when the noise was heard, and it was found to be
precisely at that hour that his absolution had been signed by the

M. le Chevalier Ricaut, from whom we have this narrative, was neither
a Greek, nor a Roman Catholic, but a staunch Anglican; he remarks on
this occasion that the Greeks believe that an evil spirit enters the
bodies of the excommunicated, and preserves them from putrefaction, by
animating them, and causing them to act, nearly as the soul animates
and inspires the body.

They imagine, moreover, that these corpses eat during the night, walk
about, digest what they have eaten, and really nourish themselves--that
some have been found who were of a rosy hue, and had their veins still
fully replete with the quantity of blood; and although they had been
dead forty days, have ejected, when opened, a stream of blood as
bubbling and fresh as that of a young man of sanguine temperament would
be; and this belief so generally prevails that every one relates facts
circumstantially concerning it.

Father Theophilus Reynard, who has written a particular treatise on
this subject, maintains that this return of the dead is an indubitable
fact, and that there are very certain proofs and experience of the
same; but that to pretend that those ghosts who come to disturb the
living are always those of excommunicated persons, and that it is a
privilege of the schismatic Greek church to preserve from decay those
who incurred excommunication, and have died under censure of their
church, is an untenable assumption; since it is certain that the
bodies of the excommunicated decay like others, and there are some
which have died in communion with the church, whether the Greek or the
Latin, who remain uncorrupted. Such are found even among the Pagans,
and amongst animals, of which the dead bodies are sometimes found in
an uncorrupted state, both in the ground, and in the ruins of old


[516] See, concerning the bodies of the excommunicated which are
affirmed to be exempt from decay, Father Goar, Ritual of the Greeks,
pp. 687, 688; Matthew Paris, History of England, tom. ii. p. 687; Adam
de Brême, c. lxxv.; Albert de Stade, on the year 1050, and Monsieur du
Cange, Glossar. Latinit. at the word _imblocatus_.



Monsieur Pitton de Tournefort relates the manner in which they exhumed
a pretended vroucolaca, in the Isle of Micon, where he was on the 1st
of January, 1701. These are his own words: "We saw a very different
scene, (in the same Isle of Micon,) on the occasion of one of those
dead people, whom they believe to return to earth after their
interment. This one, whose history we shall relate, was a peasant of
Micon, naturally sullen and quarrelsome; which is a circumstance to be
remarked relatively to such subjects; he was killed in the country, no
one knows when, or by whom. Two days after he had been inhumed in a
chapel in the town, it was rumored that he was seen by night walking
very fast; that he came into the house, overturning the furniture,
extinguishing the lamps, throwing his arms around persons from behind,
and playing a thousand sly tricks.

"At first people only laughed at it; but the affair began to be
serious, when the most respectable people in the place began to
complain: the priests even owned the fact, and doubtless they had
their reasons. People did not fail to have masses said; nevertheless
the peasant continued to lead the same life without correcting
himself. After several assemblies of the principal men of the city,
with priests and monks, it was concluded that they must, according to
some ancient ceremonial, await the expiration of nine days after

"On the tenth day a mass was said in the chapel where the corpse lay,
in order to expel the demon which they believed to have inclosed
himself therein. This body was taken up after mass, and they began to
set about tearing out his heart; the butcher of the town, who was old,
and very awkward, began by opening the belly instead of the breast; he
felt for a long time in the entrails without finding what he sought.
At last some one told him that he must pierce the diaphragm; then the
heart was torn out, to the admiration of all present. The corpse,
however, gave out such a bad smell, that they were obliged to burn
incense; but the vapor, mixed with the exhalations of the carrion,
only augmented the stink, and began to heat the brain of these poor

"Their imagination, struck with the spectacle, was full of visions;
some one thought proper to say that a thick smoke came from this body.
We dared not say that it was the vapor of the incense. They only
exclaimed "Vroucolacas," in the chapel, and in the square before it.
(This is the name which they give to these pretended _Revenans_.) The
rumor spread and was bellowed in the street, and the noise seemed
likely to shake the vaulted roof of the chapel. Several present
affirmed that the blood of this wretched man was quite vermilion; the
butcher swore that the body was still quite warm; whence it was
concluded that the dead man was very wrong not to be quite dead, or,
to express myself better, to suffer himself to be reanimated by the
devil. This is precisely the idea of a vroucolaca; and they made this
name resound in an astonishing manner. At this time there entered a
crowd of people, who protested aloud that they clearly perceived this
body was not stiff when they brought it from the country to the church
to bury it, and that consequently it was a true vroucolaca; this was
the chorus.

"I have no doubt that they would have maintained it did not stink, if
we had not been present; so stupefied were these poor people with the
circumstance, and infatuated with the idea of the return of the dead.
For ourselves, who got next to the corpse in order to make our
observations exactly, we were ready to die from the offensive odor
which proceeded from it. When they asked us what we thought of this
dead man, we replied that we believed him thoroughly dead; but as we
wished to cure, or at least not to irritate their stricken fancy, we
represented to them that it was not surprising if the butcher had
perceived some heat in searching amidst entrails which were decaying;
neither was it extraordinary that some vapor had proceeded from them;
since such will issue from a dunghill that is stirred up; as for this
pretended red blood, it still might be seen on the butcher's hands
that it was only a very foetid mud.

"After all these arguments, they bethought themselves of going to the
marine, and burning the heart of the dead man, who in spite of this
execution was less docile, and made more noise than before. They
accused him of beating people by night, of breaking open the doors and
even terraces, of breaking windows, tearing clothes, and emptying jugs
and bottles. He was a very thirsty dead man; I believe he only spared
the consul's house, where I was lodged. In the mean time I never saw
anything so pitiable as the state of this island.

"Everybody seemed to have lost their senses. The most sensible people
appeared as phrenzied as the others; it was a veritable brain fever,
as dangerous as any mania or madness. Whole families were seen to
forsake their houses, and coming from the ends of the town, bring
their flock beds to the market-place to pass the night there. Every
one complained of some new insult; you heard nothing but lamentations
at night-fall; and the most sensible people went into the country.

"Amidst such a general prepossession we made up our minds to say
nothing; we should not only have been considered as absurd, but as
infidels. How can you convince a whole people of error? Those who
believed in their own minds that we had our doubts of the truth of the
fact, came and reproached us for our incredulity, and pretended to
prove that there were such things as vroucolacas, by some authority
which they derived from Father Richard, a Jesuit missionary. It is
Latin, said they, and consequently you ought to believe it. We should
have done no good by denying this consequence. They every morning
entertained us with the comedy of a faithful recital of all the new
follies which had been committed by this bird of night; he was even
accused of having committed the most abominable sins.

"The citizens who were most zealous for the public good believed that
they had missed the most essential point of the ceremony. They said
that the mass ought not to be celebrated until after the heart of this
wretched man had been torn out; they affirmed that with that
precaution they could not have failed to surprise the devil, and
doubtless he would have taken care not to come back again; instead of
which had they begun by saying mass, he would have had, said they,
plenty of time to take flight, and to return afterwards at his

"After all these arguments they found themselves in the same
embarrassment as the first day it began; they assembled night and
morning; they reasoned upon it, made processions which lasted three
days and three nights; they obliged the priests to fast; they were
seen running about in the houses with the asperser or sprinkling brush
in their hands, sprinkling holy water and washing the doors with it;
they even filled the mouth of that poor vroucolaca with holy water. We
so often told the administration of the town that in all Christendom
people would not fail in such a case to watch by night, to observe all
that was going forward in the town, that at last they arrested some
vagabonds, who assuredly had a share in all these disturbances.
Apparently they were not the principal authors of them, or they were
too soon set at liberty; for two days after, to make themselves amends
for the fast they had kept in prison, they began again to empty the
stone bottles of wine belonging to those persons who were silly enough
to forsake their houses at night. Thus, then, they were again obliged
to have recourse to prayers.

"One day as certain orisons were being recited, after having stuck I
know not how many naked swords upon the grave of this corpse, which
was disinterred three or four times a day, according to the caprice of
the first comer, an Albanian, who chanced to be at Mico accidentally,
bethought himself of saying in a sententious tone, that it was very
ridiculous to make use of the swords of Christians in such a case. Do
you not see, blind as ye are, said he, that the hilt of these swords,
forming a cross with the handle, prevents the devil from coming out of
that body? why do you not rather make use of the sabres of the Turks?
The advice of this clever man was of no use; the vroucolaca did not
appear more tractable, and everybody was in a strange consternation;
they no longer knew to which saint to pay their vows; when, with one
voice, as if the signal word had been given, they began to shout in
all parts of the town that they had waited too long: that the
vroucolaca ought to be burnt altogether; that after that, they would
defy the devil to return and ensconce himself there; that it would be
better to have recourse to that extremity than to let the island be
deserted. In fact, there were whole families who were packing up in
the intention of retiring to Sira or Tina.

"So they carried the vroucolaca, by order of the administration, to
the point of the Island of St. George, where they had prepared a great
pile made up with a mixture of tow, for fear that wood, however dry it
might be, would not burn quickly enough by itself. The remains of this
unfortunate corpse were thrown upon it and consumed in a very little
time; it was on the first day of January, 1701. We saw this fire as we
returned from Delos: it might be called a real _feu de joie_; since
then, there have been no more complaints against the vroucolaca. They
contented themselves with saying that the devil had been properly
caught that time, and they made up a song to turn him into ridicule.

"Throughout the Archipelago, the people are persuaded that it is only
the Greeks of the Greek church whose corpses are reanimated by the
devil. The inhabitants of the Isle of Santorin have great
apprehensions of these bugbears; those of Maco, after their visions
were dissipated, felt an equal fear of being punished by the Turks and
by the Bishop of Tina. None of the papas would be present at St.
George when this body was burned, lest the bishop should exact a sum
of money for having disinterred and burned the dead body without his
permission. As for the Turks, it is certain that at their first visit
they did not fail to make the community of Maco pay the price of the
blood of this poor devil, who in every way became the abomination and
horror of his country. After this, must we not own that the Greeks of
to-day are not great Greeks, and that there is only ignorance and
superstition among them?"[517]

So says Monsieur de Tournefort.


[517] This took place nearly a hundred and fifty years ago.



Supposing the principle which we established as indubitable at the
commencement of this dissertation--that God alone is the sovereign
arbitrator of life and death; that he alone can give life to men, and
restore it to them after he has taken it from them--the question that
we here propose appears unseasonable and absolutely frivolous, since
it concerns a supposition notoriously impossible.

Nevertheless, as some learned men have believed that the demon has
power to restore life, and to preserve from corruption, for a time,
certain bodies which he makes use of to delude mankind and frighten
them, as it happens with the ghosts of Hungary, we shall treat of it
in this place, and relate a remarkable instance furnished by Monsieur
Nicholas Remy, procureur-general of Lorraine, and which occurred in
his own time;[518] that is to say, in 1581, at Dalhem, a village
situated between the Moselle and the Sare. A goatherd of this village,
named Pierron, a married man and father of a boy, conceived a violent
passion for a girl of the village. One day, when his thoughts were
occupied with this young girl, she appeared to him in the fields, or
the demon in her likeness. Pierron declared his love to her; she
promised to reply to it on condition that he would give himself up to
her, and obey her in all things. Pierron consented to this, and
consummated his abominable passion with this spectre. Some time
afterwards, Abrahel, which was the name assumed by the demon, asked of
him as a pledge of his love, that he would sacrifice to her his only
son, and gave him an apple for this boy to eat, who, on tasting it,
fell down dead. The father and mother, in despair at this fatal and to
both unexpected accident, uttered lamentations, and were inconsolable.

Abrahel appeared again to the goatherd, and promised to restore the
child to life if the father would ask this favor of him by paying him
the kind of adoration due only to God. The peasant knelt down,
worshiped Abrahel, and immediately the boy began to revive. He opened
his eyes; they warmed him, chafed his limbs, and at last he began to
walk and to speak. He was the same as before, only thinner, paler, and
more languid; his eyes heavy and sunken, his movements slower and less
free, his mind duller and more stupid. At the end of a year, the demon
that had animated him quitted him with a great noise; the youth fell
backwards, and his body, which was foetid and stunk insupportably, was
dragged with a hook out of his father's house, and buried in a field
without any ceremony.

This event was reported at Nancy, and examined into by the
magistrates, who informed themselves exactly of the circumstance,
heard the witnesses, and found that the thing was such as has been
related. For the rest, the story does not say how the peasant was
punished, nor whether he was so at all. Perhaps his crime with the
demon could not be proved; to that there was probably no witness. In
regard to the death of his son, it was difficult to prove that he was
the cause of it.

Procopius, in his secret history of the Emperor Justinian, seriously
asserts that he is persuaded, as well as several other persons, that
that emperor was a demon incarnate. He says the same thing of the
Empress Theodora his wife. Josephus, the Jewish historian, says that
the souls of the wicked enter the bodies of the possessed, whom they
torment, and cause to act and speak.

We see by St. Chrysostom that in his time many Christians believed
that the spirits of persons who died a violent death were changed into
demons, and that the magicians made use of the spirit of a child they
had killed for their magical operations, and to discover the future.
St. Philastrius places among heretics those persons who believed that
the souls of worthless men were changed into demons.

According to the system of these authors, the demon might have entered
into the body of the child of the shepherd Pierron, moved it and
maintained it in a kind of life whilst his body was uncorrupted and
the organs underanged; it was not the soul of the boy which animated
it, but the demon which replaced his spirit.

Philo believed that as there are good and bad angels, there are also
good and bad souls or spirits, and that the souls which descend into
the bodies bring to them their own good or bad qualities.

We see by the Gospel that the Jews of the time of our Saviour believed
that one man could be animated by several souls. Herod imagined that
the spirit of John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had entered into
Jesus Christ,[519] and worked miracles in him. Others fancied that
Jesus Christ was animated by the spirit of Elias,[520] or of Jeremiah,
or some other of the ancient prophets.


[518] Art. ii. p. 14.

[519] Mark vi. 16, 17.

[520] Matt. xvi. 14.



We cannot approve these opinions of Jews which we have just shown.
They are contrary to our holy religion, and to the dogmas of our
schools. But we believe that the spirit which once inspired Elijah,
for instance, rested on Elisha, his disciple; and that the Holy Spirit
which inspired the first animated the second also, and even St. John
the Baptist, who, according to the words of Jesus Christ, came in the
power of Elijah to prepare a highway for the Messiah. Thus, in the
prayers of the Church, we pray to God to fill his faithful servants
with the spirit of the saints, and to inspire them with a love for
that which they loved, and a detestation of that which they hated.

That the demon, and even a good angel by the permission or commission
of God, can take away the life of a man appears indubitable. The angel
which appeared to Zipporah,[521] as Moses was returning from Midian to
Egypt, and threatened to slay his two sons because they were not
circumcised; as well as the one who slew the first-born of the
Egyptians,[522] and the one who is termed in Scripture _the Destroying
Angel_, and who slew the Hebrew murmurers in the wilderness;[523] and
the angel who was near slaying Balaam and his ass;[524] the angel who
killed the soldiers of Sennacherib, he who smote the first seven
husbands of Sara, the daughter of Raguel;[525] and, finally, the one
with whom the Psalmist menaces his enemies, all are instances in proof
of this.[526]

Does not St. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians of those who took the
Communion unworthily,[527] say that the demon occasioned them
dangerous maladies, of which many died? Will it be believed that those
whom the same Apostle delivered over to Satan[528] suffered nothing
bodily; and that Judas, having received from the Son of God a bit of
bread dipped in the dish,[529] and Satan having entered into him, that
bad spirit did not disturb his reason, his imagination, and his heart,
until at last he led him to destroy himself, and to hang himself in

We may believe that all these angels were evil angels, although it
cannot be denied that God employs sometimes the good angels also to
exercise his vengeance against the wicked, as well as to chastise,
correct, and punish those to whom God desires to be merciful; as he
sends his Prophets to announce good and bad tidings, to threaten
punishment, and excite to repentance.

But nowhere do we read that either the good or the evil angels have of
their own authority alone either given life to any person or restored
it. This power is reserved to God alone.[530] The demon, according to
the Gospel,[531] in the last days, and before the last Judgment, will
perform, either by his own power or that of Antichrist and his
subordinates, such wonders as would, were it possible, lead the elect
themselves into error. From the time of Jesus Christ and his Apostles,
Satan raised up false Christs and false Apostles, who performed many
seeming miracles, and even resuscitated the dead. At least, it was
maintained that they had resuscitated some: St. Clement of Alexandria
and Hegesippus make mention of a few resurrections operated by Simon
the magician;[532] it is also said that Apollonius of Thyana brought
to life a girl they were carrying to be buried. If we may believe
Apuleius,[533] Asclepiades, meeting a funeral convoy, resuscitated the
body they were carrying to the pile. It is asserted that Æsculapius
restored to life Hippolytus, the son of Theseus; also Glaucus, the son
of Minos, and Campanes, killed at the assault of Thebes, and Admetus,
King of Phera in Thessaly. Elian[534] attests that the same Æsculapius
joined on again the head of a woman to her corpse, and restored her to

But if we possessed the certainty of all these events which we have
just cited--I mean to say, were they attested by ocular witnesses,
well-informed and disinterested, which is not the case--we ought to
know the circumstances attending these events, and then we should be
better able to dispute or assent to them. For there is every
appearance that the dead people resuscitated by Æsculapius were only
persons who were dangerously ill, and restored to health by that
skillful physician. The girl revived by Apollonius of Thyana was not
really dead; even those who were carrying her to the funeral pile had
their doubts if she were deceased. What is said of Simon the magician
is anything but certain; and even if that impostor by his magical
secrets could have performed some wonders on dead persons, it should
be imputed to his delusions and to some artifice, which may have
substituted living bodies or phantoms for the dead bodies which he
boasted of having recalled to life. In a word, we hold it as
indubitable that it is God only who can impart life to a person really
dead, either by power proceeding immediately from himself, or by means
of angels or of demons, who perform his behests.

I own that the instance of that boy of Dalhem is perplexing. Whether
it was the spirit of the child that returned into his body to animate
it anew, or the demon who replaced his soul, the puzzle appears to me
the same; in all this circumstance we behold only the work of the evil
spirit. God does not seem to have had any share in it. Now, if the
demon can take the place of a spirit in a body newly dead, or if he
can make the soul by which it was animated before death return into
it, we can no longer dispute his power to restore a kind of life to a
dead person; which would be a terrible temptation for us, who might be
led to believe that the demon has a power which religion does not
permit us to think that God shares with any created being.

I would then say, supposing the truth of the fact, of which I see no
room to doubt, that God, to punish the abominable crime of the father,
and to give an example of his just vengeance to mankind, permitted the
demon to do on this occasion what he perhaps had never done, nor ever
will again--to possess a body, and serve it in some sort as a soul,
and give it action and motion whilst he could retain the body without
its being too much corrupted.

And this example applies admirably to the ghosts of Hungary and
Moravia, whom the demon will move and animate--will cause to appear
and disturb the living, so far as to occasion their death. I say all
this under the supposition that what is said of the vampires is true;
for if it all be false and fabulous, it is losing time to seek the
means of explaining it.

For the rest, several of the ancients, as Tertullian[535] and
Lactantius, believed that the demons were the only authors of all the
magicians do when they evoke the souls of the dead. They cause
borrowed bodies or phantoms to appear, say they, and fascinate the
eyes of those present, to make them believe that to be real which is
only seeming.


[521] Exod. iv. 24, 25.

[522] Exod. xii. 12.

[523] 1 Cor. x. 10; Judith viii. 25.

[524] Numb. xxii.

[525] Tob. iii. 7.

[526] Psa. xxxiv. 7.

[527] 1 Cor. xi. 30.

[528] 1 Tim. i. 20.

[529] John xiii.

[530] 1 Sam. ii. 6.

[531] Matt. xxiv. 24.

[532] Clem. Alex. Itinerario; Hegesippus de Excidio Jerusalem, c. 2.

[533] Apulei Flondo. lib. ii.

[534] Ælian, de Animalib. lib. ix. c. 77.

[535] Tertull. de Anim. c. 22.



Le Loyer, in his book upon spectres, maintains[536] that the demon can
cause the possessed to make extraordinary and involuntary movements.
He can then, if allowed by God, give motion to a dead and insensible

He relates the instance of Polycrites, a magistrate of Ætolia, who
appeared to the people of Locria nine or ten months after his death,
and told them to show him his child, which being born monstrous, they
wished to burn with its mother. The Locrians, in spite of the
remonstrance of the spectre of Polycrites, persisting in their
determination, Polycrites took his child, tore it to pieces and
devoured it, leaving only the head, while the people could neither
send him away nor prevent him; after that, he disappeared. The
Ætolians were desirous of sending to consult the Delphian oracle, but
the head of the child began to speak, and foretold the misfortunes
which were to happen to their country and to his own mother.

After the battle between King Antiochus and the Romans, an officer
named Buptages, left dead on the field of battle, with twelve mortal
wounds, rose up suddenly, and began to threaten the Romans with the
evils which were to happen to them through the foreign nations who
were to destroy the Roman empire. He pointed out in particular, that
armies would come from Asia, and desolate Europe, which may designate
the irruption of the Turks upon the domains of the Roman empire.

After that, Buptages climbed up an oak tree, and foretold that he was
about to be devoured by a wolf, which happened. After the wolf had
devoured the body, the head again spoke to the Romans, and forbade
them to bury him. All that appears very incredible, and was not
accomplished in fact. It was not the people of Asia, but those of the
north, who overthrew the Roman empire.

In the war of Augustus against Sextus Pompey, son of the great
Pompey,[537] a soldier of Augustus, named Gabinius, had his head cut
off by order of young Pompey, so that it only held on to the neck by a
narrow strip of flesh. Towards evening they heard Gabinius lamenting;
they ran to him, and he said that he had returned from hell to reveal
very important things to Pompey. Pompey did not think proper to go to
him, but he sent one of his men, to whom Gabinius declared that the
gods on high had decreed the happy destiny of Pompey, and that he
would succeed in all his designs. Directly Gabinius had thus spoken,
he fell down dead and stiff. This pretended prediction was falsified
by the facts. Pompey was vanquished, and Cæsar gained all the
advantage in this war.

A certain female juggler had died, but a magician of the band put a
charm under her armpits, which gave her power to move; but another
wizard having looked at her, cried out that it was only vile carrion,
and immediately she fell down dead, and appeared what she was in fact.

Nicole Aubri, a native of Vervius, being possessed by several devils,
one of these devils, named Baltazo, took from the gibbet the body of a
man who had been hanged near the plain of Arlon, and in this body went
to the husband of Nicole Aubri, promising to deliver his wife from her
possession if he would let him pass the night with her. The husband
consulted the schoolmaster, who practiced exorcising, and who told him
on no account to grant what was asked of him. The husband and Baltazo
having entered the church, the woman who was possessed called him by
his name, and immediately this Baltazo disappeared. The schoolmaster
conjuring the possessed, Beelzebub, one of the demons, revealed what
Baltazo had done, and that if the husband had granted what he asked,
he would have flown away with Nicole Aubri, both body and soul.

Le Loyer again relates[538] four other instances of persons whom the
demon had seemed to restore to life, to satisfy the brutal passion of
two lovers.


[536] Le Loyer, des Spectres, lib. ii. pp. 376, 392, 393.

[537] Pliny, lib. vii. c. 52.

[538] Le Loyer, pp. 412-414.



The ancient heathens, both Greeks and Romans, attributed to magic and
to the demon the power of occasioning the destruction of any person by
a manner of devoting them to death, which consisted in forming a waxen
image as much as possible like the person whose life they wished to
take. They devoted him or her to death by their magical secrets: then
they burned the waxen statue, and as that by degrees was consumed, so
the doomed person became languid and at last died. Theocritus[539]
makes a woman transported with love speak thus: she invokes the image
of the shepherd, and prays that the heart of Daphnis, her beloved, may
melt like the image of wax which represents him.

Horace[540] brings forward two enchantresses, who evoke the shades to
make them announce the future. First of all, the witches tear a sheep
with their teeth, shedding the blood into a grave, in order to bring
those spirits from whom they expect an answer; then they place next to
themselves two statues, one of wax, the other of wool; the latter is
the largest, and mistress of the other. The waxen image is at its
feet, as a suppliant, and awaiting only death. After divers magical
ceremonies, the waxen image was inflamed and consumed.

He speaks of this again elsewhere; and after having with a mocking
laugh made his complaints to the enchantress Canidia, saying that he
is ready to make her honorable reparation, he owns that he feels all
the effects of her too-powerful art, as he himself has experienced it
to give motion to waxen figures, and bring down the moon from the

Virgil also speaks[542] of these diabolical operations, and these
waxen images, devoted by magic art.

There is reason to believe that these poets only repeat these things
to show the absurdity of the pretended secrets of magic, and the vain
and impotent ceremonies of sorcerers.

But it cannot be denied that, idle as all these practices may be, they
have been used in ancient times; that many have put faith in them, and
foolishly dreaded those attempts.

Lucian relates the effects[543] of the magic of a certain Hyperborean,
who, having formed a Cupid with clay, infused life into it, and sent
it to fetch a girl named Chryseïs, with whom a young man had fallen
in love. The little Cupid brought her, and on the morrow, at dawn of
day, the moon, which the magician had brought down from the sky,
returned thither. Hecate, whom he had evoked from the bottom of hell,
fled away, and all the rest of the scene disappeared. Lucian, with
great reason, ridicules all this, and observes that these magicians,
who boast of having so much power, ordinarily exercise it only upon
contemptible people, and are such themselves.

The oldest instances of this dooming are those which are set down in
Scripture, in the Old Testament. God commands Moses to devote to
anathema the Canaanites of the kingdom of Arad.[544] He devotes also
to anathema all the nations of the land of Canaan.[545] Balac, King of
Moab,[546] sends to the diviner Balaam to engage him to curse and
devote the people of Israel. "Come," says he to him, by his messenger,
"and curse me Israel; for I know that those whom you have cursed and
doomed to destruction shall be cursed, and he whom you have blessed
shall be crowned with blessings."

We have in history instances of these devotings and maledictions, and
evocations of the tutelary gods of cities by magic art. The ancients
kept very secret the proper names of towns,[547] for fear that if they
came to the knowledge of the enemy, they might make use of them in
their invocations, which to their mind had no might unless the proper
name of the town was expressed. The usual names of Rome, Tyre, and
Carthage, were not their true and secret names. Rome, for instance,
was called Valentia, a name known to very few persons, and Valerius
Soranus was severely punished for having revealed it.

Macrobius[548] has preserved for us the formula of a solemn devoting
or dooming of a city, and of imprecations against her, by devoting her
to some hurtful and dangerous demon. We find in the heathen poets a
great number of these invocations and magical doomings, to inspire a
dangerous passion, or to occasion maladies. It is surprising that
these superstitious and abominable practices should have gained
entrance among Christians, and have been dreaded by persons who ought
to have known their vanity and impotency.

Tacitus relates[549] that at the death of Germanicus, who was said to
have been poisoned by Piso and Plautina, there were found in the
ground and in the walls bones of human bodies, doomings, and charms,
or magic verses, with the name of Germanicus engraved upon thin plates
of lead steeped in corrupted blood, half-burnt ashes, and other
charms, by virtue of which it was believed that spirits could be


[539] Theocrit Idyl. ii.

  "Lanea et effigies erat, altera cerea major
  Lanea, que poenis compesceret inferiorem.
  Cerea suppliciter stabat, servilibus ut quæ
  Jam peritura modis....
  Et imagine cereâ
  Largior arserit ignis."

  "An quæ movere cereas imagines,
  Ut ipse curiosus, et polo
  Deripere lunam."

  "Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit.
  Uno eodemque igni; sic nostro Daphnis amore."--_Virgil, Eclog._

[543] Lucian in Philops.

[544] Numb. xxi. 3.

[545] Deut. vii. 2, 3; xii. 1-3, &c.

[546] Numb. xxii. 5, &c.

[547] Peir. lib. iii. c. 5; xxviii. c. 2.

[548] Macrobius, lib. iii. c. 9.

[549] Tacit. Ann. lib. ii. art. 69.



Hector Boëthius,[550] in his History of Scotland, relates that Duffus,
king of that country, falling ill of a disorder unknown to the
physicians, was consumed by a slow fever, passed his nights without
sleep, and insensibly wasted away; his body melted in perspiration
every night; he became weak, languid, and in a dying state, without,
however, his pulse undergoing any alteration. Everything was done to
relieve him, but uselessly. His life was despaired of, and those about
him began to suspect some evil spell. In the mean time, the people of
Moray, a county of Scotland, mutinied, supposing that the king must
soon sink under his malady.

It was whispered abroad that the king had been bewitched by some
witches who lived at Forres, a little town in the north of Scotland.
People were sent there to arrest them, and they were surprised in
their dwellings, where one of them was basting an image of King
Duffus, made of wax, turning on a wooden spit before a large fire,
before which she was reciting certain magical prayers; and she
affirmed that as the figure melted the king would lose his strength,
and at last he would die when the figure should be entirely melted.
These women declared that they had been hired to perform these evil
spells by the principal men of the county of Moray, who only awaited
the king's decease to burst into open revolt.

These witches were immediately arrested and burnt at the stake. The
king was much better, and in a few days he perfectly recovered his
health. This account is found also in the History of Scotland by
Buchanan, who says he heard it from his elders.

He makes the King Duffus live in 960, and he who has added notes to
the text of these historians, says that this custom of melting waxen
images by magic art, to occasion the death of certain persons, was not
unknown to the Romans, as appears from Virgil and Ovid; and of this we
have related a sufficient number of instances. But it must be owned
that all which is related concerning it is very doubtful; not that
wizards and witches have not been found who have attempted to cause
the death of persons of high rank by these means, and who attributed
the effect to the demon, but there is little appearance that they ever
succeeded in it. If magicians possessed the secret of thus occasioning
the death of any one they pleased, where is the prince, prelate, or
lord who would be safe? If they could thus roast them slowly to death,
why not kill them at once, by throwing the waxen image in the fire?
Who can have given such power to the devil? Is it the Almighty, to
satisfy the revenge of an insignificant woman, or the jealousy of
lovers of either sex?

M. de St. André, physician to the king, in his Letters on Witchcraft,
would explain the effects of these devotings, supposing them to be
true, by the evaporation of animal spirits, which, proceeding from the
bodies of the wizards or witches, and uniting with the atoms which
fall from the wax, and the atoms of the fire, which render them still
more pungent, should fly towards the person they desire to bewitch,
and cause in him or her sensations of heat or pain, more or less
violent according to the action of the fire. But I do not think that
this clever man finds many to approve of his idea. The shortest way,
in my opinion, would be, to deny the effects of these charms; for if
these effects are real, they are inexplicable by physics, and can only
be attributed to the devil.

We read in the History of the Archbishops of Treves that Eberard,
archbishop of that church, who died in 1067, having threatened to send
away the Jews from his city, if they did not embrace Christianity,
these unhappy people, being reduced to despair, suborned an
ecclesiastic, who for money baptized for them, by the name of the
bishop, a waxen image, to which they tied wicks or wax tapers, and
lighted them on Holy Saturday (Easter Eve), as the prelate was going
solemnly to administer the baptismal rite.

Whilst he was occupied in this holy function, the statue being half
consumed, Eberard felt himself extremely ill; he was led into the
vestry, where he soon after expired.

The Pope John XXII., in 1317, complained, in public letters, that some
scoundrels had attempted his life by similar operations; and he
appeared persuaded of their power, and that he had been preserved from
death only by the particular protection of God. "We inform you," says
he, "that some traitors have conspired against us, and against some of
our brothers the cardinals, and have prepared beverages and images to
take away our life, which they have sought to do on every occasion;
but God has always preserved us." The letter is dated the 27th of

From the 27th of February, the pope had issued a commission to inform
against these poisoners; his letter is addressed to Bartholomew,
Bishop of Fréjus, who had succeeded the pope in that see, and to
Peter Tessier, doctor _en decret_, afterwards cardinal. The pope says
therein, in substance--We have heard that John de Limoges, Jacques de
Crabançon, Jean d'Arrant, physician, and some others, have applied
themselves, through a damnable curiosity, to necromancy and other
magical arts, on which they have books; that they have often made use
of mirrors, and images consecrated in their manner; that, placing
themselves within circles, they have often invoked the evil spirits to
occasion the death of men by the might of their enchantments, or by
sending maladies which abridge their days. Sometimes they have
enclosed demons in mirrors, or circles, or rings, to interrogate them,
not only on the past, but on the future, and made predictions. They
pretend to have made many experiments in these matters, and fearlessly
assert, that they can not only by means of certain beverages, or
certain meats, but by simple words, abridge or prolong life, and cure
all sorts of diseases.

The pope gave a similar commission, April 22d, 1317, to the Bishop of
Riés, to the same Pierre Tessier, to Pierre Després, and two others,
to inquire into the conspiracy formed against him and against the
cardinals; and in this commission he says:--"They have prepared
beverages to poison us, and not having been able conveniently to make
us take them, they have had waxen images, made with our names, to
attack our lives, by pricking these images with magical enchantments,
and innovations of demons; but God has preserved us, and caused three
of these images to fall into our hands."

We see a description of similar charms in a letter, written three
years after, to the Inquisitor of Carcassone, by William de Godin,
Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina, in which he says:--"The pope commands you
to inquire and proceed against those who sacrifice to demons, worship
them, or pay them homage, by giving them for a token a written paper,
or something else, to bind the demon, or to work some charm by
invoking him; who, abusing the sacrament of baptism, baptize images of
wax, or of other matters with invocation of demons; who abuse the
eucharist, or consecrated wafer, or other sacraments, by exercising
their evil spells. You will proceed against them with the prelates, as
you do in matters of heresy; for the pope gives you the power to do
so." The letter is dated from Avignon, the 22d of August, 1320.

At the trial of Enguerrand de Marigni, they brought forward a wizard
whom they had surprised making waxen images, representing King Louis
le Hutin and Charles de Valois, and meaning to kill them by pricking
or melting these images.

It is related also that Cosmo Rugieri, a Florentine, a great atheist
and pretended magician, had a secret chamber, where he shut himself up
alone, and pricked with a needle a wax image representing the king,
after having loaded it with maledictions and devoted it to destruction
by horrible enchantments, hoping thus to cause the prince to languish
away and die.

Whether these conjurations, these waxen images, these magical words,
may have produced their effects or not, it proves at any rate the
opinion that was entertained on the subject--the ill will of the
wizards, and the fear in which they were held. Although their
enchantments and imprecations might not be followed by any effect, it
is apparently thought that experience on that point made them dreaded,
whether with reason or not.

The general ignorance of physics made people at that time take many
things to be supernatural which were simply the effects of natural
causes; and as it is certain, as our faith teaches us, that God has
often permitted demons to deceive mankind by prodigies, and do them
injury by extraordinary means, it was supposed without examining into
the matter that there was an art of magic and sure rules for
discovering certain secrets, or causing certain evils by means of
demons; as if God had not always been the Supreme Master, to permit or
to hinder them; or as if He would have ratified the compacts made with
evil spirits.

But on examining closely this pretended magic, we have found nothing
but poisonings, attended by superstition and imposture. All that we
have just related of the effects of magic, enchantments, and
witchcraft, which were pretended to cause such terrible effects on the
bodies and the possessions of mankind, and all that is recounted of
doomings, evocations, and magic figures, which, being consumed by
fire, occasioned the death of those who were destined or enchanted,
relate but very imperfectly to the affair of vampires, which we are
treating of in this volume; unless it may be said that those ghosts
are raised and evoked by magic art, and that the persons who fancy
themselves strangled and finally stricken with death by vampires, only
suffer these miseries through the malice of the demon, who makes their
deceased parents or relations appear to them, and produces all these
effects upon them; or simply strikes the imagination of the persons to
whom it happens, and makes them believe that it is their deceased
relations, who come to torment and kill them; although in all this it
is only an imagination strongly affected which acts upon them.

We may also connect with the history of ghosts what is related of
certain persons who have promised each other to return after their
death, and to reveal what passes in the other world, and the state in
which they find themselves.


[550] Hector Boëthius, Hist. Scot. lib. xi. c. 216, 219.



The story of the Marquis de Rambouillet, who appeared after his death
to the Marquis de Précy, is very celebrated. These two lords,
conversing on the subject of the other world, like people who were not
very strongly persuaded of the truth of all that is said upon it,
promised each other that the first of the two who died should bring
the news of it to the other. The Marquis de Rambouillet set off for
Flanders, where the war was then carried on; and the Marquis de Précy
remained at Paris, detained by a low fever. Six weeks after, in broad
day, he heard some one undraw his bed-curtains, and turning to see who
it was, he perceived the Marquis de Rambouillet, in buff-leather
jacket and boots. He sprang from his bed to embrace his friend; but
Rambouillet, stepping back a few paces, told him that he was come to
keep his word as he had promised--that all that was said of the next
life was very certain--that he must change his conduct, and in the
first action wherein he was engaged he would lose his life.

Précy again attempted to embrace his friend, but he embraced only
empty air. Then Rambouillet, seeing that his friend was incredulous as
to what he said, showed him where he had received the wound in his
side, whence the blood still seemed to flow. Précy soon after
received, by the post, confirmation of the death of the Marquis de
Rambouillet; and being himself some time after, during the civil wars,
at the battle of the Faubourg of St. Antoine, he was there killed.

Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Clugni,[551] relates a very similar
story. A gentleman named Humbert, son of a lord named Guichard de
Belioc, in the diocese of Macon, having declared war against the other
principal men in his neighborhood, a gentleman named Geoffrey d'Iden
received in the mélée a wound of which he died immediately.

About two months afterwards, this same Geoffrey appeared to a
gentleman named Milo d'Ansa, and begged him to tell Humbert de Belioc,
in whose service he had lost his life, that he was tormented for
having assisted him in an unjust war, and for not having expiated his
sins by penance before he died; that he begged him to have compassion
on him, and on his own father, Guichard, who had left him great
wealth, of which he made a bad use, and of which a part had been badly
acquired. That in truth Guichard, the father of Humbert, had embraced
a religious life at Clugni; but that he had not time to satisfy the
justice of God for the sins of his past life; that he conjured him to
have mass performed for him and for his father, to give alms, and to
employ the prayers of good people, to procure them both a prompt
deliverance from the pains they endured. He added, "Tell him, that if
he will not mind what you say, I shall be obliged to go to him myself,
and announce to him what I have just told you."

Milo d'Ansa acquitted himself faithfully of his commission; Humbert
was frightened at it, but it did not make him better. Still, fearing
that Guichard, his father, or Geoffrey d'Iden might come and disturb
him, above all during the night, he dare not remain alone, and would
always have one of his people by him.

One morning, then, as he was lying awake in his bed, he beheld in his
presence Geoffrey, armed as in a day of battle, who showed him the
mortal wound he had received, and which appeared yet quite fresh. He
reproached him keenly for his want of pity towards his own father, who
was groaning in torment. "Take care," added he, "that God does not
treat you rigorously, and refuse to you that mercy which you refuse to
us; and, above all, take care not to execute your intention of going
to the wars with Count Amedeus. If you go, you will there lose both
life and property."

He said, and Humbert was about to reply, when the Squire Vichard de
Maracy, Humbert's counselor, arrived from mass, and immediately the
dead man disappeared. From that moment, Humbert endeavored seriously
to relieve his father Geoffrey, and resolved to take a journey to
Jerusalem to expiate his sins. Peter the Venerable had been well
informed of all the details of this story, which occurred in the year
he went into Spain, and made a great noise in the country. The
Cardinal Baronius,[552] a very grave and respectable man, says that he
had heard from several very sensible people, and who have often heard
it preached to the people, and in particular from Michael Mercati,
Prothonotary of the Holy See, a man of acknowledged probity and well
informed, above all in the platonic philosophy, to which he applied
himself unweariedly with Marsilius Ficin, his friend, as zealous as
himself for the doctrine of Plato.

One day, these two great philosophers were conversing on the
immortality of the soul, and if it remained and existed after the
death of the body. After having had much discourse on this matter,
they promised each other, and shook hands upon it, that the first of
them who quitted this world should come and tell the other somewhat of
the state of the other life.

Having thus separated, it happened some time afterwards that the same
Michael Mercati, being wide awake and studying, one morning very
early, the same philosophical matters, heard on a sudden a noise like
a horseman who was coming hastily to his door, and at the same he
heard the voice of his friend Marsilius Ficin, who cried out to him,
"Michael, Michael, nothing is more true than what is said of the other
life." At the same, Michael opened his window, and saw Marsilius
mounted on a white horse, who was galloping away. Michael cried out to
him to stop, but he continued his course till Michael could no longer
see him.

Marsilius Ficin was at that time dwelling at Florence, and died there
at the same hour that he had appeared and spoken to his friend. The
latter wrote directly to Florence, to inquire into the truth of the
circumstance; and they replied to him that Marsilius had died at the
same moment that Michael had heard his voice and the noise of his
horse at his door. Ever after that adventure, Michael Mercati,
although very regular in his conduct before then, became quite an
altered man, and lived in so exemplary a manner that he became a
perfect model of Christian life. We find a great many such instances
in Henri Morus, and in Joshua Grandville, in his work entitled
"Sadduceeism Combated."

Here is one taken from the life of B. Joseph de Lionisse, a missionary
capuchin.[553] One day, when he was conversing with his companion on
the duties of religion, and the fidelity which God requires of those
who have consecrated themselves to them, of the reward reserved for
those who are perfectly religious, and the severe justice which he
exercises against unfaithful servants, Brother Joseph said to him,
"Let us promise each other mutually that the one who dies the first
will appear to the other, if God allows him so to do, to inform him of
what passes in the other world, and the condition in which he finds
himself." "I am willing," replied the holy companion; "I give you my
word upon it." "And I pledge you mine," replied Brother Joseph.

Some days after this, the pious companion was attacked by a malady
which brought him to the tomb. Brother Joseph felt this the more
sensibly, because he knew better than the others all the virtues of
this holy monk. He had no doubt of the fulfilment of their agreement,
or that the deceased would appear to him, when he least thought of it,
to acquit himself of his promise.

In effect, one day when Brother Joseph had retired to his room, in the
afternoon, he saw a young capuchin enter horribly haggard, with a pale
thin face, who saluted him with a feeble, trembling voice. As, at the
sight of this spectre, Joseph appeared a little disturbed, "Don't be
alarmed," it said to him; "I am come here as permitted by God, to
fulfill my promise, and to tell you that I have the happiness to be
amongst the elect through the mercy of the Lord. But learn that it is
even more difficult to be saved than is thought in this world; that
God, whose wisdom can penetrate the most secret folds of the heart,
weighs exactly the actions which we have done during life, the
thoughts, wishes, and motives, which we propose to ourselves in
acting; and as much as he is inexorable in regard to sinners, so much
is he good, indulgent, and rich in mercy, towards those just souls who
have served him in this life." At these words, the phantom

Here follows an instance of a spirit which comes after death to visit
his friend without having made an agreement with him to do so.[554]
Peter Garmate, Bishop of Cracow, was translated to the archbishopric
of Gnesnes, in 1548, and obtained a dispensation from Paul III. to
retain still his bishopric of Cracow. This prelate, after having led a
very irregular life during his youth, began towards the end of his
life, to perform many charitable actions, feeding every day a hundred
poor, to whom he sent food from his own table. And when he traveled,
he was followed by two wagons, loaded with coats and shirts, which he
distributed amongst the poor according as they needed them.

One day, when he was preparing to go to church, towards evening, (it
being the eve of a festival,) and he was alone in his closet, he
suddenly beheld before him a gentleman named Curosius, who had been
dead some time, with whom he had formerly been too intimately
associated in evil doing.

The Archbishop Gamrate was at first affrighted, but the defunct
reassured him and told him that he was of the number of the blessed.
"What!" said the prelate to him; "after such a life as you led! For
you know the excesses which both you and myself committed in our
youth." "I know it," replied the defunct; "but this is what saved me.
One day, when in Germany, I found myself with a man who uttered
blasphemous discourse, most injurious to the Holy Virgin. I was
irritated at it, and gave him a blow; we drew our swords; I killed
him; and for fear of being arrested and punished as a homicide, I
took flight without reflecting much on the action I had committed. But
at the hour of death, I found myself most terribly disturbed by
remorse on my past life, and I only expected certain destruction; when
the Holy Virgin came to my aid, and made such powerful intercession
for me with her Son, that she obtained for me the pardon of my sins;
and I have the happiness to enjoy beatitude. For yourself, who have
only six months to live, I am sent to warn you, that in consideration
of your alms, and your charity to the poor, God will show you mercy,
and expects you to do penance. Profit while it is time, and expiate
your past sins." After having said this, he disappeared; and the
archbishop, bursting into tears, began to live in so Christianly a
manner that he was the edification of all who knew him. He related the
circumstance to his most intimate friends, and died in 1545, after
having directed the Church of Gnesnes for about five years.

The daughter of Dumoulin, a celebrated lawyer, having been inhumanly
massacred in her dwelling,[555] appeared by night to her husband, who
was wide awake, and declared to him the names of those who had killed
herself and her children, conjuring him to revenge her death.


[551] Biblioth. Cluniæ. de Miraculis, lib. i. c. 7, p. 1290.

[552] Baronius ad an. Christi 401. Annal. tom. v.

[553] Tom. i. p. 64, _et seq._

[554] Stephâni Damalevini Historia, p. 291. apud Ranald continuat
Baronii, ad. an. 1545. tom. xxi art. 62.

[555] Le Loyer, lib. iii. pp. 46, 47.



I was told lately at Valogne, that a good priest of the town who
teaches the children to read, had had an apparition in broad day ten
or twelve years ago. As that had made a great deal of noise at first
on account of his reputation for probity and sincerity, I had the
curiosity to hear him relate his adventure himself. A lady, one of my
relations, who was acquainted with him, sent to invite him to dine
with her yesterday, the 7th of January, 1708, and as on the one hand I
showed a desire to learn the thing from himself, and on the other it
was a kind of honorable distinction to have had by daylight an
apparition of one of his comrades, he related it before dinner without
requiring to be pressed, and in a very naïve manner.


"In 1695," said M. Bezuel to us, "being a schoolboy of about fifteen
years of age, I became acquainted with the two children of M.
Abaquene, attorney, schoolboys like myself. The eldest was of my own
age, the second was eighteen months younger; he was named
Desfontaines; we took all our walks and all our parties of pleasure
together, and whether it was that Desfontaines had more affection for
me, or that he was more gay, obliging, and clever than his brother, I
loved him the best.

"In 1696, we were walking both of us in the cloister of the Capuchins.
He told me that he had lately read a story of two friends who had
promised each other that the first of them who died should come and
bring news of his condition to the one still living; that the one who
died came back to earth, and told his friend surprising things. Upon
that, Desfontaines told me that he had a favor to ask of me; that he
begged me to grant it instantly: it was to make him a similar promise,
and on his part he would do the same. I told him that I would not. For
several months he talked to me of it, often and seriously; I always
resisted his wish. At last, towards the month of August, 1696, as he
was to leave to go and study at Caen, he pressed me so much with tears
in his eyes, that I consented to it. He drew out at that moment two
little papers which he had ready written: one was signed with his
blood, in which he promised me that in case of his death he would come
and bring me news of his condition; in the other I promised him the
same thing. I pricked my finger; a drop of blood came, with which I
signed my name. He was delighted to have my billet, and embracing me,
he thanked me a thousand times.

"Some time after, he set off with his brother. Our separation caused
us much grief, but we wrote to each other now and then, and it was but
six weeks since I had had a letter from him, when what I am going to
relate to you happened to me.

"The 31st of July, 1697, one Thursday--I shall remember it all my
life--the late M. Sortoville, with whom I lodged, and who had been
very kind to me, begged of me to go to a meadow near the Cordeliers,
and help his people, who were making hay, to make haste. I had not
been there a quarter of an hour, when about half-past-two, I all of a
sudden felt giddy and weak. In vain I leant upon my hay-fork; I was
obliged to place myself on a little hay, where I was nearly half an
hour recovering my senses. That passed off; but as nothing of the kind
had ever occurred to me before, I was surprised at it and feared it
might be the commencement of an illness. Nevertheless it did not make
much impression upon me during the remainder of the day. It is true I
did not sleep that night so well as usual.

"The next day, at the same hour, as I was conducting to the meadow M.
de St. Simon, the grandson of M. de Sortoville, who was then ten years
old, I felt myself seized on the way with a similar faintness, and I
sat down on a stone in the shade. That passed off, and we continued
our way; nothing more happened to me that day, and at night I had
hardly any sleep.

"At last, on the morrow, the second day of August, being in the loft
where they laid up the hay they brought from the meadow, I was taken
with a similar giddiness and a similar faintness, but still more
violent than the other. I fainted away completely; one of the men
perceived it. I have been told that I was asked what was the matter
with me, and that I replied, 'I have seen what I should never have
believed;' but I have no recollection of either the question or the
answer. That, however, accords with what I do remember to have seen
just then; as it were some one naked to the middle, but whom, however,
I did not recognize. They helped me down from the ladder. The
faintness seized me again, my head swam as I was between two rounds of
the ladder, and again I fainted. They took me down and placed me on a
large beam which served for a seat in the large square of the
capuchins. I sat down on it and then I no longer saw M. de Sortoville
nor his domestics, although present; but perceiving Desfontaines near
the foot of the ladder, who made me a sign to come to him, I moved on
my seat as if to make room for him; and those who saw me and whom I
did not see, although my eyes were open, remarked this movement.

"As he did not come, I rose to go to him. He advanced towards me, took
my left arm with his right arm, and led me about thirty paces from
thence into a retired street, holding me still under the arm. The
domestics, supposing that my giddiness had passed off, and that I had
purposely retired, went every one to their work, except a little
servant, who went and told M. de Sortoville that I was talking all
alone. M. de Sortoville thought I was tipsy; he drew near, and heard
me ask some questions, and make some answers, which he has told me

"I was there nearly three-quarters of an hour, conversing with
Desfontaines. 'I promised you,' said he to me, 'that if I died before
you I would come and tell you of it. I was drowned the day before
yesterday in the river of Caen, at nearly this same hour. I was out
walking with such and such a one. It was very warm, and we had a wish
to bathe; a faintness seized me in the water, and I fell to the
bottom. The Abbé de Menil-Jean, my comrade, dived to bring me up. I
seized hold of his foot; but whether he was afraid it might be a
salmon, because I held him so fast, or that he wished to remount
promptly to the surface of the water, he shook his leg so roughly,
that he gave me a violent kick on the breast, which sent me to the
bottom of the river, which is there very deep.

"Desmoulins related to me afterwards all that had occurred to them in
their walk, and the subjects they had conversed upon. It was in vain
for me to ask him questions--whether he was saved, whether he was
damned, if he was in purgatory, if I was in a state of grace, and if I
should soon follow him; he continued to discourse as if he had not
heard me, and as if he would not hear me.

"I approached him several times to embrace him, but it seemed to me
that I embraced nothing, and yet I felt very sensibly that he held me
tightly by the arm, and that when I tried to turn away my head that I
might not see him, because I could not look at him without feeling
afflicted, he shook my arm as if to oblige me to look at and listen to

"He always appeared to me taller than I had seen him, and taller even
than he was at the time of his death, although he had grown during the
eighteen months in which we had not met. I beheld him always naked to
the middle of his body, his head uncovered, with his fine fair hair,
and a white scroll twisted in his hair over his forehead, on which
there was some writing, but I could only make out the word _in_, &c.

"It was his same tone of voice. He appeared to me neither gay nor sad,
but in a calm and tranquil state. He begged of me when his brother
returned, to tell him certain things to say to his father and mother.
He begged me to say the Seven Psalms which had been given him as a
penance the preceding Sunday, which he had not yet recited; again he
recommended me to speak to his brother, and then he bade me adieu,
saying, as he left me, _Jusques_, _jusques_, (_till_, _till_,) which
was the usual term he made use of when at the end of our walk we bade
each other good-bye, to go home.

"He told me that at the time he was drowned, his brother, who was
writing a translation, regretted having let him go without
accompanying him, fearing some accident. He described to me so well
where he was drowned, and the tree in the avenue of Louvigni on which
he had written a few words, that two years afterwards, being there
with the late Chevalier de Gotol, one of those who were with him at
the time he was drowned, I pointed out to him the very spot; and by
counting the trees in a particular direction which Desfontaines had
specified to me, I went straight up to the tree, and I found his
writing. He (the Chevalier) told me also that the article of the Seven
Psalms was true, and that on coming from confession they had told each
other their penance; and since then his brother has told me that it
was quite true that at that hour he was writing his exercise, and he
reproached himself for not having accompanied his brother. As nearly a
month passed by without my being able to do what Desfontaines had told
me in regard to his brother, he appeared to me again twice before
dinner at a country house whither I had gone to dine a league from
hence. I was very faint. I told them not to mind me, that it was
nothing, and that I should soon recover myself; and I went to a
corner of the garden. Desfontaines having appeared to me, reproached
me for not having yet spoken to his brother, and again conversed with
me for a quarter of an hour without answering any of my questions.

"As I was going in the morning to Notre-Dame de la Victoire, he
appeared to me again, but for a shorter time, and pressed me always to
speak to his brother, and left me, saying still, _Jusques_, _Jusques_,
and without choosing to reply to my questions.

"It is a remarkable thing that I always felt a pain in that part of my
arm which he had held me by the first time, until I had spoken to his
brother. I was three days without being able to sleep, from the
astonishment and agitation I felt. At the end of the first
conversation, I told M. de Varonville, my neighbor and schoolfellow,
that Desfontaines had been drowned; that he himself had just appeared
to me and told me so. He went away and ran to the parents' house to
know if it was true; they had just received the news, but by a mistake
he understood that it was the eldest. He assured me that he had read
the letter of Desfontaines, and he believed it; but I maintained
always that it could not be, and that Desfontaines himself had
appeared to me. He returned, came back, and told me in tears that it
was but too true.

"Nothing has occurred to me since, and there is my adventure just as
it happened. It has been related in various ways; but I have recounted
it only as I have just told it to you. The Chevalier de Gotol told me
that Desfontaines had appeared also to M. de Menil-Jean; but I am not
acquainted with him; he lives twenty leagues from hence near Argentan,
and I can say no more about it."

This is a very singular and circumstantial narrative, related by M.
l'Abbé de St. Pierre, who is by no means credulous, and sets his whole
mind and all his philosophy to explain the most extraordinary events
by physical reasonings, by the concurrence of atoms, corpuscles,
insensible evaporation of spirit, and perspiration. But all that is so
far-fetched, and does such palpable violence to the subjects and the
attending circumstances, that the most credulous would not yield to
such arguments. It is surprising that these gentlemen, who pique
themselves on strength of mind, and so haughtily reject everything
that appears supernatural, can so easily admit philosophical systems
much more incredible than even the facts they oppose. They raise
doubts which are often very ill-founded, and attack them upon
principles still more uncertain. That may be called refuting one
difficulty by another, and resolving a doubt by principles still more

But, it will be said, whence comes it that so many other persons who
had engaged themselves to come and bring news of the immortality of
the soul, after their death, have not come back. Seneca speaks of a
Stoic philosopher named Julius Canus, who, having been condemned to
death by Julius Cæsar, said aloud that he was about to learn the truth
of that question on which they were divided; to wit, whether the soul
was immortal or not. And we do not read that he revisited this world.
La Motte de Vayer had agreed with his friend Baranzan Barnabite that
the first of the two who died should warn the other of the state in
which he found himself. Baranzan died, and returned not.

Because the dead sometimes return to earth, it would be imprudent to
conclude that they always do so. And it would be equally wrong
reasoning to say that they never do return, because having promised to
revisit this world they have not done so. For that, we should imagine
that it is in the power of spirits to return and make their appearance
when they will, and if they will; but it seems indubitable, that on
the contrary, it is not in their power, and that it is only by the
express permission of God that disembodied spirits sometimes appear to
the living.

We see, in the history of the bad rich man, that God would not grant
him the favor which he asked, to send to earth some of those who were
with him in hell. Similar reasons, derived from the hardness of heart
or the incredulity of mortals, may have prevented, in the same manner,
the return of Julius Canus or of Baranzan. The return of spirits and
their apparition is neither a natural thing nor dependent on the
choice of those who are dead. It is a supernatural effect, and allied
to the miraculous.

St. Augustine says on this subject[557] that if the dead interest
themselves in what concerns the living, St. Monica, his mother, who
loved him so tenderly, and went with him by sea and land everywhere
during her life, would not have failed to visit him every night, and
come to console him in his troubles; for we must not suppose that she
was become less compassionate since she became one of the blest:
_absit ut facta sit vitâ feliciore crudelis_.

The return of spirits, their apparition, the execution of the promises
which certain persons have made each other, to come and tell their
friends what passes in the other world, is not in their own power. All
that is in the hands of God.


[556] Vol. iv. p. 57.

[557] Aug. de Cura gerend. pro Mortuis, c. xiii. p. 526.



The affair of ghosts having made so much noise in the world as it has
done, it is not surprising that a diversity of systems should have
been formed upon it, and that so many manners should have been
proposed to explain their return to earth and their operations.

Some have thought that it was a momentary resurrection caused by the
soul of the defunct, which re-entered his body, or by the demon, who
reanimated him, and caused him to act for a while, whilst his blood
retained its consistency and fluidity, and his organic functions were
not entirely corrupted and deranged.

Others, struck with the consequence of such principles, and the
arguments which might be deduced from them, have liked better to
suppose that these vampires were not really dead; that they still
retained certain seeds of life, and that their spirits could from time
to time reanimate and bring them out of their tombs, to make their
appearance amongst men, take refreshment, and renew the nourishing
juices and animal spirits by sucking the blood of their near kindred.

There has lately been printed a dissertation on the uncertainty of the
signs of death, and the abuse of hasty interments, by M. Jacques
Benigne Vinslow, Doctor, Regent of the Faculty at Paris, translated,
with a commentary, by Jacques Jean Bruhier, physician, at Paris, 1742,
in 8vo. This work may serve to explain how persons who have been
believed to be dead, and have been buried as such, have nevertheless
been found alive a pretty long time after their funeral obsequies had
been performed. That will perhaps render vampirism less incredible.

M. Vinslow, Doctor, and Regent of the Medical Faculty at Paris,
maintained, in the month of April, 1740, a thesis, in which he asks if
the experiments of surgery are fitter than all others to discover some
less uncertain signs of doubtful death. He therein maintained that
there are several occurrences in which the signs of death are very
doubtful; and he adduces several instances of persons believed to be
dead, and interred as such, who nevertheless were afterwards found to
be alive.

M. Bruhier, M.D., has translated this thesis into French, and has
made some learned additions to it, which serve to strengthen the
opinion of M. Vinslow. The work is very interesting, from the matter
it treats upon, and very agreeable to read, from the manner in which
it is written. I am about to make some extracts from it, which may be
useful to my subject. I shall adhere principally to the most certain
and singular facts; for to relate them all, we must transcribe the
whole work.

It is known that John Duns, surnamed Scot,[558] or the Subtile Doctor,
had the misfortune to be interred alive at Cologne, and that when his
tomb was opened some time afterwards, it was found that he had gnawn
his arm.[559] The same thing is related of the Emperor Zeno, who made
himself heard from the depth of his tomb by repeated cries to those
who were watching over him. Lancisi, a celebrated physician of the
Pope Clement XI., relates that at Rome he was witness to a person of
distinction being still alive when he wrote, who resumed sense and
motion whilst they were chanting his funeral service at church.

Pierre Zacchias, another celebrated physician of Rome, says, that in
the hospital of the Saint Esprit, a young man, who was attacked with
the plague, fell into so complete a state of syncope, that he was
believed to be really dead. Whilst they were carrying his corpse,
along with a great many others, on the other side of the Tiber, the
young man gave signs of life. He was brought back to the hospital and
cured. Two days after, he fell into a similar syncope, and that time
he was reputed to be dead beyond recovery. He was placed amongst
others intended for burial, came to himself a second time, and was yet
living when Zacchias wrote.

It is related, that a man named William Foxley, when forty years of
age,[560] falling asleep on the 27th of April, 1546, remained plunged
in sleep for fourteen days and fourteen nights, without any preceding
malady. He could not persuade himself that he had slept more than one
night, and was convinced of his long sleep only by being shown a
building begun some days before this drowsy attack, and which he
beheld completed on his awaking. It is said that in the time of Pope
Gregory II. a scholar of Lubec slept for seven years consecutively.
Lilius Giraldus[561] relates that a peasant slept through the whole
autumn and winter.


[558] Duns Scotus.

[559] This fact is more than doubtful. Bzovius, for having advanced it
upon the authority of some others, was called _Bovius_, that is,
"Great Ox." It is, therefore, better to stand by what Moreri thought
of it. "The enemies of Scotus have proclaimed," says he, "that, having
died of apoplexy, he was at first interred, and, some time after this
accident having elapsed, he died in despair, gnawing his hands. But
this calumny, which was authorized by Paulus Jovius, Latomias, and
Bzovius, has been so well refuted that no one now will give credit to

[560] Larrey, in Henri VIII. Roi d'Angleterre.

[561] Lilius Giraldus, Hist. Poët. Dialog.



Plutarch relates that a man who fell from a great height, having
pitched upon his neck, was believed to be dead, without there being
the appearance of any hurt. As they were carrying him to be buried,
the day after, he all at once recovered his strength and his senses.
Asclepiades[562] meeting a great funeral train of a person they were
taking to be interred, obtained permission to look at and to touch the
dead man; he found some signs of life in him, and by means of proper
remedies, he immediately recalled him to life, and restored him in
sound health to his parents and relations.

There are several instances of persons who after being interred came
to themselves, and lived a long time in perfect health. They relate in
particular,[563] that a woman of Orleans was buried in a cemetery,
with a ring on her finger, which they had not been able to draw off
her finger when she was placed in her coffin. The following night, a
domestic, attracted by the hope of gain, broke open the coffin, and as
he could not tear the ring off her finger, was about to cut her finger
off, when she uttered a loud shriek. The servant fled. The woman
disengaged herself as she could from her winding sheet, returned home,
and survived her husband.

M. Bernard, a principal surgeon at Paris, attests that, being with his
father at the parish of Réal, they took from the tombs, living and
breathing, a monk of the order of St. Francis, who had been shut up in
it three or four days, and who had gnawed his hands around the bands
which confined them. But he died almost the moment that he was in the

Several persons have made mention of that wife of a counselor of
Cologne,[564] who having been interred with a valuable ring on her
finger, in 1571, the grave-digger opened the grave the succeeding
night to steal the ring. But the good lady caught hold of him, and
forced him to take her out of the coffin. He, however, disengaged
himself from her hands, and fled. The resuscitated lady went and
rapped at the door of her house. At first they thought it was a
phantom, and left her a long time at the door, waiting anxiously to be
let in; but at last they opened it for her. They warmed her, and she
recovered her health perfectly, and had after that three sons, who all
belonged to the church. This event is represented on her sepulchre in
a picture, or painting, in which the story is represented, and
moreover, written, in German verses.

It is added that the lady, in order to convince those of the house
that it was herself, told the footman who came to the door that the
horses had gone up to the hay-loft, which was true; and there are
still to be seen at the windows of the _grenier_ of that house,
horses' heads, carved in wood, as a sign of the truth of the matter.

François de Civile, a Norman gentleman,[565] was the captain of a
hundred men in the city of Rouen, when it was besieged by Charles IX.,
and he was then six-and-twenty. He was wounded to death at the end of
an assault; and having fallen into the moat, some pioneers placed him
in a grave with some other bodies, and covered them over with a little
earth. He remained there from eleven in the morning till half-past six
in the evening, when his servant went to disinter him. This domestic,
having remarked some signs of life, put him in a bed, where he
remained for five days and nights, without speaking, or giving any
other sign of feeling, but as burning hot with fever as he had been
cold in the grave. The city having been taken by storm, the servants
of an officer of the victorious army, who was to lodge in the house
wherein was Civile, threw the latter upon a paillasse in a back room,
whence his brother's enemies tossed him out of the window upon a
dunghill, where he remained for more than seventy-two hours in his
shirt. At the end of that time, one of his relations, surprised to
find him still alive, sent him to a league's distance from Rouen,[566]
where he was attended to, and at last was perfectly cured.

During a great plague, which attacked the city of Dijon in 1558, a
lady, named Nicole Lentillet, being reputed dead of the epidemic, was
thrown into a great pit, wherein they buried the dead. The day after
her interment, in the morning, she came to herself again, and made
vain efforts to get out, but her weakness, and the weight of the other
bodies with which she was covered, prevented her doing so. She
remained in this horrible situation for four days, when the burial men
drew her out, and carried her back to her house, where she perfectly
recovered her health.

A young lady of Augsburg,[567] having fallen into a swoon, or trance,
her body was placed under a deep vault, without being covered with
earth; but the entrance to this subterranean vault was closely walled
up. Some years after that time, some one of the same family died. The
vault was opened, and the body of the young lady was found at the very
entrance, without any fingers to her right hand, which she had
devoured in despair.

On the 25th of July, 1688, there died at Metz a hair-dresser's boy, of
an apoplectic fit, in the evening, after supper.

On the 28th of the same month, he was heard to moan again several
times. They took him out of his grave, and he was attended by doctors
and surgeons. The physician maintained, after he had been opened, that
the young man had not been dead two hours. This is extracted from the
manuscript of a bourgeois of Metz, who was cotemporary with him.


[562] Cels. lib. ii. c. 6.

[563] Le P. Le Clerc, _ci devant_ attorney of the boarders of the
college of Louis le Grand.

[564] Mísson, Voyage d'Italie, tom. i. Lettre 5. Goulart, des
Histoires admirables; et mémorables printed at Geneva, in 1678.

[565] Mísson, Voyage, tom. iii.

[566] Goulart, loca cetata.

[567] M. Graffe, Epit. à Guil. Frabi, Centurie 2, observ chirurg. 516.



Here follow some instances of drowned persons[568] who came to
themselves several days after they were believed to be dead. Peclin
relates the story of a gardener of Troninghalm, in Sweden, who was
still alive, and sixty-five years of age, when the author wrote. This
man being on the ice to assist another man who had fallen into the
water, the ice broke under him, and he sunk under water to the depth
of eight ells, his feet sticking in the mud: he remained sixteen hours
before they drew him out of the water. In this condition, he lost all
sense, except that he thought he heard the bells ringing at Stockholm.
He felt the water, which entered his body, not by his mouth, but his
ears. After having sought for him during sixteen hours, they caught
hold of his head with a hook, and drew him out of the water; they
placed him between sheets, put him near the fire, rubbed him, shook
him, and at last brought him to himself. The king and court would see
him and hear his story, and gave him a pension.

A woman of the same country, after having been three days in the
water, was also revived by the same means as the gardener. Another
person named Janas, having drowned himself at seventeen years of age,
was taken out of the water seven weeks after; they warmed him, and
brought him back to life.

M. D'Egly, of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, at
Paris, relates, that a Swiss, an expert diver, having plunged down
into one of the hollows in the bed of the river, where he hoped to
find fine fish, remained there about nine hours; they drew him out of
the water after having hurt him in several places with their hooks. M.
D'Egly, seeing that the water bubbled strongly from his mouth,
maintained that he was not dead. They made him throw up as much water
as he could for three quarters of an hour, wrapped him up in hot
linen, put him to bed, bled him, and saved him.

Some have been recovered after being seven weeks in the water, others
after a less time; for instance, Gocellin, a nephew of the Archbishop
of Cologne, having fallen into the Rhine, remained under water for
fifteen hours before they could find him again; at the end of that
time, they carried him to the tomb of St. Suitbert, and he recovered
his health.[569]

The same St. Suitbert resuscitated also another young man who had been
drowned several hours. But the author who relates these miracles is of
no great authority.

Several instances are related of drowned persons who have remained
under water for several days, and at last recovered and enjoyed good
health. In the second part of the dissertation on the uncertainty of
the signs of death, by M. Bruhier, physician, printed at Paris in
1744, pp. 102, 103, &c., it is shown that they have seen some who have
been under water forty-eight hours, others during three days, and
during eight days. He adds to this the example of the insect
chrysalis, which passes all the winter without giving any signs of
life, and the aquatic insects which remain all the winter motionless
in the mud; which also happens to the frogs and toads; ants even,
against the common opinion, are during the winter in a death-like
state, which ceases only on the return of spring. Swallows, in the
northern countries, bury themselves in heaps, in the lakes and ponds,
in rivers even, in the sea, in the sand, in the holes of walls, and
the hollows of trees, or at the bottom of caverns; whilst other kinds
of swallows cross the sea to find warmer and more temperate climes.

What has just been said of swallows being found at the bottom of
lakes, ponds, and rivers, is commonly remarked in Silesia, Poland,
Bohemia, and Moravia. Sometimes even storks are fished up as if dead,
having their beaks fixed in the anus of one another; many of these
have been seen in the environs of Geneva, and even in the environs of
Metz, in the year 1467.

To these may be added quails and herons. Sparrows and cuckoos have
been found during the winter in hollow trees, torpid and without the
least appearance of life, which being warmed recovered themselves and
took flight. We know that hedgehogs, marmots, sloths, and serpents,
live underground without breathing, and the circulation of the blood
is very feeble in them during all the winter. It is even said that
bears sleep during almost all that period.


[568] Guill. Derham, Extrait. Peclin, c. x. de aëre et alim. def.

[569] Vita S. Suitberti, apud Surium, I. Martii.



Very clever physicians assert[570] that in cases of the suffocation of
the womb, a woman may live thirty days without breathing. I know that
a very excellent woman was six-and-thirty hours without giving any
sign of life. Everybody thought she was dead, and they wanted to
enshroud her, but her husband always opposed it. At the end of
thirty-six hours she came to herself, and has lived a long time since
then. She told them that she heard very well all that was said about
her, and knew that they wanted to lay her out; but her torpor was such
that she could not surmount it, and she should have let them do
whatever they pleased without the least resistance.

This applies to what St. Augustine says of the priest Pretextas, who
in his trances and swoons heard, as if from afar off, what was said,
and nevertheless would have let himself be burned, and his flesh cut,
without opposing it or feeling it.

Corneille le Bruyn,[571] in his Voyages, relates that he saw at
Damietta, in Egypt, a Turk whom they called the Dead Child, because
when his mother was with child with him, she fell ill, and as they
believed she was dead, they buried her pretty quickly, according to
the custom of the country, where they let the dead remain but a very
short time unburied, above all during the plague. She was put into a
vault which this Turk had for the sepulture of his family.

Towards evening, some hours after the interment of this woman, it
entered the mind of the Turk her husband, that the child she bore
might still be alive; he then had the vault opened, and found that his
wife had delivered herself, and that his child was alive, but the
mother was dead. Some people said that the child had been heard to
cry, and that it was on receiving intimation of this that the father
had the tomb opened. This man, surnamed the Dead Child, was still
living in 1677. Le Bruyn thinks that the woman was dead when her child
was born; but being dead, it would not have been possible for her to
bring him into the world. It must be remembered, that in Egypt, where
this happened, the women have an extraordinary facility of delivery,
as both ancients and moderns bear witness, and that this woman was
simply shut up in a vault, without being covered with earth.

A woman at Strasburg, who was with child, being reputed to be dead,
was buried in a subterranean vault;[572] at the end of some time, this
vault having been opened for another body to be placed in it, the
woman was found out of the coffin lying on the ground, and having
between her hands a child, of which she had delivered herself, and
whose arm she held in her mouth, as if she would fain eat it.

Another woman, a Spaniard,[573] the wife of Francisco Aravallos, of
Suasso, being dead, or believed to be so, in the last months of her
pregnancy, was put in the ground; her husband, whom they had sent for
from the country, whither he had gone on business, would see his wife
at the church, and had her exhumed: hardly had they opened the coffin,
when they heard the cry of a child, who was making efforts to leave
the bosom of its mother.

He was taken away alive and lived a long time, being known by the name
of the Child of the Earth; and since then he was lieutenant-general of
the town of Héréz, on the frontier of Spain. These instances might be
multiplied to infinity, of persons buried alive, and of others who
have recovered as they were being carried to the grave, and others who
have been taken out of it by fortuitous circumstances. Upon this
subject you may consult the new work of Messrs. Vinslow and Bruyer,
and those authors who have expressly treated on this subject.[574]
These gentlemen, the doctors, derive from thence a very wise and very
judicious conclusion, which is, that people should never be buried
without the absolute certainty of their being dead, above all in times
of pestilence, and in certain maladies in which those who are
suffering under them lose on a sudden both sense and motion.


[570] Le Clerc, Hist. de la Médecine.

[571] Corneille le Bruyn, tom. i. p. 579.

[572] Cronstand, Philos. veter. restit.

[573] Gaspard Reïes, Campus Elysias jucund.

[574] Page 167, des additions de M. Bruhier.



Some advantage of these instances and these arguments may be derived
in favor of vampirism, by saying that the ghosts of Hungary, Moravia,
and Poland are not really dead, that they continue to live in their
graves, although without motion and without respiration; the blood
which is found in them being fine and red, the flexibility of their
limbs, the cries which they utter when their heart is pierced or their
head being cut off, all prove that they still exist.

That is not the principal difficulty which arrests my judgment; it is
to know how they come out of their graves without any appearance of
the earth having been removed, and how they have replaced it as it
was; how they appear dressed in their clothes, go and come, and eat.
If it is so, why do they return to their graves? why do they not
remain amongst the living? why do they suck the blood of their
relations? Why do they haunt and fatigue persons who ought to be dear
to them, and who have done nothing to offend them? If all that is only
imagination on the part of those who are molested, whence comes it
that these vampires are found in their graves in an uncorrupted state,
full of blood, supple, and pliable; that their feet are found to be in
a muddy condition the day after they have run about and frightened the
neighbors, and that nothing similar is remarked in the other corpses
interred at the same time and in the same cemetery. Whence does it
happen that they neither come back nor infest the place any more when
they are burned or impaled? Would it be again the imagination of the
living and their prejudices which reassure them after these
executions? Whence comes it that these scenes recur so frequently in
those countries, that the people are not cured of their prejudices,
and daily experience, instead of destroying, only augments and
strengthens them?



It is an opinion widely spread in Germany, that certain dead persons
chew in their graves, and devour whatever may be close to them; that
they are even heard to eat like pigs, with a certain low cry, and as
if growling and grunting.

A German author,[575] named Michael Rauff, has composed a work,
entitled _De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis_--"Of the Dead who
Masticate in their Graves." He sets it down as a proved and sure
thing, that there are certain dead persons who have devoured the linen
and everything that was within reach of their mouth, and even their
own flesh, in their graves. He remarks,[576] that in some parts of
Germany, to prevent the dead from masticating, they place a motte of
earth under their chin in the coffin; elsewhere they place a little
piece of money and a stone in their mouth; elsewhere they tie a
handkerchief tightly round their throat. The author cites some German
writers who make mention of this ridiculous custom; he quotes several
others who speak of dead people that have devoured their own flesh in
their sepulchre. This work was printed at Leipsic in 1728. It speaks
of an author named Philip Rehrius, who printed in 1679 a treatise with
the same title--_De Masticatione Mortuorum_.

He might have added to it the circumstance of Henry Count of
Salm,[577] who, being supposed to be dead, was interred alive; they
heard during the night, in the church of the Abbey of Haute-Seille,
where he was buried, loud cries; and the next day, on his tomb being
opened, they found him turned upon his face, whilst in fact he had
been buried lying upon his back.

Some years ago, at Bar-le-Duc, a man was buried in the cemetery, and a
noise was heard in his grave; the next day they disinterred him, and
found that he had gnawed the flesh of his arms; and this we learned
from ocular witnesses. This man had drunk brandy, and had been buried
as dead. Rauff speaks of a woman of Bohemia,[578] who, in 1355, had
eaten in her grave half her shroud. In the time of Luther, a man who
was dead and buried, and a woman the same, gnawed their own entrails.
Another dead man in Moravia ate the linen clothes of a woman who was
buried next to him.

All that is very possible, but that those who are really dead move
their jaws, and amuse themselves with masticating whatever may be near
them, is a childish fancy--like what the ancient Romans said of their
_Manducus_, which was a grotesque figure of a man with an enormous
mouth, and teeth proportioned thereto, which they caused to move by
springs, and grind his teeth together, as if this figure had wanted to
eat. They frightened children with them, and threatened them with the

Some remains of this old custom may be seen in certain processions,
where they carry a sort of serpent, which at intervals opens and shuts
a vast jaw, armed with teeth, into which they throw cakes, as if to
gorge it, or satisfy its appetite.


[575] Mich. Rauff, alterâ Dissert. Art. lvii. pp. 98, 99, et Art. lix.
p. 100.

[576] De Nummis in Ore Defunctorum repertis, Art. ix. à Beyermuller,

[577] Richer, Senon, tom. iii. Spicileg. Ducherii, p. 392.

[578] Rauff, Art. xlii. p. 43.

  "Tandemque venit ad pulpita nostrum
  Exodium, cum personæ pallentis hiatum
  In gremio matris fastidit rusticus infans."
                     _Juvenal_, Sat. iii. 174.



The most remarkable instance cited by Rauff[580] is that of one Peter
Plogojovitz, who had been buried ten weeks in a village of Hungary,
called Kisolova. This man appeared by night to some of the inhabitants
of the village while they were asleep, and grasped their throat so
tightly that in four-and-twenty hours it caused their death. Nine
persons, young and old, perished thus in the course of eight days.

The widow of the same Plogojovitz declared that her husband since his
death had come and asked her for his shoes, which frightened her so
much that she left Kisolova to retire to some other spot.

From these circumstances the inhabitants of the village determined
upon disinterring the body of Plogojovitz and burning it, to deliver
themselves from these visitations. They applied to the emperor's
officer, who commanded in the territory of Gradiska, in Hungary, and
even to the curé of the same place, for permission to exhume the body
of Peter Plogojovitz. The officer and the curé made much demur in
granting this permission, but the peasants declared that if they were
refused permission to disinter the body of this man, whom they had no
doubt was a true vampire (for so they called these revived corpses),
they should be obliged to forsake the village, and go where they

The emperor's officer, who wrote this account, seeing he could hinder
them neither by threats nor promises, went with the curé of Gradiska
to the village of Kisolova, and having caused Peter Plogojovitz to be
exhumed, they found that his body exhaled no bad smell; that he looked
as when alive, except the tip of the nose; that his hair and beard had
grown, and instead of his nails, which had fallen off, new ones had
come; that under his upper skin, which appeared whitish, there
appeared a new one, which looked healthy, and of a natural color; his
feet and hands were as whole as could be desired in a living man. They
remarked also in his mouth some fresh blood, which these people
believed that this vampire had sucked from the men whose death he had

The emperor's officer and the curé having diligently examined all
these things, and the people who were present feeling their
indignation awakened anew, and being more fully persuaded that he was
the true cause of the death of their compatriots, ran directly for a
sharp-pointed stake, which they thrust into his breast, whence there
issued a quantity of fresh and crimson blood, and also from the nose
and mouth; something also proceeded from that part of his body which
decency does not allow us to mention. After this the peasants placed
the body on a pile of wood and saw it reduced to ashes.

M. Rauff,[581] from whom we have these particulars, cites several
authors who have written on the same subject, and have related
instances of dead people who have eaten in their tombs. He cites
particularly Gabril Rzaczincki in his history of the Natural
Curiosities of the Kingdom of Poland, printed at Sandomic in 1721.


[580] Rauff, Art. xii. p. 15.

[581] Rauff, Art. xxi. p. 14.



Those authors have reasoned a great deal on these events. 1. Some have
believed them to be miraculous. 2. Others have looked upon them simply
as the effect of a heated imagination, or a sort of prepossession. 3.
Others again have believed that there was nothing in all that but what
was very simple and very natural, these persons not being dead, and
acting naturally upon other bodies. 4. Others have asserted[582] that
it was the work of the devil himself; amongst these, some have
advanced the opinion that there were certain benign demons, differing
from those who are malevolent and hostile to mankind, to which (benign
demons) they have attributed playful and harmless operations, in
contradistinction to those bad demons who inspire the minds of men
with crime and sin, ill use them, kill them, and occasion them an
infinity of evils. But what greater evils can one have to fear from
veritable demons and the most malignant spirits, than those which the
ghouls of Hungary cause the persons whose blood they suck, and thus
cause to die? 5. Others will have it that it is not the dead who eat
their own flesh or clothes, but serpents, rats, moles, ferrets, or
other voracious animals, or even what the peasants call
_striges_,[583] which are birds that devour animals and men, and suck
their blood. Some have said that these instances are principally
remarked in women, and, above all, in a time of pestilence; but there
are instances of ghouls of both sexes, and principally of men;
although those who die of plague, poison, hydrophobia, drunkenness,
and any epidemical malady, are more apt to return, apparently because
their blood coagulates with more difficulty; and sometimes some are
buried who are not quite dead, on account of the danger there is in
leaving them long without sepulture, from fear of the infection they
would cause.

It is added that these vampires are known only to certain countries,
as Hungary, Moravia, and Silesia, where those maladies are more
common, and where the people, being badly fed, are subject to certain
disorders caused or occasioned by the climate and the food, and
augmented by prejudice, fancy, and fright, capable of producing or of
increasing the most dangerous maladies, as daily experience proves too
well. As to what some have asserted that the dead have been heard to
eat and chew like pigs in their graves, it is manifestly fabulous, and
such an idea can have its foundation only in ridiculous prepossessions
of the mind.


[582] Rudiga, Physio. Dur. lib. i. c. 4. Theophrast. Paracels. Georg.
Agricola, de Anim. Subterran. p. 76.

[583] Ovid, lib. vi. Vide Debrio, Disquisit. Magic. lib. i. p. 6, and
lib. iii. p. 355.



The opinion of those who hold that all that is related of vampires is
the effect of imagination, fascination, or of that disorder which the
Greeks term _phrenesis_ or _coribantism_, and who pretend by that
means to explain all the phenomena of vampirism, will never persuade
us that these maladies of the brain can produce such real effects as
those we have just recounted. It is impossible that on a sudden,
several persons should believe they see a thing which is not there,
and that they should die in so short a time of a disorder purely
imaginary. And who has revealed to them that such a vampire is
undecayed in his grave, that he is full of blood, that he in some
measure lives there after his death? Is there not to be found in the
nation one sensible man who is exempt from this fancy, or who has
soared above the effects of this fascination, these sympathies and
antipathies--this natural magic? And besides, who can explain to us
clearly and distinctly what these grand terms signify, and the manner
of these operations so occult and so mysterious? It is trying to
explain a thing which is obscure and doubtful, by another still more
uncertain and incomprehensible.

If these persons believe nothing of all that is related of the
apparition, the return, and the actions of vampires, they lose their
time very uselessly in proposing systems and forming arguments to
explain what exists only in the imagination of certain prejudiced
persons struck with an idea; but, if all that is related, or at least
a part, is true, these systems and these arguments will not easily
satisfy those minds which desire proofs far more weighty than those.

Let us see, then, if the system which asserts that these vampires are
not really dead is well founded. It is certain that death consists in
the separation of the soul from the body, and that neither the one
nor the other perishes, nor is annihilated by death; that the soul is
immortal, and that the body destitute of its soul, still remains
entire, and becomes only in part corrupt, sometimes in a few days, and
sometimes in a longer space of time; sometimes even it remains
uncorrupted during many years or even ages, either by reason of a good
constitution, as in Hector[584] and Alexander the Great, whose bodies
remained several days undecayed;[585] or by means of the art of
embalming; or lastly, owing to the nature of the earth in which they
are interred, which has the power of drying up the radical humidity
and the principles of corruption. I do not stop to prove all these
things, which besides are very well known.

Sometimes the body, without being dead and forsaken by its reasonable
soul, remains as if dead and motionless, or at least with so slow a
motion and such feeble respiration, that it is almost imperceptible,
as it happens in faintings, swoons, in certain disorders very common
amongst women, in trances--as we remarked in the case of Pretextat,
priest of Calame; we have also reported more than one instance,
considered dead and buried as such; I may add that of the Abbé Salin,
prior of St. Christopher,[586] who being in his coffin, and about to
be interred, was resuscitated by some of his friends, who made him
swallow a glass of champagne.

Several instances of the same kind are related.[587] In the "Causes
Célèbres," they make mention of a girl who became _enceinte_ during a
long swoon; we have already noticed this. Pliny cites[588] a great
number of instances of persons who have been thought dead, and who
have come to life again, and lived for a long time. He mentions a
young man, who having fallen asleep in a cavern, remained there forty
years without waking. Our historians[589] speak of the seven sleepers,
who slept for 150 years, from the year of Christ 253 to 403. It is
said that the philosopher Epimenides slept in a cavern during
fifty-seven years, or according to others, forty-seven, or only forty
years; for the ancients do not agree concerning the number of years;
they even affirm, that this philosopher had the power to detach his
soul from his body, and recall it when he pleased. The same thing is
related of Aristæus of Proconnesus. I am willing to allow that that is
fabulous; but we cannot gainsay the truth of several other stories of
persons who have come to life again, after having appeared dead for
three, four, five, six, and seven days. Pliny acknowledges that there
are several instances of dead people who have appeared after they were
interred; but he will not mention them more particularly, because, he
says, he relates only natural things and not prodigies--"Post
sepulturam quoque visorum exempla sunt, nisi quod naturæ opera non
prodigia sectamur." We believe that Enoch and Elijah are still living.
Several have thought that St. John the Evangelist was not dead,[590]
but that he is still alive in his tomb.

Plato and St. Clement of Alexandria[591] relate, that the son of
Zoroaster was resuscitated twelve days after his (supposed) death, and
when his body had been laid upon the funeral pyre. Phlegon says,[592]
that a Syrian soldier in the army of Antiochus, after having been
killed at Thermopylæ, appeared in open day in the Roman camp, and
spoke to several. And Plutarch relates,[593] that a man named
Thespesius, who had fallen from the roof of a house, came to himself
the third day after he died (or seemed to die) of his fall.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians,[594] seems to suppose that
sometimes the soul transported itself without the body, to repair to
the spot where it is in mind or thought; for instance, he says, that
he has been transported to the third heaven; but he adds that he knows
not whether in the body, or only in spirit--"Sive in corpora, sive
extra corpus, nescio, Deus scit." We have already cited St.
Augustine,[595] who mentions a priest of Calamus, named Pretextat,
who, at the sound of the voices of some persons who lamented their
sins, fell into such an ecstasy of delight, that he no longer breathed
or felt anything; and they might have cut and burnt his flesh without
his perceiving it; his soul was absent, or really so occupied with
these lamentations, that he was insensible to pain. In swoons and
syncope, the soul no longer performs her ordinary functions. She is
nevertheless in the body, and continues to animate it, but she
perceives not her own action.

A curé of the Diocese of Constance, named Bayer, writes me word that
in 1728, having been appointed to the curé of Rutheim, he was
disturbed a month afterwards by a spectre, or an evil genius, in the
form of a peasant, badly made, and ill-dressed, very ill-looking, and
stinking insupportably, who came and knocked at the door in an
insolent manner, and having entered his study told him that he had
been sent by an official of the Prince of Constance, his bishop, upon
a certain commission which was found to be absolutely false. He then
asked for something to eat, and they placed before him meat, bread,
and wine. He took up the meat with both hands, and devoured it bones
and all, saying, "See how I eat both flesh and bone--do the same."
Then he took up the wine-cup, and swallowed it at a draught, asking
for another, which he drank off in the same fashion. After that he
withdrew, without bidding the curé good-bye; and the servant who
showed him to the door having asked his name, he replied, "I was born
at Rutsingen, and my name is George Raulin," which was false. As he
was going down stairs he said to the curé in German, in a menacing
tone, "I will show you who I am."

He passed all the rest of the day in the village, showing himself to
everybody. Towards midnight he returned to the curé's door, crying out
three times in a terrible voice, "Monsieur Bayer!" and adding, "I will
let you know who I am." In fact, during three years he returned every
day towards four o'clock in the afternoon, and every night till dawn
of day. He appeared in different forms, sometimes like a water-dog,
sometimes as a lion, or some other terrible animal; sometimes in the
shape of a man, or a girl, when the curé was at table, or in bed,
enticing him to lasciviousness. Sometimes he made an uproar in the
house, like a cooper putting hoops on his casks; then again you might
have thought he wanted to throw the house down by the noise he made in
it. To have witnesses to all this, the curé often sent for the beadle
and other personages of the village to bear testimony to it. The
spectre emitted, wherever he showed himself, an insupportable stench.

At last the curé had recourse to exorcisms, but they produced no
effect. And as they despaired almost of being delivered from these
vexations, he was advised, at the end of the third year, to provide
himself with a holy branch on Palm Sunday, and also with a sword
sprinkled with holy water, and to make use of it against the spectre.
He did so once or twice, and from that time he was no more molested.
This is attested by a Capuchin monk, witness of the greater part of
these things, the 29th of August, 1749.

I will not guarantee the truth of all these circumstances; the
judicious reader will make what induction he pleases from them. If
they are true, here is a real ghost, who eats, drinks, and speaks, and
gives tokens of his presence for three whole years, without any
appearance of religion. Here follows another instance of a ghost who
manifested himself by actions alone.

They write me word from Constance, the 8th of August, 1748, that
towards the end of the year 1746 sighs were heard, which seemed to
proceed from the corner of the printing-office of the Sieur Lahart,
one of the common council men of the city of Constance. The printers
only laughed at it at first, but in the following year, 1747, in the
beginning of January, they heard more noise than before. There was a
hard knocking near the same corner whence they had at first heard some
sighs; things went so far that the printers received slaps, and their
hats were thrown on the ground. They had recourse to the Capuchins,
who came with the books proper for exorcising the spirit. The exorcism
completed they returned home, and the noise ceased for three days.

At the end of that time the noise recommenced more violently than
before; the spirit threw the characters for printing, whether letters
or figures, against the windows. They sent out of the city for a
famous exorcist, who exorcised the spirit for a week. One day the
spirit boxed the ears of a lad; and again the letters, &c., were
thrown against the window-panes. The foreign exorcist, not having been
able to effect anything by his exorcisms, returned to his own home.

The spirit went on as usual, giving slaps in the face to one, and
throwing stones and other things at another, so that the compositors
were obliged to leave that corner of the printing-office and place
themselves in the middle of the room, but they were not the quieter
for that.

They then sent for other exorcists, one of whom had a particle of the
true cross, which he placed upon the table. The spirit did not,
however, cease disturbing as usual the workmen belonging to the
printing-office; and the Capuchin brother who accompanied the exorcist
received such buffets that they were both obliged to withdraw to their
convent. Then came others, who, having mixed a quantity of sand and
ashes in a bucket of water, blessed the water, and sprinkled with it
every part of the printing-office. They also scattered the sand and
ashes all over the room upon the paved floor; and being provided with
swords, the whole party began to strike at random right and left in
every part of the room, to see if they could hit the ghost, and to
observe if he left any foot-marks upon the sand or ashes which covered
the floor. They perceived at last that he had perched himself on the
top of the stove or furnace, and they remarked on the angles of it
marks of his feet and hands impressed on the sand and ashes they had

They succeeded in ousting him from there, and they very soon perceived
that he had slid under the table, and left marks of his hands and feet
on the pavement. The dust raised by all this movement in the office
caused them to disperse, and they discontinued the pursuit. But the
principal exorcist having taken out a screw from the angle where they
had first heard the noise, found in a hole in the wall some feathers,
three bones wrapped up in a dirty piece of linen, some bits of glass,
and a hair-pin, or bodkin. He blessed a fire which they lighted, and
had all that thrown into it. But this monk had hardly reached his
convent when one of the printers came to tell him that the bodkin had
come out of the flames three times of itself, and that a boy who was
holding a pair of tongs, and who put this bodkin in the fire again,
had been violently struck in the face. The rest of the things which
had been found having been brought to the Capuchin convent, they were
burnt without further resistance; but the lad who had carried them
there saw a naked woman in the public market-place, and that and the
following days groans were heard in the market-place of Constance.

Some days after this the printer's house was again infested in this
manner, the ghost giving slaps, throwing stones, and molesting the
domestics in divers ways. The Sieur Lahart, the master of the house,
received a great wound in his head, two boys who slept in the same bed
were thrown on the ground, so that the house was entirely forsaken
during the night. One Sunday a servant girl carrying away some linen
from the house had stones thrown at her, and another time two boys
were thrown down from a ladder.

There was in the city of Constance an executioner who passed for a
sorcerer. The monk who writes to me suspected him of having some part
in this game; he began to exhort those who sat up with him in the
house, to put their confidence in God, and to be strong in faith. He
gave them to understand that the executioner was likely to be of the
party. They passed the night thus in the house, and about ten o'clock
in the evening, one of the companions of the exorcist threw himself at
his feet in tears, and revealed to him, that that same night he and
one of his companions had been sent to consult the executioner in
Turgau, and that by order of the Sieur Lahart, printer, in whose house
all this took place. This avowal strangely surprised the good father,
and he declared that he would not continue to exorcise, if they did
not assure him that they had not spoken to the executioners to put an
end to the haunting. They protested that they had not spoken to them
at all. The Capuchin father had everything picked up that was found
about the house, wrapped up in packets, and had them carried to his

The following night, two domestics tried to pass the night in the
house, but they were thrown out of their beds, and constrained to go
and sleep elsewhere. After this, they sent for a peasant of the
village of Annanstorf, who was considered a good exorcist. He passed
the night in the haunted house, drinking, singing, and shouting. He
received slaps and blows from a stick, and was obliged to own that he
could not prevail against the spirit.

The widow of an executioner presented herself then to perform the
exorcisms; she began by using fumigations in all parts of the
dwelling, to drive away the evil spirits. But before she had finished
these fumigations, seeing that the master was struck in the face and
on his body by the spirit, she ran away from the house, without asking
for her pay.

They next called in the Curé of Valburg, who passed for a clever
exorcist. He came with four other secular curés, and continued the
exorcisms for three days, without any success. He withdrew to his
parish, imputing the inutility of his prayers to the want of faith of
those who were present.

During this time, one of the four priests was struck with a knife,
then with a fork, but he was not hurt. The son of Sieur Lahart, master
of the dwelling, received upon his jaw a blow from a pascal taper,
which did him no harm. All that being of no service, they sent for the
executioners of the neighborhood. Two of the persons who went to fetch
them were well thrashed and pelted with stones. Another had his thigh
so tightly pressed that he felt the pain for a long time. The
executioners carefully collected all the packets they found wrapped up
about the house, and put others in their room; but the spirit took
them up and threw them into the market-place. After this, the
executioners persuaded the Sieur Lahart that he might boldly return
with his people to the house; he did so, but the first night, when
they were at supper, one of his workmen named Solomon was wounded on
the foot, and then followed a great effusion of blood. They then sent
again for the executioner, who appeared much surprised that the house
was not yet entirely freed, but at that moment he was himself attacked
by a shower of stones, boxes on the ears, and other blows, which
constrained him to run away quickly.

Some heretics in the neighborhood, being informed of all these things,
came one day to the bookseller's shop, and upon attempting to read in
a Catholic Bible which was there, were well boxed and beaten; but
having taken up a Calvinist Bible, they received no harm. Two men of
Constance having entered the bookseller's shop from sheer curiosity,
one of them was immediately thrown down upon the ground, and the other
ran away as fast as he could. Another person, who had come in the same
way from curiosity, was punished for his presumption, by having a
quantity of water thrown upon him. A young girl of Ausburg, a relation
of the Sieur Lahart, printer, was chased away with violent blows, and
pursued even to the neighboring house, where she entered.

At last the hauntings ceased, on the 8th of February. On that day the
spectre opened the shop door, went in, deranged a few articles, went
out, shut the door, and from that time nothing more was seen or heard
of it.


[584] Homer de Hectore, Iliad XXIV. 411.

[585] Plutarch de Alexandro in ejus Vita.

[586] About the year 1680; he died after the year 1694.

[587] Causes Célèbres, tom. viii. p. 585.

[588] Plin. Hist. Natur. lib. vii. c. 52.

[589] St. Gregor. Turon. de Gloria Martyr. c. 95.

[590] I have touched upon this matter in a particular Dissertation at
the Head of the Gospel of St. John.

[591] Plato, de Republ. lib. x.; Clemens Alexandr. lib. v. Stromat.

[592] Phleg. de Mirabilis, c. 3.

[593] Plutarch, de Serâ Numinis Vindicta.

[594] 1 Cor. xiii. 2.

[595] Aug. lib. xiv. de Civit. Dei, c. 24.



St. Augustine relates on this subject,[596] that a countryman named
Curma, who held a small place in the village of Tullia, near Hippoma,
having fallen sick, remained for some days senseless and speechless,
having just respiration enough left to prevent their burying him. At
the end of several days he began to open his eyes, and sent to ask
what they were about in the house of another peasant of the same
place, and like himself named Curma. They brought him back word, that
he had just expired at the very moment that he himself had recovered
and was resuscitated from his deep slumber.

Then he began to talk, and related what he had seen and heard; that it
was not Curma the _curial_,[597] but Curma the blacksmith, who ought
to have been brought; he added, that among those whom he had seen
treated in different ways, he had recognized some of his deceased
acquaintance, and other ecclesiastics, who were still alive, who had
advised him to come to Hippoma, and be baptized by the Bishop
Augustine; that according to their advice he had received baptism in
his vision; that afterwards he had been introduced into Paradise, but
that he had not remained there long, and that they had told him that
if he wished to dwell there, he must be baptized. He replied, "I am
so;" but they told him, that he had been so only in a vision, and that
he must go to Hippoma to receive that sacrament in reality. He came
there as soon as he was cured, and received the rite of baptism with
the other catechumens.

St. Augustine was not informed of this adventure till about two years
afterwards. He sent for Curma, and learnt from his own lips what I
have just related. Now it is certain that Curma saw nothing with his
bodily eyes of all that had been represented to him in his vision;
neither the town of Hippoma, nor Bishop Augustine, nor the
ecclesiastics who counseled him to be baptized, nor the persons living
and deceased whom he saw and recognized. We may believe, then, that
these things are effects of the power of God, who makes use of the
ministry of angels to warn, console, or alarm mortals, according as
his judgment sees best.

St. Augustine inquires afterwards if the dead have any knowledge of
what is passing in this world? He doubts the fact, and shows that at
least they have no knowledge of it by ordinary and natural means. He
remarks, that it is said God took Josiah, for instance, from this
world,[598] that he might now witness the evil which was to befall his
nation; and we say every day, Such-a-one is happy to have left the
world, and so escaped feeling the miseries which have happened to his
family or his country. But if the dead know not what is passing in
this world, how can they be troubled about their bodies being interred
or not? How do the saints hear our prayers? and why do we ask them for
their intercession?

It is then true that the dead can learn what is passing on the earth,
either by the agency of angels, or by that of the dead who arrive in
the other world, or by the revelation of the Spirit of God, who
discovers to them what he judges proper, and what it is expedient that
they should learn. God may also sometimes send men who have long been
dead to living men, as he permitted Moses and Elias to appear at the
Transfiguration of the Lord, and as an infinite number of the saints
have appeared to the living. The invocation of saints has always been
taught and practised in the Church; whence we may infer that they hear
our prayers, are moved by our wants, and can help us by their
intercession. But the way in which all that is done is not distinctly
known; neither reason nor revelation furnishes us with anything
certain, as to the means it pleases God to make use of to reveal our
wants to them.

Lucian, in his dialogue entitled _Philopseudes_, or the "Lover of
Falsehood," relates[599] something similar. A man named Eucratés,
having been taken down to hell, was presented to Pluto, who was angry
with him who presented him, saying--"That man has not yet completed
his course; his turn has not yet come. Bring hither Demilius, for the
thread of his life is finished." Then they sent Eucratés back to this
world, where he announced that Demilius would die soon. Demilius lived
near him, and was already a little ill.

But a moment after they heard the noise of those who were bewailing
his death. Lucian makes a jest of all that was said on this subject,
but he owns that it was the common opinion in his time. He says in the
same part of his work, that a man has been seen to come to life again
after having been looked upon as dead during twenty days.

The story of Curma which we have just told, reminds me of another
very like it, related by Plutarch in his Book on the Soul, of a
certain man named Enarchus,[600] who, being dead, came to life again
soon after, and related that the demons who had taken away his soul
were severely reprimanded by their chief, who told them that they had
made a mistake, and that it was Nicander, and not Enarchus whom they
ought to bring. He sent them for Nicander, who was directly seized
with a fever, and died during the day. Plutarch heard this from
Enarchus himself, who to confirm what he had asserted said to
him--"You will get well certainly, and that very soon, of the illness
which has attacked you."

St. Gregory the Great relates[601] something very similar to what we
have just mentioned. An illustrious man of rank named Stephen well
known to St. Gregory and Peter his interlocutor, was accustomed to
relate to him, that going to Constantinople on business he died there;
and as the doctor who was to embalm him was not in town that day, they
were obliged to leave the body unburied that night. During this
interval Stephen was led before the judge who presided in hell, where
he saw many things which he had heard of, but did not believe. When
they brought him to the judge, the latter refused to receive him,
saying, "It is not that man whom I commanded you to bring here, but
Stephen the blacksmith." In consequence of this order the soul of the
dead man was directly brought back to his body, and at the same
instant Stephen the blacksmith expired; which confirmed all that the
former had said of the other life.

The plague ravaging the city of Rome in the time that Narses was
governor of Italy, a young Livonian, a shepherd by profession, and of
a good and quiet disposition, was taken ill with the plague in the
house of the advocate Valerian, his master. Just when they thought him
all but dead, he suddenly came to himself, and related to them that he
had been transported to heaven, where he had learnt the names of those
who were to die of the plague in his master's house; having named them
to him, he predicted to Valerian that he should survive him; and to
convince him that he was saying the truth, he let him see that he had
acquired by infusion the knowledge of several different languages; in
effect he who had never known how to speak any but the Italian tongue,
spoke Greek to his master, and other languages to those who knew them.

After having lived in this state for two days, he had fits of madness,
and having laid hold of his hands with his teeth, he died a second
time, and was followed by those whom he had named. His master, who
survived, fully justified his prediction. Men and women who fall into
trances remain sometimes for several days without food, respiration,
or pulsation of the heart, as if they were dead. Thauler, a famous
contemplative (philosopher) maintains that a man may remain entranced
during a week, a month, or even a year. We have seen an abbess, who
when in a trance, into which she often fell, lost the use of her
natural functions, and passed thirty days in that state without taking
any nourishment, and without sensation. Instances of these trances are
not rare in the lives of the saints, though they are not all of the
same kind, or duration.

Women in hysterical fits remain likewise many days as if dead,
speechless, inert, pulseless. Galen mentions a woman who was six days
in this state.[602] Some of them pass ten whole days motionless,
senseless, without respiration and without food.

Some persons who have seemed dead and motionless, had however the
sense of hearing very strong, heard all that was said about
themselves, made efforts to speak and show that they were not dead,
but who could neither speak, nor give any signs of life.[603]

I might here add an infinity of trances of saintly personages of both
sexes, who in their delight in God, in prayer remained motionless,
without sensation, almost breathless, and who felt nothing of what was
done to them, or around them.


[596] August. lib. de Curâ pro Mortuis, c. xii. p. 524.

[597] _Curialis_--this word signifies a small employment in a village.

[598] IV. Reg. 18, et. seq.

[599] Lucian, in Phliopseud. p. 830.

[600] Plutarch, de Animâ, apud Eusebius de Præp. Evang. lib. ii. c.

[601] Gregor. Dial. lib. iv. c. 36.

[602] See the treatise on the Uncertainty of the Signs of Death, tom.
ii. pp. 404, 407, _et seq._

[603] Ibid. lib. ii. pp. 504, 505, 506, 514.



Jerome Cardan says[604] that he fell into a trance when he liked; he
owns that he does not know if, like the priest Pretextat, he should
not feel great wounds or hurts, but he did not feel the pain of the
gout, or the pulling him about. He adds, the priest of Calama heard
the voices of those who spoke aloud near him, but as if from a
distance. "For my part," says Cardan, "I hear the voice, though
slightly, and without understanding what is said. And when I wish to
entrance myself, I feel about my heart as it were a separation of the
soul from the rest of my body, and that communicates as if by a little
door with all the machine, principally by the head and brain. Then I
have no sensation except that of being beside myself."

We may report here what is related of the Laplanders,[605] who when
they wish to learn something that is passing at a distance from the
spot where they are, send their demon, or their souls, by means of
certain magic ceremonies, and by the sound of a drum which they beat,
or upon a shield painted in a certain manner; then on a sudden the
Laplander falls into a trance, and remains as if lifeless and
motionless sometimes during four-and-twenty hours. But all this time
some one must remain near him to prevent him from being touched, or
called; even the movement of a fly would wake him, and they say he
would die directly or be carried away by the demon. We have already
mentioned this subject in the Dissertation on Apparitions.

We have also remarked that serpents, worms, flies, snails, marmots,
sloths, &c., remain asleep during the winter, and in blocks of stone
have been found toads, snakes, and oysters alive, which had been
enclosed there for many years, and perhaps for more than a century.
Cardinal de Retz relates in his Memoirs,[606] that being at Minorca,
the governor of the island caused to be drawn up from the bottom of
the sea by main force with cables, whole rocks, which on being broken
with maces, enclosed living oysters, that were served up to him at
table, and were found very good.

On the coasts of Malta, Sardinia, Italy, &c., they find a fish called
the Dactylus, or Date, or Dale, because it resembles the palm-date in
form; this first insinuates itself into the stone by a hole not bigger
than the hole made by a needle. When he has got in he feeds upon the
stone, and grows so big that he cannot get out again, unless the stone
is broken and he is extricated. Then they wash it, clean it, and dress
it for the table. It has the shape of a date, or of a finger; whence
its name of _Dactylus_, which in Greek signifies a finger.

Again, I imagine that in many persons death is caused by the
coagulation of the blood, which freezes and hardens in their veins, as
it happens with those who have eaten hemlock, or who have been bitten
by certain serpents; but there are others whose death is caused by too
great an ebullition of blood, as in painful maladies, and in certain
poisons, and even, they say, in certain kinds of plague, and when
people die a violent death, or have been drowned.

The first mentioned cannot return to life without an evident miracle;
for that purpose the fluidity of the blood must be re-established, and
the peristaltic motion must be restored to the heart. But in the
second kind of death, people can sometimes be restored without a
miracle, by taking away the obstacle which retards or suspends the
palpitation of the heart, as we see in time-pieces, the action of
which is restored by taking away anything foreign to the mechanism, as
a hair, a bit of thread, an atom, some almost imperceptible body which
stops them.


[604] Hieron. Cardanus, lib. viii. de Varietate Verum, c. 34.

[605] Olaus Magnus, lib. iii. Epitom. Hist. Septent. Perecer de Variis
Divinat. Generib. p. 282.

[606] Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, tom. iii. lib. iv. p. 297.



Supposing these facts, which I believe to be incontestably true, may
we not imagine that the vampires of Hungary, Silesia, and Moldavia,
are some of those men who have died of maladies which heat the blood,
and who have retained some remains of life in their graves, much like
those animals which we have mentioned, and those birds which plunge
themselves during the winter in the lakes and marshes of Poland, and
in the northern countries? They are without respiration or motion, but
still not destitute of vitality. They resume their motion and activity
when, on the return of spring, the sun warms the waters, or when they
are brought near a moderate fire, or laid in a room of temperate heat;
then they are seen to revive, and perform their ordinary functions,
which had been suspended by the cold.

Thus, vampires in their graves returned to life after a certain time,
and their soul does not forsake them absolutely until after the entire
dissolution of their body, and when the organs of life, being
absolutely broken, corrupted, and deranged, they can no longer by
their agency perform any vital functions. Whence it happens, that the
people of those countries impale them, cut off their heads, burn them,
to deprive their spirit of all hope of animating them again, and of
making use of them to molest the living.

Pliny,[607] mentioning the soul of Hermotimes, of Lazomene, which
absented itself from his body, and recounted various things that had
been done afar off, which the spirit said it had seen, and which, in
fact, could only be known to a person who had been present at them,
says that the enemies of Hermotimes, named Cantandes, burned that
body, which gave hardly any sign of life, and thus deprived the soul
of the means of returning to lodge in its envelop; "donec cremato
corpore interim semianimi, remeanti animæ vetut vaginam ademerint."

Origen had doubtless derived from the ancients what he teaches,[608]
that the souls which are of a spiritual nature take, on leaving their
earthly body, another, more subtile, of a similar form to the grosser
one they have just quitted, which serves them as a kind of sheath, or
case, and that it is invested with this subtile body that they
sometimes appear about their graves. He founds this opinion on what is
said of Lazarus and the rich man in the Gospel,[609] who both of them
have bodies, since they speak and see, and the wicked rich man asks
for a drop of water to cool his tongue.

I do not defend this reasoning of Origen; but what he says of a
subtile body, which has the form of the earthly one which clothed the
soul before death, quite resembles the opinion of which we spoke in
Chapter IV.

That bodies which have died of violent maladies, or which have been
executed when full of health, or have simply swooned, should vegetate
underground in their graves; that their beards, hair, and nails should
grow; that they should emit blood, be supple and pliant; that they
should have no bad smell, &c.--all these things do not embarrass us:
the vegetation of the human body may produce all these effects. That
they should even eat and devour what is about them, the madness with
which a man interred alive must be transported when he awakes from his
torpor, or his swoon, must naturally lead him to these violent
excesses. But the grand difficulty is to explain how the vampires come
out of their graves to haunt the living, and how they return to them
again. For all the accounts that we see suppose the thing as certain,
without informing us either of the way or the circumstances, which
would, however, be the most interesting part of the narrative.

How a body covered with four or five feet of earth, having no room to
move about and disengage itself, wrapped up in linen, covered with
pitch, can make its way out, and come back upon the earth, and there
occasion such effects as are related of it; and how after that it
returns to its former state, and re-enters underground, where it is
found sound, whole, and full of blood, and in the same condition as a
living body? Will it be said that these bodies evaporate through the
ground without opening it, like the water and vapors which enter into
the earth, or proceed from it, without sensibly deranging its
particles? It were to be wished that the accounts which have been
given us concerning the return of the vampires had been more minute in
their explanations of this subject.

Supposing that their bodies do not stir from their graves, that it is
only their phantoms which appear to the living, what cause produces
and animates these phantoms? Can it be the spirit of the defunct,
which has not yet forsaken them, or some demon, which makes their
apparition in a fantastic and borrowed body? And if these bodies are
merely phantomic, how can they suck the blood of living people? We
always find ourselves in a difficulty to know if these appearances are
natural or miraculous.

A sensible priest related to me, a little while ago, that, traveling
in Moravia, he was invited by M. Jeanin, a canon of the cathedral at
Olmutz, to accompany him to their village, called Liebava, where he
had been appointed commissioner by the consistory of the bishopric, to
take information concerning the fact of a certain famous vampire,
which had caused much confusion in this village of Liebava some years

The case proceeded. They heard the witnesses, they observed the usual
forms of the law. The witnesses deposed that a certain notable
inhabitant of Liebava had often disturbed the living in their beds at
night, that he had come out of the cemetery, and had appeared in
several houses three or four years ago; that his troublesome visits
had ceased because a Hungarian stranger, passing through the village
at the time of these reports, had boasted that he could put an end to
them, and make the vampire disappear. To perform his promise, he
mounted on the church steeple, and observed the moment when the
vampire came out of his grave, leaving near it the linen clothes in
which he had been enveloped, and then went to disturb the inhabitants
of the village.

The Hungarian, having seen him come out of his grave, went down
quickly from the steeple, took up the linen envelops of the vampire,
and carried them with him up the tower. The vampire having returned
from his prowlings, cried loudly against the Hungarian, who made him a
sign from the top of the tower that if he wished to have his clothes
again he must fetch them; the vampire began to ascend the steeple, but
the Hungarian threw him down backwards from the ladder, and cut his
head off with a spade. Such was the end of this tragedy.

The person who related this story to me saw nothing, neither did the
noble who had been sent as commissioner; they only heard the report of
the peasants of the place, people extremely ignorant, superstitious
and credulous, and most exceedingly prejudiced on the subject of

But supposing that there be any reality in the fact of these
apparitions of vampires, shall they be attributed to God, to angels,
to the spirits of these ghosts, or to the devil? In this last case,
will it be said that the devil will subtilize these bodies, and give
them power to penetrate through the ground without disturbing, to
glide through the cracks and joints of a door, to pass through a
keyhole, to lengthen or shorten themselves, to reduce themselves to
the nature of air, or water, to evaporate through the ground--in
short, to put them in the same state in which we believe the bodies of
the blessed will be after the resurrection, and in which was that of
our Saviour after his resurrection, who showed himself only to those
whom he thought proper, and who without opening the doors,[610]
appeared suddenly in the midst of his disciples.

But should it be allowed that the demon could reanimate these bodies,
and give them the power of motion for a time, could he also lengthen,
diminish, rarefy, subtilize the bodies of these ghosts, and give them
the faculty of penetrating through the ground, the doors and windows?
There is no appearance of his having received this power from God, and
we cannot even conceive that an earthly body, material and gross, can
be reduced to that state of subtility and spiritualization without
destroying the configuration of its parts and spoiling the economy of
its structure; which would be contrary to the intention of the demon,
and render this body incapable of appearing, showing itself, acting
and speaking, and, in short, of being cut to pieces and burned, as is
commonly seen and practiced in Moravia, Poland, and Silesia. These
difficulties exist in regard to those persons of whom we have made
mention, who, being excommunicated, rose from their tombs, and left
the church in sight of everybody.

We must then keep silence on this article, since it has not pleased
God to reveal to us either the extent of the demon's power, or the way
in which these things can be done. There is even much appearance of
illusion; and even if some reality were mixed up with it, we may
easily console ourselves for our ignorance in that respect, since
there are so many natural things which take place within us and around
us, of which the cause and manner are unknown to us.


[607] Plin. Hist. Natur. lib. vii. c. 52.

[608] Orig. de Resurrect. Fragment. lib. i. p. 35. Nov. edit. Et
contra Celsum, lib. vii. p. 679.

[609] Luke xvi. 22, 23.

[610] John xx. 26.



Those who have recourse to the fascination of the senses to explain
what is related concerning the apparition of vampires, throw
themselves into as great a perplexity as those who acknowledge
sincerely the reality of these events; for fascination consists either
in the suspension of the senses, which cannot see what is passing
before their sight, like that with which the men of Sodom were
struck[611] when they could not discover the door of Lot's house,
though it was before their eyes; or that of the disciples at Emmaus,
of whom it is said that "their eyes were holden, so that they might
not recognize Jesus Christ, who was talking with them on the way, and
whom they knew not again until the breaking of the bread revealed him
to them;"[612]--or else it consists in an object being represented to
the senses in a different form from that it wears in reality, as that
of the Moabites,[613] who believed they saw the waters tinged with the
blood of the Israelites, although nothing was there but the simple
waters, on which the rays of the sun being reflected, gave them a
reddish hue; or that of the Syrian soldiers sent to take Elisha,[614]
who were led by this prophet into Samaria, without their recognising
either the prophet or the city.

This fascination, in what way soever it may be conceived, is certainly
above the usual power known unto man, consequently man cannot
naturally produce it; but is it above the natural powers of an angel
or a demon? That is what is unknown to us, and obliges us to suspend
our judgment on this question.

There is another kind of fascination, which consists in this, that the
sight of a person or a thing, the praise bestowed upon them, the envy
felt towards them, produce in the object certain bad effects, against
which the ancients took great care to guard themselves and their
children, by making them wear round their necks preservatives, or
amulets, or charms.

A great number of passages on this subject might be cited from the
Greek and Latin authors; and I find that at this day, in various parts
of Christendom, people are persuaded of the efficacy of these
fascinations. But we must own three things; first, that the effect of
these pretended fascinations (or spells) is very doubtful; the second,
that if it were certain, it is very difficult, not to say impossible,
to explain it; and lastly, that it cannot be rationally applied to the
matter of apparitions or of vampires.

If the vampires or ghosts are not really resuscitated nor their bodies
spiritualized and subtilized, as we believe we have proved, and if our
senses are not deceived by fascination, as we have just seen it, I
doubt if there be any other way to act on this question than to
absolutely deny the return of these vampires, or to believe that they
are only asleep or torpid; for if they truly are resuscitated, and if
what is told of their return be true--if they speak, act, reason, if
they suck the blood of the living, they must know what passes in the
other world, and they ought to inform their relations and friends of
it, and that is what they do not. On the contrary, they treat them as
enemies; torment them, take away their life, suck their blood, cause
them to die with lassitude.

If they are predestinated and blessed, whence happens it that they
disturb and torment the living, their nearest relations, their
children, and all that for nothing, and simply for the sake of doing
harm? If these are persons who have still something to expiate in
purgatory, and who require the prayers of the living, why do they not
explain their condition? If they are reprobate and condemned, what
have they to do on this earth? Can we conceive that God allows them
thus to come without reason or necessity and molest their families,
and even cause their death?

If these _revenans_ are really dead, whatever state they may be in in
the other world, they play a very bad part here, and keep it up still


[611] Gen. xix. 2.

[612] Luke xxiv. 16.

[613] 2 Kings iii. 23.

[614] 2 Kings iv. 19, 20.



We have just seen that the vampires never speak of the other world,
nor ask for either masses or prayers, nor give any warning to the
living to lead them to correct their morals, or bring them to a better
life. It is surely very prejudicial to the reality of their return
from the other world; but their silence on that head may favor the
opinion which supposes that they are not really dead.

It is true that we do not read either that Lazarus, resuscitated by
Jesus Christ,[615] nor the son of the widow of Nain,[616] nor that of
the woman of Shunam, brought to life by Elisha,[617] nor that
Israelite who came to life by simply touching the body of the same
prophet Elisha,[618] after their resurrection revealed anything to
mankind of the state of souls in the other world.

But we see in the Gospel[619] that the bad rich man, having begged of
Abraham to permit him to send some one to this world to warn his
brethren to lead a better life, and take care not to fall into the
unhappy condition in which he found himself, was answered, "They have
the law and the prophets, they can listen to them and follow their
instructions." And as the rich man persisted, saying--"If some one
went to them from the other world, they would be more impressed,"
Abraham replied, "If they will not hear Moses and the prophets,
neither will they attend the more though one should go to them from
the dead." The dead man resuscitated by St. Stanislaus replied in the
same manner to those who asked him to give them news of the other
world--"You have the law, the prophets, and the Gospel--hear them!"

The deceased Pagans who have returned to life, and some Christians who
have likewise returned to the world by a kind of resurrection, and who
have seen what passed beyond the bounds of this world, have not kept
silence on the subject. They have related at length what they saw and
heard on leaving their bodies.

We have already touched upon the story of a man named Eros, of the
country of Pamphilia,[620] who, having been wounded in battle, was
found ten days after amongst the dead. They carried him senseless and
motionless into the house. Two days afterwards, when they were about
to place him on the funeral pile to burn his body, he revived, began
to speak, and to relate in what manner people were lodged after their
death, and how the good were rewarded and the wicked punished and

He said that his soul, being separated from his body, went with a
large company to a very agreeable place, where they saw as it were two
great openings, which gave entrance to those who came from earth, and
two others to go to heaven. He saw at this same place judges who
examined those arrived from this world, and sent up to the right those
who had lived well, and sent down to the left those who had been
guilty of crimes. Each of them bore upon his back a label on which was
written what he had done well or ill, the reason of his condemnation
or his absolution.

When it came to the turn of Eros, the judges told him that he must
return to earth, to announce to men what passed in the other world,
and that he must well observe everything, in order to be able to
render a faithful account to the living. Thus he witnessed the
miserable state of the wicked, which was to last a thousand years, and
the delights enjoyed by the just; that both the good and the bad
received the reward or the punishment of their good or bad deeds, ten
times greater than the measure of their crimes or of all their

He remarked amongst other things, that the judges inquired where was a
certain man named Andæus, celebrated in all Pamphylia for his crimes
and tyranny. They were answered that he was not yet come, and that he
would not be there; in fact, having presented himself with much
trouble, and by making great efforts, at the grand opening before
mentioned, he was repulsed and sent back to go below with other
scoundrels like himself, whom they tortured in a thousand different
ways, and who were always violently repulsed, whenever they tried to

He saw, moreover, the three Fates, daughters of Necessity or Destiny.
These are, Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos. Lachesis announced the past,
Clotho the present, and Atropos the future. The souls were obliged to
appear before these three goddesses. Lachesis cast the lots upwards,
and every soul laid hold of the one which it could reach; which,
however, did not prevent them still from sometimes missing the kind of
life which was most conformable to justice and reason.

Eros added that he had remarked some of the souls who sought to enter
into animals; for instance, Orpheus, from hatred to the female sex,
who had killed him (by tearing him to pieces), entered into a swan,
and Thamaris into a nightingale. Ajax, the son of Telamon, chose the
body of a lion, from detestation of the injustice of the Greeks, who
had refused to let him have the arms of Hector, which he asserted were
his due. Agamemnon, grieved at the crosses he had endured in this
life, chose the form of the eagle. Atalanta chose the life of the
athletics, delighted with the honors heaped upon them. Thersites, the
ugliest of mortals, chose the form of an ape. Ulysses, weary of the
miseries he had suffered upon earth, asked to live quietly as a
private man. He had some trouble to find a lot for that kind of life;
but he found it at last thrown down on the ground and neglected, and
he joyfully snatched it up.

Eros affirmed also that the souls of some animals entered into the
bodies of men; and by the contrary rule, the souls of the wicked took
possession of savage and cruel beasts, and the souls of just men of
those animals which are gentle, tame, and domestic.

After these various metempsychoses, Lachesis gave to each his
guardian or defender, who guided and guarded him during the course of
his life. Eros was then led to the river of oblivion (Lethe), which
takes away all memory of the past, but he was prevented from drinking
of its water. Lastly, he said he could not tell how he came back to

Plato, after having related this fable, as he terms it, or this
apologue, concludes from it that the soul is immortal, and that to
gain a blessed life we must live uprightly, which will lead us to
heaven, where we shall enjoy that beatitude of a thousand years which
is promised us.

We see by this, 1. That a man may live a good while without eating or
breathing, or giving any sign or life. 2. That the Greeks believed in
the metempsychosis, in a state of beatitude for the just, and pains of
a thousand years duration for the wicked. 3. That destiny does not
hinder a man from doing either good or evil. 4. That he had a genius,
or an angel, who guided and protected him. They believed in judgment
after death, and that the souls of the just were received into what
they called the Elysian Fields.


[615] John xi. 14.

[616] Luke vii. 11, 12.

[617] 2 Kings iv. 25.

[618] 2 Kings xiii. 21.

[619] Luke xvi. 24.

[620] Plato, lib. x. de Rep. p. 614.



All these traditions are clearly to be found in Homer, Virgil, and
other Greek and Latin authors; they were doubtless originally derived
from the Hebrews, or rather the Egyptians, from whom the Greeks took
their religion, which they arranged to their own taste. The Hebrews
speak of the _Rephaims_,[621] of the impious giants "who groan under
the waters." Solomon says[622] that the wicked shall go down to the
abyss, or hell, with the Rephaims. Isaiah, describing the arrival of
the King of Babylon in hell, says[623] that "the giants have raised
themselves up to meet him with honor, and have said unto him, thou has
been pierced with wounds even as we are; thy pride has been
precipitated into hell. Thy bed shall be of rottenness, and thy
covering of worms." Ezekiel describes[624] in the same manner the
descent of the King of Assyria into hell--"In the day that Ahasuerus
went down into hell, I commanded a general mourning; for him I closed
up the abyss, and arrested the course of the waters. You are at last
brought down to the bottom of the earth with the trees of Eden; you
will rest there with all those who have been killed by the sword;
there is Pharaoh with all his host," &c. In the Gospel,[625] there is
a great gulf between the bosom of Abraham and the abode of the bad
rich man, and of those who resemble him.

The Egyptians called _Amenthés_, that is to say, "he who receives and
gives," what the Greeks named Hades, or hell, or the kingdom of Hades,
or Pluto. They believed that Amenthés received the souls of men when
they died, and restored them to them when they returned to the world;
that when a man died, his soul passed into the body of some other
animal by metempsychosis; first of all into a terrestrial animal, then
into one that was aquatic, afterwards into the body of a bird, and
lastly, after having animated all sorts of animals, he returned at the
end of three thousand years to the body of a man.

It is from the Egyptians that Orpheus, Homer, and the other Greeks
derived the idea of the immortality of the soul, as well as the cave
of the Nymphs described by Homer, who says there are two gates, the
one to the north, through which the soul enters the cavern, and the
other to the south, by which they leave the nymphic abode.

A certain Thespisius, a native of Soloe in Cilicia, well known to
Plutarch,[626] having passed a great part of his life in debauchery,
and ruined himself entirely, in order to gain a livelihood lent
himself to everything that was bad, and contrived to amass money.
Having sent to consult the oracle of Amphilochus, he received for
answer, that his affairs would go on better after his death. A short
time after, he fell from the top of his house, broke his neck, and
died. Three days after, when they were about to perform the funeral
obsequies, he came to life again, and changed his way of life so
greatly that there was not in Cilicia a worthier or more pious man
than himself.

As they asked him the reason of such a change, he said that at the
moment of his fall he felt the same as a pilot who is thrown back from
the top of the helm into the sea; after which, his soul was sensible
of being raised as high as the stars, of which he admired the immense
size and admirable lustre; that the souls once out of the body rise
into the air, and are enclosed in a kind of globe, or inflamed vortex,
whence having escaped, some rise on high with incredible rapidity,
while others whirl about the air, and are thrown in divers directions,
sometimes up and sometimes down.

The greater part appeared to him very much perplexed, and uttered
groans and frightful wailings; others, but in a less number, rose and
rejoiced with their fellows. At last he learnt that Adrastia, the
daughter of Jupiter and Necessity, left nothing unpunished, and that
she treated every one according to their merit. He then details all he
saw at full length, and relates the various punishments with which the
bad are tormented in the next world.

He adds that a man of his acquaintance said to him, "You are not dead,
but by God's permission your soul is come into this place, and has
left your body with all its faculties." At last he was sent back into
his body as through a channel, and urged on by an impetuous breeze.

We may make two reflections on this recital; the first on this soul,
which quits its body for three days and then comes back to reanimate
it; the second, on the certainty of the oracle, which promised
Thespisius a happier life when he should be dead.

In the Sicilian war[627] between Cæsar and Pompey, Gabienus, commander
of Cæsar's fleet, having been taken, was beheaded by order of Pompey.
He remained all day on the sea-shore, his head only held on to his
body by a fillet. Towards evening he begged that Pompey or some of his
people might come to him, because he came from the shades, and he had
things of consequence to impart to him. Pompey sent to him several of
his friends, to whom Gabienus declared that the gods of the infernal
regions favored the cause and the party of Pompey, and that he would
succeed according to his wishes; that he was ordered to announce this,
"and as a proof of the truth of what I say, I must die directly,"
which happened. But we do not see that Pompey's party succeeded; we
know, on the contrary, that it fell, and Cæsar was victorious. But the
God of the infernal regions, that is to say, the devil, found it very
good for him, since it sent him so many unhappy victims of revenge and


[621] Job xxvi. 5.

[622] Prov. ix. 18.

[623] Isa. xix. 9, _et seq._

[624] Ezek. xxxi. 15.

[625] Luke xvi. 26.

[626] Plutarch, de his qui misero à Numine puniuntur.

[627] Plin. Hist. Natur. lib. vii. c. 52.

[628] This story is related before, and is here related on account of
the bearing it has on the subject of this chapter.



We read in an old work, written in the time of St. Augustine,[629]
that a man having been crushed by a wall which fell upon him, his wife
ran to the church to invoke St. Stephen whilst they were preparing to
bury the man who was supposed to be dead. Suddenly they saw him open
his eyes, and move his body; and after a time he sat up, and related
that his soul, having quitted his body, had met a crowd of other souls
of dead persons, some of whom he knew, and others he did not; that a
young man, in a deacon's habit, having entered the room where he was,
put aside all those souls, and said to them three times, "Return what
you have received." He understood at last that he meant the creed,
which he recited instantly; and also the Lord's Prayer; then the
deacon (St. Stephen) made the sign of the cross upon his heart, and
told him to rise in perfect health. A young man,[630] a catechumen,
who had been dead for three days, and was brought back to life by the
prayers of St. Martin, related that after his death he had been
presented before the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, who had
condemned him, and sent him with a crowd of others into a dark place;
and then two angels, having represented to the Judge that he was a man
for whom St. Martin had interceded, the Judge commanded the angels to
send him back to earth, and restore him to St. Martin, which was done.
He was baptized, and lived a long time afterwards.

St. Salvius, Bishop of Albi,[631] having been seized with a violent
fever, was thought to be dead. They washed him, clothed him, laid him
on a bier, and passed the night in prayer by him: the next morning he
was seen to move; he appeared to awake from a deep sleep, opened his
eyes, and raising his hand towards heaven said, "Ah! Lord, why hast
thou sent me back to this gloomy abode?" He rose completely cured, but
would then reveal nothing.

Some days after, he related how two angels had carried him to heaven,
where he had seen the glory of Paradise, and had been sent back
against his will to live some time longer on earth. St. Gregory of
Tours takes God to witness that he heard this history from the mouth
of St. Salvius himself.

A monk of Augia, named Vetinus, or Guetinus, who was living in 824,
was ill, and lying upon his couch with his eyes shut; but not being
quite asleep, he saw a demon in the shape of a priest, most horribly
deformed, who, showing him some instruments of torture which he held
in his hand, threatened to make him soon feel the rigorous effects of
them. At the same time he saw a multitude of evil spirits enter his
chamber, carrying tools, as if to build him a tomb or a coffin, and
enclose him in it.

Immediately he saw appear some serious and grave-looking personages,
wearing religious habits, who chased these demons away; and then
Vetinus saw an angel, surrounded with a blaze of light, who came to
the foot of the bed, and conducted him by a path between mountains of
an extraordinary height, at the foot of which flowed a large river, in
which he beheld a multitude of the damned, who were suffering diverse
torments, according to the kind and enormity of their crimes. He saw
amongst them many of his acquaintance; amongst others, some prelates
and priests, guilty of incontinence, who were tied with their backs to
stakes, and burned by a fire lighted under them; the women, their
companions in crime, suffering the same torment opposite to them.

He beheld there also, a monk who had given himself up to avarice, and
possessed money of his own, who was to expiate his crime in a leaden
coffin till the day of judgment. He remarked there abbots and bishops,
and even the Emperor Charlemagne, who were expiating their faults by
fire, but were to be released from it after a certain time. He
remarked there also the abode of the blessed in heaven, each one in
his place, and according to his merits. The Angel of the Lord after
this revealed to him the crimes which were the most common, and the
most odious in the eyes of God. He mentioned sodomy in particular, as
the most abominable crime.

After the service for the night, the abbot came to visit the sick man,
who related this vision to him in full, and the abbot had it written
down directly. Vetinus lived two days longer, and having predicted
that he had only the third day to live, he recommended himself to the
prayers of the monks, received the holy viaticum, and died in peace,
the 31st of October, 824.


[629] Lib. i. de Miracul. Sancti Stephani, cap. 4. p. 28. Lib. vii.
Oper. St. Aug. in Appendice.

[630] Sulpit. Sever. in Vitâ S. Martini, cap. 3.

[631] Gregor. Turon. lib. vii. c. 1.



The famous Hincmar,[632] Archbishop of Rheims, in a circular letter
which he wrote to the bishops, his suffragans, and the faithful of his
diocese, relates, that a man named Bertholdus, with whom he was
acquainted, having fallen ill, and received all the sacraments,
remained during four days without taking any food. On the fourth day
he was so weak that there was hardly a feeble palpitation and
respiration found in him. About midnight he called to his wife, and
told her to send quickly for his confessor.

The priest was as yet only in the court before the house, when
Bertholdus said, "Place a seat here, for the priest is coming." He
entered the room and said some prayers, to which Bertholdus uttered
the responses, and then related to him the vision he had had. "On
leaving this world," said he, "I saw forty-one bishops, amongst whom
were Ebonius, Leopardellus, Eneas, who were clothed in coarse black
garments, dirty, and singed by the flames. As for themselves, they
were sometimes burned by the flames, and at others frozen with
insupportable cold." Ebonius said to him, "Go to my clergy and my
friends, and tell them to offer for us the holy sacrifice." Bertholdus
obeyed, and returning to the place where he had seen the bishops, he
found them well clothed, shaved, bathed, and rejoicing.

A little farther on, he met King Charles,[633] who was as if eaten by
worms. This prince begged him to go and tell Hincmar to relieve his
misery. Hincmar said mass for him, and King Charles found relief.
After that he saw Bishop Jessé, of Orleans, who was over a well, and
four demons plunged him into boiling pitch, and then threw him into
icy water. They prayed for him, and he was relieved. He then saw the
Count Othaire, who was likewise in torment. Bertholdus begged the wife
of Othaire, with his vassals and friends, to pray for him, and give
alms, and he was delivered from his torments. Bertholdus after that
received the holy communion, and began to find himself better, with
the hope of living fourteen years longer, as he had been promised by
his guide, who had shown him all that we have just related.


[632] Hincmar, lib. ii. p. 805.

[633] Apparently Charles the Bald, who died in 875.



The Life of St. Fursius,[634] written a short time after his death,
which happened about the year 653, reports several visions seen by
this holy man. Being grievously ill, and unable to stir, he saw
himself in the midst of the darkness raised up, as it were, by the
hands of three angels, who carried him out of the world, then brought
him back to it, and made his soul re-enter his body, to complete the
destination assigned him by God. Then he found himself in the midst of
several people, who wept for him as if he were dead, and told him how,
the day before, he had fallen down in a swoon, so that they believed
him to be dead. He could have wished to have some intelligent persons
about him to relate to them what he had seen; but having no one near
him but rustics, he asked for and received the communion of the body
and blood of the Saviour, and continued three days longer awake.

The following Tuesday, he fell into a similar swoon, in the middle of
the night; his feet became cold, and raising his hands to pray, he
received death with joy. Then he saw the same three angels descend who
had already guided him. They raised him as the first time, but instead
of the agreeable and melodious songs which he had then heard, he could
now hear only the frightful howlings of the demons, who began to fight
against him, and shoot inflamed darts at him. The Angel of the Lord
received them on his buckler, and extinguished them. The devil
reproached Fursius with some bad thoughts, and some human weaknesses,
but the angels defended him, saying, "If he has not committed any
capital sins, he shall not perish."

As the devil could not reproach him with anything that was worthy of
eternal death, he saw two saints from his own country--St. Béan and
St. Medan, who comforted him and announced to him the evils with which
God would punish mankind, principally because of the sins of the
doctors or learned men of the church, and the princes who governed the
people;--the doctors for neglecting to declare the word of God, and
the princes for the bad examples they gave their people. After which,
they sent him back into his body again. He returned into it with
repugnance, and began to relate all that he had seen; they poured
spring water upon his body, and he felt a great warmth between his
shoulders. After this, he began to preach throughout Hibernia; and the
Venerable Bede[635] says that there was in his monastery an aged monk
who said that he had learned from a grave personage well worthy of
belief, that he had heard these visions described by St. Fursius
himself. This saint had not the least doubt that his soul was really
separated from his body, when he was carried away in his trance.


[634] Vita Sti. Fursci, apud Bolland. 16 Januarii, pp. 37, 38. Item,
pp. 47, 48. Sæcul. xi. Bened. p. 299.

[635] Bede, lib. iii. Hist. c. 19.



Here is another instance, which happened in 1698 to one of the
so-called reformed religion.[636] A minister of the county of York, at
a place called Hipley, and whose name was Henry Vatz (Watts), being
struck with apoplexy the 15th of August, was on the 17th placed in a
coffin to be buried. But as they were about to put him in the grave,
he uttered a loud cry, which frightened all the persons who had
attended him to the grave; they took him quickly out of the coffin,
and as soon as he had come to himself, he related several surprising
things which he said had been revealed to him during his trance, which
had lasted eight-and-forty hours. The 24th of the same month, he
preached a very moving discourse to those who had accompanied him the
day they were carrying him to the tomb.

People may, if they please, treat all that we have related as dreams
and tales, but it cannot be denied that we recognize in these
resurrections, and in these narrations of men who have come to life
again after their real or seeming death, the belief of the church
concerning hell, paradise, purgatory, the efficacy of prayers for the
dead, and the apparitions of angels and demons who torment the damned,
and of the souls who have yet something to expiate in the other world.

We see also, that which has a visible connection with the matter we
are treating upon--persons really dead, and others regarded as such,
who return to life in health and live a long time afterwards. Lastly,
we may observe therein opinions on the state of souls after this life,
which are nearly the same as among the Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks,
Romans, barbarous nations, and Christians. If the Hungarian ghosts do
not speak of what they have seen in the other world, it is either that
they are not really dead, or more likely that all which is related of
these _revenans_ is fabulous and chimerical. I will add some more
instances which will serve to confirm the belief of the primitive
church on the subject of apparitions.

St. Perpetua, who suffered martyrdom in Africa in 202 or 203, being in
prison for the faith, saw a brother named Dinocrates, who had died at
the age of seven years of a cancer in the cheek; she saw him as if in
a very large dungeon, so that they could not approach each other. He
seemed to be placed in a reservoir of water, the sides of which were
higher than himself, so that he could not reach the water, for which
he appeared to thirst very much. Perpetua was much moved at this, and
prayed to God with tears and groans for his relief. Some days after,
she saw in spirit the same Dinocrates, well clothed, washed, and
refreshed, and the water of the reservoir in which he was, only came
up to his middle, and on the edge a cup, from which he drank, without
the water diminishing, and the skin of the cancer in his cheek well
healed, so that nothing now remained of the cancer but the scar. By
these things she understood that Dinocrates was no longer in pain.

Dinocrates was there apparently[637] to expiate some faults which he
had committed since his baptism, for Perpetua says a little before
this that only her father had remained in infidelity.

The same St. Perpetua, being in prison some days before she suffered
martyrdom[638] had a vision of the deacon Pomponius, who had suffered
martyrdom some days before, and who said to her, "Come, we are waiting
for you." He led her through a rugged and winding path into the arena
of the amphitheatre, where she had to combat with a very ugly
Egyptian, accompanied by some other men like him. Perpetua found
herself changed into a man, and began to fight naked, assisted by some
well-made youths who came to her service and assistance.

Then she beheld a man of extraordinary size, who cried aloud, "If the
Egyptian gains the victory over her, he will kill her with his sword;
but if she conquers, she shall have this branch ornamented with golden
apples for her reward." Perpetua began the combat, and having
overthrown the Egyptian, trampled his head under her feet. The people
shouted victory, and Perpetua approaching him who held the branch
above mentioned, he put it in her hands, and said to her, "Peace be
with you." Then she awoke, and understood that she would have to
combat, not against wild beasts, but against the devil.

Saturus, one of the companions of the martyrdom of St. Perpetua, had
also a vision, which he relates thus: "We had suffered martyrdom, and
were disengaged from this mortal body. Four angels carried us towards
the East without touching us. We arrived at a place shining with
intense lustre; Perpetua was at my side, and I said unto her, 'Behold
what the Lord promised us.'

"We entered a large garden full of trees and flowers; the four angels
who had borne us thither placed us in the hands of other angels, who
conducted us by a wide road to a place where we found Jocondus,
Saturninus, and Artazes, who had suffered with us, and invited us to
come and salute the Lord. We followed them, and beheld in the midst of
this place the Almighty, crowned with dazzling light, and we heard
repeated incessantly by those around him, Holy! holy! holy! They
raised us towards him, and we stopped before his throne. We gave him
the kiss of peace, and he stroked our faces with his hand.

"We came out, and we saw before the door the bishop Optatus and the
priest Aspasius, who threw themselves at our feet. We raised and
embraced them. We recognized in this place several of our brethren and
some martyrs." Such was the vision of Saturus.

There are visions of all sorts; of holy martyrs, and of holy angels.
It is related of St. Exuperus, bishop of Thoulouse,[639] that having
conceived the design of transporting the relics of St. Saturnus, a
former bishop of that church, to place them in a new church built in
his honor, he could with difficulty resolve to take this holy body
from the tomb, fearing to displease the saint, or to diminish the
honor which was due to him. But while in this doubt, he had a vision
which gave him to understand that this translation would neither
lessen the respect which was due to the ashes of the martyr, nor be
prejudicial to his honor; but that on the contrary it would contribute
to the salvation of the faithful, and to the greater glorification of

Some days before[640] St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, suffered
martyrdom, in 258, he had a vision, not being as yet quite asleep, in
which a young man whose height was extraordinary, seemed to lead him
to the Prætorium before the Proconsul, who was seated on his tribunal.
This magistrate, having caught sight of Cyprian, began to write his
sentence before he had interrogated him as was usual. Cyprian knew not
what the sentence condemned him to; but the young man above mentioned,
and who was behind the judge, made a sign by opening his hand and
spreading in form of a sword, that he was condemned to have his head
cut off.

Cyprian easily understood what was meant by this sign, and having
earnestly requested to be allowed a day's delay to put his affairs in
order, the judge, having granted his request, again wrote upon his
tablets, and the young man by a sign of his hand let him know that the
delay was granted. These predictions were exactly fulfilled, and we
see many similar ones in the works of St. Cyprian.

St. Fructueux, Bishop of Tarragona,[641] who suffered martyrdom in
259, was seen after his death ascending to heaven with the deacons who
had suffered with him; they appeared as if they were still attached to
the stakes near which they had been burnt. They were seen by two
Christians, who showed them to the wife and daughter of Emilian, who
had condemned them. The saint appeared to Emilian himself and to the
Christians, who had taken away their ashes, and desired that they
might be all collected in one spot. We see similar apparitions[642] in
the acts of St. James, of St. Marienus, martyrs, and some others who
suffered in Numidia in 259. We may observe the like[643] in the acts
of St. Montanus, St. Lucius, and other African martyrs in 259 or 260,
and in those of St. Vincent, a martyr in Spain, in 304, and in the
life of St. Theodore, martyr, in 306, of whose sufferings St. Gregory
of Nicea has written an account. Everybody knows what happened at
Sebastus, in Armenia, in the martyrdom of the famous forty martyrs, of
whom St. Basil the Great has written the eulogium. One of the forty,
overcome by the excess of cold, which was extreme, threw himself into
a hot bath that was prepared just by. Then he who guarded them having
perceived some angels who brought crowns to the thirty-nine who had
persevered in their sufferings, despoiled himself of his garments,
joined himself to the martyrs, and declared himself a Christian.

All these instances invincibly prove that, at least in the first ages
of the church, the greatest and most learned bishops, the holy
martyrs, and the generality of the faithful, were well persuaded of
the possibility and reality of apparitions.


[636] Larrey, Hist. de Louis XIV. year 1698, p. 68.

[637] Aug. lib. i. de Origine Animæ.

[638] Ibid. p. 97.

[639] Aug. lib. i. de Origine Animæ, p. 132.

[640] Acta Martyr. Sincera, p. 212. Vita et Passio S. Cypriani, p.

[641] Acta Martyr. Sincera, pp. 219, 221.

[642] Acta Martyr. Sincera, p. 226.

[643] Ibid. pp. 231-233, 237.



To resume, in a few words, all that we have related in this
dissertation: we have therein shown that a resurrection, properly so
called, of a person who has been dead for a considerable time, and
whose body was either corrupted, or stinking, or ready to putrefy,
like that of Pierre, who had been three years buried, and was
resuscitated by St. Stanislaus, or that of Lazarus, who had been four
days in the tomb, and already possessing a corpse-like smell--such a
resurrection can be the work of the almighty power of God alone.

That persons who have been drowned, fallen into syncope, into a
lethargy or trance, or looked upon as dead, in any manner whatever,
can be cured and brought back to life, even to their former state of
life, without any miracle, but by the power of medicine alone, or by
natural efforts, or by dint of patience; so that nature re-establishes
herself in her former state, that the heart resumes its pulsation, and
the blood circulates freely again in the arteries, and the vital and
animal spirits in the nerves.

That the oupires, or vampires, or _revenans_ of Moravia, Hungary,
Poland, &c., of which such extraordinary things are related, so
detailed, so circumstantial, invested with all the necessary
formalities to make them believed, and to prove them even judicially
before judges, and at the most exact and severe tribunals; that all
which is said of their return to life; of their apparition, and the
confusion which they cause in the towns and country places; of their
killing people by sucking their blood, or in making a sign to them to
follow them; that all those things are mere illusions, and the
consequence of a heated and prejudiced imagination. They cannot cite
any witness who is sensible, grave and unprejudiced, who can testify
that he has seen, touched, interrogated these ghosts, who can affirm
the reality of their return, and of the effects which are attributed
to them.

I shall not deny that some persons may have died of fright, imagining
that their near relatives called them to the tomb; that others have
thought they heard some one rap at their doors, worry them, disturb
them, in a word, occasion them mortal maladies; and that these persons
judicially interrogated, have replied that they had seen and heard
what their panic-struck imagination had represented to them. But I
require unprejudiced witnesses, free from terror and disinterested,
quite calm, who can affirm upon serious reflection, that they have
seen, heard, and interrogated these vampires, and who have been the
witnesses of their operations; and I am persuaded that no such witness
will be found.

I have by me a letter, which has been sent me from Warsaw, the 3d of
February, 1745, by M. Slivisk, visitor of the province of priests of
the mission of Poland. He sends me word, that having studied with
great care this matter, and having proposed to compose on this subject
a theological and physical dissertation, he had collected some memoirs
with that view; but that the occupations of visitor and superior in
the house of his congregation of Warsaw, had not allowed of his
putting his project in execution; that he has since sought in vain for
these memoirs or notes, which have probably remained in the hands of
some of those to whom he had communicated them; that amongst these
notes were two resolutions of the Sorbonne, which both forbade cutting
off the head and maiming the body of any of these pretended oupires or
vampires. He adds, that these decisions may be found in the registers
of the Sorbonne, from the year 1700 to 1710. I shall report by and
by, a decision of the Sorbonne on this subject, dated in the year

He says, moreover, that in Poland they are so persuaded of the
existence of these oupires, that any one who thought otherwise would
be regarded almost as a heretic. There are several facts concerning
this matter, which are looked upon as incontestable, and many persons
are named as witnesses of them. "I gave myself the trouble," says he,
"to go to the fountain-head, and examine those who are cited as ocular
witnesses." He found that no one dared to affirm that they had really
seen the circumstances in question, and that it was all merely
reveries and fancies, caused by fear and unfounded discourse. So
writes to me this wise and judicious priest.

I have also received since, another letter from Vienna in Austria,
written the 3d of August, 1746, by a Lorraine baron,[644] who has
always followed his prince. He tells me, that in 1742, his imperial
majesty, then his royal highness of Lorraine, had several verbal acts
drawn up concerning these cases, which happened in Moravia. I have
them by me still; I have read them over and over again; and to be
frank, I have not found in them the shadow of truth, nor even of
probability, in what is advanced. They are, nevertheless, documents
which in that country are looked upon as true as the Gospel.


[644] M. le Baron Toussaint.



I have already proposed the objection formed upon the impossibility of
these vampires coming out of their graves, and returning to them
again, without its appearing that they have disturbed the earth,
either in coming out or going in again. No one has ever replied to
this difficulty, and never will. To say that the demon subtilizes and
spiritualizes the bodies of vampires, is a thing asserted without
proof or likelihood.

The fluidity of the blood, the ruddiness, the suppleness of these
vampires, ought not to surprise any one, any more than the growth of
the nails and hair, and their bodies remaining undecayed. We see every
day, bodies which remain uncorrupted, and retain a ruddy color after
death. This ought not to appear strange in those who die without
malady and a sudden death; or of certain maladies, known to our
physicians, which do not deprive the blood of its fluidity, or the
limbs of their suppleness.

With regard to the growth of the hair and nails in bodies which are
not yet decayed, the thing is quite natural. There remains in those
bodies a certain slow and imperceptible circulation of the humors,
which causes this growth of the nails and hair, in the same way that
we every day see common bulbs grow and shoot, although without any
nourishment derived from the earth.

The same may be said of flowers, and in general of all that depends on
vegetation in animals and plants.

The belief of the common people of Greece in the return to earth of
the vroucolacas, is not much better founded than that of vampires and
ghosts. It is only the ignorance, the prejudice, the terror of the
Greeks, which have given rise to this vain and ridiculous belief, and
which they keep up even to this very day. The narrative which we have
reported after M. Tournefort, an ocular witness and a good
philosopher, may suffice to undeceive those who would maintain the

The incorruption of the bodies of those who died in a state of
excommunication, has still less foundation than the return of the
vampires, and the vexations of the living caused by the vroucolacas;
antiquity has had no similar belief. The schismatic Greeks, and the
heretics separated from the Church of Rome, who certainly died
excommunicated, ought, upon this principle, to remain uncorrupted;
which is contrary to experience, and repugnant to good sense. And if
the Greeks pretend to be the true Church, all the Roman Catholics, who
have a separate communion from them, ought then also to remain
undecayed. The instances cited by the Greeks either prove nothing, or
prove too much. Those bodies which have not decayed, were really
excommunicated, or not. If they were canonically and really
excommunicated, then the question falls to the ground. If they were
not really and canonically excommunicated, then it must be proved that
there was no other cause of incorruption--which can never be proved.

Moreover, anything so equivocal as incorruption, cannot be adduced as
a proof in so serious a matter as this. It is owned, that often the
bodies of saints are preserved from decay; that is looked upon as
certain, among the Greeks as among the Latins--therefore, we cannot
thence conclude that this same incorruption is a proof that a person
is excommunicated.

In short, this proof is universal and general, or only particular. I
mean to say, either all excommunicated persons remain undecayed, or
only a few of them. We cannot maintain that all those who die in a
state of excommunication, are incorruptible. For then all the Greeks
towards the Latins, and the Latins towards the Greeks, would be
undecayed, which is not the case. That proof then is very frivolous,
and nothing can be concluded from it. I mistrust, a great deal, all
those stories which are related to prove this pretended
incorruptibility of excommunicated persons. If well examined, many of
them would doubtless be found to be false.



Whatever respect I may feel for St. Gregory the Great, who relates
some instances of deceased persons who died in a state of
excommunication going out of the church before the eyes of every one
present; and whatever consideration may be due to other authors whom I
have cited, and who relate other circumstances of a similar nature,
and even still more incredible, I cannot believe that we have these
legends with all the circumstances belonging to them; and after the
reasons for doubt which I have recorded at the end of these stories, I
believe I may again say, that God, to inspire the people with still
greater fear of excommunication, and a greater regard for the
sentences and censures of the church, has willed on these occasions,
for reasons unknown to us, to show forth his power, and work a miracle
in the sight of the faithful; for how can we explain all these things
without having recourse to the miraculous? All that is said of persons
who being dead chew under ground in their graves, is so pitiful, so
puerile, that it is not worthy of being seriously refuted. Everybody
owns that too often people are buried who are not quite dead. There
are but too many instances of this in ancient and modern histories.
The thesis of M. Vinslow, and the notes added thereto by M. Bruhier,
serve to prove that there are few certain signs of real death except
the putridity of a body being at least begun. We have an infinite
number of instances of persons supposed to be dead, who have come to
life again, even after they have been put in the ground. There are I
know not how many maladies in which the patient remains for a long
time speechless, motionless, and without sensible respiration. Some
drowned persons who have been thought dead, have been revived by care
and attention.

All this is well known and may serve to explain how some vampires have
been taken out of their graves, and have spoken, cried, howled,
vomited blood, and all that because they were not yet dead. They have
been killed by beheading them, piercing their heart, and burning them;
in all which people were very wrong, for the pretext on which they
acted, of their pretended reappearance to disturb the living, causing
their death, and maltreating them, is not a sufficient reason for
treating them thus. Besides, their pretended return has never been
proved or attested in such a way as to authorize any one to show such
inhumanity, nor to dishonor and put rigorously to death on vague,
frivolous, unproved accusations, persons who were certainly innocent
of the thing laid to their charge.

For nothing is more ill-founded than what is said of the apparitions,
vexations, and confusion caused by the pretended vampires and the
vroucolacas. I am not surprised that the Sorbonne should have
condemned the bloody and violent executions which are exercised on
these kinds of dead bodies. But it is astonishing that the secular
powers and the magistrates do not employ their authority and the
severity of the laws to repress them.

The magic devotions, the fascinations, the evocations of which we have
spoken, are works of darkness, operations of Satan, if they have any
reality, which I can with difficulty believe, especially in regard to
magical devotions, and the evocations of the manes or souls of dead
persons; for, as to fascinations of the sight, or illusions of the
senses, it is foolish not to admit some of these, as when we think we
see what is not, or do not behold what is present before our eyes; or
when we think we hear a sound which in reality does not strike our
ears, or the contrary. But to say that the demon can cause a person's
death, because they have made a wax image of him, or given his name
with some superstitious ceremonies, and have devoted him or her, so
that the persons feel themselves dying as their image melts away, is
ascribing to the demon too much power, and to magic too much might.
God can, when he wills it, loosen the reign of the enemy of mankind,
and permit him to do us the harm which he and his agents may seek to
do us; but it would be ridiculous to believe that the Sovereign Master
of nature can be determined by magical incantations to allow the demon
to hurt us; or to imagine that the magician has the power to excite
the demon against us, independently of God.

The instance of that peasant who gave his child to the devil, and
whose life the devil first took away and then restored, is one of
those extraordinary and almost incredible circumstances which are
sometimes to be met with in history, and which neither theology nor
philosophy knows how to explain. Was it a demon who animated the body
of the boy, or did his soul re-enter his body by the permission of
God? By what authority did the demon take away this boy's life, and
then restore it to him? God may have permitted it to punish the
impiety of the wretched father, who had given himself to the devil to
satisfy a shameful and criminal passion. And again, how could he
satisfy it with a demon, who appeared to him in the form of a girl he
loved? In all that I see only darkness and difficulties, which I leave
to be resolved by those who are more learned or bolder than myself.



The following Dissertation on the apparition which happened at St.
Maur, near Paris, in 1706, was entirely unknown to me. A friend who
took some part in my work on apparitions, had asked me by letter if I
should have any objection to its being printed at the end of my work.
I readily consented, on his testifying that it was from a worthy hand,
and deserved to be saved from the oblivion into which it was fallen. I
have since found that it was printed in the fourth volume of the
Treatise on Superstitions, by the Reverend Father le Brun, of the

After the impression, a learned monk[645] wrote to me from Amiens, in
Picardy, that he had remarked in this dissertation five or six
propositions which appeared to him to be false.

1st. That the author says, all the holy doctors agree that no means of
deceiving us is left to the demons except suggestion, which has been
left them by God to try our virtue.

2d. In respect to all those prodigies and spells which the common
people attribute to sorcery and intercourse with the demon, it is
proved that they can only be done by means of natural magic; this is
the opinion of the greater number of the fathers of the church.

3d. All that demons have to do with the criminal practices of those
who are commonly called sorcerers is suggestion, by which he invites
them to the abominable research of all those natural causes which can
hurt our neighbor.

4th. Although those who have desired to maintain the popular error of
the return to earth of souls from purgatory, may have endeavored to
support their opinion by different passages, taken from St. Augustine,
St. Jerome, St. Thomas, &c., it is attested that all these fathers
speak only of the return of the blessed to manifest the glory of God.

5th. Of what may we not believe the imagination capable after so
strong a proof of its power? Can it be doubted that among all the
pretended apparitions of which stories are related, the fancy alone
works for all those which do not proceed from angels and the spirits
of the blessed, and that the rest are the invention of men?

6th. After having sufficiently established the fact, that all
apparitions which cannot be attributed to angels, or the spirits of
the blessed, are produced only by one of these causes: the writer
names them--first, the power of imagination; secondly, the extreme
subtility of the senses; and thirdly, the derangement of the organs,
as in madness and high fevers.

The monk who writes to me maintains that the first proposition is
false; that the ancient fathers of the church ascribe to the demon the
greater number of those extraordinary effects produced by certain
sounds of the voice, by figures, and by phantoms; that the exorcists
in the primitive church expelled devils, even by the avowal of the
heathen; that angels and demons have often appeared to men; that no
one has spoken more strongly of apparitions, of hauntings, and the
power of the demon, than the ancient fathers; that the church has
always employed exorcism on children presented for baptism, and
against those who were haunted and possessed by the demon. Add to
which, the author of the dissertation cites not one of the fathers to
support his general proposition.[646]

The second proposition, again, is false; for if we must attribute to
natural magic all that is ascribed to sorcerers, there are then no
sorcerers, properly so called, and the church is mistaken in offering
up prayers against their power.

The third proposition is false for the same reason.

The fourth is falser still, and absolutely contrary to St. Thomas,
who, speaking of the dead in general who appear, says that this occurs
either by a miracle, or by the particular permission of God, or by the
operation of good or evil angels.[647]

The fifth proposition, again, is false, and contrary to the fathers,
to the opinion commonly received among the faithful, and to the
customs of the church. If all the apparitions which do not proceed
from the angels or the blessed, or the inventive malice of mankind,
proceed only from fancy, what becomes of all the apparitions of demons
related by the saints, and which occurred to the saints? What becomes,
in particular, of all the stories of the holy solitaries, of St.
Anthony, St. Hilarion, &c.?[648] What becomes of the prayers and
ceremonies of the church against demons, who infest, possess, and
haunt, and appear often in these disturbances, possessions, and

The sixth proposition is false for the same reasons, and many others
which might be added.

"These," adds the reverend father who writes to me, "are the causes of
my doubting if the third dissertation was added to the two others with
your knowledge. I suspected that the printer, of his own accord, or
persuaded by evil intentioned persons, might have added it himself,
and without your participation, although under your name. For I said
to myself, either the reverend father approves this dissertation, or
he does not approve of it. It appears that he approves of it, since he
says that it is from a clever writer, and he would wish to preserve it
from oblivion.

"Now, how can he approve a dissertation false in itself and contrary
to himself? If he approves it not, is it not too much to unite to his
work a foolish composition full of falsehoods, disguises, false and
weak arguments, opposed to the common belief, the customs, and prayers
of the church; consequently dangerous, and quite favorable to the free
and incredulous thinkers which this age is so full of? Ought he not
rather to combat this writing, and show its weakness, falsehood, and
dangerous tendency? There, my reverend father, lies all my

Others have sent me word that they could have wished that I had
treated the subject of apparitions in the same way as the author of
this dissertation, that is to say, simply as a philosopher, with the
aim of destroying the credence and reality, rather than with any
design of supporting the belief in apparitions which is so observable
in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, in the fathers, and in
the customs and prayers of the church. The author of whom we speak has
cited the fathers, but in a general manner, and without marking the
testimonies, and the express and formal passages. I do not know if he
thinks much of them, and if he is well versed in them, but it would
hardly appear so from his work.

The grand principle on which this third dissertation turns is, that
since the advent and the death of Jesus Christ, all the power of the
devil is limited to enticing, inspiring, and persuading to evil; but
for the rest, he is tied up like a lion or a dog in his prison. He may
bark, he may menace, but he cannot bite unless he is too nearly
approached and yielded to, as St. Augustine truly says:[649] "Mordere
omnino non potest nisi volentem."

But to pretend that Satan can do no harm, either to the health of
mankind, or to the fruits of the earth; can neither attack us by his
stratagems, his malice, and his fury against us, nor torment those
whom he pursues or possesses; that magicians and wizards can make use
of no spells and charms to cause both men and animals dreadful
maladies, and even death, is a direct attack on the faith of the
church, the Holy Scriptures, the most sacred practices, and the
opinions of not only the holy fathers and the best theologians, but
also on the laws and ordinances of princes, and the decrees of the
most respectable parliaments.

I will not here cite the instances taken from the Old Testament, the
author having limited himself to what has passed since the death and
resurrection of our Saviour; because, he says, Jesus Christ has
destroyed the kingdom of Satan, and the prince of this world is
already judged.[650]

St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, and the Evangelists, who were well
informed of the words of the Son of God, and the sense given to them,
teach us that Satan asked to have power over the apostles of Jesus
Christ, to sift them like wheat;[651] that is to say, to try them by
persecutions and make them renounce the faith. Does not St. Paul
complain of the _angel of Satan_ who buffeted him?[652] Did those whom
he gave up to Satan for their crimes,[653] suffer nothing bodily?
Those who took the communion unworthily, and were struck with
sickness, or even with death, did they not undergo these chastisements
by the operation of the demon?[654] The apostle warns the Corinthians
not to suffer themselves to be surprised by Satan, who sometimes
transforms himself into an angel of light.[655] The same apostle,
speaking to the Thessalonians, says to them, that before the last day
antichrist will appear,[656] according to the working of Satan, with
extraordinary power, with wonders and deceitful signs. In the
Apocalypse the demon is the instrument made use of by God, to punish
mortals and make them drink of the cup of his wrath. Does not St.
Peter[657] tell us that "the devil prowls about us like a roaring
lion, always ready to devour us?" And St. Paul to the Ephesians,[658]
"that we have to fight not against men of flesh and blood, but against
principalities and powers, against the princes of this world," that is
to say, of this age of darkness, "against the spirits of malice spread
about in the air?"

The fathers of the first ages speak often of the power that the
Christians exercised against the demons, against those who called
themselves diviners, against magicians and other subalterns of the
devil; principally against those who were possessed, who were then
frequently seen, and are so still from time to time, both in the
church and out of the church. Exorcisms and other prayers of the
church have always been employed against these, and with success.
Emperors and kings have employed their authority and the rigor of the
laws against those who have devoted themselves to the service of the
demon, and used spells, charms, and other methods which the demon
employs, to entice and destroy both men and animals, or the fruits of
the country.

We might add to the remarks of the reverend Dominican father divers
other propositions drawn from the same work; for instance, when the
author says that "the angels know everything here below; for if it is
by means of specialties, which God communicates to them every day, as
St. Augustine thinks, there is no reason to believe that they do not
know all the wants of mankind, and that they cannot console and
strengthen them, render themselves visible to them by the permission
of God, without always receiving from him an express order so to do."

This proposition is rather rash: it is not certain that the angels
know everything that passes here below. Jesus Christ, in St. Matthew
xxiv. 36, says that the angels do not know the day of his coming. It
is still more doubtful that the angels can appear without an express
command from God, and that St. Augustine has so taught.

He says, a little while after--"That demons often appeared before
Jesus Christ in fantastic forms, which they assumed as the angels do,"
that is to say, in aërial bodies which they organized; "whilst at
present, and since the coming of Jesus Christ, those wonders and
spells have been so common that the people attributed them to sorcery
and commerce with the devil, whereas it is attested that they can be
operated only by natural magic, which is the knowledge of secret
effects from natural causes, and many of them by the subtilty of the
air alone. This is the opinion of the greater number of the fathers
who have spoken of them."

This proposition is false, and contrary to the doctrine and practice
of the church; and it is not true that it is the opinion of the
greater number of the fathers; he should have cited some of them.[659]

He says that "the Book of Job and the song of Hezekiah are full of
testimonies that the Holy Spirit seems to have taught us, that our
souls cannot return to earth after our death, until God has made
angels of them."

It is true that the Holy Scriptures speak of the resurrection and
return of souls into their bodies as of a thing that is impossible in
the natural course. Man cannot raise up himself from the dead, neither
can he raise up his fellow-man without an effort of the supreme might
of God. Neither can the spirits of the deceased appear to the living
without the command or permission of God. But it is false to say,
"that God makes angels of our souls, and that then they can appear to
the living."

Our souls will never become angels; but Jesus Christ tells us that
after our death our souls will be _as_ the angels of God, (Matt. xxii.
30); that is to say, spiritual, incorporeal, immortal, and exempt from
all the wants and weaknesses of this present life; but he does not say
that our souls must _become_ angels.

He affirms "that what Jesus Christ said, 'that spirits have neither
flesh nor bones,' far from leading us to believe that spirits can
return to earth, proves, on the contrary, evidently that they cannot
without a miracle render themselves visible to mankind; since it
requires absolutely a corporeal substance and organs of speech to make
ourselves heard, which does not agree with the spirits, who naturally
cannot be subject to our senses."

This is no more impossible than what he said beforehand of the
apparitions of angels, since our souls, after the death of the body,
are "like unto the angels," according to the Gospel. He acknowledges
himself, with St. Jerome against Vigilantius, that the saints who are
in heaven appear sometimes visibly to men. "Whence comes it that
animals have, as well as ourselves, the faculty of memory, but not the
reflection which accompanies it, which proceeds only from the soul,
which they have not?"

Is not memory itself the reflection of what we have seen, done, or
heard; and in animals is not memory followed by reflection,[660] since
they avenge themselves on those who hurt them, avoid that which has
incommoded them, foreseeing what might happen to themselves from it if
they fell again into the same mistake?

After having spoken of natural palingenesis, he concludes--"And thus
we see how little cause there is to attribute these appearances to the
return of souls to earth, or to demons, as do some ignorant persons."

If those who work the wonders of natural palingenesis, and admit the
natural return of phantoms in the cemeteries, and fields of battle,
which I do not think happens naturally, could show that these phantoms
speak, act, move, foretell the future, and do what is related of
returned souls or other apparitions, whether good angels or bad ones,
we might conclude that there is no reason to attribute them to souls,
angels, and demons; but, 1, they have never been able to cause the
appearance of the phantom of a dead man, by any secret of art. 2. If
it had been possible to raise his shade, they could never have
inspired it with thought or reasoning powers, as we see in the angels
and demons, who appear, reason, and act, as intelligent beings, and
gifted with the knowledge of the past, the present, and sometimes of
the future.

He denies that the souls in purgatory return to earth; for if they
could come back, "everybody would receive similar visits from their
relations and friends, since all the souls would feel disposed to do
the same. Apparently," says he, "God would grant them this permission,
and if they had this permission, every person of good sense would be
at a loss to comprehend why they should accompany all their
appearances with all the follies so circumstantially related."

We may reply, that the return of souls to earth may depend neither on
their inclination nor their will, but on the will of God, who grants
this permission to whom he pleases, when he will, and as he will.

The wicked rich man asked that Lazarus[661] might be sent to this
world to warn his brothers not to fall into the same misfortune as
himself, but he could not obtain it. There are an infinity of souls in
the same case and disposition, who cannot obtain leave to return
themselves or to send others in their place.

If certain narratives of the return of spirits to earth have been
accompanied by circumstances somewhat comic, it does not militate
against the truth of the thing; since for one recital imprudently
embellished by uncertain circumstances, there are a thousand written
sensibly and seriously, and in a manner very conformable to truth.

He maintains that all the apparitions which cannot be attributed to
angels or to blessed spirits, are produced only by one of these three
causes:--the power of imagination; the extreme subtility of the
senses; and the derangement of the organs, as in cases of madness and
in high fevers.

This proposition is rash, and has before been refuted by the Reverend
Father Richard.

The author recounts all that he has said of the spirit of St. Maur, in
causing the motion of the bed in the presence of three persons who
were wide awake, the repeated shrieks of a person whom they did not
see, of a door well-bolted, of repeated blows upon the walls, of
panes of glass struck with violence in the presence of three persons,
without their being able to see the author of all this movement;--he
reduces all this to a derangement of the imagination, the subtilty of
the air, or the vapors casually arising in the brain of an invalid.
Why did he not deny all these facts? Why did he give himself the
trouble to compose so carefully a dissertation to explain a
phenomenon, which, according to him, can boast neither truth nor
reality? For my part, I am very glad to give the public notice that I
neither adopt nor approve this anonymous dissertation, which I never
saw before it was printed; that I know nothing of the author, take no
part in it, and have no interest in defending him. If the subject of
apparitions be purely philosophical, and it can without injury to
religion be reduced to a problem, I should have taken a different
method to destroy it, and I should have suffered my reasoning and my
imagination to act more freely.


[645] Letter of the Reverend Father Richard, a Dominican of Amiens, of
the 29th of July, 1746.

[646] See on this subject the letter of the Marquis Maffei, which

[647] St. Thomas, i. part 9, 89, art. 8, ad. 2.

[648] The author had foreseen this objection from the beginning of his

[649] Aug. Serm. de Semp. 197.

[650] John xvi. 11.

[651] Luke xxii. 31.

[652] 2 Cor. xi. 7.

[653] 1 Tim. i. 2.

[654] 1 Cor. xi. 30.

[655] 2 Cor. ii. 11, and xi. 14.

[656] 2 Thess. ii.

[657] 1 Pet. v. 8.

[658] Ephes. vi. 12.

[659] They are cited in the letter of the Marquis Maffei.

[660] The author, as we may see, is not a Cartesian, since he assigns
reflection even to animals. But if they reflect, they choose; whence
it consequently follows that they are free.

[661] Luke xiii. 14.



_Answer to a Letter on the subject of the Apparition of St. Maur._

"You have been before me, sir, respecting the spirit of St. Maur,
which causes so much conversation at Paris; for I had resolved to send
you a short detail of that event, in order that you might impart to me
your reflections on a matter so delicate and so interesting to all
Paris. But since you have read an account of it, I cannot understand
why you have hesitated a moment to decide what you ought to think of
it. What you do me the honor to tell me, that you have suspended your
judgment of the case until I have informed you of mine, does me too
much honor for me to be persuaded of it; and I think there is more
probability in believing that it is a trick you are playing me, to see
how I shall extricate myself from such slippery ground. Nevertheless,
I cannot resist the entreaties, or rather the orders, with which your
letter is filled; and I prefer to expose myself to the pleasantry of
the free thinkers, or the reproaches of the credulous, than the anger
of those with which I am threatened by yourself.

"You ask if I believe that spirits come back, and if the circumstance
which occurred at St. Maur can be attributed to one of those
incorporeal substances?

"To answer your two questions in the same order that you propose them
to me, I must first tell you, that the ancient heathens acknowledge
various kinds of spirits, which they called _lares_, _larvæ_,
_lemures_, _genii_, _manes_.

"For ourselves, without pausing at the folly of our cabalistic
philosophers, who fancy spirits in every element, calling those sylphs
which they pretend to inhabit the air; _gnomes_, those which they
feign to be under the earth; _ondines_, those which dwell in the
water; and _salamanders_, those of fire; we acknowledge but three
sorts of created spirits, namely, angels, demons, and the souls which
God has united to our bodies, and which are separated from them by

"The Holy Scriptures speak in too many places of the apparitions of
the angels to Abraham, Jacob, Tobit, and several other holy patriarchs
and prophets, for us to doubt of it. Besides, as their name signifies
their ministry, being created by God to be his messengers, and to
execute his commands, it is easy to believe that they have often
appeared visibly to men, to announce to them the will of the Almighty.
Almost all the theologians agree that the angels appear in the aërial
bodies with which they clothe themselves.

"To make you understand in what manner they take and invest themselves
with these bodies, in order to render themselves visible to men, and
to make themselves heard by them, we must first of all explain what is
vision, which is only the bringing of the _species_ within the compass
of the organ of sight. This "_species_" is the ray of light broken and
modified upon a body, on which, forming different angles, this light
is converted into colors. For an angle of a certain kind makes red,
another green, blue or yellow, and so on of all the colors, as we
perceive in the prism, on which the reflected rays of the sun forms
the different colors of the rainbow; the _species_ visible is then
nothing else than the ray of light which returns from the object on
which it breaks to the eyes.

"Now, light falls only on three kinds of objects or bodies, of which
some are diaphanous, others opake, and the others participate in these
two qualities, being partly diaphanous and partly opake. When the
light falls on a diaphanous body which is full of an infinity of
little pores, as the air, it passes through without causing any
reflection. When the light falls on a body entirely opake, as a
flower, for instance, not being able to penetrate it, its ray is
reflected from it, and returns from the flower to the eye, to which it
carries the _species_, and renders the colors distinguishable,
according to the angles formed by reflection. If the body on which the
light falls is in part opake and in part diaphanous, like glass, it
passes through the diaphanous part, that is to say, through the pores
of the glass which it penetrates, and reflects itself on the opake
particles, that is to say, which are not porous. Thus the air is
invisible, because it is absolutely penetrated with light: the flower
sends back a color to the eye, because, being impenetrable to the
light, it obliges it to reflect itself; and the glass is visible only
because it contains some opake particles, which, according to the
diversity of angles formed upon it by the ray of light, reflect
different colors.

"That is the manner in which vision is formed, so that air being
invisible, on account of its extreme transparency, an angel could not
clothe himself with it and render himself visible, but by thickening
the air so much, that from diaphanous it became opake, and capable of
reflecting the ray of light to the eye of him who perceived him. Now,
as the angels possess knowledge and power far beyond anything we can
imagine, we need not be astonished if they can form aërial bodies,
which are rendered visible by the opacity they impart to them. In
respect to the organs necessary to these aërial bodies, to form sounds
and make themselves heard, without having any recourse to the
disposition of matter, we must attribute them entirely to a miracle.

"It is thus that angels have appeared to the holy patriarchs. It is
thus that the glorious souls that participate the angelic nature can
assume an aërial body to render themselves visible, and that even
demons, by thickening and condensing the air, can make to themselves a
body of it, so as to become visible to men, by the particular
permission of God, to accomplish the secrets of his providence, as
they are said to have appeared to St. Anthony the Hermit, and to other
saints, in order to tempt them.

"Excuse, sir, this little physical digression, with which I could not
dispense, in order to make you understand the manner in which angels,
who are purely spiritual substances, can be perceived by our fleshly

"The only point on which the holy doctors do not agree on this subject
is, to know if angels appear to men of their own accord, or whether
they can do it only by an express command from God. It seems to me
that nothing can better contribute to the decision of this difficulty,
than to determine the way in which the angels know all things here
below; for if it is by means of "_species_" which God communicates to
them every day, as St. Augustine believes, there is no reason to doubt
of their knowing all the wants of mankind, or that they can, in order
to console and strengthen them, render their presence sensible to
them, by God's permission, without receiving an express command from
him on the subject; which may be concluded from what St. Ambrose says
on the subject of the apparition of angels, who are by nature
invisible to us, and whom their will renders visible. _Hujus naturæ
est non videri, voluntatis, videri._[662]

"On the subject of demons, it is certain that their power was very
great before the coming of Jesus Christ, since he calls them himself,
the powers of darkness, and the princes of this world. It cannot be
doubted that they had for a long time deceived mankind, by the wonders
which they caused to be performed by those who devoted themselves more
particularly to their service; that several oracles have been the
effect of their power and knowledge, although part of them must be
ascribed to the subtlety of men; and that they may have appeared under
fantastic forms, which they assumed in the same way as the angels,
that is to say, in aërial bodies, which they organized. The Holy
Scriptures assure us even, that they took possession of the bodies of
living persons. But Jesus Christ says too precisely, that he has
destroyed the kingdom of the demons, and delivered us from their
tyranny, for us possibly to think rationally that they still possess
that power over us which they had formerly, so far as to work
wonderful things which appeared miraculous; such as they relate of the
vestal virgin, who, to prove her virginity, carried water in a sieve;
and of her who by means of her sash alone, towed up the Tiber a boat,
which had been so completely stranded that no human power could move
it. Almost all the holy doctors agree, that the only means they now
have of deceiving us is by suggestion, which God has left in their
power to try our virtue.

"I shall not amuse myself by combating all the impositions which have
been published concerning demons, incubi, and succubi, with which some
authors have disfigured their works, any more than I shall reply to
the pretended possession of the nuns of Loudun, and of Martha
Brossier,[663] which made so much noise at Paris at the commencement
of the last century; because several learned men who have favored us
with their reflections on these adventures, have sufficiently shown
that the demons had nothing to do with them; and the last, above all,
is perfectly quashed by the report of Marescot, a celebrated
physician, who was deputed by the Faculty of Theology to examine this
girl who performed so many wonders. Here are his own words, which may
serve as a general reply to all these kind of adventures:--_A naturâ
multa plura ficta, à Dæmone nulla._ That is to say, that the
constitution of Martha Brossier, who was apparently very melancholy
and hypochondriacal, contributed greatly to her fits of enthusiasm;
that she feigned still more, and that the devil had nothing to do with

"If some of the fathers, as St. Thomas, believe that the demons
sometimes produce sensible effects, they always add, that it can be
only by the particular permission of God, for his glory and the
salvation of mankind.

"In regard to all those prodigies and those common spells, which the
people ascribe to sorcery or commerce with the demon, it is proved
that they can be performed only by natural magic, which is the
knowledge of secret effects of natural causes, and several by the
subtlety of art. It is the opinion of the greater number of the
fathers of the church who have spoken of it; and without seeking
testimony of it in Pagan authors, such as Xenophon, Athenæus, and
Pliny, whose works are full of an infinity of wonders which are all
natural, we see in our own time the surprising effects of nature, as
those of the magnet, of steel, and mercury, which we should attribute
to sorcery as did the ancients, had we not seen sensible
demonstrations of their powers. We also see jugglers do such
extraordinary things, which seem so contrary to nature, that we should
look upon these charlatans as magicians, if we did not know by
experience, that their address alone, joined to constant practice,
makes them able to perform so many things which seem marvelous to us.

"All the share that the demons have in the criminal practices of those
who are commonly called sorcerers, is suggestion; by which means they
invite them to the abominable research of every natural cause which
can do injury to others.

"I am now, sir, at the most delicate point of your question, which is,
to know if our souls can return to earth after they are separated from
our bodies.

"As the ancient philosophers erred so strongly on the nature of the
soul--some believing that it was but a fire which animated us, and
others a subtile air, and others affirming that it was nothing else
but the proper arrangement of all the machine of the body, a doctrine
which could not be admitted any more as the cause of in men than in
beasts; we cannot therefore be surprised that they had such gross
ideas concerning their state after death.

"The error of the Greeks, which they communicated to the Romans, and
the latter to our ancestors was, that the souls whose bodies were not
solemnly interred by the ministry of the priests of religion, wandered
out of Hades without finding any repose, until their bodies had been
burned and their ashes collected. Homer makes Patroclus, who was
killed by Hector, appear to his friend Achilles in the night to ask
him for burial, without which, he is deprived, he says, of the
privilege of passing the river Acheron. There were only the souls of
those who had been drowned, whom they believed unable to return to
earth after death; for which we find a curious reason in Servius, the
interpreter of Virgil, who says, the greater number of the learned in
Virgil's time, and Virgil himself, believing that the soul was nothing
but a fire, which animated and moved the body, were persuaded that the
fire was entirely extinguished by the water--as if the material could
act upon the spiritual. Virgil explains his opinions on the subject
of souls very clearly in these verses:--

  'Igneus est ollis vigor, et celestis origo.'

And a little after,

                  'totos infusa per artus
  Mens agitat molem, et toto se corpore miscet;'

to mark the universal soul of the world, which he believed with the
greater part of the philosophers of his time.

"Again, it was a common error amongst the pagans, to believe that the
souls of those who died before they were of their proper age, which
they placed at the end of their growth, wandered about until the time
came when they ought naturally to be separated from their bodies.
Plato, more penetrating and better informed than the others, although
like them mistaken, said, that the souls of the just who had obeyed
virtue ascended to the sky; and that those who had been guilty of
impiety, retaining still the contagion of the earthly matter of the
body, wandered incessantly around the tombs, appearing like shadows
and phantoms.

"For us, whom religion teaches that our souls are spiritual substances
created by God, and united for a time to bodies, we know that there
are three different states after death.

"Those who enjoy eternal beatitude, absorbed, as the holy doctors say,
in the contemplation of the glory of God, cease not to interest
themselves in all that concerns mankind, whose miseries they have
undergone; and as they have attained the happiness of angels, all the
sacred writers ascribe to them the same privilege of possessing the
power, as aërial bodies, of rendering themselves visible to their
brethren who are still upon earth, to console them, and inform them of
the Divine will; and they relate several apparitions, which always
happened by the particular permission of God.

"The souls whose abominable crimes have plunged them into that gulf of
torment, which the Scripture terms hell, being condemned to be
detained there forever, without being able to hope for any relief,
care not to have permission to come and speak to mankind in fantastic
forms. The Scripture clearly set forth the impossibility of this
return, by the discourse which is put into the mouth of the wicked
rich man in hell, introduced speaking to Abraham; he does not ask
leave to go himself, to warn his brethren on earth to avoid the
torments which he suffers, because he knows that it is not possible;
but he implores Abraham to send thither Lazarus, who was in glory. And
to observe _en passant_ how very rare are the apparitions of the
blessed and of angels, Abraham replies to him, that it would be
useless, since those who are upon earth have the Law and the Prophets,
which they have but to follow.

"The story of the canon of Rheims, in the eleventh century, who, in
the midst of the solemn service which was being performed for the
repose of his soul, spoke aloud and said, That he was sentenced and
condemned,[664] has been refuted by so many of the learned, who have
shown that this circumstance is clearly supposititious, since it is
not found in any contemporaneous author; that I think no enlightened
person can object it against me. But even were this story as
incontestable as it is apocryphal, it would be easy for me to say in
reply, that the conversion of St. Bruno, who has won so many souls to
God, was motive enough for the Divine Providence to perform so
striking a miracle.

"It now remains for me to examine if the souls which are in purgatory,
where they expiate the rest of their crimes before they pass to the
abode of the blessed, can come and converse with men, and ask them to
pray for their relief.

"Although those who have desired to maintain this popular error, have
done their endeavors to support it by different passages from St.
Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Thomas, it is certain that all these
fathers speak only of the return of the blessed to manifest the glory
of God; and of St. Augustine says precisely, that if it were possible
for the souls of the dead to appear to men, not a day would pass
without his receiving a visit from Monica his mother.

"Tertullian, in his Treatise on the Soul, laughs at those who in his
time believed in apparitions. St. John Chrysostom, speaking on the
subject of Lazarus, formally denies them; as well as the law
glossographer, Canon John Andreas, who calls them phantoms of a sickly
imagination, and all that is reported about spirits which people think
they hear or see, vain apparitions. The 7th chapter of Job, and the
song of King Hezekiah, reported in the 38th chapter of Isaiah, are all
full of the witnesses which the Holy Spirit seems to have desired to
give us of this truth, that our souls cannot return to earth after our
death until God has made them angels.

"But in order to establish this still better, we must reply to the
strongest objections of those who combat it. They adduce the opinion
of the Jews, which they pretend to prove by the testimony of Josephus
and the rabbis; the words of Jesus Christ to his apostles, when he
appeared to them after his resurrection; the authority of the council
of Elvira;[665] some passages from St. Jerome, in his Treatise against
Vigilantius; of decrees issued by different Parliaments, by which the
leases of several houses had been broken on account of the spirits
which haunted them daily, and tormented the lodgers or tenants; in
short an infinite number of instances, which are scattered in every

"To destroy all these authorities in a few words, I say first of all,
that it cannot be concluded that the Jews believed in the return of
spirits after death, because Josephus assures us that the spirit which
the Pythoness caused to appear to Saul was the true spirit of Samuel;
for, besides that the holiness of this prophet had placed him in the
number of the blessed, there are circumstances attending this
apparition which have caused most of the holy fathers[666] to doubt
whether it really was the ghost of Samuel, believing that it might be
an illusion with which the Pythoness deceived Saul, and made him
believe that he saw that which he desired to see.

"What several rabbis relate of patriarchs, prophets, and kings whom
they saw on the mountain of Gerizim, does not prove either that the
Jews believed that the spirits of the dead could come back, since it
was only a vision proceeding from the spirit in ecstasy, which
believed it saw what it saw not truly; all those who compose this
appearance were persons of whose holiness the Jews were persuaded.
What Jesus Christ says to his apostles, that the spirits have 'neither
flesh nor bones,' far from making us believe that spirits can come
back again, proves on the contrary evidently, that they cannot without
a miracle make us sensible of their presence, since it requires
absolutely a corporeal substance and bodily organs to utter sounds;
the description does agree with souls, they being pure substances,
exempt from matter, invisibles, and therefore cannot _naturally_ be
subject to our senses.

"The Provincial Council held in Spain during the pontificate of
Sylvester I., which forbids us to light a taper by day in the
cemeteries of martyrs, adding, as a reason, that we must not disturb
the spirits of the saints, is of no consideration; because besides
that these words are liable to different interpretations, and may even
have been inserted by some copyist, as some learned men believe, they
only relate to the martyrs, of whom we cannot doubt that their spirits
are blessed.

"I make the same reply to a passage of St. Jerome, because arguing
against the heresiarch Vigilantius, who treated as illusions all the
miracles which were worked at the tombs of the martyrs; he endeavors
to prove to him that the saints who are in heaven always take part in
the miseries of mankind, and sometimes even appear to them visibly to
strengthen and console them.

"As for the decrees which have annulled the leases of several houses
on account of the inconvenience caused by ghosts to those who lodged
therein, it suffices to examine the means and the reasons upon which
they were obtained, to comprehend that either the judges were led into
error by the prejudices of their childhood, or that they were obliged
to yield to the proofs produced, often even against their own superior
knowledge, or they have been deceived by imposture, or by the
simplicity of the witnesses.

"With respect to the apparitions, with which all such stories are
filled, one of the strongest which can be objected against my
argument, and to which I think myself the more obliged to reply, is
that which is affirmed to have occurred at Paris in the last century,
and of which five hundred witnesses are cited, who have examined into
the truth of the matter with particular attention. Here is the
adventure, as related by those who wrote at the time it took

"The Marquis de Rambouillet, eldest brother of the Duchess of
Montauzier, and the Marquis de Précy, eldest son of the family of
Nantouillet, both of them between twenty and thirty, were intimate
friends, and went to the wars, as in France do all men of quality. As
they were conversing one day together on the subject of the other
world, after several speeches which sufficiently showed that they were
not too well persuaded of the truth of all that is said concerning it,
they promised each other that the first who died should come and bring
the news to his companion. At the end of three months the Marquis de
Rambouillet set off for Flanders, where the war was then being carried
on; and de Précy, detained by a high fever, remained at Paris. Six
weeks afterwards de Précy, at six in the morning, heard the curtains
of his bed drawn, and turning to see who it was, he perceived the
Marquis de Rambouillet in his buff vest and boots; he sprung out of
bed to embrace him to show his joy at his return, but Rambouillet,
retreating a few steps, told him that these caresses were no longer
seasonable, for he only came to keep his word with him; that he had
been killed the day before on such an occasion; that all that was said
of the other world was certainly true; that he must think of leading a
different life; and that he had no time to lose, as he would be killed
the first action he was engaged in.

"It is impossible to express the surprise of the Marquis de Précy at
this discourse; as he could not believe what he heard, he made several
efforts to embrace his friend, whom he thought desirous of deceiving
him, but he embraced only air; and Rambouillet, seeing that he was
incredulous, showed the wound he had received, which was in the side,
whence the blood still appeared to flow. After that the phantom
disappeared, and left de Précy in a state of alarm more easy to
comprehend than describe; he called at the same time his
valet-de-chambre, and awakened all the family with his cries. Several
persons ran to his room, and he related to them what he had just seen.
Every one attributed this vision to the violence of the fever, which
might have deranged his imagination; they begged him to go to bed
again, assuring him that he must have dreamed what he told them.

"The Marquis in despair, on seeing that they took him for a visionary,
related all the circumstances I have just recounted; but it was in
vain for him to protest that he had seen and heard his friend, being
wide awake; they persisted in the same idea until the arrival of the
post from Flanders, which brought the news of the death of the Marquis
de Rambouillet.

"This first circumstance being found true, and in the same manner as de
Précy had said, those to whom he had related the adventure began to
think that there might be something in it, because Rambouillet having
been killed precisely the eve of the day he had said it, it was
impossible de Précy should have known of it in a natural way. This
event having spread in Paris, they thought it was the effect of a
disturbed imagination, or a made up story; and whatever might be said
by the persons who examined the thing seriously, there remained in
people's minds a suspicion, which time alone could disperse: this
depended on what might happen to the Marquis de Précy, who was
threatened that he should be slain in the first engagement; thus every
one regarded his fate as the dénouement of the piece; but he soon
confirmed everything they had doubted the truth of, for as soon as he
recovered from his illness he would go to the combat of St. Antoine,
although his father and mother, who were afraid of the prophecy, said
all they could to prevent him; he was killed there, to the great
regret of all his family.

"Supposing all these circumstances to be true, this is what I should
say to counteract the deductions that some wish to derive from them.

"It is not difficult to understand that the imagination of the Marquis
de Précy, heated by fever, and troubled by the recollection of the
promise that the Marquis de Rambouillet and himself had exchanged, may
have represented to itself the phantom of his friend, whom he knew to
be fighting, and in danger every moment of being killed. The
circumstances of the wound of the Marquis de Rambouillet, and the
prediction of the death of de Précy, which was fulfilled, appears more
serious: nevertheless, those who have experienced the power of
presentiments, the effects of which are so common every day, will
easily conceive that the Marquis de Précy, whose mind, agitated by a
burning fever, followed his friend in all the chances of war, and
expected continually to see announced to himself by the phantom of his
friend what was to happen, may have imagined that the Marquis de
Rambouillet had been killed by a musket-shot in the side, and that the
ardor which he himself felt for war might prove fatal to him in the
first action. We shall see by the words of St. Augustine, which I
shall cite by-and-by, how fully that Doctor of the Church was
persuaded of the power of imagination, to which he attributes the
knowledge of things to come. I shall again establish the authority of
presentiments by a most singular instance.

"A lady of talent, whom I knew particularly well, being at Chartres,
where she was residing, dreamt in the night that in her sleep she saw
Paradise, which she fancied to herself was a magnificent hall, around
which were in different ranks the angels and spirits of the blessed,
and God, who presided in the midst, on a shining throne. She heard
some one knock at the door of this delightful place; and St. Peter
having opened it, she saw two pretty children, one of them clothed in
a white robe, and the other quite naked. St. Peter took the first by
the hand and led him to the foot of the throne, and left the other
crying bitterly at the door. She awoke at that moment, and related her
dream to several persons, who thought it very remarkable. A letter
which she received from Paris in the afternoon informed her that one
of her daughters was brought to bed with two children, who were dead,
and only one of them had been baptized.

"Of what may we not believe the imagination capable, after so strong a
proof of its power? Can we doubt that amongst all the pretended
apparitions that are related, imagination alone produces all those
which do not proceed from angels and blessed spirits, or which are not
the effect of fraudulent contrivance?

"To explain more fully what has given rise to those phantoms, the
apparition of which has been published in all ages, without availing
myself of the ridiculous opinion of the skeptics, who doubt of
everything, and assert that our senses, however sound they may be, can
only imagine everything falsely, I shall remark that the wisest
amongst the philosophers maintain that deep melancholy, anger, frenzy,
fever, depraved or debilitated senses, whether naturally, or by
accident, can make us see and hear many things which have no

"Aristotle says[668] that in sleep the interior senses act by the
local movement of the humors and the blood, and that this action
descends sometimes to the sensitive organs, so that on awaking, the
wisest persons think they see the images they have dreamt of.

"Plutarch, in the Life of Brutus, relates that Cassius persuaded
Brutus that a spectre which the latter declared he had seen on waking,
was an effect of his imagination; and this is the argument which he
puts in his mouth:--

"'The spirit of man being extremely active in its nature, and in
continual motion, which produces always some fantasy; above all,
melancholy persons, like you, Brutus, are more apt to form to
themselves in the imagination ideal images, which sometimes pass to
their external senses.'

"Galen, so skilled in the knowledge of all the springs of the human
body, attributes spectres to the extreme subtility of sight and

"What I have read in Cardan seems to establish the opinion of Galen.
He says that, being in the city of Milan, it was reported that there
was an angel in the air, who appeared visibly, and having ran to the
market-place, he, with two thousand others, saw the same. As even the
most learned were in admiration at this wonder, a clever lawyer, who
came to the spot, having observed the thing attentively, sensibly made
them remark that what they saw was not an angel, but the figure of an
angel, in stone, placed on the top of the belfry of St. Gothard, which
being imprinted in a thick cloud by means of a sunbeam which fell upon
it, was reflected to the eyes of those who possessed the most piercing
vision. If this fact had not been cleared up on the spot by a man
exempt from all prejudice, it would have passed for certain that it
was a real angel, since it had been seen by the most enlightened
persons in the town to the number of two thousand.

"The celebrated du Laurent, in his treatise on Melancholy, attributes
to it the most surprising effects; of which he gives an infinite
number of instances, which seem to surpass the power of nature.

"St. Augustine, when consulted by Evodius, Bishop of Upsal, on the
subject I am treating of, answers him in these terms: 'In regard to
visions, even of those by which we learn something of the future, it
is not possible to explain how they are formed, unless we could first
of all know how everything arises which passes through our minds when
we think; for we see clearly that a number of images are excited in
our minds, which images represent to us what has struck either our
eyes or our other senses. We experience it every day and every hour.'
And a little after, he adds: 'At the moment I dictate this letter, I
see you with the eyes of my mind, without your being present, or your
knowing anything about it; and I represent to myself, through my
knowledge of your character, the impression that my words will make
on your mind, without nevertheless knowing or being able to understand
how all this passes within me.'

"I think, sir, you will require nothing more precise than these words
of St. Augustine to persuade you that we must attribute to the power
of imagination the greater number of apparitions, even of those
through which we learn things which it would seem could not be known
naturally; and you will easily excuse my undertaking to explain to you
how the imagination works all these wonders, since this holy doctor
owns that he cannot himself comprehend it, though quite convinced of
the fact.

"I can tell you only that the blood which circulates incessantly in
our arteries and veins, being purified and warmed in the heart, throws
out thin vapors, which are its most subtile parts, and are called
animal spirits; which, being carried into the cavities of the brain,
set in motion the small gland which is, they say, the seat of the
soul, and by this means awaken and resuscitate the species of the
things that they have heard or seen formerly, which are, as it were,
enveloped within it, and form the internal reasoning which we call
thought. Whence comes it that beasts have memory as well as ourselves,
but not the reflections which accompany it, which proceed from the
soul, and that they have not.

"If what Mr. Digby, a learned Englishman, and chancellor of Henrietta,
Queen of England, Father Kircher, a celebrated Jesuit, Father Schort,
of the same society, Gaffarelli and Vallemont, publish of the
admirable secret of the palingenesis, or resurrection of plants, has
any foundation, we might account for the shades and phantoms which
many persons declare to have seen in cemeteries.

"This is the way in which these curious researchers arrive at the
marvelous operation of the palingenesis:--

"They take a flower, burn it, and collect all the ashes of it, from
which they extract the salts by calcination. They put these salts into
a glass phial, wherein having mixed certain compositions capable of
setting them in motion when heated, all this matter forms a dust of a
bluish hue; of this dust, excited by a gentle warmth, arises a stem,
leaves, and a flower; in a word, they perceive the apparition of a
plant springing from its ashes. As soon as the warmth ceases, all the
spectacle vanishes, the matter deranges itself and falls to the bottom
of the vessel, to form there a new chaos. The return of heat
resuscitates this vegetable phoenix, hidden in its ashes. And as the
presence of warmth gives it life, its absence causes its death.

"Father Kircher, who tries to give a reason for this admirable
phenomenon, says that the seminal virtue of every mixture is
concentrated in the salts, and that as soon as warmth sets them in
motion they rise directly and circulate like a whirlwind in this glass
vessel. These salts, in this suspension, which gives them liberty to
arrange themselves, take the same situation and form the same figure
as nature had primitively bestowed on them; retaining the inclination
to become what they had been, they return to their first destination,
and form themselves into the same lines as they occupied in the living
plant; each corpuscle of salt re-entering its original arrangement
which it received from nature; those which were at the foot of the
plant place themselves there; in the same manner, those which compose
the top of the stem, the branches, the leaves, and the flowers, resume
their former place, and thus form a perfect apparition of the whole

"It is affirmed that this operation has been performed upon a
sparrow;[669] and the gentlemen of the Royal Society of England, who
are making their experiments on this matter, hope to succeed in making
them on human beings also.[670]

"Now, according to the principle of Father Kircher and the most
learned chemists, who assert that the substantial form of bodies
resides in the salts, and that these salts, set in motion by warmth,
form the same figure as that which had been given to them by nature,
it is not difficult to comprehend that dead bodies being consumed away
in the earth, the salts which exhale from them with the vapors, by
means of the fermentations which so often occur in this element, may
very well, in arranging themselves above ground, form those shadows
and phantoms which have frightened so many people. Thus we may
perceive how little reason there is to ascribe them to the return of
spirits, or to demons, as some ignorant people have done.

"To all the authorities by means of which I have combated the
apparitions of spirits which are in purgatory, I shall still add some
very natural reflections. If the souls which are in purgatory could
return hither to ask for prayers to pass into the abode of glory,
there would be no one who would not receive similar entreaties from
his relations and friends, since all the spirits being disposed to do
the same thing, apparently, God would grant them all the same
permission. Besides, if they possessed this liberty, no sensible
person could understand why they should accompany their appearance
with all the follies so circumstantially related in those stories, as
rolling up a bed, opening the curtains, pulling off a blanket,
overturning the furniture, and making a frightful noise. In short, if
there were any reality in these apparitions, it is morally impossible
that in so many ages _one_ would not have been found so well
authenticated that it could not be doubted.

"After having sufficiently proved that all the apparitions which
cannot be ascribed to angels or to the souls of the blessed are
produced only by one of the three following causes--the extreme
subtility of the senses; the derangement of the organs, as in madness
and high fever; and the power of imagination--let us see what we must
think of the circumstance which occurred at St. Maur.

"Although you have already seen the account that has been given of it,
I believe, sir, that you will not be displeased if I here give you the
detail of the more particular circumstances. I shall endeavor to omit
nothing that has been done to confirm the truth of the circumstance,
and I shall even make use of the exact words of the author, as much as
I can, that I may not be accused of detracting from the adventure.

"Monsieur de S----, to whom it happened, is a young man, short in
stature, well made for his height, between four and five-and-twenty
years of age. Being in bed, he heard several loud knocks at his door
without the maid servant, who ran thither directly, finding any one;
and then the curtains of his bed were drawn, although there was only
himself in the room. The 22d of last March, being, about eleven
o'clock at night, busy looking over some lists of works in his study,
with three lads who are his domestics, they all heard distinctly a
rustling of the papers on the table; the cat was suspected of this
performance, but M. de S. having taken a light and looked diligently
about, found nothing.

"A little after this he went to bed, and sent to bed also those who
had been with him in his kitchen, which is next to his sleeping-room;
he again heard the same noise in his study or closet; he rose to see
what it was, and not having found anything more than he did the first
time, he was going to shut the door, but he felt some resistance to
his doing so; he then went in to see what this obstacle might be, and
at the same time heard a noise above his head towards the corner of
the room, like a great blow on the wall; at this he cried out, and his
people ran to him; he tried to reassure them, though alarmed himself;
and having found naught he went to bed again and fell asleep. Hardly
had these lads extinguished the light, than M. de S. was suddenly
awakened by a shake, like that of a boat striking against the arch of
a bridge; he was so much alarmed at it that he called his domestics;
and when they had brought the light, he was strangely surprised to
find his bed at least four feet out of its place, and he was then
aware that the shock he had felt was when his bedstead ran against the
wall. His people having replaced the bed, saw, with as much
astonishment as alarm, all the bed-curtains open at the same moment,
and the bedstead set off running towards the fire-place. M. de S.
immediately got up, and sat up the rest of the night by the fire-side.
About six in the morning, having made another attempt to sleep, he
was no sooner in bed than the bedstead made the same movement again,
twice, in the presence of his servants, who held the bed-posts to
prevent it from displacing itself. At last, being obliged to give up
the game, he went out to walk till dinner time; after which, having
tried to take some rest, and his bed having twice changed its place,
he sent for a man who lodged in the same house, as much to reassure
himself in his company, as to render him a witness of so surprising a
circumstance. But the shock which took place before this man was so
violent, that the left foot at the upper part of the bedstead was
broken; which had such an effect upon him, that in reply to the offers
that were made to him to stay and see a second, he replied that what
he had seen, with the frightful noise he had heard all night, were
quite sufficient to convince him of the fact.

"It was thus that the affair, which till then had remained between M.
de S. and his domestics, became public; and the report of it being
immediately spread, and reaching the ears of a great prince who had
just arrived at St. Maur, his highness was desirous of enlightening
himself upon the matter, and took the trouble to examine carefully
into the circumstances which were related to him. As this adventure
became the subject of every conversation, very soon nothing was heard
but stories of ghosts, related by the credulous, and laughed at and
joked upon by the freethinkers. However, M. de S. tried to reassure
himself, and go the following night into his bed, and become worthy of
conversing with the spirit, which he doubted not had something to
disclose to him. He slept till nine o'clock the next morning, without
having felt anything but slight shakes, as the mattresses were raised
up, which had only served to rock him and promote sleep. The next day
passed off pretty quietly; but on the 26th, the spirit, who seemed to
have become well-behaved, resumed its fantastic humor, and began the
morning by making a great noise in the kitchen; they would have
forgiven it for this sport if it had stopped there, but it was much
worse in the afternoon. M. de S., who owns that he felt himself
particularly attracted towards his study, though he felt a repugnance
to enter it, having gone into it about six o'clock, went to the end of
the room, and returning towards the door to go into his bed-room
again, was much surprised to see it shut of itself and barricade
itself with the two bolts. At the same time, the two doors of a large
press opened behind him, and rather darkened his study, because the
window, which was open, was behind these doors.

"At this sight, the fright of M. de S. is more easy to imagine than to
describe; however, he had sufficient calmness left, to hear at his
left ear a distinct voice, which came from a corner of the closet, and
seemed to him to be about a foot above his head. This voice spoke to
him in very good terms during the space of half a _miserere_; and
ordered him, _theeing_ and _thouing_ him to do some one particular
thing, which he was recommended to keep secret. What he has made
public is that the voice allowed him a fortnight to accomplish it in;
and ordered him to go to a place, where he would find some persons who
would inform him what he had to do; and that it would come back and
torment him if he failed to obey. The conversation ended by an adieu.

"After that, M. de S. remembers that he fainted and fell down on the
edge of a box, which caused him a pain in his side. The loud noise and
the cries which he afterwards uttered brought several people in haste
to the door, and after useless efforts to open it, they were going to
force it open with a hatchet, when they heard M. de S. dragging
himself towards the door, which he with much difficulty opened.
Disordered as he was, and unable to speak, they first of all carried
him to the fire, and then they laid him on his bed, where he received
all the compassion of the great prince, of whom I have already spoken,
who hastened to the house the moment this event was noised abroad. His
highness having caused all the recesses and corners of the house to be
inspected, and no one being found therein, wished that M. de S. should
be bled; but his surgeon finding he had a very feeble pulsation,
thought he could not do so without danger.

"When he recovered from his swoon, his highness, who wished to
discover the truth, questioned him concerning his adventure; but he
only heard the circumstances I have mentioned--M. de S. having
protested to him that he could not, without risk to his life, tell him

"The spirit was heard of no more for a fortnight; but when that term
was expired--whether his orders had not been faithfully executed, or
that he was glad to come and thank M. de S. for being so exact--as he
was, during the night, lying in a little bed near the window of his
bed-room, his mother in the great bed, and one of his friends in an
arm-chair near the fire, they all three heard some one rap several
times against the wall, and such a blow against the window, that they
thought all the panes were broken. M. de S. got up that moment, and
went into his closet to see if this troublesome spirit had something
else to say to him; but when there, he could neither find nor hear
anything. And thus ended this adventure, which has made so much noise
and drawn so many inquisitive persons to St. Maur.

"Now let us make some reflections on those circumstances which are the
most striking, and most likely to make any impression.

"The noise which was heard several times during the night by the
master, the female servant, and the neighbors, is quite equivocal;
and the most prejudiced persons cannot deny that it may have been
produced by different causes which are all quite natural.

"The same reply may be given as to the papers which were heard to
rustle, since a breath of air or a mouse might have moved them.

"The moving of the bed is something more serious, because it is
reported to have been witnessed by several persons; but I hope that a
little reflection will dispense us from having recourse to fantastic
hands in order to explain it.

"Let us imagine a bedstead upon castors; a person whose imagination is
impressed, or who wishes to enliven himself by frightening his
domestics, is lying upon it, and rolls about very much, complaining
that he is tormented. Is it surprising that the bedstead should be
seen to move, especially when the floor of the room is waxed and
rubbed? But, you will say, some of the witnesses even made useless
efforts to prevent this movement. Who are these witnesses? Two are
youths in the service of the patient, who trembled all over with
fright, and were not capable of examining the secret causes of this
movement; and the other has since told several people that he would
give ten pistoles not to have affirmed that he saw this bedstead
remove itself without help.

"In regard to the voice, whose secret has been so carefully kept, as
there is no witness of it, we can only judge of it by the state in
which he who had been favored with this pretended revelation was
found. Repeated cries from the man who, hearing his closet door beaten
in, draws back the bolts which he had apparently drawn himself, his
eyes quite wild, and his whole person in extraordinary disorder, would
have caused the ancient heathens to take him for a sibyl full of
enthusiasm, and must appear to us rather the consequence of some
convulsion than of a conversation with a spiritual being.

"Lastly, the violent blows given upon the walls and panes of glass, in
the night, in the presence of two witnesses, might make some
impression, if we were sure that the patient, who was lying directly
under the window in a small bed, had no part in the matter; for of the
two witnesses who heard this noise, one was his mother, and the other
an intimate friend, who, even reflecting on what he saw and heard,
declares that it can only be the effect of a spell.

"How much good soever you may wish for this place, I do not believe,
sir, that what I have just remarked on the circumstances of the
adventure, will lead you to believe that it has been honored with an
angelic apparition; I should rather fear that, attributing it to a
disordered imagination, you may accuse the subtility of the air which
there predominates as having caused it. As I am somewhat interested
in not doing the climate of St. Maur such an injury, I am compelled to
add something else to what I have said of the person in question, in
order that you may know his character.

"You need not be very clever in the art of physiognomy to remark in
his countenance the melancholy which prevails in his temperament. This
sad disposition, joined to the fever which has tormented him for some
time, carried some vapors to his brain, which might easily lead him to
believe that he heard all he has publicly declared; besides which, the
desire to divert himself by alarming his domestics may have induced
him to feign several things, when he saw that the adventure had come
to the ears of a prince who might not approve of such a joke, and be
severe upon it. Thus then, sir, you will think as I do, that the
report of the celebrated Marescot on the subject of the famous
Margaret Brossier agrees perfectly with our melancholy man, and well
explains his adventure: _à naturâ multa, plura ficta, à dæmone nulla_.
His temperament has made him fancy he saw and heard many things; he
feigned still more in support of what his wanderings or his sport had
induced him to assert; and no kind of spirit has had any share in his
adventure. Without stopping to relate several effects of his
melancholy, I shall simply remark that an embarkation which he made on
one of the last _jours gras_, setting off at ten o'clock at night to
make the tour of the peninsula of St. Maur, in a boat where he covered
himself up with straw on account of the cold, appeared so singular to
the great prince before mentioned, that he took the trouble to
question him as to his motives for making such a voyage at so late an

"I shall add that the discernment of his highness made him easily
judge whence this adventure proceeded, and his behavior on this
occasion has shown that he is not easily deceived. I do not think it
is allowable for me to omit the opinion of his father, a man of
distinguished merit, on this adventure of his son, when he learned all
the circumstances by a letter from his wife, who was at St. Maur. He
told several persons that he was certain that the spirit which acted
on this occasion was that of his wife and son. The author of the
relation was right in endeavoring to weaken such testimony; but I do
not know if he flatters himself that he has succeeded, in saying that
he who gave this opinion is an _esprit fort_, or freethinker who makes
it a point of honor to be of the fashionable opinion concerning

"Lastly, to fix your judgment and terminate agreeably this little
dissertation in which you have engaged me, I know of nothing better
than to repeat the words of a princess,[671] who is not less
distinguished at court by the delicacy of her wit than by her high
rank and personal charms. As they were conversing in her presence of
the singularity of the adventure which here happened at St. Maur, 'Why
are you so much astonished?' said she, with that gracious air which is
so natural to her; 'Is it surprising that the son should have to do
with spirits, since the mother sees the eternal Father three times
every week? This woman is very happy,' added the witty princess; 'for
my part, I should ask no other favor than to see him once in my life.'

"Laugh with your friends at this agreeable reflection; but, above all,
take care, sir, not to make my letter public: it is the only reward
that I ask for the exactitude with which I have obeyed you on so
delicate an occasion.

           "I am, sir,
                  "Your very humble, &c.

_St. Maur, May 8, 1706._"


"By order of the Lord Chancellor, this dissertation on what we must
think of spirits in general, and of that of St. Maur in particular,
has been read by me, and I have found nothing therein which ought to
hinder its being printed.

"Done at Paris, the 17th of October, 1706.
              (_Signed_)   "LA MARQUE TILLADET.

"The king's permission bears date the 21st November, 1706."


[662] St. Ambrose, Com. on St. Luke, i. c. 1.

[663] Martha Brossier, daughter of a weaver at Romorantin, was shown
as a demoniac, in 1578. See De Thou on this subject, book cxxiii. and
tom. v. of the Journal of Henry III., edition of 1744, p. 206, &c. The
affair of Loudun took place in the reign of Louis XIII.; and Cardinal
Richelieu is accused of having caused this tragedy to be enacted, in
order to ruin Urban Grandier, the curé of Loudun, for having written a
cutting satire against him.

[664] M. de Lannoy has made a particular dissertation De Causà
Secessionis S. Brunonis: he solidly refutes this fable. Nevertheless,
this event is to be found painted in the fine pictures of the little
monastery of the Chartreux at Paris.

[665] Eliberitan Council, an. 305 or 313, in the kingdom of Grenada.
Others have thought, but mistakenly, that it was Collioure in

[666] Jesus, the son of Sirach, author of Ecclesiasticus, believes
this apparition to be true. Ecclus. xlvi. 23.

[667] This story has been related in the former part of the work, but
more succinctly.

[668] Arist. Treatise on Dreams and Vigils.

[669] The Abbé de Vallemont, in his work on the Singularities of
Vegetation. Paris, 1 vol. 12mo.

[670] This was a century and a half ago; but the Philosophical
Transactions record no account of any successful result to such

[671] Madame the Duchess-mother, daughter of the late king, Louis
XIV., and mother of the duke lately dead, of M. the Count de
Charolois, and of M. the Count de Clermont.




It is to the goodness of your reverence, in regard to myself, that I
must attribute the curiosity you appear to feel to know what I think
concerning the book which the Sieur Jerome Tartarotti has just
published on the _Nocturnal Assemblies of the Sorcerers_. I reply to
you with the greatest pleasure; and I am going to tell my opinion
fully and unreservedly, on condition that you will examine what I
write to you with your usual acuteness, and that you will tell me
frankly whatever you remark in it, whether good or bad, and that may
appear to deserve either your approbation or your censure. I had
already read this book, and passed an eulogium on it, both for the
great erudition displayed therein by the author, as because he
refutes, in a very sensible manner, some ridiculous opinions with
which people are infatuated concerning sorcerers, and some other
equally dangerous abuses. But, to tell the truth, with that exception,
I am little disposed to approve it; if M. Muratori has done so in his
letter, which has been seen by several persons, either he has not read
the work through, or he and I on that point entertain very different
sentiments. In regard to my opinion, your reverence will see, by what
I shall say, that it is the same as your own on this subject, as you
have done me the favor to show by your letter.

I. In this work there is laid down, in the first place, as a certain
and indubitable principle, the existence and reality of magic, and the
truth of the effects produced by it--superior, they say, to all
natural powers; he gives it the name of "diabolical magic," and
defines it, "The knowledge of certain superstitious practices, such as
words, verses, characters, images, signs (_qy._ moles), &c., by means
of which magicians succeed in their designs." For my part, I am much
inclined to believe that all the science of the pretended magicians
had no other design than to deceive others, and ended sometimes in
deceiving themselves; and that this magic, now so much vaunted, is
only a chimera. Perhaps even it would be giving one's self superfluous
trouble to undertake to show that everything related of those
nocturnal hypogryphes,[672] of those pretended journeys through the
air, of those assemblies and feasts of sorcerers, is only idle and
imaginary; because those fables being done away with would not prevent
that an infinite number of others would still remain, which have been
repeated and spread on the same subject, and which, although more
foolish and ridiculous than all the extravagances we read in romances,
are so much the more dangerous, because they are more easily believed.
It would, in the opinion of many, be doing these tales too much honor
to attempt to refute them seriously, as there is no one at this day,
in Italy, at least, even amongst the people, who has common sense,
that does not laugh at all that is said of the witches' sabbath, and
of those troops or bands of sorcerers who go through the air during
the night to assemble in retired spots and dance. It is true, that
notwithstanding, that if a man of any credit, whether amongst the
learned or persons of high dignity, maintains an opinion, he will
immediately find partisans; it will be useless to write or speak to
the contrary, it will not be the less followed; and it is hardly
possible that it can be otherwise, so many minds as there are, and so
many different ways of thinking. But here the only question is, what
is the common opinion, and what is most universally believed. It is
not my intention to compose a work expressly on magic, nor to enter
very lengthily on this matter; I shall only exhibit, in a few words,
the reasons which oblige me to laugh at it, and which induce me to
incline to the opinion of those who look upon it as a _pure_ illusion,
and a _real_ chimera. I must, first of all, give notice that you must
not be dazzled by the truth of the magical operations in the Old
Testament, as if from thence we could derive a conclusive argument to
prove the reality of the pretended magic of our own times. I shall
demonstrate this clearly at the end of this discourse, in which I hope
to show that my opinion on this subject is conformable to the
Scripture, and founded on the tradition of the fathers. Now, then, let
us speak of modern magicians.

II. If there is any reality in this art, to which so many wonders are
ascribed, it must be the effect of a knowledge acquired by study, or
of the impiety of some one who renounces what he owes to God to give
himself up to the demon, and invokes him. It seems, in fact, that they
would sometimes attribute it to acquired knowledge, since in the book
I am combating the author often speaks "of the true mysteries of the
magic art;" and he asserts that few "are perfectly instructed in the
secret and difficult principles of this science;" which is not
surprising, he says, since "the life of man would hardly suffice" to
read all the works which have treated of it. He calls it sometimes the
"magical science," or "magical philosophy;" he carries back the origin
of it to the philosopher Pythagoras; he regards "ignorance of the
magic art as one of the reasons why we see so few magicians in our
days." He speaks only of the mysterious scale enclosed by Orpheus in
unity, in the numbers of two and twelve; of the harmony of nature,
composed of proportionable parts, which are the octave, or the
double, and the fifth, or one and a half; of strange and barbarous
names which mean nothing, and to which he attributes supernatural
virtues; of the concert or the agreement of the inferior and superior
parts of this universe, when understood; makes us, by means of certain
words or certain stones, hold intercourse with invisible substances;
of numbers and signs, which answer to the spirits which preside over
different days, or different parts of the body; of circles, triangles,
and pentagons, which have power to bind spirits; and of several other
secrets of the same kind, very ridiculous, to tell the truth, but very
fit to impose on those who admire everything which they do not

III. But however thick may be the darkness with which nature is hidden
from us, and although we may know but very imperfectly the essential
principles and properties of things, who does not see, nevertheless,
that there can be no proportion, no connection, between circles and
triangles which we trace, or the long words which signify nothing, and
immaterial spirits? Can people not conceive that it is a folly to
believe that by means of a few herbs, certain stones, and certain
signs or characters, we can make ourselves obeyed by invisible
substances which are unknown to us? Let a man study as much as he will
the pretended soul of the world, the harmony of nature, the agreement
of the influence of all the parts it is composed of--is it not evident
that all he will gain by his labor will be terms and words, and never
any effects which are above the natural power of man? To be convinced
of this truth, it suffices to observe that the pretended magicians
are, and ever have been, anything but learned; on the contrary, they
are very ignorant and illiterate men. Is it credible that so many
celebrated persons, so many famous men, versed in all kinds of
literature, should never have been able or willing to sound and
penetrate the mysterious secrets of this art; and that of so many
philosophers spoken of by Diogenes Laërtius, neither Plato, nor
Aristotle, nor any other, should have left us some treatise? It would
be useless to attack the opinions of the world at that time on this
subject. Do we not know with how many errors it has been infatuated in
all ages, and which, though shared in common, were not the less
mistakes? Was it not generally believed in former times, that there
were no antipodes? that according to whether the sacred fowls had
eaten or not, it was permitted or forbidden to fight? that the statues
of the gods had spoken or changed their place? Add to those things all
the knavery and artifice which the charlatans put in practice to
deceive and delude the people, and then can we be surprised that they
succeeded in imposing on them and gaining their belief? But let it not
be imagined, nevertheless, that everyone was their dupe, and that
amongst so many blind and credulous people there were not always to be
found some men sensible and clear-sighted enough to perceive the

IV. To be convinced of this, let us only consider what was thought of
it by one of the most learned amongst the ancients, and we may say,
one of the most curious and attentive observers of the wonders of
nature--I speak of Pliny, who thus expresses himself at the beginning
of his Thirtieth Book;[673] "Hitherto I have shown in this work, every
time that it was necessary and the occasion presented itself, how very
little reality there is in all that is said of magic; and I shall
continue to do so as it goes on. But because during several centuries
this art, the most deceptive of all, has enjoyed great credit among
several nations, I think it is proper to speak of it more fully." "No
men are more clever in hiding their knaveries than magicians;" and in
seven or eight other places he endeavors to expose "their falsehoods,
their deceptions, the uselessness of their art," and laughs at it. But
one thing to which we should pay attention above all, is an invincible
argument which he brings forward against this pretended art. For after
having enumerated the diverse sorts of magic, which were employed with
different kinds of instruments, and in several different ways, and
from which they promised themselves effects that were "quite divine;"
that is to say, superior to all the force of nature, even of "the
power to converse with the shades and souls of the dead;" he adds,
"But in our days the Emperor Nero has discovered that in all these
things there is nothing but deceit and vanity." "Never prince," says
he, a little lower down, "sought with more eagerness to render himself
clever in any other art; and as he was the master of the world, it is
certain that he wanted neither riches, nor power, nor wit, nor any
other aid necessary to succeed therein. What stronger proof of the
falsity of this art can we have than to see that Nero renounced it?"
Suetonius informs us also, "That this prince uselessly employed magic
sacrifices to evoke the shade of his mother, and speak to her." Again,
Pliny says "that Tirdates the Mage (for it is thus it should be read,
and not Tiridates the Great, as it is in the edition of P. Hardouin),
having repaired to the court of Nero, and having brought several magi
with him, initiated this prince in all the mysteries of magic.
Nevertheless," he adds, "it was in vain for Nero to make him a present
of a kingdom--he could not obtain from him the knowledge of this art;
which ought to convince us that this detestable science is only
vanity, or, if some shadow of truth is to be met within it, its real
effects have less to do with the art of magic than the art of
poisoning." Seneca, who also was very clever, after having repeated a
law of the Twelve Tables, "which forbade the use of enchantments to
destroy the fruits of the earth," makes this commentary upon it: "When
our fathers were yet rude and ignorant, they imagined that by means of
enchantments rain could be brought down upon the ground, or could be
prevented from falling; but at this day it is so clear that both one
and the other is impossible, that to be convinced of it it does not
require to be a philosopher." It would be useless to collect in this
place an infinity of passages from the ancients, which all prove the
same thing; we can only __________ the book written by Hippocrates on
Caducity, which usually passed for the effect of the vengeance of the
gods, and which for that reason was called the "sacred malady." We
shall there see how he laughs "at magicians and charlatans," who
boasted of being able to cure it by their enchantments and expiations.
He shows there that by the profession which they made of being able to
darken the sun, bring down the moon to the earth, give fine or bad
weather, procure abundance or sterility, they seemed to wish to
attribute to man more power than to the Divinity itself, showing
therein much less religion than "impiety, and proving that they did
not believe in the gods." I do not speak of the fables and tales
invented by Philostrates on the subject of Apollonius of Thyana, they
have been sufficiently refuted by the best pens: but I must not omit
to warn you that the name of magic has been used in a good sense for
any uncommon science, and a sublimer sort of philosophy. It is in this
sense that it must be understood where Pliny says,[674] although
rather obscurely, "that Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, and Plato,
traveled a great deal to acquire instruction in it." For the rest,
people are naturally led to attribute to sorcery everything that
appears new and marvelous. Have not we ourselves, with M. Leguier,
passed for magicians in the minds of some persons, because in our
experiments on electricity they have seen us easily extinguish lights
by putting them near cold water, which then appeared an unheard-of
thing, and which many still firmly maintain even now cannot be done
without a tacit compact? It is true that in the effects of electricity
there is something so extraordinary and so wonderful, that we should
be more disposed to excuse those persons who could not easily believe
them to be natural than those who have fancied tacit compacts for
things which it would be much more easy to explain naturally.

V. From what has just been said, it evidently results that it is folly
to believe that by means of study and knowledge one can ever attain
any of those marvelous effects attributed to magic; and it is
profaning the name of science to give it an imposture so grossly
imagined; it remains then that these effects might be produced by a
diabolical power. In fact, we read in the work in question that all
the effects of magic "must be attributed to the operation of the
demon; that it is in virtue of the compact, express or tacit, that he
has made with him that the magician works all these pretended
prodigies; and that it is in regard to the different effects of this
art, and the different ways in which they are produced, that authors
have since divided it into several classes." But I beg, at first, that
the reader will reflect seriously, if it is credible, that as soon as
some miserable woman or unlucky knave have a fancy for it, God, whose
wisdom and goodness are infinite, will ever permit the demon to appear
to them, instruct them, obey them, and that they should make a compact
with him. Is it credible that to please a scoundrel he would grant the
demon power to raise storms, ravage all the country by hail, inflict
the greatest pain on little innocent children, and even sometimes "to
cause the death of a man by magic?" Does any one imagine that such
things can be believed without offending God, and without showing a
very injurious mistrust of his almighty power? It has several times
happened to me, especially when I was in the army, to hear that some
wretched creatures had given themselves to the devil, and had called
upon him to appear to them with the most horrible blasphemies, without
his appearing to them for all that, or their attempts being followed
by any success. And, certainly, if to obtain what is promised by the
art of magic it sufficed to renounce God and invoke the devil, how
many people would soon perform the dreadful act? How many impious men
do we see every day who for money, or to revenge themselves on some
one, or to satisfy a criminal desire, rush without remorse into the
greatest excesses! How many wretches who are suffering in prison, at
the galleys, or otherwise, would have recourse to the demon to
extricate them from their troubles! It would be very easy for me to
relate here a great number of curious stories of persons generally
believed to be bewitched, of haunted houses, or horses rubbed down by
will-o'-the-wisp, which I have myself seen at different times and
places, at last reduced to nothing. This I can affirm, that two monks,
very sensible men, who had exercised the office of inquisitors, one
for twenty-four years, and the other during twenty-eight, have
assured me that of different accusations of sorcery which had been
laid before them, and which appeared to be well proved, after having
examined them carefully and maturely, they had not found one which was
not mere knavery. How can any one imagine that the devil, who is the
father of lies, should teach the magician the true secret of this art;
and that this spirit, full of pride, of which he is the source, should
teach an enchanter the means of forcing him to obey him? As soon as we
rise above some old prejudices, which make us excuse those who in past
ages gave credence to such follies, can we put faith in certain
extravagant opinions, as what is related of demons, incubes, and
seccubes, from a commerce with whom it is pretended children are born.
Who will believe in our days that Ezzelin was the son of a
will-o'-the-wisp? But can anything more strange be thought of than
what is said of tacit compacts? They will have it, that when any one,
of whatever country he may be, and however far he may be from wishing
to make any compact with the devil, every time he shall say certain
words, or make certain signs, a certain effect will follow; if I, who
am perfectly ignorant of this convention, should happen to pronounce
these same words, or make the same signs, the same effect ought to
follow. They say that whoever makes a compact with the devil has a
right to oblige him to produce a certain effect, not only when he
shall make himself, for instance, certain figures, but also every time
that they shall be made by any other person you please, at any time,
or in any place whatever, and although the intention may be quite
different. Certainly nothing is more proper to humble us than such
ideas, and to show how very little man can count on the feeble light
of his mind. Of all the extraordinary things said to have been
performed by tacit compacts, many are absolutely false, and others
have occurred quite differently than as they are related; some are
true, and such as require no need of the demon's intervention to
explain them.

VI. The evidence of these reasons seems to suffice to prove that all
which is said of magic in our days is merely chimerical; but because,
in reply to the substantial difficulties which were proposed to him by
the Count Rinaldi Carli, the author of the book pretends that to deny
is a heretical opinion condemned by the laws, it is proper to examine
this article again. For the first proof of its reality, is advanced
the general consent of all mankind; the tradition of all nations;
stories and witnesses _ad infinitum_ of theologians, philosophers, and
jurisconsults; whence he concludes "that its existence cannot be
denied, or even a doubt cast upon it, without sapping the foundations
of what is called human belief." But the little I have said in No. IV.
alone suffices to prove how false is this assertion concerning this
pretended general consent. Horace, who passes for one of the wisest
and most enlightened men amongst the ancients, reckons, on the
contrary, among the virtues necessary to an honest man, the not
putting faith in what is said concerning magic, and to laugh at it.
His friend, believing himself very virtuous because he was not
avaricious--"That is not sufficient," said he: "are you exempt from
every other vice and every other fault; not ambitious, not passionate,
fearless of death? Do you laugh at all that is told of dreams, magical
operations, miracles, sorcerers, ghosts, and Thessalian