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CONTINUOUS VARIATION OF SUPERNATURAL IDEAS. 409.
Early discovering the antagonism of science, which could not fail, in due season, to subject her pretensions to investigation, she lent herself to a systematic delusion of the illiterate, and thereby tried to put off that fatal day when creeds engendered in the darkness would have to be examined in the light, enforcing her attempt with an unsparing, often with a bloody hand. It was for this reason that, when the inevitable time of trial came, no intellectual defense could be made in her behalf, and hence there only remained a recourse to physical and political compulsion. But such a compulsion, under such circumstances, is not only a testimony to the intrinsic weakness of that for which it is invoked, it is also a token that they who resort to it have lost all faith in any inherent power of the system they are supporting, and that, in truth, it is fast coming to an end. The reader will remark, from the incidents connected with supernatural delusions now to be related, that they follow a law of continuous variation, the particular imbodiment they assumed changing with the condition of the human mind at each epoch under examination. For ages they are implicitly believed in by all classes; then to a few, but the number perpetually increasing, they become an idle story of barefaced imposture. At last humanity wakens from its delusion-its dream. The final rejection of the whole, in spite of the wonderful amount of testimony which for ages had accumulated, occurs spontaneously the moment that psychical development has reached a certain point. There can be no more striking illustration of the definite advancement of the human mind. The boy who is terror-stricken in a dark room insensibly dismisses his idle fears as he grows up to be a man. Clemens Romanus and Anastasius Sinaita, speaking of Simon Magus, say that he could make himself invisible; that he formed a man out of air; that he could pass bodily through mountains without being obstructed thereby; that he could fly and sit unharmed in flames; that he constructed animated statues and self-moving furniture, and not only changed his countenance into the similitude of many other men, but that his whole body could be transformed into the shape of a goat, a sheep, a snake; that, as he walked in the street, he cast many shadows in different directions; that he could make trees suddenly spring up in desert places; and, on one occasion, compelled an enchanted sickle to go into a field and reap twice as much in one day as if it had been used by a man. Of Apollonius of Tyana we are told that, after an unbroken silence of five years, he comprehended the languages of all animals and all men; that, under circumstances very picturesquely related, he detected the genius of a plague at Ephesus, and dragged him, self-convicted, before the people; that, at the wedding-dinner of Menippus, he caused all the dishes and viands to vanish, thereby compelling the bride to acknowledge that she was a vam-
410 SORCERY.-BRAZEN HEAD.
pire, intending to eat the flesh and lap the blood of her husband in the night; that he exhibited the prodigy of being in many places at the same time; raised a young woman from the dead; and, finally, weary of the world, ascended bodily into heaven. As Arabian influence spread, ideas of an Oriental aspect appear. There are peris who live on perfumes, and divs who are poisoned by them; enchanted palaces; moving statues; veiled prophets, like Mokanna; brazen flying horses; charmed arrows; dervises who can project their soul into the body of a dead animal, giving it temporary life; enchanted rings, to make the wearer invisible, or give him two different bodies at the same time; ghouls who live in cemeteries, and at night eat the flesh of dead men. As the European counterpart of these Perso-Arabic ideas, there are fairies, and their dancing by moonlight, their tampering with children, and imposing changelings on horror-stricken mothers. Every one believes that rain and wind may be purchased of wizards, and that fair weather may be obtained and storms abated by prayer. Whoever attains to wealth or eminence does so by a compact with Satan, signed with blood. The head of the Church, Sylvester II., makes a brazen head, which speaks to him prophetically. He finds underground treasures in a subterraneous magic palace beneath a mountain. The protestator of the Greek emperor is accused of a conspiracy against his master’s life by making invisible men. Robert Grostete, the Bishop of Lincoln, makes another speaking head. Nay, more, Albertus Magnus constructs a complete brazen man so cunningly contrived as to serve him for a domestic. This was at the time that Thomas Aquinas was living with him. The household trouble arising from the excessive garrulity of this simulacrum grew so intolerable-for he was incessantly making mischief among the other inmates-that Thomas, unable to bear it any longer, took a hammer and broke the troublesome android to pieces. This reverend father, known among his contemporaries as the “seraphic doctor” was not without experience in the mysterious craft. Annoyed by the frequent passing of horses near his dwelling, he constructed a magical horse of brass, and buried it in the road. From that moment no animal could be made to pass his door. Among brazen heads of great celebrity is that of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungy. This oracle announced, “Time is; time was; time is passed;” but perhaps it was some kind of clock. The alchemist Peter d’Apono had seven spirits in glass bottles. He had entrapped them by baiting with distilled dew, and imprisoned them safely by dexterously putting in the corks. He is the same who possessed a secret which it is greatly to be regretted that he did not divulge for the benefit of chemists who have come after him, that, whatever money he paid, within the space of one hour’s time came back of itself again into his pocket. That was even better than the philosopher’s stone.
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