The Sorceress, by Jules Michelet, , at sacred-texts.com
Two only have been published in a complete form (see Limburch); the originals are at Toulouse, and extend from 1307 to 1326. Magi has taken extracts from two others (Acad. de Toulouse, 1790, 4to, vol. iv., p. 19). Lamothe-Langon has done the same for those of Carcassonne (Hist. de lInquisition en France, vol. iii.), Llorente for the Spanish Registers. These mysterious records were at Toulouse, and no doubt in all other cases, enclosed in bags suspended very high up on the walls, and, besides, sewn up on either margin in such a way that they could not be consulted without unstitching the whole. They afford us a valuable specimen, throwing precious light on all the Inquisitions throughout Europe, for the methods of procedure were everywhere precisely similar (see Directorium Eymerici, 1358). What especially strikes one in these Registers is not merely the vast number of those punished, but the multitude of persons immured, shut up, that is to say, in a tiny stone cell (camerula), or in a dungeon in pace, on bread and water. Another is the countless number of the Crozats, as they were called, who had to wear the red cross in breast and back. They were the best treated, and were allowed provisionally to live in their own houses. Only every Sunday after Mass they had to go and be whipped by the Curé of their parish (Ordinance of 1326, Archives of Carcassonne, quoted by L.-Langon, iii., 191). The most cruel part, especially for women, was that the common people and children used to jeer them unmercifully. They were liable, apart from any fresh offence, to be taken into custody
again and immured. Their sons and grandsons were always suspect, and very readily immured.
In the thirteenth century everything is heresy; in the fourteenth magic. The transition is easy from one to the other. According to the rough-and-ready theory of the period, heresy differs little from diabolical possession; erroneous belief of every sort, as well as sin of every sort, is a demon to be driven out by torture or the lash. For the devils are very sensitive to pain (Michael Psellus). The Crozats and all persons suspected of heresy are ordered to avoid any dealings with sorcery (D. Vaissette, Lang). This change from heresy to magic is an advance in terror in which the judge was bound to find his advantage. In trials for heresytrials of men for the most partthere are assessors and others present. But in those for magic, almost invariably trials of women, he has the right to be alone, tête-à-tête with the accused.
Observe further how under the dread name of Sorcery were included little by little all the minor superstitions, the time-honoured poetry of hearth and meadow, Robin Goodfellow, Brownies, and fairies. What woman can be held innocent now? The most pious believed in all these things. On retiring to rest, before making her prayer to the Virgin, every housewife left out a drink of milk for her little friend. Maid and goodwife offered at night a little bonfire to the fairies, by day a bunch of flowers to the saints.
And for this she is charged as a sorceress,brought up before the man in black! He cross-questions her,always the same questions, always the same, those put to every secret society, to the Albigensians, the Templars, all alike. Let her bethink her; the executioner is near by, all ready in the vaulted chamber yonder, the strapado, the wooden horse, the boots, the iron wedges. She faints for fear, and says she knows not what, "It was not I. . . . I will never do it again. . . . It was my mother, my sister, my cousin, forced me, led me on. . . . What was I to do? I was afraid of her, I went there all trembling in
spite of my own wishes" (Trepidabat; sororia, sua Guilelma trahebat, et metu faciebat multa,"She was all a-tremble; her sister Wilhelmina betrayed her, and she did many things out of mere terror."Reg. Tolos. 1307, p. 10, in Limburch).
Few were able to resist. In 1329 a certain Jeanne perished for having refused to denounce her father (Reg. de Carcassonne, L.-Langon, 3, 202). But with rebels of the sort other means were tried. A mother and her three daughters had successfully held out against the question. Then the inquisitor gets hold of the second daughter, makes love to her, and in this way reassures her to such a degree that she tells him everything, and betrays her mother and sisters (Limburch, Lamothe-Langon). The result is, all were burned together!
What broke down the spirit more even than torture was horror of the in pace. Women died of the terror of being walled up in the little black hole. In Paris could be seen the public spectacle of a dog-kennel in the courtyard of the Filles Repenties (Magdalen Refuge), where the Dame dEscoman was kept immured (except for a slit through which her daily bread was thrown to her), lying amid her own excrements. In some cases their fears were worked upon till epilepsy supervened. For instance, the poor, weak, fair-haired fifteen-year-old child, Madeleine de la Palud, whom Michaëlis himself admits having terrified into denouncing her friends, by putting her in an ancient ossuary to lie on dead men's bones. In Spain, more often than not, the in pace, far from being a place of peace, had a door by means of which they could come every day at a certain hour to work the victim, for the good of her soul, by applying the lash. A monk condemned to the in pace begs and prays for death in preference to such a doom (Llorente).
As to the auto-da-fés, read in Limburch what eye-witnesses say of their horrors. In particular consult Dellon, who himself once wore the san-benito (Inquisition de Goa, 1688).
From the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries downwards such was the reign of terror that we find persons of the highest condition
abandon rank, fortune, everything, the moment they were accused, and take to flight. This is what Dame Alice Kyteler, mother of the Lord Seneschal of Ireland, did when charged with sorcery by a mendicant friar who had been made bishop (1324). She escaped, but her confidante was burned. The Seneschal made apology, and was degraded permanently. (Th. Wright, Proceedings against Dame Alice, etc., 4to, London, 1843.)
The whole system takes shape from 1200 to 1300. It was in 1233 the mother of St. Louis founded the great prison of the Immuratz at Toulouse. What happens? Folk begin to give themselves to the Devil. The first mention of the Covenant with Satan dates from 1222 (Cæsar Heisterbach). People are no longer heretics, half-Christians, but satanic, anti-Christians. The wild Sabbatic Round makes its appearance in 1353 (Procès de Toulouse, in L.-Langon, 3, 360), on the eve of the Jacquerie.
Note 2. Method of Procedure.
The first two chapters, which are abstracts of my Lectures on the Middle Ages, explain by the general condition of society why humanity despaired, while chapters 3, 4, and 5 explain by the moral condition of the soul why women in especial despaired, and were led to sell themselves to the devil and become Sorceresses.
It was only in 553 A.D. that the Church adopted the atrocious resolution of damning the spirits or demons (the words are synonymous in Greek), inexorably, without room for repentance of any sort whatsoever. In this she followed the African harshness of St. Augustine against the more lenient advice of the Greeks, Origen, and antiquity generally (Haag, Hist. des Dogmes, i., 80-3). From that time on, theologians study and determine the temperament, the physiology of spirits. They possess or do not possess bodies, vanish in smoke, but are fond of heat, fear the rod, etc. Every detail is perfectly well known, and agreed upon in 1050 (Michael Psellus, Energie des esprits ou
démons). This Byzantine writer gives precisely the same idea of them as that afforded by the Western legends (see numerous passages in Grimm's Mythologie, Maury's Les Fées, etc.). It is not till the fourteenth century all spirits are declared in so many words to be devils. Nodier's Trilby, and the majority of similar stories, are spoiled by the fact that they all stop short of the tragic instant when the goodwife finds her Robin Goodfellow or friendly Brownie suddenly transformed into a satanic lover.
In chapters 5-12, and onwards, from p. 41, I have endeavoured to investigate the question, How did women become Sorceresses or Witches? It is a difficult and delicate inquiry, and one that none of my predecessors have attempted. They pay no heed to the successive steps by which this humble state of things was reached. Their witch rises full grown, as if from the bowels of the earth, but human nature is not made that way. The investigation involved the most arduous work. The ancient texts are few and far between, and such as can be unearthed in the made-up books of 1500-1600 are hard to distinguish and identify. Having found the texts, how to date them, to say definitely, "This is of the twelfth, that of the thirteenth, the fourteenth century"? I should never have ventured on the ground at all if I had not already had in my favour a long familiarity with those times, my persistent studies in Grimm, Ducange, etc., and my book Origines du Droit (1837). All this has helped me enormously. In these formulas, the Usages that vary so very little, in the Customs that seem fixed everlastingly, nevertheless the historic sense must have its say. Other periods, other forms; these we learn to recognise, to date them psychologically. We can perfectly distinguish the sombre gravity of older times from the pedantic gossipy narrative of periods comparatively modern. If archæology can decide from the shape of such and such a Gothic arch that a building is of such and such a date, with how much more certainty can historical psychology demonstrate that a particular moral circum-
stance belongs to a particular century and to no other, that a particular idea, a particular passion, equally impossible in more ancient ages and in more modern epochs, was precisely what was to be expected at a particular date? Indeed, in this latter case the criterion is less liable to be misunderstood. Archæologists have on occasion been mistaken as to some pointed arch which has been cleverly reconstructed. Moreover, in the chronology of art certain forms may very well be repeated. But in the history of morals and manners this is impossible. The cruel record of the past which I here reproduce will never recreate its monstrous dogmas, its appalling dreams. In bronze, in iron, they are fixed in one and the same place for ever in the fatality of the ages.
Now for my especial sin, where criticism will be down on me. In my long analysis, historical and psychological, of the evolution of the Sorceress down to 1300, in preference to indulging in long-drawn prolix explanations, I have frequently taken a minor thread, biographical and dramatic, the lip of one and the same woman, as it were, down the course of three hundred years. This, please note, only applies to six or seven chapters altogether, and even in this short section it will easily be realised how everything is based on a firm foundation of historical fact. To give a single instance,if I have given the word Toledo as the sacred name of the capital city of the magicians, I had on my side not only the weight of M. Soldan's deliberate opinion, not only the long passage in Lancre, but two very ancient texts to boot. We read in Cæsar von Heisterbach how the students of Bavaria and Suabia go to Toledo to learn necromancy. It is a master of Toledo who originates the crimes of Sorcery prosecuted by Conrad of Marburg.
However, after all, the Saracen superstitions, which came from Spain or from the East (as Jacques de Vitry alleges), exerted only an indirect influence, as did the old Roman cult of Hecate or Dianom. The mighty cry of pain, which is the true and inward meaning of the Witches Sabbath, reveals quite a
different state of things. It expresses not only material sufferings, voices, old miseries and wretchedness, but a very abyss of agony. The lowest depths of moral suffering are not sounded till towards the days of St. Louis, Philippe le Bel, particularly among certain classes which felt and suffered even more keenly than the old-time serf. Such must have been in especial the good (well-to-do) peasants, rich villeins, serfs who were mayors of villages, whose existence I have noted as early as the twelfth century, and who in the fourteenth, under the new system of imposts, became responsible (like the Curiales of antiquity) for the taxes, and are doubly martyrised by the king and by the barons, crushed under extortions,their lives, in fact, made a living hell. Hence the fits of despair that send them hastening to the spirit of hidden treasures, the devil of money. Add in mockery and insult, who do still more perhaps towards producing the "Bride of Satan."
A trial at Toulouse, making in 1353 the first mention of the Sabbatical Round, enabled me to put my finger on the exact date. And what date more likely in the nature of things? The Black Death is heavy on the world, "killing the third part of all mankind." The Pope is degraded. The barons, beaten by the English and prisoners, are extorting their ransom from the unhappy serf, stripping him to the very shirt. Epilepsy is the great scourge of the time, succeeded by the Civil War, the Jacquerie. . . . The folk are so mad with misery, they set to dancing.
Note 3. Satan as Physician, Love-philtres, etc.
Reading the admirable works composed in our own day on the history of the sciences, I am surprised by one circumstance. The authors seem to think everything was discovered by the doctors, those half-schoolmen, who at every step were hindered by their cloth, their dogmas, the deplorable habits of mind due to their scholastic training. And others, who walked free of these fetters,
the sorceresses and witches, did they find out nothing? It were unreasonable to think so; and Paracelsus states the very opposite. In the little we know of their recipes, a remarkably good sense is apparent. To the present moment the Solanaceæ, so freely employed by them, are considered the especial remedy of the dread disease which threatened the world in the fourteenth century. I have been surprised to see in M. Coste (Hist. du Développement des Corps, vol. ii., p. 55) that the opinion of M. Paul Dubois as to the effects of iced water at a certain moment was in precise conformity with the practice of the witches at their Sabbaths. Consider, on the other hand, the idiotic prescriptions of the great and learned doctors of those times,the marvellous effects to be expected from mule's urine, and the like (Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, vol. ii., p. 24, Lyons edition, 8vo.).
With regard to their love-potions, philtres, etc., it has not been noticed how closely the covenants between lovers resembled those between friends and brothers in arms. For the latter consult Grimm (Rechts Alterthümer) and my Origines; for the first, Calcagnini, Sprenger, Grillandus, and a host of other writers. In all cases they follow identically the same lines. It is invariably either Nature called upon and taken to witness, or the employment, more or less blasphemous, of the sacraments and holy things of the Church, or a feasting in common, such and such a drink, such and such a loaf or cake, shared between the contracting parties. To this add certain forms of communion, by blood, by this or that excretion.
But, no matter how intimate and closely personal these may appear, the sovereign communion of love is always a confarreatio, the sharing of bread which has absorbed magic virtue. It does so, sometimes in virtue of the Mass pronounced over it (Grillandus, 316), sometimes by contact with, and emanations from, the beloved object. On the marriage night, in order to arouse love, the bride's pasty is eaten (Theirs, Superstitions, iv., 548). To rouse a similar feeling in the breast of the man to be
tied (such is the phrase), the woman makes him consume a particular sweetmeat she has prepared for him, etc.
Note 4. The Last Act of the Witches Sabbath.
When mankind has completely awakened from its prodigious dream of two thousand years, and can coolly and quietly take stock of Christian society in the Middle Ages, two astounding facts will become apparent, facts unique in the history of the world, viz. 1: Adultery was one of its recognised institutions, normal, established, esteemed, sung and celebrated in all the monuments of literature, noble and bourgeois alike, in every poem and every fabliau, and 2: Incest is the ordinary condition of serfs, a condition of things clearly manifested at the Witches Sabbath, which is their one and only opportunity of freedom, the expression of their true life, where they show themselves for what they are.
I have questioned whether incest was officially and publicly displayed at these functions, as Lancre maintains. But I make no question as to the fact itself.
Economic in the main this state of things,a result of the wretched state in which the serfs were kept. Women being less efficient workers, were regarded as so many useless mouths. One was enough for a family. The birth of a girl was lamented as a calamity (see my Origines); and the child received next to no attention. But many could possibly survive. The eldest only of the brothers married, so hiding under a Christian mask the polyandry that was the actual fact. Between them, a thorough understanding and conspiracy of infertility. This is the bottom of the mournful mystery, which so many witnesses attest without comprehending what it really implied.
One of the most weighty of these, in my eyes, is Boguet, serious, upright, and conscientious, who in his remote Jura country, in his mountain district of Saint-Claude, was bound to find the customs of older days better preserved than elsewhere,
and faithfully followed with all the obstinate tenacity of peasant routine. Boguet also affirms two important facts: 1, incest, even incest between mother and son; 2, unfruitful, undelightful pleasure, child-bearing made an impossibility.
It is appalling,whole nations of women submitting to such sacrilege. I say nations advisedly; these Sabbaths were enormous assemblages,12,000 souls in one small Basque canton (see Lancre); 6,000 in one pretty hamlet, La Mirandole (see Spina).
A terrible revelation indeed of the insignificant moral influence the Church exerted. It has been supposed that with its Latin, its Byzantine metaphysics, barely comprehensible to its clergy themselves, it was Christianising the people. And lo! at the only moment when the people is free and can manifest its true nature, it shows itself worse than pagan. Self-interest, calculation, family consolidation, have more effect than all the empty teaching of clerics. Incest of father and daughter would have been comparatively useless in this direction, and less is heard of it. That of mother and son is specially enjoined by Satan. Why? Because among these uncivilised races the young labourer, on the first awaking of his passions, would have escaped from the family control, would have been lost for the common household, just when he was becoming of precious value to it. It was hoped to keep him to bounds, to nail him to the home, at any rate for a long while, by means of this strongly constraining tie, "That his mother incurred damnation for him."
But how could she ever consent to such a thing? We can only say, look at the cases, happily rare, which occur at the present day. The thing happens only under conditions of the extremity of destitution. It is a hard saying, but a true one: excess of evil fortune demoralises and depraves. The spirit once broken has small power of resistance left, it is weak and flaccid. The poor, in their half-savage life, so bare of everything as it is, spoil their children excessively. In the home of the destitute widow and the forsaken wife or mistress, the child is "monarch
of all he surveys," and the mother has no strength, when he grows up, to oppose his will. How much more so in the Middle Ages! The woman was crushed to the earth on three several sides.
The Church keeps her down at the lowest level of degradation,she is Eve, and sin incarnate. In the house she is beaten; at the Sabbath immolated, we have read how. At bottom she is neither of Satan nor of Jesus; she is nothing, and has nothing. She would die in her child. But they should beware of making a creature so unhappy, for under this hail of agony, what is not pain, what is sweetness and tenderness, may in revenge turn into the frenzy of despair. This is the horror of the Middle Ages. For all its spiritual aspects, it lifts from the hidden depths incredible things that should have never left them; it goes searching and scrutinising the muddy under-regions of the soul.
Still the poor suffering creature would fain stifle all this. Very different from the high-born lady, she can sin only out of submissiveness. Her husband will have it so, and Satan will have it so. She is afraid, and weeps at the idea; but her reluctance goes for little. But, for all the constraint she is under, the result is not less terrible in the way of perversion of the senses and degradation of the mind. It is a hell on earth. She is left horrorstricken, half wild with remorse and passionate revolt. The son, if success has been realised, sees an enemy in his own father; a breath of parricidal fury haunts the house, tainted with this abomination. One is horrified to picture what a society such as this must have been, a society where the family, so fatally corrupted and divided against itself, went on its way in gloomy dumbness, wearing a heavy mask of lead, under the rod of a witless authority that saw nothing and believed in nothing but its own supremacy. What a flock of spiritless sheep! What senseless, brainless shepherds! They had there before their very eyes a monstrous spectacle of calamity, grief, and sin, a spectacle unheard of before or since. But they only looked in the pages
of their books, learned their lesson there, and repeated vain words by rote. Words! words! this resumes all their history. Their whole meaning was a tongue; phrasing and phrases, and nothing else. One name will be theirs for everTalkmongers.
Note 5. Literature of Sorcery and Witchcraft.
Its beginning dates from about 1400. The books composing it are of two kinds and of two periods(1) those of the monkish inquisitors of the fifteenth century; (2) those of the lay judges of the days of Henri IV. and Louis XIII.
The huge Lyons compilation, composed and dedicated to the inquisitor Nitard, reproduces a crowd of these monkish treatises. I have compared them one with another, and sometimes with the old editions. At bottom there is very little in them; and the everlasting repetitions are wearisome to the last degree. The earliest in date (about 1440) is the prince of fools, a genuine Teutonic dullard, the Dominican Nider. In his Formicarius each chapter begins by drawing out a parallel between ants and heretics or sorcerers, the deadly sins, etc. This comes very near the confines of mere idiocy. He explains most satisfactorily the necessity there was to burn Jeanne dArc. This book possessed such attractions that the majority of the rest copied from itSprenger in particular, the great Sprenger, whose merits have elsewhere been insisted on. But how say all there is to be said, how exhaust this mine of asininities? "Fe-mina comes from fe and minus; because a woman has less faith than a man." And a few lines further"She is indeed light-minded and credulous, always ready to believe." Solomon was right when he said, "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. . . . Her mouth is smoother than oil: but her latter end is bitter as wormwood" (Prov. xi. 22, v. 3, 4). But there, what cause for wonder? Was she not made out of a crooked rib, that is to say, a rib which is distorted, turned against man?
The Marteau (Hammer) of Sprenger is the representative work, the type, followed as a rule by the other manuals, the Marteaux, Fouets, Fustigations (Hammers, Whips, Cudgellings), issued later by the Spinas, Jacquiers, Castro, Grillandus, etc. The last-named, a Florentine and inquisitor at Arezzo (1520), has some curious particulars as to philtres, and gives some interesting stories. It comes out quite clearly from what he says that there was, over and above the actual objective Witches Sabbath, an imaginary Sabbath, which many terrified individuals believed themselves to attend, especially women somnambulists, who would get up in the night and scour the country. A young man, crossing the fields at the first peep of dawn, and following the course of a brook, hears a very soft voice hailing him, but in timid, trembling accents. Looking, he sees a pitiful sighta woman's white body almost naked, save for a scanty pair of drawers. Shuddering and shamefaced, she was hiding among the brambles. He recognises a neighbour; and she begs him to rescue her. "What were you doing there?" "I was looking for my donkey." He expresses incredulity, whereupon she bursts into tears. The poor woman, who had very likely in her somnambulism slipped out of her husband's bed and wandered away, starts accusing herself. The Devil took her to the Witches Sabbath; while conducting her home again he heard a church bell, and let her fall. She tried to ensure the youth's discretion by giving him a cap, a pair of boots, and three cheeses, but the silly fellow could not hold his tongue, and bragged of what he had seen. She was arrested. Grillandus, being away at the time, could not conduct her trial, but she was burned, for all that. He speaks of it complacently, and says, the carnal-minded butcher, "She was a fine woman and plump" (pulchra et satis pingeris).
From monk to monk the snowball goes on, ever growing. About 1600, the compilers being themselves subjected to compilation, and supplemented by the later recruits, we arrive at an enormous book, the Disquisitiones Magicæ, of the Spaniard Del Rio. In his Auto-da-fé de Logroño (reprinted by Lancre),
he gives a detailed description of a Sabbath, very curious, but one of the silliest productions to be found in writing. At the banquet, for first course, they eat children hashed: for the second, dead wizards' flesh. Satan, who understands his guests' little ways, conducts the company to the door, holding as a candle the arm of a child who has died unbaptised, etc., etc.
Does this exhaust the absurdities? Not a bit of it. The prize and crown of folly belong to the Dominican Michaëlisin the Gauffridi affair, 1610. His Sabbath is undoubtedly the most improbable of all. To begin with, they assemble "by sound of horn"surely an excellent way of securing their own capture. The Sabbath is celebrated "every day." Each day has its own particular crime, as well as each class of the hierarchy. Those of the lowest class, novices and folk of small account, get their hand in as a beginning by killing babies. Those of the upper class, the gentlemen magicians, are assigned the part of blaspheming, defying, and insulting God. They do not condescend to the trouble of evil spells and bewitchments; these they perform by means of their valets and waiting-maids, who constitute the intermediate class between the well-bred sorcerers and the clodhoppers.
In other descriptions of the same date Satan applies the nice grammatical tests of the Universities, making aspirants undergo severe examinations. After assuring himself of their scholarship, he inscribes them on the registers, and gives them diploma and patent. Sometimes he requires a lengthy preliminary initiation, a sort of semi-monastic noviciate. Or else, again, following the regulations of guilds and corporations of trades, he imposes an apprenticeship, the presentation of a masterwork, etc.
Note 6. Decadence, etc.
A fact deserving attention is that the Church, the enemy of Satan, far from vanquishing him, twice over gives him his success.
[paragraph continues] After the extermination of the Albigensians in the thirteenth century, did she triumph? Just the opposite: Satan is found predominant in the fourteenth. After the St. Bartholomew, and during the massacres of the Thirty Years War, does she triumph? Just the opposite: Satan is once more in the ascendant under Louis XIII.
The object of my book was purely to give, not a history of Sorcery, but a simple and impressive formula of the Sorceress's way of life, which my learned predecessors darken by the very elaboration of their scientific methods and the excess of detail. My strong point is to start, not from the devil, from an empty conception, but from a living reality, the Sorceress, a warm, breathing reality, rich in results and possibilities. The Church had only the demons. She did not rise to Satan; this was the witch's dream.
I have essayed to epitomise her biography of a thousand years, her successive periods, her chronology. I have described (1) how she comes into existence by the excess of her wretchedness and destitution; how the simple peasant wife, served by her familiar spirit, transforms this spirit in the progressive advance of her despair, is assailed, possessed, bedevilled by him, continually reproduces and incorporates him with herself, at last grows one with Satan. I have described (2) how the Sorceress reigns paramount, but undoes and destroys herself. The Sorceress, full of pride and fierce with hate, becomes, under success, the foul, malignant witch, who heals but yet corrupts, her hands more and more busied, her empiricism more and more in vogue, the agent of love and of abortion; (3) she disappears from the scene, lingering on, however, in country places. What remains, in evidence from famous trials, is no longer the witch, but the bewitchedas at Aix, Loudun, Louviers, in the case of Charlotte Cadière, etc.
This chronology was not yet firmly established in my own mind, when I attempted in my history to reconstitute the Witches Sabbath in its several acts. I was mistaken about the
fifth. The true Sorceress of the original type is an isolated being, a devil's nun, having neither love nor family ties. Even the witches of the decadence do not love men. They submit to unfruitful, licentious embraces, and show it in their persons (Lancre), but their personal predilections are solely those common to nuns and female prisoners. She attracts weak-minded, credulous women, who allow themselves to be enticed to their little clandestine feasts (Wyer, chap. 27). The husbands of these women are jealous, interrupt the pretty mystery, beat the Sorceresses and inflict on them the punishment they most dread, viz. to be got with child. The Sorceress scarcely ever conceives except in her own despite, as the result of outrage and derisive insult. But if she has a son, it is an essential point, so it is said, of the Satanic cult that he become her husband. Hence, in the later periods, hideous family groups and generations of little wizards and witches, one and all cunning and malignant, ever ready to beat or denounce their mother. In Boguet is to be found a horrible scene of the sort.
What is less well known, but not less atrocious, is the fact that the great folk who made use of these perverted races for their personal crimes, keeping them in a continual state of dependence by means of their terror of being delivered over to the priests, extorted heavy revenues from them (Sprenger, p. 164, Lyons edition).
For the decay of sorcery and witchcraft, and the latest persecutions of which it was the object, I refer the reader to two excellent works by Soldan and Thomas Wright respectively. In connexion with its relation to magnetism, spiritualism, table-turning, etc., copious details will be found in that curious book, LHistorie du Merveilleux (History of the Marvellous), by M. Figuier.
I have twice spoken of Toulon; but I can never speak enough of a place which has brought me such happiness.
[paragraph continues] It meant much for me to finish this gloomy history in the land of light. Our works feel the influence of the country where they were wrought. Nature labours with us; and it is a duty to render gratitude to this mysterious comrade, to thank the Genius loci.
At the foot of Fort Lamelgue, which rises commandingly, though unseen, above, I occupied a small and very retired house situated on a sharply descending slope of healthy, rocky ground. The man who built himself this hermitage, a doctor, wrote within its walls a very original book, LAgonie et la Mort (Death and the Death Agony). He died himself quite recently. Hot of head and volcanic of heart, he used to come thither every day from Toulon to pour out his troublous thoughts. They are strongly impressed on the locality. Inside the enclosure, a large one, of vines and olive-trees, in order to shut himself in within a double isolation, he had constructed an inner garden, narrow in dimensions, with encircling walls in the African fashion, and containing a tiny fountain. He is still present there by virtue of the exotic plants he loved, and the white marble slabs inscribed with Arabic characters which he saved from the ruined tombs of Algiers. His thirty years old cypresses have shot up into giants, his aloes and cactuses grown into immense, formidable trees. The whole very lonely, not at all luxurious, but with a great charm of its own. In winter-time the sweetbriar in flower everywhere, and wild thyme and aromatic scents of all kinds.
The roadstead of Toulon is, as everybody knows, one of the wonders of the world. There are some even greater in extent, but none so beautiful, so finely designed. It opens to the sea by an entrance two leagues across, this narrowed by two peninsulas, curved like crab's claws. All the interior, varied and diversified by capes, rocky peaks, sharp promontories, moorlands, vines, pinewoods, shows a singular charm, nobility, and severity of aspect.
I could not distinguish the inner portion itself of the roadstead, but only its two enormous armsto right, Tamaris
[paragraph continues] (henceforth immortal), to left, the fantastic horizon of Gien and the Iles dOr, where the great Rabelais would have loved to die.
Behind, beneath the lofty circuit of the bare mountains, the gaiety and brilliance of the harbour, with its blue waters and its ships that come and go in never-ceasing movement, afford a striking contrast. Flapping flags and waving pennants, swift-flying despatch boats carrying admirals and other officers to and fro, all is animating and interesting. Every day at midday I would climb on my way to the town from the sea up to the highest point of my fort, whence opens a vast panorama, the mountains beyond Hyères, the sea, the roads, and in the middle of all the town which, as seen from thence, looks charming. Anyone seeing the sight for the first time, exclaims, "Ah! what a pretty woman Toulon is!" What an agreeable welcome I met with there, what devoted friends I found! The public institutions, the three libraries, the courses held in the sciences, offer numerous resources little suspected by the flying traveller, the passing visitor who is merely on his way to take ship. For myself, settled there for a length of time, and grown into a true Toulonnais, it formed a never-ending source of interest to compare together old Toulon and new, and note the happy progress of the centuries, a progress I never felt more acutely anywhere. The gloomy affair of Charlotte Cadière, the documents relating to which the learned librarian placed at my disposal, brought only this contrast for me in lively colours.
A certain building in particular daily arrested my attention, the Hôpital de la Marine (Naval Hospital), formerly a seminary of the Jesuits, founded by Colbert for the ships almoners, and which, during the decadence of the French Navy, had occupied public attention in so odious a fashion.
It was well done to preserve so instructive a monument of the contrast between the two periods the former marked by ennui and emptiness disfigured by hateful hypocrisy, the present, bright with sincerity, ardent with activity, research, science,
and science purely benevolent in this case, directed solely and entirely towards the relief of suffering and the consolation of human life!
Going inside, we shall find the house has been somewhat changed. If the decriers of the present say such progress is of the Devil, they must admit that to all appearance the Devil has altered his methods.
His magic nowadays is, on the first floor, a fine and well-selected medical library, which these young surgeons, with their own money and at the expense of their pleasures, are incessantly adding to, less dancing and fewer mistresses, more science and brotherly love.
Destructive of old, constructive now, in the chemical laboratory, the Devil is hard at work preparing what is to alleviate the poor sailor's pain and cure his ills. If the knife becomes needful, the insensibility the witches sought, and towards which their narcotics were the first essay, is afforded by the art magic of the immortal discovery made by Jackson in America (1847), and Simpson at Edinburgh.
Those days pondered and aspired; these realise. Their spirit is a Prometheus. In that mighty Satanic arsenal, I mean the well-equipped physical installation possessed by this hospital, I see realised in practice the dreams and longings of the Middle Ages, the most apparently chimerical fantasies of former days.To traverse space, they say, "I would have force. . . ." And behold steam, which is now a flying wing, now a Titan's arm. "I would wield the lightning. . . ." And lo! it is in your land, docile, obedient. It is stored in a bottle, increased, diminished; sparks are drawn from it, it is called here and sent there.We do not ride on a broomstick, it is true, through the air; but the demon Montgolfier has created the balloon. Last, but not least, the sublimest wish of all, the sovereign desire to communicate afar off, to make one from pole to pole men's thoughts and hearts, this miracle is accomplished. More than that, the whole round world is united by a vast electrical network.
[paragraph continues] Humanity as a whole possesses for the first time from minute to minute the full consciousness of itself, a complete communion of soul with soul. . . . This is divine sorcery indeed! . . . If Satan does this, we are bound to pay him homage, to admit he may well be after all one of the aspects of God.