Page images
PDF
EPUB

as if constantly bred on mount Ebal; yet speaking perchance worse than she means, though meaning worse than she should. And as the harmless wapping of a curs'd curre, may stir up a fierce mastiffe to the worrying of sheep; so on her cursing, the devil may take occasion by God's permission to do mischief, without her knowledge, and perchance against her will.

“ Some have been made witches by endeavouring to defend themselves against witchcraft: for, fearing some suspected witch should hurt them, they fence themselves with the devil's shield against the devil's sword, put on his whole armour, beginning to use spels and charms to safeguard themselves. The art is quickly learnt, to which nothing but credulity and practice is required: and they often fall, from defending themselves, to offending of others, especially the devil not being dainty of his company, where he finds welcome; and being invited once, he haunts ever after.

“ She begins at first with doing tricks, rather strange than hurtful, yea some of them are pretty and pleasing. But it is dangerous to gather flowers that grow on the banks of the pit of hell, for fear of falling in; yea they which play with the devil's rattles, will be brought by degrees to wield his sword, and from making of sport they come to doing of mischief.

“At last she indents down right with the devil. He is to find her some toyes for a time, and to have her soul in exchange. At the first (to give the devil his due) he observes the agreement to keep up his credit, else none would trade with him ; though at last he either deceives her with an equivocation, or at some other small hole this Serpent winds out himself, and breaks the covenants. And where shall she poor wretch sue the forfeited bond ? in heaven she neither can nor dare appear ; on earth she is hanged if the contract be proved ; in hell her adversary is judge, and it is woful to appeal from the devil to the devil. But for a while let us behold her in her supposed felicity. . “ She taketh her free progress from one place to another. Sometimes the devil doth locally transport her : but he will not be her constant hackney, to carry such luggage about, but oftentimes to save portage, deludes her brains in her sleep, so that they brag of long journeys, whose heads never travelled from their bolsters. These with Drake sail about the world, but it is on an ocean of their own fancies, and in a ship of the same: They boast of brave banquets they have been at, but they would be very lean should they eat no other meat: others will perswade, if any list to believe, that by a witch-bridle they can make a fair of horses of an acre of besome-weed. O silly souls ! O subtil Satan that deceived them!

“ 6. With strange figures and words she summons the devils to attend her: using a language which God never made at the confusion of tongues, and an interpreter must be fetched from hell to expound it. With these, or Scripture abused, the devil is ready at her service. Who would suppose that roaring lion could so finely act the spaniel ? one would think he were too old to suck, and yet he will do that also for advantage.

7. Sometimes she enjoyns him to do more for her than he is able; as to wound those whom God's providence doth arm, or to break through the tents of blessed angels, to hurt one of God's saints. Here Satan is put to his shifts, and his wit must help him, where his power fails; he either excuseth it, or performs it, lengthening his own arm by the dimuess of her eye, and presenting the seeming bark of that tree which he cannot bring.

“ 8. She lives commonly but very poor. Methinks she should bewitch to herself a golden mine, at least good meat, and whole clothes: But 'tis as rare to see one of her profession, as a hangman, in a whole suit. Is the possession of the devil's favour here no better? Lord, what is the reversion of it hereafter!

“ 9. When arraigned for her life, the devil leaves her to the law to shift for herself. He hath worn out all his shoes in her former service, and will not now go barefoot to help her; and the circle of the halter is found to be too strong for all her spirits. Yea, Zoroastes himself, the first inventor of Magick (though he laught at his birth) led a miserable life, and died a woful death in banishment. We will give a double example of a Witch: first of a real one, out of the Scripture, because it shall be above all exception ; and then of one deeply suspected, out of our Chronicles.

We have been rather diffuse in our quotations from this agreeable writer. We think, however, our extracts will be sufficient to excuse us. As Fuller greatly excels in striking and happy sentences, we will give a few of these at random from his book:

“ Heat gotten by degrees, with motion and exercise, is more natural, and stayes longer by one, than what is gotten all at once by coming to the fire. Goods acquired by industry prove commonly more lasting than lands by descent."-P. 45.

“ Dissolute men, like unskilful horsemen, which open a gate on the wrong side, may, by the virtue of their office, open Heaven for others, and shut themselves out.”—P. 74.

“ Reasons are the pillars of the fabric of a sermon, but similitudes are the windows which give the best light.”—P. 76.

“ 'Tis a shame when the Church itself is a cemeterium, when the living sleep above ground as the dead do beneath.”—P. 85.

“ Conjectures, like parcels of unknown ore, are sold but at low rates. If they prove some rich metal, the buyer is a great gainer; if base, no loser, for he pages for it accordingly.”—P. 137.

“ A public office is a guest which receives the best usage from them who never invited it."-P. 140.

“ Scoff not at the natural defects of any, which are not in their power to amend. Oh! 'tis cruelty to beat a cripple with his own crutches.”—P. 146.

“ Good company is not only profitable whilst a man lives, but sometimes when he is dead; for he that was buried with the bones of Elisha, by a posthumous miracle of that prophet, recovered his life by lodging with such a grave-fellow.”—P. 153.

Anger is one of the sinews of the soul: he that wants it hath a maimed mind.”—P. 158.

“ Generally Nature hangs out a sign of simplicity in the face of a fool, and there is enough in his countenance for an Hue and Crie to take him on suspicion, or else it is stamped in the figure of his body: their heads sometimes so little that there is no room for wit, sometimes so long that there is no wit for so much room.”—P. 168.

“ They that marry ancient people, merely in expectation to bury them, hang themselves in hope that one will come and cut the halter.” -P. 208.

“ He that impoverisheth his children to enrich his widow, destroys a quick hedge to make a dead one."--P. 9.

We must now conclude our remarks on this book; and we do, in fine, most seriously recommend it to those of our readers, who are not deterred by the appearance of a moderate-sized folio, as a treasure of good sense, information, and entertainment. It is only by contrasting the works of Fuller with the lumbering and heavy productions of his contemporaries that we can properly estimate the value of the former, or give due honour to the memory of one, whọ, in his most arduous and sterile undertakings, in the darkness of antiquities or the cloudy atmosphere of polemical divinity, never lost the vivifying spirit of his humour or the exhilarating play of his wit, or suffered his keenness of observation to be blunted by the blocks it had to work on. To him every subject was alike : if it was a dull one, he could enliven it; if it was an agreeable one, he could improve it; if it was a deep one, he could sound it; if it was a tough one, he could grapple with it. In him learning was but subsidiary to wit, and wit but secondary to wisdom; and, if his quaintness of humour gave something of the grotesque to his productions, it but added to the gloss of the admirable matter which it shone on. To him and to his pages may we always come, secure of entertainment and instruction-of finding an agreeable olio of humourous wit and diverting sense, which reciprocally relieve and play upon each other, the latter sobering and steadying the former, the former barbing and pointing the latter. In short, his works are an inexhaustible fund of sound and solid thought-a quarry, or rather mine, of good old English heartiness, where the lighter and less elaborate artificers of modern times may seek, and seek fearlessly, for materials for their own more fragile and graceful structures. Of Fuller himself we can only observe, that his life was meritoriously passed, and exemplary throughout; that his opinions were independently adopted and unshrinkingly maintained. In the darkest and gloomiest period of our national history he had the sense and the wisdom to pursue the right way, and to persevere in an even tenor of moderation, as remote from interested lukewarm

ness as it was from mean-spirited fear. Unwilling to go all lengths with either party, he was of consequence vilified by both : willing to unite the maintainers of opposite and conflicting sentiments, he only united them against himself. Secure in the strength of his intellectual riches, the storms and hurricanes which uprooted the fabric of the constitution had only the effect of confining him more to his own resources, and of inciting him to the production of those numerous treatises and compilations for which he received from his contemporaries respect and reputation, and for which posterity will render him its tribute of unfailing gratitude.

Art. V. Joannis Physiophili Specimen Monachologia, Metho

do Linnæaná. Augustæ Vindelicorum, 1782.

The studies

[ocr errors]

No part of our labors is more congenial to our feelings than that which leads us to the consideration of the studies, the manners, and institutions of the middle ages. The pleasure attendant on such inquiries would be of the highest order, even though it should extend no farther than the gratification necessarily arising from a visit to those spots and scenes which witnessed the humble efforts of our forefathers in literature and science; where the rude Northman commenced his struggles for liberty and independence, or emerged from the gloom of barbarism to brighter prospects of freedom and civilization; where the great and good, who are now mingled with the dust, saw their sun of glory rise and set. Who does not feel his breast expand with the liveliest feelings of respect and veneration, at the mere recollection that he is treading on a spot, however barren, which was the witness of the triumphs or the joys of days that are passed and gone: and shall we need any apology for investigations, which bring to our remembrance the deeds and virtues of the warrior and saint; the lay of the minstrel, as it roused the mind to emulation and exertion; the interesting memorials of painting, of sculpture, and architecture; the proud walls of the baron; and the magnificent sublimity of church or abbey ?

The field which these studies open to our view is as boundless as it is interesting. In their progress we are to behold the lamp of learning, smothering for a while in obscurity, only to burst forth with hundred-fold brilliancy; fed and nourished in its revival by institutions admirably calculated to ensure its permanence and general diffusion; gradually extending its influence to all classes and nations, and dazzling the world by a ga

laxy of historians, poets, philosophers, and artists, starting, at once, into existence, and emulating each other in the brilliancy of their course, and their beneficial influence on the hopes and prospects of mankind.—We are to explore the rise and progress of our most valuable political institutions—the ripening of apparently barbarous and arbitrary regulations into the refined and well cemented policy of feudal relations—wonderfully adapting themselves to the spirit of the times in which they had their birth and maturity, in contributing to rear up the fabric of well balanced power, curbing the encroaching influences of despotism, and in the fullness of time moulding themselves, by energies inherent in their formation, into institutions which experience has proved well adapted to all stages of society, when allowed to accommodate themselves to its progress. We are to watch the pure and lofty spirit of chivalry, the school of moral discipline, the embodier of those feelings which tempered the rugged habits and passions of unpolished barbarians, and mingled the fierce bravery of the warrior with the courteous honor of the blameless knight—which supplied an office capable of being performed, in those days, by no other earthly agent; that of a power which brought valour within the subjection of reason and justice-enforced the rules of plighted honor-shewed injured innocence the promise of redress and protection-and which (when it had done these, its earliest and, perhaps, most eminently useful services to mankind) melted down into those finer feelings of honor and generosity that form the chain and cement of modern society, and continues, even now, to execute its most vaunted function of freeing the captive damsel, by restoring one-half of the human race to its birthright, and placing woman in the rank which nature designed her, not the slave or servant of man, (as in the boasted æras of civilized Greece and Rome) but his equal, the friend of his bosom, the soother of his griefs, and partaker of his joys.

But, in pursuing these speculations, we have, also, to weigh the effects of a yet more powerful “spirit that has moved upon the face of the waters,” that of religion, the principle which established monastic institutions; which assembled, in the same field of warfare, the nations of the east and west, the followers of Mahomet and of Christ; and, by this collision, produced results of incalculable importance on the literature and political relations of Europe; which imparted the inspiration that warmed the painter and the sculptor, and raised the almost imperishable beauties of ecclesiastical architecture.

The work which appears at the head of this article naturally suggests a few brief observations on monastic institutions, for which we are not at all unwilling to stand forward to claim more consideration and esteem, than are popularly considered

« PreviousContinue »