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really seem to have left no trace of its predecessor in the same countries. But on entering or looking closer into the wilderness of social life, a vast underwood of thick and tangled superstitions meets the eye, and offers all the leading features of heathenism, but merely dwarfed. The change might perhaps be depicted as a subsidence of heathenism down into the popular masses, by the effect of social progress ; while Christianity was in its purity confined to the higher classes. Or the distinction may be indicated in the spheres assigned their agencies. While the future was the object of the Christian dispensation, the beings of fancy that succeeded to the heathen divinities confined, as these had done, their proper sphere to the present life. They also operated on the physical world and in time; whereas the province of Christianity was spiritual and eternal.
But though the popular and lowest stratum in the Christian societies be the analogue and heir of the whole body in the heathen, the ancient forms must be modified in even that reclusion, by the natural reaction of the higher classes upon the people. This effect would bear especially on the distinctness of the notions.
What was vague or rudimental in the primitive communities would, in the Christian, be concentrated and constituted with more art. For the nature of the whole production was
an infant ætiology-as well applied and artificial as explanatory and natural—of the appearances and the events that most affected the nascent intellect. And the causation would take more system as the phenomena provoking it became unfolded through social progress to even the popular intelligence, from their material amalgamation in the heathen ages of mere
DIVISION OF THE SUBJECT.
sense, up to detachment in succession of the moral and the social stages.
This accordingly effects a natural division of such agents. And the division is not only based upon the corresponding objects, but is beside controlled concurrently by time, by place, and even by race. For those imaginary beings must be adapted to their fancied purposes ; and the purposes, in consequence of a gradation of complexity, could become subjects of spontaneous speculation but successively. Thus the physical and outer world had been naturally earliest ; then the moral or the personal, as the re-agent against the physical. The relational or rational and social order of phenomena must be, as based upon the personal and physical, attained the latest. So in turn the three classes of mystic agents, as of their objects, would relate severally to the past, the present, and the future, and exhibit the same order in their rise as in their functions. The like series should be discovered in their geographical predominance, as bearing on the line of evolution of civilization. In fine, the nations or the races that occupied such positions must be respectively the authors of the three branches of this mythology. All these series are moreover corollaries to one another, as well as consequences of the nature or the law of all progression.
We are therefore in possession of a threefold criterion for determining the species, the attributes, and nationality of all these creatures of superstition which continue to be huddled without order or appropriation of function, epoch, object, origin.
The division of kind or species gives our Witches, Ghosts, and Fairies.
These are known to relate duly to the three parts of time, and also to the three gradations of abstraction in humanity. The first are fancied to account for or act on things already done ; the second, on things present or urgent to be done ; the third, on things gerundative or congruous to all time. Again, the witches are still human and praeternatural but in their functions; the ghosts are human in their functions, but praeternatural in organism; the fairies are praeternatural in organs and functions both, holding merely to humanity in its forms, physical and social. The order of their rise, as of their prevalence, in Europe is, like the course of civilization itself, from east to west, and with the corresponding races-Romanic, Gothic, Celtic.
- . These criteria are not pretended to be trenchantly exclusive-a pretension which indeed would stamp untruth on the division. The distinction in a series of progression really natural can be but that of relative predominance, or type : for in nature there is nothing wholly different from any other thing, but merely more or less so, with relation to the things compared. It must be evident to bare experience that the several races named, intermingled as, besides, they have for ages been with each other, must have in some degree adopted each other's visions, if not concurred in them. yet the native is always separable from the foreign or feebler form, as will be clear, it is expected, from the ensuing exposition.
2. The witches, as above deduced, are in reality of Roman origin ; Canidia, with her malign incantations, is the
classic type : even Medea wrought for good, and drew her powers from the gods. For malicious operation, by physical means, and in consequence or explanation of past occurrences, combines the triple character of this lowest form of the supernatural. Witches, says Reginald Scot in later times, are divided into three sorts : the first can hurt but not help ; the second help, but not hurt ; the third can help and hurt both. The functions here, it is perceived, are all directed to past occurrences—the help, as a remedy ; the hurt, as an explanation. Both the processes have also the Roman stamp of practicality. The physical nature of the instruments and charms is commemorated in the circumstance that sorceresses were termed poisoners (venifices); a combination no less famous, it has been seen, with the Italians. Other titles
no less characteristic of this race. Such was lena, a female go-between or procuress; an exigence no less appropriate to the race of cellularity. This is also why Horace joins Canidia with Priapus ; and the attribute passed down to the witches of the middle ages, when much of the disgusting litigation on divorce used to turn on the impotence or potence dealt by witches. Even the sole designation allusory to knowledge reflects equally the race of mere sensile penetration. This was saga, the least odious of the several appellatives, though but a metaphor from the sagacity or sense of smell of the dog. The Roman prototype becomes, however (like that people itself), less vulgar or human, more spiritual or mystical, in passing downward, as seen so early as Petronius and Apuleius. The strange witch-wrought metamorphoses of the latter are familiar : they represent a
Witchcraft Discovered, etc., p. 6.
passage from the classic to the Christian forms. Gibbon in his history remarks upon Petronius : “ Striga (the screechowl) is used as the name of witch. It is of the most classic origin; and from the words of Petronius (quae striges come
1 derunt nervos tuos ?) it may be inferred that the prejudices (i.e. witchcraft) was of Italian rather than barbaric origin.” For the barbarians, that is the Teutons, have generally had the credit of giving all things, even witches and fairies, to Europe ; all things except precisely what they did give, the ghosts.
No doubt, however, there had been a sort of witchcraft before the Roman. Later nations but unfold what lay in germ in their predecessors. In fact, the jugglers of the Indians, east and west, are the witch in embryo ; Medea, too, with the Colchians generally, and the Thessalians, advanced the art. But the witch of Roman fashion and Christian times was widely different. The name must for this reason be misapplied, in the Bible, to those diviners or cataleptics who told the future and raised the dead.
The famous personage of Endor, if proceeding on a past event, did not operate by virtue of a physical concoction; she called up a ghost by means of her “familiar spirit.” Both the instrument and object are remarkably illustrative of the great social order of development just stated. As there were witches before the Romans, so there were ghosts before the Teutons. But the gentilitial antetype of the Teutons were the Jews. It is seen then, how doubly conformable to theory are both the "ghost" and “spirit” of the pythoness of Endor. Nor is it less so, that the ghosts did not as yet appear spontaneously, as in the race in which the spiritual development is more advanced;