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Chapter 18

Whether is most hurtful to the World, the Devil walking about without his Cloven-Foot, or the Cloven-Foot walking about without the Devil?

In discussing this most critical Distinction of Satan’s private Motions, I must, as the Pulpit Gentlemen direct us, explain the Text, and let you know what I mean by several dark Expressions in it, that I may not be understood to talk (as the Devil walks) in the dark.

1. As to the Devil’s walking about.

2. His walking without his Cloven-Foot.

3. The Cloven-Foot walking about without the Devil.

 

Now as I study Brevity, and yet would be understood too, you may please to understand me as I understand my self, thus.

1. That I must be allow’d to suppose the Devil really has a full Intercourse in, and through, and about this Globe, with Egress and Regress, for the carrying on his special Affairs, when, how, and where, to his Majesty, in his great Wisdom, it shall seem meet; that sometimes he appears and becomes visible, and that, like a Mastiff without his Clog, he does not always carry his Cloven-Foot with him. This will necessarily bring me to some Debate upon the most important Question of Apparitions, Hauntings, Walkings, &c. whether of Satan in human Shape, or of human Creatures in the Devil’s Shape, or in any other manner whatsoever.

2. I must also be allow’d to tell you that Satan has a great deal of Wrong done him by the general embracing vulgar Errors, and that there is a Cloven-Foot oftentimes without a Devil; or, in short, that Satan is not guilty of all the simple Things, no, or of all the wicked Things we charge him with.

 

These two Heads well settled will fully explain the Title of this Chapter, answer the Query mentioned in it, and at the same time correspond very well with, and give us a farther Prospect into the main and original Design of this Work, namely, The History of the Devil. We are so fond of, and pleased with the general Notion of seeing the Devil, that I am loth to disoblige my Readers so much as calling in question his Visibility would do. Nor is it my Business, any more than it is his, to undeceive them, where the Belief is so agreeable to them; especially since upon the whole ’tis not one Farthing matter, either on one Side or on the other, whether it be so or no, or whether the Truth of Fact be ever discovered or not.

Certain it is, whether we see him or no, here he is, and I make no doubt but he is looking on while I am writing this Part of his Story, whether behind me, or at my Elbow, or over my Shoulder, is not material to me, nor have I once turned my Head about to see whether he is there or no; for if he be not in the Inside, I have so mean an Opinion of all his extravasated Powers, that it seems of very little Consequence to me what Shape he takes up, or in what Posture he appears; nor indeed can I find in all my Enquiry that ever the Devil appear’d (Qua Devil) in any of the most dangerous or important of his Designs in the World; the most of his Projects, especially of the significant Part of them, having been carried on another way.

However, as I am satisfied no Body will be pleas’d if I should dispute the Reality of his Appearance, and the World runs away with it as a receiv’d Point, and that admits no Dispute, I shall most readily grant the General, and give you some Account of the Particulars.

History is fruitful of Particulars, whether Invention has supply’d them or not, I will not say, where the Devil is brought upon the Stage in plain and undeniable Apparition: The Story of Samuel being rais’d by the Witch of Endor, I shall leave quite out of my List, because there are so many Scruples and Objections against that Story; and as I shall not dispute with the Scripture, so on the other hand, I have so much Deference for the Dignity of the Devil, as not to determine rashly how far it may be in the Power of every old (Witch) Woman, to call him up whenever she pleases, and that he must come, whatever the Pretence is, or whatever Business of Consequence he may be engaged in, as often as ’tis needful for her to Pa wa for half a Crown, or perhaps less than half the Money.

Nor will I undertake to tell you, till I have talk’d farther with him about it, how far the Devil is concern’d to discover Frauds, detect Murthers, reveal Secrets, and especially to tell where any Money is hid, and shew Folks where to find it; ’tis an odd thing that Satan should think it of Consequence to come and tell us where such a Miser hid a Strong Box, or where such an old Woman buried her Chamber Pot full of Money, the Value of all which is perhaps but a Trifle, when at the same time he lets so many Veins of Gold, so many unexhausted Mines, nay, Mountains of Silver, as, we may depend upon it, are hid in the Bowels of the Earth, and which it would be so much to the Good of whole Nations to discover, lie still there, and never say one Word of them to any Body. Besides, how does the Devil’s doing Things so foreign to himself, and so out of his way, agree with the rest of his Character; namely, shewing a kind of a friendly Disposition to Mankind, or doing beneficent Things? This is so beneath Satan’s Quality, and looks so little, that I scarce know what to say to it; but that which is still more pungent in the Case is, these Things are so out of his Road, and so foreign to his Calling, that it shocks our Faith in them, and seems to clash with all the just Notions we have of him, and of his Business in the World. The like is to be said of those little merry Turns we bring him in acting with us, and upon us, upon trifling and simple Occasions, such as tumbling Chairs and Stools about House, setting Pots and Vessels Bottom upward, tossing the Glass and Crokery Ware about without breaking; and such like mean foolish Things, beneath the Dignity of the Devil, who, in my Opinion, is rather employ’d in setting the World with the Bottom upward, tumbling Kings and Crowns about, and dashing the Nations one against another; raising Tempests and Storms, whether at Sea, or on Shore; and, in a word, doing capital Mischiefs suitable to his Nature, and agreeable to his Name, Devil; and suited to that Circumstance of his Condition, which I have fully represented in the primitive Part of his exil’d State.

But to bring in the Devil playing at Push-pin with the World, or like Domitian catching Flies, that is to say, doing nothing to the purpose; this is not only deluding our selves, but putting a Slur upon the Devil himself; and, I say, I shall not dishonour Satan so much as to suppose any thing in it: However, as I must have a care too how I take away the proper Materials of Winter Evening Frippery, and leave the good Wives nothing of the Devil to fright the Children with, I shall carry the weighty Point no farther. No doubt the Devil and Dr. Faustus were very intimate; I should rob you of a very significant [6] Proverb, if I should so much as doubt it; no doubt the Devil shew’d himself in the Glass to that fair Lady who look’d in it to see where to place her Patches; but then it should follow too that the Devil is an Enemy to the Ladies wearing Patches, and that has some Difficulties in it which we cannot so easily reconcile; but we must tell the Story, and leave out the Consequences.

But to come to more remarkable Things, and in which the Devil has thought fit to act in a Figure more suitable to his Dignity, and on Occasions consistent with himself; take the Story of the Appearance of Julius Cæsar, or the Devil assuming that murthered Emperor, to the great Marcus Brutus, who notwithstanding all the good Things said to justify it, was no less than a King-killer and an Assassinator, which we in our Language call by a very good Name, and peculiar to the English Tongue, a Ruffian.

The Spectre had certainly the Appearance of Cæsar, with his Wounds bleeding fresh, as if he had just receiv’d the fatal Blow; he had reproach’d him with his Ingratitude, with a Tu Brute! tu quoque, mi fili: “What Thou Brutus! Thou, my adopted Son!” Now History seems to agree universally, not only in the Story itself, but in the Circumstances of it; we have only to observe that the Devil had certainly Power to assume, not a human Shape only, but the Shape of Julius Cæsar in particular.

Had Brutus been a timorous Conscience-harry’d, weak-headed Wretch, had he been under the Horror of the Guilt, and terrify’d with the Dangers that were before him at that time, we might suggest that he was over-run with the Vapours, that the Terrors which were upon his Mind disorder’d him, that his Head was delirious and prepossess’d, and that his Fancy only plac’d Cæsar so continually in his Eye, that it realiz’d him to his Imagination, and he believ’d he saw him; with many other suggested Difficulties to invalidate the Story, and render the Reality of it doubtful.

But the contrary, to an Extreme, was the Case of Brutus; his known Character plac’d him above the Power of all Hypocondriacks, or fanciful Delusions; Brutus was of a true Roman Spirit, a bold Hero, of an intrepid Courage; one that scorn’d to fear even the Devil, as the Story allows: Besides, he glory’d in the Action; there cou’d be no Terror of Mind upon him; he valued himself upon it, as done in the Service of Liberty, and the Cause of his Country; and was so far from being frighted at the Devil in the worst Shape, that he spoke first to him, and ask’d him, What art thou? and when he was cited to see him again at Philippi, answer’d, with a Gallantry that knew no Fear, well I will see thee there. Whatever the Devil’s Business was with Brutus, this is certain, according to all the Historians who give us the Account of it, that Brutus discover’d no Fear; he did not, like Saul at Endor, fall to the Ground in a Swoon, 1 Sam. xxviii. 20. Then Saul fell all along upon the Earth, and there was no Strength in him, and was sore afraid. In a word, I see no room to charge Brutus with being over-run with the Hyppo, or with Vapours, or with Fright and Terror of Mind; but he saw the Devil, that’s certain, and with Eyes open, his Courage not at all daunted, his Mind resolute, and with the utmost Composure spoke to him, reply’d to his Answer, and defy’d his Summons to Death, which indeed he fear’d not, as appear’d afterward.

I come next to an Instance as eminent in History as the other; this was in Char. VI. of France, sirnamed, The Beloved; who riding over the Forest near Mans, a ghastly frightful Fellow (that is to say, the Devil so clothed in human Vizor) came up to his Horse, and taking hold of his Bridle, stop’d him, with the Addition of these Words, Stop King, whither go you? You are betray’d! and immediately disappear’d. It is true, the King had been distemper’d in his Head before, and so he might have been deceived, and we might have charg’d it to the Account of a whimsical Brain, or the Power of his Imagination; but this was in the Face of his Attendants, several of his great Officers, Courtiers, and Princes of the Blood being with him, who all saw the Man, heard the Words, and immediately, to their Astonishment, lost Sight of the Spectre, who vanish’d from them all.

Two Witnesses will convict a Murtherer, why not a Traitor? This must be the Old Gentleman, emblematically so called, or who must it be? nay, who else could it be? His Ugliness is not the Case, tho’ ugly as the Devil, is a Proverb in his Favour; but vanishing out of sight is an Essential to a Spirit, and to an evil Spirit in our Times especially.

These are some of the Devil’s Extraordinaries, and it must be confess’d they are not the most agreeable to Mankind, for sometimes he takes upon him to disorder his Friends very much on these Occasions, as in the above Case of Cha. VI. of France; the King, they say, was really demented ever after; that is, as we vulgarly, but not always improperly, express it, he was really frighted out of his Wits. Whether the malicious Devil intended it so, or not, is not certain, tho’ it was not so foreign to his particular Disposition if he did.

But where he is more intimate, we are told he appears in a manner less disagreeable, and there he is more properly a familiar Spirit; that is, in short, a Devil of their Acquaintance: It is true, the Antients understand the Word, a familiar Spirit, to be one of the kinds of Possession; but if it serves our turn as well under the Denomination of an intimate Devil, or a Devil visitant, it must be acknowledg’d to be as near in the literal Sense and Acceptation of the Word, as the other; nay, it must be allow’d ’tis a very great Piece of Familiarity in the Devil to make Visits, and shew none of his Disagreeables, not appear formidable, or in the Shape of what he is, respectfully withholding his dismal Part, in Compassion to the Infirmities of his Friends.

It is true, Satan may be oblig’d to make different Appearances, as the several Circumstances of Things call for it; in some Cases he makes his publick Entry, and then he must shew himself in his Habit of Ceremony; in other Cases he comes upon private Business, and then he appears in Disguise; in some publick Cases he may thing fit to be incog. and then he appears dress’d a la Masque; so they say he appear’d at the famous St. Bartholomew Wedding at Paris, where, he came in dress’d up like a Trumpeter, danc’d in his Habit, sounded a Levet, and then went out and rung the Alarm-Bell (which was the Signal to begin the Massacre) half an Hour before the Time appointed, lest the King’s Mind should alter, and his Heart fail him.

If the Story be not made upon him, (for we should not slander the Devil) it should seem, he was not thoroughly satisfied in King Charles IX.’s Steadiness in his Cause; for the King, it seems, had relax’d a little once before, and Satan might be afraid he would fall off again, and so prevent the Execution: Others say, the King did relent immediately after the ringing the Alarm-Bell, but that then it was too late, the Work was begun, and the Rage of Blood having been let loose among the People, there was no recalling the Order. If the Devil was thus brought to the Necessity of a secret Management, it must be owned he did it dexterously; but I have not Authority enough for the Story, to charge him with the Particulars, so I leave it au croc.

I have much better Vouchers for the Story following, which I had so solemnly confirm’d by one that liv’d in the Family, that I never doubted the Truth of it. There liv’d, in the Parish of St. Bennet Fynk, near the Royal Exchange, an honest poor Widow Woman, who, her Husband being lately dead, took Lodgers into her House; that is, she let out some of her Rooms in order to lessen her own Charge of Rent; among the rest, she let her Garrets to a working Watchwheel-maker, or one some way concern’d in making the Movements of Watches, and who work’d to those Shop-keepers who sell Watches; as is usual.

It happened that a Man and Woman went up, to speak with this Movement-maker upon some Business which related to his Trade, and when they were near the Top of the Stairs, the Garret-Door where he usually worked being wide open, they saw the poor Man (the Watch-maker, or Wheel-maker) had hang’d himself upon a Beam which was left open in the Room a little lower than the Plaister, or Ceiling: Surpriz’d at the Sight, the Woman stop’d, and cried out to the Man who was behind her on the Stairs that he should run up, and cut the poor Creature down.

At that very Moment comes a Man hastily from another Part of the Room which they upon the Stairs could not see, bringing a Joint-Stool in his Hand, as if in great Haste, and sets it down just by the Wretch that was hang’d, and getting up as hastily upon it pulls a Knife out of his Pocket, and taking hold of the Rope with one of his Hands, beckon’d to the Woman and the Man behind her with his Head, as if to stop and not come up, shewing them the Knife in his other Hand, as if he was just going to cut the poor Man down.

Upon this, the Woman stopp’d a while, but the Man who stood on the Joint-Stool continued with his Hand and Knife as if fumbling at the Knot, but did not yet cut the Man down; at which the Woman cried out again, and the Man behind her call’d to her. Go up, says he, and help the Man upon the Stool! supposing something hindred. But the Man upon the Stool made Signs to them again to be quiet, and not come on, as if saying, I shall do it immediately; then he made two Strokes with his Knife, as if cutting the Rope, and then stopp’d again; and still the poor Man was hanging, and consequently dying: Upon this, the Woman on the Stairs cried out to him. What ails you? Why don’t you cut the poor Man down? And the Man behind her, having no more Patience, thrusts her by, and said to her. Let me come, I’ll warrant you I’ll do it; and with that runs up and forward into the Room to the Man; but when he came there, behold, the poor Man was there hanging; but no Man with a Knife, or Joint-Stool, or any such thing to be seen, all that was Spectre and Delusion, in order, no doubt, to let the poor Creature that had hang’d himself perish and expire.

The Man was so frighted and surpriz’d, that with all the Courage he had before, he drop’d on the Floor as one dead, and the Woman at last was fain to cut the poor Man down with a Pair of Scissars, and had much to do to effect it.

As I have no room to doubt the Truth of this Story, which I had from Persons on whose Honesty I could depend. So I think it needs very little Trouble to convince us who the Man upon the Stool must be, and that it was the Devil who plac’d himself there in order to finish the Murther of the Man who he had, Devil-like, tempted before, and prevail’d with to be his own Executioner. Besides, it corresponds so well with the Devil’s Nature, and with his Business, viz. that of a Murtherer, that I never question’d it; nor can I think we wrong the Devil at all to charge him with it.

N. B. I cannot be positive in the remaining Part of this Story, viz. whether the Man was cut down soon enough to be recover’d, or whether the Devil carry’d his Point, and kept off the Man and Woman till it was too late; but be it which it will, ’tis plain he did his Devilish Endeavour, and stay’d till he was forc’d to abscond again.

 

We have many solid Tales well attested, as well in History as in the Reports of honest People, who could not be deceived, intimating the Devil’s personal Appearance, some in one Place, some in another; as also sometimes in one Habit or Dress, and sometimes in another; and it is to be observed, that in none of those which are most like to be real, and in which there is least of Fancy and Vapour, you have any Mention of the Cloven Foot, which rather seems to be a mere Invention of Men (and perhaps chiefly of those who had a Cloven Understanding) I mean a shallow kind of Craft, the Effect of an empty and simple Head, thinking by such a well-meant, tho’ weak Fraud, to represent the Devil to the old Women and Children of the Age, with some Addition suitable to the Weakness of their Intellects, and suited to making them afraid of him.

I have another Account of a Person who travell’d upwards of four Years with the Devil in his Company, and convers’d most intimately with him all the while; nay, if I may believe the Story, he knew most part of the Time that he was the Devil, and yet convers’d with him, and that very profitably, for he perform’d many very useful Services for him, and constantly preserv’d him from the Danger of Wolves and wild Beasts, which the Country he travell’d thro’ was intolerably full of. Where, by the way, you are to understand, that the Wolves and Bears in those Countries knew the Devil, whatever Disguise he went in; or that the Devil has some Way to fright Bears and such Creatures, more than we know of. Nor could this Devil ever be prevail’d upon to hurt him or any of his Company. This Account has an innumerable Number of diverting Incidents attending it; but they are equal to all the rest in Bulk, and therefore too long for this Book.

I find too upon some more ordinary Occasions the Devil has appear’d to several People at their Call: This indeed shews abundance of good Humour in him, considering him as a Devil, and that he was mighty complaisant: Nay some, they tell us, have a Power to raise the Devil whenever they think fit; this I cannot bring the Devil to a Level with, unless I should allow him to be Servus Servorum, as another Devil in Disguise calls himself; subjected to ever old Wizard’s Call; or that he is under a Necessity of appearing on such or such particular Occasions, whoever it is that calls him; which would bring the Devil’s Circumstances to a pitch of Slavery which I see no Reason to believe of them.

Here also I must take Notice again, that tho’ I say the Devil, when I speak of all these Apparitions, whether of a greater or lesser Kind, yet I am not oblig’d to suppose Satan himself in Person is concern’d to shew himself, but that some of his Agents, Deputies and Servants, are sent to that Purpose, and directed what Disguise of Flesh and Blood to put on, as may be suitable to the Occasion.

This seems to be the only Way to reconcile all those simple and ridiculous Appearances which not Satan, but his Emissaries, (which we old Women call Imps) sometimes make, and the mean and sorry Employment they are put to: Thus Fame tells us of a certain Witch of Quality, who call’d the Devil once to carry her over a Brook where the Water was swell’d with a hasty Rain, and lash’d him soundly with her Whip for letting her Ladyship fall into the Water before she was quite over. Thus also, as Fame tells us, she set the Devil to work, and made him build Crowland Abbey, where there was no Foundation to be found, only for disturbing the Workmen a little who were first set about it. So it seems another laborious Devil was oblig’d to dig the great Ditch cross the Country from the Fenn Country to the Edge of Suffolk and Essex; which who ever he has preserv’d the Reputation of, and where it crosses New-Market Heath, ’tis call’d Devil’s Ditch to this Day.

Another Piece of Punishment no doubt it was, when the Devil was oblig’d to bring the Stones out of Wales into Wiltshire, to build Stone-heng: How this was ordered in those Days, when it seems they kept Satan to hard Labour, I know not; I believe it must be registred among the antient Pieces of Art which are lost in the World, such as melting of Stone, painting of Glass, &c. Certainly they had the Devil under Correction in those Days; that is to say, those lesser Sorts of Devils; but I cannot think that the muckle Thief Devil, as they call him in the North, the Grand Seignior Devil of all, was ever reduced to Discipline. What Devil it was that Dunstan took by the Nose with his red hot Tongs, I have not yet examin’d Antiquity enough to be certain of, any more than I can what Devil it was that St. Francis play’d so many warm Tricks with, and made him run away from him so often: However, this I take upon me to say, in the Devil’s Behalf, that it cou’d not be our Satan, the Arch Devil of all Devils, of whom I have been talking so long.

Now is it unworthy the Occasion, to take notice that we really wrong the Devil, and speak of him very much to his Disadvantage, when we say of such a Great Lord, or of such a Lady of Quality, I think the Devil is in your Grace: No, no, Satan has other Business, he very rarely possesses F—ls: Besides, some are so far from having the Devil in them, that they are really transmigrated into the very Essence of the Devil themselves; and others again not transmigrated, or assimilated, but Indeed and in Truth shew us that they are to have mere native Devils in every Part and Parcel of them, and that the rest is only Masque and Disguise. Thus if Rage, Envy, Pride and Revenge can constitute the Parts of a Devil, why should not a Lady of such Quality, in whom all those Extraordinaries abound, have a Right to the Title of being a Devil really and substantially, and to all Intents and Purposes, in the most perfect and absolute Sense, according to the most exquisite Descriptions of Devils already given by me or any Body else; and even just as Joan of Arc, or Joan Queen of Naples were, who were both sent home to their native Country, as soon as it was discovered that they were real Devils, and that Satan acknowledg’d them in that Quality.

Nor does my Lady D——ss’s wearing sometimes a Case of Humanity about her, call’d Flesh and Blood, at all alter the Case; for so ’tis Evident, according to our present Hypothesis, Satan has been always allow’d to do, upon urgent Occasions; ay, and to make his Personal Appearance as such, among even the Sons and Daughters of God too, as well as among the Children of Men; and therefore her Grace may have appeared in the Shape of a fine Lady, as long as she has been suppos’d to do, without any Impeachment of her just Claim to the Title of Devil; which being her true and natural Original, she ought not, nor indeed shall not, by me, be denied her Shapes of Honour, whenever she pleases to declare for a Re-assumption.

And farther, to give every Truth its due Illustration, this need not be thought so strange; and is far from being unjust; her Grace (as she, it may be, is now stiled) has not acted, at least that I never heard of, so unworthy her great and illustrious Original, that we should think she has lost any thing by walking about the World so many Years in Apparition: But to give her the due Homage of her Quality, she has acted as consonant to the Essence and Nature of Devil, which she has such a Claim to, as was consistent with the needful Reserve of her present Disguise.

Nor shall we lead the Reader into any Mistake concerning this part of our Work, as if this was or is meant to be a particular Satyr upon the D——ss of —————, and upon her only, as if we had no Devils among us in the Phenomena of fair Ladies, but this one: If Satan would be so honest to us as he might be (and ’twou’d be very ingenuous in him, that must be acknowledg’d, to give us a little of his Illumination in this Case) we should soon be able to unmasque a great many notable Figures among us, to our real Surprize.

Indeed ’tis a Point worth our further Enquiry, and would be a Discovery many ways to our Advantage, were we bless’d with it, to see how many real Devils we have walking up and down the World in Masque, and how many Hoop-Petticoats compleat the entire Masque that disguises the Devil in the Shape of that Thing call’d Woman.

As for the Men, Nature has satisfied her self in letting them be their own Disguise, and in suffering them to act the old Women, as old Women are vulgarly understood, in Matters of Council and Politicks; but if at any time they have Occasion for the Devil in Person, they are oblig’d to call him to their Aid in such Shape as he pleases to make use of pro hac vice; and of all those Shapes, the most agreeable to him seems to be that of a Female of Quality, in which he has infinite Opportunity to act to Perfection, what Part soever he is call’d in for.

How happy are those People who they say have the particular Quality, or acquir’d Habit, call’d the Second Sight; one Sort of whom they tell us are able to distinguish the Devil, in whatever Case or Outside of Flesh and Blood he is pleas’d to put on, and consequently could know the Devil wherever they met him? Were I blest with this excellent and useful Accomplishment, how pleasant would it be, and how would it particularly gratify my Spleen, and all that which I, in common with my fellow Creatures carry about me, call’d Ill-Nature, to stand in the Mall, or at the Entrance to any of our Assemblies of Beauties, and point them out as they pass by, with this particular Mark, That’s a Devil; that fine young Toast is a Devil; There’s a Devil drest in a new Habit for the Ball; There’s a Devil in a Coach and Six, cum aliis. In short, it would make a merry World among us if we cou’d but enter upon some proper Method of such Discriminations: but, Lawr’d, what a Hurricane would it raise, if, like ———, who they say scourg’d the Devil so often that he durst not come near him in any Shape whatever, we cou’d find some new Method out to make the Devil unmask, like the Angel Uriel, who, Mr. Milton says, had an enchanted Spear, with which if he did but touch the Devil, in whatever Disguise he had put on, it oblig’d him immediately to start up, and shew himself in his true original Shape, mere Devil as he was.

This would do nicely, and as I who am originally a Projector, have spent some Time upon this Study, and doubt not in a little Time to finish my Engine, which I am contriving, to screw the Devil out of every Body, or any Body; I question not when I have brought it to Perfection, but I shall make most excellent Discoveries by it; and besides the many extraordinary Advantages of it to human Society, I doubt not but it will make good Sport in the World too; wherefore, when I publish my Proposals, and divide it into Shares, as other less useful Projects have been done, I question not, for all the severe Act lately pass’d against Bubbles, but I shall get Subscribers enough, &c.

In a Word, a secret Power of discovering what Devils we have among us, and where and what Business they are doing, would be a vast Advantage to us all; that we might know among the Crowd of Devils that walk about Streets, who are Apparitions, and who are not.

Now I, you must know, at certain Intervals when the Old Gentleman’s Illuminations are upon me, and when I have something of an Eclaricissement with him, have some Degrees of this discriminating Second Sight, and therefore ’tis no strange thing for me to tell a great many of my Acquaintance that they are really Devils, when they themselves know nothing of the Matter: Sometimes indeed I find it pretty hard to convince them of it, or at least they are very unwilling to own it, but it is not the less so for that.

I had a long Discourse upon this Subject one day, with a young beautiful Lady of my Acquaintance, who the World very much admired; and as the World judges no farther than they can see, (and how should they, you would say) they took her to be, as she really was, a most charming Creature.

To me indeed she discover’d her self many Ways, besides the Advantage I had of my extraordinary Penetration by the magic Powers which I am vested with: To me, I say, she appear’d a Fury, a Satyr, a fiery little Fiend as could possibly be dress’d up in Flesh; in short, she appear’d to me what really she was, a very Devil: It is natural to human Creatures to desire to discover any extraordinary Powers they are possess’d of superior to others, and this Itch prevailing in me, among the rest, I was impatient to let this Lady know that I understood her Composition perfectly well, nay, as well as she did her self.

In order to this, happening to be in the Family once for some Days, and having the Honour to be very intimate with her and her Husband too, I took an Opportunity on an extraordinary Occasion, when she was in the Height of good Humour, to talk with her; You must note, that as I said, the Lady was in an extraordinary good Humour, and there had been a great deal of Mirth in the Family for some Days; but one Evening, Sir E—— her Husband, upon some very sharp Turn she gave to another Gentleman, which made all the Company pleasant, run to her, and with a Passion of good Humour takes her in his Arms, and turning to me, says he, Jack, This Wife of mine is full of Wit and good Humour, but when she has a Mind to be smart, she is the keenest little Devil in the World: This was alluding to the quick Turn she had given the other Gentleman.

Is that the best Language you can give your Wife, says my Lady? O Madam, says I, such Devils as you, are all Angels; ay, ay, says my Lady, I know that, he has only let a Truth fly out that he does not understand: Look ye there now, says Sir Edward, could any thing but such a dear Devil as this have said a thing so pointed? Well, well, adds he, Devil to a Lady in a Man’s Arms, is a Word of divers Interpretations. Thus they rallied for a good while, he holding her fast all the while in his Arms, and frequently kissing her, and at last it went off, all in Sunshine and Mirth.

But the next Day, for I had the Honour to lodge in the Lady’s Father’s House, where it all happen’d; I say, the next Day my Lady begins with me upon the Subject, and that very smartly, so that first I did not know whether she was in jest or earnest: Ay, ay, says she, you Men make nothing of your Wives after you have them, alluding to the Discourse with Sir Edward the Night before.

Why Madam, says I, we Men, as you are pleas’d to term it, if we meet with good Wives worship them, and make Idols of them, what would you have more of us?

No, no, says she, before you have them they are Angels, but when you have been in Heaven, adds she and smil’d, then they are Devils.

Why Madam, says I, Devils are Angels, you know, and were the highest Sort of Angels once.

Yes, says she, very smartly, all Devils are Angels, but all Angels are not Devils.

But Madam, says I, you should never take it ill to be call’d Devil, you know.

I know, says she, hastily, what d’ye mean by that?

Why Madam, says I, and look’d very gravely and serious, I thought you had known that I knew it, or else I would not have said so, for I would not offend you; but you may depend I shall never discover it, unless you order me to do so for your particular Service.

Upon this she look’d hard and wild, and bid me explain my self.

I told her, I was ready to explain my self, if she would give me her Word, she would not resent it, and would take nothing ill.

She gave me her word solemnly she would not, tho’ like a true Devil she broke her Promise with me all at once.

Well however, being unconcern’d whether she kept her Word or no, I began, by telling her that I had not long since obtain’d the second sight, and had some years studied Magic, by which I could penetrate into many things, which to ordinary Perception were invisible, and had some Glasses, by the Help of which I could see into all visionary or imaginary Appearances in a different Manner than other People did.

Very well, says she, suppose you can, what’s that to me?

I told her it was nothing to her any further than that as she knew her self to be originally not the same Creature she seem’d to be, but was of a sublime angelic Original; so by the Help of my recited Art I knew it too, and so far it might relate to her.

Very fine, says she, so you would make a Devil of me indeed.

I took that Occasion to tell her, I would make nothing of her but what she was; that I suppos’d she knew well enough God Almighty never thought fit to make any human Creature so perfect and compleatly beautiful as she was, but that such were also reserved for Figures to be assum’d by Angels of one Kind or other.

She rallied me upon that, and told me that would not bring me off, for I had not determined her for any thing Angelic, but a meer Devil; and how could I flatter her with being handsome and a Devil both at the same time?

I told her, as Satan, whom we abusively call’d Devil, was an immortal Seraph, and of an original angelic Nature, so abstracted from any thing wicked, he was a most glorious Being; that when he thought fit to encase himself with Flesh, and walk about in Disguise, it was in his Power equally with the other Angels to make the Form he took upon himself be as he thought fit, beautiful or deform’d.

Here she disputed the Possibility of that, and after charging me faintly with flattering her Face, told me the Devil could not be represented by any thing handsome, alledging our constant picturing the Devil in all the frightful Appearances imaginable.

I told her we wrong’d him very much in that, and quoted St. Francis, to whom the Devil frequently appeared in the Form of the most incomparably beautiful naked Woman, to allure him, and what Means he used to turn the Appearance into a Devil again, and how he effected it.

She put by the Discourse, and returned to that of Angels, and insisted that Angels did not always assume beautiful Appearances; that sometimes they appear’d in terrible Shapes, but that when they did not, it was at best only amiable Faces, not exquisite; and that therefore it would not hold, that to be handsome, should always render them suspected.

I told her the Devil had more Occasion to form Beauties than other Angels had, his Business being principally to deceive and ensnare Mankind. And then I gave her some Examples upon the whole.

I found by her Discourse she was willing enough to pass for an Angel, but ’twas the hardest thing in the World to convince her that she was a Devil, and she would not come into that by any means; she argued that I knew her Father, and that her Mother was a very good Woman, and was delivered of her in the ordinary Way, and that there was such and such Ladies who were present in the Room when she was born, and that had often told her so.

I told her that was nothing in such a Case as hers; that when the Old Gentleman had occasion to transform himself into a fine Lady, he could easily dispose of a Child, and place himself in the Cradle instead of it, when the Nurse or Mother were asleep; nay, or when they were broad awake either, it was the same thing to him; and I quoted Luther to her upon that Occasion, who affirms that it had been so. However I said, to convince her that I knew it, (for I would have it that she knew it already) if she pleas’d I would go to my Chamber and fetch her my Magick Looking-glass, where she should see her own Picture, not only as it was an angelick Picture for the World to admire, but a Devil also frightful enough to any Body but herself and me that understood it.

No, no, said she, I’ll look in none of your conjuring Glasses; I know my self well enough, and I desire to look no otherwise than I am.

No, Madam, says I, I know that very well; nor do you need any better Shape than that you appear in, ’tis most exquisitely fine; all the World knows you are a compleat Beauty, and that is a clear Evidence what you would be if your present appearing Form was reduced to its proper Personality.

Appearing Form! says she, why, what would you make an Apparition of me?

An Apparition! Madam, said I, yes, to be sure; why you know, you are nothing else but an Apparition; and what else would you be, when it is so infinitely to your Advantage?

With that, she turn’d pale and angry, and then rose up hastily, and look’d into the Glass, (a large Peer-glass being in the Room) where she stood, surveying her self from Head to Foot, with Vanity not a little.

I took that Time to slip away, and running up into my Apartment, I fetch’d my Magic Glass as I call’d it, in which I had a hollow Case so framed behind a Looking-glass, that in the first; she would see her own Face only; in the second, she would see the Devil’s Face, ugly and frightful enough, but dress’d up with a Lady’s Head-Clothes in a Circle, the Devil’s Face in the Center, and as it were at a little Distance behind.

 

I came down again so soon that she did not think the Time long, especially having spent it in surveying her fair self; when I return’d, I said, Come, Madam, do not trouble your self to look there, that is not a Glass capable of shewing you any thing; come, take this Glass.

It will shew me as much of my self, says she, a little scornfully, as I desire to see; so she continued looking in the Peer-glass; after some time more (for seeing her a little out of Humour, I waited to see what Observations she would make) I ask’d her if she had view’d her self to her Satisfaction? She said she had, and she had seen nothing of Devil about her. Come, Madam, said I, look here; and with that I open’d the Looking-glass, and she look’d in it, but saw nothing but her own Face; Well, says she, the Glasses agree well enough, I see no Difference; what can you make of it? With that I took it a little away; Don’t you? says I, then I shou’d be mistaken very much; so I look’d in it my self, and giving it a Turn imperceptible to her, I shew’d it her again, where she saw the Devil indeed, dress’d up like a fine Lady, but ugly, and Devil like as could be desired for a Devil to be.

She started, and cry’d out most horribly, and told me, she thought I was more of a Devil than she, for that she knew nothing of all those Tricks, and I did it to fright her, she believ’d I had rais’d the Devil.

I told her it was nothing but her own natural Picture, and that she knew well enough, and that I did not shew it her to inform her of it, but to let her know that I knew it too; that so she might make no Pretences of being offended when I talk’d familiarly to her of a Thing of this Nature.

Very well; so, says she, I am a real frightful Devil, am I?

O, Madam, says I, don’t say, Am I? why you know what you are, don’t you? A Devil! ay, certainly; as sure as the rest of the World believes you a Lady.

I had a great deal of farther Discourse with her upon that Subject, tho’ she would fain have beat me off of it, and two or three times she put the Talk off, and brought something else on; but I always found Means to revive it, and to attack her upon the Reality of her being a Devil, till at last I made her downright angry, and then she shew’d it.

First she cried, told me I came to affront her, that I would not talk so if Sir Ed—— was by; and that she ought not to be used so. I endeavour’d to pacify her, and told her I had not treated her with any Indecency, nor I would not; because while she thought fit to walk Abroad incog. it was none of my Business to discover her; that if she thought fit to tell Sir Ed—— any thing of the Discourse, she was very welcome, or to conceal it, (which I thought the wisest Course) she should do just as she pleas’d; but I made no question I should convince Sir E—— her Husband, that what I said was just, and that I was really so; whether it was for her Service or no for him to know it, was for her to consider.

This calm’d her a little, and she look’d hard at me a Minute without speaking a Word, when on a sudden she broke out thus: And you will undertake, says she, to convince Sir Ed—— that he has married a Devil, will ye? A fine Story indeed! and what follows? why then it must follow that the Child I go with (for she was big with Child) will be a Devil too, will it? A fine Story for Sir Ed—— indeed! isn’t it?

I don’t know that, Madam, said I, that’s as you order it; by the Father’s Side, said I, I know it will not, but what it may by the Mother’s Side, that’s a Doubt I can’t resolve till the Devil and I talk farther about it.

You and the Devil talk together! says she, and looks rufully at me; why do you talk with the Devil then?

Ay, Madam, says I, as sure as ever you did your self; besides, said I, can you question that? Pray who am I talking to now?

I think you are mad, says she; why you will make Devils of all the Family, it may be, and particularly I must be with Child of a Devil, that’s certain.

No, Madam, said I, ’tis not certain, as I said before, I question it.

Why you say I am the Devil, the Child, you know, has always most of the Mother in it, then that must be a Devil too I think, what else can it be, says she?

I can’t tell that, Madam, said I; that’s as you agree among your selves, this Kind does not go by Generation; that’s a Dispute foreign to the present Purpose.

Then I entred into a Discourse with her of the Ends and Purposes for which the Devil takes up such beautiful Forms as hers, and why it always gave me a Suspicion when I saw a Lady handsomer than ordinary, and set me upon the Search to be satisfied whether she was really a Woman or an Apparition? a Lady or a Devil? allowing all along that her being a Devil was quite out of the Question.

Upon that very Foot, she took me up again roundly, and so, says she, you are very civil to me through all your Discourse, for I see it ends all in that, and you take it as a thing confest, that I am a Devil! A very pretty piece of good Usage indeed! says she; I thank you for it.

Nay, Madam, says I, do not take it ill of me, for I only discover to you that I knew it; I do not tell it you as a Secret, for you are satisfied of that another way.

Satisfied of what? says she, that I am a Devil? I think the Devil’s in you: And so began to be hot.

A Devil! yes, Madam, says I, without doubt a meer Devil; take it as you please, I can’t help that: And so I began to take it ill that she should be disgusted at opening such a well-known Truth to her.

With that she discover’d it all at once, for she turn’d Fury, in the very Letter of it; flew out in a Passion, rail’d at me, curst me most heartily, and immediately disappeared; which you know is the particular Mark of a Spirit or Apparition.

We had a great deal of Discourse besides this, relating to several other young Ladies of her Acquaintance, some of which, I said, were mere Apparitions like her self; and told her which were so, and which not; and the Reason why they were so, and for what Uses and Purposes, some to delude the World one way, and some another; and she was pretty well pleased to hear that, but she could not bear to hear her own true Character, which however, as cunning as she was, made her act the Devil at last, as you have heard; and then vanished out of my sight.

I have seen her in Miniature several Times since; but she proves her self still to be the Devil of a Lady, for she bears Malice, and will never forgive me, that I would not let her be an Angel; but like a very Devil as she is, she endeavours to kill me at a Distance; and indeed the Poison of her Eyes, (Basilisk-like) is very strong, and she has a strange Influence upon me; but I that know her to be a Devil, strive very hard with my self to drive the Memory of her out of my Thoughts.

I have had two or three Engagements since this, with other Apparitions of the same Sex, and I find they are all alike, they are willing enough to be thought Angels, but the Word Devil does not go down at all with them: But ’tis all one, whenever we see an Apparition, it is so natural to say we have seen the Devil, that there’s no prevailing with Mankind to talk any other Language. A Gentleman of my Acquaintance, the other Day, that had courted a Lady a long time, had the Misfortune to come a little suddenly upon her, when she did not expect him, and found her in such a Rage at some of her Servants, that it quite disorder’d her, especially a Footman; the Fellow had done something that was indeed provoking, but not sufficient to put her into such a Passion, and so out of her self; nor was she able to restrain her self when she saw her Lover come in, but damn’d the Fellow, and rag’d like a Fury at him.

My Friend did his best to compose her, and begg’d the Fellow’s Pardon of her, but it would not do; nay, the poor Fellow made all the Submissions that could be expected, but ’twas the same thing: And so the Gentleman, not caring to engage himself farther than became him, withdrew, and came no more at her for three Days, in all which time she was hardly cool.

The next Day my Friend came to me, and talking of it in Confidence to me, I am afraid, says he, I am going to marry a She Devil, and so told me the Story; I took no Notice to him, but finding out his Mistress, and taking proper Measures, with some of my particular Skill, I soon found out that it was really so, that she was a mere Apparition; and had it not been for that accidental Disorder of her Passions, which discover’d her Inside, she might indeed have cheated any Man, for she was a lovely Devil as ever was seen; she talk’d like an Angel, sung like a Syren, did every thing, and said every thing that was taking and charming: But what then? it was all Apparition, for she was a mere Devil. It is true, my Friend marry’d her, and tho’ she was a Devil without doubt, yet either she behav’d so well, or he was so good, I never could hear him find Fault with her.

These are particular Instances; but alas! I could run you a Length beyond all those Examples, and give you such a List of Devils among the gay Things of the Town, that would fright you to think of; and you would presently conclude, with me, that all the perfect Beauties are Devils, mere Apparitions; but Time and Paper fails, so we must only leave the Men the Caution, let them venture at their Peril. I return to the Subject.

We have a great many charming Apparitions of like kind go daily about the World in compleat Masquerade, and, tho’ we must not say so, they are in themselves mere Devils, wicked dangerous murthering Devils, that kill various Ways, some, Basilisk-like, with their Eyes; some Syren-like, with their Tongues; all Murtherers, even from the Beginning: It is true, ’tis pity these pretty Apparitions should be Devils, and be so mischievous as they are; but since it is so, I can do no less than to advertise you of it, that you may shun the Devil in whatever Shape you meet with him.

Again, there are some half Devils, they say, like the Sagittarii, half Man, half Horse, or rather like the Satyr, who, they say, is half Devil, half Man; or, like my Lord Bishop, who, they say, was half-headed; whether they mean half-witted or no, I do not find Authors agreed about it: But if they had voted him such, it had been as kind a thing as any they cou’d say of him, because it would have clear’d him from the Scandal of being a Devil, or half a Devil, for we don’t find the Devil makes any Alliance with F——ls.

Then as to merry Devils, there’s my Master G———, he may indeed have the Devil in him, but it must be said, to the Credit of Possession in general, that Satan would have scorn’d to have entred into a Soul so narrow that there was not room to hold him, or to take up with so discording a Creature, so abject, so scoundrel, as never made a Figure among Mankind greater than that of a Thief, a Moroder, moulded up into Quality, and a Raparee dress’d up a-la-Masque, with a Robe and a Coronet.

Some little Dog-kennel Devil may indeed take up his Quarters in or near him, and so run into and out of him as his Drum beats a Call; but to him that was born a Devil, Satan, that never acts to no purpose, cou’d not think him worth being possess’d by any thing better than a Devil of a dirty Quality; that is to say, a Spirit too mean to wear the Name of Devil, without some Badge or Addition of Infamy and Meanness to distinguish it by.

Thus what Devil of Quality would be confin’d to a P————n, who inheriting all the Pride and Insolence of his Ancestors, without one of their good Qualities; the Bully, the Billingsgate, and all the hereditary ill Language of his Family, without an Ounce of their Courage; that has been rescued five or six times from the Scandal of a Coward, by the Bravery, and at the Hazard of Friends, and never fail’d to be ungrateful; that if ever he committed a Murther, did it in cold Blood, because no body could prove he ever had any hot; who possess’d with a Poltroon Devil, was always wickeder in the Dark, than he durst be by Day-light; and who, after innumerable passive Sufferings, has been turned out of human Society, because he could not be kick’d or cuff’d either into good Manners or good Humour.

To say this was a Devil, an Apparition, or even a half Devil, would be unkind to Satan himself, since tho’ he (the Devil) has so many Millions of inferior Devils under his Command, not one cou’d be found base enough to match him, nor one Devil found but what would think himself dishonour’d to be employ’d about him.

Some merry good-for-nothing Devils we have indeed, which we might, if we had room, speak of at large, and divert you too with the Relation, such as my Lady Hatt’s Devil in Essex, who upon laying a Joiner’s Mallet in the Window of a certain Chamber, would come very orderly and knock with it all Night upon the Window, or against the Wainscot, and disturb the Neighbourhood, and then go away in the Morning, as well satisfied as may be; whereas if the Mallet was not left, he would think himself affronted, and be as unsufferable and terrifying as possible, breaking the Windows, splitting the Wainscot, committing all the Disorders, and doing all the Damage that he was able to the House, and to the Goods in it. And again, such as the Druming Devil in the Well at Oundle in Northamptonshire, and such like.

A great many antick Devils have been seen also, who seem’d to have little or nothing to do, but only to assure us that they can appear if they please, and that there is a Reality in the thing call’d Apparition.

As to Shadows of Devils, and imaginary Appearances, such as appear, and yet are invisible at the same time, I had thought to have bestow’d a Chapter upon them by themselves, but it may be as much to the Purpose to let them alone, as to meddle with them; ’tis said our old Friend Luther used to be exceedingly troubled with such invisible Apparitions, and he tells us much of them, in what they call his Table-talk; but with Master Luther’s leave, tho’ the Devil passes for a very great Lyar, I could swallow many things of his own proper making, as soon as some of those I find in a Book that goes by his Name, particularly the Story of the Devil in a Basket, the Child flying out of the Cradle, and the like.

In a word, the walking Devils that we have generally among us, are of the female Sex; whether it be that the Devil finds less Difficulty to manage them, or that he lives quieter with them, or that they are fitter for his Business than the Men, I shall not now enter into a Dispute about that; perhaps he goes better disguis’d in the fair Sex than otherwise; Antiquity gives us many Histories of She-Devils, such as we can very seldom match for Wickedness among the Men; such now as in the Text, Lot’s Daughters, Joseph’s Mistress, Sampson’s Dalilah, Herod’s Herodias, these were certainly Devils, or play’d the Devil sufficiently in their Turn; one Male Apparition indeed the Scripture furnishes you with, and that is Judas; for his Master says expresly of him, One of you is a Devil; not has the Devil, or is possess’d of the Devil; but really is a Devil, or is a real Devil.

How happy is it, that this great Secret comes thus to be discover’d to mankind? Certainly the World has gone on in Ignorance a long time, and at a strange rate, that we should have so many Devils continually walking about among us in humane Shape, and we know it not.

Philosophers tell us that there is a World of Spirits, and many learned Pieces of Guess-work they make at it, representing the World to be so near us, that the Air, as they describe it, must be full of Dragons and Devils, enough to fright our Imaginations with the very Thoughts of them; and if they say true, ’tis our great Felicity that we cannot see any farther into it than we do, which if we could, would appear as frightful as Hell itself; but none of those Sages ever told us, till now, that half the People who converse with us are Apparitions, especially of the Women; and among them especially this valuable Part, the Woman of Figure, the fair, the beautiful, or patch’d and painted.

This unusual Phænomenon has been seen but a little while, and but a little way, and the general Part of Mankind cannot come into the same Notions about it; nay, perhaps they will all think it strange; but be it as strange as it will, the Nature of the Thing confirms it, this lower Sphere is full of Devils; and some of both Sexes have given strange Testimonies of the Reality of their pre-existent Devilism for many Ages past, tho’ I think it never came to that Height as it has now.

It is true, in former times Satan dealt much in old Women, and those, as I have observ’d already, very ugly, Ugly as a Witch, Black as a Witch, I look like a Witch, all proverbial Speeches, and which testify’d what Tools it was Satan generally work’d with; and these old Spectres, they tell us, us’d to ride thro’ the Air in the Night, and upon Broomsticks too, all mighty homely Doings; some say they us’d to go to visit their Grand Seignior the Devil, in those Nocturnal Perambulations: But be that as it will, ’tis certain the Devil has chang’d hands, and that now he walks about the World cloth’d in Beauty, cover’d with the Charms of the Lovely, and he fails not to disguise himself effectually by it, for who would think a beautiful Lady could be a Masque to the Devil? and that a fine Face, a divine Shape, a heavenly Aspect, should bring the Devil in her Company, nay, should be herself an Apparition, a mere Devil.

The Enquiry is indeed worth our while, and therefore I hope all the enamour’d Beaus and Boys, all the Beauty-hunters and Fortune-hunters, will take heed, for I suppose if they get the Devil, they will not complain for want of a Fortune; and there’s Danger enough, I assure you, for the World is full of Apparitions, non rosa sine spinis; not a Beauty without a Devil, the old Women Spectres, and the young Women Apparitions; the ugly ones Witches, and the handsome ones Devils; Lord ha’ Mercy, and a may be Set on the Man’s Door that goes a courting.




Daniel Defoe

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