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Chapter 20

Of the Tools the Devil works with, (viz.) Witches, Wizards or Warlocks, Conjurers, Magicians, Divines, Astrologers, Interpreters of Dreams, Tellers of Fortunes; and above all the rest, his particular modern Privy-Counsellors call’d Wits and Fools.

Tho’, as I have advanc’d in the foregoing Chapter, the Devil has very much chang’d Hands in his modern Management of the World, and that instead of the Rabble and long Train of Implements reckoned up above, he now walks about in Beaus, Beauties, Wits and Fools; yet I must not omit to tell you that he has not dismiss’d his former Regiments, but like Officers in Time of Peace, he keeps them all in half Pay, or like Extraordinary Men at the Custom-House, they are kept at a Call, to be ready to fill up Vacancies, or to employ when he is more than ordinarily full of Business; and therefore it may not be amiss to give some brief Account of them, from Satan’s own Memoirs, their Performance being no inconsiderable Part of his History.

Nor will it be an unprofitable Digression to go back a little to the primitive Institution of all these Orders, for they are very antient, and I assure you, it requires great Knowledge of Antiquity, to give a Particular of their Original; I shall be very brief in it.

In order then to this Enquiry, you must know that it was not for want of Servants, that Satan took this Sort of People into his Pay; he had, as I have observ’d in its Place, Millions of diligent Devils at his Call, whatever Business, and however difficult, he had for them to do; but as I have said above, that our modern People are forwarder than even the Devil himself can desire them to be; and that they come before they are call’d, run before they are sent, and crowd themselves into his Service; so it seems it was in those early Days, when the World was one universal Monarchy under his Dominion, as I have at large describ’d in its Place.

In those Days the Wickedness of the World keeping a just Pace with their Ignorance, this inferior Sort of low priz’d Instruments did the Devil’s work mighty well; they drudg’d on in his Black-Art so laboriously, and with such good Success, that he found it was better to employ them as Tools to delude and draw in Mankind, than to send his invisible Implements about, and oblige them to take such Shapes and Dresses as were necessary upon every trifling Occasion; which, perhaps, was more Cost than Worship, more Pains than Pay.

Having then a Set of these Voluntiers in his Service, the true Devil had nothing to do but to keep an exact Correspondence with them, and communicate some needful Powers to them, to make them be and do something extraordinary, and give them a Reputation in their Business; and these, in a Word, did a great Part of, nay almost all the Devil’s Business in the World.

To this Purpose gave he them Power, if we may believe old Glanville, Baxter, Hicks, and other learn’d Consultors of Oracles, to walk invisible, to fly in the Air, ride upon Broom-sticks, and other Wooden Gear, to interpret Dreams, answer Questions, betray Secrets, to talk (Gibberish) the universal Language, to raise Storms, sell Winds, bring up Spirits, disturb the Dead, and torment the Living, with a thousand other needful Tricks to amuse the World, keep themselves in Veneration, and carry on the Devil’s Empire in the World.

The first Nations among whom these infernal Practices were found, were the Chaldeans; and that I may do Justice in earnest, as well as in jest, it must be allow’d that the Chaldeans, or those of them so call’d, were not Conjurers or Magicians, only Philosophers and Studiers of Nature, wise, sober and studious Men at first, and we have an extraordinary Account of them; and if we may believe some of our best Writers of Fame, Abraham was himself famous among them for such Magick, as Sir Walter Raleigh expresses it, Qui Contemplatione Creaturarum Cognovit Creatorem.

Now granting this, it is all to my Purpose, namely, that the Devil drew these wise Men in, to search after more Knowledge than Nature could instruct them in; and the Knowledge of the true God being at that Time sunk very low, he debauch’d them all with Dreams, Apparitions, Conjurers, &c. till he ruin’d the just Notions they had, and made Devils of them all, like himself.

The learned Senensis, speaking of this Chaldean Kind of Learning, gives us an Account of five Sorts of them; you will pardon me for being so grave as to go this Length back.

1. Chascedin or Chaldeans, properly so call’d, being Astronomers.

2. Asaphim or Magicians, such was Zoroastres and Balaam the Son of Beor.

3. Chatumim or Interpreters of Dreams and hard Speeches, Inchanters, &c.

4. Mecasphim or Witches, call’d at first Prophets, afterwards Malefici or Venefici, Poisoners.

5. Gazarim or Auruspices, and Diviners, such as divin’d by the Entrails of Beasts, the Liver in particular; mention’d in Ezek. or as others, call’d Augurs.


Now, as to all these, I suppose, I may do them no wrong, if I say, however justifiable they were in the Beginning, the Devil got them all into his Service at last, and that brings me to my Text again, from which the rest was a Digression.

1. The Chascedin or Chaldean Astronomers turned Astrologers, Fortune-Tellers, Calculators of Nativities, and vile Deluders of the People, as if the Wisdom of the holy God was in them, as Nebuchadnezzar said of Daniel on that very Account.

2. The Asaphim or Magi, or Magicians; Sixtus Senensis says, they were such as wrought by Covenants with Devils, but turn’d to it from their Wisdom, which was to study the practical Part of Natural Philosophy, working admirable Effects by the mutual Application of Natural Causes.

3. The Chartumim from being Reasoners or Disputers upon difficult Points in Philosophy, became Enchanters and Conjurers. So,

4. The Mecasphim or Prophets, they turn’d to be Sorcerers, Raisers of Spirits, such as wounded by an evil Eye, and by bitter Curses, and were afterwards fam’d for having familiar Converse with the Devil, and were called Witches.

5. The Gazarim, from the bare observing of the good and bad Omens, by the Entrails of Beasts, flying of Birds, &c. were turn’d to Sacrists or Priests of the Heathen Idols and Sacrificers.


Thus, I say, first or last the Devil engross’d all the Wise-Men of the East, for so they are call’d; made them all his own, and by them he work’d Wonders, that is, he fill’d the World with lying Wonders, as if wrought by these Men, when indeed it was all his own, from Beginning to the End, and set on Foot meerly to propagate Delusion, impose upon blinded and ignorant Men; the God of this World blinded their Minds, and they were led away by the Subtilty of the Devil, to say no worse of it, till they became Devils themselves, as to Mankind; for they carried on the Devil’s Work upon all Occasions, and the Race of them still continue in other Nations, and some of them among our selves, as we shall see presently.

The Arabians follow’d the Chaldeans in this Study, while it was kept within its due Bounds, and after them the Egyptians; and among the Latter we find that Jannes and Jambres were famous for their leading Pharaoh by their pretended magic Performances, to reject the real Miracles of Moses; and History tells us of strange Pranks the Wise-Men, the Magicians and the Southsayers plaid to delude the People in the most early Ages of the World.

But, as I say, now, the Devil has improv’d himself, so he did then; for the Grecian and Roman Heathen Rites coming on, they outdid all the Magicians and Southsayers, by establishing the Devil’s lying Oracles, which, as a Master-Piece of Hell, did the Devil more Honour, and brought more Homage to him, than ever he had before, or could arrive to since.

Again, as by the setting up the Oracles, all the Magicians and Southsayers grew out of Credit; so at the ceasing of those Oracles, the Devil was fain to go back to the old Game again, and take up with the Agency of Witches, Divinations, Inchantments and Conjurings, as I hinted before, answerable to the four Sorts mention’d in the Story of Nebuchadnezzar, (viz.) Magicians, Astrologers, the Chaldeans and the Southsayers: How these began to be out of Request, I have mention’d already; but as the Devil has not quite given them over, only laid them aside a little for the present, we may venture to ask what they were, and what Use he made of them when he did employ them.

The Truth is, I think, as it was a very mean Employment for any thing that wears a human Countenance to take up, so I must acknowledge, I think, ’twas a mean low priz’d Business for Satan to take up with; below the very Devil; below his Dignity as an Angelic, tho’ condemn’d Creature; below him even as a Devil; to go to talk to a parcel of ugly, deform’d, spiteful, malicious old Women; to give them Power to do Mischief, who never had a Will, after they enter’d into the State of old Woman-Hood, to do any thing else: Why the Devil always chose the ugliest old Women he could find; whether Wizardism made them ugly, that were not so before, and whether the Ugliness, as it was a Beauty in Witchcraft, did not encrease according to the meritorious Performance in the Black-Trade? These are all Questions of Moment to be decided, (if human Learning can arrive to so much Perfection) in Ages to come.

Some say the evil Eye and the wicked Look were Parts of the Enchantment, and that the Witches, when they were in the height of their Business, had a powerful Influence with both; that by looking upon any Person they could bewitch them, and make the Devil, as the Scots express it, ride through them booted and spurr’d; and that hence came that very significant Saying, to look like a Witch.

The strange Work which the Devil has made in the World, by this Sort of his Agents call’d Witches, is such, and so extravagantly wild, that except our Hope that most of those Tales happen not to be true, I know not how any one could be easy to live near a Widow after she was five and fifty.

All the other Sorts of Emissaries which Satan employs, come short of these Ghosts; and Apparitions sometimes come and shew themselves, on particular Accounts, and some of those Particulars respect doing Justice, repairing Wrongs, preventing Mischief; sometimes in Matters very considerable, and on Things so necessary to publick Benefit, that we are tempted to believe they proceed from some vigilant Spirit who wishes us well; but on the other Hand, these Witches are never concern’d in any thing but Mischief; nay, if what they do portends good to one, it issues in hurt to many; the whole Tenour of their Life, their Design in general, is to do Mischief, and they are only employ’d in Mischief, and nothing else: How far they are furnish’d with Ability suitable to the horrid Will they are vested with, remains to be describ’d.

These Witches, ’tis said, are furnish’d with Power suitable to the Occasion that is before them, and particularly that which deserves to be consider’d, as Prediction, and foretelling Events, which I insist the Author of Witchcraft is not accomplish’d with himself, nor can he communicate it to any other: How then Witches come to be able to foretel Things to come, which, ’tis said, the Devil himself cannot know, and which, as I have shewn, ’tis evident he does not know himself, is yet to be determin’d; that Witches do foretel, is certain, from the Witch of Endor, who foretold Things to Saul, which he knew not before, namely, that he should be slain in Battle the next Day, which accordingly came to pass.

There are, however, and notwithstanding this particular Case, many Instances wherein the Devil has not been able to foretel approaching Events, and that in Things of the utmost Consequence, and he has given certain foolish or false Answers in such Cases; the Devil’s Priests, which were summon’d in by the Prophet Elija, to decide the Dispute between God and Baal, had the Devil been able to have inform’d them of it, would certainly have receiv’d Notice from him, of what was intended against them by Elija; that is to say, that they would be all cut in pieces; for Satan was not such a Fool as not to know that Baal was a Non-Entity, a Nothing, at best a dead Man, perish’d and rotting in his Grave; for Baal was Bell or Belus, an ancient King of the Assyrian Monarchy, and he could no more answer by Fire to consume the Sacrifice, than he could raise himself from the dead.

But the Priests of Baal were left of their Master to their just Fate, namely, to be a Sacrifice to the Fury of a deluded People; hence I infer his Inability, for it would have been very unkind and ungrateful in him not to have answer’d them, if he had been able. There is another Argument raised here most justly against the Devil, with Relation to his being under Restraint, and that of greater Eminence than we imagine, and it is drawn from this very Passage, thus; ’tis not to be doubted but that Satan, who has much of the Element put into his Hands, as Prince of the Air, had a Power, or was able potentially speaking, to have answer’d Baal’s Priests by Fire; Fire being in Vertue of his airy Principality a Part of his Dominion; but he was certainly withheld by the Superior Hand, which gave him that Dominion, I mean withheld for the Occasion only: So in another Case, it was plain that Balaam, who was one of those Sorts of Chaldeans mention’d above, who dealt in Divinations and Inchantments, was withheld from cursing Israel.

Some are of Opinion that Balaam was not a Witch or a Dealer with the Devil because ’tis said of him, or rather he says it of himself, that he saw the Visions of God, Numb. xxiv. 16. He hath said, who heard the Words of God, and knew the Knowledge of the most High, which saw the Visions of the Almighty, falling into a Trance, but having his Eyes open: Hence they alledge he was one of those Magi, which St. Augustin speaks of, de Divinatione, who by the Study of Nature, and by the Contemplation of created Beings came to the Knowledge of the Creature; and that Balaam’s Fault was, that being tempted by the Rewards and Honours that the King promised him, he intended to have curs’d Israel; but when his Eyes were open’d, and that he saw they were God’s own People, he durst not do it; they will have it therefore, that except, as above, Balaam was a good Man, or at least that he had the Knowledge of the true God, and the Fear of that God upon him, and that he honestly declares this, Numb. xxii. 18. If Balak would give me his House full of Silver and Gold, I cannot go beyond the Word of the Lord my God: Where tho’ he is call’d a false Prophet by some, he evidently owns God, and assumes a Property in him, as other Prophets did; my God, and I cannot go beyond his Orders; but that which gives me a better Opinion of Balaam than all this is, his plain Prophesy of Christ, Chap. xxiv. 17. where he calls him the Star of Jacob, and declares, I shall see him, but not now, I shall behold him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the Corners of Moab, and destroy all the Children of Seth, all which express not a Knowledge only, but a Faith in Christ; but I have done preaching, this is all by the by, I return to my Business, which is the History.

There is another Piece of dark Practice here, which lies between Satan and his particular Agents, and which they must give us an Answer to, when they can, which I think will not be in haste; and that is about the obsequious Devil submitting to be call’d up into Visibility, whenever an old Woman has her Hand cross’d with a white Six-pence, as they Call it: One would think that instead of these vile Things call’d Witches, being sold to the Devil, the Devil was really sold for a Slave to them; for how far soever Satan’s Residence is off of this State of Life, they have Power, it seems, to fetch him from home, and oblige him to come at their Call.

I can give little Account of this, only that indeed so it is; nor is the Thing so strange in its self, as the Methods to do it are mean, foolish, and ridiculous; as making a Circle and dancing in it, pronouncing such and such Words, saying the Lord’s Prayer backward, and the like; now is this agreeable to the Dignity of the Prince of the Air or Atmosphere, that he should be commanded forth with no more Pomp or Ceremony than that of muttering a few Words, such as the old Witches and he agree about? or is there something else in it, which none of us or themselves understand?

Perhaps, indeed, he is always with those People call’d Witches and Conjurers, or at least some of his Camp Volant are always present, and so upon the least call of the Wizard, it is but putting off the misty Cloak and showing themselves.

Then we have a Piece of mock Pageantry in bringing those Things call’d witches or Conjurers to Justice, that is, first to know if a Woman be a Witch, throw her into a Pond, and if she be a Witch, she will swim, and it is not in her own Power to prevent it; if she does all she can to sink her self, it will not do, she will swim like a Cork. Then that a Rope will not hang a Witch, but you must get a With, a green Osyer; that if you nail a Horse-Shoe on the Sill of the Door, she cannot come into the House, or go out, if she be in; these and a thousand more, too simple to be believ’d, are yet so vouch’d, so taken for granted, and so universally receiv’d for Truth, that there is no resisting them without being thought atheistical.

What Methods to take to know, who are Witches, I really know not; but on the other Side, I think there are variety of Methods to be used to know who are not; W—— G——, Esq; is a Man of Fame, his Parts are great, because his Estate is so; he has threescore and eight Lines of Virgil by rote, and they take up many of the Intervals of his merry Discourses; he has just as many witty Stories to please Society; when they are well told, once over, he begins again, and so he lives in a round of Wit and Learning; he is a Man of great Simplicity and Sincerity; you must be careful not to mistake my Meaning, as to the Word Simplicity; some take it to mean Honesty, and so do I, only that it has a Negative attending it, in his particular Case; in a Word, W—— G—— is an honest Man, and no Conjurer; a good Character, I think, and without Impeachment to his Understanding, he may be a Man of Worth for all that; take the other Sex, there is the Lady H—— is another Discovery; bless us! what Charms in that Face! How bright those Eyes! How flowing white her Breasts! How sweet her Voice? add to all, how heavenly, divinely good her Temper! How inimitable her Behaviour! How spotless her Virtue! How perfect her Innocence! and to sum up her Character, we may add, the Lady H—— is no Witch; sure none of our Beau Critics will be so unkind now as to censure me in those honest Descriptions, as if I meant that my good Friend W—— G—— Esq; or my ador’d Angel, the bright, the charming Lady H—— were Fools; but what will not those Savages, call’d Critics, do, whose barbarous Nature enclines them to trample on the brightest Characters, and to cavil on the clearest Expressions?

It might be expected of me, however, in justice to my Friends, and to the bright Characters of abundance of Gentlemen of this Age, who, by the Depth of their Politics, and the Height of their Elevations might be suspected, and might give us Room to charge them with Subterranean Intelligence; I say, it might be expected that I should clear up their Fame, and assure the World concerning them, even by Name, that they are no Conjurers, that they do not deal with the Devil, at least, not by the Way Witchcraft and Divination, such as Sir T——k, E—— B——, Esq; my Lord Homily, Coll. Swagger, Jeoffry Well with, Esq; Capt. Harry Go Deeper, Mr. Wellcome Woollen, Citizen and Merchant Taylor of London, Henry Cadaver, Esq; the D—— of Caerfilly, the Marquess of Sillyhoo, Sir Edward Thro’ and Thro’ Bart. and a World of fine Gentlemen more, whose great Heads and Weighty Understandings have given the World such Occasion to challenge them with being at least descended from the Magi, and perhaps engaged with old Satan in his Politics and Experiments; but I, that have such good Intelligence among Satan’s Ministers of State, as is necessary to the present Undertaking, am thereby well able to clear up their Characters: and I doubt not, but they will value themselves upon it, and acknowledge their Obligation to me, for letting the World know the Devil does not pretend to have had any Business with them, or to have enroll’d them in the List of his Operators; in a Word, that none of them are Conjurers: Upon which Testimony of mine, I expect they be no longer charg’d with, or so much as suspected of having an unlawful Quantity of Wit, or having any Sorts of it about them, that are contraband or prohibited, but that for the future they pass unmolested, and be taken for nothing but what they are, (viz.) very honest worthy Gentlemen.

Daniel Defoe

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