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of man. They pretended to catch, refine, reduce, and materialize this indefinable something, so that it might be swallowed in the form of powders, and drops ; that, by its penetrating powers, it might insinuate itself into the whole animal frame, invigorate, and consequently qualify it for a longer duration.

Others again were foolish enough to indulge a notion that they could divest themselves of the properties of matter during this life; that in this manner they might be defended against the gradual approaches of dissolution, to which every animal body is subject : and that thus fortified, without quitting their terrestrial tabernacle, they could associate at pleasure with the inhabitants of the spiritual world. The sacred volume itself was interpreted and commented upon by alchymists, with a view to render it subservient to their intended designs. Indisputable historical facts, recorded in this invaluable book, were treated by them as hieroglyphical symbols of chemical processes : and the fundamental truths of the christian religion were applied, in a wanton and blasphemous manner, to the purposes of making gold, and distilling the elixir of life.

The world of spirits was also invaded, and summoned, as it were, to contribute to the prolongation of human life. Spirits were supposed to have the dominion of air, fire, earth, and water; they were divided into distinct classes, and particular services ascribed to each. The malevolent spirits were opposed and counteracted by various means of prevention : the good and tutelary were obliged to submit to a sort of gentle, involuntary servitude. From invisible beings were expected and demanded visible means of assistance-riches, health, friends, and long life. Thus the poor spirits were profanely maltreated, nay, sometimes severely punished, and even miserably flogged in effigy, when they betrayed symptoms of disaffection, or want of implicit fealty.

As men had thus, in their weakness and folly, forsaken the bounds of this terrestrial sphere, it will easily be believed, that, with the help of an exuberant imagination, they would make a transition to the higher regions—to the celestial bodies and the stars to which, indeed, they ascribed no less a power than that of deciding the destinies of men, and which, consequently, must have had a considerable share in shortening or prolonging the duration of human lifeevery nation or kingdom was subjected to the dominion of its particular planet the time of whose government was determined; and a number of ascendant powers were fictitiously contrived, with a view to reduce, under its influence, every thing which was produced and born under its administration. The professors of astrology appeared as the confidents of these invisible rulers, and the interpreters of their will; they were well versed in the art of giving a respectable appearance to this usurped dignity. Provided they could but ascertain the hour and minute of a person's birth, they confidently took upon themselves to predict his mental capacities, future vicissitudes of life, and the diseases he would be visited with,

together with the circumstances, the day and hour of his death. *

The following prediction, and the verification of it are of so recent a date, that we cannot resist giving it a place in our pages. In the account of the late Captain Flinder's voyage of discovery, is the melancholy relation of the loss of the master, Mr. Thistle, with seven others, in a boat, on the inhospitable shores of Terra Australis. To this narrative, the following note is subjoined, which we shall here quote in Captain Flinder's own words : “ This evening, Mr. Fowler, the lieutenant, told me a circumstance which I thought very extraordinary, and it afterwards proved to be more so. While we were lying at Spithead, Mr. Thistle was one day waiting on shore, and having nothing else to do, went to a certain old man, named Pipe, to have his fortune told. The cunning man informed him that he was going on a long voyage, and that the ship, on arriving at her destination, would be joined by another vessel. That such was intended, he might have learnt privately ; but he added that Mr. Thistle would be lost before the other vessel joined. As to the man. ner of his loss the magician refused to give any information. My boat's crew, hearing what Mr. Thistle said, went to consult the wise man, and after the prefatory information of a long voyage, they were told that they would be shipwrecked, but not in the ship they were going out in; whether they would escape and return to England, he was not permitted to reveal. This tale Mr. Thistle often told at the mess-table; and I remarked, with some pain, in a future part of the voyage, that every time my boat's crew went to embark in the Lady Nelson, there was some degree of apprehension amongst them, that the time of the predicted shipwreck was arrived. I make no comment, (says Capt. Flinders,) upon this story, but to recommend a commander, if possible, to prevent any of his crew from consulting fortune-tellers.It should be observed that, strange as it may appear, every particular of these predictions came exactly to pass, for the master and his boat's crew were lost before the Investigator

Not only the common people, but persons of the highest rank and stations, nay, even men the most distinguished for their rank and abilities, did homage to those " gods of their idolatry,” and lived in continual dread of their occult powers.

With anxious countenance and attentive ears, they listened to the cantrip effusions of these pretended oracles, which prognosticated the bright or gloomy days of futurity. Even physicians were solicitous to qualify themselves for appointments no less lucrative than respectable ;-they forgot, over the dazzling hoards of Mammon, that they are peculiarly and professedly the pupils of nature.—The curious student in the universities found everywhere public lecturers, who undertook to instruct him in the profound arts of divination, chiromancy, and the cabala.

Among other instances, the following anecdote is related of the noted Thurneisen, who, in the seventeenth century, was invested, at Berlin, with the respectable offices of printer to the court, bookseller, almanack-maker, astrologer, chemist, and first physician. Messengers daily arrived from the most respectable houses in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, and even from England, for the purpose of consulting him respecting the future fortunes* of their new-born infants, acquainting him with the

was joined by the Lady Nelson, from Port-Jackson ; and when the former ship was condemned, the people embarked with their commander on board the Porpoise, which was wrecked on a coral reef, and nine of the crew were lost.

* In 1670, the passion for horoscopes and expounding the stars, prevailed in France among the first rank. The newborn child was usually presented naked to the astrologer,

hour of the nativity, and soliciting his advice and directions as to their management. Many volumes of this singular correspondence are still preserved in the royal library at Berlin. The business of this fortunate adept increased so rapidly, that he found it necessary to employ a number of subaltern assistants, who, together with their master, realized considerable fortunes. He died in high reputation and favour with his superstitious contemporaries.

The famous Melancthon was a believer in judicial astrology, and an interpreter of dreams. Richelieu and Mazarin were so superstitious as to employ and pension Morin, another pretender to astrology, who cast the nativities of these two able politicians. Nor was Tacitus himself, who generally appears superior to superstition, untainted with this folly, as may be seen from his twenty-second chapter of the sixth book of his Annals.

In the time of the civil wars, astrology was in high repute. The royalists and the rebels had their astrologers as well as their soldiers ; and the predictions of the former had a great influence over the latter. When Charles the first was imprisoned, Lilly, the famous astrologer, was consulted for the

who read the first lineaments in its forehead, and the transverse lines in its bands, and thence wrote duwn its future destiny. Catherine de Médicis carried Henry IV, when a child, to old Nostradamus, who antiquaries esteem more for his Chronicle of Provence than for his vaticinating powers. The sight of the revered seer, with a beard which“ streamed like a meteor in the air," terrified the future hero, who dreaded a whipping from so grave a personage.

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