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do not lodge in the human body ; if stones, metals, glass, knives, plaited hair, pieces of pitch, be ejected from particular parts of the body, of greater size, and weight and figure, than could be supposed to make their way through these parts, without much greater demolition and delaceration of the passages ; in all these cases, the disease is unquestionably magical."
The author proceeds to enquire whether the physician may presume to remove the instruments of incantation in order to relieve the patient without incurring the accusation of impiety by interfering with the implements and furniture of the devil ; and concludes very formally that, after approaching them with all due ceremony and respect, after imploring with suitable devotion and ardour, the
protection and direction of heaven in such a perilous undertaking, he may attempt to intermeddle, and may occasionally expect a successful issue.
Such are the views, reasonings, and conclusions of, at the time, one of the first physicians and philosophers of Germany ;-views and reasonings which would have been received with eagerness and applause two hundred years ago, but which the philosophy and improvements of later times seem to have banished to the abodes of ignorance and barbarity.
The origin of almost all our knowledge may be traced to the earlier periods of antiquity. This is peculiarly the case with respect to the arts denomi. nated magical. There were few ancient nations, however barbarous, which could not furnish many
individuals to whose spells and enchantments the power of nature and the material world were supposed to be subjected. The Chaldeans, the Egyptians, and indeed all the oriental nations were accustomed to refer all natural effects, for which they could not account to the agency of demons, who were believed to preside over herbs, trees, rivers, mountains, and animals. Every member of the human body was under their power, and all corporeal diseases were produced by their malignity. For instance, if any happened to be affected with a fever, little anxiety was manifested to discover
or to adopt rational measures for its cure ; it must no doubt have been occasioned by some evil spirit residing in the body, or influencing, in some mysterious way, the fortunes of the sufferer. That influence could be counteracted only by certain magical rites ; hence the observance of those rites soon obtained a permanent establishment in the East. Even at the present day, many uncivilized people hold that all nature is filled with genii, of which some exercise a beneficent, and others a destructive power. All evils with which man is afflicted, are considered the work of these imaginary beings, whose favour must be propitiated by sacrifices, incantations, and songs. If the Greenlander be unsuccessful in fishing, the Huron in hunting, or in war ; if even the scarcely half reasoning Hottentot finds every thing is not right in his mind, body, or fortune, no time must be lost before the spirit be invoked.
After the removal of some present evil, the next strongest desire in the human mind is the
attainment of some future good. This good is often beyond the power, and still oftener beyond the inclination of man to bestow ; it must therefore be sought from beings which are supposed to possess considerable influence over human affairs, and which being elevated above the baser passions of our nature, were thought to regard with peculiar favour all who acknowledged their power, or invoked their aid : hence the numerous rites which have, in all ages and countries, been observed in consulting superior intelligences, and the equally numerous modes in which their pleasure has been communicated to mortals.
The Chaldean magi were chiefly founded astrology, and were much conversant with certain animals, metals and plants, which they employed in all their incantations ; the virtue of which was derived from stellar influence. Great attention was always paid to the positions and the configurations presented by the celestial sphere ; and it was only at favourable seasons that the solemn rites were celebrated. Those rites were accompanied with many peculiar and fantastic gestures, by leaping, clapping of hands, prostrations, loud cries, and not unfrequently with unintelligible exclamations. Sacrifices, and burnt offerings were used to propitiate superior powers ; but our knowledge of the magical rites exercised by certain oriental nations, the Jews only excepted, is extremely limited.
All the books professedly written on the subject, have been swept away by the torrent of time.
We learn, however, that the professors among the Chaldeans were ge
nerally divided into three classes ; the Ascaphim, or charmers, whose office it was to remove present, and to avert future contingent evils ; to construct talismans, etc. The Mecaschephim, or magicians, properly so called, who were conversant with the occult
powers of nature, and the supernatural world ; and the chasdim, or astrologers, who constituted by far the most numerous and respectable class. And from the assembly of the wise men on the occasion of the extraordinary dream of Nebuchadnezzar, it would appear that Babylon had also her oneirocritici, or interpreters of dreams-a species of diviners indeed, to which almost every nation of antiquity
Like the Chaldean astrologers, the Persian magi, from whom our word magic is derived, belong to the priesthood. But the worship of the gods was not their chief occupation ; they were also great proficients in the arts. They joined to the worship of the gods, and to the profession of medicine and natural magic, a pretended familiarity with superior powers, from which they boasted of deriving all their knowledge. Like Plato, who probably imbibed many of their notions, they taught that demons hold a middle rank between gods and men ; that they (the demons) presided not only over divinations, auguries, conjurations, oracles, and every species of magic, but also over sacrifices, and prayer, which in bebalf of men is thus presented, and rendered acceptable to the gods. Indeed, the austerity of their lives * was well calculated to
All the three orders of Magi enumerated by Porphyry, strengthen the impression which their cunning had already made on the multitude, and to prepare the way for whatever impostures they might afterwards practise.
We are less acquainted with Indian magic than with that practised by any other Eastern nations. It may, however, be reasonably enough inferred that it was very similar to that for which the magi in general were held in such high estimation : although they were excluded, as beings of too sacred a nature, from the ordinary occurrences of life. Their Brahmins, or Gymnosophists, were regarded with as much reverence as the magi, and probably were more worthy of it. Some of them dwelt in woods, and others in the immediate vicinity of cities. Their skill in medicine was great; the care which they took in educating youth, in familiarizing it with generous and virtuous sentiments, did them peculiar honour; and their maxims and discourses, as recorded by historians, prove that they were much accustomed to profound reflection on the principles of civil polity, morality, religion and philosophy.
Of the magi of the Jews, it is proved by Lightfoot,* that after their return from Babylon, having entirely forsaken idolatry, and being no longer
abstained from wine and women, and the first of these orders from animal food.
• Vol. ii. p. 287.