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These examples shew clearly, that both christians and pagans were so far agreed as to treat the greater number of oracles as purely human impostures.
From the very nature of things, much that now serves for amusement must formerly have been appropriated to a higher destination. Ventriloquism may be quoted as a case in point, affording a ready and plausible solution of the oracular stones and oaks, of the reply which the seer Nessus addressed to Pythagoras, (“ Jamblichus, Vit. Pyth. xxxiii.) and of the tree which at the command of the Gymnosophists, of upper Egypt, spoke to Apollonius.“ The voice,” says Philostratus (Vit. Ap. xi. 5) tinct but weak, and similar to the voice of a woman.” But the oracles, at least if we ascend to their origin, were not altogether impostures. The pretended interpreters of the decrees of destiny were frequently plunged into a sort of delirium, and when inhaling the fumes of some intoxicating drug or powerful gas or vapour, or drinking some beverage which produced a temporary suspension of the reason, the mind of the enquirer was predisposed to feverish dreams :*
* We learn from Herodotus (iv. 75) that the Scythians and Tartars intoxicated themselves by inhaling the vapour of a species of hemp thrown upon red hot stones. And the odour of the seeds of henbane alone, when its power is augmented by heat, produces a choleric and quarrelsome disposition in those who inhale the vapour arising from them in this state. And in the “ Dictionnaire de Médecine," (de l'Encyclopédie Méthodique, vii. art. Jusquiaume) instances are que the most remarkable of which is, that if a married pair who, though living in perfect harmony
if priestcraft were concerned in the interpretation of such dreams, or eliciting senses from the wild effusiors of the disordered brain of the Pythoness, Science presided over the investigation of the causes of this phrenzy, and the advantages which the Thaumaturgists might derive from it. Jamblicus states (de Mysterius C. xxix) that for obtaining a revelation from the Deity in a dream, the youngest and most simple creatures were the most proper for succeeding : they were prepared for it by magical invocations and fumigations of particular perfumes. Porphyry declares that these proceedings had an influence on the imagination ; Jamblicus that they rendered them more worthy of the inspiration of the Deity.
every where else, could never remain for a few hours in the room where they worked without quarrelling. The apartment of course was thought to be bewitched, until it was discovered that a considerable quantity of seeds of henbane were deposited near the stove, which was the cause of their daily dissensions, the removal of which put an end to their bickerings. The same effects that were produced by drauglys and fumigations would follow from the application of liniments, of Magical Unctions," acting through the absorbent system, as if they had been introduced into the stomach : allusions to these ointments are constantly recurring in ancient authors. Philostratus, in his life of Apollonius (iii.5) states that the bodies of his companions, before being admitted to the mysteries of the Indian sages, were rubbed over with so active an oil, that it appeared as if they were bathed with fire.
THE BRITISH DRUIDS, OR MAGI-ORIGIN OF FAIRIES
-ANCIENT SUPERSTITIONS-THEIR SKILL IN
The British Druids, like the Indian Gymnosophists, or the Persian Magi, had two sets of doctrines; the first for the initiated ; the second for the people. That there is one God the creator of heaven and earth, was a secret doctrine of the Brachmans. And the nature and perfection of the deity were among the druidical arcana.
Among the sublimer tenets of the druidical priesthood, we have every where apparent proofs of their polytheism : and the grossness of their religious ideas, as represented by some writers, is very
inconsistent with that divine philosophy which has been considered as a part of their character. These, however, were popular divinities which the Druids ostensibly worshipped, and popular notions which they ostensibly adopted, in conformity with the prejudices of the
vulgar. The Druids well knew that the common people were no philosophers. There is rea son also, to think that a great part of the idolatries were not sanctioned by the Druids, but afterwards introduced by the Phænician colony. But it would be impossible to say how far the primitive Druids accommodated themselves to vulgar superstition, or to separate their exterior doctrines and ceremonies from the fables and absurd rites of subsequent times. It would be vain to attempt to enumerate their gods : in the eye of the vulgar they defied everything around them. They worshipped the spirits of the mountains, the vallies, and the rivers. Every rock and every spring were either the instruments or the objects of admiration. The moonlight vallies of Danmonium were filled with the fairy people, and its numerous rivers were the resort of genii.
The fiction of fairies is supposed to have been brought, with other extravagancies of a like nature from the Eastern nations, whilst the Europeans and christians were engaged in the holy war : such at least is the notion of an ingenious writer, who thus expresses himself : · Nor were the monstrous embellishments of enchantments the invention of romancers, but formed upon Eastern tales, brought thence by travellers from their crusades and pilgrimages, which indeed, have a cast peculiar to the wild imagination of the Eastern people."*
* Supplement to the translated preface to Jarvis's Don Quixote.
That fairies, in particular, came from the East, we are assured by that learned orientalist, M. Herbelot, who tells us that the Persians called the fairies Peri, and the Arabs Genies, that according to the Eastern fiction, there is a certain country inhabited by fairies, called Gennistan, which answers to our fairy-land.* Mr. Martin, in his observations on Spencer's Fairy Queen, is decided in his opinion, that the fairies came from the East ; but he justly remarks, that they were introduced into the country long before the period of the crusades. The race of fairies, he informs us, was established in Europe in very early times, but, not universally.”
The fairies were confined to the north of Europe—to the ultima Thuleto the British isles-to the divisis orbe Britannis. They were unknown at this remote era to the Gauls or the Germans: and they were probably familiar to the vallies of Scotland and Danmonium, when Gaul and Germany were yet unpeopled either by real or imaginary beings. The belief indeed, of such invisible agents assigned to different parts of nature, prevails at this very day in Scotland, Devonshire and Cornwall, regularly transmitted from the remotest antiquity to the present times, and totally unconnected with the spurious romance of the crusader or the pilgrim. Hence those superstitious notions
* That the Druids worshipped rocks, stones, and fountains, and imagined them inhabited, and actuated by divine intelligences of a lower rank, may plainly be inferred from their stone monuments. These inferior deities the Cornish call spriggian, or spirits, which answer to genii or fairies ;