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immediate act of God, and is called prophecy or inspiration. The second is the immediate act of the Devil, and is termed possession. The third is the product of natural causes, the effect of strong imagination, spleen, violent anger, fear, grief, pain, and the like. These three have been abundantly treated on by authors, and therefore shall not employ my inquiry. But the fourth method of reli: gious enthusiasm, or launching out of the soul, as it is purely an effect of artifice and mechanic operation, has been sparingly handled, or not at all, by any writer; because, though it is an art of great antiquity, yet, having been confined to few persons, it long wanted those advancements and refinements which it afterwards met with, since it has grown so epidemic, and fallen into so many cultivating hands.
It is, therefore, upon this mechanical operation of the spirit that I mean to treat, as it is at present performed by our British workmen. I shall deliver to the reader the result of many judicious observations upon the matter; tracing, as near as I can, the whole course and method of this trade, producing parallel instances, and relating certain discoveries, that have luckily fallen in my way.
I have said, that there is one branch of religious enthusiasm which is purely an effect of nature; whereas the part I mean to handle is wholly an effect of art, which, however, is inclined to work upon certain natures and constitutions more than others. Besides, there is many an operation which, in its original, was purely an artifice, but through a long succession of ages has grown to be natural. Hippocrates tells us, that among our ancestors, the Scythians, there was a nation called Long-heads; which at first began, by a custom among midwives and nurses, of moulding, and squeezing, and bra.
cing up the heads of infants ; by which means nature, shut out at one passage, was forced to seek another, and, finding room above, shot upwards in the form of a sugar-loaf; and, being diverted that way for some generations, at last found it out of herself, needing no assistance from the nurse's hand. This was the original of the Scythian Longheads, and thus did custom, from being a second nature, proceed to be a first. To all which there is something very analogous among us of this nation, who are the undoubted posterity of that refined people. For, in the age of our fathers, there arose a generation of men in this island, called Round-heads, * whose race is now spread over three kingdoms; yet, in its beginning, was merely an operation of art, produced by a pair of scissars, a squeeze of the face, and a black cap. These heads, thus formed into a perfect sphere in all assemblies, were most exposed to the view of the female sort, which did influence their conceptions so effectually, that nature at last took the hint and did it of herself; so that a round-head has been ever since as familiar a sight among us as a long-head among the Scythians.
Upon these examples, and others easy to produce, I desire the curious reader to distinguish, first, between an effect grown from art into nature, and one that is natural from its beginning : secondly, between an effect wholly natural, and one which has only a natural foundation, but
en ever sincong the Scythihers easy to pro
* The fanatics in the time of Charles I., ignorantly applying the texi, “ Ye know that it is a shame for men to have long hair," cut theirs very short. It is said, that the queen once seeing Pym, a celebrated patriot, thus cropped, inquired who that round-headed man was, and that from this incident the distinction became gee neral, and the party were called round-heads.
where the superstructure is entirely artificial. For the first and the last of these, I understand to come within the districts of my subject. And having obtained these allowances, they will serve to remove any objections that may be raised hereafter against what I shall advance.
The practitioners of this famous art proceed, in general, upon the following fundamental : that the corruption of the senses is the generation of the spirit; because the senses in men are so many avenues to the fort of reason, which, in this operation, is wholly blocked up. All endeavours must be therefore used, either to divert, bind up, stupify, fluster, and amuse the senses, or else to justle them out of their stations; and, while they are either absent, or otherwise employed, or engaged in a civil war against each other, the spirit enters, and performs its part.
Now, the usual methods of managing the senses upon such conjunctures are, what I shall be very particular in delivering, as far as it is lawful for me to do; but, having had the honour to be initiated into the mysteries of every society, I desire to be excused from divulging any rites, wherein the profane must have no part.
But here, before I can proceed farther, a very dangerous objection must, if possible, be removed. For it is positively denied by certain critics, that the spirit can, by any means, be introduced into an assembly of modern saints; the disparity being so great, in many material circumstances, between the primitive way of inspiration and that which is practised in the present age. This they pretend to prove from the second chapter of the Acts, where, comparing both, it appears, first, That the apostles were gathered together with one accord, in one place; by which is meant a universal agree
mitive w Materials; the di
ment in opinion and form of worship; a harmo. ny, say they, so far from being found between any two conventicles among us, that it is in vain to expect it between any two heads in the same. Secondly, the spirit instructed the apostles in the gift of speaking several languages; a knowledge so remote from our dealers in this art, that they neither understand propriety of words or phrases in their own. Lastly, say these objectors, the modern artists do utterly exclude all approaches of the spirit, and bar up its ancient way of entering, by covering themselves so close and so industriously a-top: For they will needs have it as a point clearly gained, that the cloven tongues never sat upon the apostles' heads while their hats were on.
Now, the force of these objections seems to consist in the different acceptation of the word spirit; which, if it be understood for a supernatural assistance, approaching from without, the objectors have reason, and their assertions may be allowed; but the spirit we treat of here proceeding entirely from within, the argument of these adversaries is wholly eluded. And upon the same account, our modern artificers find it an expedient of absolute necessity, to cover their heads as close as they can, in order to prevent perspiration, than which nothing is observed to be a greater spender of mechanic light, as we may perhaps farther shew in a convenient place.
To proceed therefore upon the phenomenon of spiritual mechanism, it is here to be noted, that in forming and working up the spirit, the assembly has a considerable share as well as the preacher. The method of this arcanum is as follows: they violently strain their eye-balls inward, half-closing the lids; then, as they sit, they are in a perpetual
motion of see-saw, making long hum's at proper periods, and continuing the sound at equal height, choosing their time in those intermissions, while the preacher is at ebb. Neither is this practice, in any part of it, so singular and improbable as not to be traced in distant regions from reading and observation. For, first, the Jauguis, * or enlightened saints of India, see all their visions by help of an acquired straining and pressure of the eyes. Secondly, the art of see-saw on a beam, and swinging by session upon a cord, in order to raise artificial extasies, has been derived to us from our Scythian t ancestors, where it is practised at this day among the women. Lastly, the whole proceeding, as I have here related it, is performed by the natives of Ireland, with a considerable improvement; and it is granted, that this noble nation has, of all others, admitted fewer corruptions, and degenerated least from the purity of the old Tartars. Now, it is usual for a knot of Irish men and women, to abstract themselves from matter, bind up all their senses, grow visionary and spiritual, by influence of a short pipe of tobacco handed round the company, each preserving the smoke in his mouth till it comes again to his turn to take it in fresh; at the same time there is a concert of a continued gentle hum, repeated and renewed by instinct, as occasion requires ; and they move their bodies up and down to a degree, that sometimes their heads and points lie parallel to the horizon. Meanwhile you may observe their eyes turned up, in the posture of one who endeavours to keep himself awake; by which, and many other symptoms
* Bernier, Mem. de Mogol.