Page images
PDF
EPUB

luckily, that he could not have the convenience of evacuating upwards, by repetition, prayer, or lecture, he was forced to open an inferior vent. In short, he wrestled with the fleih fo tong, that he at length subdued it, coming off with honourable wounds all before. The surgeon had now cured the parts primarily affected; but the disease, driven from its post, flew up into his head: and as a skilful general, valiantly attacked in his trenches, and beaten from the field, by flying marches withdraws to the capital city, breaking down the bridges to prevent pursuit; so the disease, repelled from its first station, fled before the rod of Hermes, to the upper region, there fortifying itself; but finding the foe making attacks at the nose, broke down the bridge, and retired to the head-quarters. Now, the naturalists obferve, that there is in human noses an idiosyncracy, by virtue of which, the more the passage is obstructed, the more our speech delights to go through, as the music of a flagellet is made by the stops. By this method, the twang of the nose becomes perfectly to resemble the snuffle of a bagpipe, and is found to be e. qually attractive of British ears; whereof the saint had sudden experience, by practising his new faculty with wonderful success in the operation of the spirit : for, in a short time, no doctrine passed for sound and orthodox, unless it were delivered through the nose. Straight, every pastor copied after this original; and those

who

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

who could not otherwise arrive to a perfection, {pirited by a noble zeal, made use of the same experiment to acquire it. So that, I think, it may be truly affirmed, the saints owe their empire to the snuffling of one animal, as Darius I did his to the neighing of another; and both stratagems were performed by the same art; for we

read, how the Persian beast acquired his faculty - by covering a mare the day before.

I should now have done, if I were not convinced, that whatever I have yet advanced upon this subject, is liable to great exception. For, allowing all I have said to be true, it may still be juftly objected, That there is, in the commonwealth of artificial enthusiasm, fome real foundation for art to work upon in the temper and complexion of individuals, which other mortals seem to want. Observe but the gesture, the motion, and the countenance of some choice professors, though in their most familiar actions, you will find them of a different race from the rest of human creatures. Remark your commoneft pretender to a light within, how dark, and dirty, and gloomy he is without : as lanterns, which, the more light they bear in their bodies, cast out so much the more foot, and smoke, and fuliginous matter to adhere to the sides. Listen but to their ordinary talk, and look on the mouth that delivers it: you will imagine you are hearing some ancient oracle, and your understanding VOL. II.

C | Herodot.

[ocr errors]

will

will be equally informed. Upon these, and the like reasons, certain objectors pretend to put it beyond all doubt, that there must be a fort of preternatural spirit possessing the heads of the modern saints; and some will have it to be the heat of zeal, working upon the dregs of ignorance, as other spirits are produced from lees by the force of fire. Some again think, that when our earthly tabernacles are disordered and desolate, shaken and out of repair, the spirit delights to dwell within them; as houses are said to be haunted, when they are forsaken and gone to decay,

To set this matter in as fair a light as possible, I shall here very briefly deduce the history of Fanaticism from the most early ages to the present. And if we are able to fix upon any one material or fundamental point, wherein the chief profeffors have universally agreed, I think we may reasonably lay hold on that, and assign it for the great feed or principle of the spirit.

The most early traces we meet with of Fanatics in ancient story, are among the Ægyptians, who instituted those rites known in Greece by the names of Orgia, Panegyres, and Dionyf.a ; whether introduced there by Orpheus or Melampus, we shall not dispute at present, nor, in all likelihood, at any time for the future. - The feasts were celebrated to the honour of Osiris, whom the Grecians called Dionysius, and -is the

same

same with Bacchus ; * which has betrayed some superficial readers to imagine, that the whole business was nothing more than a set of roaring, fcouring companions, over-charged with wine. But this is a scandalous mistake, foifted on the world by a sort of modern autbors, who have too literal an understanding; and, because antiquity is to be traced backwards, do therefore, like Jews, begin their books at the wrong end, as if learning were a fort of conjuring. These are the men who pretend to understand a book by scouting through the index ; as if a traveller should go about to describe a palace, when he had seen nothing but the privy; or like certain fortune-tellers in Northern America, who bave a way of reading a man's destiny by peeping into his breech. For, at the time of instituting these mye steries, + there was not one vine in all Ægypt, the natives drinking nothing but ale ; which liquor seems to have been far more ancient than wine, and has the honour of owing its invention and progress not only to the Ægyptian Osiris $ but to the Grecian Bacchus; who, in their famous expedition, carried the receipt of it along with them, and gave it to the nations they visite ed or fubdued. Besides, Bacchus himself was very seldom or never drunk: for it is recorded of him, that he was the first inventor of the mitre ; || which he wore continually on his head, (as the . C 2

whole * Diod. Sic. 1, 1. Plut. de Iside et Osiride. + Herod. l. 2. Diod. Sic, l. I. &. 3. Id. 1..4..

whole company of Bacchanals did,) to prevent vapours and the headach after hard drinking. And for this reason, fay fome, the scarlet whore, when she makes the kings of the earth drunk with her cup of abomination, is always sober herself, though she never balks the glass in her turn, being, it seems, kept upon her legs by the virtue of her triple mitre. Now, these feasts. were instituted in imitation of the famous expedition Ofiris made through the world, and of the company that attended him, whereof the Bacchanalian ceremonies * were so many types and symbols. From which account it is manifest, that the Fanatic rites of these Bacchanals cannot be imputed to intoxications by wine, but must needs have had a deeper foundation. What this was, we may gather large hints from certain circumstances in the course of their mysteries. For, in the first place, there was in their processions, an entire mixture and confusion of sexes : they affected to ramble about hills and deserts ; their garlands were of ivy and vine, emblems of cleaving and clinging; or of fir, the parent of turpentine. It is added, that they imitated satyrs, were attended by goats, and rode upon afës, all companions of great skill and practice in affairs of gallantry. They bore, for their ensigns, certain curious figures, perched upon long poles, made into the shape and size of the virga genitalis, with its appurtenances; which were so many

shadows * See the particulars in Diod. Sic. I. 1. & 3.

« PreviousContinue »