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ing it with their own hands from the fountain-head in certain bladders, and disploding it among the sectaries in all nations, who did, and do, and ever
will, daily gasp and pant after it.
Now, their mysteries and rites were performed in this manner. It is well known among the learned, that the virtuosoes of former ages had a contrivance for carrying and preserving winds in casks or barrels, which was of great assistance upon long sea voyages: and the loss of so useful an art at present very much to be lamented; although, I know not how, with great negligence omitted by Pancirollus.† It was an invention ascribed to olus himself, from whom this sect is denominated; and who, in honour of their founder's memory, have to this day preserved great numbers of those barrels, whereof they fix one in each of their temples, first beating out the top; into this barrel, upon solemn days, the priest enters; where, having before duly prepared himself by the methods already described, a secret funnel is also conveyed from his posteriors to the bottom of the barrel, which admits new supplies of inspiration, from a northern chink or cranny. Whereupon, you behold him swell immediately to the shape and size of his vessel. In this posture he disembogues whole tempests upon his auditory, as the spirit from beneath gives him utterance; which, issuing ex adytis et penetralibus, is not performed without much pain and gripings. And the wind, in breaking forth, deals with his face as it does with that of the sea, first blackening, then wrinkling, and at last bursting
* The original of tub-preaching described.-BENTLEY.
† An author who writ De Artibus perditis, &c., of arts lost, and of arts invented.-H.
This is an exact description of the changes made in the face by enthusiastic preachers.-H.
it into a foam. It is in this guise the sacred Æolist delivers his oracular belches to his panting disciples; of whom, some are greedily gaping after the sanctified breath; others are all the while hymning out the praises of the winds; and, gently wafted to and fro by their own humming, do thus represent the soft breezes of their deities appeased.
It is from this custom of the priests, that some authors maintain these olists to have been very ancient in the world. Because the delivery of their mysteries, which I have just now mentioned, appears exactly the same with that of other ancient oracles, whose inspirations were owing to certain subterraneous effluviums of wind, delivered with the same pain to the priest, and much about the same influence on the people.* It is true, indeed, that these were frequently managed and directed by female officers, whose organs were understood to be better disposed for the admission of those oracular gusts, as entering and passing up through a receptacle of greater capacity, and causing also a pruriency by the way, such as, with due management, hath been refined from a cardinal into a spiritual ecstasy. And, to strengthen this profound conjecture, it is farther insisted, that this custom of female priests † is kept up still in certain refined colleges of our modern Æolists, who are agreed to receive their inspiration, derived through the receptacle aforesaid, like their ancestors, the sibyls.
And whereas the mind of a man, when he gives the spur and bridle to his thoughts, does never stop, but naturally sallies out into both extremes, of high and low, of good and evil; his first flight of fancy
* The oracles delivered by the Pythoness and other priestesses of Apollo.
† Quakers, who suffer their women to preach and pray.-H.
commonly transports him to ideas of what is most perfect, finished, and exalted; till, having soared out of his own reach and sight, not well perceiving how near the frontiers of height and depth border upon each other; with the same course and wing, he falls down plumb into the lowest bottom of things; like one who travels the east into the west; or like a straight line drawn by its own length into a circle. Whether a tincture of malice in our natures makes us fond of furnishing every bright idea with its reverse; or whether reason, reflecting upon the sum of things, can, like the sun, serve only to enlighten one half of the globe, leaving the other half by necessity under shade and darkness; or whether fancy, flying up to the imagination of what is highest and best, becomes overshot, and spent, and weary, and suddenly falls, like a dead bird of paradise, to the ground; † or whether, after all these metaphysical conjectures, I have not entirely missed the true reason; the proposition, however, which has stood me in so much circumstance, is altogether true; that, as the most uncivilised parts of mankind have some way or other climbed up into the conception of a god, or supreme power, so they have seldom forgot to provide their fears with certain ghastly notions, which, instead of better, have served them pretty tolerably for a devil. And this proceeding seems to be natural enough; for it is with men, whose imaginations are lifted up very high, after the same rate as with those whose bodies are so; that, as they are delighted with the advantage of a nearer contemplation upwards, so they are equally terrified with the dismal prospect of a preci
* Near, for nearly.-S.
It was an ancient belief that birds of paradise had no feet, but always continued on the wing until their death.
pice below. Thus, in the choice of a devil, it has been the usual method of mankind, to single out some being, either in act or in vision, which was in most antipathy to the god they had framed. Thus also the sect of Æolists possessed themselves with a dread, and horror, and hatred of two malignant natures, betwixt whom, and the deities they adored, perpetual enmity was established. The first of these was the chameleon,* sworn foe to inspiration, who in scorn devoured large influences of their god, without refunding the smallest blast by eructation. The other was a huge terrible monster, called Moulinavent, who, with four strong arms, waged eternal battle with all their divinities, dexterously turning to avoid their blows, and repay them with interest.+
Thus furnished, and set out with gods, as well as devils, was the renowned sect of Eolists, which makes at this day so illustrious a figure in the world, and whereof that polite nation of Laplanders are, beyond all doubt, a most authentic branch; of whom I therefore cannot, without injustice, here omit to make honourable mention; since they appear to be so closely allied in point of interest, as well as inclinations, with their brother Eolists among us, as not only to buy their winds by wholesale from the same merchants, but also to retail them after the same rate and method, and to customers much alike.
Now, whether this system here delivered was wholly compiled by Jack; or, as some writers believe, rather copied from the original at Delphos, with
* The author seems to mean latitudinarians, persons too indifferent to religion, either to object to, or to receive with interest, any modification of its doctrines.
† A wind-mill.-BENTLEY.
Infidels here meant.-BENTLEY.
certain additions and emendations, suited to the times and circumstances; I shall not absolutely determine. This I may affirm, that Jack gave it at least a new turn, and formed it into the same dress and model as it lies deduced by me.
I have long sought after this opportunity of doing justice to a society of men for whom I have a peculiar honour; and whose opinions, as well as practices, have been extremely misrepresented and traduced by the malice or ignorance of their adversaries. For I think it one of the greatest and best of human actions, to remove prejudices, and place things in their truest and fairest light; which I therefore boldly undertake, without any regards of my own, beside the conscience, the honour, and the thanks.
A DIGRESSION CONCERNING THE ORIGINAL, THE USE, AND IMPROVEMENT OF MADNESS, IN A COMMONWEALTH.
NOR shall it any ways detract from the just reputation of this famous sect, that its rise and institution are owing to such an author as I have described Jack to be; a person whose intellectuals were overturned, and his brain shaken out of its natural position; which we commonly suppose to be a distemper, and call by the name of madness or phrensy. For, if we take a survey of the greatest actions that have been performed in the world, under the influence of single men; which are, the establishment of new empires by conquest; the advance and progress of