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When the brain is partially irritated, the patient fancies that he sees spiders crawling over his bed clothes, or person; or beholds them covering the roof and walls of his room. If the disease increases, he imagines that persons who are dead, or absent, flit round his bed; that animals croud into his apartment, and that all these apparitions speak to him. These impressions take place, even while he is convinced of their fallacy. All this occurs sometimes, without any degree of delirium.
I had occasion to see a young married woman, whose first indication of illness was a spectral delusion. She told me, that her apartment appeared suddenly to be filled with devils, and that her terror impelled her to quit the house with great precipitation, When she was brought back, she saw the whole staircase occupied by diabolical forms, and was in agonies of fear for several days.
After this first impression wore off, she heard a voice tempting her to selfdestruction, and prohibiting her from all exercises of piety. Such was the account given by her, when she was sensible of the delusion, yet unable to resist the horror of the impression. When she was nearly recovered, I had the curiosity to question her, as I have interrogated others, respecting the forms of the demons with which they had been alarmed; but I never could obtain any other account, than that they were small, very much deformed, and had horns and claws, like the imps of our terrific modern romances,
I have been forced to listen with much gravity, to a man partially insane, who assured me that the devil was lodged in his side, and that I should perceive him thumping and fluttering there, in a manner which would perfectly convince me of his presence.
Another lunatic believed that he had swallowed the devil, and had retained him in his stomach. He resisted the calls of nature during several days, lest he should set the foul fiend at liberty. I overcame his resolution, however, by administering an emetic in his food.
In Mather's Wonders of the invisible World, containing the trials of the American witches, in 1692, a work which may be regarded as official, it appears that the visions of several persons who thought themselves bewitched, were occasioned by the night-mare.
. On the trial of Bridget Bishop, at Salem, for example; “ John Cook testi“ fied; that about five or six years ago, “one morning about sun-rise, he was “ in his chamber assaulted by the shape “ of this prisoner, which looked on him,
grinned at him, and very much hurt “ him with a blow on the side of the
“ head.”.............“ Richard Ceman testio fied, that eight years ago, as he lay “ awake in his bed, with a light burning “ in the room, he was annoyed with “ the apparition of this Bishop and of “ two more that were strangers to him, “ who came and oppressed him so, that “ he could neither stir himself, nor "wake any one else,” &c. ' .
,''Again, on the trial of Susannah Martin, .“ Bernard Peache testified, that being in “ bed, on the Lord's day night, he heard “a scrabbling at the window, whereat so he then saw Susannah Martin come in 4 and jump down upon the floor. She “ took hold of this deponent's feet, and “ drawing his body up into one heap, "she lay upon him near two hours; in si all which time he could neither speak 9 nor hear.!!,, si.. Jli i, In the introduction to his history of the trials, which were conducted on such evidence, Mather gra
" ?Tis, as I remember, the learned .“ Scribonius, who reports, that one of “ his acquaintance; devoutly making his “ prayers on the behalf of a person “ molested by evil spirits, received from “ those evil spirits an horrible blow over “ the face: and I may myself expect “ not few or small buffetings from evil “ spirits, for the endeavours wherewith “ I am now going to encounter them. “ I am far from insensible, that at this “ extraordinary time of the Devil's com“ ing down in great wrath upon us, there “ are too many tongues and hearts there“by set on fire of hell, that the various “ opinions about the witchcrafts which “ of later time have troubled us, are “ maintained by some with so much “ loud fury, as if they could never be “ sufficiently stated, unless written in “ the liquor wherewith witches use to “ write their covenants; and that he " who becomes an author at such a 6 time, had need be fenced with iron, " and the staff of a speur.”.