* Most ancient authors who pretend to treat of the wonders of natural magic, give receipts for calling up phantoms. The lighting lamps fed by peculiar kinds of medicated oil, and the use of suffumigations of strong and deleterious herbs, are the means recommended. From these authorities, perhaps, a professor of legerdemain assured Dr. Alderson of Hull, that he could compose a preparation of antimony, sulphur, and other drugs, which, when burnt in a confined room, would have the effect of causing the patient to suppose he saw phantoms.— See Hibbert on Apparitions, p. 120.
So many causes acting thus upon each other in various degrees, or sometimes separately, it must happen early in the infancy of every society, that there should occur many apparently well-authenticated instances of supernatural intercourse, satisfactory enough to authenticate peculiar examples of the general proposition which is impressed upon us by belief of the immortality of the soul. These examples of undeniable apparitions, (for they are apprehended to be incontrovertible,) fall, like the seed of the husbandman, into fertile and prepared soil, and are usually followed by a plentiful crop of superstitious figments, which derive their sources from circumstances and enactments in sacred and profane history, hastily adopted, and perverted from their genuine reading. This shall be the subject of my next letter.