Other heathen nations, whose creeds could not have directly contributed to the system of demonology, because their manners and even their very existence were unknown when it was adopted, were nevertheless involved, so soon as Europeans became acquainted with them, in the same charge of witchcraft and worship of demons, brought by the Christians of the middle ages, against the heathens of northern Europe and the Mahommedans of the East. We learn from the information of a Portuguese voyager, that even the native Christians, (called those of St. Thomas,) whom the discoverers found in India when they first arrived there, fell under suspicion of diabolical practices. It was almost in vain that the priests of one of their chapels produced to the Portuguese officers and soldiers a holy image, and called on them, as good Christians, to adore the blessed Virgin. The sculptor had been so little acquainted with his art, and the hideous form which he had produced resembled an inhabitant of the infernal regions so much more than Our Lady of Grace, that one of the European officers, while, like his companions, he dropped on his knees, added the loup protest, that if the image represented the Devil, he paid his homage to the Holy Virgin.
*The chart alluded to is one of the facsimiles of an ancient planisphere, engraved in bronze, about the end of the 15th century, and called the Borgian Table, from its possessor, Cardinal Stephen Borgia, and preserved in his Museum at Veletri.
In South America the Spaniards justified the unrelenting cruelties exercised on the unhappy natives, by reiterating, in all their accounts of the countries which they discovered and conquered, that the Indians, in their idol worship, were favoured by the demons with a direct intercourse, and that their priests inculcated doctrines and rites the foulest and most abhorrent to Christian ears. The great Snake-god of Mexico and other idols, worshipped with human sacrifices, and bathed in the gore of their prisoners, gave but too much probability to this accusation ; and, if the images themselves were not actually tenanted by evil spirits, the worship which the Mexicans paid to them was founded upon such deadly cruelty and dark superstition, as might easily be believed to have been breathed into mortals by the agency of hell.
Even in North America, the first settlers in New England, and other parts of that immense continent, uniformly agreed that they detected, among the inhabitants, traces of an intimate connexion with Satan. It is scarce necessary to remark, that this opinion was founded exclusively upon the tricks practised by the native Powahs, or cunning men, to raise themselves to influence among the chiefs, and to obtain esteem with the people, which, possessed as they were professionally of some skill in jugglery, and the knowledge of some medical herbs and secrets, the understanding of the colonists was unable to trace to their real sourceó legerdemain and imposture. By the account, however, of the Reverend Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia, book vi.,* he does not ascribe to these Indian conjurers any skill greatly superior to a maker of almanacks, or common fortune-teller. " They," says the doctor, " universally acknowledged and worshipped many gods, and therefore highly esteemed and reverenced their priests, powahs, or wizards, who were esteemed as having immediate converse with the gods. To them, therefore, they addressed themselves in all difficult cases ; yet could not all that desired that dignity, as they esteemed it, obtain familiarity with the infernal spirits. Nor were all the powahs alike successful in their addresses; but they became such, either by immediate revelation, or in the use of certain rites and ceremonies, which tradition had left as conducing to that end. In so much, that parents, out of zeal, often dedicated their children to the gods, and educated them accordingly, observing a certain diet, debarring sleep, etc.: yet of the many designed, but few obtained their desire. Supposing that where the practice of witchcraft has been highly esteemed, there must be given the plainest demonstration of mortals having familiarity with infernal spirits, I am willing to let my reader know, that, not many years since, here died one of the powahs, who never pretended to astrological knowledge, yet could precisely inform such who desired his assistance, from whence goods stolen from them were gone, and whither carried, with many things of the like nature; nor was he ever known to endeavour to conceal his knowledge to be immediately from a god subservient to him that the English worship. This powah being, by an Englishman worthy of credit, (who lately informed me of the same,) desired to advise him who had taken certain goods which had been stolen, having formerly been an eye-witness of his ability, the powah, after a little pausing, demanded why he requested that from him, since himself served another God ? that therefore he could not help him ; but added, ' If you can believe that my god may help you, I will try what I can do;' which diverted the man from further enquiry. I must a little digress, and tell my reader, that this powah's wife was accounted a godly woman, and lived in the practice and profession of the Christian religion, not only by the approbation, but encouragement of her husband. She constantly prayed in the family, and attended the public worship on the Lord's days.. He declared that he could not blame her, for that she served a God that was above his ; but that as to himself, his god's continued kindness obliged him not to forsake his service." It appears, from the above and similar passages, that Dr. Cotton Mather, an honest and devout, but sufficiently credulous man, had mistaken the purpose of the tolerant powah. The latter only desired to elude the necessity of his practices being brought under the observant eye of an European, while he found an ingenious apology in the admitted superiority which he naturally conceded to the Deity of a people, advanced, as he might well conceive, so far above his own in power and attainments, as might reasonably infer a corresponding superiority in the nature and objects of their worship.