* On Bemarkable Mercies of Divine Providence.
From another narrative, we are entitled to infer that the European wizard was held superior to the native sorcerer of North America. Among the numberless extravagances of the Scottish Dissenters of the 17th century, now canonized in a lump by those who view them in the general light of enemies to Prelacy, was a certain shipmaster, called, from his size, Meikle John Gibb. This man, a person called Jamie, and one or two other men, besides twenty or thirty females who adhered to them, went the wildest lengths of enthusiasm. Gibb headed a party, who followed him into the moorlands, and at the Ford Moss, between Airth and Stirling, burnt their Bibles, as an act of solemn adherence to their new faith. They were apprehended in consequence, and committed to prison ; and the rest of the Dissenters, however differently they were affected by the persecution of government, when it applied to themselves, were nevertheless much offended that these poor mad people were not brought to capital punishment for their blasphemous extravagances ; and imputed it as a fresh crime to the Duke of York, that, though he could not be often accused of toleration, he considered the discipline of the house of correction as more likely to bring the unfortunate Gibbites to their senses, than the more dignified severities of a public trial and the gallows. The Cameronians, however, did their best to correct this scandalous lenity. As Meikle John Gibb, who was their comrade in captivity, used to disturb their worship in jail by his maniac howling, two of them took turn about to hold him down by force, and silence him by a napkin thrust into his mouth. This mode of quieting the unlucky heretic, though sufficiently emphatic, being deemed ineffectual or inconvenient, George Jackson, a Cameronian, who afterwards suffered at the gallows, dashed the maniac with his feet and hands against the wall, and beat him so severely, that the rest were afraid that he had killed him outright. After which specimen of fraternal chastisement, the lunatic, to avoid the repetition of the discipline, whenever the prisoners began worship, ran behind the door; and there, with his own napkin crammed into his mouth, sat howling like a chastised cur. But on being finally transported to America, John Gibb, we are assured, was much admired by the heathen for his familiar converse with the devil bodily, and offering sacrifices to him. " He died there," says Walker, "about the year 1720."* We must necessarily infer, that the pretensions of the natives to supernatural communication could not be of a high class, since we find them honouring this poor madman as their superior; and, in general, that the magic, or powahing, of the North American Indians, was not of a nature to be much apprehended by the British colonists, since the natives themselves gave honour and precedence to those Europeans who came among them with the character of possessing intercourse with the spirits whom they themselves professed to worship.
* See Patrick Walker's Biograpbia Presbyteriana, vol. iL p. 23; also God's Judgment upon Persecutors, and Wodrow's History, upon the article John Gibb.
Notwithstanding this inferiority on the part of the powahs, it occurred to the settlers that the heathen Indians and Roman Catholic Frenchmen were particularly favoured by the demons, who sometimes adopted their appearance, and showed themselves in their likeness, to the great annoyance of the colonists. Thus, in the year 1692, a party of real or imaginary French and Indians exhibited themselves occasionally to the colonists of the town of Gloucester, in the county of Essex, New England, alarmed the country around very greatly, skirmished repeatedly with the English, and caused the raising of two regiments, and the dispatching a strong reinforcement to the assistance of the settlement. But as these visitants, by whom they were plagued more than a fortnight, though they exchanged fire with the settlers, never killed or scalped any one, the English became convinced that they were not real Indians and Frenchmen, but that the devil and his agents had assumed such an appearance, although seemingly not enabled effectually to support it, for the molestation of the colony.*
It appears, then, that the ideas of superstition which the more ignorant converts to the Christian faith borrowed from the wreck of the classic mythology, were so rooted in the minds of their successors, that these found corroboration of their faith in demonology in the practice of every pagan nation whose destiny it was to encounter them as enemies, and that as well within the limits of Europe, as in every other part of the globe to which their arms were carried. In a word, it may be safely laid down, that the commonly received doctrine of demonology, presenting the same general outlines, though varied according to the fancy of particular nations, existed through all Europe. It seems to have been founded originally on feelings incident to the human heart, or diseases to which the human frame is liable,—to have been largely augmented by what classic superstitions survived the ruins of paganism,— and to have received new contributions from the opinions collected among the barbarous nations, whether of the east or of the west. It is now necessary to enter more minutely into the question, and endeavour to trace from what especial sources the people of the middle ages derived those notions, which gradually assumed the shape of a regular system of demonology.
* Magnalia, book vii. article xviii The fact is also alleged in the Life of Sir William Phippa.