We have the following on the testimony of the Rev. George Creighton, minister of Virginia, co. Cavan. He tells us that " divers women brought to his House a young woman, almost naked, to whom a Rogue came upon the way, these women being present, and required her to give him her mony, or else he would kill her, and so drew his sword ; her answer was, You cannot kill me unless God give you leave, and His will be done. Thereupon the Rogue thrust three times at her naked body with his drawn sword, and never pierced her skin ; whereat he being, as it seems, much confounded, went away and left her." A like story comes from the other side : " At the taking of the Newry a rebel being appointed to be shot upon the bridge, and stripped stark-naked, notwithstanding the musketeer stood within two yards of him, and shot him in the middle of the back, yet the bullet entered not, nor did him any more hurt than leave a little black spot behind it. This many hundreds were eye-witnesses of. Divers of the like have I confidently been assured of, who have been provided of diabolical charms." 1 Similar tales of persons bearing charmed lives could no doubt be culled from the records of every war that has been fought on this planet of ours since History began.
The ease with which the accidental or unusual was transformed into the miraculous at this period is shown by the following. A Dr. Tate and his wife and children were flying to Dublin from the insurgents. On their way they were wandering over commons covered with snow, without any food. The wife was carrying a sucking child, John, and having no milk to give it she was about to lay it down in despair, when suddenly " on the Brow of a Bank she found a Suck-bottle with sweet milk in it, no Footsteps appearing in the snow of any that should bring it thither, and far from any Habitation ; which preserved the child's life, who after became a Blessing to the Church." The Dr. Tate mentioned above was evidently the Rev. Faithful Tate, D.D., father of Nahum Tate of " Tate and Brady " fame.1
1 Hickson, Ireland in the Seventeenth Century, vol. i. ; Fitz-patrick, Bloody Bridge, p. 125; Temple's History of the Rebellion.
On the night of Sunday, the 8th of May 1642, a terrific storm of hail and rain came upon the English soldiers, which of course they attributed to other than the correct source. " All the tents were in a thrice blown over. It was not possible for any match to keep fire, or any sojor to handle his musket or yet to stand. Yea, severalls of them dyed that night of meere cold. Our sojors, and some of our officers too (who suppose that no thing which is more than ordinarie can be the product of nature), attributed this hurrikan to the divilish skill of some Irish witches."2 Apparently the English were not as wise in their generation as the inhabitants of Constance in Switzerland were on the occasion of a similar ebullition of the elements. The latter went out, found a witch, persuaded her to confess herself the guilty-author of the storm, and then burnt her— by which time, no doubt, the wind had subsided !
1 Baxter, Certainty of the World of Spirits (London, 1691) ; Clark, A Mirrour or Looking-Glass for Saints and Sinners (London, 1657-71).
2 Fitzpatrick, op. cit., p. 127.
Much in the same strain might be added, but, lest we should weary our readers, we shall content ourselves with giving two more marvellous relations from this particular period so full of the marvellous. O'Daly in his History of the Geraldines relates that during the siege of Limerick three portents appeared. The first was a luminous globe, brighter than the moon and little inferior to the sun, which for two leagues and a half shed a vertical light on the city, and then faded into darkness over the enemy's camp ; the second was the apparition of the Virgin, accompanied by several of the Saints ; and the third was a lusus naturæ of the Siamese-twins type : all three of which O'Daly interprets to his own satisfaction. The first of these was some form of the northern lights, and is also recorded in the diary of certain Puritan officers. That learned, but somewhat too credulous English antiquary, John Aubrey, relates in his Miscellanies that before the last battle between the contending parties " a woman of uncommon Statue all in white appearing to the Bishop [Heber McMahon, whom Aubrey terms Veneras] admonished him not to cross the River first to assault the Enemy, but suffer them to do it, whereby he should obtain the Victory. That if the Irish took the water first to move towards the English they should be put to a total Rout, which came to pass. Ocahan and Sir Henry O'Neal, who were both killed there, saw severally the same apparition, and dissuaded the Bishop from giving the first onset, but could not prevail upon him".
An instance of an Irishman suffering from the effects of witchcraft outside Ireland is afforded us in a pathetic petition sent up to the English Parliament between the years 1649 and 1653.1 The petitioner, John Campbell, stated that twelve years since he lost his sight in co. Antrim, where he was born, by which he was reduced to such extremity that he was forced to come over to England to seek some means of livelihood for himself in craving the charity of well-disposed people, but contrary to his expectation he has been often troubled there with dreams and fearful visions in his sleep, and has been twice bewitched, insomuch that he can find no quietness or rest here, and so prays for a pass to return to Ireland.
1 Hist. mss. Comm. Report 13 (Duke of Portland mss.).
The saintly James Usher, Archbishop of Armagh, was a Prelate who, if he had happened to live at an earlier period would certainly have been numbered amongst those whose wide and profound learning won for themselves the title of magician —as it was, he was popularly credited with prophetical powers. Most of the prophecies attributed to him may be found in a little pamphlet of eight pages, entitled " Strange and Remarkable Prophecies and Predictions of the Holy, Learned, and Excellent James Usher, etc. . . . Written by the person who heard it from this Excellent person's own Mouth," and apparently published in 1656. According to it, he foretold the rebellion of 1641 in a sermon on Ezekiel iv. 6, preached in Dublin in 1601. "And of this Sermon the Bishop reserved the Notes, and put a note thereof in the Margent of his Bible, and for twenty years before he still lived in the expectation of the fulfilling thereof, and the nearer the time was the more confident he was that it was nearer accomplishment, though there was no visible appearance of any such thing." He also foretold the death of Charles I, and his own coming poverty and loss of property, which last he actually experienced for many years before his death. The Rev. William Turner in his Compleat History of Remarkable Providences (London, 1697) gives a premonition of approaching death that the Archbishop received. A lady who was dead appeared to him in his sleep, and invited him to sup with her the next night. He accepted the invitation, and died the following afternoon, 21 st March 1656.
This chapter may be brought to a conclusion by the following story from Glan-vill's Relations.1 One Mr. John Browne of Durley in Ireland was made by his neighbour, John Mallett of Enmore, trustee for his children in minority. In 1654 Mr. Browne lay a-dying : at the foot of his bed stood a great iron chest fitted with three locks, in which were the trustees' papers. Some of his people and friends were sitting by him, when to their horror they suddenly saw the locked chest begin to open, lock by lock, without the aid of any visible hand, until at length the lid stood upright. The dying man, who had not spoken for twenty-four hours, sat up in the bed, looked at the chest, and said : You say true, you say true, you are in the right (a favourite expression of his), I'll he with you by and by, and then lay down again, and never spoke after. The chest slowly locked itself in exactly the same manner as it had opened, and shortly after this Mr. Browne died.
1 No. 25 in Sadducismus Triumphatus (London, 1726).