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The Magic Crystal.
is the fashion-especially among people of fashionto point with pity to a tale of modern witchcraft, to an advertisement of a child's caul, or to the bonâ fide certificates of cases from the takers of quack medicines, and to deplore the ignorance of their inferiors. Delusions, however, of the grossest kind are not confined to the illiterate. A cloud of dupes have ever floated about in the higher regions of society; while it is quite a mistake to suppose that the refinements and discoveries of the nineteenth century have dispersed them. The reign of Queen Victoria, like that of Elizabeth and of Anne, has its Dr. Dees, and Lillys, and Partridges, who are as successful as their precursors in gaining proselytes who can pay handsomely. Damsel of high degree, fresh from boarding-school, with her head more full of sympathy for the heroes and heroines of fashionable novels, and ideas more fixed upon love affairs than on any legitimate studies, can easily find out, through mysteriously worded advertisements in the Sunday papers, or through the ready agency of friends who have already be come victims to the "science" of astrology and magic, the
whereabouts of these awful and wonderful beings. There are a number of styles and classes of them, all varying in There are the old appearance and mode of operations. women, who, consoled by the glories of their art, repine not at inhabiting comfortless garrets in the purlieus of the New Cut, Lambeth; and hiding their vocation under the mask of having staylaces or infallible cornplasters to sell, receive more visitors from the fashionable cream of Belgravia than from the dross of Bermondsey. Disguises are sometimes resorted to, and parties of titled ladies have been known to meet, and put on the habiliments of "charwomen," and to pass themselves off as dressmakers. There is an old man with unshaven beard and seldom washed face, who lives in more comfortable style with his son, in Southwark (the favored district of the conjurers), who, to keep up appearances, has "Engineer," hugely engraved on a great brass plate over the door; who casts nativities, and foretells events of the future, for three or five shillings, as the appearance of the visitor will warrant him in demanding; receives all his votaries sitting at a terribly littered table of dirty papers, with a well-smoked clay pipe beside him. Passing to a higher grade, the "agent," or arranger of matters, legal, pecuniary, or domestic, only practises the black art for the love he bears it and to oblige his friends, but never refuses a few shillings fee, out of respect to the interest of the science. Nearly all his customers are people of title.
But the most successful of these astrological conjurers is the possessor of a certain MAGIC CRYSTAL; to the surface of which he pretends to call up angels, constellations, and heroes of the past, with all of whom familiar conversations are held, to the amazement of large parties of fashionables assembled in elegant saloons. Were the rank
and numbers of the persons weak enough to be deluded by such exhibitions to be divulged, the revelation would not be credited by the sane part of the world. The Magic Crystal, during the London season last past, became the wonder, the talk, and—with not a few-the belief. Some account of the antecedents of Magic Crystals will not be without interest :
Those who have passed any time in India, will have become acquainted with the use made of round masses of rough hewn polished glass, designated Divining Crystals, and bear testimony to the superstitious awe with which they are regarded. The High Priest of the Buddhist and ́ Hindoo Temples in former times, when arrayed in the consecrated garments for the festivals, had one of these round knobs-about the size of a large pendant drop of a chandelier, or the top of a beadle's staff-suspended from his neck by a chain of great value, and of dazzling brilliancy. It was through the agency of this crystal that he was supposed to hold communion with the spirit or spirits to whom he and his followers accorded devotion and made intercessions; and the glass, acting as did the famed oracle at Delphi, gave orders and commands, and settled all great questions that might be submitted to its spiritual master. The priest, although he might be a pattern of purity, and the quintessence of all that was good, having, however, the sin of being in years, and not able perhaps to keep from the spirit inhabiting the crystal all the transactions of his youth, could not hold direct communication with it; to arrange this, a certain number of boys (and sometimes, in some of the temples, young damsels) were retained, who, never having mixed with the world, could not be supposed to be in any way contaminated by its vices. These alone were said to be capable of beholding the spirit when he
chose to make his appearance in the divining glass, and interpreting to and fro the questions put, and answers received. Although it was not every boy or 66 seer" to whom was permitted the gift of spiritual vision, yet in later times, when divining crystals multiplied, little ragged boys would run after the passers in the streets and offer to see-any thing that might be required of them-for an anna, or even a cake or sweetmeat. In Egypt, the Divining Glass is superseded by putting a blot of thick black fluid into the palm of a boy's hand, and commanding him to see various people and things, of which practice Lane, in his "Modern Egyptians," gives some curious disclosures.
Divining mirrors were not confined to the East. Dr. Dee was the first English impostor who vaunted the possession of one of these priceless treasures. He had for the "seer" one Kelley, an Irishman, and to this, doubtless, was attributable the impression that prevailed among the astrologers and amateur spirit-hunters, that when the spirits condescended to speak, they always gave speech with a very strong spice o' the brogue. This "beryl," as it is called, was preserved amongst the Strawberry Hill curiosities, and fell under the hammer of George Robins at the memorable sale. It proved to be a globe of cannel-coal. In Aubrey's Miscellany there is an engraving of another larger crystal, and there is with it (as also in other works produced about the same period) many wonderful stories; yet notwithstanding the magic capabilities of these mirrors, they went out of fashion until the beginning of the present year.
This revival and its consequences is like a page out of a silly romance. The story, if told by a disinterested historian, would require authentication as belonging to the year 1850. We therefore turn, by way of voucher, to a
publication-which on any other occasion, it would require an apology to our readers for quoting-called "Zadkiel's Almanac for 1851." At page 46 of that farrago, after referring to the existence of Magic Crystals at the present day, the writer says:-" One of large size (four inches in diameter) was a few years since brought over by a friend of Lady Blessington; after the sale of whose effects it re cently fell into the hands of a friend of mine; and, having tested its powers, I have resolved on giving my readers an account of this wonderful mode of communicating with the spirits of the dead. The crystal is spherical, and has been turned from a large mass of pure rock crystal. I have been shown some few others, but, with the exception of one shown me by Lord S.,* they are all much smaller. These are said to be consecrated to the Angels of the planets, and are, therefore, far less powerful than Lady Blessington's Crystal, which being consecrated to the Archangel of the SUN, Michael, may be consulted during four hours each day, whereas the others can generally be used only for a very brief space of time; nor can very potent spirits be called into them or made to render themselves visible. will be seen that in this large crystal spirits appeared without being called,' as is usual; and that they give us most important information of the actual existence of the soul after death, and of the state in which it exists and will exist until the Judgment. They confirm all the great truths of Revelation and of the Christian Religion; and they tell as that we should take the Holy Scriptures as our guide alone, and not rely on the dogmas of any Church, or heed the opinions of any human teachers. They aver that Prayer and Praise are essential to salvation, but that forms
For which his lordship, we are told, paid Zadkiel's friend £50.