Friday, 9th. Last night I managed to sleep, but very fitfully. Cara was in her own bed. Nothing happened.
Today I've decided to cooperate with Cara in every way in her efforts to cure me. Cara is busy preparing things, as she has been doing for some time. She stands in her kitchen and grinds with her mortar and pestle, uses things stored in Mason jars with coded labels. She has made a small still. Today we tried this from Quincy's Pharmacopoiea:
Aqua Bryoniae Com. Compound Bryony Water
Take Juice of Bryony Roots 4 Pound; the Leaves of Rue, and Mugwort, ana 2 Pound; Savin, 3 Handbuls; Feverfew, Catmint, Penniroyal, ana 2 Handfuls; Basil, Dittany of Crete, ana 1 Handful and a half; Orange-Peels, 4 Ounces; Myrrh, 2 Ounces; Russia Castor 1 Ounce; French Brandy 8 Pound; Distil 12 Pound after proper maseration; for the large things of this kind infuse together, the better is the Water.
I know Cara improvises when she doesn't have an ingredient. This particular stuff tasted a good deal better than the recipe suggests it should:
If the Water be drawn too low, the oily Parts of the Ingredients will make it milky and foul; which some throw down with a little burnt Alum; but that spoils the Medicine.... This is a very untoothsome Composition; but admirably well suited to the Intention of an Hysteric; and there is not an Ingredient in it, except the Dittany, which does not contribute thereto. — This is much prescribed in Hysterical cases;.... It is likewise good against Convulsion in Children; and of service in any nervous complaint in either Sex. Its kDose is from 2 Drams to 2 Ounces, with any convenient Diluter. —
It really works. It keeps one half smashed at all times. I remember one of my girl students telling me she had been "ploughed" the night before. It startled me. I finally saw she meant "drunk," and she didn't understand the nature of my puzzlement until I explained to her what "ploughed" had meant to Chaucer. It hadn't embarrassed her. Perhaps she had been ploughed that night. It was the beginning of my education. There was a vast gulf between her generation and mine that I tried to close. Perhaps I've succeeded too well in some ways, not well enough in others. The gulf is like the abyss between centuries or eras — ages.
I have been reading some more in Bodman:
Bodman spoke with the spirit of one of his "departed friends," but Bodman began to suspect that it was not, in fact, a spirit, but an embodiment of Satan. This "friend" visited him at various times, frequently, and then the visitations diminished in number for a period of years,
...till it pleased God in his providence to call me to the sharpest trial I ever endured, the sickness and death of my dear partner in life. A little before her death, as she lay apparently in a happy state and condition of mind, calmly resigned to death, I was out in the field, a considerable distance from the house, and had been very earnest in prayer for her, Satan in the capacity of the Almighty there made the declaration to me that her salvation was eternally sure; as sure as his eternal throne. I considered this a declaration of the Almighty, and therefore it could but give comfort. — My wife lay a number of days apparently in a comfortable state of mind, and then very unexpectedly to us, departed this life. Such a stroke as being deprived of the desire of my eyes, in the bloom and vigor of youth, was almost insupportable. It was now I needed divine consolation: whether I had it or no, I know not; but my mind was uncommonly calm. But one thing I knew to my entire satisfaction, that I was immediately visited by these delusions; they appeared to be renewed in great increasing strength. And these scenes of communication were perfectly astonishing, and were far greater, and appeared more glorious than I can describe. There was something so great — so majestic — so worthy of superior beings — such deep reverence for God — such holy conversation — such coherence, method, aptness and incomparable greatness, as perfectly astonished me, and nearly every person to whom I related it. And in all these, there appeared to be the most perfect holiness and delight in God. O how these being would extol the mercy of God in Christ. How they would speak of the compassion of Christ to our world. — The infinite importance of sinners pressing into the kingdom of heaven. — And how delighted they were at the conversion of sinners, and the outpourings of the spirit of God. How they would charge me not to sin against God, — to walk uprightly; if I stepped aside from the path of duty, I was almost sure to get reproved.
It was thus that Bodman experienced the trials of Job at the hands of the spirits of friends, his wife, angels, archangels, Jehovah himself — or their impostures sent by the evil Satan, for a period of eight years and more, "and frequently several times in a day."
Who is there among the sons of men, but would have taken these, for the worthy servants of Jehovah? — Now this was not an illusion of the fancy, or imagination, merely as such; because, the recipient could immediately give a regular relation of these things, verbatim. And in the view and opinion of all candid and substantial people, they were perfectly supernatural, and in the view of many, they must be of heavenly origin, and above human language — O the inconceivable deceptions of Satan!
This morning I came down late for coffee, and Rafe was already there — had been there for some time, talking to Cara. I could see from the way he looked at me — concern, wonderment — that Cara had told him of my dreams.
I sat down and said hello. Cara poured my coffee. Rafe mentioned something inconsequential, and then there was silence, which lasted quite a while. Cara busied herself in the kitchen, then went down cellar — the door opens off the dining room. The cellar stairs are in the same stairwell as those that lead to the second storey. She keeps her roots among the foundations of the fireplace and often goes there to get or do something. Rafe and I were left alone — obviously a setup.
I looked up to find him gazing at me with those great blue Missionary eyes.
"Is there anything I can do to help, Charles?" He stirred his cup slowly, still looking at me.
I shook my head. "No," I said.
Another silence. Then, "I think you're wrong, Charles, but I want you to see it yourself. I'll wait until you're ready."
The gorge rose in my throat, but I swallowed it and remained still. When he left I refused to talk to Cara for the rest of the day. She is hurt.
She has just come up behind me to say goodnight and ask, "Where is Wesley?" The question took me aback till I realized she meant Catch.
"Up attic," I said. "He has yet to catch a squirrel."
.Saturday, 10th. The Bryony Water let me sleep decently last night. Rafe Hawkins hasn't come by at all today, and Cara has spent the day shopping for food and Ingredients. I think it only slightly coincidental that both Rafe and Cara have absented themselves at the same time.
By exactly what means Bodman came to believe that he was the victim of unholy deceptions he does not relate, but
Suffice it to say, that in the course of events, I was convinced, and effectually convinced, that these were all the delusions of Satan. And that, although, mankind never could have convinced me, the Lord alone, made a short work of it! — In this, there were no supernatural voices, or communications, from God.
As soon as I was convinced, I instantly concluded to stand on the defensive; and under God, to defy all the powers of darkness.
A dreadful conflict ensued. Soon, however, I began to experience refreshing views, as I thought, from the heavenly world.
Bodman now discovered how paltry his previous experiences had been
when compared with the real thing:
The heavens seemed almost to open to my view. These things appeared wholly spiritual, and of the same nature of what I received in early life, before I fell under my late delusions, but very different from them. — The views I now had seemed to resemble those which St. Stephen had. But my dreadful conflict soon began. — I was quickly assaulted by the powers of darkness, and every thing which their horrid minds could invent, was suggested or conveyed to my mind.
As long as I could hold, in my own view, my innocence, I could stand against them: but they heap'd such a load of these wicked expressions upon me, that I sunk under them. The impressions were so strong and violent that they made me to realize them in some measure, and to consider them as my own.
The colossal struggle between Bodman and the infernal hosts went on and on, waxing and waning, for a considerable period, the visionary rejecting, with varying degrees of success, the Devil's accusation that he had committed "the unpardonable sin." Eventually, at one point Bodman
...went home to my father's house in company with my brother.... My brother then observed to me, that I had not committed the unpardonable sin: but that it was the work of Satan, in trying to make me believe it, or drive me to it. Likewise my brother observed; that he did not believe that God made any such communications to us, as I had represented — This gave me great relief; my brother still accompanied me to my father's house, and in the evening prayed with the family; and when requesting of God, that he would give his holy angels charge concerning us that night, Satan, by his cruel suggestion to me, made answer: All but you, I'll take care of you.
Either the next morning, or shortly thereafter, Bodman hadanother great encounter with the Angel of Darkness while he was sitting at home in a chair:
It threw me into a nervous kind of convulsions, which I knew was wholly effected by Satan. — The people in the neighborhood were gathered, expecting that I was about to make my exit, or lose my reason, or some terrible occurrence was about to take place. The shakings that I had were successive and very violent. Satan would say, or suggest to me, that he would shake me into hell the next time. I had my reason so well, that I was sensible that it was the power of Satan that affected me. I believe he caused me to articulate words that I had no kind of agency in. These words, however, I suppose were not sinful, but only frightful. The minister and physician of the parish were both sent for. When it was asked if I was willing to hear the minister pray, I answered, I have no objection, but it will do no good, as I am going right down to endless destruction. He prayed with me, however, and my mind became more calm.
The physician bled me. And Satan's power ceased for a time. And here I would observe, according to my best recollection, that in all those violent agitations and convulsions of body, there was no pain attending them.
A few minutes ago I heard a car drive into the dooryard and the doors open and close. Cara came in, and I went to the kitchen. She put two large bags of groceries on the table and I went out to get the rest of the things. When I had finished I asked where she had been. She swept her eyes over the various bags.
"Shopping," she said, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder.
I said nothing, but glanced at my watch, and the three clocks chimed just then all over the house — twelve strokes, reverberating through the lighted rooms and the dark.
Silence. "Rafe Hawkins and I had some things to talk over."
I turned and left the room.
"Charles — !" Cara said. But I had nothing to reply.
As I passed the stairs, I glanced up and saw Wesley Catch sitting at the stairhead. In my scrapbook there is this anecdote out of my childhood:
THE BIBLICAL QUOTER
As told to me by P[aul] W[iese]:
P—- had been sleeping soundly when he was awakened by something. He was immediately wide awake. His eyes opened and he saw a light slowly contracting, as though someone were shutting the door to his bedroom with the hall light on. He thought nothing of it as it may have been his father or his mother. Suddenly he heard a voice speak to him. It said, "Repent ye now and be converted!" Paul thought it might be a trick being played on him by his parents, but not willing to take a chance he stayed right where he was. Upon investigation in the morning, however, he found that neither of his parents had strayed from bed all night or knew anything of the night's happenings.
Sunday,11th. I've been thinking about my dream, about the Putnams and the others in Salem, and about Manoah Bodman's visions. It occurs to me at last, forcefully — I have entertained the idea subliminally for many years — that reality has nothing to do with logic or observable facts, but only with belief. If we have invented gods, or the One God, and He is real for those who believe — such as my father and Manoah Bodman — may not we have invented a real Devil and real witches as well?
The aborigines of Australia, when they believe their time has come, regardless of age or health, sit and wait for real Death, who comes, and they go with him, though their bodies may be sound. In Salem, for a little while, they believed in witches, as Tituba did deeply. Hers was the dominant personality for a time. She knew her "poppets" could kill through voodoo, and a charm could raise a storm or leave a man impotent. She was the October moon's Copernicus, as the Putnams were her Newtons.