William Henry Davenport Adams - Witch Warlock And Magician Historical Sketches of Magic and Witchcraft (26.5 MB)
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The following pages may be regarded as a contribution towards that 'History of Human Error' which was undertaken by Mr. Augustine Caxton. I fear that many minds will have to devote all their energies to the work, if it is ever to be brought to completion and, indeed, it may plausibly be argued that its completion would be an impossibility, since every generation adds something to the melancholy record "pulveris exigui parva munera". However this may be, little more remains to be said on the subjects which I have here consid... More >>>
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The following pages may be regarded as a contribution towards that 'History of Human Error' which was undertaken by Mr. Augustine Caxton. I fear that many minds will have to devote all their energies to the work, if it is ever to be brought to completion and, indeed, it may plausibly be argued that its completion would be an impossibility, since every generation adds something to the melancholy record "pulveris exigui parva munera". However this may be, little more remains to be said on the subjects which I have here considered from the standpoint of a sympathetic though incredulous observer. Alchemy, Magic, Witchcraft -- how exhaustively they have been investigated will appear from the list of authorities which I have drawn up for the reader's convenience.
They have been studied by adepts and by critics, as realities and as delusions and almost the last word would seem to have been said by Science -- though not on the side of the adepts, who still continue to dream of the Hermetic philosophy, to lose themselves in fanciful pictures, theurgic and occult, and to write about the mysteries of magic with a aimplicitj of faith which we may wonder at, but bound to respect.
It has not been my purpose, in the present volume, to attempt a general history of magic and alchemy, or ii scientific inquiry into their psychological aspects. I have confined myself to a sketch of their progress in I England, and to a narrative of the lives of our principal magicians. This occupies the first part. The second is devoted to an historical review of witchcraft in Great Britain, and an examination into the most remarkable Witch-Trials, in which I have endeavoured to bring out their peculiar features, presenting much of the evidence adduced, and in some cases the socalled confessions of the victims, in the original language. I believe that the details, notwithstanding the reticence imposed upon me by considerations of delicacy and decorum, will surprise the reader, and that he will readily admit the profound interest attaching to them, morally and intellectually. I have added a chapter on the 'Literature of Witchcraft', which, I hope, is tolerably exhaustive, and now offer the whole as an effort to present, in a popular and readable form, the result of careful and conscientious study extending over many years. (W. H. D. A.)
William Henry Davenport Adams (1828-1891), was an English writer and journalist of the 19th century, notable for a number of his publications.
William Henry Davenport Adams, born in London on 5 May 1828, grandson of Captain Adams, R.N. (died 1806), was the only son of Samuel Adams (born Ashburton, in Devonshire, 1798, died 1853), who married in 1827 Elizabeth Mary Snell. He was christened William Henry, and assumed the additional name of Davenport by the desire of his great-uncle, Major Davenport.
He was educated privately, under George Dawson, and became an omnivorous reader. After some experience as a teacher of special subjects in private families, he began a life of unceasing literary toil by editing a provincial newspaper in the Isle of Wight, and while still young established a connection with the London press through such journals as the Literary Gazette, the London Journal' and London Society. He made some reputation in turn as a writer of popular science, a writer for boys, a translator, and a lexicographer.
He supervised a new edition of Mackenzie's National Cyclopedia, and did a large amount of reading and writing for Messrs. Black (for whom he wrote Guides to Kent and Surrey), for Blackie & Son of Glasgow, and Nelson & Sons, Edinburgh. In 1870, he founded the Scottish Guardian, which he edited down to 1878, and subsequently he projected and edited a series of volumes called The Whitefriars Library of Wit and Humour. He died at Wimbledon on 30 December 1891, and was buried at Kensal Green. He married in 1850 Sarah Esther Morgan, a Welsh lady, by whom he left two sons and two daughters, his eldest son, W. Davenport Adams, being the author of the Dictionary of English Literature (1878).
Adams's voluminous compilations, numbering nearly 140 in all, include a number of useful translations from the French of L. Figuier, J. C. F. Hoefer, A. Mangin, Jules Michelet, and B. H. Revoil. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, his best work is contained in the following:
- History, Topography, and Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, 1856 and 1884.
- Memorable Battles in English History, 1862, 1868, and 1878.
- Famous Regiments, 1864.
- Wonders of the Vegetable World, 1867.
- Famous Ships of the British Navy, 1868.
- Lighthouses and Lightships, 1870, 1876, 1879, 1891.
- The Arctic World: its Plants, Animals, and Natural Phenomena, 1876.
- The Bird World, 1877.
- English Party Leaders, 2 vols. 1878.
- The Merry Monarch, 1885.
- England on the Sea, 2 vols. 1885.
- England at War, 2 vols. 1886.
- Good Queen Anne, 1886.
- A Concordance to the Plays of Shakespeare, 1886.
- Witch, Warlock, and Magician, 1889.
- Battle Stories, 1889.
- He also edited a single-volume annotated edition of Shakespeare's Plays.