Beaumont, John (d. 1731)
British geologist, surgeon, and author of An Historical Physiological
and Theological Treatise of Spirits, Apparitions, Witchcrafts,
and Other Magical Practises published in 1705. He is described
as ‘‘a man of hypochondriacal disposition, with a considerable
degree of reading, but with a strong bias to credulity.’’ Laboring
under this affliction, he saw hundreds of imaginary men
and women about him, though, as he added, he never saw anything
in the night, unless by fire or candlelight, or in the moonshine.
He said
‘‘I had two spirits, who constantly attended me, night and
day, for above three months together, who called each other by
their names; and several spirits would call at my chamber door,
and ask whether such spirits lived there, and they would answer
they did. As for the other spirits that attended me, I heard none
of their names mentioned only I asked one spirit, which came
for some nights together, and rung a little bell in my ear, what
his name was, who answered Ariel. The two spirits that constantly
attended myself appeared both in women’s habit, they being
of brown complexion, about three feet in stature; they had both
black loose net-work gowns, tied with a black sash about the
middle, and within the net-work appeared a gown of a golden
colour, with somewhat of a light striking through it. Their
heads were not dressed in top-knots, but they had white linen
caps on, with lace on them about three fingers’ breadth, and
over it they had a black loose net-work hood.’’
He added ‘‘I would not, for the whole world, undergo what
I have undergone, upon spirits coming twice to me; their first
coming was most dreadful to me, the thing being then altogether
new, and consequently most surprising, though at the first
coming they did not appear to me but only called to me at my
chamber-windows, rung bells, sung to me, and played on
music, etc.; but the last coming also carried terror enough; for
when they came, being only five in number, the two women before
mentioned, and three men (though afterwards there came
hundreds), they told me they would kill me if I told any person
in the house of their being there, which put me in some consternation;
and I made a servant sit up with me four nights in
my chamber, before a fire, it being in the Christmas holidays,
telling no person of their being there. One of these spirits, in
women’s dress, lay down upon the bed by me every night; and
told me, if I slept, the spirits would kill me, which kept me waking
for three nights. In the meantime, a near relation of mine
went (though unknown to me) to a physician of my acquaintance,
desiring him to prescribe me somewhat for sleeping,
which he did, and a sleeping potion was brought me; but I set
it by, being very desirous and inclined to sleep without it. The
fourth night I could hardly forbear sleeping; but the spirit,
lying on the bed by me, told me again, I should be killed if I
slept; whereupon I rose and sat by the fireside, and in a while
returned to my bed; and so I did a third time, but was still
threatened as before; whereupon I grew impatient, and asked
the spirits what they would have Told them I had done the
part of a Christian, in humbling myself to God and feared them
not; and rose from my bed, took a cane, and knocked at the
ceiling of my chamber, a near relation of mine then lying over
me, who presently rose and came down to me about two o’clock
in the morning, to whom I said, ‘You have seen me disturbed
these four days past, and that I have not slept the occasion of
it was, that five spirits, which are not in the room with me, have
threatened to kill me if I told any person of their being here,
or if I slept; but I am not able to forbear sleeping longer, and
acquaint you with it, and now stand in defiance of them’; and
thus I exerted myself about them and notwithstanding their
continued threats I slept very well the next night, and continued
to do so, though they continued with me above three
months, day and night.’’