The visions of dom Francisco de Quevedo Villegas, knight of the Order of St. James made English by R.L.
Quevedo, Francisco de, 1580-1645., L'Estrange, Roger, Sir, 1616-1704.
Page  1

THE FIRST VISION OF THE Algouazil (or Catchpole) possest.

I Was going t' other day to hear Mass at a Convent in this Town, but the door it seems was shut, and a world of people pressing and begging to get in; I ask'd, What was the matter? They told me that there was a Demoniac to be exor∣cised (or dispossest): Whereupon, I thrust into the Crowd for company, to see the Ceremony; but to little pur∣pose: for after I had half smothered my self in the throng, I was e'en glad to get out again, and bethink my self of my Lodging. Upon my way homeward, at the streets end, it was my fortune to meet a familiar friend of mine of the same Convent; who told me over again what I had heard before, and taking notice of my curiosity, bad me Page  2 follow him; which I did, and with his Passe-par-tout he brought me through a little back-door into the Church, and so into the Vestry, where we saw a wretched kind of a dog-look'd fellow, with a Tippet about his neck, as ill ordered as you'd wish; his Cloaths all in tatters, his hands bound behind him, roaring and tearing after a most hide∣ous manner. Bless me, quoth I, (cros∣sing my self) what spectacle have we here? This (said the good Father who was to do the Feat) is a man that's pos∣sest with an Evil-spirit. That's a damn'd lye (with respect of the Company, cryed the Devil that tormented him) for this is not a man possest with a De∣vil, but a Devil possest with a man; and therefore you should do well to have a care what you say, for both by the Question and Answer it is most evi∣dent, that you are but a Company of Sots. You are to understand that we Devils never enter into the body of a Catchpole, but by force, and in spight of our hearts; and therefore to speak pro∣perly, you are to say, This is a Devil Catchpol'd, and not a Catchpole bedevil'd.Page  3 To say the truth, you men can deal better with us Devils, than with the Catchpoles, for we fly from the Cross, whereas They make use of it for a Cloak for their villany.

There is somewhat a better agree∣ment, I must confess, between our Offi∣ces: If we draw men into Iudgment and Condemnation, so do the Catchpoles; we pray for an encrease of wickedness in the world, so do they; nay and more zealously than we, for it is their live∣lihood, and we do it only for company: And in this, the Catchpoles are worse than the Devils, they prey upon their own Kind, and worry one another; for our parts we are Angels still, though black ones, and were turn'd into Devils only for aspiring into an equality with our Maker: whereas the very corrupti∣on of mankind is the generation of a Catchpole; so that, my good Father, your labour is but lost in plying this Wretch with Reliques; for you may as soon redeem any thing from Hell as (be it never so holy, if he once seizes it) out of his Clutches. In fine, your Algou∣zils (or Catchpoles) and your Devils are Page  4 both of an Order, only your Catch∣pole Devils wear Shoes and Stockings, and we go barefoot after the Fashion of this reverend Father, and (to deal plainly) have a very hard time on't.

I was not a little surprized to find the Devil so great a Sophister, but all this notwithstanding, the holy man went on with his Exorcism, and to stop the Spi∣rits mouth, washt his face with a little Holy Water, which made the Demoniac ten times madder than before, and set him a yelping so horridly, that it deaf∣ned the company, and made the very ground under us to tremble. And now, says he, you may, perchance, imagine this extravagance to be the effect of your Holy Water; but let me tell you, that meer Water it self would have done the same thing; for your Catchpole hates nothing in this world like Water, [espe∣cially that of a Grays-Inne Pump.] But to conclude, They are so reprobated a sort of Christians, that they have quit∣ted even the very name of Misins, by which they were formerly known, for that of Algouazils; the latter being of Pagan extraction, and made suitable to their manners.

Page  5Come, come, says the Father, there is no ear, nor credit to be given to this Villain, set but his tongue at liberty, and you shall have him fall foul upon the Government, and the Ministers of Justice, for keeping the World in Or∣der and suppressing wickedness, because it spoils his market. No more chopping of Logick, good Mr. Conjurer, says the Devil, for there's more in't than you are aware of; but if you'l do a poor Devil a good office, give me my dispatch out of this accursed Algouazil; for I am a Devil, you must know, of Reputation and Quality, and shall never be able to endure the gibes and affronts will be put upon me at my return to Hell, for hav∣ing kept this Rascal company. All in good time, said the Father, thou shalt have thy discharge, but in pity to this miserable Creature, and not for thy own sake. But tell me now, what makes thee torment him thus? Nothing in the world, quoth the Devil, but a con∣test betwixt him and me, which was the greater Devil of the two.

The Conjurer did not at all relish these wild and malicious replies; but o Page  6 me the Dialogue was extream pleasant, especially being by this time a little familiariz'd with the Devil. Upon which confidence my Good Father, said I, here are none but Friends; and I may speak to you as my Confessour, and the Confident of all the secrets of my soul; I have a great mind with your leave, to ask the Devil a few Questions, and who knows but a man may be the better for his Answers, though per∣chance contrary to his intention! keep him only in the interim from torment∣ing the poor creature. The Conjurer granted my request, and the Spirit went on with his babble: Well, says he smiling, the Devil shall never want a Friend at Court, so long as there's a Poet within the Walls. And indeed the Poets do us many a good turn, both by Pimping and otherwise; but if you, said he, should not be kind to us, (looking upon me) you'l bethought very ungrate∣ful, considering the honour of your en∣tertainment now in Hell. I ask't him then what store of Poets they had? whole swarms, says the Devil; so many, that we have been forc'd to make more Page  7 room for them: Nor is there any thing in nature so pleasant as a Poet in the first year of his probation; he comes ye laden forsooth with Letters of Recom∣mendation to our Superiours, and en∣quires very gravely for Charon, Cerbe∣rus, Rhadamanthus, AEacus, Minos.

Well said I, but what's their punish∣ment (for I began now to make the Poets case my own) Their punishments, quoth the Devil, are many, and suited to the Trade they drive. Some are condemn'd to hear other mens works: (and this is the plague of the Fidlers too) We have others that are in for a thousand year, and yet still poring up∣on some old Stanzas they have made of Jealousie. Some again are beating their fore-heads with the palms of their hands, and even boring their very Noses with hot Irons, in rage that they can∣not come to a resolution, whether they shall say Face or Visage; whether they shall write Iayl or Gaol; whether Co∣ny or Cunny, because it comes from Cu∣niculus, a Rabbet. Others are biting their Nails to the quick, and at their Wits end for a Rime to Chimney; and Page  8 dozing up and down in a brown study, till they drop into some hole at last, and give us trouble enough to get them out again. But they that suffer the most, and fare the worst, are your Comick Poets, for whoring so many Queens and Princesses upon the stage, and coupling Ladies of Honour with Lacquies, and Noblemen with common Strumpets, in the winding up of their Plays; and for giving the Bastonado to Alexander and Iulius Caesar in their Interludes and Far∣ces. Now be it known to you, that we do not lodge these with other Poets, but with Petty-foggers and Attournies, as common dealers in the mystery of Shifting, Shuffling, Forging, and Cheat∣ing: And now for the discipline of Hell, you are to understand we have incom∣parable Harbingers and Quarter-masters; insomuch that let them come in whole Caravans, as it hapn'd t' other day, every man is in his quarter before you can say what's this.

There came to us several Trades∣men; the first of them a Poor Rogue that made profession of drawing the long Bow; and him we were about to Page  9 put among the Armorers, but one of the company moved and carried it, that since he was so good at draughts, he might be sent to the Clerks and Scriv∣ners; a sort of people that will fit you with draughts good and bad, of all sorts and sizes, and to all purposes. Ano∣ther called himself a Cutter, we ask'd him whether in Wood or Stone? Nei∣ther said he, but in Cloth and Stuffe: (Anglice a Taylor) and him we turn'd over to those that were in for Detra∣ction and Calumny, and for cutting large Thongs out of other mens Lea∣ther. There was a Blind fellow would fain have been among the Poets, but (for likeness sake) we quartered him among the Lovers. After him, came a Sexton, or (as he styl'd himself) a Bu∣ryer of the Dead; and then a Cook that was troubled in Conscience for putting off Catts for Hares: These were dis∣patch'd away to the Pastry-men. A matter of half a dozen Crack-brain'd Fools we disposed of among the Astrolo∣gers and Alchymists. In the number, there was one notorious Murtherer, and him we pack'd away to the Gentlemen Page  10 of the Faculty, the Physitians. The Broken Merchants we kennel'd with Iu∣das for making ill bargains. Corrupt Mi∣nisters and Magistrates, with the Thief on the left hand. The Embroylers of Affairs, and the Water-bearers take up with the Vintners; and the Brokers with the Iews. Upon the whole matter the policy of Hell is admirable, where eve∣ry man has his place according to his condition.

As I remember (said I) you were speaking e'en now concerning Lovers. Pray tell me, have you many of them in your Dominions? I ask, because I am my self a little subject to the itch of Love, as well as Poetry. Love (says the Devil) is like a great spot of Oyl, that diffuses it self every where, and conse∣quently Hell cannot but be sufficiently stockt with that sort of Vermine. But let me tell you now, we have several sorts of Lovers; some dote upon them∣selves; others upon their Pelf; these upon their own Discourses; those upon their own Actions; and once in an Age perchance, comes a fellow that dotes upon his own Wife; but this is very Page  11 rare, for the Jades commonly bring their Husbands to repentance, and then the Devil may throw his Cap at them. But above all, for sport (if there can be any in Hell) commend me to those Gawdy Monsieurs, who by the variety of Colours and Ribbands they wear (Favours as they call them) one would swear, were only dress'd up for a Sample, or kind of Inventory of all the Gew-Gaws that are to be had for love or money at the Mer∣cers. Others you shall have so over∣charged with Perrugue, that you'l hard∣ly know the Head of a Cavalier, from the ordinary Block of a Tire-woman. And sme again you'd take for Carriers, by their pacquets and bundles of Love-Letters; which being made combusti∣ble by the fire and flame they treat of, we are so thrifty, as to employ upon the sindging of their own Tailes, for the saving of better Fuel. But, oh! the pleasant postures of the Maiden-Lover, when he is upon the practice of the Gentle-Leere, and embracing the Air for his Mistress! Others we have that are condemn'd for Feeling, and yet ne∣ver come to the Touch: These pass for Page  12 a kind of Buffon Pretenders; ever upon the Vigil, and never arrive at the Festi∣val. Some again have lost themselves with Iudas for a Kiss.

One story lower is the abode of con∣tented Cuckolds; a nasty poisonous place, and strewed all over with the Horns of Rams and Bulls, &c. Now these are so well read in Woman, and know their destiny so well before hand, that they never so much as trouble their heads for the matter. Ye come next to the Admirers of old Women; and these are wretches of so depraved an Appe∣tite, that if they were not kept tyed up, and in Chains, they'd horse the very Devils themselves, and put Barrabbas to his Trumps, to defend his Buttocks: For the truth is, whatever you may think of a Devil, he passeth with them for a very Adonis, or a Narcissus.

So much for your Curiosity; a word now for your Instruction. If you would make an interest in Hell, you must give over that Roguy way ye have got of abusing the Devils in your Shews, Pi∣ctures, and Emblems: One while for∣sooth we are painted with Claws, or Ta∣lons,Page  13 like Eagles, or Griffons. Another while we are drest up with Tails, like so many Hackney-Jades with their Fly-flaps: And now and then ye shall see a Devil with a Coxcomb. Now I will not deny, but some of us may indeed be very well taken for Hermites, and Phi∣losophers. Help us, if you can, in this particular, and you shall find one good turn paid with another. I was asking Michael Angelo here a while ago, why he drew the Devils in his Great Peice of the Last Iudgment, with so many Monkey Faces, and Iack-Pudding Postures. His answer was, that he follow'd his Fancy, without any Malice in the World, for as then, he had never seen any Devils; nor (indeed) did he believe that there were any; but he has now learn'd the contrary to his cost. There's another thing too we take extreamly ill, which is, that in your ordinary discourses, ye are out with your Purse presently to every Rascal, and calling of him Devil. As for Example. Do you see how this Devil of a Taylor has spoil'd my Suit? how the Devil has made me wait? how this Devil has couzen'd me. &c. whic Page  14 is very ill done, and no small disparage∣ment to our Quality, to be rank'd with Taylors: A company of Slaves, that serve us in Hell only for Brush-wood; and they are fain to beg hard to be ad∣mitted at all: though I confess they have possession on their sides, and Cu∣stom, which is another Law: Being in possession of Theft, and stoln goods; they make much more Conscience of keep∣ing your stuffs, then your Holidays, grumbling and domineering at every turn, if they have not the same respect with the Children of the Family. Ye have another trick too, of giving every thing to the Devil, that displeases ye, which we cannot but take very un∣kindly. The Devil take thee, says one: A goodly present I warrant ye; but the Devil has something else to do, then to take and carry awy all that's given him; if they'l come of themselves, let them come and welcome. Another gives that whelp of Laquey to the De∣vil; but the Devil will none of your Laqueys, he thanks ye for your love, for those Rogues are commonly worse than Devils, and to say the truth, they are Page  15 good neither rost nor sodden. I give that Italian to the Devil, cryes a third; thank you for nothing: For ye shall have an Italian will chouse the Devil himself, and take him by the Nose like Mustard. Some again will be giving a Spaniard to the Devil; but he has been so cruel wherever he has got footing, that we had rather have his Room then his Company, and make a Present to the Grand-Signior of his Nutmegs.

Here the Devil stpt, and in the same instant, there hapning a slight scuffle, betwixt a couple of conceited Coxcombs, which should go foremost: I turn'd to see the matter, and cast my Eye upon a certain Tax-gatherer, that had undone a Friend of mine: And in some sort to revenge my self of this Ass in a Lions Skin, I ask't the Devil, whe∣ther they had not of 〈◊〉 sort of Blood-Suckers among the rest, in their Domi∣nions (an Informing, projecting Gene∣ration of men, and the very bane of a Kingdom.) You know little (says he) if you do not know these vermine to be the right Heirs of Perdition, and that they claim Hell for their Inheri∣tance: Page  16 And yet we are now e'en upon the point of discarding them, for they are so pragmatical, and ungrateful, there's no enduring of them. They are at this present in Consultation about an Impost upon the High-way to Hell; and indeed payments run so high already, and are so likely to encrease too, that 'tis much fear'd in the end, we shall quite lose our Trading and Commerce. But if ever they come to put this in Execution, we shall be so bold, as to treat them next bout to the Tune of Fortune my Foe, &c. and make them cool their Heels on the wrong side of the Door, which will be worse then Hell to them, for it leaves them no retreat, being expell'd Paradise, and Purgatory already. This Race of Vipers, said I, will never be quiet, till they tax the way to Heaven it self. Oh, quoth the Devil, that had been done long since, if they had found the Play worth the Candles: but they have had a Factor abroad now these half-score years, that's glad to wipe his nose on his sleeve still, for want of a Handkerchief. But these new im∣positions, upon what I pray ye do they Page  17 intend to levy them? For that (quoth the Devil) there's a Gentleman of the Trade at your Elbow can tell you all; pointing to my old Friend the Publican. This drew the Eyes of the whole Com∣pany upon him, and put him so damn'd∣ly out of Countenance, that he pluck't down his Hat over his Face, clap't his tail between his Legs, and went his way; with which we were all of us well enough pleas'd, and then the De∣vil went on. Well (said the Devil and laught) my Voucher is departed ye see; but I think I can say as much to this point as himself; The Impositions now to be set on foot, are upon bare∣neck'd Ladies, Patches, Mole-skins; Spa∣nish-paper, and all the Mundus Mulie∣bri more then what is necessary and decent; upon your Tour à la mode, and Spring Garden-Coaches; excess in Ap∣parel, Collations, Rich Furniture, your Cheating, and Blaspheming Gaming-Ordi∣naries, and in general, upon whatsoever serves to advance our Empire; so that without a Friend at Court, or some good Magistrate to help us out at a dead lift, and stick to us, we may e'en Page  18 put up our Pipes, and you'l find Hell a very Desart. Well said I, and methinks I see nothing in all this, but what is very reasonable; for to what end serves it but to corrupt good manners, stir up ill Ap∣petites, provoke and encourage all sorts of Debauchery, destroy all that is good and Honourable in humane Socie∣ty, and chalk out in effect the ready way to the Devil.

But you said something e'en now of Magistrates, I hope (said I) there are no Iudges in Hell. You may as well ima∣gine (cry'd the spirit) that there are no Devils there; for let me tell you (Friend mine) your corrupt Iudges are the great Spawners that supply our Lake; for what are those Millions of Catchpoles, Proctors, Atturneys, Clerks, Barristers, that come sailing to us every day in Shoals, but the Fry of such Iudges! nay sometimes, in a lucky year, for cheating, forging, and forswear∣ing, we can hardly find Cask to put them in.

From hence now (quoth I) would you infer, that there's no Iustice upon the face of the Earth. Very right (quoth Page  19 the Devil) for Astraea (which is the same thing) is fled long since to Hea∣ven. Do n't ye know the story? no (said I) then (quoth the Devil) mind me and I'l tell ye it. Once upon a time Truth and Iustice came together to take up their Quarters upon the Earth: But the One being naked, & the Other very severe and plain-dealing, they could not meet with any body that would receive them. At last, when they had wander'd a long time like Vagabonds in the open Air; Truth was glad to take up her Lodging with a Mute; and Iu∣stice, perceiving that though her name was much used for Cloak to Knavery, yet that she her self was in no Esteem, bethought her self of returning to Hea∣ven: and in order to her Journey, she bad adieu in the first place to all Courts, Palaces, and great Cities, and went into the Country; where she met with some few poor simple Cottagers, that gave her entertainment; but Malice, and Persecution, found her out in the end, and she was banish'd thence too. She presented her self in many places, and people askt her what she was? She Page  20 answer'd them Iustice, for she would not lye for the matter. Iustice (cry'd they) she is astranger to us; tell her here's nothing for her, and shut the door. Up∣on these repulses, she took wing, and away she went to Heaven, hardly leav∣ing so much as the bare print of her footsteps behind her. Her Name how∣ever is not yet forgotten, and she's pi∣ctured with a Scepter in her hand, and is still called Iustice; but call her what ye will, she makes as good a Fire in Hell as a Taylor; and for slight of hand, puts down all the Gilts, Cheats, Pick∣locks and Trepanners in the World: to say the truth, Avarice is grown to that height, that men employ all the facul∣ties of Soul and Body to Rob, and De∣ceive. The Leacher, does not he steal away the honour of his Mistress? (though with her consent) The Attur∣ney picks your Pocket, and shews you a Law for't; The Comedian gets your money and your time, with reciting other men's Labours; The Lover cou∣zens you with his Eyes; The Eloquent with his Tongue; The Valiant, with his Arm; The Musician, with his Voice Page  21 and Fingers; The Astrologer, with his Calculations; The Apothecary, with Sickness and Health; The Surgeon, with Blood; and the Physician, with Death it self; And in some sort or other they are all cheats: But the Catchpole (in the name of Iustice) abuses you with his whole Man; He watches you with his Eyes; Follows you with his Feet; Seizes with his hands; Accuses with his Tongue; And in fine, put it in your Litany, From Catchpoles as well as Devils, Libera nos Domine.

But how comes it (said I) that you have not coupled the Women with the Theeves? for they are Both of a Trade. Not a word of Women as ye love me (quoth the Devil) for we are so tired out with their Importunities; so deaf'd with the Eternal Clack of their Tongues, that we start at the very thought of them. And to say the Truth, Hell were no ill Winter-Quarter, if it were not so overstock'd with that sort of Cattle. Since the Death of the Witch of Endor, it has been all their business to improve themselves in sub∣lety and alice, and to set us together Page  22 by the Ears among our selves. Nay some of them are confident enough, to tell us to our Teeth, that when we have done our worst, they'l give us a Rowland for our Oliver. Only this com∣fort we have, that they are a Cheaper Plague to Vs then they are to You; for we have no Exchanges, Hide-Parkes, or Spring-Gardens in our Territories.

You are well stored then with Wo∣men I see, but of which have you most (said I) Handsome or Ill-favour'd? oh, of the Ill-favour'd six for one (quoth the Devil) For your Beauties can never want Gallants to lay their Appetites; and many of them, when they come at last to have their Bellies full, e'en give over the sport, Repent and 'scape▪ Whereas no body will touch the Ill-fa∣vour'd without a pair of Tong; and for want of water to quench their fir, they come to us such Skeletons, that they are enough to afright the Devil himself. For they are most commonly old, and accompany their last grones with a Curse upon the younger that ar to survive them. I carryed away one t'other day of threescore and ten, that Page  23 I took just in the nick, as she was upon a certain Exercise to remove Obstructi∣ons: And when I came to land her; Alas for the poor woman! what a ter∣rible fit had she got of the Tooth-Ach! when upon search, the Devil a Tooth had she left in her head, onely she be∣lyed her Chops to save her Credit.

You have exceedingly satisfied me (said I) in all your answers; but pray'e once again, what store of Beggars have ye in Hell? Poor people I mean. Poor (quoth the Devil) who are they? Those (said I) that have no Possessions in the World: How can that be, (quoth he) that those should be damn'd, that have nothing in the World? when men are onely damn'd for cleaving to't. And briefly, I find none of their names in our Books, which is no wonder, for he, that has nothing to trust to, shall be left by the Devil himself in time of need. To deal plainly with you, where have ye greater De∣vils, than in your Flatterers, false Friends, lewd Company, Envious Per∣son, than a Son, a Brother, or a Rela∣tion, that lyes in wait for your life to Page  24 get your Fortune, that mourns over you in your sickness, and wishes you al∣ready at the Devil. Now the Poor have none of this; They are neither flatter'd, nor envy'd nor befriended, nor accom∣panyed: There's no gaping for their Possessions; and in short, they are a sort of people that live well, and dye better; and there are some of them, that would not exchange their Raggs, for Royalty it self: They are at liberty to go and come at pleasure, be it War or Peace; free from Cares, Taxes, and publick Duties. They fear no Judg∣ments or Executions, but live as invio∣lable as if their Persons were Sacred. Moreover they take no thought for to morrow, but setting a just value on their hours, they are good Husbands of the present; considering that what is past, is as good as Dead, and what's to come Vncertain. But they say, when the Devil preaches, the world's neer an End.

The divine Hand is in this (said the Holy Man that perform'd the Exor∣cism) Thou art the Father of Lyes, and yet deliver'st truths, able to mollify Page  25 and convert a Heart of stone. But do not you mistake your selves, (quoth the Devil) to suppose that your Conversion is my Business; for I speak these Truths to aggravate your Guilt, and that you may not plead ignorance another day, when you shall be call'd to answer for your Transgressions. 'Tis true, most of you shed tears at parting, but 'tis the Apprehension of Death, and no true Repentance for your sins that works up∣on you: For ye are all a pack of Hy∣pocrites: Or if at any time you enter∣tain those Reflections, your trouble is, That your Body will not hold out; and then forsooth ye pretend to pick aquar∣rel with the Sin it self. Thou art an Impostor (said the Religious) for there are many Righteous Souls, that draw their sorrow from another Fountain. But I perceive you have a mind to amuse us, and make us lose Time, and perchance your own hour is not yet come to quit the Body of this miserable Creature; however, I conjure thee in the name of the most High to leave tor∣menting him, and to hold thy Peace. The Devil obey'd; and the Good Fa∣ther Page  26 applying himself to us, My Masters (says he) though I am absolutely of Opinion that it is the Devil that has talkt to us all this while through the Organ of this unhappy wretch, yet he that well weighs what has bin said, may doubtless reap some benefit by the Discourse. Wherefore without considering whence it came; Remember, that Saul (al∣though a wicked Prince) Prophesied; and that Honey has been drawn out of the Mouth of a Lyon. Withdraw then, and I shall make it my Prayer (as 'tis my hope) that this sad and prodigious spectacle may lead you to a true sight of your Errours, and in the end, to amendment of Life.

The end of the first Vision.