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A TREATISE ON MAGIC or On the Intercourse Between Spirits and Men; With Annotations (1810) by Frederick Henry Quitman (Presentation Copy)

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A TREATISE ON MAGIC or On the Intercourse Between Spirits and Men; With Annotations (1810) by Frederick Henry Quitman (Presentation Copy)

2,000.00

QUITMAN, Frederick Henry

A Treatise on Magic, or, On the Intercourse Between Spirits and Men; With Annotations (Presentation Copy)

Albany: Balance Press, 1810. First Edition. 12 mo. Contemporary quarter leather over marbled boards, professionally re-backed, gilt ruled spine. Housed in a period clamshell box (quarter leather over marbled boards) with decorative gilt spine. Inscribed to former owner:  "A present of the author" on front blank recto. vi + 76 pp. An extremely rare volume. 

Light rubbing to boards. Internally crisp and clean with the exception of a few pencil marks to margins and a former owner's name at top of title page. A very good copy in a near fine clamshell box. 

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Frederick Henry Quitman (1760-1832) knows quite a bit about the history and practice of magic throughout the ages, from the ancient Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Persians, through the Greek and Roman periods, and further onward into the areas of witchcraft and sorcery as practiced in the middle ages and beyond. Of course, being a fine man of Lutheran upbringing, he does his best to discredit every ounce of it -  and he fails miserably. Quitman seems to take great pleasure in blaming the belief in magic on the limits of the savage mind among the barbarous nations (the nations that gave us practically everything) and the cumulative gullibility of the ignorant masses. He also stresses that many who may have been a witness to certain results of so-called magical practices were probably exposed to nocturnal vapors from some burned narcotic plant, as if that was a bad thing! He gives many examples of rites and ceremonies from ancient times - way more than he should if he is trying to debunk anything - and continues into the world of the devil, the witches sabbath, and ceremonial magicians, with equal gusto, applying argumentative rebuttals that are weak at best. He then attempts to discredit some well known magicians and sorcerers such as the Egyptian Pharaoh who opposed Moses (who was well versed in the magic of Egypt - no problem here evidently), the witch of En-dor, Simon Magus, Appolonius of Tyana, Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus, Doctor Faustus, the testimony of witches concerning their nocturnal trips to the sabbath and their intercourse with the devil, and more. Again, he fails to put forth any valid arguments other than that all magical operations discussed here, all stories of witchcraft and visions, originate in delusion - are all the result of weak minds and lively imaginations. The work concludes with a section of interesting annotations, some of which are pretty funny, though I don't believe the author intended this at all.