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also from report; and although it does not appear that he had examined the story, or that he believed it (but rather the contrary), yet I think his testimony sufficient to prove. that such a transaction took place; by which I mean, that the two men in question did apply to Vespasian ; that Vespasian did touch the diseased in the manner rea lated ; and that a cure was reported to have followed the operation. But the affair la bours under a strong and just suspicion, that the whole of it was a concerted imposture brought about by collusion between the patients, the physician, and the emperor. This solution is probable, because there was every thing to suggest, and every thing to facilitate such a scheme. The miracle was calculated to confer honour upon the emperor,
upon Serapis. It was achieved in the midst of the emperor's flatterers and followers; in a city, and amongst a populace, beforehand devoted to his interest, and to the worship of the god; where it would have been treason and blasphemy together, to have contradicted the fame of the cure, or even to have questioned it. And what is very
observable in the account is, that the report of the physicians is just: suchi a report as would have been made of a case, in which no external marks of the disease existed, and which, consequently, was capable of being easily counterfeited, viz. that in the first of the patients the organs of vision were not destroyed, that the weakness of the second was in' his joints. The strongest circumstance in Tacitus's narration is, that the first patient was 6 notus tabe ocu, lorum,” remarked or notorious for the disease in his eyes. But this was a circumstance which might have found its way into the story in its progress from a distant country, and during an interval of thirty years; or it might be true that the malady of the eyes was notorious, yet that the nature and degree of the disease. had never been ascertained ; a case by no means uncommon. The emperor's reserve was easily affected ; or it is possible he might not be in the secret. There does not seem to be much weight in the observation of Tacitus, that they who were present, continued even then to relate the story when there was
nothing to be gained by the lie. It only proves that those who had told the story for many years, persisted in it. The state of mind of the witnesses and spectators at the time, is the point to be attended to. Still less is there of pertinency in Mr Hume's eulogium on the cautious and penetrating genius of the historian; for, it does not appear that the historian believed it. The terms in which he speaks of Serapis, the deity to whose interposition the miracle was attributed, scarcely suffer us to suppose that Tacitus thought the miracle to be real :
by the admonition of the god: Serapis, whom that superstitious nation (dedita superstitionibus gens) worship above all other gods.” To have brought this supposed miracle within the limits of comparison with the miracles of Christ, it ought to have appeared, that a person of a low and private station, in the midst of enemies, with the whole power of the country opposing him, with every one around him prejudiced or interested against his claims and character, pretended to perform these cures, and required the spectators, upon the strength
of what they saw, to give up their firmest hopes and opinions, and follow him through a life of trial and danger; that many were so moved, as to obey his call, at the expence, both of every notion in which they had been brought up, and of their ease, safety, and reputation ; and that by these beginnings, a change was produced in the world, the effects of which remain to this day; a case, both in its circumstances and consequences, very unlike any thing we find in Tacitus's relation.
II. The story taken from the Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, which is the second example alleged by. Mr Hume, is this : “ In the church of Saragossa in Spain, the canons showed me a man whose business it was to light the lamps ; telling me, that he had been several years at the gate with one leg only. I saw him with two *.”
It is stated by Mr Hume, that the cardinal, who relates this story, did not believe it: and it nowhere appears, that he either examined the limb, or asked the patient, or indeed any one, a single question about the matter. An artificial leg, wrought with art, would be sufficient, in a place where no such contrivance had ever before been heard of, to give origin and currency to the report. The ecclesiastics of the place would, it is probable, favour the story, inasmuch as it advanced the honour of their image and church. And if they patronized it, no other person 'at Saragossa, in the middle of the last century, would care to dispute it. The story likewise coincided, not less with the wishes and preconceptions of the people, than with the interests of their ecclesiastical rulers : so that there was prejudice backed by authority, and both operating upon extreme ignorance, to account for the success of the imposture. If, as I have suggested, the contrivance of an artificial limb was then new, it would not occur to the cardinal himself to suspect it; especially under the carelessness of mind with which he heard the tale, and the little inclination he felt to scrutinize or expose
* Liv. iv. A.D. 1654.