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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.

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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER
The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.
page 345



preceding me. And as we were going on in solitary àarkness through the shade, on a sudden there appeared to us frequent balls of most ill-omened flame, ascending as it were out of a deep well, and again falling down into it. And when I had been conducted to this point, my guide suddenly disappeared, and left me alone in the middle of the darkness and of that horrible vision. And when the same balls of fire kept on without intermission, at one time rising on high, and at another sinking down to the lowest gulf, I saw all the points of the flames which mounted upwards, full of the spirits of men, which rose like ashes which are thrown up with smoke, and which at one time rose on high, and at another fell down to the depths, when the vapours of the fire are drawn back. But an extraordinary stench boiled up with these same vapours, and tainted all that place of darkness. And when I had stood there for some time in alarm, and uncertain what to do, on a sudden, I heard behind me a sound of miserable weeping, and a laugh of mocking devils, which became louder, and reached as far as me. And then I contemplated a crowd of malignant spirits, which with great exultation were thrusting down the souls of men, grieving and howling, into the middle o f the darkness. And I was not able clearly to distinguish the weeping of men and the laughter of the devils, but heard only a promiscuous noise of both classes in my ears. And some obscure spirits ascended from that fire-vomiting abyss, and ran up and surrounded me, and alarmed me with their fiery eyes, and breathed forth a fetid flame from their mouth and nostrils, and endeavoured to lay hold of me with fiery forceps which they held in their hands, and yet were perfectly unable to reach me, though they ventured to frighten me. And when I was thus hemmed in on all sides by enemies and darkness, and was casting my eyes about in every direction, in case I might, by chance, see any means of salvation, I perceived, on the road by which I had come, a brilliancy as that of a star shining, amid the darkness, which gradually increased in size, and hastened towards me ; and as it drew near, all the hostile spirits dispersed, which were before endeavouring to take hold of me with forceps. But the fight which had driven them away, as it came near, was the very guide who had previously conducted me. And, presently, he turned his course off towards the right, and began to lead me aa if towards the spot where the sun rises in the winter, and very


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