[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850.]
We read that a man, Honoré Mirable, having found in a garden near Marseilles a treasure consisting of several Portuguese pieces of gold, from the indication given him by a specter, which appeared to him at eleven o'clock at night, near the Bastide, or country house called du Paret, he made the discovery of it in presence of the woman who farmed the land of this Bastide, and the farm-servant named Bernard. When he first perceived the treasure buried in the earth, and wrapped up in a bundle of old linen, he was afraid to touch it, for fear it should be poisoned and cause his death. He raised it by means of a hook made of a branch of the almond tree, and carried it into his room, where he undid it without any witness, and found in it a great deal of gold; to satisfy the wishes of the spirit who had appeared to him, he caused some masses to be said for him. He revealed his good fortune to a countryman of his, named Anquier, who lent him forty livres, and gave him a note by which he acknowledged he owed him twenty thousand livres and receipted the payment of the forty livres lent; this note bore date the 27th September, 1726.
Some time after, Mirable asked Anquier to pay the note. Anquier denied everything. A great lawsuit ensued; information was taken and perquisitions held in Anquier's house; sentence was given on the 10th of September, 1727, importing that Anquier should be arrested, and have the question applied to him. An appeal was made to the Parliament of Aix. Anquier's note was declared a forgery. Bernard, who was said to have been present at the discovery of the treasure, was not cited at all; the other witnesses only deposed from hearsay; Magdalen Caillot alone, who was present, acknowledged having seen the packet wrapped round with linen, and had heard a ringing as of pieces of gold or silver, and had seen one of them, a piece about as large as a piece of two liards.
The Parliament of Aix issued its decree the 17th of February, 1728, by which it ordained that Bernard, farming servant at the Bastide du Paret, should be heard; he was heard on different days, and deposed that he had seen neither treasure, nor rags, nor gold pieces. Then came another decree of the 2d of June, 1728, which ordered that the attorney-general should proceed by way of ecclesiastical censures on the facts resulting from these proceedings.
The indictment was published, fifty-three witnesses were heard; another sentence of the 18th of February, 1729, discharged Anquier from the courts and the lawsuit; condemned Mirable to the galleys to perpetuity after having previously undergone the question; and Caillot was to pay a fine of ten francs. Such was the end of this grand lawsuit. If we examine narrowly these stories of specters who watch over treasures, we shall doubtless find, as here, a great deal of superstition, deception, and fancy.
Delrio relates some instances of people who have been put to death, or who have perished miserably as they searched for hidden treasures. In all this we may perceive the spirit of lying and seduction on the part of the demon, bounds set to his power, and his malice arrested by the will of God; the impiety of man, his avarice, his idle curiosity, the confidence which he places in the angel of darkness, by the loss of his wealth, his life, and his soul.
John Wierus, in his work entitled "De Præstigiis Dæmonum," printed at Basle in 1577, relates that in his time, 1430, the demon revealed to a certain priest at Nuremberg some treasures hidden in a cavern near the town, and enclosed in a crystal vase. The priest took one of his friends with him as a companion; they began to dig up the ground in the spot designated, and they discovered in a subterranean cavern a kind of chest, near which a black dog was lying; the priest eagerly advanced to seize the treasure, but hardly had he entered the cavern, than it fell in, crushed the priest, and was filled up with earth as before.
The following is extracted from a letter, written from Kirchheim, January 1st, 1747, to M. Schopfflein, Professor of History and Eloquence at Strasburg. "It is now more than a year ago that M. Cavallari, first musician of my serene master, and by birth a Venetian, desired to have the ground dug up at Rothenkirchen, a league from hence, and which was formerly a renowned abbey, and was destroyed in the time of the Reformation. The opportunity was afforded him by an apparition, which showed itself more than once at noonday to the wife of the Censier of Rothenkirchen, and above all, on the 7th of May for two succeeding years. She swears, and can make oath, that she has seen a venerable priest in pontifical garments embroidered with gold, who threw before her a great heap of stones; and although she is a Lutheran, and consequently not very credulous in things of that kind, she thinks nevertheless that if she had had the presence of mind to put down a handkerchief or an apron, all the stones would have become money.
"M. Cavallari then asked leave to dig there, which was the more readily granted, because the tithe or tenth part of the treasure is due to the sovereign. He was treated as a visionary, and the matter of treasure was regarded as an unheard-of thing. In the mean time, he laughed at the anticipated ridicule, and asked me if I would go halves with him. I did not hesitate a moment to accept this offer; but I was much surprised to find there were some little earthen pots full of gold pieces, all these pieces finer than the ducats of the fourteenth and fifteenth century generally are. I have had for my share 666, found at three different times. There are some of the Archbishops of Mayence, Treves, and Cologne, of the towns of Oppenheim, Baccarat, Bingen, and Coblentz; there are some also of the Palatine Rupert, of Frederic, Burgrave of Nuremberg, some few of Wenceslaus, and one of the Emperor Charles IV., &c."
This shows that not only the demons, but also the saints, are sometimes guardians of treasure; unless you will say that the devil had taken the shape of the prelate. But what could it avail the demon to give the treasure to these gentlemen, who did not ask him for it, and scarcely troubled themselves about him? I have seen two of these pieces in the hands of M. Schopfflein.
The story we have just related is repeated, with a little difference, in a printed paper, announcing a lottery of pieces found at Rothenkirchen, in the province of Nassau, not far from Donnersberg. They say in this, that the value of these pieces is twelve livres ten sols, French money. The lottery was to be publicly drawn the first of February, 1750. Every ticket cost six livres of French money. I repeat these details only to prove the truth of the circumstance.
We may add to the preceding what is related by Bartholinus in his book on the cause of the contempt of death shown by the ancient Danes, (lib. ii. c. 2.) He relates that the riches concealed in the tombs of the great men of that country were guarded by the shades of those to whom they belonged, and that these shades or these demons spread terror in the souls of those who wished to take away those treasures, either by pouring forth a deluge of water, or by flames which they caused to appear around the monuments which enclosed those bodies and those treasures.
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