This mirror eek, that I have in myn hond,
Hath swich a myght that men may in it see
Whan ther shal fallen into any adversitee
Unto youre regne or to youreself also,
And openly who is youre freend or foo.
And . . . if any lady bright
Hath set hire herte on any maner wight,
If he be fals, she shal his tresoun see,
His newe love, and al his subtiltee.
Chaucer, "Squire’s Tale" II. 132-140, c. 1390
A childe, who after he had looked in a glasse shewed him of hys destruction, and howe his enimies were coming.
The woonderous devises, and miraculous sights and conceipts made and conteined in glasse, doo farre exceed all other; whereto the art perspective is verie necessarie. For it sheweth the illusions of them, whose experiments be seene in diverse sorts of glasses. . . for you may have glasses so mas what image of favour soever you print in your imagination, you shall thinke you see the same therein. Others are so framed, as therein one may see what others doo in places far distant. . . There be glasses also, wherein one man may see another mans image, and not his owne.
[A shew of eight Kings, and Banquo last, with a glasse in his hand]
MACBETH . . What will the Line stretch out to’th’cracke of Doome?
Another yet? A seaventh? Ile see no more:
And yet the eight appears, who beares a glasse,
Which shewes me many more.
In our time Coniurers vse Christall, calling the diuination Chrystallomantia or Onychomantia, in the which, after they haue rubbed one of the nayles of their fingers, or a piece if Chrystall, they vtter I know not what words, and they call a boy that is pure. . . to see therein that which they require.
About 1649, one Mris Bodnam, of Fisherton Anger (a poor woman that taught children to reade) was tryed for a witch at Salisbury . . . and was executed . . . Evidence against her was that she did tell fortunes, and shewed people visions in a glasse, and that a maid saw the devill with her.
When I lived at Kederminster, one of my Neighbors affirmed, that having his Yarn stolen, he went to Hodges . . . and he told him, that at such an Hour he should have it brought home again, and put in at the Window, and so it was; and as I remember, he showed him the Person’s Face, in a Glass; yet I do not thing that Hodges made any known Contract with the Devil, but thought it as and effect of Art.
A speculator or seer . . to have a complete sight, out to be a pure virgin, a youth who had not known woman, or at least a person of irreproachable life . . . The conjurer having repeated the necessary charms and adjurations, with the Litany, or invocation peculiar to the spirits or angels he wishes to call . . . the seer looks into a chrystal or berryl, wherein he will see the answer.