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It is known that there exists on earth – – rational creatures besides man – –  endowed like him with a body and a soul; these creatures are born and die like him.

This has been philosophically studied and recorded by the Rev. Father Molestario who lived in Ciudad Vieja Zacatecas, Mexico. As close I can determine he recorded the text, which in part follows this introduction, around 1759.

I was riding along the Chisholm Trail near Spanish Fort, Texas in 1872. Anglo settlers had misnamed the area Spanish Fort thinking that the Spanish forces had built the fortification there, rather than the Native Americans.

Settlement was encouraged across the Republic of Texas. However, Texas became a state in 1845 and European settlers kept coming for farm land. By the early 1870s, a town had been established near present-day Spanish Fort. The town was located on the Chisholm Trail.

I was in Spanish Fort in the year 1872, and I hunted after old books that had been sold by Mexicans and Europeans who were attempting to establish themselves.

These old books caused me to live in the past, happy to escape from the dusty trail, and to exchange the petty gunfights and cantina brawls of the day for the peaceable intimacy of Dickens, Whitman or Melville.

One of my favorite bookstore owners was Mr. Montenegro, a venerable old gentleman, whose slump-brick adobe store was on the Chisholm, close to the solid oak entrance doors of Spanish Fort.

Mr. Montenegro’s store was not particularly rich in musty old books; quite the opposite, it was small, and only half full. Scarcely four or five hundred volumes at any one time, carefully dusted, clean, arranged with great care on shelves within reach of one’s hand; the upper shelves remained empty. On the right, Theology; on the left, the American and English Classics in the majority, with some French and Spanish language books; for such were Mr. Montenegro’s specialties; it seemed as if he absolutely ignored Petar I PetrovićNjegoš (Петар I Петровић Његош; 1748 – 1830) the ruler of the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro, and as if, in his mind, the literature of his country did not go beyond the sermons of the Anglo’s or Latino’s.

What, at first sight, struck me most about those books, was their low price, compared with their excellent state of preservation. They had evidently not been bought in a lot, at so much a cubic yard, like the rubbish of an auction typically held in Kansas City, and yet the handsomest, the most ancient, the most venerable from their size, folios or quartos, were not marked higher than ten or twenty cents, a sixteen-page octavo was sold for a penny, the twenty-four-page duodecimo – – about five cents; according to its size and condition.

Therefore, Mr. Montenegro, was a methodical man if ever there was one. And he was all the better for it; he was faithfully patronized by clergymen, scholars and collectors who were heading west for the newly opened territories and states. He renewed his stock at a rate which more assuming speculators might have envied.

But how did he get those well bound and well-preserved volumes, which, anywhere else a dealer would have charged five or six times more? Here also Mr. Montenegro had his method; it was as sure and regular as the return of the Evening Thrush. No one attended more assiduously to the destitute who were traveling west every day along the Chisholm Trail. His bookstore was often mentioned by the trail-drivers who knew that the wagon owners hardly had enough money to finish their trek. The rarest, choicest books passed before his eyes and Mr. Montenegro smiled at such opportunities; when once a bid had been made he would not add a penny, even if an unknown Gutenberg was at stake. But if occasionally, through inattention or weariness of the traveler, a book was left behind, sometimes even two, joined together for want of having separated them from other things being sold in bulk. Any other time sellers more attentive might perhaps have a book lettered with gold. This, however, did not change Mr. Montenegro’s offer; size was the only rule.

Now, one day when, after a considerable sized wagon train had passed by, he had exhibited in his shop purchases more numerous than usual. I especially noticed some manuscripts in the Spanish language, the paper, the writing and the binding of which denoted an Mexican origin, and which might well be nearly one hundred years old. The title of one was, I believe, “Drugs”, another “Vipers”, and the present work “Demons; Incubus and Succubus. All three, moreover, were by different authors, and independent of each other.

Poisons, adders, demons, what a collection of horrors! Yet, were it but for the sake of politeness, I was bound to buy something; after some hesitation, I chose the last one. Demons – – for sure – – but Incubus and Succubus; the subject is not vulgar, and still less so the way in which it seemed to me to have been presented. In short, I had the volume for five cents, an excellent price.

That manuscript, on cactus paper of the previous century, bound in Mexican parchment, and beautifully preserved, had eighty-six pages of text. The title and first page are in the author’s hand, that of an old man; the remainder is very distinctly written by another, but obviously under the old man’s direction, as is testified by autographic side notes and corrections distributed all through the work. It is therefore the genuine original manuscript, to all appearances unique.

Our dealer in old books had purchased it a few days before.

One thing is sure, our author was living in the last years of the previous century, as appears from his own testimony, and he had been an autodidact; one who read all he could find regarding Theology in Ciudad Vieja Zacatecas, Mexico. Be that as it may, his book has seemed to me most interesting in diverse respects, and I confidently submit it to the select public for whom the imperceptible world is not a fiction. I should be much surprised if, after opening it at random, the reader was not tempted to finish it – – to the end – – in one sitting.

The philosopher, the confessor, or the medical man will find therein, in conjunction with the robust faith of the Mexican Catholic, novel and ingenious views; the literary man and the curious will appreciate the solidity of reasoning, the clearness of style and the liveliness of narrations – – for there are stories which are delicately told.

Many theologians have devoted several pages to the question of material intercourse between man and the demon; thick volumes have been written about witchcraft, and the merits of those works were slender as they only developed the normal thesis; but such is not the character of Rev. Father Molestario’s work. The basis, from which he derives a truly original and philosophical tone, is an entirely novel demonstration of the existence of Incubus and Succubus, as rational animals, both corporeal and spiritual like ourselves, who live in our midst, being born and dying like us, and finally redeemed, as we are, through the merits of Jesus-Christ, and capable of receiving salvation or damnation.

In Rev. Father Molestario’s opinion, those beings endowed with senses and reason, are thoroughly distinct from Angels and Demons; who are pure spirits. These beings that he describes are none other but the Fauns – – with goat’s heads and tails – – and Sylvans – – made up of lustful, drunken woodland gods with a horse’s ears and tail – – or on the female side, which are like our imaginary spirit of the air – – a slender woman or girl sylph – – or our Elves and Goblins; which we are more prone to believe in. On this score alone, not to mention the interest of details, this book has a claim to the attention of earnest readers; I feel convinced that attention will not be found wanting.

 

The Chisholm Trail Voyager

 May 1872.

{TO BE CONTINUED}