Francis Okely, of St. Johns, Cambridge, translated in 1780 some of the works of the German visionary Hans Engelbrecht, who wrote an account of his own death and recovery, and of what he had seen in the other world. The sign which he gave to prove that he had seen hell was not an unapt one. “God,” says he, “made the people who were with me to smell such a diabolical, horrible, and infernal stench, whilst I was getting out of bed, which was so immeasurably bad, and such a dreadful stench, that no other stench they could think of 35in all the world was comparable to it; and I thereupon said, by this you are to conclude infallibly that I have been before hell.” Had the bystanders taken a candle to look for it, it is possible that poor Hans might have exhibited a specimen of the blue flames of the lower regions also.
This Engelbrecht wrote an account of his own death and recovery, and of what he had seen in his journey to the other world. Heaven, Hell, the Mountain of Salvation, &c. An Angel expressly ordered him to write a full and particular narative and publish it; “now, he says, this was my motive for getting up very early this morning at four o’clock to begin,.. and therefore do I exhort you, all ye men in the world who get the reading of this narrative into your hands, to be sure not to suffer your reason to perk up and be dictating therein, but believe you this simply, just as I have written it down.” This is as rich a passage as any 36in the whole Bibliotheca Fanatica, and might serve as a text to half the volumes which compose it. “Such as will not believe what I am now about to write will be damned,”… says this poor crazy German; crazy however as he was, he found a believer and translator at Cambridge, above a century after his death;.. and the volume of his revelations which I picked up at a stall, bears throughout the marks of a thumb warm with devotion.