All honor to this work and to the men who engaged in it; but, as a rule, these establishments were few and poor, compared with those for other diseases, and they usually degenerated into madhouses, where devils were cast out mainly by cruelty.
The first main weapon against the indwelling Satan continued to be the exorcism; but, under the influence of inferences from Scripture farther and farther fetched, and of theological reasoning more and more subtle, it became something very different from the gentle procedure of earlier times, and some description of this great weapon at the time of its highest development will throw light on the laws which govern the growth of theological reasoning, as well as upon the main subject in hand.
A fundamental premise in the fully developed exorcism was that, according to sacred Scripture, a main characteristic of Satan is pride. Pride led him to rebel—for pride he was cast down; therefore the first thing to do, in driving him out of a lunatic, was to strike a fatal blow at this pride—to disgust him.
This theory was carried out logically, to the letter. The treatises on the subject simply astound one by their wealth of epithets—blasphemous and obscene—which it was allowable for the exorcist to use in casting out devils. The "Treasury of Exorcisms" contains hundreds of pages packed with the vilest epithets which the worst imagination could invent for the purpose of overwhelming the indwelling Satan.
Some of those decent enough to be printed in these degenerate days ran as follows:
"Thou lustful and stupid one, ... thou lean sow, famine-stricken and most impure, ... thou wrinkled beast, thou mangy beast, thou beast of all beasts the most beastly, ... thou mad
- For a very full and learned, if somewhat one-sided, account of the earlier effects of this stream of charitable thought, see Yollemer, "Des Origines de la Charité Catholique," Paris, 1858. It is instructive to note that, while this book is very full in regard to the action of the Church on slavery and on provision for the widows and orphans, the sick, the infirm, captives, and lepers, there is hardly a trace of any care for the insane. This same want is incidentally shown by a typical example in Kriegk, "Aerzte, Heilanstalten und Geisteskranke im mittelalterlichen Frankfurt," Frankfurt a. M., 1863, pp. 16, 17; also Kirchhof, pp. 396, 397. On the general subject, see Semelaigne, as above, p. 214; also Lecky, "Rationalism in Europe," i, 88; also Calmeil, i, 116, 117. For the effect of Moslem example in Spain and Italy, see Kraft-Ebing, as above, p. 45, note.
- "Thesaurus Exorcismorum atque Conjurationum terribilium, potentissimorum, efficacissimorum, cum Practica probatissima: quibus spiritus maligni, Dæmones Maleficiaque omnia de Corporibus humanis obsessis, tanquam Flagillis Fustibusque fugantur, expelluntur," ... Cologne, 1626. Many of the books of the exorcists were put upon the various indexes of the Church, but this, the richest collection of all, and including nearly all those condemned, was not prohibited until 1709. Scarcely less startling manuals continued even later in use; and exorcisms adapted to every emergency may, of course, still be found in all the Benedictionals of the Church—even the latest. As an example, see the "Manuale Benedictionum" published by the Bishop of Passau in 1849.