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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/459

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

in such a contest they had cast out twelve thousand six hundred and fifty-two living devils. The ecclesiastical annals of the middle ages, and, indeed, of a later period, abound in boasts of such "mighty works."[1]

Such was the great result of a thousand years of theological reasoning, by the strongest minds in Europe, upon data given in Scripture regarding Satan and his work among men. Such were the results and remedies arrived at by the highest development of "sacred science."

Under the guidance of theology, always so severe against "science falsely so called," the world had come a long way indeed from the soothing treatment of the possessed by Him who bore among the noblest of his titles that of "The Great Physician." The result was natural: the treatment of the insane fell more and more into the hands of the jailer, the torturer, and the executioner.

To go back for a moment to the beginnings of this unfortunate development. In spite of the earlier and more kindly tendency in the Church, the Synod of Ancyra, as early as 35 A.D., commanded the expulsion of possessed persons from the Church; the Visigothic Christians whipped them; and Charlemagne, in spite of some good enactments, imprisoned them. Men and women, whose distempered minds might have been restored to health by gentleness and skill, were driven into hopeless madness by noxious medicines and brutality. Some few were saved as mere lunatics—they were surrendered to general carelessness, and became simply a prey to ridicule and aimless brutality; but vast numbers were punished as tabernacles of Satan.

One of the least terrible of these punishments, and perhaps the most common of all, was that of scourging demons out of the body of a lunatic. This method commended itself even to the judgment of so thoughtful and kindly a personage as Sir Thomas More, and as late as the sixteenth century. But if the disease continued, as it naturally would after such treatment, the authorities frequently felt justified in driving out the demons by torture.[2]

Interesting monuments of this idea, so fruitful, in evil, still exist. In the great cities of central Europe, "witch-towers," where witches and demoniacs were tortured, and "fool-towers," where the more gentle lunatics were imprisoned, may still be seen.

  1. In my previous chapters—especially that on meteorology—I have quoted extensively from the original treatises, of which a very large collection is in my possession; but in this chapter I have largely availed myself of the copious translations given by M. H. Dziewicki, in his excellent article in the "Nineteenth Century" for October, 1888, entitled "Exorcizo Te." For valuable citations on the origin and spread of exorcism, see Lecky's "European Morals" (third English edition), i, 379-385.
  2. For prescription of the whipping-post by Sir Thomas More, see D. H. Tuke's "History of Insanity in the British Isles," London, 1882, pp. 29, 30.