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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/603

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

been made hysterical by his own preaching are "possessed of Satan." On all this, and much more to the same effect, he insisted with all the power given to him by his deep religious nature, his wonderful familiarity with the Scriptures, his natural acumen, and his eloquence.[1]

But here, too, science continued its work. The old belief was steadily undermined, an atmosphere favorable to the truth became more and more developed, and the act of Parliament in 1735, which banished the crime of witchcraft from the statute-book, was the beginning of the end.

In Germany we see the beginnings of a similar triumph for science. In Prussia, that sturdy old monarch, Frederick William I, nullified the efforts of the more zealous clergy and orthodox jurists to keep up the old doctrine in his dominions. In Austria, the government set Dr. Antonio Haen at making careful researches into the causes of diabolic possession. He did not think it best, in view of the power of the Church, to dispute the possibility or probability of such cases, but simply decided, after thorough investigation, that, out of the any cases which had been brought to him, there was not one to support the belief in demoniacal influence. An attempt was made to follow up this examination, and much was done by men like Francke and Van Swieten, and especially by the reforming emperor, Joseph II, to rescue men and women who would otherwise have fallen victims to the prevalent superstition. Unfortunately, Joseph had arrayed against himself the whole power of the Church, and most of his good efforts seemed brought to naught. But what the noblest of the old race of German emperors could not do suddenly, the German men of science did gradually. Quietly and thoroughly, by proofs that could not be gainsaid, they recovered the old scientific fact established in pagan Greece and Rome, that madness is simply physical disease. But they now established it on a basis that can never again be shaken; for, in post-mortem examinations of large numbers of "possessed" persons, they found evidence of brain-disease. Typical is a case at Hamburg in 1729. An afflicted woman showed in a high degree all the recognized characteristics of diabolic possession. Exorcisms, preachings, and sanctified remedies of every sort in vogue were tried in vain. Milder medical means were then tried, and she so far recovered that she was allowed to take the communion before she died. The autopsy, held in the presence of fifteen physicians and a public notary, showed it to be simply a

  1. For John Locke, see King's "Life of Locke," ii, 173, 174. For Wesley, out of his almost innumerable writings bearing upon the subject, I may select the sermon on "Evil Angels," and his "Letter to Dr. Middleton"; and in his collected works there are many striking statements and arguments, especially in vols, iii, vi, and ix. See also Tyerman's "Life of Wesley," ii, pp. 260 et seq.