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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/164

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ments that they were simply suffering from hysteria. One of his investigations is especially curious. In order to observe the patients more carefully, he invited some of them to dine with him, gave them without their knowledge holy water in their wine or their food, and found that it produced no effect whatever, though its results upon the demons when the possessed knew of its presence had been very strikingly marked. Even after plentiful doses of holy water had been thus given, the possessed remained afflicted, urged that the devil should be cast out, and some of them even went into convulsions, the devil apparently speaking from their mouths. It was evident that Satan had not the remotest idea that he had been thoroughly dosed with the most effective medicine known to the older theology.[1]

At last Tissot published the results of his experiments, and the stereotyped answer was soon made. It resembled the answer made by the clerical opponents of Galileo when he showed them the moons of Jupiter through his telescope, and they declared that the moons were created by the telescope. The clerical opponents of Tissot declared that the non-effect of the holy water upon the demons proved nothing save the extraordinary cunning of Satan; that the arch-fiend wishes it to be thought that he does not exist, and so overcame his repugnance to holy water, gulping it down in order to conceal his presence.

Dr. Tissot also examined into the gift of tongues exercised by the possessed. As to German and Latin, no great difficulty was presented: it was by no means hard to suppose that some of the girls might have learned some words of the former language in the neighboring Swiss cantons where German was spoken, or even in Germany itself; and as to Latin, considering that they had heard it from their childhood in the church, there seemed nothing very wonderful in their uttering some words in that language also. As to Arabic, had they really spoken it, that might have been accounted for by the relations of the possessed with Zouaves or Spahis from the French army; but, as Tissot could discover no such relations, he investigated this point as the most puzzling of all.

On a close inquiry he found that all the wonderful examples of speaking Arabic were reduced to one. He then asked whether there was any other person speaking or knowing Arabic in the town. He was answered that there was not. He asked whether any person had lived there, so far as any one could remember, who had spoken or understood Arabic, and he was answered in the negative. He then asked the witnesses how they knew that the language spoken by the girl was Arabic; no answer was vouc-

  1. For an amazing delineation of the curative and other virtues of holy water, see the Abbé Gaume, "L'Eau bénite au XIXme Siêcle," Paris, 1863.