Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/166

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singing, dancing, and sports of various sorts, until at last it was brought under control.[1]

Scenes similar to these, in their essential character, have arisen more recently in Protestant countries, but with the difference that what has been generally attributed by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics to Satan is attributed by Protestant ecclesiastics to the Almighty. Typical among the greater exhibitions of this were those which began in the Methodist chapel at Redruth in Cornwall—convulsions, leaping, jumping, until some four thousand persons were seized by it. The same thing is seen in the ruder parts of America at "revivals" and camp-meetings.

And in still another great field these exhibitions are seen, but more after a mediæval pattern. In the Tigretier of Abyssinia we have epidemics of dancing which seek and obtain miraculous cures.

Reports of similar manifestations are also sent from missionaries from the west coast of Africa, one of whom sees in some of them the characteristics of cases of possession mentioned in our Gospels, and is therefore inclined to attribute them to Satan.[2]

But happily, long before these latter occurrences, science had come into the field and was gradually diminishing this class of diseases. Among the earlier workers to this better purpose was the great Dutch physician Boerhaave. Finding in one of the wards in the hospital at Haarlem a number of women going into convulsions and imitating each other in various acts of frenzy, he immediately ordered a furnace of blazing coals into the midst of the ward, heated cauterizing irons, and declared he would burn the arms of the first woman who fell into convulsions. No more cases occurred.[3]

These and similar successful dealings of medical science with mental disease brought about the next stage in the theological development. The Church sought to retreat, after the usual manner, behind a compromise. Early in the eighteenth century appeared a new edition of the great work by the Jesuit Delrio which for a hundred years had been a text-book for the use of ecclesiastics in fighting witchcraft. But in this edition the part played by Satan in diseases was changed. It was suggested that, while diseases have natural causes, it is necessary that Satan enter the human body in order to make these causes effective. Delrio claims that

  1. See Tissot, "L'Imagination: ses Bienfaits et ses Égarements surtout dans le Domaine du Merveilleux," Paris, 1858, par. 7; "Les Possédés de Morzines"; also Constans, "Relation sur une Epidémie de Hystéro-Démonopathie," Paris, 1863.
  2. See Figuier, "Histoire du Merveilleux," vol. i, p. 402.
  3. For the Tigretier, with especially interesting citations, see Hecker's "Essay," chap, iii, sec. 1; for the cases in western Africa, see the Rev. J. L. Wilson, "Western Africa," p. 217.