before the twentieth, century. Thousands of precious lives shall be lost in this century, tens of thousands shall suffer discomfort, privation, sickness, poverty, ignorance, for lack of discoveries and methods which, but for this mistaken dealing with Roger Bacon and his compeers, would now be blessing the earth.
In two recent years sixty thousand children died in England and in Wales of scarlet fever; probably quite as many died in the United States. Had not Bacon been hindered, we should have had in our hands, by this time, the means to save two thirds of these victims; and the same is true of typhoid, typhus, cholera, and that great class of diseases of whose physical causes science is just beginning to get an inkling. Put together all the efforts of all the atheists who have ever lived, and they have not done so much harm to Christianity and the world as has been done by the narrow-minded, conscientious men who persecuted Roger Bacon, and closed the path which he gave his life to open.
But despite the persecution of Bacon and the defection of those who ought to have followed him, champions of the experimental method rose from time to time during the succeeding centuries. We know little of them personally; our main knowledge of their efforts is derived from the endeavors of their persecutors.
In 1317 Pope John XXII issued his bull, Spondent pariter, leveled at the alchemists, but really dealing a terrible blow at the beginnings of chemical science. That many alchemists were knavish is no doubt true, but no infallibility in separating the evil from the good was shown by the papacy in this matter. In this and in sundry other bulls and briefs we find Pope John, by virtue of his infallibility as the world's instructor in all that pertains to faith and morals, condemning real science and pseudo-science alike. In two of these documents, supposed to be inspired by wisdom from on high, he complains that both he and his flock are in danger of their lives by the arts of sorcerers; he declares that such sorcerers can send devils into mirrors and finger-rings, and kill men and women by a magic word; that they had tried to kill him by piercing his waxen image with needles, in the name of the devil. He, therefore, called on all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflicted the faithful, and he especially increased the powers of inquisitors in various parts of Europe for this purpose.
The impulse thus given to childish fear and hatred against the investigation of Nature was felt for centuries. More and more chemistry came to be known as one of the "seven devilish arts."
These declarations of Pope John were echoed for generation after generation, until nearly three hundred years later there came the yet more terrible bull of Pope Innocent VIII, known as Summis Desiderantes, which let inquisitors loose upon Germany,