Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/170

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To question the theological view of physical science was, even long after the close of the middle ages, exceedingly perilous. We have seen in this chapter how one of Roger Bacon's unpardonable offenses was his argument against the efficacy of magic, and in chapters preceding how centuries afterward Wyer, Flade, Bekker, and a multitude of other investigators and thinkers suffered confiscation of property, loss of position, and even torture and death, for similar views. I will refer, then, to but one more case as typical.

In the last year of the sixteenth century the persecutions for witchcraft and magic were especially cruel in the western districts of Germany, the main instrument in them being Binsfeld, Suffragan Bishop of Treves.

At that time Cornelius Loos was a professor at the university of that city. He was a devoted churchman, and one of the most brilliant opponents of Protestantism, but he finally saw through the prevailing belief regarding occult powers, and in an evil hour for himself embodied his idea in a book entitled "True and False Magic." The book, though earnest, was temperate, but this helped him and his cause not at all. The texts of Scripture clearly sanctioning belief in sorcery and magic stood against him, and these had been confirmed by the infallible teachings of the Church and the popes from time immemorial; the book was stopped in the press, the manuscript confiscated, and Loos thrown into a dungeon.

The inquisitors having wrought their will upon him, in the spring of 1593 he was brought out of prison, forced to recant on his knees before the assembled dignitaries of the Church, and thenceforward kept constantly under surveillance, and at times in prison. Even this was considered too light a punishment, and his arch-enemy, the Jesuit Del Rio, declared that but for his death by plague he would have been finally sent to the stake. His manuscript, hidden away in the archives at Treves, was supposed to be lost until within the present decade. After three centuries what remains of it has been brought to light by an American scholar.[1]

    Schneider, Geschichte der Alchemie, p. 160; and for a studiously moderate statement, Milman, Latin Christianity, Book XII, chap. vi. For character and general efforts of John XXII, see Lea, Inquisition, iii, 436, also 452 et seq. For the character of the two papal briefs, see Rydberg, p. 111. For the Bull Summis Desiderantes, see previous chapters of this work. For Antonio de Dominis, see Montucla, Hist. des Math{matiques, vol. i, p. 105, Humboldt, Cosmos, Libri, vol. iv, pp. 145 et seq.

  1. Prof. George Lincoln Burr, of Cornell University, whose copy of Loos's MS. is now in the library of that institution. For a full account of the discovery and its significance, see the New York Evening Post for November 13, 1886. The facts regarding the after-life of Loos, were discovered by Prof. Burr in the archives at Brussels. For Weyer, Flade, Bekker, and others, see the chapters of this work on Demoniacal Possession and Insanity, and Diabolism and Hysteria.