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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/597

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581
A SURVIVAL OF MEDIEVAL CREDULITY.

Humanum genus, already cited, in which Leo XIII divides the human race into worshipers of God and worshipers of Satan, and then proceeds to adduce facts proving the correctness of this classification. It is, in reality, a bold burlesque of the papal circular, as, indeed, it was intended to be, and would doubtless have been laughed at for a time as a clever persiflage, if the dignitaries of the Church had not taken it seriously, as they were expected to do. Dr. Hacks confessed to an "interviewer," in 1897, that no sooner had he read the pontifical circular in question than he saw in it "a rare opportunity to coin money out of the crass credulity and boundless stupidity of the Catholics. It needed only a Jules Verne to clothe these extravagant fancies in an attractive garb. I resolved to play the part of this Jules Verne. Strangely enough, the same idea occurred to others. I therefore joined forces with Leo Taxil and a few friends, and began to publish The Devil in the Nineteenth Century, the success of which is well known.… I had traversed many lands and got up marvelous stories, the scenes of which were laid in remote regions, which I was sure no one would visit in order to test the truth of my assertions." Besides, he counted on the silliness of the persons with whom he had to deal, and felt certain that if he should tell them he had been fooling them they would not believe him, but would remain convinced that all his inventions were strictly true. He could not conceive of a body of ecclesiastics as ready to discard a belief which served their turn, however evident its absurdity might be to other minds. "Sometimes I fabricated the most incredible stories, as, for example, that of the serpent inditing prophecies with its tail on the back of Sophia Walder, or that of the demon, who, in order to marry a Freemason, transformed himself into a young lady, and played the piano evenings in the form of a crocodile. My colleagues were aghast, and exclaimed, 'You'll spoil the whole joke with your nonsense.' 'Bah!' I replied. 'Let me be, and you will see!'" And they did see how eagerly such gross falsehoods were accepted as positive facts. Protestants without exception are denounced as godless apostates. Every Lutheran is a Luciferian in disguise. Singapore, he says, like every British colony, is settled by knaves, footpads, and all sorts of criminals. The Protestant Englishman is, at the bottom, an embodiment of scoundrelism coupled with Satanism. There is a strangely infernal element in the social life at Singapore. "The British matrons and even the maidens are incarnations of vice and godlessness. The young English woman dedicates all her charms and intelligence to the service of Satan, whose apostle and agent she is; cursed by God, she is the dearly beloved paramour of Lucifer; a woman only in name,