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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/724

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This climax of absurdity ought to have served to expose the trickery and trumpery of the whole affair, but it produced the very opposite effect. Dr. Germanus refers to "Bitru's sign-manual as highly interesting," and characterizes "the documentary evidence as thoroughly convincing"; those who refuse to recognize the truth in the face of such positive proof he accuses of imitating the ostrich and willfully shutting their eyes to the light.[1]

The salvation of Diana Vaughan is described as due to her intense admiration for Joan of Arc, a feeling which was ardently fostered by the priests with whom she chanced to come in contact. One day, as she was attended by Asmodeus, Astaroth, Beelzebub, and Moloch, incarnate in "the counterfeit presentment" of fine gentlemen, she obeyed a sudden and irresistible impulse to invoke the Maid of Orleans, when these devils were immediately stripped of their disguise, and stood before her in their true character as imps of hell, with hoofs and horns, and emitted an intolerable stench. No sooner did they perceive that they were unmasked than they vanished with a fearful howl. This miracle made a deep impression upon her, and led to her conversion. She took refuge in a Parisian cloister, and, after severe penance and proper instruction, was received into the bosom of the Catholic Church. During this period of penitential seclusion she wrote her Memoirs, which produced an immense sensation in clerical circles, and were pronounced by a high ecclesiastical dignitary to be "worth more than their weight in gold."

It must be confessed that in weaving this tissue of fabrications Taxil showed consummate skill as a romancer and a profound knowledge of the possibilities of human credulity. He made a happy hit in calling the heroine of his Stygian story Diana, since in the annals of witchcraft the pagan goddess of the chase is wont to frequent the nocturnal assemblies of demons, and in mediæval theology the phrase "congressus Sabathi cum Diana" was a common expression for intercourse with Satan. Another masterly stroke was to represent her deliverance from the snares of evil spirits and the hallucinations of Luciferianism as a miracle of grace wrought through the mediation of Joan of Arc, thus furnishing an argument in favor of the canonization of the Maid of Orleans, which the cleverest advocatus diaboli would be unable to answer. At this time Taxil prepared also a Catholic prayer book entitled

  1. A photographic reproduction of this document is given in Diana Vaughan's biography of the Italian stateman Crispi, which contains numerous illustrations and portraits of Crispi, Mazzini, Leniini, Garibaldi, Giordano Bruno, and other "Palladists," or Masonic worshipers of Satan. The origlnal French title of the book is "Le 33º ∴ Crispi. Un Palladiste Homme d'État démasqué. Biographie documentée du Héros depuis sa Naissance jusqu' à sa deuxième Mort. Par Miss Diana Vaughan."