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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/727

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A SURVIVAL OF MEDIEVAL CREDULITY.

also to myself." But even this daring dash of irony, hardly hidden under the gauzy disguise of self-distrust, did not cool the ardor of his admirers, who continued to greet the harlequin with "Evviva Taxil!" His photograph hung among the pictures of the saints, and the mere mention of his name called forth loud applause, whereupon the prince of mountebanks rose and bowed. A few Germans had the good sense and courage to protest against these demonstrations, and to doubt the existence of Diana Vaughan and the sincerity of Taxil, whose sole object, as Dr. Gratzfeld asserted, was to "lay a snare for Catholics and anti-Freemasons, and scoff at them when they are caught in it." This skepticism created intense excitement, and was severely rebuked by an Italian priest and a Parisian prebendary, who averred that they knew Diana Vaughan personally, and could vouch for her saintliness. A French monk used such violent language in his reply to Dr. Gratzfeld that the presiding officer, although indorsing his views, felt constrained to call him to order. "Any doubt of Diana Vaughan's existence or of the genuineness of her revelations," exclaimed the Abbé de Bessonies, "is a sin against the antimasonic cause!" The Spanish delegates introduced a resolution demanding that all Freemasons should be legally incapacitated to hold any civil office or military command; the resolution was adopted, with the amendment that "wherever it may be feasible" such laws should be enacted and executed. The manner in which Taxil met the allegations of his opponents is highly characteristic." A priest of the Holy Sacrament, Father Delaporte, had often declared that he would gladly give his life for the conversion of Diana Vaughan. She attended mass in the cloister for the first time on Corpus Christi, and left her sacred retreat on the following Saturday. On the very day of her departure Father Delaporte died. And yet there are persons who doubt the existence of Miss Vaughan!" The burst of applause elicited by this irrefragable argument proved his accurate appreciation of the logical powers of his auditors, whose minds had been fed on the nutriment which may be wholesome as "milk for babes," but, when persistently administered to adults, converts them into intellectual milksops.

Although the congress was attended by many of the chief dignitaries of the papal hierarchy, and the Romish Patriarch of Constantinople sat there in state with a golden crown on his head, Taxil was its ruling spirit. On his motion, it was resolved to establish antimasonic associations in every land under the auspices of the bishops and the direction of national committees, and a commission was appointed to investigate the Diana Vaughan affair. A few months later, on January 22, 1897, this commission made