Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/45

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Pope Innocent VIII. in 1488 appointed inquisitors in every country armed with apostolic power to find and punish those of whom he thus declared: "It has come to our ears that numbers of both sexes do not avoid to have intercourse with the infernal fiends, and that by their sorceries they afflict both man and beast. They blight the marriage bed; destroy the births of women, and the increase of cattle, they blast the corn in the ground, the grape in the vineyard, the fruit of the trees, and the grass and herbs of the field." Thus stimulated by the church the search for persons punishable for these crimes was everywhere successful. It is probable that one-fourth of the 40,000 persons executed for witchcraft during the first eighty years of the seventeenth century in England alone were insane. Among the thousands of persons tortured, burned and hanged as heretics there were doubtless many who, infected by surrounding fanaticism and carried away by exceptional beliefs, were really the victims of mental disease.

Persons afflicted with the more quiet forms of insanity without excitement were often regarded as suffering in punishment for sin and were accordingly treated by fasting, pilgrimages and self-castigation. Some, the possessors of a certain shrewdness and drollery, were received into private houses and cared for, partly from charity, and partly because of the amusement to be derived from their eccentric speech and conduct. The conditions were practically the same in all European countries with the exception of Italy and Spain, where insane asylums were established during the latter part of the middle ages.

The Mohammedans preceded the Christians in the establishment of asylums for the insane, and it is probable that as early as 1300 A. D. this form of charity was general in Mohammedan countries. A writer of the seventh century notices the existence of several such institutions at Fez. The asylum in Cairo was founded in 1304 A. D. Whether or not the Christians obtained the idea of the organization of such asylums from the Mohammedans, it is of interest to note that they are first found in Europe among those nations nearest to the Mohammedans and most subject to their influence. To Spain is due the honor of establishing the first asylum in Christian Europe for the care of the insane exclusively. This was opened in Valencia in 1409 A. D. by a monk, Juan Gilaberto Joffre, who was moved by compassion on seeing maniacs driven through the streets by hooting crowds of men and boys. The treatment in these early establishments amounted to little more than seclusion and restraint, though the monks in charge of the asylum at Saragossa, established in 1425 A. I)., had some conception of a rational open air treatment. Asylums were also opened at Seville and Valladolid in 1436 A. D. and at Toledo in 1483 A. D. "Two other very honorable facts may be mentioned," says Lecky, "establishing the preeminence of Spanish charity